“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, June 30, 2010

Elena Kagan, Sycophant for Barack Obama

June 29, 2010
Kagan will be the Obama of the Supreme Court
Keith Riler American Thinker
Now more of us understand that running a successful political campaign does not qualify one to be President. Real job qualifications matter when it comes to oil leaks, fiscal stimulus and unemployment, the deficit, Iranian nukes, relationships with our allies, infrastructure modernization and government transparency. If we have learned anything, it is to ask harder questions and not presume "it can't be any worse."

Our unqualified President has now nominated an unqualified judicial nominee. Given his recent very public shortfalls, that he still does not understand the value of experience is startling.

Barack Obama has proposed Elena Kagan, who has no judicial experience, as his Supreme Court nominee. As Paul Campos points out, even if we generously extend the question of qualifications to publishing (forget actually judging), very little is added to the nominee's resume:

In the nearly 20 years since Kagan became a law professor, she's published very little academic scholarship-three law review articles, along with a couple of shorter essays and two brief book reviews. Somehow, Kagan got tenure at Chicago in 1995 on the basis of a single article in The Supreme Court Review-a scholarly journal edited by Chicago's own faculty-and a short essay in the school's law review. She then worked in the Clinton administration for several years before joining Harvard as a visiting professor of law in 1999. While there she published two articles, but since receiving tenure from Harvard in 2001 (and becoming dean of the law school in 2003) she has published nothing.

Nominee Kagan hasn't even voted "present" in a judicial hearing. If confirmed, she will become the Barack Obama of the Supreme Court, winging the job as badly if not worse than the unqualified President wings his job.

However, if our Senators do their jobs this week, this will be a quick interview. The Senate should focus on the candidate's qualifications not ideological predispositions, which focus will produce fact questions that are not easily circumnavigated with non-responsive palaver.

Consider a plumbing company hire. The hiring company is mostly unconcerned about the applicant's view of installing plumbing in an abortion clinic. More relevant first questions include: How many installations have you done? Commercial or residential? As a master plumber or an apprentice?

Likewise, for an investment banker, the question is not whether the candidate has a problem with sharia-compliant financings. Relevant first questions include: How many financings have you completed? Equity or debt? Lead or co-managed? In other words, basic "do you know the job" stuff.

This is common sense and Interviewing 101. Given the nominee Kagan's likely failure to pass the basic qualifications screen, questions of ideology and judicial philosophy are unnecessary and too complicated.

She should be asked: How many judicial proceedings have you overseen? What type of cases - civil, criminal, tort, constitutional, etc....? As a judge? What about private practice experience? How does your prior judicial experience compare to the experience of the current Supreme Court justices at the time of their nominations? Do you think it is appropriate for the President to foist an "on the job training" judge on the court and the country?

The President is trapped in what Chris Stirewalt calls a hypocrisy trap, having claimed competence and qualifications but evidenced neither. We should have no desire to see this sad state repeated in either of the other two branches of government. Surely qualified judges exist. Senators, please do your job and interview the candidate.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Arizona Under Siege by Illegals, Criminals, Drug Cartels, and Obama

(06-28) 17:53 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- The Supreme Court has agreed to referee the first round of a tug-of-war
between state and federal governments over immigration - a 2007 Arizona law penalizing employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.

The case that the justices will hear in the term that starts in October offers a preview of the legal clash over Arizona's newly enacted criminal penalties for migrants illegally present in the state. The Obama administration asked the court to review the Arizona employment law and has indicated it will sue to block enforcement of the state's broader immigration law, scheduled to take effect July 29.


Dear President Obama:

We understand that there’s a push for your Administration to develop a plan to unilaterally extend either deferred action or parole to millions of illegal aliens in the United States. We understand that the Administration may include aliens who have willfully overstayed their visas or filed for benefits knowing that they will not be eligible for a status for years to come. We understand that deferred action and parole are discretionary actions reserved for individual cases that present unusual, emergent or humanitarian circumstances. Deferred action and parole were not intended to be used to confer a status or offer protection to large groups of illegal aliens, even if the agency claims that they look at each case on a “case-by-case” basis.

While we agree our immigration laws need to be fixed, we are deeply concerned about the potential expansion of deferred action or parole for a large illegal alien population. While deferred action and parole are Executive Branch authorities, they should not be used to circumvent Congress’ constitutional authority to legislate immigration policy, particularly as it relates to the illegal population in the United States.

The Administration would be wise to abandon any plans for deferred action or parole for the illegal population. Such a move would further erode the American public’s confidence in the federal government and its commitment to securing the borders and enforcing the laws already on the books.

We would appreciate receiving a commitment that the Administration has no plans to use either authority to change the current position of a large group of illegal aliens already in the United States, and ask that you respond to us about this matter as soon as possible.

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa); Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); Saxby Chambliss; David Vitter (R-La.); Jim Bunning (R-Ky.); Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.); James Inhofe (R-Okla.); and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).

more her

Oh Zuzana!

Welcome to Groundhog's day. No not that day but another day where everything is much as we left it yesterday. The Klansman is still dead. Obama is still looking in the mirror. McChrystal is leaving the army. The Russians are still spying on the US, the BP oil still get the drift.

I searched and the chimpanzees caught my attention. They are still at war as well. I thought that would satiate my lust for news but then I found a Russian clip of a sailor doing one legged squats. I searched further and found a female, Zuzana Zeleznovova, doing the same exercise and took a pass on the sailor.

Fascinated by Zuzana, I looked further into the pretty young thing and saw a lot more of her than I expected. The gal is a movie star, married with two kids.

Quirk needs to do her horoscope.

Just another day in the life.

Chimpanzee behavior and their killer instincts

Killer instincts

Like humans, chimpanzees can engage in guerrilla warfare with their neighbours. As with humans, the prize is more land
Jun 24th 2010

PEOPLE are not alone in waging war. Their closest living cousins, chimpanzees, also slaughter their own kind—in brutal attacks that primatologists increasingly view as strategic, co-ordinated assaults rather than random acts of violence. But however tempting it is to see these battles through the lens of human warfare, the motives for chimp-on-chimp violence are poorly understood. In particular, researchers have long debated whether the apes fight for land, or for females.

A report just published in Current Biology may help to settle the question. The study it describes, led by John Mitani, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is the first to offer a detailed picture of organised conflict between chimpanzees. Drawing on a decade of observations in the field, it concludes that, as with human conflict, wars between chimpanzees are fuelled by territorial conquest.

Between 1999 and 2008 Dr Mitani and his colleagues shadowed a group of chimpanzees called the Ngogo, who live in the Kibale national park in Uganda. Most of the time, the Ngogo chimps were anything but model soldiers—squabbling, foraging and lolling about their domain. But on 114 occasions Dr Mitani’s colleague Sylvia Amsler watched large groups of males strike out on silent, single-file patrols to the fringes of their territory.

These forays often turned violent. All but one of the 18 fatal attacks Dr Amsler witnessed occurred during boundary patrols. In each case, males colluded to kill chimps from a neighbouring group.

The territorial imperative

To understand what motivated this violence, the researchers looked at which chimps were actually attacked. If the purpose of chimpanzee warfare were either rape or the abduction of mates, then the expectation would be that adult males would be the targets of lethal violence. On occasion, they were. But most victims were juveniles, and of both sexes.

Furthermore, chimpanzee mothers were often beaten as the raiders snatched and killed their offspring. Though these assaults on mothers were rarely lethal, patrolling chimps were clearly more likely to batter females than recruit them as mates, suggesting that other motives might drive their violent behaviour.

The researchers therefore asked whether geography offered a better explanation. Using the Global Positioning System to map patrol routes and attack locations, they saw that the Ngogo chimps’ reconnaissance fanned mainly beyond their north-eastern border, encroaching onto the land of a neighbouring group. Almost all of the killings occurred in this disputed territory, which sported particularly fine stands of the chimps’ favourite fruit-tree. By the time the study ended, the Ngogo group’s campaign had displaced its rivals completely, annexing the north-eastern lands and enlarging its range by 22%.

Though the territorial upgrade may eventually attract new mates, none of the displaced females has been spotted joining the Ngogo group. This suggests that real estate, not a tight mating market, is the true motive for chimp combat. Such motivation makes sense in the context of the discovery in 2004, by Jennifer Williams of the University of Minnesota, that larger territories enabled chimps in neighbouring Tanzania to produce more offspring. This provides an evolutionary incentive for the apes to expand their range—and its associated resources—by any means necessary.

Can chimpanzee skirmishes tell people anything about their own violent tendencies? One lesson, which may surprise cynics, is that humans are more peaceful than chimps. The rate of killing Dr Mitani reports is between one-and-a-half and five times that seen in human agricultural societies—and between five and 17 times higher than attrition due to warfare among hunter-gatherers, who could have less need to defend territory than farmers. (It is also, it must be acknowledged, higher than that reported for other chimpanzee communities, suggesting that the Ngogo troop may be exceptionally bellicose.) In the context of comparisons with humans, though, the most salient feature of chimpanzee combat may be its co-operative nature.

Chimps avoid single combat. To fight successfully, they must maintain complex, collaborative social networks—suggesting that only by bonding within groups can chimps engage in violence between such groups. This has big implications. It may be the ability to form bonds with strangers was forged by the demands of war. Thus, the human tendency to coalesce around abstract concepts such as religion or nation, which underpins civilisation, may well be an evolutionary legacy of a violent past. Signs of anything similar in a species that, albeit a close-ish relative, parted company from the line leading to humans at least 5m years ago are therefore interesting.

Unfortunately for the chimpanzees of Kibale, they are not the only combatants locked in a central African territorial dispute. Even as bushmeat poachers, exotic-pet traders and encroaching farmers have landed the quarrelsome primates on the endangered-species list, decades of resource-driven conflicts between humans have destabilised conservation efforts. On June 21st, in an attempt to protect chimp populations, the Wildlife Conservation Society of New York and the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced a new conservation plan for the species. By identifying the areas most in need of protection, researchers hope to preserve the culture of chimp communities such as the Ngogo for future study.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Please Blow Up the Well

June 28, 2010 5:39 PM
Bill Clinton: We May Have to Blow Up Oil Well

Former President Bill Clinton said during a panel discussion in South Africa that it may become necessary to blow up the Deepwater Horizon well that continues to spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Watch the video at left. His comments on the leak start about 2:30 in.

"Unless we send the Navy down deep to blow up the well and cover the leak with piles and piles and piles of rock and debris, which may become necessary - you don't have to use a nuclear weapon by the way, I've seen all that stuff, just blow it up - unless we're going to do that, we are dependent on the technical expertise of these people from BP," Clinton said.

There has been some pressure for BP to simply blow up the well, with critics suggesting the company is forgoing that option out of a desire to get as much oil as possible from the rig.

"If we demolish the well using explosives, the investment's gone," former nuclear submarine officer and a visiting scholar on nuclear policy at Columbia University Christopher Brownfield said in a Fox News interview in May. "They lose hundreds of millions of dollars from the drilling of the well, plus no lawmaker in his right mind would allow BP to drill again in that same spot. So basically, it's an all-or-nothing thing with BP: They either keep the well alive, or they lose their whole investment and all the oil that they could potentially get from that well." (He penned an opinion piece in the New York Times making the argument.)

Some lawmakers have also pushed for blowing up the well.

"For the life of me, I can't understand why BP couldn't go into the ocean floor, maybe 10 feet lateral to the -- around the periphery -- drill a few holes and put a little ammonium nitrate, some dynamite, in those holes and detonate that dynamite and seal that leak. And seal it permanently," Rep. Phil Gingrey (Ga.) said earlier this month.

"Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here"

RBS tells clients to prepare for 'monster' money-printing by the Federal Reserve

As recovery starts to stall in the US and Europe with echoes of mid-1931, bond experts are once again dusting off a speech by Ben Bernanke given eight years ago as a freshman governor at the Federal Reserve.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Published: 5:11PM BST 27 Jun 2010

Entitled "Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here", it is a warfare manual for defeating economic slumps by use of extreme monetary stimulus once interest rates have dropped to zero, and implicitly once governments have spent themselves to near bankruptcy.

The speech is best known for its irreverent one-liner: "The US government has a technology, called a printing press, that allows it to produce as many US dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost."

Bernanke began putting the script into action after the credit system seized up in 2008, purchasing $1.75 trillion of Treasuries, mortgage securities, and agency bonds to shore up the US credit system. He stopped far short of the $5 trillion balance sheet quietly pencilled in by the Fed Board as the upper limit for quantitative easing (QE).

Investors basking in Wall Street's V-shaped rally had assumed that this bizarre episode was over. So did the Fed, which has been shutting liquidity spigots one by one. But the latest batch of data is disturbing.

The ECRI leading indicator produced by the Economic Cycle Research Institute plummeted yet again last week to -6.9, pointing to contraction in the US by the end of the year. It is dropping faster that at any time in the post-War era.

The latest data from the CPB Netherlands Bureau shows that world trade slid 1.7pc in May, with the biggest fall in Asia. The Baltic Dry Index measuring freight rates on bulk goods has dropped 40pc in a month. This is a volatile index that can be distorted by the supply of new ships, but those who watch it as an early warning signal for China and commodities are nervous.

Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS, is advising clients to read the Bernanke text very closely because the Fed is soon going to have to the pull the lever on "monster" quantitative easing (QE)".

"We cannot stress enough how strongly we believe that a cliff-edge may be around the corner, for the global banking system (particularly in Europe) and for the global economy. Think the unthinkable," he said in a note to investors.

Roberts said the Fed will shift tack, resorting to the 1940s strategy of capping bond yields around 2pc by force majeure said this is the option "which I personally prefer".

A recent paper by the San Francisco Fed argues that interest rates should now be minus 5pc under the bank's "rule of thumb" measure of capacity use and unemployment. The rate is currently minus 2pc when QE is factored in. You could conclude, very crudely, that the Fed must therefore buy another $2 trillion of bonds, and even more if Europe's EMU debacle goes from bad to worse. I suspect that this hints at the Bernanke view, but it is anathema to hardliners at the Kansas, Richmond, Philadephia, and Dallas Feds.

Societe Generale's uber-bear Albert Edwards said the Fed and other central banks will be forced to print more money whatever they now say, given the "stinking fiscal mess" across the developed world. "The response to the coming deflationary maelstrom will be additional money printing that will make the recent QE seem insignificant," he said.

Despite the apparent rift with Europe, the US is arguably tightening fiscal policy just as hard. Congress has cut off benefits for those unemployed beyond six months, leaving 1.3m without support. California has to slash $19bn in spending this year, as much as Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Hungary, and Romania combined. The states together must cut $112bn to comply with state laws.

The Congressional Budget Office said federal stimulus from the Obama package peaked in the first quarter. The effect will turn sharply negative by next year as tax rises automatically kick in, a net swing of 4pc of GDP. This is happening as the US housing market tips into a double-dip. New homes sales crashed 33pc to a record low of 300,000 in May after subsidies expired.

It is sobering that zero rates, QE a l'outrance, and an $800bn fiscal blitz should should have delivered so little. Just as it is sobering that Club Med bond purchases by the European Central Bank and the creation of the EU's €750bn rescue "shield" have failed to stabilize Europe's debt markets. Greek default contracts reached an all-time high of 1,125 on Friday even though the €110bn EU-IMF rescue is up and running. Are investors questioning EU solvency itself, or making a judgment on German willingness to back pledges with real money?

Clearly we are nearing the end of the "Phoney War", that phase of the global crisis when it seemed as if governments could conjure away the Great Debt. The trauma has merely been displaced from banks, auto makers, and homeowners onto the taxpayer, lifting public debt in the OECD bloc from 70pc of GDP to 100pc by next year. As the Bank for International Settlements warns, sovereign debt crises are nearing "boiling point" in half the world economy.

Fiscal largesse had its place last year. It arrested the downward spiral at a crucial moment, but that moment has passed. There is a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. The Krugman doctrine of perma-deficits is ruinous - and has in fact ruined Japan. The only plausible escape route for the West is a decade of fiscal austerity offset by helicopter drops of printed money, for as long as it takes.

Some say that the Fed's QE policies have failed. I profoundly disagree. The US property market - and therefore the banks - would have imploded if the Fed had not pulled down mortgage rates so aggressively, but you can never prove a counter-factual.

The case for fresh QE is not to inflate away the debt or default on Chinese creditors by stealth devaluation. It is to prevent deflation.

Bernanke warned in that speech eight years ago that "sustained deflation can be highly destructive to a modern economy" because it leads to slow death from a rising real burden of debt.

At the time, the broad money supply war growing at 6pc and the Dallas Fed's `trimmed mean' index of core inflation was 2.2pc.

We are much nearer the tipping today. The M3 money supply has contracted by 5.5pc over the last year, and the pace is accelerating: the 'trimmed mean' index is now 0.6pc on a six-month basis, the lowest ever. America is one twist shy of a debt-deflation trap.

There is no doubt that the Fed has the tools to stop this. "Sufficient injections of money will ultimately always reverse a deflation," said Bernanke. The question is whether he can muster support for such action in the face of massive popular disgust, a Republican Fronde in Congress, and resistance from the liquidationsists at the Kansas, Philadelphia, and Richmond Feds. If he cannot, we are in grave trouble.

Militant Islamists Smell Israeli Blood in the Water

Let's be honest in a way that our President, Barack Hussein Obama cannot be. Islam is inherently incompatible with Western Democratic values. No matter how badly the radical Left wishes it otherwise, Islam is as antithetical to The West as the BP oil spill is to the Gulf and like that oil spill, Islam is spreading farther and wider.

Secularism in the Islamic world is receding and militancy is increasing and ironically in most of the places where the US has involved itself militarily starting with Afghanistan under the Russians, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan again, Turkey and now starting to gain momentum in Malasia.

Israel is not the cause of radical Islam. Israel is the rallying point. If Israel did not exist, the Islamists would have to invent her. There is a lot of disagreement on this blog about Israel. American alliances should be continuously related to America's interests. American interests have not been served with the military interventions in the Islamic world. They are not served by blindly agreeing with every Israeli action, but the reality that we face is an Islam hostile to western values. Israel is but one small fortress in the path and crosshairs of the Islamists. We need to remember that.

Flirting with zealotry in Malaysia

By Jackson Diehl
Monday, June 28, 2010
Washington Post

Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Malaysia's political opposition, has become known over the past decade as one of the foremost advocates of liberal democracy in Muslim countries. His many friends in Washington include prominent members of the neoconservative movement -- such as Paul Wolfowitz, the former World Bank president and U.S. ambassador to Indonesia -- as well as such Democratic grandees as Al Gore.

Lately, Anwar has been getting attention for something else: strident rhetoric about Israel and alleged "Zionist influence" in Malaysia. He recently joined a demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur where an Israeli flag was burned. He's made dark insinuations about the "Jewish-controlled" Washington public relations firm Apco Worldwide, which is working for Malaysia's quasi-authoritarian government.

Therein lies a story of the Obama era -- about a beleaguered democrat fighting for political and personal survival with little help from Washington; about the growing global climate of hostility toward Israel; and about the increasing willingness of U.S. friends in places such as Turkey and Malaysia to exploit it.

First, a little about Anwar: While serving as deputy prime minister under Malaysian strongman Mahathir Mohamad in the 1990s, he began pushing for reforms -- only to be arrested, tried and imprisoned on trumped-up charges of homosexual sodomy. Freed after six years, he built a multiethnic democratic opposition movement that shocked the ruling party with its gains in recent elections. It now appears to have a chance at winning the next parliamentary campaign, which would allow Malaysia to join Indonesia and Turkey as full-fledged majority-Muslim democracies.

Not surprisingly, Anwar is being prosecuted again. Once again the charge is consensual sodomy, which to Malaysia's discredit remains a crime punishable by whipping and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Anwar, who is 63 and married with children, denies the charge, and the evidence once again is highly suspect. His 25-year-old accuser has confessed to meeting Prime Minister Najib Razak and talking by phone with the national police chief in the days before the alleged sexual encounter.

Nevertheless the trial is not going well. If it ends in another conviction, Anwar's political career and his opposition coalition could be destroyed, and his life could be at risk: His health is not great. Yet the opposition leader is not getting the kind of support from the United States as during his first prosecution, when then-Vice President Gore spoke up for him. Obama said nothing in public about Anwar when he granted Najib a prized bilateral meeting in Washington in April.

After a "senior officials dialogue" between the two governments this month, the State Department conceded that the ongoing trial again had not been raised, "because this issue was recently discussed at length." When it comes to human rights, the Obama administration apparently does not wish to be repetitive.

Anwar meanwhile found his own way to fight back. Hammered for years by government propaganda describing him as an Israeli agent and a Wolfowitz-loving American lackey, he tried to turn the tables, alleging that Apco was manipulating the government to support Israeli and U.S. interests. He also said that Israeli agents had infiltrated Malaysia's security forces and were "directly involved in the running of the government."

Najib describes Israel as "world gangsters." But he quickly turned Anwar's words against him; Apco has been peddling the anti-Israel statements around Washington.

Anwar is like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he regards as a friend and fellow traveler. Both know better than to indulge in such stuff. Both have recently begun to do it anyway -- after a year in which the Obama administration has frequently displayed irritation with Israel. "If you say we are growing impatient with Israel, that is true," Anwar told me. "If you say I am not too guarded or careful in what I say sometimes, that is also true."

Anwar, who was in Washington for a couple of days last week, spent a lot of time offering explanations to old friends, not to mention House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and a Jewish leader or two. He said he regretted using terms such as "Zionist aggression," which are common coin for demagogues like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Why do I need to use it if it causes so much misunderstanding?" he said. "I need to be more careful."

Many of the Malaysian's friends are inclined to give him a break. "What Anwar did was wrong, but considering that he's literally fighting for his life -- physically as well as politically -- against a government that attacks him as being 'a puppet of the Jews,' one should cut him some slack," Wolfowitz told me.

But Anwar's story can also be read as a warning. His transition from pro-American democrat to anti-Israeli zealot is sobering -- and it is on the verge of becoming a trend.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"A democracy cannot fight a Seven Years War," Gen. George C. Marshall

Endless war, a recipe for four-star arrogance
By Andrew J. Bacevich Washington Post
Sunday, June 27, 2010; B01

Long wars are antithetical to democracy. Protracted conflict introduces toxins that inexorably corrode the values of popular government. Not least among those values is a code of military conduct that honors the principle of civilian control while keeping the officer corps free from the taint of politics. Events of the past week -- notably the Rolling Stone profile that led to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's dismissal -- hint at the toll that nearly a decade of continuous conflict has exacted on the U.S. armed forces. The fate of any one general qualifies as small beer: Wearing four stars does not signify indispensability. But indications that the military's professional ethic is eroding, evident in the disrespect for senior civilians expressed by McChrystal and his inner circle, should set off alarms.

Earlier generations of American leaders, military as well as civilian, instinctively understood the danger posed by long wars. "A democracy cannot fight a Seven Years War," Gen. George C. Marshall once remarked. The people who provided the lifeblood of the citizen army raised to wage World War II had plenty of determination but limited patience. They wanted victory won and normalcy restored.

The wisdom of Marshall's axiom soon became clear. In Vietnam, Lyndon B. Johnson plunged the United States into what became its Seven Years War. The citizen army that was sent to Southeast Asia fought valiantly for a time and then fell to pieces. As the conflict dragged on, Americans in large numbers turned against the war -- and also against the troops who fought it.

After Vietnam, the United States abandoned its citizen army tradition, oblivious to the consequences. In its place, it opted for what the Founders once called a "standing army" -- a force consisting of long-serving career professionals.

For a time, the creation of this so-called all-volunteer force, only tenuously linked to American society, appeared to be a master stroke. Washington got superbly trained soldiers and Republicans and Democrats took turns putting them to work. The result, once the Cold War ended, was greater willingness to intervene abroad. As Americans followed news reports of U.S. troops going into action everywhere from the Persian Gulf to the Balkans, from the Caribbean to the Horn of Africa, they found little to complain about: The costs appeared negligible. Their role was simply to cheer.

This happy arrangement now shows signs of unraveling, a victim of what the Pentagon has all too appropriately been calling its Long War.

The Long War is not America's war. It belongs exclusively to "the troops," lashed to a treadmill that finds soldiers and Marines either serving in a combat zone or preparing to deploy.

To be an American soldier today is to serve a people who find nothing amiss in the prospect of armed conflict without end. Once begun, wars continue, persisting regardless of whether they receive public support. President Obama's insistence to the contrary notwithstanding, this nation is not even remotely "at" war. In explaining his decision to change commanders without changing course in Afghanistan, the president offered this rhetorical flourish: "Americans don't flinch in the face of difficult truths." In fact, when it comes to war, the American people avert their eyes from difficult truths. Largely unaffected by events in Afghanistan and Iraq and preoccupied with problems much closer to home, they have demonstrated a fine ability to tune out war. Soldiers (and their families) are left holding the bag.

Throughout history, circumstances such as these have bred praetorianism, warriors becoming enamored with their moral superiority and impatient with the failings of those they are charged to defend. The smug disdain for high-ranking civilians casually expressed by McChrystal and his chief lieutenants -- along with the conviction that "Team America," as these officers style themselves, was bravely holding out against a sea of stupidity and corruption -- suggests that the officer corps of the United States is not immune to this affliction.

To imagine that replacing McChrystal with Gen. David H. Petraeus will fix the problem is wishful thinking. To put it mildly, Petraeus is no simple soldier. He is a highly skilled political operator, whose name appears on Republican wish lists as a potential presidential candidate in 2012. Far more significant, the views cultivated within Team America are shared elsewhere.

The day the McChrystal story broke, an active-duty soldier who has served multiple combat tours offered me his perspective on the unfolding spectacle. The dismissive attitude expressed by Team America, he wrote, "has really become a pandemic in the Army." Among his peers, a belief that "it is OK to condescend to civilian leaders" has become common, ranking officers permitting or even endorsing "a culture of contempt" for those not in uniform. Once the previously forbidden becomes acceptable, it soon becomes the norm.

"Pretty soon you have an entire organization believing that their leader is the 'Savior' and that everyone else is stupid and incompetent, or not committed to victory." In this soldier's view, things are likely to get worse before they get better. "Senior officers who condone this kind of behavior and allow this to continue and fester," he concluded, "create generation after generation of officers like themselves -- but they're generally so arrogant that they think everyone needs to be just like them anyway."

By itself, Team America poses no threat to the constitutional order. Gen. McChrystal is not Gen. MacArthur. When presenting himself at the White House on Wednesday, McChrystal arrived not as a man on horseback but as a supplicant, hat (and resignation) in hand. Still, even with his departure, it would be a mistake to consider the matter closed.

During Vietnam, the United States military cracked from the bottom up. The damage took decades to repair. In the seemingly endless wars of the post-Sept. 11 era, a military that has demonstrated remarkable durability now shows signs of coming undone at the top. The officer corps is losing its bearings.

Americans might do well to contemplate a famous warning issued by another frustrated commander from a much earlier age.

"We had been told, on leaving our native soil," wrote the centurion Marcus Flavius to a cousin back in Rome, "that we were going to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our citizens [and to aid] populations in need of our assistance and our civilization." For such a cause, he and his comrades had willingly offered to "shed our quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and our hopes." Yet the news from the homeland was disconcerting: The capital was seemingly rife with factions, treachery and petty politics. "Make haste," Marcus Flavius continued, "and tell me that our fellow citizens understand us, support us and protect us as we ourselves are protecting the glory of the empire."

"If it should be otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones on these desert sands in vain, then beware of the anger of the legions!"

Stanley McChrystal is no Marcus Flavius, lacking the Roman's eloquence, among other things. Yet in ending his military career on such an ignominious note, he has, however clumsily, issued a warning that deserves our attention.

The responsibility facing the American people is clear. They need to reclaim ownership of their army. They need to give their soldiers respite, by insisting that Washington abandon its de facto policy of perpetual war. Or, alternatively, the United States should become a nation truly "at" war, with all that implies in terms of civic obligation, fiscal policies and domestic priorities. Should the people choose neither course -- and thereby subject their troops to continuing abuse -- the damage to the army and to American democracy will be severe.

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His book "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War" will be published in August. He will be online at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 28, to chat. Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hey Kick-Ass, Get off Your Ass!

I know, I know, but I can't help myself!


What are you going to do now, Mr. President?


How ironic that the "most liberal" member of the Senate (at least for the few short months that he was an active Senator) chastised then President Bush and General Petraeus for their execution of the war in Iraq. It didn't matter how many troops were "surged", the Senator claimed, this was a civil war and no amount of US troops could settle it.

Well, Mr. President, you're so smart. Brilliant, we're told. It should be easy now that the bar, as you pointed out, "has been lowered." It's your turn now. You fix it!

Charles Krauthammer writes in his most recent column.

Just last week, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reiterated that July 2011 is a hard date. And Vice President Biden is adamant that “in July of 2011, you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it.”

Now, Washington sophisticates may interpret this two-step as a mere political feint to Obama’s left — just another case of a president facing a difficult midterm and his own reelection, trying to placate the base. They don’t take this withdrawal date too seriously.

Problem is, Afghans are not quite as sophisticated in interpreting American intraparty maneuvering. This kind of Washington nuance does not translate into Pashto. They hear about an American departure date, and they think about what will happen to them when the Americans leave. The Taliban will remain, and what they lack in popular support — they poll only 6 percent — they make up in terror: When they return to a village, they kill “collaborators” mercilessly, and publicly.

Taliban behead 11 Afghan civilians: police

KABUL (AFP) – The headless bodies of 11 Afghan civilians allegedly decapitated by Taliban insurgents have been found in central Afghanistan, police said Friday.

The bodies were found late Thursday in the Khas Uruzgan district of rural Uruzgan province, Mohammad Gulab, the provincial criminal investigation police chief, told AFP.

"Eleven civilians were found beheaded late yesterday," he said, blaming Taliban insurgents.

The Taliban have made no comment.

Taliban occasionally behead people they accuse of "spying" for the Afghan government and foreign forces in the country fighting to quell the insurgency now well into its ninth year.

The radical organisation earned a reputation for barbarity during nearly six years ruling Afghanistan with punishments that included death by stoning and amputation of hands and feet for even minor crimes.

The regime was overthrown in a US-led invasion in late 2001, quickly regrouping to launch their war, which has drawn more than 140,000 NATO and US troops into Afghanistan, set to peak by August at 150,000.

Somehow, I think the exit strategy has already been implemented. Sit tight, don't make waves, until July 2011. What happens after that is anyone's guess.

The Kick-Ass Field Marshal Obama

Obama did it. Not only can he command the use of Air Force One, he has the power to humble a commanding general. He is the man. Obama is reinvigorated, cocked headed, jaw stiffened, kick assed locked and loaded and looking for fresh meat to take down.

All of his past indignities will be healed as the electrifying surge of power pulses through his veins. Who is next?

Oh, I know this guy. Just watch.


Kicking the general's ass
The McChrystal affair has revived doubts about Barack Obama's qualities as a war president

Friday, June 25, 2010

Adolf Hitler and his lust for a Mercedes Benz

Adolf Hitler wrote begging letter for Mercedes loan

Adolf Hitler wrote a begging letter to a Mercedes dealership asking for a loan for a limousine until his royalties for Mein Kampf came through.

Allan Hall, in Berlin Telegraph
Published: 1:35PM BST 23 Jun 2010

The letter, was written in 1924 from his jail cell at Landsberg Fortress prison where he was imprisoned that year for his role in the "Bierkeller Putsch" when his nascent Nazi party tried, and failed, to seize power in Munich.

In jail he wrote Mein Kampf, the blueprint for power that would make him rich. However, when he penned a letter to Jakob Ferlin, owner of a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Munich, there was little money to be had.

Hitler, who one day would own a fleet of Mercedes' cars, had his heart set on the 11/40 model which at the time cost 18,000 Reichsmarks. He had set his heart on one in grey with spoked wheels and white-wall tyres.

"But the hardest thing for me at the moment lies in the fact that the biggest payment for my work is not expected until the middle of December," he wrote in September 1924 to Herr Ferlin.

"So I am compelled to ask for a loan or an advance. Naturally something in the order of several thousand marks would be a big help." The letter also voiced concern about the engine of the vehicle; "That is the only thing about the 11/40 that makes me cautious. I can't afford a vehicle every two or three years or pay for expensive repairs either." Hitler was freed from his five-year jail sentence in December 1924, the month that he told Herr Ferlin he would be getting his first advances on Mein Kampf. But it is not known whether the auto dealer ever did business with him or not.

The letter was found at a flea market and authenticated by the Bavarian State Archive in Munich. It was the copy of Hitler's letter kept by the prison; the original went to Herr Ferlin and has been lost to history.
It is to be auctioned in Fuerth near Nuremberg in the first week of July and is expected to go for several thousand pounds.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Biden and Obama and their new best friend General David Howell Petraeus

General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, has replaced General Stanley McChrystal as commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, following the latter's removal.

"I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team," General Stanley McChrystal

Remember when Obama did not talk to his general?

This story is about as good as it gets. You really do have to enjoy this one. Now keep in mind our President is more than likely still in his "Ass-Kicking mode." Obama the bowler, the baseball pitcher, the avid golfer, looking for his inner machismo, looking a little bad in the polls , needs a win.

Along comes this story.

The Guardian makes these points:

  • Obama is "uncomfortable and intimidated" by senior military officials.
  • Obama to make his decision on McChrystal by consulting US allies including David Cameron.
  • "I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team," McChrystal said.
  • Democratic member of Congress, Dave Obey, chairman of the House appropriations committee, called for McChrystal to be sacked.
  • Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said he "strongly supports General McChrystal and his strategy in Afghanistan and believes he is the best commander the United States has sent to Afghanistan over the last nine years".
  • McChrystal voted for Obama.
  • McChrystal's aides are quoted as saying that he was less than impressed by Obama from the start.
  • The general mocks Biden, with whom he crossed swords over counterterrorism strategy.

General alarm as Barack Obama summons Stanley McChrystal to the White House
Commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan must face the music after mocking senior politicians in Rolling Stone magazine

Chris McGreal in Washington and Jon Boone in Kabul
Tuesday 22 June 2010 20.47 BST

Barack Obama will confront General Stanley McChrystal at the White House tomorrow as he decides whether to sack the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan over disparaging and "contemptuous" remarks about senior administration officials, including the president himself.

The White House said "all options are on the table" after an "angry" Obama summoned McChrystal to Washington to explain quotes in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine in which the general and his senior aides accuse the US ambassador to Afghanistan of undermining the war, call the president's national security adviser "a joke" and mock Joe Biden, the vice-president. There is also indirect criticism of the president as "uncomfortable and intimidated" by senior military officials.

Obama said he is considering McChrystal's future. "I think it's clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed poor judgment. But I also want to make sure I talk to him directly before I make any final decisions," he said.

The president added that his decision would be based on what is best for making a success of the war in Afghanistan and that he would be consulting US allies including David Cameron.

However, the mood appeared to be shifting against McChrystal. Earlier the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, declined to give assurances about the general's position. He said US efforts in Afghanistan were bigger than one man and that McChrystal was not indispensable.

The general apologised in person and by phone to some of those criticised and issued a statement admitting "a mistake reflecting poor judgment". "I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team," McChrystal said. But it is not clear whether that will be enough to save McChrystal's job after what is the latest of a series of political blunders.

A leading Democratic member of Congress, Dave Obey, chairman of the House appropriations committee, called for him to be sacked. But the general had the backing of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who said he "strongly supports General McChrystal and his strategy in Afghanistan and believes he is the best commander the United States has sent to Afghanistan over the last nine years".

In the Rolling Stone article, entitled The Runaway General, McChrystal's aides are quoted as saying that he was less than impressed by Obama from the start. The general is described as believing the president looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" among senior military officers. McChrystal was also "disappointed" that the president "didn't know anything about him" during their early meetings.

The general mocks Biden, with whom he crossed swords over counterterrorism strategy. "Are you asking about Vice-President Biden?" McChrystal said. "Who's that?" A top adviser responds: "Biden? Did you say 'Bite me'?"

But the most stinging criticism is of other senior American officials with responsibility for what is now America's longest war, including the US ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, Obama's special representative to Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, and the president's national security adviser, Jim Jones.

Rolling Stone quotes McChrystal's aides as calling Jones "a clown" who is "stuck in 1985". Holbrooke is described as being "like a wounded animal".

"Holbrooke keeps hearing rumours that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous," said an aide. The magazine describes how McChrystal at one point checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another email from Holbrooke," he said. "I don't even want to open it."

Rolling Stone reports that Eikenberry cannot stand it that his former subordinate is now in charge. Earlier this year, the New York Times published a scathing critique by Eikenberry, a general in Afghanistan for three years early in the war, of McChrystal's military strategy.

It criticised Karzai and warned that the US risked becoming ever more deeply engaged, with no way to extricate itself. McChrystal told Rolling Stone he felt "betrayed" by the leak and questioned Eikenberry's motives: "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say 'I told you so'."

The aides also criticise leading politicians, including Senators John McCain and John Kerry, for turning up in Afghanistan, criticising Karzai and then getting back to Washington for the Sunday talk shows.

But the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is praised by the general's aides for watching his back and giving him "what he needs".

Rolling Stone said the general was present when many of the comments quoted were made by his aides. The entire tone of the article has infuriated the White House, but the president now faces a dilemma.

Obama became the first president in more than 50 years to sack a top general in wartime when he removed the then US commander in Afghanistan, David McKiernan, and replaced him with McChrystal. To fire McChrystal now would suggest misjudgment by the president as well as removing the architect of an Afghan military strategy that is far from complete. But it may be politically difficult to leave in place a general who has shown such public lack of confidence in those appointed by the White House to work with him.

McChrystal did not make any friends at the White House when his confidential report urging Obama to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan leaked.

The administration felt that the general was trying to strongarm the president by making him look weak if he did not agree. Obama did agree to most of McChrystal's request, including another 30,000 troops.

What McChrystal said

The Rolling Stone article is a broad assessment of General Stanley McChrystal's strategy in Afghanistan and his assessment of his critics.

It describes how, even though the general voted for Barack Obama, the two failed to connect. McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass at their first meeting. A second, one-onto-one encounter at the White House did not go much better.

"Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his fucking war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The boss was pretty disappointed," an aide to McChrystal told the magazine.

Later, McChrystal objected to going to an official Nato dinner in Paris: "I'd rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner." One of the aides was asked by Rolling Stone who the dinner was with. "Some French minister," he replied. "It's fucking gay."

The article describes the behaviour of McChrystal and his aides, who call themselves Team America, at an Irish bar in Parisare were reportedly drunk, while two officers did an Irish jig, mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance. They were singing a slurred song about Afghanistan. McChrystal said: "I'd die for them. And they'd die for me."

An unnamed British officer is quoted as saying: "The fucking lads love Stan McChrystal. You'd be out in Somewhere, Iraq, and someone would take a knee beside you and a corporal would be like 'Who the fuck is that?' And it's fucking Stan McChrystal."

The article relates the story of a 25-year-old staff sergeant, Israel Arroyo, who sent an email to McChrystal from the front line in Afghanistan: "I am writing because it was said you don't care about the troops and have made it harder to defend ourselves".

The general replied within hours: "I'm saddened by accusations that I don't care about soldiers, as it is something I suspect any soldier takes both personally and professionally – at least I do. But I know perceptions depend upon your perspective at the time, and I respect that every soldier's view is his own".

McChrystal then turned up at Arroyo's base and went on foot patrol with him in an attempt to understand what the soldier meant.

During a later visit to the same forward base after a soldier is killed, another soldier said to McChrystal: "Sir, some of the guys here, sir, think we're losing, sir."

The general tried to explain his counter-insurgency strategy but afterwards said he did not think it had been been persuasive.

"This is the philosophical part that works with thinktanks. But it doesn't get the same reception from infantry companies," he said.

A senior aide to McChrystal said that the war would be even more unpopular with Americans if they thought about it: "If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular."

McChrystal had come to the attention of the American Left before. Here is a telling little interview with Speaker Pelosi from October 2009 :

Monday, June 21, 2010

Obama Foreclosure-Prevention Initiative Failure

Here is what Obama promised:

Here is what Obama delivered:

U.S. reports fewer enrollees, more dropouts in federal mortgage relief program

By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Obama administration's marquee foreclosure-prevention initiative continues to struggle, as government data released Monday show that fewer homeowners are enrolling in the program and more are losing their federal mortgage aid.

Lenders enrolled homeowners into the mortgage relief effort, known as Making Home Affordable, at a slower pace last month after federal officials tightened the qualification process. Since the program's launch last year, about 340,000 homeowners have received a permanent loan modification that lowers their mortgage payment for five years.

But a growing number of borrowers are failing to move from the program's initial stage into a permanent loan modification. Lenders have said that many homeowners are failing to make the reduced loan payments and others have not been able to prove they qualify for mortgage assistance. The number of borrowers dropped from the program, about 436,000, eclipses those who have been helped, according to Treasury Department data. More than 100,000 borrowers lost their mortgage aid in May.

About half of the those dropped from the federal program received another type of loan modification from their banks, according to the government data. But housing counselors have complained that those alternative loan modifications are typically not as generous as what the government program offers and often come with hefty upfront fees.

"Obviously it's good to know these people haven't gone through foreclosure yet," said Julia Gordon, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending. But there is no guarantee that lenders are offering modifications that will be sustainable for homeowners, she said.

Obama administration officials stressed Monday that Making Home Affordable is just one of several efforts to stabilize the housing sector. The administration unveiled a new "housing score card" pointing to the millions of home buyers who have taken advantage of tax credits worth up to $8,000, while noting that home prices have stabilized and mortgage rates are near historic lows.

The "housing market is significantly better than anyone predicted a year ago," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said during a conference call with reporters. "Obviously we're not out of the woods. Our housing market remains fragile."

The latest numbers come as lawmakers prepare to consider on Tuesday a provision to offer up to $3 billion in loans for unemployed homeowners who need help paying their mortgage. The proposal seeks to address an issue that has bedeviled foreclosure- prevention efforts for more than a year: An increasing number of borrowers can't make their loan payments because they have lost their jobs. With little or no income, these borrowers struggle to make even the reduced payments offered under the government foreclosure-prevention program.

The loan-assistance provision, which is being debated as part of financial reform legislation, is modeled after a Pennsylvania program that offers unemployed workers low-interest loans to pay their mortgages. Borrowers are eligible for loans of up to $60,000 that can be repaid with payments as low as $25 a month.

The measure could help 500,000 families who have lost their jobs save their homes, said Rev. Lucy Kolin, a spokesman for PICO, a national network of faith-based community organizations.

"Unemployment is the number one cause of foreclosures, and yet little continues to be done to help these struggling families," he said. "If Congress was willing to bail out the very banks that caused the recession in the first place, they owe it to the American people who are bearing the brunt of the recession's impact to include this provision in the final financial reform legislation."

Colombia Landslide for Santos and Common Sense. Trish Called It.

Despite the best efforts of the Latin and International Left, Juan Manuel Santos eviscerated his opposition and has been elected President of Colombia. Santos received 69% of the vote.

According to the national registrar, Carlos Ariel Sanchez, almost 16 million Colombians cast their vote between the opening of polls at 8 PM and the close at 4 PM. This figure is a one-third increase from the nation's 2006 turn-out.

If these preliminary figures are accurate, this would be the highest voter turnout in Colombian history.

Polling stations closed before many Colombians were able to cast their votes, due the high turnout, with long lines of people queuing outside stations.

For your entertainment, I have posted an interview with a Colombian Lefty made two days before the election.

Of course our gal, the ultimate non-toots, called that shot.


Colombia's Santos is elected president

By Juan Forero Washington Post
Monday, June 21, 2010

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Juan Manuel Santos, who as defense minister in Colombian President Álvaro Uribe's government oversaw the biggest blows against an entrenched guerrilla force, was elected president Sunday in a landslide.

Santos, 58, will become caretaker of an American military aid package that has delivered $600 million annually over the past decade to help Colombia counter rebel forces and drug traffickers. Under Uribe, who took office in 2002 and will end his second term on Aug. 7, Colombia went from a country buffeted by conflict to one marked by solid economic growth and a reduction in violence.

Santos's victory was seen as a strong endorsement of Uribe's policies, which centered on making a revamped army more offensive-minded.

"This, too, is your triumph, President Uribe," Santos told followers in a victory speech.

With nearly all the votes counted, Santos had 69 percent of the vote to 28 percent for Antanas Mockus, an eccentric former mayor of Bogota. More than 9 million Colombians voted for Santos, giving him a victory even more resounding than the two presidential elections Uribe won.

Just a month ago, Mockus's quirky campaign and his pledge to attack corruption and cronyism had awakened excitement, with polls predicting he would squeak to victory. But in the first round of polling, on May 30, voters gave Mockus 21 percent of the ballots while Santos received 47 percent.

Political analysts said that Colombians fearful that Uribe's security gains might ebb with Mockus instead supported Santos, who had pledged to keep up the pressure on a despised guerrilla organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

"We will keep fighting against the enemies of the state," Santos said, adding that "the time is up for the FARC."

Santos, an economist educated in the United States, is the scion of an influential family that for decades ran Colombia's biggest newspaper, Bogota's El Tiempo. His great-uncle Eduardo Santos was president from 1938 to 1942, and his cousin Francisco Santos is Uribe's vice president.

Juan Manuel Santos has held cabinet posts in three administrations, the latest running the country's armed forces, a position he held until 2009. Under his watch, an army reliant on U.S. training and military hardware severely weakened the FARC, breaking the group's aura of invincibility.

In March 2008, two of the FARC's top leaders were killed, one in a bombing strike on a jungle camp just inside Ecuador's northern border with Colombia. Four months later, in a daring raid that attracted international attention, a team of army commandos duped the FARC into turning over 15 high-profile hostages, including three American Defense Department contractors.

Santos's term as defense minister, though, was marred by revelations that army units throughout the country had killed hundreds of peasants and presented them as dead guerrillas to increase body count figures. Santos said he worked vigorously to shed light on the killings and dismissed dozens of officers and soldiers linked to the deaths.

But the scandal raised concerns among human rights groups, the United Nations and some Democrats in Congress, who questioned the near-unconditional stream of aid that Washington provides to Colombia. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who has been critical of rights violations under Uribe's government, said he thinks Santos did not do enough as minister to expose details of the killings or to ensure that those responsible were punished.

"I think this whole issue is not going to go away," said McGovern, who is asking for more energetic prosecutions of officers and troops accused in the deaths.

Philip Alston, a U.N. investigator who wrote an in-depth report about the killings, said that Santos was, overall, a "fairly consistent, positive force" in dealing with the scandal. But Alston said prosecutions have lagged badly, a situation that could be corrected in Santos's administration.

"He could certainly be speaking out now and saying this would be a priority of a new government," Alston said.

Santos will also face challenges from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who has clashed repeatedly with Uribe's government. In the past, Santos has maintained that the FARC receive sanctuary and support from Chávez.

To Colombia's south, relations are also tense with Ecuador, where a judge recently issued an arrest order against Santos for authorizing the bombing of the FARC camp in Ecuador's jungle in 2008.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Horoscope - Cancer - by Quirk

Quirk said...

This month’s horoscope is being put out a couple days early because of the following note.

[NOTE: This notice is being issued on all of our websites including Quirk’s Horoscopes.

Please note that through circumstances beyond our control (force majeure) our expert astrologers were unable to publish our 2nd Quarter forecast (usually available only to subscribers) on time at the end of March. Therefore, we are now providing that forecast free to everyone (subscribers will receive a rebate the amount of which has yet to be determined.)

The following is our exclusive 2nd Quarter, 2010 forecast (Please use it in planning your 2nd Quarter actions):

1. There will be significant turmoil in European financial markets which in turn will affect markets around the world.
2. There will be a major oil spill in the Western Hemisphere, possibly in the Gulf of Mexico or another major body of water.
3. There will be political/military conflict in the Mediterranean west of Gaza.
4. The LA Lakers will once again win the NBA championship.
5. A major past crime will be revisited and the perpetrator arrested.

Once again, we apologize for the delay in issuing our 2nd Quarter, 2010 forecast]

- and now-

HOROSCOPE – CANCER (June 21 – July 22)

Origin – Fourth sign of the zodiac; named by the ancient Assyrians after the Crab. The sun enters Cancer on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

Controlling Planet – Moon

Lucky Day – Monday

Color – Silver/White

Element – Water

Symbol – Crab

Lucky Number - Two

Compatible Signs – Capricorn, Pisces, Scorpio

Incompatible Signs – Aries, Gemini

Famous Cancers – Clarence Thomas, Thurgood Marshall, John Delinger, Leggs Diamond, George Orwell, Imelda Marcos, Princess Diana, Camilla Parker Bowles, Jerry Rubin, Arlo Guthrie, Richard Simmons, Lizzy Borden, Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush

Cancer Quote (Male) – George Orwell " Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. "

Cancer Quote (Male) – Milton Berle “You can lead a man to Congress, but you can't make him think.”

Cancer Quote (Male) – Robin Williams “If women ran the world we wouldn't have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days’’

Cancer Quote (Male) – George Orwell “The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.”

Cancer Quote (Female) – Gilda Radner “Adopted kids are such a pain - you have to teach them how to look like you.”

Attributes – Kind, sensitive, sympathetic, imaginative, maternal/paternal, solicitous, protective, cautious, patriotic, tenacious, shrewd, thrifty, resourceful, a good homemaker, over-emotional, hypersensitive, moody, devious, changeable, self-pitying, unforgiving, unstable, gullible, untidy.

Cancer is a water sign. It is also a feminine sign. This contributes to it being one of the more complex signs of the zodiac.

The Cancer’s complex nature reflects two extremes. They value stability and the home and will go out of their way to protect them. In fact, they prefer to stay at home and tend to be agoraphobic. They are good at painting, excellent at needlecraft, and are purported to be the best ironers in the zodiac. They are also good at hoarding and Feng Shui.

Problems occur because of their basic insecurity and neediness. They tend to strike out without warning when they feel they are threatened which is often. Being a feminine sign, the Cancer has the concept of the “lock box” down pat. They always remember and rarely forgive the slightest injury whether real or imagined. Most Cancers have inferiority complexes complicated by the fact that most are inferior, at least, on an emotional level. They live by the tenet “To err is human, to forgive unusual.”

Physically, most Cancers, are average to below average in height, stocky, and tend to have short legs. They have round faces with prominent foreheads, small eyes, and a full mouth. Some would describe them as simian. You can usually spot a Cancer by their full breasts. This applies to both men and women. Ironically, though named Cancer, they tend to be pretty healthy. Most are vegetarians. Also ironically, although born under the sign of the crabs, most do not suffer from VD.

The Cancer’s emotional development is quite slow. Man or women, they don’t tend to hit their stride until their mid-30’s. They tend to marry very young. This can lead to legal problems in some states, but beyond that, these early marriages tend to fail because the parties are not emotionally ready. However, by the time they are in their 30’s they have mastered the arts of subtlety, manipulation, and emotional blackmail and seem to get along quite nicely.

Cancers are uncomfortable in social settings. Their basic insecurity, defensiveness, and fear of rejection make them behave in the odd manner of their symbol, the crab. At a party, if attracted to someone, they will never approach them directly. They do it in a sideways, crablike fashion. Laughing loudly, moving from one group to another, ever closer, tripping over cocktail tables, spilling drinks, trying to draw the attention of their target. Their behavior can be quite disconcerting to even the casual observer.

Cancers are intelligent and caring when their brooding and defensiveness does not come into play. They will aggressively protect their most important assets, their homes and families. Their real talent is caring for people, their homes, and the environment. As such, they make good stay-at-home moms (or pops), librarians, nursing home orderlies, and supervisors for organizations like PETA and the Sierra Club. They are also well qualified by temperament and disposition to work as junk yard attendants. They have a basic need for domestic tranquility and will do whatever it takes to achieve it even if that means beating the heck out of their spouse even if only mentally.

Appropriate Cancer Pets – There is only one pet appropriate for the typical Cancer and that is a cat. Prickly and moody, moving from playful to reclusive, the cat personifies the different aspects of your personality. With a cat as a pet the playing ground is level. It can be the same manipulative prick that you are.

-Your 2010 Horoscope (Cancer)–

In July and October, you will make your quarterly trips to the grocery store. They will be uneventful.

In August, your doctor will advise you to take up sports for relaxation and exercise. You will immediately purchase a Nintendo Qui.

In September, while working on a complicated stockinette pattern you will drop a stitch and in your frustration knock over a small bowl of potato chips. In gathering up the chips, you will eat a couple assuming the “five second rule” only to have the rule fail you. You will subsequently end up in the emergency room with a severe e-coli infection.

In November, you will be the recipient of much applause, praise, homage, and hurrahs, only to be followed by accolades, approbation, and acclaim for something that you did, said, or accomplished. Bravo and kudos.

In December, while attempting to moon the mailman in a wild holiday prank, you will discover a large testicular tumor. Merry Christmas.

Next Month: Leo (monthly personalized horoscopes available by request)

Other Services

• This month we will be offering a new service, “Past Life Regression Analysis”. Each one hour session comes with a free “tickler card” which provides a number of suggestions to help you easily recall past life experiences. These therapeutic sessions under the careful supervision of our skilled Regressionologists (@copyright) are conducted in a soothing setting and are designed to help resolve issues currently marring you present life. Let’s pull up a couch and get started.

• Please note that we have discontinued the sale of souls to the general public under our exclusive “Souls R Us” brand. We regret having to cut off orders to our New Zealand suppliers especially in this period of global slowdown; however, we have been unable to resolve the “soul leakage” issue raised by the EPA. Our entire stock of souls has been moved to a Yucca Mountain repository where they will be held pending auction. Notice of the auction will be sent out soon (wholesalers and dealers only).

• At the request of our many satisfied customers, we are expanding the offerings at our online “Soul R Us” gift shop. This month’s special comes to us from a secret and very exclusive source. It is a limited supply of the famous (some would say infamous) Bilderberg Owl. Available in two colors, this perfectly crafted replica (1/26th scale) would look great on your mantel or side table. Some conspiracy theorists claim this menacing one foot tall visage represents the evil god Molech (Ooooweeooh. Scary stuff. Ha. Ha.). Regardless, it will provide loads of fun as your friends try to guess whether you were or were not at the latest Bilderberg Group conference in Spain.

[The Bilderberg Owls are produced by the same skilled Asian workforces that previously supplied firms such as Nike and Mattel. See picture below.]

Bilderberg Owls

• Discounts are available to fellow Rosicrucian’s.


The Real Story

This is what Obama and the Democrats
are doing to the country.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The China Price

From From Bloomberg Businessweek

DECEMBER 6, 2004


They are the three scariest words in U.S. industry. Cut your price at least 30% or lose your customers. Nearly every manufacturer is vulnerable -- from furniture to networking gear. The result: A massive shift in economic power is under way.

Wage Inflation Officially Comes To China, As Foxconn Doubles Salaries After Rash Of Suicides

Joe Weisenthal | Jun. 6, 2010,

Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, which makes devices for the likes of Apple and Dell, has taken what may its most aggressive step yet to stop the suicides that have become common at the company.

It is engaging in a big wage hike.

WSJ reports that according to a company announcement, minimum wage workers may see a more than doubling of wages, while others will see at least a 30% hike -- previously the company had indicated a 20% wage hike to deal with the problem, so this is already an expansion.

This is obviously a tough move for the company to have to take given the notoriously low margins facing Chinese manufacturers, plus the fact that the yuan has already been de facto revalued higher due to the collapsing euro.

But obviously the previous situation is untenable, and we wouldn't be surprised to see this move reverberate across the country, and then, by extension across the world, to consumers that enjoy the fruits of cheap Chinese labor.

The labor unrest in China has been mounting, mounting, mounting and soon we may be talking about the Mexico Price...