“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, September 08, 2012

"One of our mujahideen targeted an important intelligence office used for recruiting Americans and Afghans for spying," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid

The significance of the attack is that three days before the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, we have seen a young boy carrying out a suicide attack in front of the ISAF base in Kabul, about 50m from the US embassy and about 150m from the presidential palace.
This area is blocked from every side - it has four entrances, all blocked with checkpoints. It is the safest part of Afghanistan - the green zone of green zones, if you will. What is important is how a suicide bomber gets there, 11 years after the invasion. And US President Barack Obama two days ago said that US forces have killed the momentum of the Taliban. I'm not sure what they mean by that if the Taliban are able to carry out a suicide attack 50m from the entrance of the US embassy.
The Taliban are sending a message to the US, to Afghan civilians and to the [former] Northern Alliance: that they can strike anywhere in the country that they choose. 
And 11 years later, Afghans are still suffering as much as they were then.
How did we get involved in this?



  1. We went there to find, and kill, Osama Bin Ladin. We did it.

    Now it's Time to come home.

    Not another dollar; not another life.

    Adios, Motherfuckers!

  2. It costs $ One Million a year to put a Marine/Soldier in Afghanistan.

    Eighty-five thousand Marines, and Soldiers are costing us $85 Billion/Yr in Afghanistan.

    Plus all the stupid road, and infrastructure projects we're doing for them.

    Wasted Money. Borrowed from Others. Enough.

    1. Don't get me wrong; I think it's worth any amount of money to demonstrate to a would-be terrorist that if he attacks the United States we will chase him to the ends of the earth, and for the rest of his life to kill him, and that We. Will. Kill. Him.

      ANY Amount of money.

      But, we have done that.

      Time to call in the dogs, piss on the fire, and call it a night.

      Time to get ready for the day job.

  3. I think what we are seeing in the polls is a "Bubba Bounce."

    I watched Bill's speech. He could have fucked every woman in the room, and half the men.

    He is by far and away the best politician of My lifetime. And, I suspect, of many other lifetimes before me.

  4. This is cool; Ryan moves to Obama's Left on Medical Marijuana.

    Feds shouldn't hassle states that approve medical marijuana

    In Colorado, of course.

  5. I think this was a game-changer:

    Eric Patashnik notices a key strategic move that former president Bill Clinton employed in his Democratic National Convention speech: He recast Medicaid as a program for the middle class, rather than for the welfare population.

    “A lot of folks don’t know it, but nearly two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for Medicare seniors who are eligible for Medicaid,” Clinton told the crowd. “A lot of that money is also spent to help people with disabilities, a lot of middle-class families whose kids have Down syndrome or autism or other severe conditions.”

    Bubba's Big Bullet

    1. Noonan made the same observation and you dissed her.

    2. Yeah, I just don't like the old depressing bitch. :)

      In fairness, she was "perplexed" by the Dem women talking about "abortion all the time." Anyone that is perplexed by "that" is either being disingenuous, or obtuse.

    3. Or beyond child bearing age, with a good health care package.

  6. It is time for US to leave Afpakistan.
    The drones can be launched from sea and patrol the region, at will.

    We could move the schedule departure date up, from the 2014 window.
    Many would cheer that, some would bemoan it.

    Mr McCain, Lieberman and Graham would, I think, find fault with the idea of leaving, either sooner or later.
    John R. Bolton would call it a defeat of US interests, I'm sure.

    If we are going to build a nation, it should be our own.

    Osama is dead
    GM is alive.

    We should keep it that way.

    1. More importantly for Obama: UAW is alive.

    2. Partners in Progress, gag.

      It is a vital strategic importance that the US maintains the automotive industry.
      A wartime imperative, one of the lessons learned backed in WWII.

      Over 1 million jobs retained by the direct intervention of the Federals in GM.

      Plus the saving of an entire industry, for only $5 billion, two days worth of combat operations in Iraq.

      From Businessweek, circa 2009

      The Obama Administration on Mar. 19 created a $5 billion fund that guarantees payments to struggling auto suppliers, especially those tied to providing parts to General Motors (GM) and Chrysler that are facing the possibility of bankruptcy.

      The White House auto industry task force has been warned in recent weeks by automakers, auto industry consulting firms, and the parts suppliers themselves that a lack of credit could force as many as 500 parts suppliers into liquidation or Chapter 11 in the next 60 days.

      The concern is that a sudden failure of so many supplier companies, such as such as American Axle (AXL), Lear (LEA) and Visteon, could plunge GM, Chrysler, and Ford (F) into even more dire financial straits because of the resulting disruption in automobile production, as well as cause job losses at foreign-owned auto plants that rely on some of the same supplier companies.
      Suppliers will get a government guarantee that money owed them by auto manufacturers for parts will be paid "no matter what happens to the recipient car company," according to the Treasury statement.

      Participating suppliers will also be able to sell their receivables from car companies to the program at a discount, thus allowing them to borrow money in private markets more easily. Many suppliers have been unable to get loans from private financial institutions because of increasingly late payments for parts by auto manufacturers.

      Healthier Automakers at Risk
      If 500 or more supplier companies failed in the next two months, the impact would not only be felt at GM and Chrysler, but at healthier companies such as Ford and Toyota (TM), which use the same suppliers. "It would cause havoc across the whole U.S. industry," said Laura Marcero from auto industry consulting firm Grant Thornton in Southfield, Mich., which recently issued a report on the supplier sector and has advised the White House.

      Marcero says the supplier industry needs to be consolidated, with a lot of companies merging and buying each other out. "But it needs to be done in an orderly basis, not in emergency mode."

      About 1,500 auto suppliers employ around 500,000 workers in the U.S.

      So, if 500 companies were "at risk" that'd be another 160,000 jobs "saved", more or less.

      1,200,000 jobs saved, instead of an industry lost.

    3. Bull shit. It's all about votes. You are giving Obama way too much credit.

    4. Andy you can copy and paste til the cows co e home and you won't convince me otherwise.

    5. your name Andy? :-)

    6. No, it's not.

      Whether or not it was about votes is secondary to saving a vital US industry.
      At a cost far lower than one year of Nation building in Iraq or Afghanistan.

      That you would advocate discarding a vibrant industry and over 1,000,000 jobs, at the depth of the meltdown, well, it's a good thing Obama was concerned about the voters, workers and consumers.

      That the GOP was not concerned about any of those, just three reasons I would not vote for a Republican, ever again.

      The Goldman Sachs economic program failed, both Mr Bush and Mr Obama. As well as Main Street, USA.
      Good thing Obama bucked the "Plan" with regards GM.

    7. I don't stand for the GOP. And you know as well as I all those jobs wouldn't have been lost. Bankruptcy is a get out of jail free card , and those bloated lazy over paid UAW workers would have come out of it fine. Remember the word pain? GM never felt any and that's too bad because this will all come around again. Their stripes have not changed. A drunk has to admit he's a drunk before he can get and stay sober.

    8. There would have been 1.2 million extra unemployed, in 2009.

      That's a full years worth private sector of job creation in 2011.
      Obama did the "right" thing.

      Romney called it wrong.

    9. Gag, I know you're just pissed because they didn't bust the union; but, what I can't figure out is, Why?

      I mean, after all, you live in a "right to work" state. Why would you care if a guy a thousand miles away made a living, and paid his taxes?

    10. Well, love'em or hate'em, this is what they're running on, and it's not weak tea.

      “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive” is a pretty good campaign slogan, not just because it touts Obama’s most obvious successes but also because it enables Democrats to talk about the cramped, market-driven worldview of Mitt Romney, the Republican Party and (though Democrats pursue this delicately) American business. Here’s Biden contrasting Romney’s response to Detroit’s crisis to Obama’s:

      "When I look back on the president's decision, I think of another son of an automobile man — Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit....His dad ran an entire automobile company, American Motors. In spite of that, he was willing to let Detroit go bankrupt. I don’t think he's a bad guy. I’m sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. I don’t think he understood that saving the automobile worker — saving the industry — what it meant to all of America. I think he saw it the Bain way. I think he saw it in terms of balance sheets and write-offs. Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profits. But it’s not the way to lead our country from the highest office.

      When things hung in the balance, the president understood this was about a lot more than the automobile industry. This was about restoring America’s pride. He understood in his gut what it would mean to leave a million people without hope or work if he didn’t act."

      Biden’s was precisely the kind of contrast that convention speakers returned to repeatedly. They did it most obviously when laid-off workers from businesses Bain had taken over told their stories on Wednesday night. They did it subtly when Michelle Obama evoked the image of her husband poring over letters from ordinary Americans every night, something that I think many Americans have trouble envisioning Romney doing even as they know he methodically pores over the numbers behind his decisions to keep a plant open or close it down.

      Harold Myerson

    11. Yet, the market, he continued, was not all. “But we also believe in something called citizenship – a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.” What the Republicans threaten to do is to subordinate this credo too. While voucherizing Medicare will presumably save the government money (at least up front) and balance its books, it’ll do so on the backs of most American seniors. Obama’s value of citizenship won’t permit that, and it’s on this battlefield that the Democrats will fight this fall. “Our road is longer,” Obama said in his peroration, “but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up.”

      That, Obama has calculated, is what Americans want in their president – at least when the alternative is a slide rule with hair.

  7. Mr Bolton, a member of the Mitt Romney mutual admiration society says this, about US involvement in Afghanistan to FOX News

    I think it’s foolish, really, delusional, to speculate about how we can improve things under an administration that is determined to stop combat operations as early as possible and determined to withdraw completely as soon as they can,” Bolton said. “What the real American strategic interest is — what a real president would be pursuing — is the same strategic objective we had since we overthrew the Taliban.

    “And that’s to make sure they don’t return to power in the Afghanistan and they or like-minded radicals don’t gain power in Pakistan and gain control of that nuclear arsenal,” he continued. “Those strategic objectives remain valid regardless of this incident, Hamid Karzai, or much of the rest of what have goes on in that country.”

    Combat Operations must continue in the Afpakistan region, according to Mr Bolton, at least until the Pakistani dismantle their nuclear weapons.

  8. Mr Romney, while ignoring Afghanistan while in Tampa, did mention it in a speech, to the American Legion.

    He did not offer any insight into any policy he would peruse, in regards to combat operations, there.
    He mentioned the US was involved, in Afghanistan

    “With instability in Pakistan and horrific violence in Syria, and with North Korea having shared nuclear technology, the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continues to be very real,” the Republican nominee continued.
    “And we are still at war in Afghanistan. We still have uniformed men and women in conflict, risking their lives just as you once did.”

    “All of this and more is happening around the world right now,” Romney told the American Legion. “

    Not much of a policy statement. Just an acknowledgment of simple reality.

  9. It's looking like Obama's on the way to a Six or Seven Point Bounce. Way, way bigger than anyone thought he'd get.

    I might have to rethink my "this is Romney's to lose" thesis.

  10. Romney has to offer something other than cold oatmeal.

    1. Yeppers, he's gonna have to come up with something. And, warm outmeal ain't gonna do it, either. He's gotta find something that "sizzles."

    2. Thing is, his "Base" pretty much has him hemmed in.

    3. The pubs kept overlooking just how far out of the mainstream the tea party really is.

    4. The First (although, not the worst, from an electoral standpoint) Mistake was the drive against Renewable Energies. They slammed ethanol, then Wind, then Solar, and Geothermal while every poll was telling them that the electorate, overall, liked the idea of these technologies.

      They got the "echo chamber" going, and started convincing themselves that they were winning these arguments. So, they expanded out - against healthcare reform, against Medicaid, and Food Stamps, Birth Control,

      and then, just to make sure they had the shark completely jumped, Social Security, and Medicare.

      Now, where goeth they from here?

    5. Baseball?

      Apple Pie?


  11. Mr Romney acknowledged that the US has combat troops in Afghanistan, what more do you guys want?

  12. Mr Romney says to Mike Huckabee he'd "absolutely" support a Constitutional Amendment stating that life begins at conception.

    Isn't that sizzle enough?

    1. :)

      That's pretty "sizzly" alright.

      'cept, I think it's "his nuts" that are in the plate.

  13. He still has not released that "second" year of tax returns, like he said he would.

    When he does, the excitement will be palpable.

  14. There's got to be a reason for that, too, doesn't there?

  15. As Trish said oh so long ago 'the 'pubs will spend some time wandering in the wilderness.'

  16. This is the most amazing poll: Gallup's 3-day tracking "job approval" was at

    Sept 1st Obama - 5

    Now Obama + 10

    That's just downright nuts.

  17. Ole Dowd has a good op ed at NYTimes

  18. We were the change? Us?

    How on earth could we have let so much of what we fought for slip away? How did we allow Mitch McConnell, Karl Rove, the super PACs, the Tea Party, the lobbyists and the special interests take away our voice?

    “Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen,” the president chastised us. “Only you have the power to move us forward.”

    We’re so lame. We were na├»ve, brimming with confidence that we could slow the rise of the oceans, heal the planet, fix the cracks in the Capitol dome.

    We never should have let the Congressional Democrats run wild with their stimulus spending on pork that didn’t even create the right kinds of jobs.

    It also took us too long to realize what the party of know-nothings and no-everything was up to. We should never have walked into that blind budget alley with John Boehner. We should have realized, after the first of three phone calls went unreturned, that even with a few more merlots under his belt, the speaker wouldn’t have the guts to tell us he couldn’t get a grand bargain through his Tea Party House.

    We should never have delegated health care to Max Baucus and let him waste time trying to cut a deal with Senate Republicans who had no intention of going along even with ideas — like the individual mandate — that they backed first.

    We should have listened to Joe Biden instead of getting rolled by the generals on Afghanistan.

    We’re older, wiser and . . . . . .


  19. But four years ago, George W. Bush was still president. So perhaps a better question would be, “Are you better off than you were three years and eight months ago?” That brings us back to the beginning of February 2009, the first full month of Barack Obama’s presidency. Since then . . .

    . . he entered office amid a convulsive economic downturn. Blaming him for, say, the 724,000 nonfarm jobs lost in February 2009 is like blaming firefighters for the damage done by a blaze while they’re getting out of their truck.

    Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, agrees. “We ought to give whichever president is going to be elected at least six months or a year to get those policies in place,” he told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow in July. So let’s extend one year to Obama for his policies to take effect . . .

    According to most political scientists, however, that’s not the record voters care about. Instead, voters tend to focus on the year leading up to the election. Just ask George H.W. Bush or Carter, both of whom had positive economic records over the full course of their presidencies but were plagued by economic trouble during their reelection campaigns.

    With a couple months to go before this November’s election, we can get a rough idea of what Obama’s election-year record will look like by measuring the 12 months that ended July 31 (which is the most recent month for which we have jobs data). In that year, the economy added about 1.8 million jobs, or an average of 153,000 jobs a month. Real weekly wages rose by 0.6 percent. The S&P 500 rose 12 percent.

    All this factoring, however, perpetuates the myth of the imperial president. It not only assumes that everything that’s happened in the economy is a result of the president’s policies; it assumes . . . .

    The reality is that the president is not a dictator, and the policies in place today only partially reflect his preferences. Obama wanted substantially more stimulus over the past two years than he was able to tease out of Congress. If it had been up to the White House, Congress in 2011 would have passed the American Jobs Act, which most economists think would have produced substantially better job growth in 2012. Similarly, Obama would have preferred . . .

    If Obama had been able to control just these three situations, it’s reasonable to assume that the economy would have added millions more jobs under his administration.

    Yet even if we accept that the economy would have performed better under Obama’s preferred policies, that doesn’t tell us how it would have performed under Romney’s policies. This, of course, is the crucial counterfactual: Would the Republican approach have created more and better jobs?

    Romney said that without Obama’s intervention, “things there would be better,” but at another point, his aide Eric Fehrnstrom said Romney’s “position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed.” On rescuing the housing market, Romney’s position has flipped from “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process” to “The idea that somehow this is going to cure itself by itself is probably not real." . . .

    Even if you could answer all that, how valuable would that knowledge be? The past four years presented an extreme set of problems. The president had to save the financial system, break the economy’s free-fall, manage a global recession, decide whether to intervene in the U.S. auto industry and make a range of momentous decisions that few presidents have ever confronted.

    The next four years will present very different challenges. It’s possible that Obama was the right president for the past four years but would be the wrong president for the next four. Or that . . .

    Which suggests that the question “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is . . . . . .

    Are You Better Off Without Dumb Questions

  20. I'm copying this word for word from Rockman, at The Oil Drum. I don't want to take a chance of messing it up by trying to paraphrase.

    K – That’s an excellent point I hope folks try understand. It’s very critical to understand how statistics can vary greatly over time. An easier analogy most can consider: the change in personal computer power over relatively short periods of time. It seems like every 12 months we make a noticeable improvement. Not only in power but the cost of the new technology doesn’t increase proportionally.

    Older Bakken horizontal wells did not have the production potential of newer wells. As you point out newer wells are longer and have more frac stages. Additionally I think it’s safe to assume they have improved the frac quality itself. So a new horizontal well should have a much better production profile than an older well.

    Which is why it’s so freaking important for folks to look at Rune’s chart above so closely. It shows the productivity of the Bakken wells in discrete time frames. If I’m reading the chart correctly the new better improved (and more expensive) Bakken horizontal wells are not producing like wells drilled some years ago: they are not as good as the older wells. For example Bakken wells drilling during the summer of 2010 recovered about 110,000 bo during their first 12 months of life. Wells drilled December 2011 produced 90,000 bo their first 12 months. And wells drilled during July 2011 produced closer to 80,000 bo their first 12 months . . .

    1. . . . So as knowledge of the trend increased and companies drilled longer, more heavily frac’d and much more expensive wells the quality of the production decreased. Above I said the potential of new wells is greater…not the actual production. The simple explanation IMHO is that the better areas of the trend have been drilled and now operators are moving into less productive areas. And even though they are drilling wells that should produce better results than the early wells they are actually producing poorer results.

      And this the path that every trend in the history of the oil patch has followed: the better acreage is drilled first. And even as the technology improves the rocks don’t. We have to spend more money to produce less hydrocarbons. What shocks me a tad is to see how quickly it has shown up in the Bakken. About 30 years ago I was typically drilling 12,000’ wells to test potential conventional NG reservoirs that might cover 1,500 acres. In the last 3 years I‘ve been drilling 16,000’+ wells (that can cost 2X what a 12,000’ well costs) for potential NG reservoirs that cover 120 acres. But that transition happened over a 30 year period. The Bakken transition, if it continues to decline at the current rate, will be the most dramatic transition I’ve seen in my career.

    2. This is the data he's to which he's referring:


    3. That chart was hard for Me to figure out, but let me say this: With what I was able to glean, I wouldn't want to invest in a Bakken drilling company right now - not at the present prices that they're getting.

    4. That they're getting for their oil, I mean.

  21. And, the hits just keep on coming. Romney criticizes the Defense Cuts that Ryan Voted For:

    Mitt Romney criticized defense spending cuts that were part of last year's debt ceiling deal in an interview that will air Sunday on NBC's 'Meet The Press'.

    "I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose [the defense cuts]. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it," Romney said.

    Among the Republicans who supported the deal was Paul Ryan, the chair of the House budget committee and Romney's running mate. Paul not only voted for the cuts, he bragged about them afterwards.

    "What conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years, are statutory caps on spending, legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money," Ryan told Fox News last year, according to TPM. “And if they breach that amount across the board, sequester comes in to cut that spending, and you can’t turn that off without a super-majority vote. We got that in law.”

    He also called the cuts "an important step in the right direction."

    Romney criticizes Defense Cuts

    As Casey Stengall said, "Does anyone here know how to play this game?" :)

  22. Almost a totally wasted day in the Bar today I see.

    Gsllatin X

    Madison X

    Clark Fork X (urban)

  23. The shame continues

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- It was another week at war in Afghanistan, another string of American casualties, and another collective shrug by a nation weary of a faraway conflict whose hallmark is its grinding inconclusiveness.

    After nearly 11 years, many by now have grown numb to the sting of losing soldiers like Pfc. Shane W. Cantu of Corunna, Mich. He died of shrapnel wounds in the remoteness of eastern Afghanistan, not far from the getaway route that Osama bin Laden took when U.S. forces invaded after Sept. 11, 2001, and began America’s longest war.

    They couldn’t pull this shit with draftees.