“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."

Monday, November 26, 2012

No government would ever license a drug that sends at least two per cent of its consumers insane. Or would they?

Schizophrenia: the Cannabis link:
Is this the 'tobacco moment' for cannabis?

The first in a groundbreaking series by Patrick Cockburn on the lessons of his son’s psychosis


Henry Cockburn was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2002 at the age of 20. Before that he was a heavy cannabis user. His father, Patrick Cockburn, The Independent's award-winning foreign correspondent, has long wondered whether the two were linked and spent months speaking to the world's leading experts in the field. In a four-part series prompted by his son's condition, he will examine the medical evidence linking sustained cannabis use with schizophrenia, before going on to look at the way the mentally ill have been let down by the health service and stigmatised by public opinion, and concluding on Thursday with his manifesto for a more humane and effective system – accompanied each day by Henry's account of his journey from pyschosis to a normal life.
For cannabis it is the "tobacco moment". The long-suspected link between consuming cannabis and developing schizophrenia has been repeatedly confirmed by recent studies. Observers say that for cannabis the present moment is similar to that half a century ago when scientific proof of a connection between smoking tobacco and cancer became so strong that no serious doctor or scientist could deny it.
Popular perception of the risks involved for the 2.3 million people taking cannabis in Britain over the last year has lagged behind evidence of its toxicity as shown in a mounting number of scientific studies. One recent expert survey of the evidence published by different scientists in different countries says that research "has consistently found that cannabis use is associated with schizophrenia outcomes later in life".
Sir Robin Murray, Professor of psychiatric research at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, says that studies show that "if the risk of schizophrenia for the general population is about one per cent, the evidence is that, if you take ordinary cannabis, it is two per cent; if you smoke regularly you might push it up to four per cent; and if you smoke 'skunk' every day you push it up to eight per cent".
The great majority of those taking cannabis suffer no ill-effects and may regard warnings about the drug's dangers as exaggerated and alarmist. This includes those taking "skunk", which today contains at least three times more THC, the major psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, than it did in the 1960s. A survey of cannabis confiscated by the police in 2008 showed that ordinary cannabis had about 4-5 per cent THC and "skunk" about 16 per cent. Less potent varieties are becoming more difficult to buy on the street while ever more concentrated ones are available on the internet.
For cannabis smokers diagnosed years later with schizophrenia the outcome is a lifetime battling with psychosis, including symptoms such as paranoid delusions, hostile voices and unexplained waves of terror and guilt. Many sufferers end up isolated, jobless, impoverished and with their lives ruined.
Pro- and anti-cannabis campaigners have furiously disputed the dangers of taking cannabis. Proponents of decriminalisation claim it is no more risky to health than junk food. But doctors and nurses treating the mentally ill in Britain have long noticed that a very high proportion of their patients are serious users of the drug, often starting to take it at a young age. Dr Humphrey Needham-Bennett, medical director and consultant psychiatrist of Cygnet Hospital, Godden Green in London, says that among his patients "cannabis use is so common that I assume that people use or used it. It's quite surprising when people say 'no, I don't use drugs'."
A psychiatrist leading an Early Intervention in Psychosis team in a large inner city area, who did not want to be identified, likewise says "it was not fashionable to say so in the 1990s, but any practising mental health professional would agree that if you smoked a lot of cannabis, particularly in your teenage years, there is a risk of psychosis. Studies coming out over the last five years have confirmed this."
Until very recently conventional wisdom was that while cannabis might have a toxic effect on the life of a minority of users, most people who took it would be unaffected. Consumption was a form of Russian roulette in which a live round was only occasionally fired, though when this did happen the effect could be ruinous.
It is this comforting belief that only a minority of cannabis users is at risk which is now in doubt according to new research showing that the danger to public health may be much wider than previously supposed. The study, published in August 2012, examines 1,000 people in Dunedin, New Zealand, who are one of the most intensively researched groups in the world from the point of view of their mental health.
All were born in 1972-73 and they took IQ tests and other mental functioning tests at the age of 13 and again at the age of 38. Every few years they were also asked about their use of marijuana. Those who smoked significant amounts as teenagers before the age of 18, while their brains were still developing, showed a significant 8-point drop in their IQ levels (between 90 and 110 is considered average) compared to people who were non-consumers. People starting to smoke cannabis after 18 have some reduction in their IQ, but nothing like as large as the younger group. Experts suggest the results may explain why teenage heavy cannabis users are frequently under-achievers.
Until about 10 years ago, cannabis was often seen as a "harmless" recreational drug, the effects of which should be sharply distinguished from heroin and cocaine. There was little research into cannabis as a cause of schizophrenia or as a factor exacerbating the condition once it was diagnosed, leading to "revolving door" cases that clog up such in-patient facilities that exist.
Zerrin Atakan, formerly head of the National Psychosis Unit at the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital and now a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, recalls: "I got interested in cannabis because I was working in the 1980s in an intensive care unit where my patients would be fine after we got them well. We would give them leave and they would celebrate their new-found freedom with a joint and come back psychotic a few hours later."
Dr Atakan became intensely interested in investigating the link between cannabis and mental illness, though this turned out to be easier said than done. She says: "I was astonished to discover that cannabis, which is the most widely used illicit substance, was hardly researched in the 1990s and there was no research on how it affected the brain." She intended to study how the brain was affected by THC using neuro-imaging. "We did eight grant applications and got nothing," she says. "We carried out studies without grants, which is generally unheard of, because you have to pay for imaging sessions using brain scanners."
Prior to about 2002, scientific evidence that cannabis could be risky for some was often discounted or ignored. One such piece of research was a study of some 50,000 Swedish army conscripts who joined the army in 1969-70. They were interviewed then and later about their drug consumption. The evidence from this very large sample was that heavy consumers of cannabis at the age of 18 were six times more likely than non-consumers to be diagnosed with schizophrenia over the next 15 years.
Epidemiological studies like this are now being confirmed by new studies of the brain through neuro-imaging. Dr Paul Morrison, a psychiatrist specialising in cannabis research, says: "Pretty well all the studies have been consistent in linking the use of cannabis and having a chronic [mental] disorder."
But the connection is not straightforward. Susceptibility to schizophrenia depends on genetic inheritance, but this in turn is highly complex since 62 genes so far have been identified as contributing to vulnerability to psychosis. Social and personal stress play a role, with immigrants and people from areas which are socially fragmented more likely to suffer from schizophrenia. Professor Murray says that there are few reliable figures on this, but "the incidence of schizophrenia in south London since 1964 has doubled".
Cannabis consumption has been falling in Britain as well as the rest of northern Europe since 2004, but the age when teenagers start taking the drug is also going down. There has been a nearly 20-fold increase in first-time use by under-18s, with 40 per cent of under 15-year-olds in the UK having used the drug. This is a dangerous trend. Dr Morrison says "adolescence seems to be the critical variable when the neuro-circuits are being sculpted and the personality is emerging". In fact, for the children of cannabis smokers the first impact of cannabis starts before birth according to post-mortems on the aborted foetuses of mothers who admit to taking cannabis.
Debate over the risks or lack of them stemming from cannabis has traditionally been rancorous and embittered, often revolving around the separate issue of decriminalisation. There is limited reference to long-term mental illness. The pro-cannabis lobby says that the so-called "war on drugs" has failed and legalisation or regulation should be tried, though critics argue that no government would ever license a drug that sends at least two per cent of its consumers insane.
Knowledge of the risks stemming from cannabis use as revealed by recent studies may be spreading, particularly as consumers become more aware of the greater toxicity of skunk. Professor Murray says that the average doctor may not know much about the dangers of cannabis, but "I think that the average 19-23-year-old knows more because they have a friend who has gone paranoid. People know a lot more about bad trips than they used to."


  1. A MAN is due in court this morning after police discovered 298 cannabis plants at an address in Attleborough.

    Bien Nguyena, 46, of Chapel Road, was arrested after officers attended his home address at around 7.30pm on November 23.

  2. We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive….”

    - Hunter S. Thompson

  3. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low.

    - Virginia Woolf

  4. So what does the language of drug experience look like? What verbal behavior does use provoke?

    No doubt the psychonauts have words for their flights of fancy, as the botanists have for tiny, furling shrubs, as the Eskimos have for snow (though they say that’s a hoax). But every voyage is a solo feat.


    Perhaps I should have looked to the poets for answers. Instead I turned to the dusty vaults of Erowid, combing through its records of ill repute with an open terminal window, a cup of Four Barrels’s finest, and all the wiles of a kid on the hunt for the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

    Drug Experience

  5. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low.

    - Virginia Woolf

    Heh, that is pretty good. Called the demotivational syndrome, as in:

    Let me remind you of Homer Simpson's advice to his children:
    "You try - you fail. The lesson: Never try."
    "Trying is the first step towards failure."
    "If doing something is really hard, it's not worth doing at all."

    Ah, it's no big deal, some other life....

  6. Another laughable Benghazi lie


    More than two months after an Islamist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, we still don’t know what really happened that night — and, thanks to a secretive White House and an incurious Washington press corps, we probably never will. Not officially, that is.

    But there’s no real mystery about it. From the evidence that’s emerged in dribs and drabs since the Sept. 11 calamity, it’s clear that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan al Qaeda-affiliated group coordinating with its allies elsewhere in the Muslim world, used the cover of riots in Cairo to launch a preplanned assault on our lightly guarded Benghazi consulate and a CIA safe house that may have been doubling as a secret prison.

    That much was clear to our intelligence community almost immediately — and, in any case, should have been the working hypothesis from the jump.

    The Arab Spring, falsely painted by a soft-headed US media as a purely pro-democracy movement, has in fact prompted seizure of power by Islamists. Benghazi, an armed hotbed of radicalism, was a fine target of opportunity for a strike at the Great Satan.

    What’s also heart-rendingly clear is that our diplomats and security personnel understood the danger they were in, repeatedly requested more resources — and were left to die, as US military and intelligence assets monitored their deaths in real time, lacking the orders to protect them.

    Benghazi was a first-class military and moral disgrace, and one that the Democrats paid absolutely no price for in the recent election.

    But the questions won’t go away. Who gave the order to stand down as the consulate was under fire? Who came up with the cockamamie story — so eagerly peddled by UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other administration spokespersons right after the event — that the sacking and looting were in response to an obscure video that lampooned the origins of Islam and had been posted on You Tube for months?

    And why did President Obama cling to such a risible explanation, and then (with a timely assist from Candy Crowley in the second presidential debate) turn on a dime and claim he knew the assault was terrorism all along?

    To turn tragedy into French bedroom farce, the truth was further obscured by CIA Director David Petraeus’ unaccountable public silence — until his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell (which the administration surely had known about for months and was holding over his head for just such an occasion) caused him to resign in disgrace a few days after the election.

    Finally, to turn farce into insult, hapless Director of National Intelligence James Clapper scuttled forth from his let’s-pretend lair to claim that his office — nominally, the highest rung of the intelligence-community ladder — had edited the CIA’s early talking points memo to remove all references to al Qaeda and terrorism.

    That claim was met with peals of incredulous laughter within the IC, where Clapper (like Petraeus, a retired general) is regarded as a buffoon and his office (created as part of the ham-fisted Bush response to 9/11) as a useless, money-sucking bureaucratic appendage that does nothing to increase national security — but is easily manipulated by a cynical president with a domestic axe to grind.

    1. And here’s where the fog of war collides with the blinding clarity of politics. Obama had already determined to run as the Slayer of Osama bin Laden, and a horde of howling Arabs shouting, “Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas” as they pulled down the American flag in Cairo and attacked us elsewhere was an inconvenient truth that had to be obscured by any means necessary.

      With the election safely behind him, the president and his allies are now trying to rehabilitate Ambassador Rice’s shredded reputation, cheerily tossing around the usual charges of “racism” and “sexism” as they smear conservative opposition to her potential nomination as secretary of state in the second Obama term. They’d rather not reopen the Benghazi can of worms.

      But reopen it we must — either by open congressional hearings or during Rice’s confirmation hearings — if Chris Stevens and the others are ever to receive justice.

      Other stories: Naked Lady Gaga stumbles on 35 fans hiding in garage

  7. Loco weed at least keeps you from worrying about stuff like this:

    John Pendog • 25 minutes ago

    Congratulations to the Democrats and Young People! And Rufus! You now own it and you can't blame Bush.

    The next terrorist attack you own it.

    Can't get a job after graduation, you own it.

    Sky rocketing energy prices due to Obama's EPA shutting down the energy producing states, you own it.

    A nuclear Iran, you own it.

    Bowing to Russia, you own it.

    Another severe recession, you own it.

    A volatile border with Mexico, you own it.

    Trouble getting good health care, you own it.

    Higher health insurance costs and health care costs, you own it.

    No budget, you own it.

    Our allies mistrust, you own it.

    Another trillion of debt, you own it.

    More Benghazi situations, you own it.

    No one willing to join the military, you own it.

    Trouble getting a loan to buy a home, you own it.

    More dependency on food stamps, you
    own it.

    Trouble finding good employment, you own it.

    Several part time jobs instead of a good job, you own it.

    A World Government, you own it.

    The UN governing the United States instead of ourselves, you own it.

    A Senate that will not bring any legislation to the table even if it is "Dead on Arrival", you own it.

    China controlling our world trade trampling all over us, you own it.

    Loss of our freedoms as we have known it in the past, you own it.

    A dictatorship instead of a democracy that follows the Constitution, you own it.

    Less take home pay and higher living costs, you own it.

    Driving a car that looks like a toy, you own it.

    More government corruption and lies, you own it.

    More toleration of extreme and fanatical Islamists, you own it.

    Terrorist attacks called work place incidents, you own it.

    Your revenge instead of love of country, you own it.

    George Bush is out of it now, and
    there is not another good man for you to vilify and lie about. In a way
    I am relieved that another good man will not be blamed when it was
    impossible to clean up this mess you voted for. Have a good day. God
    bless the United States! God is our hope now.

    Only, I think he is wrong about no one wanting to join the military. In bad economic times recruitment becomes easier.

  8. You are smoking loco weed if you think you can co-exist peacefully with islam -

    November 26, 2012
    Peaceful Coexistence with Radical Islamists is Impossible
    Neil Snyder

    The landscape in the Middle East and North Africa has been in a state of radical flux since the beginning of the Arab Spring in December 2010. The term "Arab Spring" is a misnomer, though. In reality, it is a progressive revolution throughout the Arab world that so far has brought down governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen and resulted in the rise to prominence of Islamists in every country where it has taken hold.

    The Arab Spring is far from over. Syria's civil war and the growing protest movement in Jordan are offshoots of the Arab Spring that in due course will almost certainly bring down Syrian President Bashar al Assad and could lead to the toppling of Jordan's King Abdullah. Other countries in the region including Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for example, are experiencing their versions of the Arab Spring as well. Time will tell where they end up, but if they follow suit, they may morph into Islamist states.

    Two countries bordering the Middle East, Iran and Turkey, experienced Islamist awakenings long ago: Iran in 1979 and Turkey in 2002. Iran's leaders continue to promote Islamic revolution (i.e., terrorism) throughout the world by funneling money and military hardware to disaffected groups that are willing to lend them a sympathetic ear, and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has targeted the Middle East in his quest to reinstate the Ottoman Empire under Islamist authority. Erdoğan's success can't be denied as evidenced by a report over the weekend that he is the second most influential Muslim in the world today following Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz.

    In this light, the Arab Spring in its varied forms can be seen as just another milestone on the long road to Islamist world domination. Evidence of this is abundant in Europe, the United States, Russia, and China, for example, where calls for the institution of Sharia law are growing louder by the day. And viewed from this perspective, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi can be seen as just the latest world leader to press ahead with the Islamist movement's agenda by declaring himself dictator and moving to institutionalize Sharia law in yet another country.

    Of course, there is resistance to this movement even in Egypt, an Islamic country that is becoming increasingly Islamist. Egyptian notables including Mohamed ElBaradei denounced Morsi's decree and Cairo's stock exchange dropped precipitously in response to the news. That prompted Morsi to announce a meeting with Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council, the country's highest judicial authority. It will be held today to discuss Morsi's decree since it effectively shields his decisions from judicial review. Even so, the trajectory of the trend in Egypt and elsewhere is pro-Islamist and robust.

    None of this bodes well for the West and the rest of the world -- particularly Israel. In fact, it looks as though the global Islamist movement has adopted Yasser Arafat's strategy for destroying Israel. He said, "Since we cannot defeat Israel in war we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel." (Yasser Arafat speaking on Jordanian television, September 13, 1993-the same day the Oslo Peace Accord ceremony was held in Washington D.C.)

    1. That's exactly what Islamists are doing. Substitute "the world" for Israel, "the global caliphate" for Palestine, and "Islamist powers" for Arab nations and you will see what I mean.

      Arafat also said, "Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations. Since January 1965, when Fatah was born, we have become the most dangerous enemy that Israel has....We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel." (El Mundo, Caracas, Venezuela, February 11, 1980)

      Applying the same substitutions to this quote lends additional credence to the hypothesis that Arafat is the originator of the global Islamist movement's strategy. Whatever the case may be, though, this much is certain: peaceful coexistence with radical Islamists is impossible. Based on all of the available evidence, any other conclusion is a manic delusion.

      Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog,, is posted daily.

  9. Let me know when they get to Jackson (Mississippi, that is.)

    1. OK then!

      State News
      July 10, 2009
      Prominent American Muslims to meet in Mississippi

      JACKSON — Seizing on President Barack Obama’s call for a partnership between America and Islam, some of the nation’s prominent Muslim leaders will meet in Jackson for a conference they say will begin a dialogue of mutual respect and reconciliation.

      “With the new administration, everybody is inspired by the message of hope and change. American Muslims are playing a pivotal role in this relationship and this conference sheds some light on opportunities,” said ((((Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on Islamic-American Relations in Washington.))))

      The conference is sponsored by the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, the nation’s first museum dedicated to educating visitors about Islamic historical contributions.

      About 500 are expected to attend the three-day event that begins Friday, said Okolo Rashid, the museum’s co-founder.

      Mississippi has an estimated Muslim population of about 5,000, but Awad said the location’s symbolism shouldn’t be overlooked. Mississippi was a hotbed of civil-rights activity during the 1960s.


      You got over 5,000 now, and rising.

      Tip of the Spear.

    2. Give me a call when the "shootin'" starts.

    3. Didn't Jesse (James) "Jackson" pick his name out of that swamp?

      What other Jackson could our ethanol addled child have been thinking?

      Jackson Whole Earth Wyoming, vacation Mecca for his Green Idols from Hollywood?

  10. So should we take this latest push seriously? No — and not just because these people, aside from exhibiting a lot of hypocrisy, have been wrong about everything so far. The truth is that at a fundamental level the crisis story they’re trying to sell doesn’t make sense.

    You’ve heard the story many times: Supposedly, any day now investors will lose faith in America’s ability to come to grips with its budget failures. When they do, there will be a run on Treasury bonds, interest rates will spike, and the U.S. economy will plunge back into recession.

    This sounds plausible to many people, because it’s roughly speaking what happened to Greece. But we’re not Greece, and it’s almost impossible to see how this could actually happen to a country in our situation.

    For we have our own currency — and almost all of our debt, both private and public, is denominated in dollars. So our government, unlike the Greek government, literally can’t run out of money. After all, it can print the stuff. So there’s almost no risk that America will default on its debt — I’d say no risk at all if it weren’t for the possibility that Republicans would once again try to hold the nation hostage over the debt ceiling.

    But if the U.S. government prints money to pay its bills, won’t that lead to inflation? No, not if the economy is still depressed.

    Now, it’s true that investors might start to expect higher inflation some years down the road. They might also push down the value of the dollar. Both of these things, however, would actually help rather than hurt the U.S. economy right now: expected inflation would discourage corporations and families from sitting on cash, while a weaker dollar would make our exports more competitive.

    Still, haven’t crises like the one envisioned by deficit scolds happened in the past? Actually, no. As far as I can tell, every example supposedly illustrating the dangers of debt involves either a country that, like Greece today, lacked its own currency, or a country that, like Asian economies in the 1990s, had large debts in foreign currencies. Countries with . . . . . . . .

    Fighting Fiscal Phantoms

    1. Rufus has now taken to quoting PAUL KRUGMAN.

      What you smoking, Ruf?

    2. Or, Paul Krugman has taken to "quoting me."

      I've had the same position forever.


  11. Supreme Court revives challenge to ObamaCare on religious-liberty grounds

    November 26, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

    A decision by the Supreme Court this morning opens up a potential new avenue of attack against ObamaCare on the grounds of religious liberty — and not just the HHS contraception mandate. The court overturned the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Liberty University over the health-system overhaul, in a move that was not opposed by the Obama administration in court:

    The Supreme Court has revived a Christian college’s challenge to President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, with the acquiescence of the Obama administration.

    The court on Monday ordered the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., to consider the claim by Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., that Obama’s health care law violates the school’s religious freedoms. …

    The school made a new filing with the court over the summer to argue that its claims should be fully evaluated in light of the high court decision. The administration said it did not oppose Liberty’s request.

    Liberty is challenging both the requirement that most individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, and a separate provision requiring many employers to offer health insurance to their workers.

    The appeals court could ask the government and the college for new legal briefs to assess the effect of the Supreme Court ruling on Liberty’s claims before rendering a decision.

    Why didn’t the White House oppose LU’s motion? The timing issue is now largely moot, thanks to that 5-4 decision that upheld the individual mandate as a tax. The lawsuit would have been refiled shortly in any case, which would have only provided a slight delay to the inevitable.

    This lawsuit differs from the previous cases used by the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the law. None of the earlier plaintiffs brought up the religious-liberty issue, in large part because HHS hadn’t formulated its arrogant posture that the government can define religious expression. With the HHS contraception mandate now in place, the violation of the First Amendment has now become concrete, and the courts will soon have to decide just how to square the language that that clearly stipulates that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” with the HHS regulation that attempts to restrict religious exercise to only within the walls of a church, synagogue, or temple.

    Getting that addressed sooner is a victory in the short run for everyone. Let’s hope that the appeals courts and the Supreme Court recognize the violation sooner rather than later, too, before the Obama administration forces religious organizations to close doors on hospitals, clinics, charities, and schools.

    I have no faith in the Supreme Court.

    Oil Can on November 26, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    1. They don't have to "close their doors." They can just drop their health insurance, and let their employees buy their own.

      The poor ol' publicans - the slaves is escapin' the plantation. tsk, tsk.

  12. ElBaradei Speaks Out against Morsi 'Not Even the Pharaohs Had So Much Authority'
    Democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is critical of Mohammed Morsi.

    Democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is critical of Mohammed Morsi.

    Last week Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi granted himself sweeping new powers, a move that has sparked widespread backlash. In a SPIEGEL interview, Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei argues that the move threatens to plunge Egypt into a dictatorship.

    SPIEGEL: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi granted himself broad new powers last week. Is this a coup?

    ElBaradei: He grabbed full power for himself. Not even the pharaohs had so much authority, to say nothing of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. This is a catastrophe -- it a mockery of the revolution that brought him to power and an act that leads one to fear the worst.

    SPIEGEL: You are widely considered to be diplomatic and balanced. Why is your reaction now so dramatic? One of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood said that the new powers would only be in effect until a new constitution is passed.

    ElBaradei: We have to look at it in the context of almost two years of transition. We have no functioning parliament and months ago Morsi assumed legislative functions. Now he's decided that there should be no opposition to the laws that he makes and that he is authorized to pass any national security measure. It is difficult to be more absolutist than that. And the constitutional convention -- what a sad gathering; it threatens to send us back to the darkest period of the Middle Ages.

    SPIEGEL: Almost all of the liberal and Christian members of the constitutional commission have withdrawn. Why is that?

    ElBaradei: Because we all fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will pass a document with Islamist undertones that marginalizes the rights of women and religious minorities. Who sits in this group? One person, who wants to ban music, because it's allegedly against Sharia law; another, who denies the Holocaust; another, who openly condemns democracy.

    SPIEGEL: You believe that Egypt is on the path to becoming a dictatorship once again. But Morsi was legally elected and the Muslim Brotherhood has a majority.

    ElBaradei: The Muslim Brotherhood received their votes under dubious circumstances. The country is fractured. If the moderate forces no longer have a voice, a civil war threatens to erupt in Egypt. I fear that. And I fear that this incompetent government will ruin the economy.

    SPIEGEL: Has the Arab Spring already failed in Egypt?

    ElBaradei: I don't believe that. I fight against that. In April I founded the Constitution Party. With the Social Democrats and all liberal powers we will combine against the Islamists. We still have a chance and we should not waste the awakening; that would be a tragedy. Young people want more personal freedom and better jobs. They want a clear word from the West against Morsi. If Americans and Europeans really believe in the values that they are always preaching then they must help us and pressure Morsi.

    SPIEGEL: Would you support freezing US aid to Egypt?

    ElBaradei: I cannot imagine that someone with democratic principles could support such a regime for the long term.* We do not want to repeat the barbarism of the French Revolution.

    Guy makes a better politician than international nuclear arms inspector.

  13. From the Krugman article:

    Given these realities, the deficit-scold movement has lost some of its clout. That movement, by the way, is a hydra-headed beast, comprising many organizations that turn out, on inspection, to be financed and run by more or less the same people; dig down into many of these groups’ back stories and you will, in particular, find Peter Peterson, the private-equity billionaire, playing a key role.

    Meet two of The Kings of Capital (wiki links except where noted):

    Pete Peterson (son of Greek immigrants - Petropoulos changed to Peterson by the his father):

    In 1985, [Peterson] co-founded with Stephen A. Schwarzman the prominent private equity and investment management firm, the Blackstone Group, and was for many years its chairman.[7] It was the fortune he made at Blackstone, including the $1.9 billion he received when it went public in 2007, that funded many of his charitable and political causes.


    According to a review of tax documents from 2007 through 2011, Peterson has personally contributed at least $458 million to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to cast Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and government spending as in a state of crisis, in desperate need of dramatic cuts. Peterson's millions have done next to nothing to change public opinion: In survey after survey, Americans reject the idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare. A recent national tour organized by AmericaSpeaks and largely funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation was met by audiences who rebuffed his proposals. Link

    Steve Schwarzman:

    On 13 February 2007, Schwarzman celebrated his 60th birthday at the Armory on Park Avenue. Guests included Colin Powell, Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, and Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York. The climax of the evening was a half-hour live performance by Rod Stewart, for which he was reportedly paid $1 million.[13][14][15][16]

    When Blackstone went public in June 2007, it revealed in a securities filing that Schwarzman had earned about $398.3 million in fiscal 2006.[17][18] He ultimately received $684 million selling part of his Blackstone stake in the IPO, keeping a stake then worth $9.1 billion.[19]

    In 2007, Schwarzman was listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.


    In August 2010, Schwarzman compared the Obama administration's plan to raise carried interest taxes to Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939, a comment for which Schwarzman later apologized.


    I don't hate them but I loathe their "quit your whining" graceless petulance.

  14. The Shaming Room

    Check out the Infographics tab, emphasis on the "graphic."

    1. :)

      I voted.

      Surprisingly, I was in the majority (might be the first time in my life.) :)

    2. It's a sparse site but check out the other cartoon re Islamic confusion over Western mores (which I posted on previous thread.)

  15. Replies
    1. People always drive too fast on snowy or icy roads. See it all the time. they always push it up too far. Then wham.

    2. Yeah, a lot of idiots out there and sometimes you can't avoid them.

  16. I like this one:

    "We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."

    Read more:

  17. With Patty at the helm we have nothing to fear -

    Fiscal cliff divers?
    posted at 9:41 am on November 26, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

    Can Congress and the White House come to an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff? Do some Democrats prefer to go over it first? Politico reports that members of Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill are taking an all-or-nothing approach to the negotiations, following the rhetoric of Barack Obama in insisting that tax rates have to go up or there won’t be a deal before the end of the year:

    A growing bloc of emboldened liberals say they’re not afraid to watch defense spending get gouged and taxes go up on every American if a budget deal doesn’t satisfy their priorities. …

    Bolstering the Democrats’ strategy is the belief that the “fiscal cliff” is actually shaped more like a “slope” where the economic effects will be felt gradually, not immediately. That theory gives Congress some time at the beginning of 2013 to set tax rates and configure budget cuts in a different political environment and with a new class of lawmakers.

    But underlying the tough talk is also a sense of liberal angst — the left feels like it was burned by the last extension of the Bush tax rates and didn’t get much of what it wanted in the 2011 debt-limit deal.

    If tax rates snap back to the higher levels from the 1990s and painful budget cuts start to hit the Pentagon, these Democrats — led by Washington Sen. Patty Murray — believe they would wield more leverage over the GOP to enact a budget compromise on their terms. And with a January deal, Republicans would technically avoid violating the no-new-taxes pledge that most of them have signed because they would then be voting to cut taxes.

    Unfortunately for Murray and the Democrats, the White House released a report today that undermines their “slope” argument. Via TPM, the report concludes that just the middle-class tax hikes alone could cut consumer spending by $200 billion in 2013, a drop of 1.7% that would provide a huge push into recession:

    Allowing the middle-class tax rates to rise and failing to patch the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) could cut the growth of real consumer spending by 1.7 percentage points in 2013. This sharp rise in middle-class taxes and the resulting decline in consumption could slow the growth of real GDP by 1.4 percentage points, which is consistent with recently published estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

    Faced with these tax hikes, the CEA estimates that consumers could spend nearly $200 billion less than they otherwise would have in 2013 just because of higher taxes. This reduction of $200 billion is approximately four times the total amount that 226 million shoppers spent on Black Friday weekend last year. As Figure 5 shows, this $200 billion reduction would likely be spread across all areas of consumer spending.

    That shows the stakes involved in this particular cliff dive. If those rates hit at the beginning of the year, they will act immediately to depress consumer spending, as families have to plan for a much larger tax bite and start sheltering cash. That will result in layoffs and investment flight, starting a cycle of recession and perhaps worse if allowed to pick up steam.

    Furthermore, it’s a little curious as to what Murray and her cliff divers think will improve after the tax rates jump. It’s not as if the new Congress will have different leadership than this session, or a new President will take office. All of the players will remain the same, as will their constituencies. If anything, the impact of the tax rates will put the onus on the President to stop the damage, not House Republicans, who only control one lever of power in Washington to Democrats’ two. Especially by going public with this strategy, Murray seems determined to have her fellow Democrats take most of the blame when the inevitable sudden stop occurs at the end of a cliff dive.

    1. From the comments -

      Patty Murray was lauding the Taliban for building schools and hospitals. She did this in October 2001 and she ignored that the “schools” were really nothing more than terrorist training camps and the hospitals were to patch up wounded terrorists and get them back in the game. She truly is an unfit human being and why the stupid people of WA keep electing her to high public office is truly beyond my understanding. Hey you stupid liberals in Seattle and King County….. You don’t have to elect a conservative but could you at least elect somebody with an IQ higher than a box of rocks?

      Happy Nomad on November 26, 2012 at 9:48 AM


  18. There is a debate about Iran going nuclear here in Toronto at a gig called "The Munk debates". In my local rag they've given a little highlight of the arguments from the 4 debators:

    Charles Krauthammer

    Earlier this year, Fareed Zakaria cited me writing in defence of deterrence in the early 1980s at the time of the nuclear freeze movement. And yet now, when it comes dealing with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, Mr. Zakaria is singling me out, and others on the right, as having erroneously decided that “deterrence is a lie.”

    Nonsense. What I have decided is that deterring Iran is fundamentally different from deterring the Soviet Union. You could rely on the latter but not on the former.

    The Soviet quarrel with America was ideological. Iran’s quarrel with Israel is existential. The Soviets never proclaimed a desire to annihilate the American people. For Iran, the very existence of a Jewish state on Muslim land is a crime, an abomination, a cancer with which no negotiation, no coexistence, no accommodation is possible.

    America is also a nation of 300 million; Israel, 8 million. America is a continental nation; Israel, a speck on the map, at one point eight miles wide. Israel is a “one-bomb country.” Its territory is so tiny, its population so concentrated that, as Iran’s former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has famously said, “Application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.” A tiny nuclear arsenal would do the job.

    In U.S.-Soviet deterrence, both sides knew that a nuclear war would destroy them mutually. The mullahs have thought the unthinkable to a different conclusion. They know about the Israeli arsenal. They also know, as Mr. Rafsanjani said, that in any exchange Israel would be destroyed instantly and forever, whereas the ummah – the Muslim world of 1.8 billion people whose redemption is the ultimate purpose of the Iranian revolution – would survive damaged but almost entirely intact.

    This doesn’t mean that the mullahs will necessarily risk terrible carnage to their country in order to destroy Israel irrevocably. But it does mean that the blithe assurance to the contrary – because the Soviets never struck first – is nonsense. The mullahs have a radically different worldview, a radically different grievance and a radically different calculation of the consequences of nuclear war.

    The confident belief that they are like the Soviets is a fantasy. That’s why Israel is contemplating a pre-emptive strike. Israel refuses to trust its very existence to the convenient theories of comfortable analysts living 6,000 miles from its Ground Zero

    1. Amos Yadlin

      I do not like the comparisons to the 1930s and to the Holocaust this debate has evoked. I do not think that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, it will launch a nuclear missile at Tel Aviv the next day. I believe in Israel’s defence capabilities and in our deterrence, and I think that this was precisely why Israel was founded: so it would have the ability to defend the Jewish people.

      And yet, a nuclear Iran is intolerable due to four very serious considerations. It is unclear whether Iran will be a rational player. We may well be dealing with a culture that sanctifies death and glorifies ‘martyrs’ and suicide bombers, and has a wholly different attitude toward life than we do. Of course, there will not be symmetry between big Iran and little Israel: a single atomic bomb will not kill six million people here, but if it explodes in the centre of the country and takes 20,000 lives, life here will become very problematic, if it can go on at all.

      There is also a danger of unplanned and uncontrolled escalation: there is no hotline between Tel Aviv and Tehran, and no other stabilizing mechanisms between us and the Iranians, so the danger of an unplanned nuclear confrontation is significant.

      And, finally, nuclear proliferation is a near certainty: If Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and other states go nuclear, a multipolar nuclear system will come into being in the Middle East − and by definition this will be unstable and very dangerous. Such a situation − in which there will also be substate players − will create a big temptation to make use of nuclear weapons and could lead to the occurrence of a nuclear event. We must not get carried away with panic or sow anxiety, but Iran must be prevented from going nuclear.

      At the same time, I agree with the criticism of our prime minister and defense minister in two areas. They say that time has almost run out, but I say there still is time. The decisive year is not 2012 but 2013. Maybe even early 2014. We have at least half a year left before we reach the true crossroads where we will have to make the fateful decision. But even when we reach the crossroad, in order for an Israeli strike to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb for a long time to come, it must enjoy international legitimacy.

      Israel must shape a policy and take action to ensure that, if we are compelled to attack, the world will be behind us on the day we do so.

    2. Vali Nasr

      Can we tolerate a nuclear Iran? The short answer is yes. We have already shown that we can live with troublesome and dangerous nuclear powers, and we have been quite successful at doing so while also preserving world peace. We successfully contained the Soviet Union and communist China during the Cold War, and we are doing a pretty good job with North Korea today. India too, has shown that it can tolerate and contain a nuclear enemy next door. The notion that we can deal with Iran too through a combination of containment and deterrence should not be counterintuitive.

      The key question is not whether we can tolerate a nuclear Iran, but whether we can we tolerate the consequences that the alternative would entail. Can we tolerate a war with a country twice the size and with three times the landmass of Iraq, costing multiples of the Iraq war in both dollars and casualties? Can we tolerate the regional instability that a military occupation of Iran would entail? The answer is surely that we can’t. We have already said as much leaving Iraq and Afghanistan to focus on deficit and nation-building at home.

      Furthermore, we can clearly tolerate an Iran with nuclear capability but no bomb. We can also easily manage an Iran with limited weaponized capability, as one or two bombs is no strategic advantage, and using them would essentially guarantee their own annihilation. To truly be a threat, Iran would need 30 or 40 bombs, and that too can be contained much as India does Pakistan’s arsenal of several hundred bombs.

      We can tolerate a nuclear Iran because the argument that we cannot is based on the faulty assumption that Iran’s government is messianic and irrational, ready to destroy Israel and the world. That is a caricature view, not based on fact. The Iranian regime has been in power for 30 years exactly because it’s top priority is survival, not its self destruction. It has strategic objectives, which run counter to America and Israel’s goals, but are very much within the realm of Realpolitik we are readily familiar with.

      Far from the caricature of an apocalyptic mad dash to nuclear Armageddon, Iran, like the Soviet Union and communist China during the Cold War or Pakistan today, dreams of power and hegemony. And in this, Iran seeks to dominate the Arab world, not Israel. The West should resist Iran’s dreams of hegemony, but this is something we can do. Given the alternative, we can manage nuclear Iran.

    3. Fareed Zakaria

      Before we start cowering in fear, here are some facts. Iran is not a powerful country. Its GDP is one 40th the size of America’s – in fact its GDP is much smaller than America's defence budget – its economy is in ruins, and the regime faces popular discontent. The country has alienated most of its neighbours , it is desperately trying to shore up its Syrian ally at great cost, and its notorious president is on his way out. Most importantly, international efforts to delay Iran's nuclear program are working. Even if they manage to build some form of crude bomb, we can tolerate the consequences through robust containment and deterrence

      We will be told that a nuclear Iran would set off an arms race in the Middle East. But when North Korea went nuclear, South Korea and Japan didn't follow and while Israel has developed their nuclear program, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have made few moves in this direction – even though they regard Israel as their main enemy. So why, with security guarantees from the United States, would these countries do so now in response to Iran?

      It will be explained that a nuclear Iran will lead to an escalation with Israel. But India and Pakistan went to war three times in the 30 years before they had nuclear capability, and have not again in the 40 year since. Deterrence works.

      Since none of the usual arguments hold up, we hear that Iran is irrational, a mad, messianic power. But this is precisely what was said about both China and the Soviet Union. And North Korea's behaviour has been far more bizarre than Iran’s, which has generally pursued its interest in a cool, calculating way. If deterrence worked with madmen like Mao and Kim Il Sung, and thugs like Stalin, then it will work with the autocrats of Tehran.

      A rational actor need not have the same goals we do. He may not be reasonable. A rational actor need only be concerned about its own survival. As former senior U.S. intelligence official Paul Pillar writes, Iran's rulers "are overwhelmingly concerned with preserving their regime and their power – in this life, not some future one."

      Let me end with a simple question: If Israel does not believe in deterrence, why did it build a nuclear arsenal at great cost, if not to deter its neighbour from attacking it?

    4. You got a fair debate going on there, Ash.

      Fareed has weaseled his way back in after that plagiarism stuff I see.

  19. I find it interesting that the prime argument made by the 'pro' side only has to do with Israels interest and no other countries.

  20. Unfreakinbelievable

    Expanding Medicaid health benefits to everyone eligible under President Barack Obama's health care reform law would increase state spending on the program by just 3 percent while extending health coverage to more than 20 million people, according to a study released Monday by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban Institute.

    The health care law seeks to enroll into the Medicaid program anyone who earns up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $14,856 this year. But when the Supreme Court upheld the law in June, its decision allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. So far, Republican governors in eight states have declared they won't participate, denying health care coverage to millions of their poorest residents.

    Republican governors who are stalwart opponents of Obamacare, including Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, cite the cost of expanding Medicaid as a primary reason for refusing to go along with the Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA. But the states' share of the new costs of covering more people on Medicaid is relatively small. Combined with greater private health insurance coverage, Medicaid expansion would result in a large reduction in the number of uninsured people, and fewer unpaid medical bills that raise costs for taxpayers.

    "By implementing the Medicaid expansion with other provisions of the ACA, states could significantly reduce the number of uninsured," the . . . . . . .

    Stupid Party at Work

    The goofy Republican Governor of Maine is against the Medicaid expansion even though his state will show a Profit from deal.

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Well it is their lives that are on the line first. Bang, bang, you are totally dead. The other countries in the region don't really want a nuked up Iran either. The Saudis don't seem to like the idea. Then their is the Great Satan, the biggest name on the jihadi wish list of all. So there are a lot of countries with interest in the matter, whether or not those folks mentioned it.


    Portland, Oregon: Prosecutors of would-be jihad mass murderer ask permission to use the word "jihad"

    It is astounding, and indicative of just how much the public discourse has degenerated, that this is even an issue. Mohamud used the word "jihad," but prosecutors have to ask if they can please characterize his motives and goals accurately, at his trial.

    "'Terrorist,' 'violent jihad' among words prosecutors want to use in Portland terrorism trial," by Nigel Duara for the Associated Press, November 7:

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Prosecutors want to call an Oregon man a terrorist while referring to violent jihad and martyrdom, words his defense attorneys have asked a federal judge to forbid.

    Federal prosecutors preparing for the January trial of Mohamed Mohamud said in a motion filed Tuesday that the court should let them use the terms because they accurately characterize Mohamud's "conduct and the nature of his case."

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight notes in the motion that Mohamud himself allegedly used the terms "terrorism" and "jihad" when speaking with undercover agents, though records of such conversations have not yet been made public.

    Knight also seeks to refer to Mohamud's occasional dispatches for the jihadist magazine "Jihad Recollections," reports that Mohamud's attorneys say are protected speech done while Mohamud, 21, was a minor.

    Mohamud is accused of conspiring with men he believed were Islamic radicals to detonate a car bomb near a 2010 Portland Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. The bomb was a fake provided by the government and the men were undercover agents.

    Defense attorneys Steve Sady and Steve Wax argued in a motion that such words will "blur and dilute the specific elements of the offense and distort the facts of the case."...

    Distort the facts? That's what Sady and Wax are trying to do, not anyone else. But their obfuscation is accepted practice and prescribed wisdom, so they will probably win the day.

  23. Rational economic behavior?

    If the fine for not having health insurance is less than the cost of carrying health insurance why not pay the fines until you need health insurance in which case you buy it (can't deny it because of pre-existing condition)?


  24. Economics blogger Bill McBride was one of the early people to call the housing bubble, and he warned furiously in the years leading up to the collapse that the epidemic of no-doc loans and boats-in-every-garage would come to a terrible end.

    But unlike many other "doomsayers" who continued to warn about economic collapse long past 2009 (their names don't need mentioning... you know who they are), McBride was able to see the leg up, and has remained upbeat since the economy started growing again.

    What did he see that so many others missed?

    Hope is a strategy.

    1. Beautiful cloud formation.



    3. Then, there's the Rufus "well, it looks like things are gonna be kind of crappy for awhile" camp.


      Maybe I should write a blog. :)


    4. But, what about the future? Either BM is getting ready to go 2 for 3, or I'm going to go 1 for 3 (I got the upturn, but missed the severity of the housing bubble,) because I think we're going to go back into the soup, again. Not, deep, and catastrophic like the last time, but relatively shallow, long, and frustratingly sticky.

      I'm afraid that the Energy, jobs, and declining median income problems are more of the secular variety, and less of a cyclical phenomenon. I think we're stuck in slow growth/no growth until, at least, sometime in the 2020's.

      I hope I'm wrong. :)

    5. Regarding the Gates comment upthread, one gets the sense that that observation (a process that is slow out the gate, then Katy bar the door) could well apply to two big Gates' initiatives; the first being his charity, which is targeting global disease (and other goals such as Melinda Gates' work on birth control), and second being his concept of Creative Capitalism (google it) which tries to blend self interest with societal good in the corporate sector. Needless to say, the second initiative has received a cool reception, although Pete Peterson has signed Gates ' "The Giving Pledge"to give half his wealth to charity (as, more famously, has Warren Buffett.) I only mention Gates and his post-MS work briefly in passing because it sort of takes my breath away to ponder the enormity of what he is doing with his hugely financed charity under management control that one assumes is relatively "clean" (unlike Oprah, Madonna to a lesser degree, and one can only nod in sagely considered wisdom at the ownership and ultimate direction of Bill Clinton's foundation with so much ME funding.)

      So if the USA becomes stuck in the "crappy" zone for a decade, the trick will be identifying the turn-around, which according to the Gates theory will be rapid.

      (The other unpredictable process I watch is China. Interesting to see how the internal push-pull dynamic works out. They will have their nuclear sub in two years. One can't help but think that the Chinese present a more credible threat than the mullahs. Just on the face of it.)

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. I thought Obama was gonna fix things. Sounds like he is being let off the hook before the fixing.

      On the face of it, the Chinese don't want to lost all that nice stuff they are building. While the mullahs don't seem to care much, and judging by their rhetoric, not at all. 'Let this country burn'

    8. I wasn't convinced at the time, but I am now, that the "negotiated" stimulus bill (American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009) contained too little stimulus and too many tax cuts, at the insistence of the Republicans. The final bill was roughly a third stimulus spending, a third tax cuts and a third interim stabilizers such as unemployment extensions. If the Republicans had not "stamped and pouted," the final bill would have contained more spending and fewer tax breaks. This crop of Republicans can burn in hell.

    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    10. Think of it this way, because of the Republicans only 1/3 of the stimulus money was wasted.

    11. .

      "...too many tax cuts, at the insistence of the Republicans."

      Good lord, lady, get a clue.

      The Dems constantly complain that Bush controlled Congress for six years but then refuse to accept that the Dems had the presidency as well as both houses of Congress for Obama's first two years.

      As for the stimulus bill, you are right in pointing out that it was poorly devised and poorly executed, but really, the stimulus bill is now a GOP bill? Talk about rewriting history.

      As far as suggesting Obama wasn't in favor of tax cuts, that's like the goofballs on the right who picture Reagan as this huge tax cutter.

      The Republicans "stamped and pouted"? I'm sure that really bothered Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi back in 2009 when the stimulus was passed and they were running the show. They managed to get Obamacare passed with little or no GOP support. Why would they have a problem passing the stimulus?

      Of the stimulus bill, $289.6 billion or 36 percent, was devoted to tax cuts, of which the biggest by far was the Making Work Pay tax credit, which was a refundable tax credit of $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples filing jointly implemented by reducing tax withholding. That structure meant that a fair number of people didn’t even notice their taxes were being cut, even though the credit cost a total of $116.2 billion.

      The next biggest provision was a $69.8 billion extension to a patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which primarily benefited upper-middle income filers. After that came $20 billion in tax credits to promote renewable energy, a $14.8 billion increase in the refundability of the child tax credit, and the $13.9 billion “American Opportunity” tax credit for low-income college students. All other tax provisions, which were mostly changes to existing credits and deductions (such as an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit), were less than $10 billion a piece...

      For being 'forced' into tax cuts by the GOP, Obama sure got a lot of hay out of claiming 98% of Americans got a tax cut under him.

      The following history of tax legislation under Obama comes from the WaPo Wonkblog, hardly a GOP rag.

      <a href=">Taxes and Such</a>


    12. Bombshell - Plus Graphs

      But is the theory true? Do tax cuts really spur growth?

      The answer appears to be "no."

      More Graphs

      Analysis of six decades of data found that top tax rates "have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth." However, the study found that reductions of capital gains taxes and top marginal rate taxes have led to greater income inequality.

    13. .

      An entirely different issue than blaming the GOP for failure of Obama's stimulus program.



    14. the stimulus bill is now a GOP bill?

      Never said that. I said failure to make the spending portion bigger, as originally proposed by Dems, was due to Republican insistance on tax cuts.

      Nor did I address the targets of tax relief. The debate at the time, as has been well documented, was between the Keynsians, led by Krugman, Stiglitz, Summers, et al, who favored a stronger stimulus, vs the anti-Keynsians, led by Kudlow, Laffer, the Cato Institute, and the anti-Keynsian economists whose names are less household.

      Just after the bill was enacted, Krugman wrote that the stimulus was too small to deal with the problem, adding, "And it’s widely believed that political considerations led to a plan that was weaker and contains more tax cuts than it should have – that Mr. Obama compromised in advance in the hope of gaining broad bipartisan support." [wiki]

    15. An entirely different issue...

      My 06:21:00 PM EST was in response to bob's 06:05:00 PM EST.

    16. .

      I said failure to make the spending portion bigger, as originally proposed by Dems, was due to Republican insistance on tax cuts.

      And you were wrong. The GOP proposed a bill half the size and geared more towards cuts to individuals and businesses it is true. They also argued that the spending suggested would take years to create any jobs.

      However, they were ignored. The bill passed the House without a single GOP vote. It passed in the Senate with three GOP votes. The taxes that were cut were the ones the Dems wanted. The Dems used reconciliation to get Obamacare through. I would imagine they wouldn't have had a hard time getting the stimulus through too.

      As for the size of the stimulus, Krugman has been denouncing the size since day one. Perhaps, he is right. However, the question is what would have been done with the money, what priorities would have been set, would it have been more successful or just a bigger, more expensive failure?

      I recall not too long ago when Obama was talking to his 'Jobs Council' (now there's an oxymoron for you given its make-up) as he smile and joked "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected".

      Good one, O.



    17. The taxes that were cut were the ones the Dems wanted.

      Where else would the tax cuts go, after TARP bailed out the 1%? Even the Republicans knew that.

    18. "A zebra does not change its spots."
      --Al Gore

      ''We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead.'' - former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 2003

      ''As I was telling my husb--. As I was telling President Bush.''
      —National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who is unmarried, overheard making a slip of the tongue at a Washington dinner party, April 2004

      ''Facts are stupid things.''
      —Ronald Reagan, at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, ''Facts are stubborn things''

      ''I'm a huge supporter of women. What I'm not is a supporter of liberalism. Feminism is what I oppose. Feminism has led women astray. I love the women's movement -- especially when walking behind it.''
      —Rush Limbaugh, responding to criticism that he is sexist and defending his selection as one of the judges at the 2010 Miss America Pageant, ''Fox News' Fox & Friends,'' February 3, 2010

      ''Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.''
      —former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 2003

      ''I AM the federal government.''
      —Then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, to the owner of Ruth's Chris Steak House, after being told to put out his cigar because of federal government regulations banning smoking in the building, May 14, 2003

      ''Bitch set me up.''
      —Washington Mayor Marion Barry in 1990, after the FBI stormed a hotel suite where he was smoking crack with a girlfriend-turned-informant

      And so on. You be the judge.

    19. Well hell, this is just too much fun - one more round.

      ''The internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.''
      —Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Steven (R-AK), explaining the workings of the Internet during a debate on net neutrality

      ''Well, I learned a lot....I went down to (Latin America) to find out from them and (learn) their views. You'd be surprised. They're all individual countries''
      —President Ronald Reagan

      ''My answer is bring 'em on.''
      —President George W. Bush, challenging militants attacking U.S. forces in Iraq, July 2, 2003

      ''I'm just not giving it up for f***in' nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.'' ... ''Give this motherf****r Obama his senator? F**k him. For nothing. F**k him.'''
      —Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, recorded in a federal wiretap trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat. The day before his arrest, he invited authorities to tape his conversations, saying there is ''nothing but sunshine hanging over me.''

      ''I don't recall.''
      —Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who repeated the phrase, or some variation, more than 70 times in response to congressional questions about the firing of U.S. attorneys, April 20, 2007

      ''There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.''
      —President Gerald Ford, in a 1976 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter

      ''These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's death so much.''
      —Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, on 9/11 widows who were critical of the Bush administration

      ''See, Barack's been talking down to black people on this faith-based...I want to cut his nuts off.''
      —Jesse Jackson, caught on an open mic whispering to a colleague about Barack Obama, whom he was criticizing for lecturing African Americans about taking more responsibility for raising children, July 6, 2008

      I know how he feels.

    20. .

      Where else would the tax cuts go, after TARP bailed out the 1%? Even the Republicans knew that.

      Then why are you bitching about the GOP and tax cuts in the Stimulus Bill. The Dems designed the Stimulus Bill, they decided how much of it would go towards taxes, and they got the taxes they wanted. The GOP may have been frustrated but they were also impotent to do anything about it.

      Yet, you complain about the stimulus being ineffective and then blame it on the GOP.

      Pass the kool-aid.


    21. The Dems designed a compromise that would support the emergence of bipartisan coalitions in Congress:

      "And it’s widely believed that political considerations led to a plan that was weaker and contains more tax cuts than it should have – that Mr. Obama compromised in advance in the hope of gaining broad bipartisan support."

      Bipartisan coalitions being a major theme of the incoming administration.

      Kool-aid or weed?

    22. I enjoyed the quotes!

      Didn't the filibuster play a role in stimulus negotiations?

    23. .

      If you've got the weed, I'll take it.

      For while Mr. Obama got more or less what he asked for, he almost certainly didn’t ask for enough...

      Officially, the administration insists that the plan is adequate to the economy’s need. But few economists agree.
      And it’s widely believed that political considerations led to a plan that was weaker and contains more tax cuts than it should have — that Mr. Obama compromised in advance in the hope of gaining broad bipartisan support. We’ve just seen how well that worked...

      Obama got what he asked for?

      He didn't ask for enough?

      Most economists agree?

      Widely believe?

      Paul Krugman?

      And we laugh at Bob for reading the American Thinker.

      So you and Paul are upset at Obama and yet you still blame the GOP?

      The workings of a woman's mind are a marvelous thing to behold.



    24. .

      I enjoyed the quotes!

      Stick around, Ash.

      I sure when Bob gets back, he will provide you with many more. The boy is getting as good as the rat in being able to use Google.


    25. Heh heh!

      Really, lol.

      ole bobbo is evolving - like actually learning.

      You still XBOXing? Tried the new Black Ops?

    26. .

      Haven't had much time for XBOXing.

      The House is pretty tore up right now. We've got a lot of remodelling going on. Kind of a re-do from bottom to top.

      The dogs are going nutz with all the people in the house which means I am also going nutz.


  25. Not a bad idea perhaps. This is the first time the federal government has been able to order somebody to buy something or be fined, it is said. Lots of folks don't like the concept.

  26. .

    "I’m no prosecutor, but this reluctance to hold Corzine criminally responsible for what happened at MF Global seems like a crime in itself."

    Corzine, The Good ol Boys, and How the Game is Played



  28. .

    Well, that didn't take long.

    CNBC: Video of James Carney indicating that Social Security is off the table.

    They bring on an administration spokesman (guy named Kruegar) to ask him about it. He indicates SS is not part of the problem. When they ask him about Medicare, he says that can wait. What we should be doing is what everyone agrees on, extend the middle class tax cuts.

    So basically the administrations position is let the tax cuts on the rich expire but extend the middle class tax cuts. We'll get around to spending cuts later.

    AARP Factoid: In 2000, there were 40 million Medicare beneficiaries. In 2030, there will be 80 million beneficiaries.

    Reality is not a condition prevalent in OZ.


  29. For Americans, all bets are off.


    "We are sorry to announce that due to legal and regulatory pressures, Intrade can no longer allow U.S. residents to participate in our real-money prediction markets," the Dublin-based company said on its website. Intrade said existing customers must exit their trades and close ...

  30. The Conservatives and the United Kingdom Independence Party were "at war" tonight as they both rejected a controversial call by a senior Tory for them to forge an electoral pact.


    Labour’s 11-point lead in its last survey for The Independent four weeks ago has dropped to seven points. Labour is on 42 per cent (down two points), the Conservatives 35 per cent (up two points), the Liberal Democrats 10 per cent (down two points) and others 13 per cent (up two points). The figures would give Labour an overall majority of 84.

    Ukip is up one point to 6 per cent. Some 7 per cent of people who voted Conservative at the 2010 election now support Ukip, as do 3 per cent those who voted Labour.

  31. Call them the cliff jumpers.

    A growing bloc of emboldened liberals say they’re not afraid to watch defense spending get gouged and taxes go up on every American if a budget deal doesn’t satisfy their priorities.

    Here’s what these progressives fear: an agreement that keeps lower tax rates for the wealthy, hits the social safety net with unpalatable cuts and leaves Pentagon spending unscathed. In other words, they’d rather walk the country off the cliff than watch President Barack Obama cave on long-held liberal priorities.

  32. Also known as the Washington version of Thelma and Louise.

  33. Rather than watch another sterile round of diplomatic maneuvering among Abbas, Netanyahu and Obama, Egypt seems bent on overseeing another attempt to broker a reconciliation between the Palestinian factions. In the short run this would prevent peace negotiations, to the satisfaction of hard-liners on both sides.


    Even if no comprehensive peace is possible, the new regional alignment may allow Israel and Hamas to work out a modus vivendi that benefits both sides. In exchange for more open borders and an opportunity to develop economically with backing from its new Arab allies, Hamas could agree to a more thorough and reliable truce that leaves southern Israel in peace.

    That’s a long way from real peace — but it’s better for both sides than going to war every couple of years.


  34. “He’s the one [Obama] who has to present a plan for success. So we’ll continue to wait on the president and hope that he has what it takes to bring people together and forge a compromise. If he does, we’ll get there, and if he doesn’t, we won’t. It’s that simple.”

    Impasse, Washington Style

    1. The inimitable Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaking today on the floor of Congress.

    2. .

      I blasted the Dems earlier on their approach to negotiations on the fiscal cliff.

      The Pubs are just as bad.

      We can soon expect a study from someone in the GOP showing how lowering tax rates will increase growth and thus increase "projected revenues" to the point that it will cover their 30% of the Grand Bargain without any tax cuts on the rich.

      The rest of the caucus will then nod their heads and bellow, "Brilliant".


  35. .

    OK, Bobbo. Take a look at the first comment after this video and tell me if you agree.

    Wandering Star


    1. Bob's in the bunkhouse sleepin' after today's long ride I ain't even gonna tell him about it. Looks like a whole bunch of lesbian settlers doin' I know not what with a few queers thrown in. What the hell's goin' on in them cities?


  36. O said...


    "They also argued that the spending suggested would take years to create any jobs."


    For the Japanese, it has been twenty years and counting.
    No problemo that, for Rufus, he'll just blame it on Bush II as instructed by His Maximum Leader,
    ...and, of course the price of oil, as we sit on energy reserves yielding 10 times the megawatts of power (like coal) as does "green" wind turbines interrupteses tm. tho if we regulate it out of existence, China will immediately follow, clean up it's act, and stop using it.

    ...wanting to be thrown out of power by the revolution that would follow.

    For Gaia's sake, Rufus, get thee to that AA meeting quick-like!

  37. .

    OK, Bobbo. Now, take a few tokes off that joint and tell me if this video doesn't get more interesting as it goes along and you get more relaxed.

    Lay Your Cards Out


    1. Another lesbian bitch with a butch haircut lookin' to go multiple towards the end. It'd help if she sung in somethin' other'n Greek so's you could understand. Better'n that first scary piece of garbage but I ain't wakin' Bob up he's relaxed enough as it is.


    2. Paleface can't chant, dance, tom-tom.

      Both buffalo chips.

      Chief Plenty Coups

  38. Obama decides to leave many many troops in Afganistan. What? He lied? No way!

  39. Thelma, Louise, and Rufus.

    I'm in.

    Lets jump.

  40. The focus of efforts to clean up and rebuild after superstorm Sandy are moving from flood-ravaged streets to the halls of power in Washington.


    Already, lawmakers and their aides are pointing to the multiple spending bills passed by a Republican-controlled Congress after Katrina in 2005, hoping to appeal to their colleagues' sense of fairness. Such rhetoric appears born out of a worry that the relative dearth of Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey will make this year's aid package a harder sell.

    "There were all kinds of questions, but we're all on the same page: supporting as much money as we can, as soon as we can," said Rep. Nita Lowey, a Westchester County Democrat who sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

  41. On this day in 1942, "Casablanca" debuted at the Hollywood Theater in New York.

  42. George Osborne has stunned the City by announcing that Mark Carney, the Canadian central banker, will replace Sir Mervyn King as the next Governor of the Bank of England.


    When the Bank takes on the responsibilities of the Financial Services Authority next year it would double in size. Mr Carney said yesterday that he was up to the challenge of managing the transition.

    “I can play a constructive role…in relaunching this institution with its new responsibilities, contributing to price stability, to financial stability and to ensuring that the rebalancing of the UK economy…is seen through over the course of the next five years” he said.

  43. Two men have been sentenced to several years behind bars for their roles in a gun smuggling ring that was part of the U.S. government's Operation Fast and Furious.

    The U.S. Justice Department says Jacob Anthony Montelongo was sentenced Monday in Phoenix to nearly 3 1/2 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and dealing guns without a license. Sean Christopher Steward received a nine-year sentence for conspiracy and lying.

  44. I mean look at this it's pitiful -



    Least they got the title right. We're dang near finished.