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Bush Laterals to Obama. Mid-East Peace

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don't fumble my legacy, dude

don't fumble my legacy, dude

Among all the other total disasters Bush is handing over to Obama is the small matter of finding peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the current attacks on Gaza are part of an old school of thought. The future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a completely new landscape.

Benny Morris, a prominent historian of Israeli History wrote a superb primer on Israel’s current predicament in the New York Times. To sum it up, Israel faces unconventional enemies in both Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza, as well as the looming threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the demographic ticking time bomb of the increasingly radicalized and fast growing Arab-Israeli population that is likely to outnumber the Israeli Jews by 2040 or 2050. Read the rest of this entry »

Bush Laterals to Obama. Mid-East Peace

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Among all the other total disasters Bush is handing over to Obama is the small matter of finding peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the current attacks on Gaza are part of an old school of thought. The future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a completely new landscape.

Benny Morris, a prominent historian of Israeli History wrote a superb primer on Israel’s current predicament in the New York Times. To sum it up, Israel faces unconventional enemies in both Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza, as well as the looming threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the demographic ticking time bomb of the increasingly radicalized and fast growing Arab-Israeli population that is likely to outnumber the Israeli Jews by 2040 or 2050.

These days Palestinians might just be playing the long game. They could try to simply wait out the Israelis, keeping up the pressure, sustaining the kind of damage and degradation that will keep their populations radicalized, and then force the Jewish State into either apartheid or a single-state solution, which would be a stepping stone in their eyes to the destruction of Israel. For the Jews, a single state solution would not be a solution at all. Jews would be the minority in an Arab State which would most likely dismantle the trappings of Israeli democracy after securing power, and attempt to assert its power over the Jews perhaps to the point of revenge. It’s hard to imagine Israel giving up its military power, nuclear weapons, and liberal democratic traditions without a fight, even if democracy in its purest form has to take a back seat to their self-preservation.

Israel will do everything in their power to scuttle a single state solution. They have no choice but to seek a two-state solution while there is still time. The Two state approach is a huge advantage for Israel. A Palestinian state is likely to be a client of Israel’s before long, wholly reliant on them economically. Arab states will no longer be able to use anger at treatment of the Palestinians as a cover for suppressing their own populations, and Israel’s demographic problems will be solved for once and for all. They will drop the Palestinians very fast. Not only that, but the inevitable power struggle between Fatah and Hamas for control of the new state (and whether it’s merely a stepping stone to the destruction of Israel or the end of the conflict) will severely weaken the nascent state. With new found peace, Israel can unleash the potential of its technological and economic power.

But the closer the demographic race in Israel becomes without the creation of a viable Palestinian state, the less likely the Palestinians will be to opt for one. By 2020, the year zero of Israeli Democracy might only be twenty years away and the two state solution might seem like second best for the Palestinians. They may be more likely to just stall the idea. It’s an approach that won’t look much different to the one that they use now.

Obama will likely be President until 2016, and it will be on his watch that the defining diplomacy in the region will take place. At its heart, the issue is simple. Can the Palestinians be convinced that a two-state solution is their best bet, or will they hold out for almost certain chaos by waiting for a single state approach?

American Foreign Policy will be far better served if a Palestinian state sits alongside Israel. A single state trajectory is fraught with unpredictable and unpalatable scenarios for the US. But the longer the Palestinians stall, the sweeter the two-state deal will have to be to tempt them, and the more likely the Israeli public will oppose the idea.

Unless the Israeli government succeeds in introducing the threat of a single-state solution as a way of moving the voting public in favor of two-state approach, Obama and his team will have to help to refocus them. And the only serious way to do that is with tough love. It would be a risky move, but removing US military and financial support for Israel might just make Israel realize that its future lies in accommodation.

Among other concessions, Israel will have to share Jerusalem, it will have to link the West Bank to Gaza, it will have to resettle its West Bank settlers in Israel proper (unless they wish to live under Palestinian rule), and it will have to support and supply the new Palestine. It will never agree to the Palestinian right of return – which would be tantamount to capitulating to a single state solution voluntarily.

Israel will be forced to make concessions. Many will regard them as unfair, but the demographic realities trump everything else. Obama has to convince the Israelis and Palestinians that their best deal is now.

Abba Eban, the father of Israeli Foreign Policy, once said famously that “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” For many years those words rang true, but it’s frightening possibility that Eban’s wisdom may no longer be relevant. Perhaps the Palestinians’ best opportunity now lies in continuing to miss them.

Written by coolrebel

December 30, 2008 at 10:28 am

Enough With The Kennedys Already

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you wanna see my resume?

you wanna see my resume?

Ted Kennedy, one of the scions of the family, is sadly unlikely to serve much longer in the Senate. Before this week when his niece Caroline decided she’d kind of like to be a Senator too, that would have left only one Kennedy left in Congress, Ted’s son Patrick, elected as a Congressman for Rhode Island in 1994, at the highly qualified age of 27. Since then he’s driven drunk into the Capitol building, and checked in to rehab for an Oxycontin addiction, both sterling qualificiations to be a Kennedy in Congress, no doubt. His signature achievement appears to be, well, being a Kennedy.

To suggest there are double standards for the Kennedys is just too shocking for words to many, but at least the raw political savegery that put Sarah Palin into a position of prominence has nothing whatsoever to do with her name or family. Caroline Kennedy just gets to make a phone call to be considered for an “appointment” to office. Palin at least had to be elected Governor of Alaska. One can understand LBJ’s feelings about the Kennedy’s. He was a poor boy from Texas made good. The Kennedys were America’s blessed, for reasons which to some extent remain a mystery. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

December 18, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Obama is Using Rick Warren and That’s Smart

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aren't they sweet together. not

aren't they sweet together. not

Rick Warren is a more agreeable and far smarter version of Focus on the Family’s repugnant James Dobson. If you’re going to try and turn the country into some kind of boring Christian nation, you don’t harangue people to do it, like Dobson. You have to jolly them towards the Rapture, with a Starbucks latte and a good time.

Warren is, sadly, a very influential man in certain quarters. He will look upon his appearance at Obama’s inauguration as a huge victory for his roly-poly propaganda approach. He’ll stir up his troops in favor of the new President, he’ll be able to show nice pix of him blessing the new Prez, and he’ll be able to say, look what kind of influence I have. It’s a huge ego trip for him.

Oh, and he’s being used by Obama quite brilliantly. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

December 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Enough With The Kennedys Already

with one comment

Ted Kennedy, one of the scions of the family, is sadly unlikely to serve much longer in the Senate. Before this week when his niece Caroline decided she’d kind of like to be a Senator too, that would have left only one Kennedy left in Congress, Ted’s son Patrick, elected as a Congressman for Rhode Island in 1994, at the highly qualified age of 27. Since then he’s driven drunk into the Capitol building, and checked in to rehab for an Oxycontin addiction, both sterling qualificiations to be a Kennedy in Congress, no doubt. His signature achievement appears to be, well, being a Kennedy.

To suggest there are double standards for the Kennedys is just too shocking for words to many, but at least the raw political savegery that put Sarah Palin into a position of prominence has nothing whatsoever to do with her name or family. Caroline Kennedy just gets to make a phone call to be considered for an “appointment” to office. Palin at least had to be elected Governor of Alaska. One can understand LBJ’s feelings about the Kennedy’s. He was a poor boy from Texas made good. The Kennedys were America’s blessed, for reasons which to some extent remain a mystery.

Oddly enough, for a first family, they certainly are a blighted lot. One secret lobotomy (how very regal of them), two assassinations and a slew of airplane crashes, as well as a rape acquittal, various stints in rehab, and a fatal car accident (for the passenger that is). The ones that dodged the Kennedy’s usual fate have ended up in mediocre positions at best. And yet, the American Aristocratic myth bizarrely persists. The one President they had among them was famous for a failed invasion of Cuba, the beginning of the Vietnam quagmire, and okay, defusing the Missile Crisis. Not much to speak of at home at all. Why all the fuss? Because his dad was a bootlegger, and social climber, because Jack dated Marilyn Monroe? It’s hard to know. And yet the myth persisted.

But even if Caroline is appointed to be Senator, and it certainly seems possible she will be despite opposition to the idea, the Kennedy mythology should finally begin to fade in the next few years, as America lurches into the future, and the surviving generation of Kennedy’s is astonishing by virtue only of its ordinariness. Of course, the irony is that in Illinois, the sale of a Senate seat is the centerpiece of a scandal. The fact that Caroline Kennedy’s last name clearly could be buying her one too seems to attract little notice. She’s a perfectly decent woman of average charisma, intellect and appeal. It’s a wild guess but if the same woman was named Caroline something other than Kennedy, I doubt Governor Patterson would even be taking her call.

But then who needs qualifications to be a senator these days.

Written by coolrebel

December 18, 2008 at 7:18 am

Obama is Using Rick Warren and That’s Smart

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Rick Warren is a more agreeable and far smarter version of Focus on the Family’s repugnant James Dobson. If you’re going to try and turn the country into some kind of boring Christian nation, you don’t harangue people to do it, like Dobson. You have to jolly them towards the Rapture, with a Starbucks latte and a good time.

Warren is, sadly, a very influential man in certain quarters. He will look upon his appearance at Obama’s inauguration as a huge victory for his roly-poly propaganda approach. He’ll stir up his troops in favor of the new President, he’ll be able to show nice pix of him blessing the new Prez, and he’ll be able to say, look what kind of influence I have. It’s a huge ego trip for him.

Oh, and he’s being used by Obama quite brilliantly.

Progressives whine about the distasteful quality of Warren blessing the new boss, but to use a phrase from Obama’s playbook, “they just don’t get it”. If ever there was a sign that Obama might just be talking bipartisan BS, rather than believing in it, this may be it. He chose to have Warren at the Inauguration, not because he likes the guy, but because he wants to get the support of the millions of people in Republican congressional districts and states for his agenda. Sure, heĀ  uses the political cover of “disagreeing without being disagreeable” as political cover, but this is effective GOP busting politics. Just imagine, the President runs up a policy that the GOP in Congress just hates. They vow to crush the initiative, filibuster, you name it. Then the emails start coming in. “Obama is a great Christian, and he’s a friend of Rick”. “If it’s good enough for Rick, it’s good enough for us, and on and on.” Suddenly, the ground under the average GOP footsoldier in the house is gone, and he’s softening his line on that progressive initiative.

Voila.

And what about Rick? Having been duped, does he backslide and look thoroughly un-Christian about the President, or does he accept the fact that he’s been out-maneuvered. My guess is that Warren’s ego is too important to the guy for him to risk even looking remotely bad, so he’ll probably go along with the gag to look good.

Politics is not a pretty business. Obama’s already told us he’s happy talking to the enemy. Most people think he means Ahmadinajad, but Rick Warren qualifies too. Progressives need to get a sense of the real world, rather than hanging their hats on issues the whole time.

Written by coolrebel

December 18, 2008 at 5:25 am

Federal and State Deficits – Out of Sync

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this 17 carat gold railroad spike was pounded into the ground by Leland Stanford at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869, to commemorate the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads to complete the first Transcontinental Railroad.

This 17 carat gold railroad spike was pounded into the ground by Leland Stanford at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869, to commemorate the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads to complete the first Transcontinental Railroad.

America was built on Infrastructure. Take the Railroad Era, for example. Infrastructure represents a short term economic boost and long term economic investment. Just ask your average railroad baron. So If you agree that infrastructure spending is a keystone of economic recovery in the United States, then you’re likely to agree that, a) both the Federal and State Governments are critical to infrastructure spending, and b) that concerns about the deficits have to take a back seat to economic recovery.

That is clearly already true about the Federal Deficit. We’re going to hit a trillion a year pretty soon, and we’re going to be spending way more. The economy is so bad, and deflation such a risk, that printing money seems like a very attractive option. Sheets of the stuff will be churned out. The Mint will be working overtime.

But what about the states? Many States are constitutionally mandated to balance their budgets, including California. And none of them print their own money. States have to raise money from taxes, borrow it, or sell bonds to finance themselves. The first of these is a nasty option politically, especially during an economic squeeze, the second is tough sledding, and the third is deeply unattractive for investors. Which leaves the States in a terrific crisis. Among the many things that suffer are – guess what, infrastructure projects, the very lifeblood of the Keynesian (boy, is he back with a vengeance) recovery.

Problem? Uhh, yeah. Read the rest of this entry »