“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."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

BATF and Mexican Drug Cartels

"The consequences of arming Mexican drug cartels seem obvious. But even guns turning up at crime scenes in Mexico wasn't enough for Justice Department officials to arrest straw purchasers and shut down their trafficking operations. Tragically, it wasn't until Fast and Furious guns were found at the murder scene of a Border Patrol Agent that Justice officials finally ended this reckless and arrogant effort," said Issa.

"It's incomprehensible that officials at the Justice Department, the ATF and the U.S. attorney's office would keep their counterparts at the U.S. embassy in Mexico City in the dark about Operation Fast and Furious. Keeping key details secret while straw purchasers continued buying weapons for gun traffickers jeopardized our relationship with our southern ally and put lives at risk," Grassley said.

ATF leadership finally informed the Mexican office that the investigation would be shut down as early as July 2010. Operation Fast and Furious, however, continued through the rest of 2010. It ended only after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in December 2010 with weapons linked to this investigation. Only then did the ATF officials in Mexico discover the true nature of Operation Fast and Furious. Unfortunately, Mexico and the United States will have to live with the consequences of this program for years to come.

Mr Issa's Committee Report

“That is, I mean, this is the perfect storm of idiocy.”


  1. This would be a great photo, for the thread, if I could figure out how to get it included.

    Weapons seized in murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

  2. Those Drug Gangs Could NOT Operate as they do without powerful Political Protection. There's got to be Way more going on here than we're seeing at present (or, that we'll probably ever see.)

  3. It's huge money, rufus.

    Just the marijuana business alone.
    The stuff is worth $400-$800 a pound in Phoenix.

    The average cost of the weed, in Mexico, is under $80 per pound.

    DOUGLAS - Border Patrol agents seized more than 4700 pounds of marijuana valued at around $2.3 million on Sunday in two different incidents. Suspicious activity was first spotted by Ajo Station agents near State Route 85, south of Why, AZ.

    The seizure stories abound

  4. Now, Dammit, Pay Attention; This is Important.

    The new advertising campaign quotes a recent study that found ethanol reduced gas prices by 89 cents in 2010 and if ethanol were to disappear, gas prices could rise by as much as 92%

    Ads tout Fuel-Savings from Ethanol

  5. While the Mexican trucks will no longer have to unload, and have US truckers deliver the load here in the US.

    NAFTA nears the final phase of the first stage of continental unification.

    Washington – Mexican trucks will begin shipping long-haul freight far into U.S. territory at the end of August or in early September after a bilateral agreement was signed earlier this month, the Mexican government said.

    "We hope that by the end of August or early September the first company can enter with full rights," Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari told reporters in Washington after a three-day visit that ended Thursday and included meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

    That first company, based in Monterrey, will be joined later by another 20 that had requested the right to transport cargo on U.S. roads before Washington barred access to Mexican trucks in 1995, Ferrari said, adding that those other firms could begin shipping freight deep inside the United States "before year's end,"

    Mexico expects other companies that are now submitting their paperwork for the program to be able to enter the United States within 18 months after the application date, as stipulated in the bilateral accord signed on July 6.

    Read more:

  6. .

    Now, Dammit, Pay Attention; This is Important.

    The new advertising campaign quotes a recent study that found ethanol reduced gas prices by 89 cents in 2010 and if ethanol were to disappear, gas prices could rise by as much as 92%

    About this website,

    Chuck & Cindy are the writers for Domestic Fuel. This husband and wife reporting team have covered all facets of agribusiness for over 20 years. They’ve followed the development of domestic fuels like ethanol and biodiesel since so much of the work has been funded by various agricultural organizations with whom they’ve worked throughout their career. Chuck & Cindy have direct contact with people at all levels of the domestic fuel chain. This includes commodity growers, plant developers, researchers and the people who are marketing the products and working to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while helping producers and consumers “domestically.”

    About the study,

    According to a new study released today by Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin, in 2010, on average the use of ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of .89 cents per gallon. The research was conducted by a number of economists and released by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) and is an update to a 2009 Energy Policy paper authored by professors Dermot Hayes and Xiaodong Du. The paper, sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), also found that the growth in ethanol production reduced gasoline prices by an average of $0.25, or 16 percent while it was even more significant in the Midwest with an average price per gallon reduction of .39 cents...

    The studies conclusions are based on this assumption,

    The authors point out that this dramatic price increase would stem from the fact that “…the ethanol industry now provides approximately 10% of the gasoline used in automobiles, an amount that exceeds the spare capacity of US oil refineries.” If ethanol suddenly disappeared, they say “[the] ‘missing’ fuel would have to be imported in the short run, and the required volume would be large relative to available import supplies. The only way to solve this short-term supply problem would be to use high gasoline prices to ration demand.”


  7. The problem is, ethanol's done about all it can do (Congress set the limit for Corn ethanol at 15 Billion gal/yr - about where we are now.)

    It'll be several years before significantly more ethanol can come online.


  8. Private spaceflight company Space Exploration (SpaceX) has received tentative approval from NASA to send its Dragon cargo craft on a landmark first mission to the International Space Station on November 30, which would make it the first private company to dock with the space station.

    A successful docking on December 9 would be a dramatic validation of NASA's plan to replace the now-retired space shuttle fleet with cheaper, private vehicles -- though how the space agency would send astronauts to space remains an open question.

    Read more:

  9. 41/76 = 54%

    “… a tiny number of adherents live, like Breivik, on the lunatic and dangerous fringe.”

    … 18/76 = 24%

    … 54% + 24% = 78%

    “… a tiny number of adherents live, like Breivik, on the lunatic and dangerous fringe.”

    How true … How very, very true …


  10. AP WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. David Wu of Oregon announced Tuesday that he will resign amid the political fallout from an 18-year-old woman's allegations of an unwanted sexual encounter with him.

  11. It's the rat and rufus show on the air almost live.

  12. I'm beginning to get embarrassed for myself. I've been watching this stupid debt debacle all night again tonight, and I feel like I should have my head examined.

    How could I sit around and watch a bunch of assholes as unserious as these assholes are?

    I feel like I'm getting brain cancer.

  13. I'm going to bed. This train wreck has several days to run.

  14. The thing is, the numbers they're arguing over are just imaginary numbers, anyway. Boehner's bill only cuts $1 Billion out of this year's budget.

    One Billion out of $3.7 Trillion of spending. 1 / 3,700 = 0.00027

    27/1,000 of one percent.

    And, Oboopsi is promising to veto That!

    I feel like an idiot.


  15. (CNN) -- Andres Behring Breivik was a prolific blogger and visitor to online sites that reaffirmed his worldview.

    Breivik's taste in online conversation shows a compulsive interest in websites that see the modern world in terms of a "clash of civilizations," where Christian values are supposedly under siege in the face of an Islamic onslaught.

    But rarely if ever does he seem to have advocated a violent response to what he saw as the Islamization of Europe, even as he planned a massacre for years.

    The head of Norway's intelligence police, Janne Kristiansen, told a Norwegian newspaper Monday that Breivik had "deliberately desisted from violent exhortations on the net. He has more or less been a moderate, and has neither been part of any extremist network."

    The blogs and websites Breivik enthused about were pro-American and pro-Israel, extremely hostile to Islam and despairing that the European political elite would ever see the error of its liberal multicultural outlook.

    One such site is Gates of Vienna, whose banner reads: "At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war."

  16. .

    Are the people of the world getting fed up with the elites? In the Arab world, it's the price of food and unemployment. In Israel, it appears to be the cost of housing and other living costs. Is 16% unmeployment sufficient to bring about a "US Spring" or will it take much more than that?

    “The feeling is that no matter how hard you work, you can’t make it through the month,” Leef said at the protest camp headquarters.

    The housing protests, including a march by thousands Saturday night in Tel Aviv, have punctured the public apathy toward political and social issues that had seemed particularly prevalent in the Mediterranean city, with its reputation for hedonism and self-absorption.

    “I’ve been living in Tel Aviv for more than 10 years. We’ve always been accused of living in a bubble and not caring about anything, and we’ve proven them wrong,” said Yiftah Nener, 31, a freelance writer who came to volunteer at the tent city. He said that events in the Arab world had served as a model for the protest, adding, “We definitely have something to learn from our neighbors.”

    Erez Daskal, 29, a tent-dweller who said he had left his apartment because his rent had become unaffordable, agreed.

    People in the region “are starting to wake up, and so are we. That’s a good thing,” he said. “Everything is connected.”

    The protesters have overwhelming public support, according to a poll published Tuesday in the Haaretz newspaper. The survey also showed that Netanyahu’s popularity had plunged because of the housing protests, with more than half of those surveyed unhappy with his response...

    Housing protests galvanize young Israelis


  17. We are in the most serious situation since the Great Depression. In fact, we're in almost the Same situation we were in before the Great Depression.

    The Elites have almost completely lost touch with the bottom 60% of the people.

    Unemployment is getting worse, and the elites don't even feel it, much less understand it (other than in some, detached, academic perspective.)

    This is not going to end well.

  18. The water of Libya, Q, it's a cure all.


  19. Britain has officially recognised Libya's main opposition group as the country's legitimate government, and asked all diplomats belonging to Muammar Gaddafi's government to leave the United Kingdom.

    William Hague, the UK foreign secretary, said on Wednesday that Britain was unfreezing 91m pounds ($150m) of Libyan oil assets to help the National Transitional Council, which the country now recognises as "the sole governmental authority in Libya".

    "We will deal with the National Transitional Council on the same basis as other governments around the world," Hague said.

    "In line with this decision, we summoned the Libyan charge d'affaires here to the foreign office this morning and informed him that he and other regime diplomats from the Gaddafi regime must now leave the United Kingdom.

    "We no longer recognise them as the representatives of the Libyan government and we are inviting the Libyan National Transitional Council to appoint a new Libyan diplomatic envoy to take over the Libyan embassy in London."

  20. All over a bunch of paper. Fiat money we owe ourselves.

    I could care less.

  21. It's another part of the game, gag.

    Projects that there is a "difference" 'tween the two parties. While the reality, there will be no significant cuts to the current levels of expenditures.

    No major deficit reductions for 2011 or 2012. No lessening of the Federals current borrowing.

    No matter which "Plan" is implemented.

    This Debt Crisis is, as in Macbeth:

    “It is a tale … full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.”

  22. Folks are buying stamps at the grocery store.

    Some 3,700 post offices will soon be shut as the U.S. Postal Service reevaluates its retail network in an effort to save money as consumers continue migrating away from snail mail and toward social media and the Internet.

    “As more customers choose to conduct their postal business online, on their smart phones and at their favorite shopping destinations, the need for the U.S. Postal Service to maintain its nearly 32,000 retail office – the largest network in the country – diminishes,” the USPS said Tuesday in a statement.

    Read more:

  23. Privatizing the sales of stamps.

  24. Could it be the increased use of more efficient vehicles is creating an effect on fuel sales volume?

    I know that my dually sits more than it did and the Equinox is getting more miles put on it.

    The dually gets around 10 mpg, the Equinox, around 25.

  25. I've been saying the whole time that we would go into recession in the 4th qtr, but, now, I'm beginning to think we might go negative this quarter.

  26. While there are television ads promoting cars that get over 40 mpg.

  27. Sure, there's some of that, Rat. How much is hard to figure.

  28. Keep in mind, though, that from the middle of last year, through the first month, or so, of This year the BIG Seller was Pickemup Trucks.

    The average fuel economy of New vehicles being bought actually went down in the last year.

    I bet it doesn't go down in the "next" year. :)

  29. The Oil companies, their sockpuppet politicians, and Wall St, in general, have lied to the American people, and lied to the American people, and lied to the American people about where we stand in global oil production. All self-serving their "perceived" self interest.

    We have big problems that the powers-that-be won't even fess up to, much less offer a solution to.

  30. Trot, Canter and Gallop said:

    In the only important news of the day my daughter has taught her horse to turn when she turns her body without using the reins, bareback.


  31. You've often discounted the value of those horsemanship skills, in prior posts.

  32. Was it she who taught the horse, or did the horse already have that capability, she being the one under instruction?

    It not being a bad thing, that her horsemanship is catching up to her horse's capacities.

    Hope you got her a horse that is teaching her how to ride. Not one that she, the novice rider, needs to train.

  33. There wasn't a six year-old in my group that couldn't ride a horse that way.

    If the horse wanted to go that way. :)

  34. That was usually the problem. :)

  35. The Real problem was when ol' Champ decided it was time to go to the barn.

    I had two choices: Go with him, or walk. :)

  36. Happiest day of my life was when I got an old, beaten-up Schwinn.

  37. Leg pressure and body placement, is all you need, if the horse is trained.

    A basic dressage exercise.

  38. That's the difference, rufus, between being a rider or passenger.

  39. She found a perfectly good DiamondBack bike in the back of the old wheat truck the other day! Some college student must have thrown it in there when they left for the summer.

    All it needs is air in the tires, and I'll be riding too.....



  40. when ol' Champ decided it was time to go to the barn

    There's a term for that -- barn sour, I think she said.

    The solution is ride the horse around for a long while when you get near the barn, teaches them the barn ain't all it's cracked up to be.


  41. I was about six years old, Rat. Ol' Champ was in the 20 yr. range.

    He'd been doin that stuff a lot longer than I had. If he and I agreed, the very slightest shift, and maybe a feather touch of the rein on one side of his neck, and we were going where WE wanted to go.

    On the other hand, with the weight difference, He was pretty much the largest part of the "WE." :)

    Thankfully, most of the time, he pretty much was ambivalent, so he let me have my way "most" of the time.

    I was raised up understanding "humility," thanks to Champ.

  42. Want a Big Brain? Head North
    Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor
    Date: 26 July 2011

    Brains are larger in those who live farther from the equator — in order to help them see better, researchers now suspect.

    Scientists have long known that brain volume increases with latitude — that is, the closer one gets to the poles.

    The investigators noted that the amount of light that reaches Earth's surface decreases the higher one goes up in latitude. They reasoned that in order to compensate, both eyeballs and the brain regions linked with vision might increase in size. Nocturnal primates do have larger eyes than ones active during the daytime, presumably in order to help them see better in the dark, and the same holds true for birds that sing earlier in the dawn, when light is sparse.

    Dunbar and his Oxford colleague Eiluned Pearce measured the size of eye sockets and brains in 55 people from 12 different areas of varying latitude across the globe, from Scandinavia to Kenya to Australia. They determined that eyeball size increased with latitude just as brain size did, findings that are detailed online July 27 in the journal Biology Letters.

    The biggest brains belonged to populations who lived in Scandinavia, while the smallest brains were those of Micronesians, the researchers found.

    Under daylight conditions considered typical for each latitude, people from higher latitudes were found to have the same level of visual keenness as those from lower latitudes, the researchers noted. However, at dawn or dusk, when light levels are lower, people from higher latitudes might have markedly sharper eyesight, though this idea hasn't been tested, the researchers said.

    "In relatively recent evolutionary time, humans have adapted to the low light levels of high latitudes by adjusting how much light enters the visual system," Dunbar noted.

    The researchers are now looking at a larger sample of brains and eyes and measuring their dimensions more accurately with modern imaging techniques.

    Woe to folks in Mississippi and Arizona.


  43. .

    Decaying infrastructure costs U.S. billions each year, report says

    As Congress debates how to meet the nation’s long-term transportation needs, decaying roads, bridges, railroads and transit systems are costing the United States $129 billion a year, according to a report issued Wednesday by a professional group whose members are responsible for designing and building such infrastructure.

    Complex calculations done for the American Society of Civil Engineers indicate that infrastructure deficiencies add $97  billion a year to the cost of operating vehicles and result in travel delays that cost $32 billion.

    “If investments in surface transportation infrastructure are not made soon, these costs are expected to grow exponentially,” the ASCE said. “Within 10 years, U.S. businesses would pay an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than $7,000, and U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion.”

    Decaying Infrastructure Costs

    I highlighted one section to point out that the people putting out this report could be a little biased.

    However, someone here recently commented that the infrastructure in the US was just fine. I can only comment based on my own experiance, but the infrastructure I see while travelling in the Midwest (roads, bridges, etc.) is falling apart. While travelling in the UK recently, I didn't see anything half as bad.

    To me it shows the short term thinking that exists in the US, a failure to establish priorities. It's easy to blame the pols for this, but they generally vote for the prioities we tell them we want. Face it, "We have met the enemy and he is us."



  44. .

    The last post was merely my attempt to lighten things up a bit for those who are a little down over the debt ceiling debate.


  45. .

    The return of a zero-sum world

    The title of this article caught my attention for a couple of reasons. First, because it implies we are in a zero sum world, and second, because it also implies we were ever in anything but a zero sum world. As the author points out, in the US we are caught in a zero-sum world created by the competing philosophies of 'Reaganomics' and 'Rubinomics'.

    Up until a decade or so ago, I could have easibly bought into the arguments for globalization, for open borders, for free trade, etc. However, the older I get the more "short term' my thinking becomes. I agree intellectually with the author's claim that countries who indulge in social and economic nationalism lose out in the end; however, on a more basic level, I'll probaly look out for what I see as my own self interest in this zero-sum environment.

    That's why it surprises me when people choose to go against their own self interest when faced with the choices in the zero-sum world established by our current political elites in D.C.

    At any rate, I find the attached article pretty interesting and unfortunately probably prescient, especially the part about how long it will take before anything changes.

    A couple years ago, I thought all we would need is a few more elections to clear out the slugs who populate D.C. Now, I am much less sanguine.

    Zero-Sum World


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