“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, August 18, 2010

Iraq Ponders Its Future

My guess is the Iraq will flounder around and a new strongman will appear. At best he could be a Tito, at worse another Ayatollah. Another Hussein would probably be the best of the worst cases. The dream of democracy spreading from Iraq throughout the Middle East was after all an American dream. Reality is setting and the reality in the wonderful world of Islamic politics is a theocracy or a police state. Unfortunately for the Iraqis, without American force, the turf wars will accelerate. The Iraqi military will have to step forward and not in a way that was envisioned by the American nation builders. Too bad that.


August 17, 2010
Iraqi Leaders Fear for Future After Their Past Missteps

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s political elite, empowered by the American invasion and entrusted with the country’s future, has begun to deliver a damning critique of itself, a grim harbinger for a country rife with fears of more crises, conflicts and even coups as the American military withdraws.

“We should be ashamed of the way we led the country,” said Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a former exile and one of the country’s most prominent politicians.

The verdict by Mr. Abdul Mahdi, echoed often by his peers among the exiled opposition that followed American troops into Baghdad in 2003 and has led Iraq since, is a remarkable window on the apprehension that has seized the country today, still without leadership five months after Iraqis voted in an election meant to enshrine a new government.

As with so much here, the consequences are unpredictable. At least publicly, American officials had hoped for a power-sharing deal that would avert a more dangerous predicament, but those negotiations broke down this week. Even they have begun to worry about the implications of the impasse. “My sense is that there is impatience among the public with their politicians,” said Christopher R. Hill, the departing United States ambassador to Iraq, who had pushed for the deal before his departure last week.

For many Iraqis, especially those with memories of the four coups in the decade after the fall of the monarchy in 1958, the apprehension underlines a dangerous combination of forces here that long bedeviled the Middle East: an unpredictable, fractured military and rising popular frustration with an isolated political class that has at times seemed rudderless, even helpless.

In the end, many officials expect an eventual agreement on some sort of consensus government so inclusive as to be woefully weak, unable to assert itself and beset by stalemate over the laws necessary to shape post-American Iraq. But the failure of the elite that the United States helped to choose may serve as a lasting American legacy here, raising fundamental questions about the body politic it leaves behind as the American military departs by 2012.

“I think it’s a valid question to ask: Is this system going to work for Iraq, given its history, its peculiarities and so on?” asked Ryan C. Crocker, who preceded Mr. Hill as the American ambassador to Iraq. “I don’t have an answer. But it’s a question that’s going to need to be dealt with.”

To a remarkable degree, Iraq remains haunted by the decisions of the earliest days of the occupation in 2003, when expediency trumped foresight.

Debates still rage in Iraq over the choices the United States made: disbanding the Iraqi military, the purge of members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party and the decision to occupy Iraq rather than create a transitional Iraqi government. But perhaps the most far-reaching bequest was the power the exiled opposition and Kurdish parties have held in Iraq since 2003, filling a vacuum left by Mr. Hussein’s withering assault on any dissent.

Despite expectations that a more grass-roots leadership might emerge, only the followers of Moktada al-Sadr, a populist cleric, have done so. Otherwise the names in 2003, with the exception of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, remain much the same: two former prime ministers, Ayad Allawi and Ibrahim al-Jaafari; Ahmad Chalabi, an American ally turned critic; Mr. Abdul Mahdi; the Kurdish leaders; and two generations of Hakims, a prominent Shiite religious family.

Asked if the Americans bore blame for their prominence, Mr. Crocker said, “I don’t think so. You can ask the question, was the whole bloody thing a mistake? I don’t spend a lot of time on that. But if not them, then who?”

Palace intrigue only begins to describe the style of the political elite here since taking power, many of the players still imbued with a sepia-tinted recollection of a Baghdad only rarely mirrored in today’s rough-and-tumble streets. Most remain friends, at least in public. But the clandestine secrecy of exile, with its endless plotting and duplicitous maneuvering, still shapes their interaction. Then, survival was the goal; in many ways, it remains the same.

“Most of them, in my understanding, are still acting as if they’re in the opposition rather than trying to build a state,” Mr. Abdul Mahdi said. “I’m not excepting myself or any other.”

Between a flurry of meetings, another leading politician called his colleagues ineffective, overly impressed with the trappings of power and so greedy as to “border on being kleptocrats.” He added, “They put the immediate above the important and tactical issues above strategic matters.”

He was reluctant to speak on the record; to do so might upset potential allies.

“The same people, coming and going,” lamented Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker who served on the American-appointed Governing Council in 2003. “If someone died, he’s no longer around, but that’s it.”

As he spoke, his generator failed, plunging his house into the claustrophobic heat of a Baghdad summer. For a few hours, he suffered as does much of the rest of Baghdad, where electricity lasts for but a few hours, water is sometimes contaminated, trash piles up in the streets and the infrastructure is crumbling.

“We have failed for the past seven years,” he said.

In a hopeful irony, the very acknowledgment of that failure says something about a country still wrestling with the end of dictatorship; the ossified elite of Egypt and Syria would never do the same. Indeed, some politicians and analysts say that the political class faces an impossible task, beset by feeble and corrupt institutions, the vagaries of Mr. Hussein’s rule and a political culture that celebrates the spoils of victory.

Iraq’s neighbors, in particular Turkey and Iran, often unhelpful, have taken to playing politics here like a parlor game. To break the deadlock, American officials were pushing for a power-sharing agreement that would keep Mr. Maliki as prime minister, and Mr. Allawi in charge of security. But, Iraqi officials say, the Iranians are opposed to Mr. Allawi, while the Turks have lingering reservations about Mr. Maliki. Syria, Jordan, plus Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf are sure to want a say.

“We should blame ourselves as politicians because we allowed such countries to have so much influence in Iraq,” said Mithal al-Alusi, a former lawmaker.

The disenchantment is so pronounced, in fact, that many leaders see less a threat in the flagging but resilient insurgency and more in something unpredictable, what Mr. Abdul Mahdi termed “an adventurer” seeking to exploit chronic crises.

A leading politician related a recent conversation he had with a top Iraqi general. The politician asked about the possibility of a coup. The general, he said, deeming the talk serious, pulled out a map of the capital and provided a disconcertingly elaborate plan to execute one: overturning trucks to block the route from the main American base to the Green Zone, seizing television stations, besieging Parliament, and so on.

“When you’re president,” he quoted the general as asking, in utter seriousness, “can you make me minister of defense?”


  1. I'll never understand why we put a freaking "Parliamentary" form of government in that shithole. Our own system would have been infinitely better.

  2. The Ground Zero Victory Mosque is named "Cordoba" after the land in Spain the Muslims claim, set to open on the tenth anniversary of 9-11. Now Nazi Pelosi is investigating Ground Zero Victory Mosque opponents, which is like OJ investigating Nicole Brown Simpson.

  3. Obama was in town, and some bozo flew a seaplane down from Canada to Lake Union without getting permission, and F-15s were scrambled from the Oregon Air National Guard, and it made two sonic booms over seattle and scared the bejeezus out of the peaceniks here.

    Here's a souvenir of The One, the Messiah

  4. All so predictable.

    We're right on time and target.

    But, I'm told it was all worth it, and that the United States is better off for it.

    Right here at the Elephant Bar they say that. I think that is talking about feelings, hopes and dreams.

    Not the reality the GW Bush wrought, then brought, down upon US.

  5. Teresita said...
    Obama was in town, and some bozo flew a seaplane down from Canada to Lake Union without getting permission, and F-15s were scrambled from the Oregon Air National Guard, and it made two sonic booms over seattle and scared the bejeezus out of the peaceniks here.

    Here's a souvenir of The One, the Messiah

    Nothing a can of Lysol can't cure.

    Til then do not let your children near it...

    Maybe bleach would work? Or maybe just burn the seat.

  6. "But, I'm told it was all worth it, and that the United States is better off for it."

    I've only seen the claim that we're better off with Saddam Hussein gone. I haven't, on the other hand, seen anyone here argue that we're better off for the hot mess that was OIF generally.

  7. My favorite liberal website points to this Harold Meyerson piece in my newspaper (which I almost never read):


    So how do the Democrats defend and improve their brand? Is there a type of governmental activism that still retains public support -- and actually extricates us from the deepest hole we've been in since the '30s?

    There is. If the Democrats focused on boosting manufacturing, with a corollary upgrade to our infrastructure, they'd tap into the only area in which the public wants a more activist government.

    Several recent polls have called the Democrats' attention to what should have been obvious to them: That helping America regain its industrial preeminence is one government activity that wins support across the board. One recent survey by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman found 78 percent support for having a "national manufacturing strategy," while 92 percent said they supported infrastructure improvements using only American-made materials. Another survey from Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg found 52 percent of respondents preferred government investment "in the future," while just 42 percent favored the alternative course of large spending cuts.

    The appeal of bolstering manufacturing and upgrading infrastructure cuts across lines of race, gender and class. Even a demagogue like Rush Limbaugh would have trouble characterizing them, as he did health-care reform, as "reparations." Just as important, the public is right. Every bit of economic news confirms its apprehensions that by off-shoring our manufacturing, we have not only eliminated millions of good-paying jobs but we have also rendered ourselves incapable of regaining our economic health. The two major economies that are booming amidst the global bust are China's and Germany's -- that is, the two major economies most oriented to manufacturing. In the month since I first noted this in a column, China has surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest economy, and German exports have continued to soar. If China and Germany's growth rates for their second quarter are annualized, they come to 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

    When it comes to reviving American manufacturing, however, the Democrats have sounded an uncertain trumpet. The Mellman survey asked whether, on balance, the president and the two parties have bolstered manufacturing or not. While Obama's ratings were modestly favorable, those of the Democrats were not (45 percent to 48 percent), and those of Republicans were worse (35 percent to 57 percent).

    Democrats have responded to these numbers by throwing together some modest pro-manufacturing legislation, but it's all fairly small beer. A bolder and more effective proposal is that of Intel's legendary former chief executive Andy Grove, which ran in Bloomberg BusinessWeek last month: Tax the products of off-shored labor, and put the proceeds in a fund that can be tapped by American businesses increasing their American hiring.

    Throughout his term, Obama has spoken eloquently -- but only sporadically -- about the need to shift from an economy that makes deals to an economy that makes things. Not only does he need to say that more often, and put some serious legislative substance behind it, but it should be the mantra for congressional Democrats who need all the help they can get in the election looming darkly before them.

  8. I am sure, Mr. Shaddid, the writer of this article, had no hidden motives and no other reason to write this article other than to meet his deadline. I am sure the NYT had no hidden agenda either.

  9. Saddam' personal predicament is the extent of the Bar room conversation, when asked about the State of the Union as a result of the Iraq Adventure, as it were.

    $750 billion, borrowed from Charlie Chi-com, coupled with continued reliance upon Wahhabi oil supplies.

    That is the memorial to the victims of 11SEP2001 that the United States has really built.

    When asked about that, the conversation centers upon the evil that Saddam was, not how the evil was fully deposed of, within 100 days.

    The conversation avoids the seven years of inept planning, worse leadership and total failure by the US military to fulfill its' mission in Iraq.

    Which was to stand up a functional Iraq society, in particular its' military.

    After nine years of Congressional authorization and funding, the US military is no closer to success than when first tasked with the mission.

    But Saddam, he was such a nasty fella, his death well worth the price we've paid, here at home.

    That's what I've read, here.

    The silence speaks, loudly.

  10. Who could be more corrupt than Fitzgerald?

    Knowing Libby was not guilty, but proceeding with the trial as if he didn't?


    Guilty of Ambition

    First, the notoriously tough U.S. Attorney may have jumped the gun by arresting Blagojevich before any actual deal was cut to curry favor with the incoming administration.

    Second, in trying the case, Fitzgerald deliberately avoided calling players close to the president.

    Among those considered for Obama’s Senate seat was Obama’s close advisor Valerie Jarrett who was apparently interested in the appointment.

    And the White House’s Chief Of Staff Rahm Emmanuel reportedly gave Blago a list of names “acceptable” to the president-elect for the post.

    Despite this, neither Jarrett nor Emmanuel were called to testify against Blagojevich.

    Nor was real estate developer Tony Rezko who was a fundraiser for both Obama and Blagojevich since convicted of extorting money from businesses seeking to use his influence to land state contracts.

    By not calling these reigning political insiders to testify about their roles in seeking the Senate seat, Fitzgerald weakened his case and cost him the trial.

  11. Helping America regain its industrial preeminence may poll well, but all I can think of is unintended consequences in any serious attempt to do so.

    Also, AFAIK, we're still the world's leading manufacturer. We just don't do a lot of the low end manufacturing anymore.

    Walk back that cat? It just doesn't seem practicable.

  12. From Trish's worthless liberal trash:

    "If the Democrats focused on boosting manufacturing, with a corollary upgrade to our infrastructure, they'd tap into the only area in which the public wants a more activist government.

    Several recent polls have called the Democrats' attention to what should have been obvious to them: That helping America regain its industrial preeminence is one government activity that wins support across the board.

    That's the ticket!
    Convince the stupid American Public you're all for business when in fact you live and breathe to have control of a Government which smothers the breath out of any and every individual endeavor.

  13. Trish:
    Trolling for falsehoods.

  14. When asked about that, the conversation centers upon the evil that Saddam was, not how the evil was fully deposed of, within 100 days.

    The conversation avoids the seven years of inept planning, worse leadership and total failure by the US military to fulfill its' mission in Iraq.

    - Rat

    Total failure.

    This simply is not a reasonable statement.

    But that's okay. I wouldn't expect one.

  15. From Marginal Revolution:

    Afternoon at the Treasury
    Alex Tabarrok

    Yesterday, Tyler, myself and a handful of other economics bloggers had a chance to discuss the economy with Treasury Secretary Geithner and other treasury officials. Here are a few random notes.

    There was deep skepticism about the financial industry and about reform from some of the bloggers. More let’s say “radical” approaches such as Treasury taking an equity stake in underwater homes or giving everyone a guaranteed income were brought up. I was surprised to find myself on the side of the more conservative Treasury officials who cogently argued that such reforms were neither politically viable nor likely to work. Treasury gave a good argument that reform had been deep and meaningful.

    A few good lines from a senior treasury official as I recall the gist:

    * “Markets believe we can borrow. The public doesn’t. We need both to move forward on the fiscal front."

    * “Businesses are investing in a way that shows more confidence than they are talking.” (graph here, see the last year or so AT)

    There was a recognition that the Fed could do “dramatic” things but a sense that the theory here was uncertain and untested.

    The best question of the day came from Tyler. The discussion was on the financial reform bill and how it changed the incentives of players in the financial industry by creating more risk for them. Tyler interrupted with “What I really want to know is how your incentives have been changed! What is to say that next time the decision will not be made to again bailout the bondholders?”

    As Tyler said after an earlier visit, Geithner is smart and deep. Geithner took questions on any topic. Bear in mind that taking questions from people like Mike Konczal, Tyler, or Interfluidity is not like taking questions from the press. Geithner quickly identified the heart of every question and responded in a way that showed a command of both theory and fact. We went way over scheduled time. He seemed to be having fun.

  16. Well.

    Moving right along...

    Steve Benen at Washington Monthly:

    WHEN EVEN PAT BUCHANAN THINKS YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR.... This week, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), hoping to make the case against the proposed Park51 community center, compared Muslim Americans to Nazis. On MSNBC yesterday, Pat Buchanan -- yes Pat Buchanan -- said Gingrich went too far.

    Buchanan said Gingrich is just being a "political opportunist," hoping to keep up with former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in advance of the 2012 presidential primaries.

    "How do you get more attention than Sarah Palin, who's very good at this, is to go two steps further," Buchanan said. "I mean, I think bringing the Nazis into the argument is always absurd in American politics because there is no valid comparison there."

    As much as I appreciate Buchanan's criticism, I can't help but notice how odd it is to hear him to say "bringing the Nazis into the argument is always absurd in American politics." A year ago, it was none other than Pat Buchanan who compared non-existent "death panels" as part of health care reform to "Hitler's Third Reich, marrying Social Darwinism to Aryan racial supremacy." He's also offered some bizarre commentary on Hitler's intentions during World War II.

    With that in mind, when Buchanan thinks Gingrich has gone too far with Nazi rhetoric, you know ol' Newt has pushed the envelope.

    Newt Gingrich, political opportunist?

    Say it ain't so.

  17. With regards the Goals of the Occupation, trish, the Mission has FAILED.

    The political goals were not achieved. We did not even come close.

    The establishment and continued funding of the Anbar Auxiliaries exemplifying that failure.

    The failure of the US supplied Iraqi Constitution to provide a Government for Iraw, months after the election is completed, another sign of failure.

    Point to the successes achieved, as they apply to the political goals that were set.

    War being an extension of politics by other means.

    Point to the successes, the achievement of US strategic political goals in that region in the past seven years, since June of 2003.

  18. Other than allaying the fears of our Semitic allies with regards the threat that they perceived from Saddam's Iraq, to those residing there in Greater Arabia.

    That threat was fully removed, by June of 2003.

  19. Rat, I don't even know how to wade into that.

    First of all, Iraq actually has an entirely new government. Whatever degree of dysfunction there is, it does have that.

    And I don't know how the fuck you lay all or even any political and strategic failures at the feet of the military.

    On other occasions, you've laid it all at the feet of George W. Bush. Today it's the military.

    It just depends on who (or is that whom?) you want to goad into pointless argument.

    Not gonna do it.

  20. As an aside, we actually have a political section in Iraq, as in almost every other country.

    I've heard they're pretty good and that, given the circumstances, the military and political sides have been working well together, which is definitely not everywhere the case.

  21. It is the Federal government, trish, which GW Bush led and the US Military is a MAJOR part of.

    The US Military being part of the permanent Federal government.

    They failed, fully, in Iraq.

    That the Military and State Departments are 'working' hand in hand, in Iraq, meaningless.

    Where are the positive results?

    On the ground, in either Washington or Baghdad?

    There are none, other than increased debt to the Chinese and a strengthening of our alliance with the Semitic Wahhabi of Arabia.

    If one would consider either of those outcomes of the US adventure in Iraq as being positive.
    I do not, but many in the United States and the Government must.

  22. Helping America regain its industrial preeminence may poll well, but all I can think of is unintended consequences in any serious attempt to do so.

    Do elaborate.

    The US could create a trojan horse that could skirt trade restrictions. One way would be to build a new smart interstate highway system for trucks only. For energy conservation reasons it could restrict strategic materials such as steel and concrete be sourced from mills and plants within a five hundred mile of manufacturing to installation.

    The entire project could be long term financed by fees for service. To build it the treasury, not the Fed, would issue currency to pay the vendors and contractors.The currency would be a project series of currency. Once the project was complete the project dollars would be withdrawn at the rate of collected use fees.

    At strategic points on the new highway system, industrial park areas could be designated as state and federal tax free industrial zones (at the discretion of the states) who would compete for industry.

    New industry set up in those zones would be exempted from capital gains tax and the entire capital expenditure could be expensed over five years.

    The system would be tied into existing ports and rail depots, refineries and power facilities.

  23. I usually do, have nice days.

    It is the standard goal, here.

    It is achieved, time and again.

    To bad the same cannot be said for the goals that were set for the US Military, in Iraq and Afpakistan.

    In both locales failure is the standard that has been achieved.

    That the military exalts that failure as success, in Iraq and requiring more time in Afghanistan, emotionally moving, but not supported by the facts.

  24. The Iraqi adventure has been a complete fiasco in terms conception, execution, and now denoument.

    You have a vacuum at the top right now that won't be allowed to continue. With the US scheduled to withdraw, I wouldn't be suprised to see some group or individual to step in within the next couple years and fill that vacuum. Right back to where we were or worse.

    One even has to question whether we are better off because we took Sadaam out. Did he deserve to be taken out? You bet. Did he deserve to be hung? You bet. But then we have to ask at what cost.

    Over the many years of his reign people estimate anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 Iragis were killed. In the first few years of the occupation, estimates range from 100,000 to 600,000 Iraqis killed and 2,000,000 turned into refugees.

    Seven years in they still get electricity only about 5 hours a day. Most of then now blame us for many of these problems and we have also increased the influence there of our sworn enemy Iran.

    With the surge we will now be able to walk out of the country "claiming" vistory, we did after all bring democracy to the country. The fact that that democracy is likely to disappear within a couple years. Well, I'm sure we'll be able to rationalize that too.

    Rat's claim that it was Bush's war. True enough. What he forgets to mention, the Dems who jumped in line to support the invasion.


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  27. I have been a supporter of the government spending to help the unemployed since government policies or sins of ommission helped put them there.

    However, much of the government spending does nothing to promote hiring.


    Given Money, Schools Wait on Rehiring Teachers

    "As schools handed out pink slips to teachers this spring, states made a beeline to Washington to plead for money for their ravaged education budgets. But now that the federal government has come through with $10 billion, some of the nation’s biggest school districts are balking at using their share of the money to hire teachers right away..."

    More Money, But No New Hiring


  28. EIA Report:

    Total Product Supplied has averaged 19.6 Million barrels/day over the last 4 weeks.

    That's the highest number I've seen since 2008.

  29. hey Quirk,

    Did you ever pull the trigger and buy POT?

  30. I'm not a big fan of "manufacturing/industrial" policies as a general rule. The USSR always had one going.

  31. It is a Federal Policy, a "Housing Policy," that has put us in this mess.

    Government policies are, sometimes, good thing; but many times they misallocate resources, badlly.

  32. Did you ever pull the trigger and buy POT?

    I did. And I made a little money on it before I got out.

    But it's been up and down a couple times since then. Everytime I had the rationale for why it should rise substantially, it would go down.

    Too hard for me to figure out.

    Did I make out on the latest jump?


    I probably need to talk to my guru on all things agricultural, Bob.


  33. Says the yahoo that's constantly agitating for an "energy" policy.


    Nobody ever said Democracy was easy, eh?

  34. Long-term I think you have to make out buying POT or better yet some of the smaller producers.

    But in todays market, I'm pretty much just trading, treading water until things improve, if they improve.


  35. Q, I'm the absolute Worst stock trader in the world. Bar None.

    I have noticed one thing about Ag. Stocks, though. Wall Street doesn't understand them, either. If I "Had" to trade ag stocks I would take the "Contrarian" position to everything I see on CNBC. I might not "make" any money, but I'd probably lose less.

  36. It seems POT has jumped on the attempted take-over.

    With my gambling money I'm simply shorting the index and jumping in and out trying to be a trader.

  37. Of course, were I to query Bob on something agricultural, I would probably get a response, "Boy that alfalfa is pretty but forget the damn stocks and let's go to the casino. It's free t-shirt night."


  38. Two weeks, ago, all you heard on CNBC was about the "Fires/Drought" in Russia, and the devastation to their wheat crops. They even "Cut" wheat exports.

    I pointed out that Russia doesn't export much wheat, anyway, and we were going to have a large crop in the U.S.

    Sure enough, Wheat has plunged. I pointed out that a lot of farmers are saying the corn crop isn't quite as good as the "Record" forecasted by the USDA. I thought that was likely given it's been over 100 degrees here all damned summer. Corn likes hot days, and cool nights. Corn doesn't like UnGodly hot days, and hot nights.

    Anyway, Corn has had quite a little run, also helped out by the fact that China has come into the market, and started buying.

    They'll probably notice this on CNBC one of these days, which will probably be a good time to sell corn. Or not.

    Jack Daniels, and Blackjack is more fun, and, probably, for the average sicko not nearly as expensive. :)

  39. I hate to say this with Rufus present, but I was listening to CNBC today.

    Talking of agriculture, a guy was on that indicated that there was still about 130 million acres of land worldwide still available to plant crops on. The push to get more off each acre of land also continues. However, will overall prosperity increasing (albeit in relative terms) throughout the world and with worldwide population growing, food will be a growth industy for the forseeable future.

    Also, if calorie intake worldwide grew to the levels of the US (not necessarily a good thing) it would take 2.3 more earths to satisfy the needs.

    Long-term, it sounds like POT is probably a good bet.


  40. The way things are going right now, I'm putting my gambling money in a new start-up I spotted.

    It's called Soylent Green, Inc.


  41. There's a Great example, right there, Quirk. It's more like 1.3 Billion Acres.

    And, that's just, basically, land that has been farmed, before, and is now abandoned. Russia, alone, has 100 Million Acres of very good "Black Land" lying fertile. Brazil could, easily, put 300 Million acres to work, maybe a Lot more. Don't even get me started on Africa.

    The Big thing is the new seeds. You can now raise pretty good crops on land that is aluminum-toxic. That's about 1/3 of all the land in the world.

    Also, with the added CO2 in the air, and the new seeds you can raise crops in drier climates than before.

    I agree that Pot should be a good "long term" play; but, . . . . . . . . how old did you say you were?

  42. ... how old did you say you were?

    Fuck you, Rufus.

    Hey, where the heck is Bob anyway?

    His constant running stream of commentary is kinda like elevator music that you get used to.


  43. Not meaning to put you down, Q. I'm in the "I don't even buy green bananas" group, myself. :)

  44. You're right, I hope the dear boy is well.

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  46. Well, considering your other comments Ruf, the question of millions vs billions may have resulted from my diminishing hearing capacity...

    I repeat, you really are a dick.



  47. One State is Really Doing it Right.

    This just might be the best state in the Union. Make sure you click on the video.

  48. They produce 20% of their "Energy" from renewable, and are aiming at 30%. They'll, probably, end up at 40%, or 50%, easily.

    They, also, have one of the lowest unemployment rates of any state, and one of the highest quality of life ratings.

  49. There is no denial of the Democrats supporting the invasion of Iraq, Q.

    I supported the invasion of Iraq.

    Did until the last week of June, 2003. When the US stomped down on local elections, there.

    That was when it became evident to me that Mr Bush and his cohort had lied about the objective of the exercise.

    The subsequent events, at home and abroad have solidified my opinion on that.
    It seems to me that Mr Bush "Stayed the Course" he just did not know what is was, he never really had a clue.

    His Generals surely did and they all made big career moves after their deployment and failure, in Iraq.

    General Casey, to be sure. General P, he was in charge of training the Iraqi Army, his primary function before being sent to Kansas. The results of his work, evident in the source material for this thread.

    The abject failure of the Iraqi Army to perform to standard. That failure leads US back to the foundation laid by General P, in 2003 & 2004.

  50. The Ministry of Oil Defense

    It's not polite to say so, but if Americans understood just how many trillions their military was really spending on protecting oil, they wouldn't stand for it.

    This is one of the tricky things about oil, the hidden costs, and one of the reasons we are addicted to the substance -- we don't acknowledge its full price.

    If we wish to know, we can. An innovative approach comes from Roger Stern, an economic geographer at Princeton University who in April published a peer-reviewed study on the cost of keeping aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf from 1976 to 2007. Because carriers patrol the gulf for the explicit mission of securing oil shipments, Stern was on solid ground in attributing that cost to oil. He had found an excellent metric. He combed through the Defense Department's data -- which is not easy to do because the Pentagon does not disaggregate its expenditures by region or mission -- and came up with a total, over three decades, of $7.3 trillion. Yes, trillion.

    And that's just a partial accounting of peacetime spending. It's far trickier to figure out the extent to which America's wars are linked to oil and then put a price tag on it. But let's assume that Rumsfeld, in an off-the-record moment of retirement candor, might be persuaded to acknowledge that the invasion of Iraq was somewhat related to oil. A 2008 study by Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes put the cost of that war -- everything spent up to that point and likely to be spent in the years ahead -- at a minimum of $3 trillion (and probably much more). Again, trillion.

  51. You gotta love this:
    WASHINGTON – American taxpayers will pay the imam behind plans for a mosque near the Manhattan site of the Sept. 11 attacks $3,000 in fees for a three-nation outreach trip to the Middle East that will cost roughly $16,000, the State Department said Wednesday.

    The department said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will get a daily $200 honorarium for the 15-day tour to Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which is intended to promote religious tolerance.

    Airfare is included, as well as the standard federal government per diem for expenses and lodging in each of the cities he will visit, spokesman P.J. Crowley said. Those per diem rates range from nearly $400 to nearly $500, according to official documents.

  52. Peanut dough when compared to the $13 million per year, of a four year grant, for the Saudis and Israeli to talk amongst themselves and others about moon dust.

    The imam is cheap, by comparison.

  53. Won't even break $10,000.
    Not much to pay, for a specialist in international religious affairs, to spread the "good word of our works" amongst our Semitic allies.

    Nothing but a thing, that.

  54. Well, at least it doesn't look like the Imam is taking staff, family members, a few BF's, half the Secret Service and Air Force Two.


  55. Quirk said...
    Of course, were I to query Bob on something agricultural, I would probably get a response, "Boy that alfalfa is pretty but forget the damn stocks and let's go to the casino. It's free t-shirt night."

    Wed Aug 18, 01:24:00 PM EDT

    You left out the obligatory poetry and high probability of some Ophraesque personal drama.

  56. Think about that 1 day trip out west:
    Two 747's, planes for the cars and Helicopters, shutting down Los Angeles to the tune of tens or hundreds of millions of lost productivity...

    Quite a Royalty we've developed.

    Puts the rock triangle people to shame.

    (senior momentese for pyramid builders)

  57. Potash?
    I thot that was a blast from the past. Quirk

  58. Rat:
    We should get Rufus started on how GM wiped out public transit in Los Angeles.
    That and the water story are legends.

  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

  60. It's all about security, doug.

    Cannot have enough security, you know. Cover all the contingencies.

    Everything has to be thought through, but not communicated, security data connections, they have to be stove piped, you know.

    Not enough folk with Clearances to read all the reports.

  61. I paste, you decide:

    "If you think trashing the LA trolleys was the extent of GM's alleged crimes, Tom, you ain't heard nothin' yet. In 1974 one Bradford Snell, a staff attorney for the U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee, advanced the startling proposition that GM had (1) sabotaged energy-efficient electric transit systems in 45 cities around the country, including LA, in order to sell more fuel-guzzling buses and autos; (2) forced the railroads to replace nonpolluting electric locomotives with GM-built diesels by threatening to withhold lucrative auto shipments; and, most astonishing of all, (3) treasonously built armaments for the Nazis during World War II through Opel, its German subsidiary. Not surprisingly, Snell's charges were widely publicized.

    Snell lavished particular attention on the case of the Pacific Electric. Though it's difficult to believe today, Los Angeles once boasted the largest system of "interurbans" (heavy-duty inter-city trolleys) in the U.S., carrying some 80 million passengers a year in the late 1930s. According to Snell, all this went out the window starting in 1939, when GM got together with Standard Oil of California (now Chevron), Firestone, and other auto-related firms to set up a holding company that bought up trolley lines, dismantled them, and replaced them with buses. "The noisy, foul-smelling buses turned earlier patrons of the high-speed rail system away from public transit and, in effect, sold millions of private automobiles," Snell said. "Largely as a result, Los Angeles today is an ecological wasteland."

    In a stinging counterattack, GM argued that Snell's accusations were off the wall from start to finish. The company said it relinquished day-to-day control of Opel in 1939 following the German invasion of Poland, and severed all relations with the firm when Germany declared war on the U.S. in 1941. It denied trying to strong-arm the railroads, pointing out that an earlier government investigation into the matter had produced nothing. Finally, it said its investments in various transit holding companies were small, that it exercised no managerial control, that many of the PE lines the California holding company bought had already been converted to buses, and that in any case the conversion to buses was part of a nationwide trend that was well under way before GM had made any transit investments at all.

    Now, you may or may not believe GM's professions of innocence concerning the holding company. But most authorities agree that trolleys bit the dust in LA and elsewhere not because of a conspiracy but because they were slow and inconvenient compared to autos, and in the long run just couldn't compete. Los Angeles is typical in this respect. It has neither the high population density nor the concentrated downtown necessary to support rail transit. The PE, which was owned by the Southern Pacific railroad, made a profit in only 8 of the 42 years it was in business under its own name. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that many PE lines in LA proper operated on city streets, and as more cars crowded those streets, service got progressively slower. (The average speed on the run to Santa Monica was only 13 MPH.)

    Buses were looked on as the transit industry's salvation because they were cheaper to operate and maintain than trolleys, with no tracks or wires. In fact, the PE had begun to convert to buses in 1917, and had changed over 35 percent of its system by 1939. A state commission in the late 30s urged that busification continue, and by the early 1950s most of the tracks were gone. The last line gave up the ghost in 1961. It's too bad--some think the PE could have been the nucleus of a decent, if heavily subsidized, modern rail system--but blaming GM is like blaming the inventor of gunpowder for war.

    — Cecil Adams

  62. Mr Alfred Bernhard Nobel, doug, blamed himself, after discovering that others did.

    Before the premature report of his own death Mr Nobel did not realize that others thought he was:
    Le marchand de la mort est mort ("The merchant of death is dead") and went on to say,
    "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday."

  63. This comment has been removed by the author.

  64. Alfred trying the posthumous "Good Works" method of salvation.

  65. I'm betting the family fortune on Fuel Cells.
    Markets are not moved.

    Filling the Tank With Something Else

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A new federal agency is financing attempts to find a renewable replacement for gasoline and diesel fuel, like a new liquid fuel or a much better battery.
    Previous Articles in the Series »

  66. Who is faced with such risk of "certain death" that 100% risk can be mitigated?

    The Iranians certainly pose no such risk, not of anyone's "certain death" by the Russians fueling the reactor.


    Published on The New Republic (

    Historical Fiction
    Israel is not a colonialist state.
    Dore Gold August 17, 2010 | 12:00 am

    The argument that Israel is a colonialist entity is often marshaled to undermine the Jewish state’s legitimacy. The theme has certainly permeated Western academia, almost uncritically. For decades, it has been employed against Israel in one international forum after another. In 1973, the U.N. General Assembly gave initial momentum to this idea when it condemned the “unholy alliance between Portuguese colonialism, South African racism, Zionism, and Israeli imperialism.”

    That association of Israel with colonialist regimes set the stage in 1975 for the most insidious resolution ever adopted in the General Assembly against Israel, which stated that Zionism was a form of racism. It helped cement the Afro-Asian bloc behind both the resolution and the movement to delegitimize Israel. Even when, in 1991, the General Assembly finally overturned the resolution, comparisons between Zionism and colonialism persisted, arguably becoming even more strident.

    Speaking in Johannesburg in 2008, Azmi Bishara, a former member of the Knesset, explained another way that accusing Israel of being a colonialist entity has real political utility. Bishara, who today does not miss an opportunity to question Israel’s legitimacy before audiences abroad, explained that two points had to be established to show that Israel was an apartheid state: first, that Israel practiced racial separation; and second, that it was a product of colonialism.

    Of course, anyone who visits the emergency rooms in Israeli hospitals, or the classrooms at any Israeli university, or the voting booths on election day, to say nothing of the Knesset itself, would see both Jewish and Arab doctors, patients, professors, students, voters, and parliamentarians mixing together in a way that utterly disproves the charge of apartheid. That leaves Bishara with mainly the claim of colonialism to make his case.

  68. Unlike the charge of racial separation, the tag “colonialist” cannot be refuted simply by looking around modern Israel. It is a historical charge about how Israel came to exist: In effect, it amounts to the claim that Israel was established as an outpost of another distant power imposing itself on the territory and its native inhabitants. But the fact is that while modern Israel succeeded the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine, it was created by neither the British nor any other occupying power.

    The Jews were already asserting their right to self-determination well before the British and the French dismantled the Ottoman Empire. For example, the Jewish people had already re-established their majority in Jerusalem by 1863. Decades later, Britain and the rest of the League of Nations considered Jewish rights in Palestine beyond their power to bestow because those rights were already there to be accepted. Thus the League of Nations gave recognition to “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” In other words, it recognized a pre-existing right. It called for “reconstituting” the Jewish people’s national home. And the rights recognized by the League of Nations in 1922 were preserved by its successor organization, the United Nations, which in Article 80 of its charter acknowledged all rights of states and peoples that existed before 1945.

    The accusation that Israel has colonialist roots because of its connection to the British Mandate is ironic, since most of the Arab states owe their origins to the entry and domination of the European powers. Prior to World War I, the Arab states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan did not exist, but were only districts of the Ottoman Empire, under different names. They became states as a result of European intervention, with the British putting the Hashemite family in power in two of these countries.

  69. Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states, meanwhile, emerged from treaties that their leaders signed with Britain. By means of those treaties, the British recognized the legitimacy of local Arab families to rule what became states like Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar. A similar British treaty with the al-Saud family in 1915 set the stage for the eventual emergence of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

    Moreover, during Israel's War of Independence, Arab armies benefited directly from European arms and training—and even manpower. The Arab Legion initially fought in Jerusalem with British officers, while the skies of the Egyptian Sinai were protected from the Israeli Air Force by the Royal Air Force. Indeed, Israeli and British aircraft clashed in 1949.

    William Roger Louis, one of the foremost historians of British imperial strategy, uncovered an extremely revealing document from the British foreign office that puts into perspective Israel’s relationship with the European colonial powers at its birth. In his 1984 book, The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951, he describes a meeting on July 21, 1949 of senior British officials at the end of Israel’s War of Independence. Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Middle East Office, said, “We were in a position to control the Arab governments but not Israel.” He then expressed fear that “the Israelis might drag the Arab States into a neutral bloc and even attempt to turn us out of Egypt.” The original Foreign Office document also expressed concern that the British would lose their airbases in Iraq. In 1956, Israel briefly made common cause with Britain and France against Nasser’s Egypt, but this could not alter the fact that, for the imperial powers, Israel was an obstacle, not an outpost.

    Nevertheless, in recent years, the effort to portray Israel as a colonial entity has expanded. For many Palestinian spokesmen, in particular, it became important to deny the historical ties of the Jewish people to their land and to portray them as recent colonialist arrivals to the region—in contrast to the Palestinians, who were portrayed as the authentic native population.

  70. This effort reached an audacious peak when Yasser Arafat denied that the Temple had ever existed in Jerusalem at the end of the July 2000 Camp David Summit with President Clinton. Many of his deputies—from Saeb Erekat to Mahmoud Abbas—have since picked up the same theme. Speaking on November 12, 2008, at a U.N. General Assembly “Dialogue of Religions and Cultures,” the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, addressed the historical connections of Islam and Christianity to Jerusalem, but noticeably did not say a single word about Judaism's ties to the Holy City.

    In a similar vein, Arafat used to tell Western audiences that the Palestinians are descendents of the Jebusites, with ancient roots in the land. But in Palestinian society, one establishes one’s status by claiming to be a relative latecomer, whose ancestors were from the Arabian families that accompanied the Second Caliph Umar bin al-Khatttab when he conquered and colonized Byzantine Palestine in the seventh century. Even at that time, the Jews were still a plurality—and, perhaps along with the Samaritans, a majority—in the land, six hundred years after the Romans destroyed their ancient Temple and the Second Jewish Commonwealth. This emerges from Professor Moshe Gil’s monumental 800-page A History of Palestine: 634-1099.

    Ascertaining the truth has never been the objective of those trying to paint Israel with a colonialist brush. They have been determined simply to conclude that the Jews came as an alien force to Palestine, to advance European interests, rather than see them as a people recovering their historical homeland, where they had deep, indigenous roots.

    Dore Gold is an Israeli statesman who has served in various diplomatic positions under several Israeli governments. He is the current President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

  71. Ah shit, Doug's here.

    I just sit down to take a minute's rest and enjoy some interesting conversation and who has my seat, Mai Tai Doug. He doesn't even bother to sit over in the Tiki Bar section anymore.

    I just finished ripping out my old microwave, one of those over the stove models. It's a heck of a lot easier putting them in than taking them out.

    Of course, I did install the old one during the anal stage of my home modernization experiments. It took me about an hour to get it out. Finally, I had to take a crow bar to the damn thing. It then took me about twenty minutes to get the attaching back plate off the wall due to all the heavy- duty screws and lag bolts I used putting it up.

    I vow not to go the overkill route in installing the new one.

    Er, what was that you were talking about Doug?


  72. I'm betting the family fortune on Fuel Cells

    Hard to tell if this was connected to the article you posted Doug.

    Batteries are kind of neat in niche quantities. What I've never figured out is what you do with the old batteries once they die. I mean they probably would need hundreds (thousands?) of different configurations to work in different models (assuming they took off as a viable alternative).
    I guess you could re-cycle some parts of them but what about the rest? What if millions were sold? Would you need a Yucca Mountain for dead battery parts.

    Next the Greens would be complaining about that.

    Or, maybe I'm just missing something here.


  73. Don't know nothin about no birthing of streetcars in L.A., Doug.

  74. I'm more interested in the latest news that Newscorp (second largest shareholder: Saudi Prince Wallerinintheweeds) contributed $1,000,000.00 to the Republican Governors Assoc.

  75. Whit, I will be traveling tomorrow.

  76. Little Jack Horner sits in the corner and denies reality.

    They are all Wahhabi mouthpieces, FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, Republican Governors Association, now.

    Takin' that Semite money.

    August 18, 2010

    News Corp.'s $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association earlier this year would be a notable gift from any company — but Rupert Murdoch's media empire is hardly just any company.

    News Corp. owns the Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, the Fox Business Network and more than two dozen local television stations, many with news programs.

    Murdoch, of course, is known for his business savvy, his largely conservative political views, and his belief that much of the American press is skewed to the left.

    "I don't think the million-dollar contribution will make Fox News Channel more right-wing oriented, because, for the most part, I don't see how it could be," says Eric Burns, former chief media critic for Fox News.

    Officials at Fox News, the nation's top-rated cable news channel, declined to comment. They deferred to their parent company, News Corp., whose spokesman Jack Horner rejects the notion that the gift in any way undercuts the professional standing of its journalists.

  77. I just ordered bamboo sheets.


  78. This feels like a "bridge too far." I've watched fox news, mostly for entertainment, and background noise, for many years; but, now, it's getting kind of embarrassing to admit it.

  79. So, I ran the gloomy Iraq scenario past the man who just stepped back into town from Bragg (but who's staying downtown with some unknown group of people before flying out) and what I got was, "Yeah. That sounds about right."

    "Well, how long do you give it after our combat withdrawal?"

    "Twelve to eighteen months."

    "But we'll still be there, right? I mean, there are the advisers..."

    "Uh huh. They're National Guard guys who advise on civil matters. We'll still have the civilian complement there."

    "So this was in no way worth it."

    "Not from any way you look at it. It weakened us. That's the thing. We lost a buffer."

  80. This comment has been removed by the author.

  81. I really was hoping to tease out some redeeming feature to the whole endeavor; some surprising silver lining.

    No joy.

  82. This comment has been removed by the author.

  83. When Target gave money in July to a pro-business group in Minnesota, the company thought it was helping its bottom line by backing candidates in its home state who support lower taxes. Instead, the retailer has found itself in a fight with liberal and gay rights groups that has escalated into calls for a nationwide boycott and protests at the company's headquarters and stores.


    The angry response was immediate. e-mailed members, asking them to sign a petition promising to boycott Target unless the company pledged to stop contributing money for political activities.


    The political donations by Target and Best Buy were made possible by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court found that corporations were akin to individuals when it comes to political speech.

    Target in Bull's-eye

  84. ""Not from any way you look at it. It weakened us. That's the thing. We lost a buffer.""

    He's right.

    After the Cold War and through the 90's the US was considered the Hyper power in the world. There was no one to challenge us.

    Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice and we made no friends in pursuing it. In fact, we increased our enemies.
    There were no benefits to be achieved accept the catharsis of taking out Sadaam and the neocon dream of establishing another democracy in the middle east.

    I'm not sure Iraq even wanted a democracy. It doesn't look like Afghanistan does.

    It will take years to rebuild the armaments we've used up in fighting these two wars. Our economy started going to shit because of it's cost. Worse, where as before Iraq the US was considered THE superpower, now the world sees that we can be fought to a stalemate by assymetrical forces and tactics.

    We are weaker now.

    The US could have declared victory and left anytime it wanted. They should have done that five or more years ago.


  85. It seems to me that if Murdoch had donated to the Republicans out of his Own pocket it would be just another rich guy buying a politician, ie, whas'a big deal?

    But, This is just a blatant admission that Fox News is "Republican News." They've always, of course, leaned right; but they could say, "well, the other channels lean so far left, that we just make it "fair and balanced."

    Now, I guess, they need to change the header to "News From the Republican Side." I don't like it.

  86. This feels like a "bridge too far."

    Hard to say if it's an offensive or defensive move Rufus.

    Fox or the WSJ don't try to hide their conservative bona fides. The governors are important to the push towards the 2012 elections both because they greatly influence next year's re-drawing of congressional districts and because they open the doors to fundraising.

    However, Rupert may also be looking at this as a defensive move for this year. Fox and the WSJ have been running constant stories and commentary predicting a big GOP win in November.

    It will look good for them if the GOP wins big. Bad for them if it doesn't.

    With regard to Sam's story about the Left's boycott of Target, I'm betting News Corp would love to be boycotted.


  87. I was writing the last post and didn't see yours Ruf.

    Viewing it from the standpoint of Murdock giving the money rather than News Corp I guess you are right.

    Doesn't look good. Bad PR.

    On the other hand, in reality, the money is coming from the same source. Just different pockets.


  88. I've heard chants of "Death to America" and Death to Americans" my whole life.

    Ain't nothing new, there.

    Sometimes it was Charlie Chi-com doing the chanting, sometimes it was Europeons. There was a Bas-relief of Panamanians being shot off US wire, at the bus stop outside Gorgas Hospital, in the old Canal Zone. That led to some tense moments, chants included.

    Often it was South Koreans. Got up close and personal with some of those Koreans, once. It became flight before fight situation.

    So, no, amigo, I have heard those chants all my life, it is not selective deafness, but professional threat assessment, that you get to witness.

    The Iranians, they are no offensive threat. Have not been, will not be.
    The UAW, alone, could take on their air force, and win.

    If they nuke up, it is as a defensive move, surrounded as they are by both Semitic and Islamic radicals, whom already have nuclear capacity.

    The Saudi having both the F-15 delivery aircraft and access to Pakistani technology qualify as "nuked up".

    Just as the Turks qualify, though neither Semitic nor Wahhabi, with the 50 or so nukes we have entrusted to their care.

  89. There is no reason for the Iranians to be the only country in that part of the whirled without a nuclear capability.

    Not from their perspective.

    Not when they are continually harassed with bombastic verbal assaults and threats of attack with neutron bombs.

  90. That'd be the UAE, not the UAW, though I'd bet those Union boys could more than hold their own against the Persians, too.

  91. Talking of a previous Israeli strike against an Iraqi reactor, made in 1981, Bolton said:

    “If Israel was right to destroy the Osiraq reactor, is it right to allow this one to continue? You can’t have it both ways.”


    Sergei Novikov, spokesman for the Russian nuclear power agency Rosatom, confirms that the Bushehr power station will come online in days. He said:

    “The fuel will begin charging in the reactor on August 21. From this moment, Bushehr will be considered a nuclear installation.”


    Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council believes that if Israel were to make an attack, it would more likely be against the installations further inland, rather than Bushehr. He said:

    “It’s not at all clear that Bushehr would be a high value target because it’s only tangentially related to any conceivable Iranian nuclear weapons program. My suspicion is this isn’t a game changer.

    Nuclear Threat?

  92. "We are weaker now."

    Yes, but I believe his point was directed at the more fundamental decision to begin with, to remove the regime.

    That we got our asses kicked for a number of years after making that initial, singularly awful strategic decision, adds further tragedy.

  93. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs's MASHAV program (Hebrew acronym for Israel's Center for International Cooperation) works to solve global humanitarian crises and provide assistance for those in need. In 2010 alone, MASHAV has trained aid workers and provided medical assistance worldwide, through undertakings such as:

    - sending Israeli ophthalmologists in June to Micronesia and the Marshall Islands to perform over 100 procedures, including cataract surgeries, and to demonstrate surgical techniques to local doctors;

    - providing blankets, tents, and other emergency equipment to Moldova following recent flooding in the country;

    - dispatching Israeli medical professionals specializing in burns and plastic surgery to the Democratic Republic of Congo to help victims of a major tank truck explosion;

    Relief Efforts

  94. Some of those links are broken, anon.

  95. Bolton's bat-shit crazy. Ain't no BODY going to blow up no Nuke Reactor with a passel of Russians inside. No how. No way.

    That fucker's gone straight looney-tunes.

  96. Yes, but I believe his point was directed at the more fundamental decision to begin with, to remove the regime.

    You know how I feel about that.

    Your husband sounds like a smart man.

    Must be a Scorpio.



  97. The Military did an Incredible job in Iraq, Trish. Nobody outside of S. Carolina (too small to be a country, to big to be an insane asylum) could even imagine blaming the them.

    The neocons went stone-cold stupid with their dreams of "Iraq the Iowa."

    (Now, we might have a few things to say if Petraeus, and co, keep peeing on Obama's leg, and purring into his ear about "how warm is the rain.")

  98. I'm whupped, nite all

  99. One wonders what Bolton is doing lecturing the Israelis.

    "You can't have it both ways."

    What a dick.


  100. Don't you just hate it when someone slips a comment in between you little kissy-face smiles?

  101. Yeah, that's right. I saw you and Quirk slip off to the basement thread last night. Cooing, and touching, and posting those little smiley faces at each other.

  102. What, you didn't think anyone would notice?


  103. Hell Rufus, you get more smiley faces out of me than anyone on the blog.

    Just trying to make you jealous.


  104. Hey, what do you think about the t-shirts I mentioned.

    You wouldn't really want to be a Looter without one, would you?


  105. According to Les Stroud, if you pull off the stinger Scorpios make for good eating in the desert.

  106. This not being an x-rated blog I will skip making a comment on the last post.

    However, I did eat scorpions while in China. They are considered a delicacy there.

    One of the guys on our team was Chinese and had a friend who did automotive repair and maintenace for the military. He also owned a restaurant. Anyway my friend smuggled some auto parts in for the guy, so the owner invited a few of us guys to dinner.

    They lay all the food out on this
    turntable and you just turn the table and grab what you want. By this time I knew what to avoid there, but I'd never had scorpions.

    As I said it's considered a delicacy so they kept pushing for all of us to try them. I kept avoiding it and downing the Tsingtao and this shit-liquor (forget the name but they pushed it at every banquet) until it got to the point I was afraid of hurting someones feelings. So I had some.

    Wasn't bad. A little crunchy though.

    Of course I was kind of wasted by that time.


  107. "Wasn't bad. A little crunchy though.

    "Of course I was kind of wasted by that time."

    That helps.

  108. Les Stroud would have appreciated it.

    The banquets there often required survival techniques.

    A man needs to adapt to any circumstance.


  109. Ever done the Mezcal grub, quirk?

  110. Sam, I am embarrassed to tell you I have never even had mezcal.


  111. This sounds like a swell idea.

    Civilians to Take U.S. Lead After Military Leaves Iraq

    As the United States military prepares to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, the Obama administration is planning a remarkable civilian effort, buttressed by a small army of contractors, to fill the void.

    But I've Got Diplomatic Immunity


  112. This comment has been removed by the author.

  113. !!


    Now I'm going to have to buy a bottle.


  114. This comment has been removed by the author.

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