“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."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Nato-led mission in Afghanistan has now lasted as long as the Soviet army's doomed occupation during the 1980s


  1. Occupations R Us

    Iraq’s Troubles Drive Out Refugees Who Came Back

    BAGHDAD — Iraqis who fled the height of the war and then returned are leaving in a second exodus, fueled by violence and unemployment, that shows how far Iraq remains from stability and security.

    US involvement in WWII was 5 years?
    We don't need no stinking short-term wars!

    We labor like Sisyphus in General Powell's Broken China Shop.

  2. We can stay there forever if we wish, we are a big rich country, and the truth is no one is really feeling the pain.

    If we wish we could outlast them.

    Whether we should or not is another question.

  3. A President in a situation like this should simply not talk about it much. If he wants to stay. Afghanistan? I'm thinking housing, and the domestic economy, says the Pres.

    We could stay there another thirty years, if we wanted to.

    It's no big deal to a nation like ours.

  4. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

    It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. The two waiters inside the cafe knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he was a good client they knew that if he became too drunk he would leave without paying, so they kept watch on him.

    "Last week he tried to commit suicide," one waiter said.


    "He was in despair."

    "What about?"


    "How do you know it was nothing?"

    "He has plenty of money."

    They sat together at a table that was close against the wall near the door of the cafe and looked at the terrace where the tableswere all empty except where the old man sat in the shadow of the leaves of the tree that moved slightly in the wind. A girl and a soldier went by in the street. The street light shone on the brass number on his collar. The girl wore no head covering and hurried beside him.

    "The guard will pick him up," one waiter said.

    "What does it matter if he gets what he's after?"

    "He had better get off the street now. The guard will get him. They went by five minutes ago."

    The old man sitting in the shadow rapped on his saucer with his glass. The younger waiter went over to him.

    "What do you want?"

    The old man looked at him. "Another brandy," he said.

    "You'll be drunk," the waiter said. The old man looked at him. The waiter went away.

  5. That is good, very good, far better than your prescription for Afghanistan.

    It is early and I have not had my coffee, the sun has reached the crystal obelisk on the window sill and spread a rainbow across the floor.

  6. A big rich country that can kill off its' youth in the hills of Afghanistan and Iraq, all across the Islamic Arc, for that matter and the families of the fallen ...

    They feel no pain.

    We can do it forever, as long as there is no draft and bob's lovely daughter does not have to participate.

    Dodging her societal obligations, again.

    Ain't life grand!

  7. Bet it won't be competitive.

    That'd be a frivolous waste of his money.

    $20,000 to buy a winner, when $5,000 can get a nag that'll play the game.

  8. The arrest of former New York City cop Michael Stephen Bowden for telling a Secret Service agent he'd like to put President Obama up against a wall and shoot him underscores the daily threat matrix for a job that is much more dangerous than, say, the harrowing experience of Bering Sea fishermen as dramatized on the popular TV show "The Deadliest Catch."
    Nevertheless, in the past two years the Secret Service has arrested more than a dozen Americans for posing credible threats to the president. Because of concerns about his safety, candidate Obama received Secret Service protection earlier than any other presidential hopeful in US history. The Secret Service doesn't publicize most threats, fearing that they could inspire copycat attempts.

    A bets that there was not a Muslim in the bunch?

    Michael Stephen Bowden, now his is a white haired fellow, looks like a Caucasian. Maybe a Methodist, maybe a Catholic, the story does not say.

  9. Mr. Bowden, an ex-N.Y.C. policeman and firefighter who had retired to South Carolina, didn't write down his threats, but Secret Service were alerted by a Veterans Administration counselor after Bowden said he "was thinking of traveling to Washington, D.C., to shoot the president because he was not doing enough to help African-Americans."

    Bowden, who is white, didn't deny the threat when talking to Secret Service officers, and even went on to tell them, "If I had the opportunity, I would shoot [Obama] myself. If I had the opportunity to get Obama against the wall and shoot him, I would." A small arsenal of loaded weaponry was found in Bowden's South Carolina home.

    After making a court appearance, Bowden is undergoing mental evaluation through the federal prison system. His son told news outlets that Bowden, in his seventies and in deteriorating health, isn't physically capable of carrying out the threat.

  10. I did wonder about how much money the civilians serving the turkey on that huge airbase make, a job once reserved for recruits, airman basics and EM on monthly KP duty. The marginal cost of using them in the past was zero.

    No doubt, the civilian contractor that has the food service contract has at least one retired general or career politician on the board. It probably costs the government something north of $75,000.

    I suppose the guys in the dark uniforms can't be Afghans as the server was pushing the ham.

  11. An interesting analysis of Bob's Hemingway short story, A Clean Well Lighted place.

  12. Victory in Afghanistan is now defined as "A stable country which will continue to be our ally after we leave." That would be nice but we didn't go in there to create an ally. We went in to punish them. Somewhere along the way the mission changed.

    Now the magic date has been pushed back to 2014. That's when the Afghan army should be able to take over. Meanwhile we look for permanent airbase sites.

    Permanent airbase sites
    from which to bomb whom?


  13. I just heard a Radio Deutsche Welle report about Christians fleeing ethnic cleansing in Iraq. They transit through Turkey where they wait up to 3 years until they're settled mostly in the US, Canada, and Australia.

    The Europeans do and contribute little or nothing which is not surprising.

  14. I''m not the Hemingway fan I used to be, I kinda have a love/hate relationship with him now. I loved him early on. Some of his stories are so damned stark, it almost makes one freeze. A truly great writer when he was at his best, so cold, so cool. He appreciated the Idaho trout streams, and he made a hell of a mess of his domestic life. He is listed among the angels in my holy book, though I just can't stand sad endings any more. Life should be better than that. And is.

  15. Our bare hills here are misted with snow, the temp is in the teens, I'm eating Hampton Farms Salted and
    Roasted Peanuts, the cat is inside PETA! the daughter is snoozing, and all is quite well.

    But damn is it cold!!

  16. .
    bob said...
    Quirkie ain't even read The Ecstasie by John Donne.

    What does he know?

    Nothing, next to nothing.

    And if he read it, he wouldn't understand it.

    Such sacred things are for grownups.

    Sat Nov 27, 01:44:00 AM EST

    You could be right, at least on the having read it part. I assumed I had probably read it somewhere, high school or college. So I checked it out (and read it).

    However, when I read it, I didn't recognize it. Of course, I could have just forgotten it, or more likely, chose to forget it. It's such flaming bullshit.

    Understand it? Oh I understand it. I understand it much better than you. I understand it on two levels, yours and mine.

    When you say you understand it, you mean you understand it in the pedantic, school marm fashion of the English major. In the detached manner of someone who can say of the Afghan War "...the truth is no one is really feeling the pain."

    You understand the metaphors, lead along as Donne wants you to be lead. You see his illusions (or perhaps delusions), the interplay between the spiritual and the corporeal, two souls reaching out to each other using their bodies as instruments for that interface, and then the interaction of the two souls finally forming a new third 'other'.

    What bullshit.

    I also see the other real world view. Some faggy nerd sitting around all day with a chick he is sorely attracted to but without having much to say and not having the balls to make his move.

    By the way, wasn't John Donne a pedophile or something? Didn't he get arrested for marrying some underage chick?

    People who muse all day about 'love' but never do anything about it make me want to puke.

    This poem for grownups?

    No. It's for socially stunted dingbats lost in the clouds.

    Chivalry for shitheads.

    I'll take Hemingway.


  17. .
    John Donne on love?

    No thanks.

    I'll take Ovid.


  18. A perverse tweert from Detroit, a man without a rod, a man without a cock, a quip without a song, a sluck, a turd in a costume, friendless with horoscopes, one of God's true prototypes......never should have been born.....

  19. .

    Goddamn you're dumb.

    Says the old professor, the philosopher prince.



  20. Your bedded hair, like life in excrements, start up and stand on end.

  21. Thou froward bat-fowling codpiece!

  22. Boise State has fallen, knocked off by Nevada.

    Auburn was tested by Alabama but survived.

    Oregon was challenged by Arizona but prevailed.

    Boise State was killed by a pack of wolves.

  23. .


    The gentleman farmer at his leisure, oblivious to the real world, lost in his books and a dream.

    An anacronysim and an oddity.

    Harmless and amusing.


  24. A shithead from Detroit, City of the Lost, wandering about in the Stars, O so tragic.

    I cry, when I'm in the mood.

    Which ain't often.

  25. Boise State lost?

    To Nevada?

    I can't believe it.

    That is really, really shocking.

  26. .

    I cry, when I'm in the mood...

    I too would be unafraid of showing my feminine side.

    If I had one.


  27. I have grown to despise the Bowl Coalition Series and every year wish for a monkey wrench to be thrown into the rankings.

    Boise State and TCU were the monkey wrench this season, so of course, I root for them to win.

    I also wanted Alabama to upset Auburn and for a while it looked as though that was going to happen. But Auburn came back.

    Oregon had it's hands full with Arizona but late in the game, took charge.

    Boise State went to Nevada, where the wolf packs gave them a real game. Nevada?

  28. RENO, Nev. (AP)—Two missed kicks and Boise State went from being the darling of BCS busters everywhere to just another team looking for a bowl game.

    After winning 24 straight games, maybe it was just not meant to be.

    Nevada roared back from a 17-point halftime deficit Friday night, beating No. 3 Boise State 34-31 in overtime in a wild game for the Wolf Pack’s biggest win ever. It snapped Boise State’s winning streak and ended any hopes the Broncos would play in the BCS title game.

  29. I can tell you this, Boise is a real foot ball town. I listen to their radio, man do they have intense analylsis.

  30. That would be a yes to what Quirk?

    And for shits and giggles we'll take out the West coast part of my statement, because you're right, and just say that I will be visiting AZ at some point in the not so near future.

  31. .
    That would be a yes to what Quirk?

    Why, a yes about what we were talking about.

    Yes that you have elected to do Cap.

    (By the by, I didn't make the comment about the West Coast. I wouldn't be that petty. I think it was some other dufus.)


  32. While I have not elected to do anything it sounds like you want to relinquish your duty as astrologer and guru of all things spiritual and supernatural.

    And I know it wasn't you that made the comment about the West coast.

  33. .
    I have been told (albiet by some nitwit) that it is time for me to pass on the mantle of metaphysician to a young 'grasshopper' who is ready to spread her wings.

    I have no problem with that.

    Naturally, I will maintain my commercial interests in Souls-R-Us as well as my teaching responsibilities in the Order of the Rosy Cross; and of course, it is impossible to give up the mantle of guru on all things spiritual and supernatural. You either is or you ain't, you've got it or you don't. It's the way of the worlds. As above so below.



  35. She wiped your ass, shitbird!!!!

  36. .

    Speaking of said dufus, or was it nitwit.

    Hello, Bob.


  37. .
    Bobbo, you're last screeching rant reminds one of the occasional tantrums and crying jags of a woman passing through menopause.

    That combined with your occasional crying reminds one of your affinity for the feminine.

    Taken with your constant references to the feminine in nature it all conjures up the metaphorical image of the 'cosmic hermaphrodite' as a means to describe you.

    Others, less poetically inclined, might just call you a prissy little nancy-boy.


  38. Since when do you listen to what anyone else says.

  39. Never, ever, but Hem's a real true dude.

    Just like you are, a real true woman.

  40. And, what a crowd it would be.....