“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, August 07, 2012

NASA, the most extraordinary government agency ever?

Think about what is happening here. It is an actual photo taken from an orbiting Martian satellite of a technological marvel, the Curiosity satellite, landing on Mars. 


  1. Bailing out the auto industry was not about bailing out the auto industry, it was about bailing out that league of voters called the UAW.

    1. Emails obtained by The Daily Caller show that the U.S. Treasury Department, led by Timothy Geithner, was the driving force behind terminating the pensions of 20,000 salaried retirees at the Delphi auto parts manufacturing company.

      The move, made in 2009 while the Obama administration implemented its auto bailout plan, appears to have been made solely because those retirees were not members of labor unions.

      The internal government emails contradict sworn testimony, in federal court and before Congress, given by several Obama administration figures. They also indicate that the administration misled lawmakers and the courts about the sequence of events surrounding the termination of those non-union pensions, and that administration figures violated federal law.

      Read more:

    2. .

      Bailing out the auto industry was not about bailing out the auto industry...

      There were two issues involved. One was bailing out the auto industry and the other was how they bailed out the auto industry.

      In the first instance, they had no choice. In the second, it was pretty screwed up.


  2. Wayne Allyn Root says:

    I am President Obama’s classmate at Columbia University, Class of ’83. I am also one of the most accurate Las Vegas oddsmakers and prognosticators. Accurate enough that I was awarded my own star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars. And I smell something rotten in Denmark. Obama has a big skeleton in his closet. It’s his college records. Call it “gut instinct” but my gut is almost always right. Obama has a secret hidden at Columbia- and it’s a bad one that threatens to bring down his presidency. Gut instinct is how I’ve made my living for 29 years since graduating Columbia.

    Obama and his infamous strategist David Axelrod understand how to play political hardball, the best it’s ever been played. Team Obama has decided to distract America’s voters by condemning Mitt Romney for not releasing enough years of his tax returns. It’s the perfect cover. Obama knows the best defense is a bold offense. Just keep attacking Mitt and blaming him for secrecy and evasion, while accusing him of having a scandal that doesn’t exist. Then ask followers like Senator Harry Reid to chase the lead. The U.S. Senate Majority Leader appears to now be making up stories out of thin air, about tax returns he knows nothing about. It’s a cynical, brilliant, and vicious strategy. Make Romney defend, so he can’t attack the real Obama scandal.

    This is classic Axelrod. Obama has won several elections in his career by slandering his opponents and leaking sealed documents. Not only do these insinuations and leaks ruin the credibility and reputation of Obama’s opponents, they keep them on the defensive and off Obama’s trail of sealed documents.

    By attacking Romney’s tax records, Obama’s socialist cabal creates a problem that doesn’t exist. Is the U.S. Senate Majority Leader making up stories out of thin air? You decide. But the reason for this baseless attack is clear- make Romney defend, so not only is he “off message” but it helps the media ignore the real Obama scandal.

    My answer for Romney? Call Obama’s bluff.

    Romney should call a press conference and issue a challenge in front of the nation. He should agree to release more of his tax returns, only if Obama unseals his college records. Simple and straight-forward. Mitt should ask “What could possibly be so embarrassing in your college records from 29 years ago that you are afraid to let America’s voters see? If it’s THAT bad, maybe it’s something the voters ought to see.” Suddenly the tables are turned. Now Obama is on the defensive.

    My bet is that Obama will never unseal his records because they contain information that could destroy his chances for re-election. Once this challenge is made public, my prediction is you’ll never hear about Mitt’s tax returns ever again.

    Why are the college records, of a 51-year-old President of the United States, so important to keep secret? I think I know the answer.

    If anyone should have questions about Obama’s record at Columbia University, it’s me. We both graduated (according to Obama) Columbia University, Class of ’83. We were both (according to Obama) Pre-Law and Political Science majors. And I thought I knew most everyone at Columbia. I certainly thought I’d heard of all of my fellow Political Science majors. But not Obama (or as he was known then- Barry Soetoro). I never met him. Never saw him. Never even heard of him. And none of the classmates that I knew at Columbia have ever met him, saw him, or heard of him.

    1. Wayne Allen Root is on record saying Obama is going to get slaughtered.

      Obama is a fraud.

  3. But don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2008 that Fox News randomly called 400 of our Columbia classmates and never found one who had ever met Obama.

    Now all of this mystery could be easily and instantly dismissed if Obama released his Columbia transcripts to the media. But even after serving as President for 3 1/2 years he refuses to unseal his college records. Shouldn’t the media be as relentless in pursuit of Obama’s records as Romney’s? Shouldn’t they be digging into Obama’s past–beyond what he has written about himself–with the same boundless enthusiasm as Mitt’s?

    The first question I’d ask is, if you had great grades, why would you seal your records? So let’s assume Obama got poor grades. Why not release the records? He’s president of the free world, for gosh sakes. He’s commander-in-chief of the U.S. military. Who’d care about some poor grades from three decades ago, right? So then what’s the problem? Doesn’t that make the media suspicious? Something doesn’t add up.

    Secondly, if he had poor grades at Occidental, how did he get admitted to an Ivy League university in the first place? And if his grades at Columbia were awful, how’d he ever get into Harvard Law School? So again those grades must have been great, right? So why spend millions to keep them sealed?

    Third, how did Obama pay for all these fancy schools without coming from a wealthy background? If he had student loans or scholarships, would he not have to maintain good grades?

    I can only think of one answer that would explain this mystery.

    Here’s my gut belief: Obama got a leg up by being admitted to both Occidental and Columbia as a foreign exchange student. He was raised as a young boy in Indonesia. But did his mother ever change him back to a U.S. citizen? When he returned to live with his grandparents in Hawaii or as he neared college-age preparing to apply to schools, did he ever change his citizenship back? I’m betting not.

    If you could unseal Obama’s Columbia University records I believe you’d find that:

    A) He rarely ever attended class.

    B) His grades were not those typical of what we understand it takes to get into Harvard Law School.

    C) He attended Columbia as a foreign exchange student.

    D) He paid little for either undergraduate college or Harvard Law School because of foreign aid and scholarships given to a poor foreign students like this kid Barry Soetoro from Indonesia.

    If you think I’m “fishing” then prove me wrong. Open up your records Mr. President. What are you afraid of?

    If it’s okay for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to go on a fishing expedition about Romney’s taxes (even though he knows absolutely nothing about them nor will release his own), then I think I can do the same thing. But as Obama’s Columbia Class of ’83 classmate, at least I have more standing to make educated guesses.

    It’s time for Mitt to go on the attack and call Obama’s bluff.

    1. .

      Turn-about is fair play even if it's indulged in by a couple of dicks.

      Unless there is something illegal, I am not interested in Romney's tax returns. The same goes for Obama's school records.

      Still, after Reid's slimy actions, I would love to see Romney show he has balls by turning this around on them as suggested in the column.


    2. Guy is a total fraud. Anyone who has followed the story knows this, many don't seem to care. Romney needs a VP candidate willing to attack the guy, if he is not going to do it himself.

  4. I like Newt's big idea idea. Let's go to Mars, or somewhere. Things getting boring around here. Go NASA!

  5. an interesting presentation of the Israeli Palestinian borders over the years:

    "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict involves a very small area of land, only a few million people, and no mineral resources. The reasonable solution has always been obvious: to draw a borderline somewhere between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea that both sides, however grudgingly, could live with. Yet the conflict casts a shadow over world peace, and continues to fester.

    The current borders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are the direct result of a long, complex and deadly conflict. But talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the conversational equivalent of tap-dancing on quicksand: the harder you try, the deeper you get stuck. For opinions are as sharply divided as the land itself [3].

    Considering how deep those divisions are, it’s remarkable how relatively new the current set of borders is. Geography dictates the western and eastern limits of the Holy Land. Most modern maps will show the border between Israel and the main part of the Palestinian territories [4] as a cursive “e” [5] superimposed on the land’s slender waist: two ample bulges toward the sea, counterweighted by the central stake’s thrust toward the Jordan River valley. At the tip of that stake is Jerusalem."


    "Israel’s declaration of independence, on May 14, 1948, makes no mention of the new state’s borders; it vaguely declares “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.” Eretz-Israel is a Biblical term meaning the “Land of Israel,” the borders of which are variedly defined in Scripture. A maximalist interpretation would extend it from the Nile to the Euphrates [17].

    ¶Israel’s borders were defined by the war for survival that followed its independence; apart from the external borders inherited from the British mandate, its borders with Gaza (occupied by the Egyptians) and the West Bank (annexed by the Jordanians) were the armistice lines of 1949. Although most of the world treats these green lines as Israel’s external borders, the fact that they are in reality still armistice lines has a few stark implications. For starters, armistice lines do not eradicate either party’s territorial claims. That explains the fear on both sides of the line about the other party’s “hidden agenda” [18] — total territorial annihilation of the opponent.

    ¶ Israel’s greatest victory, in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, laid the foundations of today’s stalemate. The Jewish state gained East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria. In 1979, Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt as part of the Camp David peace treaty. In 1981, invoking the area’s strategic importance, it effectively annexed the Golan Heights. East Jerusalem was also annexed.

    ¶ All the conquered areas still under Israeli control are mostly populated by Palestinian Arabs. Post-conquest, a curious alliance took shape in Israeli society. The secular state sought effective ways to pacify (or at least control) the occupied territories. A fundamentalist element in Israeli society considered living in these newly conquered areas a religious right, if not a duty. A continuing wave of Jewish settlements [19] is establishing “facts on the ground” that are considered illegal under international law, but will prove difficult to completely reverse if and when a final settlement of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is reached."


  6. I don't see Federal University Policy as one of the "Prime Movers" of the campaign.
    I do see Federal Tax Policy in that light.

    Obama can stonewall his records and no one will care. At least not the "swing" voters, that magic 3% that will decide the outcome in many of the contentious States.

    That Mr Romney has off shore bank accounts is a fact. His 2010 IRS filing uncovered Swiss accounts that were not listed on his Election disclosure documentation. Word on the "Street" is that he did not pay Federal taxes in '08 or '09.
    Losses, non-repatriated profits and loss carry overs make it all legal.

    Legal will not play in Peoria.

    1. People will believe the rumors, of both Mr Obama and Mr Romney.

      Of Mr Obama college days, few will care, it will mater to even less, just as b tells us.

      Mr Romney's tax avoidance schemes, gut wrenching for the common middle class worker who annually makes less than half of Mr Romney's horse hobby write off for 2010.

      His plan to cut his own taxes by $1.8 million, on top of that horse expense, knocks it out of the park.

    2. The folks who will NOT vote for Obama do not care about Romney's offshore accts. Pelosi and many others have them too. No one cares except those looking for something not to like. The 3% are not all in Peoria. AZ or IL.

    3. .

      I disagree with you rat, not on the Obama part but on the Romney part.

      "Word on the street?" Now you are starting to sound like Reid.

      "Paying no taxes?" There are many reasons for paying no taxes. Like many companies, it's possible those Romney was investing in took losses that could be offsets to other income. Likewise, if you invest in tax-free bonds, you pay no taxes. And anything put into a 401k (substantial for Romney) would be tax deferred.

      "Gut wrenching for the common middle class?" A little hyperbolic I would say.

      Perhaps it's different given the state of the economy today, but most Americans (perhaps to their own disadvantage) historically have not bought into the class warfare meme.

      I've suggested before that Romney should release his taxes, explain it all, get it out of the way, and keep saying, "No American should have to pay more taxes than he has to." He needs to do it now. There are only three months to the election but still time for this to blow over.

      That is,


      If there is, then he is hanging in the wind and deserves whatever he gets. The same applies to Obama's records. That's why Romney should take Root's advice noted above and make Obama an offer he can't refuse. Throw the dice and see what you come up with.

      I do agree with you on the real issue though. The choice between the Obama and the Romney tax plans represents a zero-sum game for the 99% and they should IMO be looking out for their own good and not some idealistic view of the American Dream.


    4. Rat's right. Swiss Bank Accts. have always been associated with "Crooks." And, then, the Romneyhood Tax Plan is just salt in the wound.

      This'll leave a mark.

    5. I might go one step, further; should it even be legal for a President to own an "overseas" acct?

      We don't, for obvious reasons, allow our President to have "dual citizenship."

    6. Tax policy is on the front burner.
      Multimillionaires that keep their money offshore, rather than investing in the US is an issue.
      It is a tax issue that most folk are not aware of. It is common knowledge here, but certainly not everywhere.

      Mr Romney will personalize the systemic inequity towards the Middle Class built into the tax code.
      Mr Romney has, historically play fast and loose with the code. Gaming his State residency in Utah and Mass, in the past. A $54,000 property tax break available to Utah residents was utilized, until he moved, retroactively, back to Mass... to run for Governor there.

      He massaged his 2010 return and still has not filed 2011.

      "On the Street", that was supposed to be Reidish ...

      That he sheltered his money off shore and did it "legal" will not make it "right" in the eyes of the 3% that don't care yet. It is much more important than Obama's college transcripts.

  7. As for the "Mission to Mrs" a total waste of the $2.5 billion that was borrowed from the Chinese to fund the adventure.

    Add that to the cost of the rover already on Mars and the three obit ors, it adds up to continued waste of Federal dollars

    1. Just like all federal dollars: if it's budgeted and dispersed, it will be spent. So guess what? Stop the dispersments.

    2. .

      I disagree, rat.

      From a link I posted the other day,

      One day he (Honi) was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree; he asked him, “How long does it take [for this tree] to bear fruit?” The man replied: “Seventy years.” He then further asked him: “Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?” The man replied: “I found [ready grown] carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted these for me so I too plant these for my children.” (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 23a)

      We have to keep looking to the future and doing our part. The cost of the mission was minimal compared to real waste, arms, wars, political adds, etc. And the difference is this mission was one more example of mankind progressing outward, one more step out of the slime and towards the stars.


    3. Onward and Upward

      Next stop, the sliming of the stars.

    4. .

      Don't mess with me when I'm on a poetic roll, you hick.



    5. The 'Mission to Mrs' is the only money we've well spent in a long time. We will actually learn something.

      I asked my accountant if there was any way I could write off some of the cost of our horse, like the Romneys are rumored to do on Rafalca. He wasn't learned in this area, saying only he doubted it. He did say I could save some money by shooting the horse. He said he had a horse, and 'got rid of it'.

      Onward and Upward!

    6. It is no rumor, b, it is on his 2010 return.
      No commoner can write off the horse hobby expense, b.

      About the only way I can think of, for the Romney's to have done it, as a prescribed therapy for his wife's MS. that is not a known, but a supposition.

      Prior to Mr Reagan's tax reforms, writing off the horse was pretty commonplace. Transferal of revenue from a profitable enterprise to a loser. A lot of dentists and doctors were in the "horse breeding" business.
      A subsidized hobby.

    7. As for NASA...
      It was not money well spent, it was good money after bad.
      The technology, while nifty, is not ground breaking.

      Five Solyndreas all wrapped together in the flag.

      Gag is on the "right" track.

      We have to spend a trillion USD less, to balance the budget. That is a third of all Federal spending.

      Go the Mars or cut Medicare part B, and have a 33% reduction in Social Security benefits. Year over year.

      Whining about Federal spending until it's your "sacred cow" in the cutback crosshairs.
      Typical of a hypocrite.

    8. The crapper can't help being the crapper. Told you so. It's in his DNA.

    9. Some people just can't be polite! That what the crapper said, unconsciously speaking of himself.

    10. I am nothing if not polite, boobie.

      You are all excited about the "Rocket to Nowhere".
      It clouds your mind and shows the true hypocrisy of your rhetoric.

      Five Solyndreas, wrapped in the flag and you jump up and down in excitement.

  8. In the beginning of the day's proceedings, before the jury was brought into the court, Lucy Koh, the presiding judge, expressed frustration as Apple and Samsung's lawyers argued over which phones would be shown and whether they were running specific versions of the Android mobile software.

    "How many versions and revisions of these phones are produced?" she said. "Give me a break!"

    Judge Koh has scolded both company's lawyers over the course of the lawsuit for the numerous pieces of evidence and minute details involved in their arguments. In the process of the lawsuit coming to trial, she also pressed the companies to reduce the number of patents at issue.

  9. And in June, Barclays was fined £290m by UK and US regulators after the bank admitted that it had manipulated the Libor interest rate, which is used to set the prices of trillions of dollars worth of loans around the world, to inflate the bonuses of traders in its investment bank.

    Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: “There is some irony that, a few days after describing its approach as 'boring' at its interim results, Standard Chartered should become embroiled in yet another potential banking scandal.

    “The allegations serve to add more risk to an already beleaguered sector.”

  10. The man who was President Obama’s White House budget director, Peter Orszag, weighed in last week from his new perch in the private sector with a column acknowledging that “The rising cost of health care in the U.S. has been slowing over the past few years.”


    Republicans who opposed ObamaCare in the first place can use these new facts as part of an argument for repeal. The “skyrocketing” costs that the president used to sell the law were already slowing without the new law.

    But in pushing their own health-care reform agenda to replace ObamaCare, Republicans will have to be careful not to repeat the president’s mistake. Even markets with huge government involvement, like health care in America, sometimes have ways of self-correcting.

  11. Personally I hope they find a big old hominid cranium up there, eye sockets, teeth and all, so that the good entertainer, Richard Hoagland, once spokesman for NASA, will, to his surprise, have been found to have been right all along - that we are Martians, having left the place of our arising when the atmosphere dissipated to the safer confines of Earth, here forgetting our origins.

  12. A travel tip for the international executive class: If you find yourself doing business in Egypt and you feel the urge to insult your interlocutor, 1) try not to insult your interlocutor; and 2) if you must, cast aspersions on the chastity of the person’s mother or sister. This insult will be taken hard, but it may eventually be forgiven.


    Egyptian television is filled with such sociology. One popular series depicts an Egyptian diplomat stationed in Tel Aviv who robs Israeli banks on the side.


    The next guest, the actress Mayer al-Beblawi, unburdens herself of an anti-Semitic tirade before being told the show is an Israeli production. The Israelis, she begins, “are real liars.

  13. And, we should never forget - only at our peril! -what was said by Stephen Hawking, physicist, astrophysicist, that if we are concerned about our long term future, we need to learn how to get the hell out of here.

  14. On this day in 2007, baseball slugger Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron as baseball’s career home run leader. He knocked his 756th home run in San Francisco against the Washington Nationals.

  15. Obama voter interviews her 2008 self -(this may be Rufus in 4 years)-

    From Sunny, always bringing sunshine into life.

  16. Local reports on Tuesday warned Haikui potentially posed the biggest threat to Shanghai since 2005, when state media said back-to-back typhoons in late summer killed at least 15 in Shanghai and more in Zhejiang.

    Shanghai, with a population of around 23 million, is the main city in a Chinese region called the Yangtze Delta Region responsible for around 40% of China's economic output. Shanghai anchors the region, much like New York City does on the U.S. East Coast.

    The region, including cities like Suzhou, Ningbo, Wuxi and Nanjing, is home to over 100 million.

  17. It's a stance that isn't surprising, given that Romney regularly mocks President Barack Obama's investments in green energy as a waste of time and money when the nation faces both an energy and fiscal crisis.

    But McCoy's comments immediately caused a stir in Iowa, which is home to more wind energy jobs than any other state in the country. And it unsettled many of Romney's top Iowa supporters, who publicly complained they had been caught off guard by his campaign's policy decision.

    On Capitol Hill, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley trashed the former Massachusetts governor's campaign for not talking to him first. "Nobody consulted us on this," Grassley told Roll Call.

    Meanwhile, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad suggested in an interview with Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson that "a bunch of east coast people" were behind Romney's position. Like Grassley, Branstad said he wanted to speak to Romney directly so that he could be "educated" on wind energy, which he noted has strong bipartisan support in the state.

    "I understand why they are very critical of the whole thing that was done by the Obama administration with regard to the stimulus and some of the money that was wasted on Solyndra, and some of these green energy projects didn't make sense," Branstad told Radio Iowa. "The tax credit, however, is a much different thing, and it way preceded Obama, and it was actually something that Sen. Grassley authored and has made a real difference over time."

    Meanwhile, both Branstad and Grassley, who had been listed as hosts of Romney's fundraiser at a local country club tonight, are now expected to be no-shows.

    A spokeswoman for Grassley told Yahoo News the Iowa senator is traveling in another part of the state meeting with voters and had not yet spoken to Romney about the issue. Branstad also cited a scheduling conflict—though he told the Quad City Times in an interview Monday that he and other Iowa Republicans still hoped to change Romney's mind before the tax credit expires.

    First, McCain and ethanol, and now, Romney and Wind. What do they do, make these guys take a "stupid pill" when they become the nominee?

    Why do Republicans hate Iowa (and Ohio?)

    1. Romney causes cancer. Just saw that news on a democratic ad. How can anyone possibly vote for a person who causes cancer? I'd never ever vote for a person that causes cancer.

    2. It's a hard choice, isn't it? Between a person that causes cancer, and an alien turd that is out to ruin our medical system. Either way, one is as good as dead.

    3. Except for Rufus, who has claimed he is ready to go now. Reading the non-sense each day, Ruf may have the best idea of all, and it is worth the while to consider joining him.

  18. Relentless rains yesterday submerged half of the capital, Manila, triggering a landslide that killed nine and sent emergency crews scrambling to rescue tens of thousands of residents.


    "It's like a water world," said Benito Ramos, head of the government's disaster response agency. He said the rains flooded 50 per cent of metropolitan Manila on Monday evening, and about 30 per cent remained under waist- or neck-deep waters yesterday.

  19. Most people believe that government must regulate the marketplace. The only alternative to a regulated market, the thinking goes, is an unregulated market.


    What’s overlooked—intentionally or not—is that the alternative to a government-regulated economy is not an unregulated one. As a matter of fact, “unregulated economy,” like square circle, is a contradiction in terms.


    What regulates the conduct of these people? Market forces. (I keep specifying “in a freed market” because in a state-regulated economy, competitive market forces are diminished or suppressed.)

    Government Regulation


    1. That'll show 'em. Move 'em overseas too.

  21. If you are worried about Romney's taxes, read this and let it sink in a little -

    Well, did he dodge taxes on a $400,000 gift from Tony Rezko?

    Inquiring minds want to know.