“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."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Is There Anything New in Wikileaks? Two Views.

Wikileaks is embarrassing – but not serious
By Benedict Brogan Politics Last updated: November 28th, 2010 Telegraph

The Wikileaks story is great fun. The embarrassment of others always is. But however much the Guardian, the New York Times and Julian Assange assure us that this represents a shattering blow to every assumption we hold about foreign relations, the fact remains that it’s a collection of little substance that will do nothing to reshape geo-politics. The Saudis would like someone to whack Iran? No kidding. Afghanistan is run by crooks? Really? Hillary Clinton would like to know a lot more about the diplomats she is negotiating against? You surprise me. The Russian government may have links to organised crime? Pass the smelling salts, Petunia. The Americans are secretly whacking al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen? What, you thought the Yemenis were doing it? Muammar Qaddafi has a full time, pneumatic Ukrainian ‘nurse’? Nice one. Diplomats are terrified of Pakistan’s nukes? Me too. And so on, ad infinite boredom. Perhaps something better will pop up, but nothing I’ve read since last night’s surprises.

So the news value of this story is the embarrassment it’s causing. And embarrassment can in some cases be devastating. Countries with no tradition of openness or internet-led subversion will find it mystifying that the American government has allowed this to happen. It may at the margins damage relationships. And of course it will do nothing for the credibility of the Obama administration. Those concerned are issuing indignant statements condemning Wikileaks and its oddball boss. This rather reinforces the case of those who say Wikileaks is simply not serious. Effective diplomacy involves all the transgressions Wikileaks is exposing. Embarrassment is just the consequence of exposure. Perhaps the more sophisticated response is to stand firm, to assume a degree of worldiness from those involved in the world of diplomacy (who will for example enjoy seeing the US Secretary of State squirming about her UN spying operation, but only because theirs hasn’t been exposed as well), and to accept that occasional embarrassment is an occupational hazard in a 21st century marked by vast quantities of information circulating in all too accessible digital form.


  1. So far, I find nothing jaw dropping.

  2. Again, how can a serious person not know all of this.

  3. Forget "Serious" people; even EB'ers know this stuff.

  4. "As we have in the past, we condemn this reckless disclosure of classified information illegally obtained," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in a statement.


    The measures included disabling all write capability for thumb drives or removable media on classified computers, restricting transfers of information from classified to unclassified systems and better monitoring of suspicious computer activity using similar tactics employed by credit card companies, Whitman said.

    "Bottom line: It is now much more difficult for a determined actor to get access to and move information outside of authorized channels," Whitman said.

    Future Leaks

  5. .

    Cables Obtained by WikiLeaks Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels

    New York Times


  6. This Assange guy is doing us all a favor. These assholes have been running national "security" like a volunteer bake sale.

    They'll have to tighten up some of their "loose shit," now.

  7. Palin has no fear.

    You will find a lot of attack to the heart, she will name Obama for what he is.

    She will call him a rat's ass, and the people will listen.

  8. Iraq's recently-reinstated prime minister has warned against any extension to the foreign presence on the strife-weary country's soil.


    Attracting notable criticism of the military involvement, the whistleblower website Wikileaks released a video, featuring a 2007 US helicopter attack on the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The material showed trigger-happy troops killing 12 people, including two Reuters' employees, in a shooting spree.


    US Vice President Joe Biden, however, said last Saturday that the American forces had to stay in Iraq beyond the deadline mentioned in the deal, claiming that the Iraqi security forces were not yet ready to fully operate on their own.

    Out of Iraq

  9. "Assyrian News?" That's a pretty whacked-out outfit, Sam.

  10. .

    One of the final cables, on Feb. 12 of this year, recounts a lunch meeting in Paris between Hervé Morin, then the French defense minister, and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. Mr. Morin raised the delicate topic of whether Israel could strike Iran without American support.

    Mr. Gates responded “that he didn’t know if they would be successful, but that Israel could carry out the operation.”

    Then he added a stark assessment: any strike “would only delay Iranian plans by one to three years, while unifying the Iranian people to be forever embittered against the attacker.”

    Iran and the Bomb

    At least when it comes to Iran and the bomb, Gates seems to have his head screwed on straight.


  11. We and Israel should of attacked Iran three years ago.

    Clobbered 'em.

    But nobody ever listens to bob.

    Or my Jewish lawyer, except me.

    It's odd how we are always on the same page.

    The brightest guy in Idaho.

    I must be number two.

  12. .
    QE2 Was Supposed to Lower L/T Interest Rates. They Have Gone Up. What's the Problem?

    Unfortunately, the government's efforts to resolve the crisis amount to giving the country the hair of the dog that bit it. Washington is asking consumers to stop saving and start spending, while the government issues more debt and the Fed lowers rates - all measures designed to increase debt. In other words, we are fighting a crisis caused by excessive debt by encouraging excessive debt. Is that really the best way to get growth?

    The investment manager and guru Jeremy Grantham says no. In his latest quarterly letter, he points out that over the last generation, American government has created conditions that encouraged everyone to keep accumulating debt. But far from getting a bang, the country's growth rate actually slowed down over that period. In fact, the effect of all this government-subsidized debt has been deeply destructive. It created asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, commodities and more. One stunning chart in his letter underscores the extent to which the Fed created what he calls "the first housing bubble in history," meaning the first time that U.S. house prices rose dramatically across the board - and are now falling just as dramatically.

    Debt-fueled growth "is, in an important sense, not the real world," Grantham writes. "In the real world, growth depends on real factors: the quality and quantity of education, work ethic, population profile, the quality and quantity of existing plant and equipment, business organization, the quality of public leadership (especially from the Fed in the U.S.), and the quality (not quantity) of existing regulations and the degree of enforcement."

    The Hair of the Dog?


  13. We are going to pay a big, big price for letting Iran get the bomb.
    New York City, Philly, LA, you watch.

    Those people are crazy,and religiously motivated.

    The worst of all outlooks.

    Better to have a brandy in a clean well lighted place.

  14. You would not believe what the human mind can make a mess of with religious belief.

    Understood well, it is great, but
    Christ, relax, take it as it comes, let God have his way, float the river.

    Float the river.

  15. Or, maybe, the Middle Fork of The Clearwter.

    It isn't The Wenaha.

    Nor the Grand Rhonde.

  16. It's not the Secesh. And it's not The Payette.

    It's The Joe.

  17. I think Rufus may be right about this wikileaks guy doing us a favor:

    U.S. asked China to keep missile parts from Iran

    The United States asked China in 2007 to stop a shipment of ballistic missile parts going from North Korea to Iran through Beijing and indicated that the U.S. government was fed up with China's unwillingness to crack down on such trade, according to reports Sunday based on U.S. diplomatic cables.

    Another cable highlighted U.S. concern this year that Chinese firms were supplying North Korea with precursors for chemical weapons - in what would be a violation of U.N. sanctions.

    Here is a suggestion, if we can't stop China from shipping missile parts to Iran, then stop China from selling to Walmart.

    Can we handle that?.

    A third cable, quoting an unidentified Chinese contact interviewed in January, claimed that China's Politburo ordered Chinese hackers to break into Google's computer systems last year as part of a massive effort by Chinese state-backed saboteurs to infiltrate the e-mail accounts and databases of political dissidents and foreign governments.

    Every where you turn, it is China fucking the pooch. Why are American politicians and US diplomats putting up with this bullshit?

    Wikileaks is not the problem. China and our official lack of response to them is the problem. Who is the traitor, the PFC that leaked to let us know how badly we were getting hosed, or the diplomats and politicians that were letting us get hosed?

    The cables were among more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic missives released Sunday by WikiLeaks.

  18. Gates is 100% correct. Israel could attack Iran if it chose to, but bombing Iran is insane. It will not stop the Iranians from getting the bomb, it will unite the people around the mullahs and against whoever attacks Iran.

    Who wants their country bombed by some foreign power?

    It looks as if Israel is reaping the rewards for the trading military of military technology and secrets to China by having them come back to face them in Iran.

  19. "Leaking the material is deplorable," Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, told Fox News. "The people at WikiLeaks could have blood on their hands ... People who do this are low on the food chain as far as I'm concerned. If you can prosecute them, let's try."

    His Democratic colleague Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri agreed with him and said she hoped "we can find out where this is coming from and go after them with the force of law". She added that "the people who do these document leaks need to do a gut check about their patriotism".

    Representative Peter King of New York, a life-long supporter of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, called on Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to designate WikiLeaks a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation" outlawed in the US.

  20. It's not the Snake, except maybe way way down south, nor the Coeur' d Alene, maybe it's the only river in


  21. It's not the Tucannon, and it's not the Boise.

  22. It's not The Big or Little Lost, it's not the Saint Maries.

    Sam, you are killing me.

  23. It's not the
    Walla Walla either. Nor is it the Potlatch,

  24. It might be some stream in Western Washington, Sams's from there, he may be tricking me, it might be west of the Cascades.

  25. Hell, it might be the Puyallup .

  26. It might be the Skymonish, but's that's an outside bet.

  27. But it is definitly not the Wenaha.

  28. It's the Fucking Eel!

    Humbolt County Rules! Doper World.

    Beer is the number one selling alcoholic beverage in the world. Our philosophy is let the big guys fight the marketing war; meanwhile this microbrewery is going to go on making the best beer from the highest quality ingredients and we invite you to grab one of our beers and BE NATURAL - DRINK NAKED

    I fucked on the South Fork.
    A Giant among the Redwoods.


    In these touchy times, the only right flotation device for our national psyche, of course, is humor. As in: What if we could choose our own romantic tune to set the mood for this act of Qantas Interruptus? What if we could talk blue to JetBlue? And what if Southwest suddenly were as come-hither as Mae West, as body scanners give a new, quite literal meaning to "Come up and see me sometime"?

    Fortunately, from "leer jets" to to "XXX-rays" to "macking on the tarmac," cartoonists have scanned the debate for suspiciously keen sources of comedy. So here they are, our favorite TSA cartoons so far:

  30. The Iranians are already snuggled up close to the Shia of southern Iraq, so there'd be no change, there.

    The Kurds would still be under a US umbrella, as they were before the invasion of Iraq. Notice that the Turks did not invade Kurdistan, then, either.

    The Sunni would have been self-governing and the Civil War and 4,000 US deaths, in Iraq, would not have ensued.

    We'd be up while the status que, in Iraq, would be much as it is now.

    Internal politics, in Iraq, is not and was not a US national interest. That the government there does not sponsor international terrorists that strike at US interests is all that matters. That could have been mission accomplished, by the summer of 2004.

    If we had left the governance of Iraq to the natives.

  31. Instead we frittered away 8 years, a trillion dollars and 4,000 US lives.

    Iran is now the major regional player, the US is in the midst of a depression and the US occupation still has no end in sight.

    Mr Pape was right, the US presence, there in Iraq, is extending the conflict as it involves US troops. If we left, so would the violence, as it pertains to US.

    The terrorism there, it is now local. It will remain so, after we leave.

    The terrorism that engulfs Mexico is of greater national interest to US than anything that is going on in the Islamic Arc.

  32. Cable among hundreds of thousands revealed by WikiLeaks says that Israel tried to coordinate Operation Cast Lead with Fatah and Egypt.

    By Barak Ravid and The Associated Press

    Were the Israeli spreading misinformation to the US, or is Mr Abbas telling the truth?

    The truth is out there ...


  33. A simple north-south slip of the tongue or not, Sarah Palin's latest gaffe couldn't have come at a worse time for the Tea Party icon, geo-politically speaking.

    In a live radio interview Wednesday with equally popular conservative host Glenn Beck, Palin twice referred to North Korea as America's ally and urged President Obama to firmly demonstrate the alliance.

    The first reference was the less glaring mistake.

    "We're not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do," Palin told Beck.

    It's unclear whether she referenced the correct Korea and simply misused the term "sanction" -- which, as stated, means to approve or validate, or if she meant to say South Korea, the U.S. ally, in reference to any actions that nation may take in retaliation to past or future attacks from the North.

    One might even have missed that gaffe, had she not said just seconds later: "Obviously, we gotta stand with our North Korean allies."

    Mrs Palin should stick to reality television, it suits her capabilities and capacity.

  34. This being a much saner way to deal with the Iranian challenge, more so than air strikes, anyway.

    Iran nuclear scientists targeted in Tehran blasts

    The Iranian government has accused the US and Israel of plotting what they deemed "terrorist attacks," which killed one Iran nuclear scientist and wounded another.

  35. Small potatoes, Rat, but then again I would like to have a slip of Palin's tongue.

  36. It might be the Skookumchuck.

    (Naw, it's the Salmon River, but I like to say Skookumchuck).

  37. You all make fun of TSA, call it Thousands Standing Around, but they busted a Somali, name of Mohammad, tried to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in liberal, Muzzie-loving Portland Oregon.

  38. .
    Once again rat you take two disparate issues and then claim their interdependence. In this case, US troops in Iraq and Biden's asinine suggestion that Iraq should be partitioned.

    After nine years, Iraq still stumbles along dangerously close to widespread conflict and civil war. Biden's brainstorm would have guaranteed the latter.

    It's all about power, money, and resources. Under the Biden plan, the Sunni would have had none of these. The Shia would have it all and be more easily influenced by Iran. The Kurds and the Shia would have gone to war over Kirkuk and the oil. The Sauds would have supported the Sunni and what is currently a shitstorm in Iraq would have turned into the 'mother of all shitstorms'.

    US umbrella for the Kurds to protect them against Turkey and the Shia of the south? Get real. Ask the Hmong how the US treats its allies when it decides to pack up and go home.

    The still simmering unrest in Iraq would have likely turned into a regional conflict.

    The fact that US troops are in Iraq right now is not related to the form of government we set up there at all. We should have never have gone to Iraq. We should have got out years ago. However, the only way Biden's plan would have gotten us out sooner is if we had been driven out in the ensuing bloodbath and American public opinion had forced the issue.

    I think we have pretty much fucked up Iraq enough. Biden's plan would have delivered the coup d'grace.


  39. .
    You all make fun of TSA, call it Thousands Standing Around, but they busted a Somali, name of Mohammad, tried to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in liberal, Muzzie-loving Portland Oregon.

    Your humor is kind of dry Sam so I'm not sure if this is meant to be humorous. So I point out a couple things only to make a point.

    One, I would find it unusual if the TSA was involved in this at all. Sounds like something that would be handled by some other branch of HS (FBI maybe?).

    Kudos to who ever brought the guy down. However, let's face it, this young guy wasn't exactly a genius. Kind of on a par with those terrorists down in Florida who were noticed because they were always prancing around in camo outfits.

    Has the TSA every stopped a terrorist. Remember, although Napolitano said, "This shows, the system works.", it was actually a passenger that took down the underwear bomber. The final result technical strip searches, feel-ups, and hand jobs for grandmothers and little kids.

    Real men of genius.


  40. It ain't the Salmony ,not by a long shot..

    Might be the Skookumchuck.

    I like that word too.

    Rivers often have neat names.

    If you have noticed.

  41. It ain't the Kooskooskie.

    Another beautiful word.

  42. It is so nice lookin', and so pleasant ,but it might drown you too, with the undertow, I here name it - Melody River.

  43. By August next, nine months from now, if I count correct, I will have talked you all into a float trip on the Salmony.

  44. AEHI CEO Don Gillispie Awarded Honorary Commander at Mountain Home Air Force Base
    Post Previously Held by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden

    BOISE, Idaho, Nov 29, 2010 -- Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. ( today announced AEHI CEO Don Gillispie accepted the post as Honorary Director of Staff of the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, a position previously held by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

    This is part of a two-year program, which honors a specific group of community leaders as Honorary Commanders.

    Mr. Gillispie has become well known in the community for his continuing efforts to build a new nuclear power plant in Payette County, Idaho.

    "This is a great honor for me as a businessman in the community and as a veteran. Taking part in supporting our military whether they be on land, sea, or air has always been one of my highest priorities," said Gillispie.

    The Honorary Commander program is designed to increase the understanding of the 366th Fighter Wing and Air Force missions by pairing community leaders with the wing's leaders to forge new relationships.

    During the two-year term Honorary Commanders participate in creative and unique events to learn the specifics of the wing mission. They learn how Gunfighters apply airpower to dominate the skies, maintain a multi-billion dollar aircraft fleet, provide top-notch healthcare for thousands of Airmen, their families and retirees, and how all the support functions on base tie together to make this daily way of life a reality.

    About Don Gillispie -- A 45-year veteran of the nuclear industry, Don Gillispie was involved in the construction and operation of a number of nuclear reactors and helped start the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO). His real interest in nuclear power began in the military. He completed the Navy Nuclear Power School, became a nuclear operator and served aboard the SSBN Francis Scott Key. He is now CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. in Eagle, Idaho.

    About Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. ( -- Alternate Energy Holdings develops and markets innovative clean energy sources. The company is the nation's only independent nuclear power plant developer seeking to build new power plants in multiple non-nuclear states. Other projects include Energy Neutral(TM), which removes energy demands from homes and businesses ( Colorado Energy Park (nuclear and solar generation), and Green World Water(TM), which assists developing countries with nuclear reactors for power generation (, production of potable water and other suitable applications. AEHI China, headquartered in Beijing, develops joint ventures to produce nuclear plant components and consults on nuclear power.

  45. Fishing on the Melody
    I was all alone
    Over by that rock out cropping
    I nailed it dead
    Right behind the swirl
    Of the back swirl
    Of the rock
    It sunk slowly
    Mixed with water
    And then went dead

  46. .
    The TSA, real men of genius.

    It is lead by political hacks in D.C. who set the rules by being reactive to the latest flubbed terrorist attempt and cover their ass with rules on shoes, liquids, nail clippers, and PC rules for the young and elderly. Rules on cargo? No so much.

    At the operational level, it is staffed by ex barmaids and Walmart greeters with minimal training who work for a little over minimum wage.

    The TSA, the last best wall gaurding us from the terrorists.

    TSA, real men of genius.


  47. Very good statement, Quirk.

    I agree, totally.

  48. Yeah, totally reveals his deep seated prejudices wrt Barmaids and Walmart Greeters.

  49. .

    Barmaids especially.

    It's been years since one of them gave me a free drink.


    By the way Dougo, if you don't mind, anything new with your wife?


  50. I think I might like to spend the rest of my life as a greeter at Wal-Mart, and fish on the weekends.

    Why worry about this development crap?


  51. Let me hand you our Christmas shopping list, and the meats are down on the first row on the left.

  52. The vegetarians go to row nine.

  53. It's funny. As you get older, you seem to get a little wiser. All I really want is a nice shower, a warm bed with the wife, a car that works, and some friends. And a good fly rod, of course.

    And a good book to read.

    And, my eyesight.

    And light to see me to my grave.

    That's from Roethke. :)

  54. Let light be my beginning, and my ending.

    Let love be my starting, and my finishing.

  55. When I flew out of Atlanta, Wednesday, the TSA greeter asked me to remove my shirt after ascertaining that I was wearing underwear. For my part, I pleasantly informed her that had I known I would be disrobing publicly, I would have saved us both time by coming to the airport nude under a raincoat. She was not amused but her supervisor was kind enough to help me move my belongings along.

    Upon returning from South Bend, my fiancée was gently felt-up by a shriveled, three pack a day TSA attendant, who admonished her not to wear loose fitting clothing in future.

    There was no word given either in Atlanta or South Bend as to what books were proscribed.