“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, January 25, 2012

The State of Skepticism

Here is a discussion and response to Obama’s 2011 State of the Union:


  1. I didnt watch. I knew today would be information overload from both sides.

    I get nauseous looking at him anyway.

    The liberals love him, the others don't. It is really that simple.

    The Northeast and West Coast liberals have been delivered from their guilt. We have a black president. Hooray!

  2. OBAMA: "Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

    The money we spent on war was borrowed from China, so there's no money saved by not going to war, there's only less debt. You can't pay down debt by going deeper into debt.

  3. It is raining mountain lions and St. Bernards here in North Texas.

  4. The SoTU was a totally Green speech, recycled.

    I'll bet liberals will call it the Greatest Speech Ever Given, just like the last one and one before that.

  5. However, he did make it rain here in Texas, so I'm thankful for that.

  6. Toshtu: I'll bet liberals will call it the Greatest Speech Ever Given, just like the last one and one before that.

    I can't stand listening to the bozo, so I gave the whole STFU address a miss.

  7. The "electable" candidate was nominated in 1992, 1996, and 2008. How did that work out for us?

  8. The great thing about Obama's speeches is you don't have to watch them, or even read transcripts, to know what he said.

  9. I'll summarize:

    Can't we all just get along?

    (and do it my way)


  10. "We must work together to rise above partisan friction to deliver more fairness to the people. We can't go on tearing each other up for short-term political gain." We can no longer accept the acrimony and bitterness from those pricks in the Republican party".

  11. Mitt Romney 36%, #Newt Gingrich 34% Florida - Quinnipiac Poll

    What's a conservative? A liberal who made it through adolescence.

  12. Took my daughter to the Medical Center the other day. Most of the cars were older SUVs. The few new cars were all smaller, more fuel efficient models.

    The American people are adapting; but, it's a slow process.

  13. Part of the problem is Rising Consumption in China, India, all other Non-OECD Countries (most especially, including the Middle East,)

    and more, or less, flat global production.

  14. We've been lucky in the Midwest. We have a lot of that Bakken, and Tar Sands Crude trapped at Cushing, and it's caused our prices to be lower than they normally would have.

    That will probably go away when Enbridge finishes reversing the "Seaway Pipeline" sometime in the late Spring.

  15. What is a conservative?

    Neither of the premier Republican contenders.

    Not the President.

    In a country that polls say the majority are self-described conservatives, there are none to choose from in the coming national election.

    Neither of the major parties dare to trot a conservative out.

    Ruled by the adolescents.

    Wonder why?

  16. Because most "self-described Conservatives" aren't really "Conservative?"

  17. .

    “Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right — eight years. Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.”

    The first statement is a great statistic but not especially noteworthy because there has not been much change in the annual barrels produced in the United States since 2003; it essentially has been steady though it is slightly higher now than in previous years, according to the Energy Information Administration. Production is projected to increase in coming years.

    The second claim made it into Obama’s first campaign ad, and as we have noted, it is lacking context. The Energy Department cited a host of reasons why foreign oil imports have declined, noting the main reason was “a significant contraction in consumption” because of the poor economy and changes in efficiency that began “two years before the 2008 crisis” — ie, before Obama took office...

    Fact Checker on SOTU


  18. Just ask the next "self-described Conservative" you meet if he/she is in favor of the "Homeowners Interest Deduction."

  19. .

    From WAPO,

    “Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.”

    This is fanciful budget math. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were funded with borrowed money, so what Obama is really asking for is an increase in domestic spending relative to the Pentagon. The United States is still running huge deficits, so none of this imagined savings would “pay down the debt” until the United States once again began running surpluses. Instead, his proposal would continue to add to the debt...

    It never hurts to keep reminding ourselves that none of the 'reductions' these guys keep talking about affect the baseline. They are merely reductions in the amount of future increases that are budgeted.


  20. .

    Just ask the next "self-described Conservative" you meet if he/she is in favor of the "Homeowners Interest Deduction."

    I joked about this with Doug but I am getting more and more conservative as I approach the mortgage burning party.


  21. We've brought about 1.5 Million Barrels of Ethanol online since 2007, globally.

    There is No More of That to bring online for several more years (maybe forever, if the Pubs have their way.)

    Also, understand that every year a higher percentage of the oil we refine is heavier, and more sour, than the oil we refined the year before.

    And, the crappier the oil, the less gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel it produces.

  22. Rufus: And, the crappier the oil, the less gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel it produces.

    Liquids are dense, they should be allocated to jets, and compressed natural gas for long-haul trucks.

    Money talks. Democrats in Washington think your money is telling them, "Spend Me"

  23. Though revenue to the Federals is at 2005 levels, the GOP thinks it is breaking radical ground, to advocate returning to 2008 spending levels.

    When there would still be extensively borrowing, at 2005 spending levels.

    Smoke, mirrors and disingenuous lies, from both camps on the Potomac.

    43% cuts, across the board, to the actual, current, spending levels, would be required to balance the Federal budget.

    Little wonder, then, that there are so few carrying that banner towards the battle.

    Instead, we get two sides of the same coin. Made of neither silver nor gold, but the tin of a sheriff's badge...

  24. Like Rat once said, "no one wants their own ox gored."

    You can be a conservative and still not want your stuff jacked with.

    There are enough 3000 dollar toilets and 2000 dollar hammers in the budgets to not have to jack with many of the tax deductions out there.

    Let's get rid of the silly stuff first.

    Tax dollars to build bicycle laneson public roads? That's the kind of shit that drives me crazy.

  25. Rufus: Just ask the next "self-described Conservative" you meet if he/she is in favor of the "Homeowners Interest Deduction."

    You allow deductions for what you want (solar, home ownership), and you tax what you don't want (cigarettes, imported fuel).

    Liberalism: Protect animals, trees, government programs, terrorists, dictators and murderers while killing babies, seniors, and jobs.

  26. .

    Tax dollars to build bicycle laneson public roads?

    Personally, I'd rather have them on bicycle lanes than driving on public roads. Some of them act like they own the road.


  27. Hundreds of millions, gag, to "know" that there are other planets "out there" across the far flung galaxy.

    A greater waste of borrowed money could not be imagined.

  28. Most of the folks who want to do away with homeowner deductions are folks who don't own homes.

    See what I mean?

  29. Political footballs, one and all.

  30. Financing the production of "Sesame Street", to the tune of $10 million USD, in Pakistan.

    Worse than any bike lane.

    Make work for Pakistani TV technicians. What could be dumber?

  31. How much "forgiven loans" are doled out every year to third world countries, with no chance of ever getting them back?

  32. And the ox of companies who build space ship parts.

  33. No, gag, the folks that do not want to do away with the "Home Interest Deduction" are not owners, they are borrowers.

    I'm an owner, so that income deduction does not benefit me. It benefits those that borrow in hopes of someday, that they'll be owners, too.

  34. .

    On NSA rules for travel,

    So you’ve got to “report the following,” we’re told. That includes:

    * “Close and continuing association with non-U.S. citizens;

    * “Contact with an employee or representative of a foreign government . . .

    * “Sexual contact with a non-U.S. citizen.”

    Not clear who you should report this last one to — your spouse or your control officer. We suggest that the latter, since he likely already monitored it, probably would be safer.

    Some might suggest such contact is not going to be a significant problem for the NSA. As our colleague Dana Priest noted in her book “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State,” the running joke amongst spooks at other agencies is: “How can you tell the extrovert at NSA?”

    Answer: “He’s the one looking at someone else’s shoes.”


  35. Due to the nature of Primates, the only way you can, possibly, make meaningful cuts is to "gore everyone's ox" at once.

    If you go for 10% "across the board with no exceptions" you can do it.

    "Piecemeal?" You're not serious.

  36. Rat, you knew what I meant. I am both, an owner and borrower to be an owner, on several properties.

  37. No project is more synonymous with waste and fraud than the “Big Dig”, the not-so-affectionate nickname given to the rerouting of Boston’s chief highway (Interstate 93) into a 3.5 mile tunnel beneath the city. Originally estimated to cost $2.5 billion in 1985, the project devolved into the most expensive highway project in U.S. history, costing some $14.6 billion in state and federal tax dollars by 2006. Countless contractor changes and environmental obstacles later, lamented in 2008 that the Big Dig’s crushing debt had “engulfed the state”, ballooning to $22 billion that will not be paid off in full until 2038 – at the earliest. This assumes no more hurdles for a project whose oversights have already killed a motorist and led a Massachusetts attorney general to demand $100 million in refunds to taxpayers as a result of “shoddy work.” (This last comment might qualify as the understatement of the century.)

  38. In terms of sheer excitement and anticipation, the superconducting super collider beats out everything on this list. In essence, the project was a tunnel inside which scientists would rev up beams of subatomic particles to breakneck speed and crash them into each other. Foreseen as a way to simulate the conditions of the Big Bang and thereby “allow scientists to gain new insights into the very nature of matter”, the ambitious project was unable to get out of its own way, skyrocketing in allotted budget from $5 billion to over $12 billion on the basis of little more than speculation on what other uses (cancer and HIV cures among them) it might serve once it was actually built. After stalled progress, however, 1993′s blitz of budget cuts pulled the plug on the tunnel before it was even one third of the way built. After that, Neatorama reports that it was “used to store Styrofoam cups” before being sold to a private concern for “pennies on the dollar.”

  39. The mortgage interest deduction, as much to blame for the real estate debacle, as much as Fraudie Mac.

    Both are Federal subsidies of the housing market. Both policy solutions designed to encourage home sales and "ownership".

    Through debt.

  40. Many assume the government has extremely strict procedures for tracking the money entrusted to it by taxpayers. Believers in this view received a rude awakening in 2003, however, when it was reported that nearly $25 billion in government spending was totally unaccounted for. In typical fashion the mysterious disappearance of this mind-blowing sum was not publicly addressed. Rather,the only apparent record of the incident appears to be buried deep within the Treasury Department’s Financial Report of the United States Government of 2003, in a tiny section innocently entitled “Unreconciled Transactions Affecting the Change in Net Position.” (Perhaps more outrage would have ensued if the section were more bluntly titled “Spending Unaccounted For.”) Put in perspective, $25 billion is enough to fund the Department of Justice for a full calendar year.

  41. Like so many grand and visionary government projects, “Railhead” – an online terrorist database meant to disseminate information to counter terrorism analysts – was done in by cost overruns and mismanagement. Recalling comments from Representative Brad Miller, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, notes “”Potentially hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted, delivery schedules have slipped, contractor employees have been laid off.” Miller further stated that the net result was a database that “had been crippled by technical flaws”, replaced by “a new system that if actually deployed will leave our country more vulnerable than the existing yet flawed system in operation today.” While technical flaws have recieved the brunt of the blame for Railhead’s demise, contractor fraud played no small part. ZD Net, for example, reports that $500 million originally earmarked for Railhead actually went toward rennovating one of Boeing’s own buildings!

  42. Much government waste comes not from specific failed projects, but the very way in which programs are designed. In reviewing “just a sample” of the federal budget during one year, the White House concluded that at least $90 billion was being burned on the altar of “programs that were deemed either ineffective, marginally adequate, or operating under a flawed purpose or design.” Unfortunately, just as few of us clean the rental car, it looks as though the opportunity to recover enough wasted money to fund three Justice Departments was largely ignored except for being mentioned in a few abstruse memos that the general public did not read

  43. What do you have against bike lanes Gag?

  44. No recollection of outrageous government waste would be complete without mention of the U.S. Defense Department’s embarrassing credit card abuse. According to Fox News, some 36,000 DOD employees “had defaulted on $623 million in official travel expenses charged to the government cards” as of November 2001, and bad debts which had to be written off by banks were reported to have been “growing at the rate of $1 million per month.” Discovery of the eye-popping credit card abuse at the Defense Department triggered a flurry of Congressional hearings, especially amidst allegations that high-ranking officials were turning a blind eye to egrigious charges by personal associates and friends.

  45. Gag Reflex: No project is more synonymous with waste and fraud than the “Big Dig”, the not-so-affectionate nickname given to the rerouting of Boston’s chief highway (Interstate 93) into a 3.5 mile tunnel beneath the city.

    Now it's Seattle's turn, routing Highway 99 under the ground for (they promise) $3 billion dollars. The big controversy is that Seattle knows there's going to be overruns and they don't want to shell out for them, but pawn them off on the State instead.

  46. Five or six of the carrier battle groups would need to go, away.

    Mothballed until "really" needed.

    Gift one group to the Australians, it'd double the size of their navy.

  47. All of the items listed above, however, would pale in comparison to the cost of a month's war in the Persian Gulf.

    Republicans (and, oil-state Democrats) thought that $150 Billion/Yr for War in Iraq was Hunky-Dory,

    but screamed bloody murder at the BCAP (Biomass Crop Assistance Program) that would have cost 1/3 of 1% of that.

  48. Ash

    for some reason, I knew you would be the cute fellow in the tights with the ridiculous looking head cover holding up traffic.

    A bicyler killed in traffic should be ruled a suicide.

  49. No Gag, I'm a "fait accompli" kind of cyclist who thinks it silly and dangerous for bicycle riders to think they should act like cars on the road. The law of Gross Tonnage rules.

    I don't get to ride about the city much these days as I'm the family chauffeur but riding is a great way to get about the big city - you move through traffic faster then the cars (at least during rush hour(s)) and you get a bit of exercise doing it. Unfortunately I can't get to a golf course on my bike and the clubs would be awkward to carry.

    Still, what have you got against bike lanes? I presume you think only automobiles should be subsidized?

  50. .

    From the NYT:

    U.S. Military Frees 2 Western Hostages From Somali Pirates

    KHARTOUM, Sudan — American commandos raced into Somalia early Wednesday and rescued two aid workers, an American woman and a Danish man, after a shootout with Somali pirates who had been holding them captive for months.

    The American forces — drawn from the same Navy commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden — swooped in and killed nine pirates before spiriting away the hostages, who were not harmed, American officials said...


  51. We've always "grown out" of recessions.

    But, this time, gasoline/diesel prices may not fall very much.

    It's very doubtful that we can "grow our way out" with $3.50 to $4.00 Gasoline Prices.

    Not with a "low-mileage fleet" such as we have, Now.

  52. .

    From the NYT,

    Sanctions Against Iran Grow Tighter, but What’s the Next Step?

    Lays out the speculation and the problems.


  53. China, India, and certain other "allies" continue buying Iranian oil (much to the relief of everyone.)

  54. Our US interstates, Ash, do not allow unmotorized vehicles. I am sure that is due to safety reasons.

    A car going 35 or 45 miles an hour in a neighborhood will kill a bicycler just as dead as a car going 75.

  55. Will (should) the US administration do the necessary paperwork to allow China, India, and others allies to continue doing business with US financial institutions? If 'yes' then doesn't that render the recent legislation useless and perpetuate the appeasement of Iran?

  56. all the more reason to give them a bike lane Gag.

  57. .

    From the MYT,

    "When does a broken heart become a diagnosis?

    "In a bitter skirmish over the definition of depression, a new report contends that a proposed change to the diagnosis would characterize grieving as a disorder and greatly increase the number of people treated for it..."


  58. Or are you suggesting that cyclists not be allowed out of their driveway?

  59. I would think the "next step", Q, is to stay the course. Squeeze 'em tighter, through their elections, until the IAEA gets to fully inspect the underground facilities that are newly operational.

    Plus whatever other locations are on the "to be inspected" list.

    Then, ease off, so the Chinese can resume buying Iranian crude at discount, without US ostracizing any Chinese commercial banks.

  60. Precisely.

    Put your bike on one of those silly "car bike racks" and go ride somewhere safe and out of my way.

  61. The US, ash, sanctions the "banks", not the countries.

    So, if Charlie has a bank that does not do business in the US, well, that bank could process all the Iranian deals, and then be sanctioned, by US.

    Significantly, foreign financial institutions will, after 29 February 2012, be restricted or prohibited from maintaining correspondent or pay-through accounts in the United States if they have “knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant financial transaction with the Central Bank of Iran. . . .”

    To no real effect on financial institutions that do not do business, in the US.

    Of which there are many.

  62. Fed: The Economy will suck until, at least, late 2014.

  63. .

    The FED and the IMF finally get around to saying what many realistic people have been saying for a couple years.


  64. Rat, I think you are reading the legislation mistakenly. The legislation is not simply targeting financial institutions doing business IN the US but rather financial institutions doing business WITH the US.

    "A correspondent account is an account (often called a nostro or vostro account) established by a large banking institution to receive deposits from, make payments on behalf of, or handle other financial transactions for smaller financial institutions."

    "A correspondent payable through a nested account is an arrangement used by some to move money between financial institutions in foreign country and financial institutions in the United States. The correspondent part refers to an entity that is paid on behalf of the bank in the foreign country (or in the United States on behalf of a foreign financial institute) to move assets across borders.

    U.S. Pay Through Chequing Account

    U.S. Pay Through is designed for business customers issuing cheques destined for the United States. U.S. Dollar Pay Through facilitates the clearing of cheques drawn on your U.S. Dollar business account (domiciled at a Canadian branch of TD Canada Trust) through the U.S. Federal Reserve Cheque Clearing System. This helps make timely, trouble-free cheque negotiation to your U.S. suppliers.

  65. Continuing our listing of groups that have endorsed Obama for President 2012 we come to --

    Service Employees International Union

    This bunch of thugs and felons joins the

    Communist Party, USA

    The New Black Panther Party

    Rufus II Party

    in our list.

  66. If the financial institution does not do transactions in or with or through the US, ash, the sanction has no effect upon it.

    The Chinese have banks that qualify, as do the Indians.

    If not, they could easily charter one.

    The "Bank of ChiIndostan"

  67. We got bike paths all over here. Fortunately, many of them are away from the roads entirely, like the one going down Paradise Creek. And, there are wonderful bike paths up north, off the highways.

    Concerning the bikers themselves, do they really think those silly little helmets are going to save their brains in a collision?

  68. What banks would currently qualify? Yes, they could charter one I suppose. Have they starting doing that?

    In the past, rat, you were opining about the lack of effective sanctions. The current ones seem to have more teeth don't they? Enough teeth that we may require a larger footprint in the region if Iran getdesperatete enough to lash out by closing the Straits.

  69. I think the evidence suggests they do mitigate head injuries Bob. Nothing is perfect though.

  70. Seems to me if you are going to wear a helmet you might as well wear a real one, like a motorcycle helmet, instead of a skull cap.

  71. The sanctions regime could succeed, without violence.

    If further inspections are what's needed, called for.

    They are entitled to refining capacity, by the NPT.

    The Iranians do need the isotopes for the medical equipment. It was an issue of the negotiations attempted by Turkey, years ago.

    The Iranian elections are just weeks away.

    "Spring Time" in Persia

    So, it depends upon what "success" is defined as. I think success will be claimed with an enhanced inspection regime by the IAEA, but...

    I'm not the President.
    He has the say, with regards the US participation in the economic sanctioning program and deciding when we "win".

  72. and, of course, the Iranians also have a say in the what constitutes a "win" for them.

    Nobody wants to lose face!

  73. America is 235 years old yet 40% of our debt will be accrued by Obama in just 4 years. Shudder to think of two terms.

  74. Sadam Hussein was Stupid. The Iranians, overall, are Not stupid.

    And, as for Obama: It took Him months on end to decide to send 30,000 more troops to an existing war.

    And, his base "hates" war.

    And, it's an election year.

    I can't see it.

  75. Now you are "getting" it, ash.

    They turn on their nuclear electric production, build a couple more reactors.

    All under the watchful eye of the IAEA.

    The enhanced sanctions can ease, before they are even implemented, in Jun/July.

    Just the "threat" of the enhanced program is moving things along.

    Each side rattles their sabres.

    While Obama works the balance beam.

    Stay the Course!


  76. Obama cannot be seen to be "soft" on Iran.

    He will not be.

    All of the professional Israel-First team has been singing Mr Obama's praises, after the Adler Advocates Assassination Affair.

    It's all balance beam work, until November.

    Mr Obama holds the leash on the "Big Dog", he's not lettin' go, again. I think he learned his lesson, in Afpakistan. From both General McChrystal and then, the helicopter failure at the Osama compound.

    The "Brass" cannot be trusted ...
    and the equipment is not as good as the marketing ...

    From Desert One ...
    ...through Blackhawk Down.
    On to a bird down in Abbottabad
    Then in August the Chinook was lost in Afghanistan, with 38 aboard.

    Sanctions and sabotage have yet to begin, let alone run their course.

    Stay the Course!

    Now, more than ever before.


  77. That was the most telling part of the speech, when Mr Obama described the operation in Abbottobad.

    Describing the helicopter going down.

    It is the part of the story that has stayed with him, that he is telling US about. The part we know he watched on the satellite feed and it put his heart in his throat. Watching what could have been turning into a disaster unfold before his eyes.

    More of a formative moment than popping Osama in the bedroom at the top of the stairs.

  78. The things Mr Obama spoke highly of

    Team work.

    Delegated authority and responsibility, to team members that performed to standard and beyond.

    The Interpreter, the Pilots, the Seal Team. All "had the others back".

    But he knows the "Brass" does not have his.

  79. And, he would have promoted that helicopter pilot to General, at that moment in time.

  80. "It is the part of the story that has stayed with him, that he is telling US about. The part we know he watched on the satellite feed and it put his heart in his throat. Watching what could have been turning into a disaster unfold before his eyes."

    You don't really believe that crap, do you, Rat? Although he really wants you to believe it. He is watching the ratings as we speak. Already working on his next speech. Reviewing the tapes, working his expressions, his posture, all to make it more believable, next time. I'm surprised he didnt get teary eyed.

    He should try lightly biting his lower lip, like effing Clinton used to. That really got the minions going.

  81. He is a world class politician. That makes him a world class bull shitter. Get real.

  82. .

    Just the "threat" of the enhanced program is moving things along.

    I am far less sanguine than you rat.

    Iran wants the bomb for a number of reasons. People here have argued about what those reasons are. But those who push for regime change to stop Iran from getting the bomb are kidding themselves since the idea is also popular among the opposition there.

    I believe, and people have been making the argument for months, that Iran will keep stalling until they have all the components needed to construct a bomb(s). What happens after that is the question. One of the answers to that question as posited in the link I put up from the NYT could be that like Japan they would get to the point of being able to construct a bomb overnight but will hold off doing it. At that point, they will be able to work out some way of 'meeting' the IAEA requirements and will get the sanctions lifted while still having the capability of quickly putting together a nuke.

    Not an optimal solution by any means but probably the best we can expect.

    The alternative to the sanctions is military action and unless Iran does something really really stupid that is unlikely to happen.


  83. Oh, I'm real.

    He was sitting there, in the big chair, watching the big screen.

    The copter losing lift and smashing to the ground, that is the image that stayed with him. The learning moment that exemplifies "Shit Happens", that military operations, even with the "Best of the Best" easily go wrong.

    I do believe that if he had any doubts as to the efficiency of the US military, those doubts were reinforced by the realities he witnessed, via satellite, on the ground in Abbottabad.

    The politics of the Generals, personified in McChrystal.

    These truths will lead him away from the "military option" regarding Iran in 2012.

    Plus all of the other cost/benefits that led Mr Bush away from the military option regarding Iran, tambien.

  84. .

    It is the part of the story that has stayed with him, that he is telling US about. The part we know he watched on the satellite feed and it put his heart in his throat. Watching what could have been turning into a disaster unfold before his eyes...

    It surely may have put his heart in his throat. The consequences, not least of all political, had things gone south would have been enormous. But let's not forget the other side.

    People credit him with making a difficult military and political decision. Was it really, at least from the political standpoint? What would the political damage have been if it were eventually found out (as we know it would be) that he knew were OBL was but didn't go after him?

    Bush is still suffering from Tora Bora. This would have been much worse.

    Or perhaps, I am too cynical.


  85. He has painted himself into a corner by making the closing of the Straits a "red line". It deprives him of the choice to go to war should Iran cross that "red line".

  86. The sanctions, moving thing along, towards inspections and the lifting of the sanctions.

    Best case scenario, the inspections occur prior to the implementation of the full sanctions regime.

    Which impacts the Europeons more than the Asians and Indians.

    Will the Saudis come to Greece's and the rest of the Europeon Mediterranean financial rescue?
    I think that is an intricate part of the political formula.

    If the Saudi do not, the embargo will falter, then fail.

  87. I guess I am way more cynical than you, Rat. I have been lied to by experts most of my life.

    He is just another expert liar. He learned his trade from other experts, back in Chicago, then fined tuned it once he got to the big house.

  88. .

    He has painted himself into a corner by making the closing of the Straits a "red line". It deprives him of the choice to go to war should Iran cross that "red line".

    You talked about countries''interests' yesterday. There are few here advocating for military actions against Iran; however, at some point, a countries national interest' demand that the 'red line' be set.

    If in fact there is a trigger point, much better that everyone know what it is. You are less likely to go to war over a miscalculation.


  89. Not really, ash.

    The US Navy has kept the Strait "open" before.

    It did not lead to a war with Iran.

    We have shot down one of their commercial airliners.

    It did not lead to war with Iran.

    "We" have funded insurgents in Iran, amongst the Kurds. There have been assassinations of Iranian scientists.

    It did not lead to war with Iran.

    Not yet, anyway.
    Doubt that US actions will include going to war with Iran, not while Mr Obama is President.

    Mr Adler does not believe that Mr Obama will take US to war with Iran, either.

  90. I am not vouching for Mr Obama's veracity, gag.

    I am saying that he realizes, from the Abbottabad experience, the real whirled dangers of military operations.

    Even "limited" operations, using the "Best of the Best" do not go as planned.

    That is the Lesson Learned, by the President, I do believe.
    The rest of the story, part of the act, but the close brush with failure, stays embedded in his political/military decision making, now.

  91. I doubt Mr Obama would buy into the...

    ... "Slam Dunk" ...

    ... story lines.

  92. .

    Will the Saudis come to Greece's and the rest of the Europeon Mediterranean financial rescue?
    I think that is an intricate part of the political formula.


    The Saudis have said they would up production to try to offset the Iranian crude shortfall. But the Saudis did the same with Libya and it didn't work out so good.

    The Saudis indicated they would step up to replace the Libyan crude that was taken off the market. They tried. They reformulated the sour crude they produce to make it more like the light crude out of Libya. I don't know what the reason (price differential, required more processing, etc?), but people didn't want it. The Saudis quickly pulled it from the market.


  93. More than just the oil, Q, the Mediterranean coast Europeons need financial aid.

    Bond buyers.

    As much as they need oil.
    The Saudi have to fill both roles, if Iran is going to be embargoed, successfully.

  94. The thing is Quirk, the red line has been laid out and the new sanctions regime, if fully implemented, could push Iran over the red line (i.e. they feel the bite of sanctions to the extent they are existentially threatened).

    If they should choose to attack shipping in the Straits Rat do you think the US could keep it open using the naval fleet alone? I am sceptical that is possible if Iran is determined especially if Insurance companies choose not to insure ships under that kind of threat which would effectively close the Straits.

  95. Gag Reflex said...

    He is a world class politician. That makes him a world class bull shitter. Get real.

    Wed Jan 25, 02:37:00 PM ES

    Only comment worth reading, so far, today.

  96. Depends, ash, on the unknowables.

    The charted course is not risk free, just low risk.

    Especially when compared to airstrikes on underground bunkers.

    But it is, admittedly, of higher risk than standing by and watching from afar.

    That does not seem to be a viable option, politically, for US to take. Especially if the Congress is truly representing the "Will of the People" at its 15% approval rating.

  97. Then there is Israel. Here is a possibility - Israel attacks Iran so Iran retaliates and attacks ships in the Strait.

  98. aye Rat, the Congress - war can come through a series of 'small' decisions as opposed to a 'big' one.

  99. Right in my wheelhouse, Bob. :)

    I, like all other top salesmen, always "sold" at an 8th grade level

    (unless I was dealing with farmers, or engineers, then I dropped down to 5th Grade.) :)

  100. Actually, I'm lying in the part about "injineers."

    My commission rates were Way Too Low to bother with engineers.

  101. There are dangers, all around.

    Sanctions and Sabotage, ash, better than armed intervention.

    Providing an opportunity, at each of the small steps, to step away.

    Multiple decision points.

    What is the better option for staying on the balance beam?

    We do not have and are not building the infrastructure required to dismount.

  102. .

    ...if fully implemented, could push Iran over the red line (i.e. they feel the bite of sanctions to the extent they are existentially threatened).

    We have been over this before Ash. You talk about existentially threated, yet to shut down the Strait, Iran would have to be willing to commit virtual suicide. Sure they would hurt those depending on the Straits but one of those most dependant upon the straits for food, medicine, many of their supplies coming in and for badly needed funds from oil going out is Iran.

    They would in effect be cutting off the nose to spite their face.


  103. This whole meme of "they shalt not have nukes" could very well lead US to war. Maybe that meme needs a re-think.

  104. And, farmers are, by and large, the most commonsensical people you'll ever deal with.

  105. Quirk, that is what nations do when they feel existentially threatened - whatever is necessary.

  106. .

    Then there is Israel. Here is a possibility - Israel attacks Iran so Iran retaliates and attacks ships in the Strait.

    Things then become more complicated but the end result with regard to Iran shutting down the Strait remains the same. Countries will protect their vital interests.

    Iran would need to determine what is in their vital interest. From my viewpoint, it doesn't make sense to commit suicide to make a point. The Iranians? Who knows.


  107. I'm quite sure the O'man has communicated to Iran that he could care less if they "have nukes," as long as they test the first one after our Nov. election.

  108. .

    Quirk, that is what nations do when they feel existentially threatened - whatever is necessary.


    There has to be some point to trying to make a point. You have to make a choice between a very bad situation and a disasterous situation. What has it been, 50 years that Cuba has been suffering under US sanctions?


  109. .

    Sorry for using the word 'nonsense' Ash. Somehow I got into the habit of using it lately. Trying to stop.


  110. and Cuba has little power to resist. You say it would be suicide for Iran to close the Straits? Why? Who would suffer more - the Iranians or US? On the one hand you, we, have our calculations over the costs of the Straits being closed and the Iranians have theirs. If they are sufficiently 'sanctioned' from the rest of the world, their Rial in free fall, their young people uprising, the regime on the verge of collapse and that regime could very well figure that closing the Strait would better suit their interests than falling from power.

  111. I'm used to seeing nonsense from you Quirk :)

  112. Look at it from the Iranian point of view: They close the Straits, oil prices spike, they engage in holy war with the Evil Empire (look how many young lads of Iran died ill armed against the Iraqis - helped by US) and they see who will collapse first. How long can the West last in its indebted state paying loads for that sweet nectar, that black gold?

  113. Newt's Super Pac is now better funded than Mitt's. +$3 million

    While Mr Murdock has twitted that Mitt's tax return have problems.

    I doubt that Mr Murdock suffers from class envy, with regards Mr Romney's income.

  114. .

    Saw an article in the local paper last week about San Pedro Sula, Honduras now called the most dangerous city in the Americas. People are more afraid of the police than they are of the gangs.

    Honduras is part of the Northern Triangle (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala). Because of pressure in Mexico and Columbia, the drug cartels have migrated to the Northern Triangle where they find easy pickings by pouring in millions and buying off all levels of government and law enforcement.

    Unlike in some countries where the cartels recruit local gangs and the unemployed, in Honduras it appears entire units of the national police work for the crime organizations.

    IMO, I think pot use should be legalized here. It would cut the profits of many of the cartels at least in half and provide revenue for our government. Legalizing pot would be a first step to verify it had positive results. If it didn't, the decision could be reversed. If it did, other aspects of the War on Drugs could be looked at.

    I say this in spite of the fact that tomorrow I will be attending a funeral for a nineteen year old kid that OD'd on drugs.


  115. It was not marijuana that the teen over dosed on, was it?

  116. .

    Newt's Super Pac is now better funded than Mitt's. +$3 million

    Romney could more than offset that himself if the reports on his net worth and income are true. Of course, with the current rules he might have to admit to the spots.

    He supposedly has given 40% of his income to charity according to Rush (I know, I know) but still he has the money if he wants to use it.



    The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it expects to leave interest rates near zero for another two years, extending historically low borrowing costs until late 2014 as the economy continues to recover slowly ...

  118. .

    It was not marijuana...


    I haven't heard the final medical report yet.

    My wife tells me that heroin is now about the cheapest thing you can buy on the street. Not sure where she heard it.


  119. If Romney loses Murdoch, he's lost.

  120. This comment has been removed by the author.

  121. Sheldon Adelson, the man funding the Newt surge, is an interesting story.

    He is a newspaper tabloid publisher, in Israel, where he gives the papers away.

    A strategic strategy I have used, myself. A good free paper will get readership, which is what makes the advertising work.

    Mr Murdoch may see a kindred soul, in Sheldon Adelson.

    Murdoch does not like Wall Street, has come out and said that "Carried Interest" is a 'racket'.


  122. Timothy Geithner said he’s “pretty confident” he won’t be asked to continue serving as treasury secretary if President Obama wins re-election.

    Geithner, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, said he plans on doing “something else.”

    “He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”

    Read more:

  123. Ash: Look at it from the Iranian point of view: They close the Straits, oil prices spike...

    Iran gets most of its refined petroleum products through the Strait too. It's not a one way body of water.

  124. Rufus: I'm quite sure the O'man has communicated to Iran that he could care less if they "have nukes," as long as they test the first one after our Nov. election.

    Netanyahu gathered as much as well, which is why you can expect the Israeli airstrike any time.

  125. Rufus: And, farmers are, by and large, the most commonsensical people you'll ever deal with.

    The Old Farmer's Almanac says we're in for decades of global cooling.

  126. We already have 700 bases across the globe, and now Newt wants one on the Moon.

  127. A high quality riposte by Ash --

    I'm used to seeing nonsense from you Quirk :)

    Very well done, Ash.

  128. A strategic strategy is a strategy with a lot of strategy to it.

    Then there are tactical strategies that have no strategy at all. Or is that strategic tactics....I'm confused.

    Adelson is Jewesh as rat knows, in the top 10 in wealth in the USA, and owns a bunch of stuff in Las Vegas, and sucks off the weakness of the people, just as all the gentile owners do as well.

    If I had my way I'd probably shoot all the casino owners just on general principles, regardless of background.

    I haven't figured out why he is giving Newt money, except maybe he is easy mark to influence.

  129. Santorum Giving Up on Florida?
    By Katrina Trinko
    January 25, 2012

    From NBC News:

    Failing to show early signs of momentum in the Sunshine State, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Wednesday signaled he may be cutting out of Florida before the state’s Jan. 31 primary.

    Speaking to reporters here, the former Pennsylvania senator said was unsure if he would be in Florida the night of the primary, committing only to campaigning in the state over the next two days. On Saturday, he’ll head home to Virginia for fundraisers and to prepare his tax records which he plans to soon make public.

    A Quinnipiac poll released this morning showed Santorum at 13 percent, more than 20 points behind both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

    Santorum should quit now. In fact he shouldn't have begun. Isn't Florida a winner take all state? If so, since he hasn't got a chance, he might as well go to the beach.

  130. Prior to Mr Adelson injecting $10 million USD into Newt's campaign, I had never heard of him, and don't know why I would have cared who he was.

    He has put himself in the spotlight, with his participation in the Presidential selection process.

    I wondered if Mr Adleson had any connections to Mr Murdoch. None are immediately apparent, in a 3 page Google search. Other than both are described as neo-cons on a couple of web sites.

    Both are on Bibi's "Best of the Best" list of probable foreign contributors.

    And both are tabloid newspaper publishers.

    Giving the paper away for free, is not tactical, it is a strategic decision. Once you give it away, you can NEVER successfully move to paid distribution.

    Unless changing the production and printing format, like going from tabloid paper to glossy slick magazine.

    But then it's not the same book.
    Strategic decisions, both print formatting and the distribution model.

  131. Florida is winner take all.

    It is also closed to those that are not registered as Republicans.

    Four or five different television markets in the State.

    $3 to $5 million just to begin to play with the money boys. Money better spent anywhere else, for Paul and Santorum.

    Doctor Paul skipped, moving on to the caucus States instead. Santorum could follow suit but should drop out.

  132. This tree fell down in my backyard, and lays diagonally on my land, and didn't hit my house nor the fence nor the neighbor's land, thus proving that God exists.

  133. For example, at more than $2.5 million, the cost of providing security during 2010 to Las Vegas Sands’ CEO Sheldon Adelson and his family is more expensive than at any other company in the Russell 3000

    Sheldon, the old crook

    I am surprised you hadn't heard of him till now, he has been around a while.

  134. How can we be sure that is your backyard?

  135. I'm in a state of skepticism.

    Your backyard, my ass.

    There is not a hint of any recent snow in that back yard.

    The devils in hell rejoice when people lie.

  136. I had never been that interested in that whole Israel/Palestine, Jewish/Muslim conflict in the Levant and the impact on US politics, b.

    Never cared, at all, prior to 11SEP01. Just kinda "went along" with the crowd. Leon Uris, Paul Newman and Kirk Douglas, Casting a Giant Shadow.

    Never cared until I was called a NAZI for expressing an interest in the subject.

    By questioning a few things that everyone "knew", well, the entertainment value of the bombastic response was compounded.

    Then, after a number of years, they finally were able to convince me that what the Israel lobby advocates for is almost totally disconnected from US interests.

  137. But $10 million to finance Newt and the attempted destruction of Mitt Romney, slicing and dicing the DC elites of the GOP, makes Mr Adleson a "Person of Interest".

    Much like Lester Crown, participation in financing the life of the political candidate draws the interest, not their creed.

    Then, with little research one discovers Mr Crown was CEO of General Dynamic, and then "things", like cancelling the F22, fall into place.

  138. Mr Obama claimed to be "rich", seemed like maybe six times, last night.

    If he is "rich", it's because Lester Crown gave him both the opportunity and the money.

  139. Follow the money, to where ever it leads.

    In Newt's case, the trail is not that long to Las Vegas.
    In Mitt's, it leads to his Bain buddies on Wall Street.

    Is what it is.
    They are who they are.

  140. I listen to these things so you don't have to

    Heh, my wife turned it off in the first couple of minutes, I lasted somewhat longer, but didn't make the ending.

    First off, the speech was obviously very well rehearsed down to the last vocal inflection and raised fact. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there were theatrical directions emanating from TOTUS tonight.

    BullShit Analyzed Here

    Texas+Rose Today 04:08 PM

    The Hollow Man spoke but I fear a great number of Hollow Men (& Women) were listening. How anybody with an above room temperature IQ can believe a single word out of Obama's mouth these days is beyond me. My personal BS meter just explodes every time he speaks. The Republican candidates have to STOP STOP STOP carping on each other. They are just providing great ammunition for the Democrats and diminishing each other in the eyes of the voting public. They should be hammering on Obama's record - the ghastly economic stats, the crippled energy industry, the chaotic foreign policy. Obama CANNOT run on his record but he doesn't have to if the Republican candidates continue in this circular firing squad mode!!!

    You can't fool people from Texas but Mississippi is another matter.

  141. None of it is raising my blood pressure. I have no dog in the fight.

    Dinner time here -- homemade French dip sandwiches -- she's good :)

  142. desert rat said...
    I had never been that interested in that whole Israel/Palestine, Jewish/Muslim conflict in the Levant and the impact on US politics, b.

    Dont really KNOW rat's pov about jews and Israel prior to the EB.

    However after thousands and thousands of anti-israel, anti-jewish, blood libel, anti-zionist posts his bias is clear.

    he is a jew hater, a genocide of israel supporter.

    he takes offense at the title nazi?

    how about nazi supporter, brown shirt or just violent jew hater.

    he brings the subject up almost on every thread.

    regardless if those that support Israel right not to be murder post or not.

    leave him to his own devises? He will weave some Lester Crown, Jewish Kabbal nonsense into every thread.

    dont waste time arguing with him it is a waste of energy.

  143. UK: 'Strict Muslim' raped four women at knifepoint to 'punish them for being on the streets at night'

    Prolly get off because it's covered under Sharia Law.

  144. A federal jury has awarded $22 million to a New Mexico man who was kept in solitary confinement for two years and forced to pull his own tooth after being arrested for drunken driving in Dona Ana County.

    Important thing to take away from this story: If you drink, don't drive.

  145. To cheers and applause in an area that has suffered major job losses since the cancellation of the space shuttle, Gingrich said, “By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.

    “We will have commercial near-Earth activities that include science, tourism, and manufacturing, and are designed to create a robust industry precisely on the model of the development of the airlines of the 1930s, because it is in our interest to acquire so much experience in space that we clearly have a capacity that the Chinese and the Russians will never come anywhere close to matching.”…

    Responding to rival Mitt Romney’s criticism of his proposal for a lunar settlement, Gingrich said, “When we have 13,000 Americans living on the moon, they can petition to become a state. And here’s the difference between romantics and so-called practical people. I wanted every young American to say to themselves, ‘I could be one of those 13,000. I could be a pioneer. I need to study science and math and engineering. I need to learn how to be a technician. I can be a part of building a bigger, better future.’”

    By the daughter of Jupiter and Latona, Diana, heavenly, divine, the goddess of the hunt and moon and birthing, she of the wild animals and woodland, she having the power to talk to the animals, I have found my candidate.

    Newt, far seer, culture bringer, far darting defender of American and all its allies, large and small, he the thinker of the many large thoughts, historian, legislator, slimmy lobbyist, its you, Newt!

    Gingrich 2012!!

    When we have 13,000 Americans living on the moon, they can petition to become a state

    By God Yes!


  146. The more I think on it the more I love that idea.

    The moon as an American state.

    This is a continuation of the old LBJ tradition - "I don't want to go to bed by the light of a communist moon."


    I imagine myself out in northern Nevada, early night, the moon, huge, rising slowly, crawling up a ridge line of mountains.

    That's my moon I think to myself. A slight tune, a melody of desire, and remembrance, comes to my mind, and I think, how the pioneers that came to this waste place, northern Nevada, land of snow capped mountains, this wasn't enough for them, their descendents are now aloft, up there, on the American Moon.

    I unpack my telescope, I am going to wave.....when I focus on my countrymen.

  147. And think, this could be a big body blow to the moslems too, who are always big with all things moon.

  148. Moon

    It would, perhaps, deflate them, the moslems, to know that the moon was an American state.

    Much like blowing up the black rock.

    The three moon daughters of allah are named al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat.

  149. Just put it on the credit card.

  150. Patriots!

    Go HERE to watch the Obama eligibility hearing in Atlanta tomorrow, Orly Taitz for the plaintiffs.

  151. Tomorrow's Obama for President endorsement is -

    Noam Chomsky

    so we now have

    The Communist Party, USA
    The New Black Panther Party
    Rufus II Party
    Noam Chomsky

    The Obama endorsements will be not be entered for a few days, sorry.

  152. "Mitt's firm belief in unlimited corporate campaign donations is what first got me really excited," said 48-year-old pipe fitter David Flores, adding that another reason he joined "Romney Nation" was because he found it "pretty cool" that Romney pays a lower income tax rate than he does. "Money is speech—that's what the First Amendment is all about. Finally, there's a candidate who speaks directly to me."

    RomneyMania Sweeps America

    Well, really, do you like the sound of "Corporations are people, my friends." or Newt's "The moon can be the 51st state!"

    The choice is clear.

  153. Well expresed -

    Isabela2 Yesterday 11:07 PM

    I always will vote, for the candidate who will be the best for the country. But this election is not like the others. I was in 2008, a democrat. The reason, I change my party, from democrat to Independent. I don't want no party to think and choose for me.. I knew in 2008, that 0bama will be a disaster for all of us, because I study and searched his past. i didn't trust him from the minute I saw him. So, i voted for McCain. I knew he will loose. I don't know why he wanted to be president when, even his own shadow scared him. Same thing is happening with Romney. I just don't have any confidence that he will be the " people's" president and not the RINO'S. I will vote for Gingrich. I know 0bama will play as dirty as he ever did in his life. I know also, that Gingrich will use the same tactics, without be frighten by him. The situation our Country is, We need somebody like Gingrich, he won't be afraid to stand up against 0bama. I'm sure of that.


  154. Isn't THIS wonderful.

    The President - "at your own peril" - is slapped down by the Georgia Secretary of State.


  155. At that point Barak leaned forward and said with the utmost solemnity: “And if a nuclear Iran covets and occupies some gulf state, who will liberate it? The bottom line is that we must deal with the problem now.”


    “The Iranian regime will be several times more dangerous if it has a nuclear device in its hands,” he went on. “One that it could bring into the United States. It is not for nothing that it is establishing bases for itself in Latin America and creating links with drug dealers on the U.S.-Mexican border. This is happening in order to smuggle ordnance into the United States for the carrying out of terror attacks. Imagine this regime getting nuclear weapons to the U.S.-Mexico border and managing to smuggle it into Texas, for example. This is not a far-fetched scenario.”

    Long Involved Article On Whether Or Not Israel Will Attack Iran