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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Saudi Prince tells Saudis to “Sod off”


  1. Our good friends the Saudis, allies and strategic partners, one of the many treats referred to as being in our “national interest”.

  2. Saudi July Oil Production 9,650,000 bbl/day (more or less.)

    That be 9 Million, 650 Thousand Barrels of Oil every single, blessed Day.

    1. They're long term planners.

      When they've pumped the dump dry, the plan is to market sand to those tasked with pounding it.

  3. The Stench of the Potomac

    Washington may be a dysfunctional place to govern, but it’s working better than ever as a marketplace for cashing in. And that’s thanks, more than anything, to the Democratic Establishment.

    By Frank Rich Published Aug 4, 2013

    You’d think that the market for Washington-bashing would be saturated by now. Not counting the nightly Comedy Central duo, four anti-Washington television shows were showered with Emmy nominations last month. Apocalyptic anti-Washington books with titles like It’s Even Worse Than It Looks and Throw Them All Out have become our daily bread in the Obama years—although none of them matches Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer’s Truman-era Washington Confidential, an enormous best seller in 1951 and forever to be cherished for describing the town (my hometown, I must disclose) as “the nation’s Forest Lawn, where is sunk its priceless heritage, killed by countless generations of getters and gimme-ers.”

    Such bile never goes out of fashion. This is proving the summer of This Town, Mark Leibovich’s jaundiced take on “America’s gilded capital,” which leapt up the best-seller list the week of its publication, where it’s poised to end Sheryl Sandberg’s lock on No. 1. As if to ratify its relevance, its release was greeted by a new NBC News–Wall Street Journal poll in which Congress’s approval rating fell to an all-time low (12 percent) in that survey’s history, raising the prospect that it could flatline to zero if the government shuts down come fall. Though President Obama’s rating (45 percent) wasn’t stellar either, do pity John Boehner, who would have been the most unpopular man in America had the field not included Edward Snowden and George Zimmerman, the only names that polled worse.

    Leibovich’s survey of the swamp on the Potomac during the Obama years would be worth reading just to see him torture David Gregory of NBC News, whose naked ambition has so riled the locals you wonder if Marion Barry might be held in higher regard. But the humor of This Town is spiked with mortality. It opens in June 2008 with the invitation-only Kennedy Center memorial for Tim Russert, the departed unofficial mayor of what Leibovich calls the Club—the “spinning cabal of ‘people in politics and media’ ” that rules Beltway society. The book closes late last year, with a Christmas fête convened by the town’s unofficial king and queen, Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, at their Georgetown manse. In Leibovich’s telling, this A-list holiday gathering was more funereal than the Russert funeral.

    As he writes, at least “the room was alive” at the Russert send-off—alive with the greasy clamor of those trying to advance their status by proving that Tim loved them most of all. The Bradlee-Quinn soirée, by contrast, comes off like a waxwork, and not just because of the hostess’s decision to dub it “the Last Party” in aspirationally au courant homage to the looming “end of the world” on the Mayan calendar. Greeting guests, the 91-year-old Bradlee, the godfather of Washington journalism for half a century, was visibly slipping away into dementia, fading much like his fabled newspaper in the new age of Politico. The crowd of invitees was “mostly old,” with few journalists (or anyone else, with the possible exception of the help) under the age of 40—“The Masque of the Red Death” minus the fashion sense.


  4. {…}

    The principal players in This Town also trend old. Blacks (a few members of the Obama administration and two former Bush Cabinet officers excepted), Hispanics, and gays are in short supply. So is the 99 percent. The gaping demographic disconnect between the town’s aging aristocracy and the rest of the city’s citizenry, not to mention much of the nation beyond the District’s borders, in some ways parallels the crisis of the present-day Republican Party. But the Club, unlike the GOP, is not in crisis. And to a large extent it is not Republican. For all the ink generated by This Town in its short life, its distinctive contribution to its genre has often been lost in the gossip. The book is as much an indictment of the Democratic Establishment as it is of the Washington Establishment. And the two are often synonymous.

    That’s why the book is funny only up to a point. Delicious as it is to watch preening boldface names make asses of themselves as they network at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the Aspen Ideas Festival, talk-show greenrooms, and the incessant book parties for books no one will open, what lingers from This Town is what will linger in Washington well after its current dinosaurs are extinct: the political culture owned by big money, Wall Street and otherwise, that the Democrats, no less than the Republicans, have done their best to perpetuate over the past two decades. At least Mitt Romney didn’t pretend to care about the hoi polloi below. Democrats once did.

    Along with George Packer’s The Unwinding, a journalistic distillation of Great Recession–era America that is anything but comic, This Town is the second best seller this year to emphasize the Democrats’ role in Washington’s corruption. Both are authored by staff writers at liberal publications. (Leibovich is at the Times, Packer at The New Yorker.) In both cases, this theme is secondary to the main narrative. That’s why The Unwinding, a Dos Passos–inspired epic effort to convey “An Inner History of the New America,” is better known for its poignant portraits of everyday Americans largely invisible to official Washington. It’s also why This Town is getting more attention for its sightings of the inveterate Beltway hostess Tammy Haddad and the pathologically compulsive party attendees Alan Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell than for its mockery of behind-the-scenes characters like Mark Penn and Jack Quinn. If you read both books—and toss in The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins, a jeremiad by Jeff Connaughton, a longtime Joe Biden aide and former lobbyist who figures prominently in The Unwinding and briefly in This Town—you can piece together a depressing indictment of the Democratic Establishment pre-, during, and, in all likelihood, post-Obama. Like the disenchanted Connaughton, who turned on both Biden and Washington for good, you may end up with “a sneaking sympathy” for the tea party.

  5. {…}
    The Stench of the Potomac ShareThis
    The tale of how the Obama economic team was recruited en masse from Robert Rubin acolytes who either facilitated Wall Street’s pre-crash recklessness while in the Clinton administration or cashed in on it later (or, like Rubin, did both) never loses its power to shock, and is revisited in all three books. Michael Froman, Rubin’s chief of staff as Clinton Treasury secretary, not only served as the Obama transition team’s personnel director but moonlighted as a Citigroup managing director while doing so. “Obama essentially entrusted the repairing of the china shop to the bulls who’d helped ransack it,” Connaughton writes. Leibovich updates the story of the tacky prehistory of the Obama White House with its aftermath—the steady parade of Obama alumni who traded change we can believe in for cash on the barrelhead as soon as they left public service. The starry list includes, among many others, Peter Orszag (director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, now at Citi), Jake Siewert (the Treasury Department counselor turned chief flack for Goldman Sachs), and David Plouffe (the campaign manager and senior presidential adviser who did consulting for Boeing and General Electric). In a class by herself is Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director “who was instrumental in helping Michelle Obama set up her ‘Let’s Move!’ program to stop obesity in children”: She signed on as a consultant with “food manufacturers and media firms to block restrictions on commercials for sugary foods targeting children.”

    “When I am president,” Obama had said in 2008, “I will start by closing the revolving door in the White House that’s allowed people to use their administration job as a stepping-stone to further their lobbying careers.” Puzzling over how so many colleagues have strayed from this credo, the former press secretary Robert Gibbs has theorized that either “somehow we have all changed” or, alternatively, “maybe Washington changed us.” Whatever the explanation, it’s clear that the president himself has been either passive or ineffectual when it comes to exerting any moral authority over the White House alumni who’ve been streaming through the revolving door.

    But this syndrome didn’t start with the Obama administration and won’t end with it. Perhaps the more useful question to ask is when and why this change came over Washington’s entire Democratic hierarchy. There have always been lobbyists in both parties, of course, and there have always been powerful Democratic influence peddlers to match their Republican counterparts. Clark Clifford, Robert Strauss, and Vernon Jordan—the respective pals of Truman, LBJ, and Bill Clinton—are among the most legendary Washington operators of the post–World War II era. But what once was an unsavory appendix to the legislative process has scaled up over the past three decades to become a dominant, if not the dominant, Washington private industry. And while some former office holders, senators and members of Congress included, have always joined the lobbying ranks, lobbying and its adjuncts have now become the career havens of choice for Establishment Democrats with government résumés, not just for Republicans traditionally aligned with corporate interests. There’s more status than shame in joining this gold rush—as we see in This Town—and many of the Democratic practitioners barely pay lip service to the ideal of siding with working- and middle-class Americans against the plutocrats of finance and industry. They are too busy rushing to partner with Republicans in servicing the very same corporate accounts.



  6. {…}

    No sooner did the Democrat Evan Bayh bolt from the Senate in 2010 with a sanctimonious Times op-ed decrying the “corrosive system of campaign financing” than he joined with Andrew Card, the former Bush chief of staff, in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to lobby against corporate regulatory reform. No sooner did BP despoil the Gulf than it effortlessly recruited what Leibovich calls a bipartisan “Beltway dream team” that included both a former top spokeswoman for Dick Cheney and the Democratic super-­lobbyist and fund-raiser Tony Podesta, who was also a prominent ambassador for corporate interests at the 2012 Obama convention in Charlotte. In the past four years of partisan gridlock, it’s become a lazy and tiresome trope of centrist Washington punditry that the city would work if only Democrats and Republicans got together for a drink after-hours the way Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan did back in the day. But the truth is that Democratic and Republican potentates do get together—every night, lubricated with plenty of ­alcohol—albeit to further their clients’ interests rather than those of the voters.

    The relatively recent rise of lobbying as both a major industry and a full-time employment service for former public officials began in earnest in the post-Watergate seventies. The journalist Robert Kaiser, who tracked “the triumph of lobbying” in his 2009 book So Damn Much Money, discovered that the cost of a winning congressional campaign went up roughly fifteenfold between 1976 and 2006, empowering corporate money in the political marketplace more than ever. Over that period, he wrote, “the amount of money spent on Washington lobbying increased from tens of millions to billions a year.” Last year, The Atlantic reported that while only 3 percent of retiring members of Congress became lobbyists in 1974, that number has now jumped to 50 percent of senators and 42 percent of the House. This time frame tracks exactly with the rise of economic inequality and the stagnation of the middle class, concerns that Obama has started talking about lately without acknowledging his own party’s role in perpetuating them. As Packer writes, the period when Robert Rubin “stood at the top of Wall Street and Washington was the age of inequality—hereditary inequality beyond anything the country had seen since the nineteenth century.”


  8. " Zimbabwe's longtime President Robert Mugabe says his party won "a resounding mandate" from voters to complete a sweeping black empowerment program to take over foreign and white-owned assets.

    Read more:

    The silence is deafening.

    1. The starvation will only get worse.

      But would Mugabe care?

      "We don't need all these people around here anyway."

      Bobbie Mugabe

  9. I enjoyed the last thread.

    Quirk wrote:

    "If you want to speak of logic and talk science then it seems to me logical means being an agnostic and admitting you don't know."

    Quirk what say you with respect to the assertion that 'Blue Unicorns exist just out of view behind the clouds in the sky'?

    Is it more reasonable to say "I don't know"? or, as I believe, is it more reasonable to say "no they do not exist because there is no reason to believe they exist"?

    I think you have a fixed and flawed view of the atheists position. True there are whack job atheists as there are whack job believers but it is better to say no to existence when there is no evidence of existence.

    1. Blue Unicorns exist just out of view behind the clouds in the sky?

      That would be an assertion.

      Christ has worked a miracle in my life. That is my testimony. Bolstered by a change in my behavior & outlook to which I could bring you character witnesses.
      Is testimony admitted as evidence in court? Why, yes it is :)

    2. That is fine Dougman - you have examined the evidence and come to a conclusion instead of taking the easy way out and said "I don't know".

    3. "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

      Now Ash, would you stake your reputation on your assertion of there being blue Unicorns that exist just out of view behind the clouds in the sky?

    4. Oops, I typed that before I saw your reply.

    5. "Bolstered by a change in my behavior & outlook to which I could bring you character witnesses."

      This is what William James would have called 'the fruits for life'.

      He was of the opinion that a religion should be judged, pragmatically, by its 'fruits for life'.

      This was his 'pragmatic test'. Those religions are most true which create the most fruits for life. If it was life enhancing, character building, compassion and care enhancing, etc. it passed the pragmatic test and was judged to be valuable.

      By this test Dougman is obviously on to something.

      Don't recall James ever having much praise for Islam though.

    6. Don't recall James ever having much praise for Islam though.

      Nor do I, as Taqiya, is "the practice of denying one's religion, permissible when one is faced with persecution, especially by Sunnites: regarded as a means of protecting the religion",

      How can I deny Truth?

    7. .

      You are thinking small, Ash. Your view is stunted. We are talking galactic issues here not small potatoes.

      Do I think 'Blue Unicorns exist just out of view behind the clouds in the sky'? Of course not. All we have to do is go the clouds and look. It's observable and known.

      It is estimated that there are 1 septillion stars in the visible universe, that is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, each of them having at least the chance of having solar systems like we do. And that is in the visible universe. The Big Bang itself is still a theory even though there is a general consensus among scientists that it is true. However, because the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate we have already passed the horizon where we can overcome the constraints of velocity of light and peer back to that 'beginning'. There is no way to prove any of the current theories of what existed or didn't exist prior to that first moment in time. It is all speculation.

      As I said, the 1 septillion estimate represents a minimum, it's for the visible universe. In fact, the universe could be infinite, it could go on forever, with the number of stars, solar systems and planets likewise infinite. That is, if we accept that it is the sole universe and not part of some larger multiverse. Face it, while there may be a general consensus at a given point of time, how many times have we seen that consensus change.

      Now, within that context, if you ask me if a blue unicorn or unicorn-like creature exists somewhere or did at some time, I believe it is very reasonable for me to say 'I don't know'.
      In addition, I would say that your comment that "no they do not exist because there is no reason to believe they exist" is not only arrogant but also illogical. The reason is not all that subtle and if you stop and think about the implications of what you have just said I believe you will get it.

      I have expressed my views of atheists and what motivates them at the end of the last stream. Those views are of course my own. You think my view is fixed and flawed. I would be glad to argue the point with you at any time. I think my views are reasonable.

      True there are whack job atheists as there are whack job believers but it is better to say no to existence when there is no evidence of existence.

      Leaving out the whack job comments, the rest of the comment is absurd and illogical. You combine the logical fallacies of false assumptions, avoiding conclusion, and the obverse of an inability to disprove does not prove.


    8. Ash is talkin' tater tots, Quirk be talkin' Idaho Spuds.

      Ash is always good for a chuckle though.

      "the comment is absurd and illogical" -

      With Ash, it has always been so.

      But God loves diversity, and it takes all kinds to make a world, if for nothing else than contrast, and a chuckle.

    9. No Quirk, no logical fallacies, no false assumptions, no avoiding conclusion (as 'I don't know' necessarily does) but rather the simple notion that unless there is a reason, or evidence, to believe something there is no good reason to state it's existence. If the reason for existence is unknowable then that is equally useless. Sure, one can answer "I don't know" to a question such as "is the coin heads up or tails up in my closed hand" but that is a very different question than "does God exist?". Those blue unicorns are just like God - you go there to look but you don't seem them.

    10. What drivel. If I started I'd be at it three days just beginning to show how truly stupid is that comment. That comment doesn't even rate a chuckle.

      For starters it confuses existence with Being, but, o well, what's the use.....

      (stifles sob of despair, at the futility of it all, head in hand)

    11. .

      You indulge in simplistic reasoning, Ash.

      You can't claim that 'you can't be right because you can't prove me wrong' when the same illogical argument can be reversed and applied to you.

      Your mind is cluttered with false assumptions and they drive your attempts at reasoning. You like Bush argue, if you are not with us you are against us, you either have to believe in god or not belief in god. Your bifurcated reasoning is absurd as well as arrogant. Saying that you do not know is a perfectly legitimate response. The only reason you feel it is an illegitimate response is because it doesn't fit comfortably within your own stilted view of reality or with your biases.

      ... but rather the simple notion that unless there is a reason, or evidence, to believe something there is no good reason to state it's existence.

      You are basically disavowing the entire scientific method. Were we to accept your view, we/they would have never proved the Higgs Boson or any other subatomic particles exist. We would outright deny that dark matter or dark energy exists. Yet there are countless scientists who while believing do not know. That is the point of theory.

      Those who believe in god offer up their theory based on various arguments, first cause, intelligent design, the prime mover, etc. Your argument is that there is no god because you can't see one.

      While I tend towards your view more than I do towards those of the religious, it's not because I share your simplistic reasoning but rather because of perceived flaws I see in the arguments they offer. However, since neither side has in my opinion 'proved' their case, I feel very comfortable in saying I am agnostic on a subject debated for millennia by men on both sides of the argument who possessed much more wisdom than you or I combined.

      The reason you can't accept that, I believe, lies with your constrained worldview not mine.


    12. To exist is to stand out from something, as a background, ex-ist. 'God' is generally not thought of in these terms. God cannot exist.

      That background from which something ex-ists, stands out from, is thought of as Being.

      Neither 'God' nor Being can ex-ist.

      God does not exist.

      Being and God are rather said 'to be'.

      When we kick the mortal bucket, we can be said to not ex-ist 'any longer'.

      We, our essence, may be said however to be, joining that Being from which we once ex-isted, stood out.

      'God' is often thought of as 'Being' itself.

    13. "Those who believe in god offer up their theory based on various arguments, first cause, intelligent design, the prime mover, etc. Your argument is that there is no god because you can't see one."

      Oh come on now, you are being silly.

      You can have lunch with Yahweh -

      >>>>Genesis 18:1-15
      King James Version (KJV)

      18 And the Lord appeared unto him in the plain of the Oaks of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

      2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

      3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

      4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the trees:

      5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

      6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

      7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

      8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the trees, and they did eat.

      9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

      10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

      11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

      12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

      13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

      14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

      15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.<<<<

      In Christian parlance this is often thought a foreshadowing of the Trinity.

    14. .

      Those who believe as you do confuse poetry with belief.


    15. There is one move I know of through which God might be said to ex-ist, and that is the move of self-alienating Being or God from itself to existence. This is a happy strike for all those who think well of themselves, and don't we all?, as we can think of ourselves in some way as divine, against all appearances. Nature too can be thought of as divine, and Leo my Cat and I really begin to have something in common, other than sharing my wallet. In this outlook, Creation is seen as something of a Fall away from Fullness, and we seem to have an urge to swim back up the stream to the Source from which we fell, presumably for the experience of it all.

      It is not Creation ex-nihilo.


      "Those who believe as you do confuse poetry with belief."

      Strike 'believe', substitute think, if you please.

      I say: Those who believe as you do will never share roast lamb with Yahweh under the oak trees.


    16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    17. .

      Think rather than believe?


      Both words are measures of confidence with 'believe' denoting a stronger degree of confidence in the truth of the subject than 'think'. Also, using 'think' tends to be less assertive than 'believe', a nice gesture on your part.

      Yeah, I guess I can live with that. I couldn't take your comments all that seriously either.

      Also, can't get too worked up over not sitting down to lunch with Yahweh. I'm not much of a lamb guy anyway. Steaks, ribs, chicken, on the other hand, now that's good stuff.

      By the way, who is this Yahweh guy?


  10. You think?

    BMW drivers really are jerks, studies find

    August 13, 2013, 10:56 AM

    Drivers of BMWs frequently come in for anecdotal criticism for aggressive habits on the road.

    Now, a couple of studies, one in the U.S. and another in the UK, appear to provide statistical evidence that BMW drivers are, to be polite about it, complete jerks.

    In the older study, by researchers at the University of California, BMW drivers were far less likely to stop for a pedestrian who had just entered a cross walk, the New York Times notes. ”Fancy cars were less likely to stop,” researcher Paul K. Piff told the paper, adding, “BMW drivers were the worst.”

    Drivers of BMWs and other high-status cars (including Prius hybrids) were also more likely to cheat at 4-way stop intersections, according to the research.

    In the second study, in the UK, motorists were asked to identify the make and color of the car from which they have most frequently suffered road rage incidents, The Daily Mail reported.

    The study found men between the ages of 35 and 50 driving a blue BMW were most likely to engage in road-rage behaviors such as aggressive driving and swearing.

    1. Try to rage in THIS and see how far you get, how long you last -

      >>>Wheels - The Nuts and Bolts of Whatever Moves You
      August 12, 2013, 2:50 pm

      Driving a Work in Progress From Elio Motors

      Suicide by road rage, anyone?

  11. Nukes everywhere
    Obama fails at reining ’em in

    Last Updated: 11:36 PM, August 12, 2013
    Posted: 10:29 PM, August 12, 2013

    Benny Avni

    From the start of his presidency, Barack Obama made reducing the world’s stock of nuclear weapons a priority, but that vision is now in shambles.

    Last week, we learned that North Korea is quietly expanding its uranium-enrichment capacity at the Yongbyon facility. Nuclear-watchdog analyses of satellite photos and other data show that while Pyongyang had 2,000 centrifuges there three years ago, it now has 4,000. This doubling of capacity will let the Kim regime build four enriched-uranium bombs a year.

    Analysts believe that Pyongyang has built fewer than a dozen plutonium-based bombs since it first tested a crude device in 2006. Now, with the more efficient enriched-uranium path, its capacity to threaten its neighbors is growing by leaps and bounds.

    If they’d lost, they’d be dead now: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un meeting with the country’s women’s soccer team, which won the East Asia Cup.Getty
    If they’d lost, they’d be dead now: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un meeting with the country’s women’s soccer team, which won the East Asia Cup.
    Meanwhile, as the North Koreans turn from plutonium to enriched uranium, Iran is moving in the opposite direction.

    The Wall Street Journal reported last week that, while the world has for years concentrated on the pace of Iran’s spinning centrifuges in secret enrichment sites like the Fordow facility, Tehran has quietly advanced plutonium production at its heavy-water plant in Arak — an alternate path that may allow it to build a bomb by next summer.

    Testing plutonium-fueled bombs is how India and Pakistan went nuclear in the late 1990s, when they broke the five-superpower monopoly on nuclear weapons and ended a balance of power that had lasted for most of the second half of the 20th century.

    Of course, Iran might just become “merely” a nuclear-ready power. The message will still be the same: We’re here, we’re nuclear, get used to it.

    But it doesn’t end there.

    As the world’s worst regime is set to further threaten East Asia, North Korea’s neighbors are unlikely to sit by and watch — especially when America is cutting naval budgets that once guaranteed their safety.

    1. Japan, for one, has all the technology it needs to become a nuclear power. For all the deep historical trauma in the country of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tokyo may have no choice but to get its own bomb as the North Korean threat grows.

      Ditto South Korea, Indonesia, et al.

      And as the Mideast sectarian wars heat up, Saudi Arabia, its Gulf neighbors and other Sunni stalwarts like Turkey are unlikely to let Shiite Iran become the neighborhood’s only nuclear power.

      As the club grows, going nuclear gets ever easier. Pakistan’s AQ Khan showed in the last decade how readily scientists can spread nuclear know-how.

      What about Obama? In 2009, Obama told Czechs in a Prague speech that one of his top goals as president would be to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” He then pursued nuclear-arms-reducing pacts with Russia with all the enthusiasm of a 1980s “no-nukes” campus activist.

      Along the way, he angered those Czechs and other European allies, like Poland, as he scrapped missile-defense projects just to induce Moscow to sign those treaties.

      But signing those pacts didn’t shift the world’s course — because this era’s nuclear story isn’t about the size of US and Russian arsenals.

      And as he worked on his Moscow “reset,” Obama’s half-hearted attempts to reverse Pyongyang nuclear advances went nowhere. And he’s seen no progress on his declared goal of stopping Iran from getting the bomb, either.

      (That may yet change: Citing “music I’m hearing lately from Washington,” former Israeli army intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said last week that Obama’s “red light” on Israeli attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities “hasn’t changed to green, I think, but it’s definitely yellow.”)

      For now, Obama’s holding off on any Iran moves until he determines if Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is really-really serious about diplomacy.

      But the Arak heavy water facility is scheduled to go “hot” within months — at which point it would be virtually immune to bombings. So the US military threat may soon be nonexistent.

      And as for our North Korea policy — well, we have none.

      How far will the nuclear club grow? With so many less-savory regimes getting The Bomb, it’s going to be tough to keep them from proliferating next to top terror groups.

      We’re fast advancing toward a radical global shift, in which everybody and his uncle will possess history’s most destructive weapons.

      So, yes, War Is Bad For Children And Other Living Things. But no, the policy equivalent of hanging that poster on your dorm-room wall won’t stop it.

    2. Wonderful world that is being handed on to the kids and grandkids.

      So depressing, one is tempted to try and not think about it all.

  12. Snowden: NSA targeted journalists critical of government after 9/11
    By Jonathan Easley - 08/13/13 08:19 AM ET

    Leaker Edward Snowden accused the National Security Agency of targeting reporters who wrote critically about the government after the 9/11 attacks and warned it was “unforgivably reckless” for journalists to use unencrypted email messages when discussing sensitive matters.
    Snowden said in an interview with the New York Times Magazine published Tuesday that he came to trust Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who, along with Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, helped report his disclosure of secret surveillance programs, because she herself had been targeted by the NSA.

    “Laura and [Guardian reporter] Glenn [Greenwald] are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures,” Snowden said for the article, a profile of Poitras.

    Snowden didn’t detail how Poitras was targeted by the NSA surveillance programs he disclosed, but suggested the agency tracked her emails and cautioned other journalists that they could be under surveillance.

    “I was surprised to realize that there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world,” he said. “In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless.”

    Snowden, who at one point in the interview referred to himself as “famously paranoid,” said he came to trust Poitras because she was one of the few journalists “to challenge the excesses of the government” during a time of “heightened nationalism.”

    “After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in American abdicated their role as a check to power – the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government – for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism,” he said.

    “From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy,” he continued. “But what benefitted the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period. Laura and Glenn are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics.”

    Earlier this month, the Russian government granted Snowden temporary asylum. The U.S. government wants the NSA leaker sent back to face trial on espionage charges.

  13. The perils of getting the Clap

    After insisting that the government’s unprecedented capability to monitor communications must be assessed by an independent panel with regards to maintaining the trust of Americans, President Barack Obama has announced the formation of a new review group.

    A memo issued Monday by the White House said: James Clapper, the United States director of national intelligence, will lead a newly formed review group tasked to determine if the US “employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust.”

    1. .

      Completely absurd.

      Clapper, the man who has lied to Congress, who has admitted he lied to Congress, who provided three or four different excuses for lying to Congress will now head up an 'independent panel' on transparency.


      Likely this independent panel will also include Rogers, Feinstein, King, Graham, McCain, and Bolton.

      Does Obama realize just how stupid he looks or does he just not give a shit?



    2. This crapper Clapper guy will be a character in some mocking movie someday.

    3. I’d believe anything he said. He works for the government. I have nothing to hide.

  14. To exist is to stand out from something, as a background, ex-ist.

    As Israel is set aside.
    This tiny nation with so many patents to their name. This has to prove at least a small point of the Nation's "Holiness", or rather their:

    1) apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness

    a) apartness, sacredness, holiness

    1) of God

    2) of places

    3) of things

    b) set-apartness, separateness

  15. >>>Coulter: Ted Cruz might not be eligible for the presidency


    Via Mediaite and MFP, forget the legal niceties about what “natural born” might or should mean and look at this from a court’s perspective. Realistically, no judge is going to disqualify a national figure who stands a real chance of being the nominee of one of the two major parties unless the law leaves them no wiggle room to rule otherwise. Tens of millions of Americans would be willing to vote for Ted Cruz; to strike him from the ballot on a technicality in an ambiguous case would be momentously undemocratic. Against that backdrop, the Supreme Court would almost certainly end up reading “natural born” in the narrowest way, excluding anyone who was born abroad of two non-citizen parents but including everyone else. Cruz, who was born in Canada but whose mother was a U.S. citizen, would qualify, not only for the reason Ace gives here but more broadly because courts don’t want to be seen as hard-ass enforcers of what’s perceived by many to be an unusually archaic bit of the Constitution. They’ll dump a true foreigner because they have to. They don’t have to dump the son of an American citizen like Cruz, so they won’t. Take it to the bank.

    But never mind that. Given the angst and ambiguity over the “natural born” clause in the last two cycles, why not pass an amendment to replace it with something like, say, a 25-year residency requirement? The point of the clause was to make sure that rich foreigners couldn’t cross the ocean and buy their way into the presidency, which wasn’t a baseless concern for a group of former British subjects who worried about loyalists to the throne subverting the revolution. In practice, though, it means that someone who’s born on U.S. soil but lives their entire life abroad, only to return and run for president decades later, is constitutionally more trustworthy than someone like Cruz who was born abroad but has lived his entire life here. Does anyone question whether Ted Cruz, decades later, might be more loyal to Canada than to the U.S.? Right at this moment, House Republicans are gearing up to pass a variation of the DREAM Act that would grant citizenship to illegals who were brought here at a young age by their parents on the theory that the place where you’re raised is more likely to shape your patriotic loyalty than the happenstance of your birth. If those kids are trustworthy enough to help decide at the polls who the president should be, why shouldn’t they be eligible for the presidency themselves? In a democracy, the president is, or should be, drawn from the citizenry. People who take certain draconian disqualifying actions, like committing felonies, are an exception, but what action has Cruz taken? Replace “natural born” with a residency requirement, which gives people the power to prove their loyalty, and you solve that problem.<<<

    Coulter has this mostly right. As a practical matter, the old true definition is gone. Might as well get over it.

    But her solution is 'problematical'. (always love that word)

    A 25 year residency requirement seems too lax. Surely we can demand at least ONE citizen parent. There are plenty of people who have 'just hung around' here for the last 25 years, who aren't even citizens, that would seem to be eligible under her proposal.

    This needs to be thought through further. Surely we can do better than this.

    The old natural born citizen way was best, but it does seem gone. Unless we passed a new amendment reinstating it in no uncertain terms. I'm for that.

    (Ash is still scratching his dear head, picking his dear nose, still trying to figure out the difference between 'birther' and 'borner', as in the past he invariably got the two confused, even after being tutored by yours truly several times)

    1. It's really rough sledding, learnin' Ash anything a-tall.

      Try it sometime.

  16. Hey!

    Cindy (?) Leathers, Carlos Danger's sext slut, is up next on Hannity.

    Don't miss it.

    She is going to say why Carlos liked her more than all the other sexter sluts.

    1. Cindy? Sin-D? Sinny?

      Something like that.

      Last name, Leathers.

    2. .


      She's got her on show on the web.


    3. I like Sunny TV, don't think I'd much like this Sonny.

      I pass.

    4. .

      If so, it likely would be the first time.


    5. ..


      She's got her on show on the web."

      How, ahem, did you come to know so much about her?


  17. President Hamid Karzai has suggested that the man who brought Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan could become the country's next leader, say people familiar with discussions ahead of April's presidential vote.

    Former Islamist warlord Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf has emerged as an unlikely—and, to Western diplomats, unsettling—favorite in recent gatherings that aim to select a consensus candidate.

    1. .

      Twelve years and we are back to square one.


    2. ..

      Should have flattened the whole place and repopulated it with Swiss.


  18. On this day in 1981, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a slew of tax and budget cuts aimed at boosting economic growth.

  19. That Saudi Prince needs a new facial hair designer. Looks like a hungry vampire.

    He obviously has a full time facial hair designer/care giver cause you can't keep yourself that dapper all the time without one. Gets a facial work over while being given his bath in the morning I imagine, before being dressed.

    He just needs a new facial care giver is all. Then he'd be good to go.

    1. Probably got a favorite English wife out of his harem who is urging him to speak up a little.

  20. .

    Intelligence Committee members act as buffers to keep Congress from knowing what the intelligence community is actually doing. In Michigan we have a patriot in Representative Amash and a loser in Rep. Mike Rogers.

    A leader of the US congressional insurrection against the National Security Agency's bulk surveillance programs has accused his colleagues of withholding a key document from the House of Representatives before a critical surveillance vote.

    Justin Amash, the Michigan Republican whose effort to defund the NSA's mass phone-records collection exposed deep congressional discomfort with domestic spying, said the House intelligence committee never allowed legislators outside the panel to see a 2011 document that described the surveillance in vague terms.

    The document, a classified summary of the bulk phone records collection effort justified under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, was declassified by the Obama administration in late July.

    The Justice Department and intelligence agencies prepared it for Congress before a 2011 vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act, and left it for the intelligence committees in Congress to make the document available to their colleagues.

    "It is not acceptable for the intelligence committee, or any other committee, to withhold critically important information pertaining to a program prior to the vote," Amash told the Guardian.


    1. I still can't believe that vote. How anyone could vote against it is beyond me. Our Rep. Simpson is going to be saddled with that vote big time come the elections. Who is hell does he think he is? I doubt there's a hundred Republicans here who would have voted against it. I hope he gets the boot.

  21. .

    The surveillance debate is arguably the most important of our era.

    Yet throughout the surveillance debate, the executive branch, including Obama, has lied, obfuscated, and misled the American people in a variety of ways. Before Edward Snowden's leaks, they could at least tell themselves that the disinformation was serving the purpose of keeping al-Qaeda operates from learning the general contours of our surveillance capabilities. But today, when that excuse has long since expired, Obama is still lying, obfuscating, and misleading the American people. In doing so, he is preventing representative democracy from functioning as well as it might. With the stakes so high, and his performance so dubious in so many places, Friday's speech has got to be one of the low points of his presidency.


  22. In the world of hi-tech gadgetry, I've noticed that more and more
    people who send text messages and emails have long forgotten the art
    of capital letters.

    For those of you who fall into this category, please take note of
    the following statement:

    "Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack
    off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse."

    Is everybody clear on that?

  23. When Scandals Reach Into the Oval Office
    August 14, 2013 By John Ellis 1 Comment

    There is no evidence whatever that the IRS and other scandals reach into the oval office — or so Jay Carney tells us. But is that really so?

    Ben Swann of Fox19 in Cincinnati has a convincing method of figuring out the lowest level at which the IRS scandals must have originated. Starting with the fact that six individual IRS agents sent letters to conservative groups that were essentially similar, Swann suggested a simple way of determining the identity of the senior person who either originated the practice or passed through an order that came from higher up. First, get the names of the people these six were supervised by. If that produces six different names, get the names of the people they were supervised by. Keep doing this until you have a single name — the common supervisor. Swann found that single name: Cindy Thomas.

    Swann’s logic is hard to argue with. But let’s see what happens when we apply his method to the case reported by Peggy Noonan in her May 23 column in the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Noonan explained what happened when in 2010 Catherine Engelbrecht sent applications for tax exempt status to the IRS. “The U.S. government came down on her with full force,” said Noonan:

    In December 2010 the FBI came to ask about a person who’d attended a King Street Patriots function. In January 2011 the FBI had more questions. The same month the IRS audited her business tax returns. In May 2011 the FBI called again for a general inquiry about King Street Patriots. In June 2011 Engelbrecht’s personal tax returns were audited and the FBI called again. In October 2011 a round of questions on True the Vote. In November 2011 another call from the FBI. The next month, more questions from the FBI. In February 2012 a third round of IRS questions on True the Vote. In February 2012 a first round of questions on King Street Patriots. The same month the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms did an unscheduled audit of her business. (It had a license to make firearms but didn’t make them.) In July 2012 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did an unscheduled audit. In November 2012 more IRS questions on True the Vote. In March 2013, more questions. In April 2013 a second ATF audit.

    1. Let’s give this the Ben Swann treatment. We are looking for the common supervisor. How far up the chain do we have to go to find that person? First came harassment by the FBI, which is a part of the Justice Department. But we also have involvement of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, another agency within the Justice Department. To find the common supervisor we have to go higher than the FBI Director and the ATF Director to arrive at the person they both report to: Eric Holder, the Attorney General. So far, Swann’s logic indicates that the order to target and harass conservative groups could not have come from anyone lower than cabinet rank.

      If the IRS and OSHA were also agencies within the Justice Department, we could say no more than that Eric Holder originated or transmitted the order. But that is not so: IRS is a part of the Treasury Department, and OSHA is part of the Department of Labor. When all of this was going on Timothy Geithner was Secretary of the Treasury, and Hilda Solis the Secretary of Labor. The order must therefore have gone through all three cabinet members, but could not have originated with any of the three. Who is their common supervisor? There is only one person who fits that description: the President of the United States. If Swann is right that we must look to Cindy Thomas as the conduit for the order to misuse the IRS for political purposes, then it must also be reasonable to infer that the order to use three departments of the federal government to harass, intimidate, and obstruct the administration’s political opponents came from President Obama himself.

      Evidence is not the same as proof. Proof comes as evidence accumulates. But the fact that Barack Obama is the only common supervisor of all the corrupt activity in various departments of the federal government is certainly compelling evidence. Carney’s insistence that there is no evidence whatever that this scandal goes as high as the oval office is simply wrong.

      This evidence is obviously strong enough to require both Carney and the President himself to answer questions about it. Any questioner should be careful to explain what the stakes are: everyone knows that third world despots typically use all of the resources of the governments they head to weaken and obstruct their political opponents, and to prevent any possibility of a successful electoral challenge. Is that what the President did, and what he thinks is compatible with our system of government?

      John M. Ellis is an emeritus professor and former Dean of the Graduate Division at UC Santa Cruz.

    2. What we've got is a Mr. Super Cool third world would be despot taking our political traditions to a new and much much lower level.

  24. from The Aging Angela Davis Files --

    Angela Davis - “professor emeritus of history of consciousness and feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.”


    >>>>>Rats Are Still Comrades
    August 14, 2013 By Lloyd Billingsley

    “The California prisoners’ hunger strike is a courageous call for the California prison system to come out of the shadows and join a world in which the rights and dignity of every person is respected.”

    That’s the closer of an oped piece by Angela Davis, “professor emeritus of history of consciousness and feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.” There’s a lot more to professor Davis, and her latest cause could also stand some scrutiny.

    Peter Coyote, Susan Sarandon and other Hollywood celebrities have signed a letter of support for prisoners engaged in a hunger strike over conditions in the security housing unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. Professor Davis claims such solitary confinement constitutes “torture.” But according to the liberal editorial board of the Sacramento Bee, which has been critical of Pelican Bay in the past, the stars “ought to save their outrage.”

    The inmates fomenting the hunger strike, who claim their human rights are being violated, “include killers and leaders of the most brutal gangs in the prison system. They are from the Aryan Brotherhood, Black Guerrilla Family, Mexican Mafia and Nuestra Familia.” Prison officials say the hunger strike “has nothing to do with conditions and everything to do with gang leaders wanting to get into the general population so they can more readily conduct their gang business.” The Bee agrees, and adds some detail.

    1. The security housing units are stark, “but it’s not as if they are rat-infested, medieval holes. Many inmates have cellmates and can talk through the locked doors to their neighbors. Pelican Bay inmates have televisions, with 23 channels, including the four broadcast networks, PBS, BET and ESPN, plus educational and self-help channels and Bible channels in English and Spanish.” Inmates have to “work” to get in such units. That is, they commit acts of violence. “For the safety of other inmates,” the Bee said, “that’s where some of them should remain.”

      These are “gang leaders who masquerade as human rights advocates” and the celebrities “diminish their credibility” by embracing their cause. As readers of this profile will understand, it’s a bit different for Angela Davis, who does have some knowledge of violent prisoners such as Black Panther George Jackson, responsible for killing a guard at Soledad Prison.

      As this article described it, Davis brought the “arsenal of weapons” to spring Jackson. On August 7, 1970, “George Jackson’s 17-year-old brother, Jonathan, charged into a Marin County courtroom and took several people hostage, including Judge Harold Haley, the prosecuting assistant DA, and two jurors. The assailants taped a sawed-off shotgun (owned by Davis) to Haley’s chin. In the ensuing escape attempt, a shootout took place during which Haley’s head was blown off, and Jonathan Jackson was killed.”

      Davis fled but was arrested in New York. At her 1972 trial more than 20 witnesses implicated her in the plot to free Jackson, but she was acquitted. That made her a national figure and helped launch her political career.

      In 1979, she won the International Lenin Peace Prize, awarded by East Germany, a totalitarian state that shot people for the crime of attempting to leave the country, a practice Davis never criticized. The Lenin Peace Prize helped her rise in the Communist Party USA, a creation of the Soviet Union, whose vast Gulag prison system never bothered Angela Davis, a faithful soldier in totalitarianism’s alibi armory.

      In 1980 and 1984 Davis was CPUSA vice-presidential candidate, on the bottom of the ticket under white Stalinist Gus Hall. She and Hall lost, but that defeat, her advocacy for totalitarian dictatorships, and her involvement in Soledad case, could not prevent Davis from becoming professor of history of consciousness and feminist studies at UC Santa Cruz. As such, Angela Davis is a highly paid and pensioned member of California’s ruling class. She is also, like the Pelican Bay hunger strikers, masquerading as human rights activist. But on another level, her activism makes perfect sense.

      In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the question arises about the place in the revolution of wild, non-domesticated creatures. The revolutionary leaders decide that, yes, rats are comrades. Likewise, in the view from the Hollywood and academic Left, violent criminals like the Pelican Bay gang bosses are simply more victims of capitalist injustice. That’s why Hollywood stars and Angela Davis support them.<<<<<

      Nice picture of Aging Angela included.