“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pakistan Gets Ugly

Pakistan bans NATO supply convoys after troop deaths
From Frederik Pleitgen and Barbara Starr, CNN
September 30, 2010 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)

Three soldiers were killed when NATO helicopters crossed the Afghanistan Pakistan border, Pakistani security officials said.

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan has banned NATO supply convoys from entering Afghanistan after fighting between NATO troops and militants led to the killing of three Pakistani soldiers, according to a military official from the NATO-led command in Afghanistan.

The troops were killed when three NATO helicopters crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistani airspace early Thursday and attacked a military outpost, Pakistani security officials said. Three troops were wounded as well, the officials said.

Supply convoys are all-important for the Afghan war effort, and officials from NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were trying to persuade Pakistan to lift the ban. Coalition forces rely heavily on convoys from Pakistan to bring in supplies and gear.

ISAF said in a statement Thursday that its forces saw what they thought were insurgents trying to fire mortars at a coalition base in the Dand Patan District of Afghanistan's Paktiya province, near the Pakistani border.

An air weapons team targeted the suspected insurgents' firing position, located inside Afghanistan along the border area, and the aircraft entered Pakistani airspace briefly "as they engaged this initial target," the ISAF statement said.

After this strike, the "aircraft received what the crews assessed as effective small arms fire from individuals just across the border in Pakistan" and the ISAF aircraft, operating in self-defense, entered into Pakistani airspace and killed "several armed individuals."

Later, Pakistani military officials told ISAF that coalition aircraft struck its border forces.

"ISAF and Pakistani forces are reviewing the operational reporting to verify the exact location of the two engagements and the facts in this case, and we will work together to fully investigate this incident.

"Both sides have in mind that it is the insurgents, operating on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and violating the territorial sovereignty of both countries, that we are focused on fighting," the ISAF statement said.

ISAF issued "sincere condolences to the Pakistani military and the families of those who were killed or injured."
Three Pakistani security officials said the helicopters attacked the Mandato Kandaho outpost, which is 5 km (about 3 miles) inside Pakistani territory. The area targeted lies in the Kurram Agency, one of seven districts in the Pakistani tribal region.

The dead Pakistani soldiers are members of the Frontier Corps, according to the officials.

A senior administration official in the tribal region's Khyber Agency told CNN Thursday that Pakistan had temporarily stopped NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan in the area of Takhta Baig, which is located about 45 km (28 miles) from the border with Afghanistan.

The official asked to not be named because he was not authorized to talk to the media


  1. Escalating war in Afpakistan.


    Must be "election time" in the U.S.

    Pakistan Frontier Forces: Also known as "The Enemy/Taliban."

  2. I finally found the "good news." Business Spending on Equipment and Software Up 24.8% last month.

    Annual Rate, I assume.

    That's pretty strong. It will be followed, at some point, by employment.

  3. Finance Minister Brian Lenihan laid bare the full extent of state bailouts for the troubled banking sector -- the Anglo rescue bill alone equals the annual taxation revenues -- and insisted Ireland was coming to terms with the "nightmare."

    And we thought our deal was a mess

  4. Why we don't have bankers hanging from lightposts I truly don't understand.

  5. THIS is Unbelievable.

    Just how far U.S. manufacturing has waned is apparent at a factory in Valparaiso, Indiana, where dogs skitter across a bare concrete shop floor, their nails clicking. This brick plant on Elm Street once made 80 percent of the rare-earth magnets in laser-guided U.S. smart bombs, according to U.S. Senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat from Indiana. In 2003, the plant’s owner shifted work to China, costing 230 jobs.

    Now the plant houses Coco’s Canine Cabana, a doggy day care the current tenants started to supplement sagging income from their machine shop. On most days dogs outnumber the 15 metalworkers, said Kathy DeFries, co-owner of Excel Machine Technologies Inc.

    “When things got slow for manufacturing, we had this big empty shop floor,” said DeFries, nuzzling a floppy-eared puppy. “It’s a great stress reliever.”

    Pentagon Loses Control to China Metal Monopoly

    The U.S. and the European Union consider Chinese restrictions on a range of raw goods part of a strategy to draw in higher-paying manufacturing jobs by making them cheaper to buy inside China. The export taxes violate World Trade Organization rules because China pledged to limit them to 84 product categories when it joined the trade group in 2001,

  6. China dominates the 'rare earth metals'.

    As I understand it, 'rare earth metals' aren't all that rare (Canada, Australia, Africa, US all have them).

    The problem is they are expensive to mine and process. So we have ceded the business to China in order to 'save a buck'. The common refrain of the free traders.

    What they fail to see, recognize, or just care about is eventually it becomes a one way street. The rare earth metals go into everything from autos to space age electronics to military weapons. The threatened cut off of rare earth metals was part of the extortion China used with Japan to get it to release their boat captain.

    We let China have this business to save a buck and eventually we are blackmailed by it. We turn over our manufacturing sector to China and our servicing sector to India to save a buck and soon there are no jobs here.

    Big price to pay for that third TV.

    "Trinkets for the natives" courtesy of Wall Street and the US Government.


  7. lordy, lordy, lordy, talk about a Big Brother government sticking its nose into all kinds of odd places!!

    "New U.S. law turns down volume on TV commercials

    Legislation to turn down the volume on those loud TV commercials that send couch potatoes diving for their remote controls looks like it'll soon become law.

    The Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to limit the volume of commercials and keep them at the level of the programs they interrupt."

    Good to see those legislators hard at work!!!



  9. There is not one damn thing we need from China.

    They want stimulus. Ask the Chinese for an inventory on the US securities they are holding and have the fed send them a check.

  10. hmmm, I like the idea of everyone walking around naked!

  11. Ask the Chinese for an inventory on the US securities they are holding and have the fed send them a check.

    Half now, half later, contingent on fulfillment of negotiated stipulations TBD.

    The first step is getting their attention.

    The second step is getting their respect.

  12. That was awesome Sam. Thanks!

  13. This is a typical problem we have got ourselves into with China. In one of my industrial processes I use spherical metal powder. I can get it in the US. It was once made here. i have no idea if the company i use still makes it here. But if I look at the internet, this is what I get:

    China (49)
    Korea (South) (1)
    Lithuania (1)
    Hong Kong (1)
    United Kingdom (1)

    It would take some pain getting manufacturing back, but if we did it through the Americas, we would get reasonable prices, with new modern factories.

    We need an unabashedly bold process of import replacement. We should do secondary processing in the extraction countries. That would give us a competitive advantage over the Chinese.

    We should state clearly to the Chinese that our goals are expanded trade that is within 10% of parity, and the trade does not consist of US issued paper.

  14. That's pretty hard core protectionism there Deuce. The US has been championing free trade in order to get access to foreign markets. That would be lost.

  15. The US has been championing free trade in order to get access to foreign markets

    Changed circumstances. It is not working now because everyone gamed the system especially with domestic regulations that severely handicapped manufacturers.

  16. Never did work as implemented:
    The right defended it for decades as an article of faith...
    as our precious industrial base drained away.

    Much like the various bubbles based on false accounting, the chickies are coming home to roost.

  17. Well, the US could change those regulations that hamper domestic companies. How are others "gaming the system"? Are you upset that others are trying to devalue like the US is devaluing its dollar?

  18. Back of Beyond

    The Europeans had been making calls back to Europe and plotting “Mumbai-style” attacks from Pakistan. The AP said it underlined the role the Southwest Asian country plays in international terrorism and specifically to attacks scheduled for Europe and perhaps for the US.

  19. Much of that industrial base "drained away" because it was uncompetitive. Are you suggesting inefficient industries be artificially propped up? Are you keen on more Government Motors? Strong Unions?

  20. "Are you upset that others are trying to devalue like the US is devaluing its dollar?"

    Good point:
    Bush was bad enough.
    Imam Obama ten times worse.

  21. The US has been championing free trade in order to get access to foreign markets. That would be lost.

    There is usually little to lose. If you are trying to gain access to the China market especially in those they consider critical (which is probably most of them), you will be jumping through hoops.

    I'm just familiar with autos and electronics but from what I've seen the same practices apply across the board.

    In order to assemble autos in China you have to set up as minority partner in a JV with a Chinese company usually one run by the government like SAIC.

    However, in order to even be given a chance at that JV you are expected (forced) to set up JV's with Chinese companies for the manufacture of major components and systems.

    In order to be considered for one of the component JV's, you need to buy 60 to 75% of raw materials and parts from Chinese local suppliers (quality issues can be tough).

    At each step along the way you are expected to come up a plan for exporting parts. More importantly, at each step you are expected to transfer technology to the Chinese. (Recent stories in the news note the new rules for technology transfer the they are coming up with for auto makers who want to porduce electric cars there.)

    This all takes place within an opaque system with significant Chinese government ownership which limits the surety of long term projections being put out by American companies. Since the government is the system, the system can change overnight if they thought it was in their interest.

    Add to this the fact that US tax laws punish US multinationals for repatriating profits forcing those companies to reinvest profits overseas and you have to ask how much benefit is the US getting from these arrangements.

    Because of US trade and tax policies, US multinationals are getting rich right now but we (ordinary Americans)are getting no value from it in terms of taxes or jobs. And in the end, we have to ask whether after all the technology is tranferred the US multinationals will be kicked to the curb.

    Free trade works when both parties engage in it not when it's one sided.


  22. Unions bankrupted GM, now Government Motors steals directly from the taxpayer.
    ...and use part of the booty to re-elect their cronies.

  23. And that doesn't even touch the unfair trade practices including currency manipulation that I have pointed out that the Chinese engage in.


  24. "But suspending the drone attacks is not an option. Wired reports that threats to Europe originating from Pakistan’s tribal areas have made an increase in drone attacks necessary. To stop them now would give “militants” a free hand.
    Even ground assaults in Pakistan may now be in the cards.

    An entire secret CIA army is operating in the region. The meme of the “war in Afghanistan” being fought to ‘end it where it began’ is now falling apart. Links to Europe, Pakistan and the Middle are simply too numerous to deny and too serious to ignore.

    The only question that now remains is what strategic paradigm will replace the ruins of Obama’s fantastic conception of a law-enforcement campaign against a localizable enemy.

    This paradigm is failing dismally as a framework around which to organize an effective response to the global threat. If the US is not to be dragged piecemeal into conflict around the earth without limit it must do several things:

  25. Yes Quirk much of what you say rings true from my understanding of China. Many countries have similar restrictions of foreign ownership/sales and the loosening of such restrictions has been one of the goals of free trade agreements. There isn't any current free trade agreement with China is there?

  26. They are a most favored nation thanks to their stellar human rights record.

  27. Wasn't the most favored thing part of trying to get China to take part and conform to the WTO and GATT? I'm not sure of the details.

  28. The bad old days:

    "Under this statutory mandate, President Truman suspended China's most-favored-nation status as of September 1, 1951. After China's occupation of Tibet..."

  29. Was part of the US Government selling us out.
    What else is new?

  30. There isn't any current free trade agreement with China is there?

    Trade protocols were established with China around 1999 when China was trying to get into the WTO.

    The argument now is that China hasn't been living up to the protocol and the WTO rules. One of the main assumptions that went into the decision to allow China to join the WTO was that over time China would liberalize there trade policies.

    For instance, China agreed that it will ensure that state-owned and state-invested enterprises will make purchases and sales based solely on commercial considerations, such as price, quality availability and marketability, provide US firms with the opportunity to compete for sales and purchases on nondiscriminatory terms and conditions.

    From articles I have seen lately this seems to be a major point of complaint by US companies opporating in China. Since the worldwide recession hit, the US companies complain China is looking out for it's domestic suppliers rather than using fair competition (cost, quality, etc.)


  31. 1. Aarvark said...

    AP: “Eight Germans and four Britons are now reported to be part of a terror operation linked to drone strikes in Pakistan.”

    Gotta love the AP.

    Of course anyone with an ounce of reading sense knows that these are “Germans” and “Britons.” You just have to read down 12 paragraphs to confirm who such a “Briton” might be:

    “The official said a Sept. 8 strike killed one of the Britons, whom he identified as Abdul Jabbar, originally from Pakistan’s Jhelum district. Jabbar was believed to be less than 30 years old.”

  32. ""In the final weeks leading up to . . . Clinton's decision to grant most-favored-nation trading status to China, Washington was swarming with lobbyists pushing MFN," stated the Legal Times.

    "The advocates ranged from an ad hoc group of two dozen major US companies to the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), a group of 60 chairmen and chief executives of US-owned exporters. . . .

    Among the lobbyists taking part were R. D. Folsom, a vice president at the D.C. lobby shop R. Duffy Wall and Associates, who represents the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America; Michael Daniels, a partner in the D.C. office of the New York law firm Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander & Ferdon; and Mark McConnell and Warren Maruyama, partners at the D.C. law firm Hogan & Hartson."

    As a face-saving measure, Clinton drafted a "voluntary code of conduct" for US businesses operating in China and other countries where human rights violations occur. The "voluntary code" came under immediate criticism from Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. "It's essentially milquetoast; it lacks political will," said Jim O'Dea, Amnesty International's Washington director.

    Even milquetoast, however, was too strong for China's corporate allies. "A code of conduct for China would send the wrong message--that there is a problem with the way American companies are operating in China, " said Calman Cohen, vice president of the Emergency Committee for American Trade. The problem is with the Chinese government.

    American companies are (already) promoting human rights in China by simply bringing the democratic values of a market system.

  33. "ince the worldwide recession hit, the US companies complain China is looking out for it's domestic suppliers rather than using fair competition (cost, quality, etc.) "

    Canada, which has a formal free trade agreement with US has similar complaints about the "Buy America" provisions in the recent stimulus spending.

    China is but one country that trades with the US and Deuce seemed to be suggesting many more countries should be a target. That bill that just left congress allowing the broad application of tariffs on foreign goods because of currency manipulation could stifle a lot of trade from a lot of places if it gets passed.

  34. 2. JT2
    The security position is similar to the economic and financial one.
    (exactly what I was thinking)

    In both respects Western states are like huge cruise ships, with the passengers and crew endlessly partying together on the upper decks. Until the whole boat starts to list beyond a (currently unknown) point, nobody wants to break off and go down below to check on the water pouring into the engine room.

    The unraveling that has occurred in our lifetime is breathtaking and heartbreaking.

  35. Feds Making NYCity Spend $27M to Change Lettering on Street Signs

    So why is this waste of money being forced on the nation from our masters in Washingon? Because the federal government has changed its street sign regulations. In all its brilliance, this federal agency has determined that all caps signs are harder to read and might cause accidents as drivers take too long to read signs while driving.

  36. We don't need a trade agreement with countries like Canada that need be more than one page long.

    That goes for most of Europe and every other North or South American country.

    With the rest send lawyers, lots and lots of lawyers.

  37. Canada is an extraction economy. It has great advantage with the Chinese in that its exports per capita are heavily weighted to raw materials.

    The Canadians would be insane to allow the Chinese to buy the companies that do the extraction.

  38. Generally you want a set of rules with a binding dispute settlement mechanism. The US has not been the most forthcoming with the second part of that equation.

  39. The problem with the dispute resolution is that an entire manufacturing generation can come and go while the lawyers argue.

    Pick up a product made by the Chinese and you have an entire generation of that industry gone to China.

    The free traders keep saying that the US will always have another higher tier industry to shift to. that is nonsense as many an engineer and mechanic learns his skill in the feeder industries.

    Try and fine a tool and die shop in any US city. Go to China and they are lined cheek to jowl, both sides of the street for kilometers. They are most 5-10 man operations feeding factories of 100 feeding factories of 5000.

    Take in a set of shop drawings and before you approve your prototype they will be selling your invention up the chinese food chain.

    It is always better to be the hunter than the hunted.

  40. Canada's economy is diversifying but, yes, the 'crazy to allow' meme is alive in Canada - it extends to it is crazy to allow any foreign company the ability to buy.

    The current case in point is BHP's hostile attempt to take over POT. POT has been looking around for other options with one being China. The government is furrowing its brow and wondering allowed about "net benefit".

  41. Yes, and the US has been expert at playing the lawyer game and then, when decisions go against it, ignoring them and/or making a new objection. I'm thinking in particular of the Softwood lumber dispute that gone on for many a year despite NAFTA and it's 'clear rules and dispute settling mechanisms'.

  42. There is no net benefit with China. These people have been repressed for 3000 years and they are hungry, smart and motivated.

    I don't fear the Chinese. i respect them. Americans have become fat and lazy. They stayed at the party too long. They need to learn a lesson. 40 years of bull shit about diversity and going softly into a future of privilege has taken its toll.

    There are no unions in China. there is no safety net, no unemployment compensation. You want compensation find a job. The Chinese looked at what the US offered them and they took it. The Assholes on the American right believed their own bullshit and smoke screen, the Chinese knew better.

    They are smart, tough and ruthless. They would never have pulled this heist off on the generations of the forties and fifties, the Jimmy Hoffa's, Frank Rizzo's or the Walter Reuther's.

    The Chinese saw the globalists for what they were, lunch.

  43. "Jimmy Hoffa's, Frank Rizzo's or the Walter Reuther's."

    Christie and the New York guy,
    ...except not as corrupt.

  44. "Send a goon out after my ten year old daughter again, and I'll take you out!"

    - Carl Paladino,

  45. The Chinese saw the globalists for what they were, lunch.

    Quote of the Month.

  46. Advocates for homeless protest LAPD

    Activists gathered at LAPD headquarters in downtown to protest what they say are efforts to prevent them from providing food, water and clothing to people living on skid row.

  47. Look at the Fuckin Sidewalk in that diversity link!!!

  48. Meanwhile, CA committing itself to multibillion buck bullet train!

  49. Another week, another Defense study saying, "Get off Petroleum."

    The Cost of your Defense Went Up $260 Million, "Today."

    The Cost of Oil went up $2.00. When the cost of oil goes up a buck our defense cost goes up $130 Million.

    Defense Study

  50. I have no idea why you think Walter Reuther did anything for the US unless you favor protectionism.

    Bill Clinton, as we all know, was easily seduced by just about anything or anybody. He thought China was there for the taking and would be an amazing market for US industry.

    He got caught with his zipper down on that one as well.

  51. Walter Reuther was no boy scout, but I think that was my point. He was anti-communist, fought against corruption and maximized labor rights against the big auto manufacturers.

    He sought the best deal for American workers doing American manufacturing. There is nothing inherently wrong with protectionism. Frankly, that is what we pay politicians to do. That is why we pay taxes, to have government protect our interests.

    That is certainly better than having government being indifferent to a trade policy that is working against us. I think your point about Clinton is somewhat valid.

    Clinton and many others thought that the Chinese trade was going to be one-sided in our favor. They were half right, it was one-sided against us.

    We are now in the second half and it is time to change our strategy. That should be trade parity within a band of 10%. If that doesn't work for the Chinese. Tough.

  52. The thing is, those Chinee CAN read. They know that the Government is piling up all that money at the expense of "Their" wages.

    Given enought time they Will become a Major Export Market for us. In fact, I guess they already are (not to the level of Canada, or Mexico, but Major, none the less.)

    Dang, now I gotta look That up.

    But, you all are right; if they're not "made to mind," they won't. And, pretty words, and appealing to their better natures won't do the trick. They're a Sovereign Nation, and Communists, to boot. They don't Have a "Better Nature."

    ps. Geithner just pooh-poohed the House action, and the Yuan fell back. surprise, surprise. We sure never saw that one coming, eh?

  53. Canada is our Best Trading Partner. Our Biggest, and our Trade is just about dead up, even.

    Mexico is our Second Largest market (although China is our 2nd largest trading partner - That trade is, mostly, one way.)

    Japan is our fourth largest, and buys about the same from us as China (in other words - no more than they have to.)

    If the damned Mexicans could ever luck out (and, sadly, it Would take "luck") and come up with a decent government they could become a real player.

  54. "Walter Reuther was no boy scout, but I think that was my point. He was anti-communist, fought against corruption and maximized labor rights against the big auto manufacturers."


    Wildly impossible benfit packages that bankrupted GM and Chrysler were a good thing?

    ...and piss poor union workers in the seventies coming to work stoned and making shit product?

    Only Japan's entry into the market brought us the quality we have come to expect today, and Japanese non-union plants remain open as Detroit makes plans for bulldozing entire neighborhoods.

    AND now WE are stuck paying off Reuther/Obama slackers and freeloaders.

  55. Anti communist socialist:

    And we complain about RINOS?

    How about an anti communist capitalist?

  56. This is my granddaughter's favorite song I have to play it every morning for her at least five times. Now I torture you.

  57. For some reason, I like that song.

    Some may suggest it is my maturity level vis-a-vis that of your grandaughter.

    With a mere child as a grandmother one assumes she is quite young.


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