Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear America:

"Pay no attention to the hundred million seniors and poor on government Medicare and Medicaid already, or the 45 million with no health care whatsoever...Obama's going to ruin health care in the US with his big government approach!"

--Sally Pipes, WSJ

The Carrot And Stick Approach

We're now getting to the point of Israel's Operation Cast Lead where the current status quo, in this case Israeli air strikes, are all but exhausted as a tactical and political option. Valuable tactical targets will have moved or have already been hit, and politically the pressure on Israel to cease fire from both within and externally has grown considerably. The longer this goes on, the more Israel stands to lose.

With reports of Israeli forces interfering with humanitarian aid and the conflict giving Hamas a reason to be in the spotlight, the Israelis are considering calling a 48 hour truce to give humanitarian efforts a chance to work...but also to give Israel the opportunity to prepare a major ground offensive.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that Israel's military offensive on the Gaza Strip would continue for as long as necessary to achieve the goals of the defense establishment against the ruling Hamas regime.

"The Gaza offensive has begun and will not end.... until our goals our reached, we are continuing according to the plan," Olmert said.

The prime minister's statement came in response to reports that defense officials intended to recommend a 48-hour truce to abate the war against Hamas and embark on a temporary truce before it became necessary to begin a significant ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The thing is, Israel now either has to commit to withdrawal or a major ground invasion in the next few days. Hamas is betting it can declare victory in either situation once again. Given the tough talk out of Olmert over the last few days, it looks like that ground offensive is a very distinct possibility.

Things could very quickly get a lot worse, and we've still got three weeks until Obama is even sworn in.

The Right Way, The Wrong Way, And The Blago Way

The Blago way in this case naming a successor to Obama's Senate seat and daring the world to do something about it.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected Tuesday to name former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate, CNN affiliates the Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV reported, citing sources familiar with the decision.

Burris' appointment would fill President-elect Barack Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich is to announce his choice at a news conference at 3 p.m. ET.

Burris, 71, is African-American. According to the newspaper, he expressed interest in the Senate seat shortly after the November 4 election.

The news comes as Democratic leaders in the Senate warned that they would reject any Senate pick made by Blagojevich, who faces criminal charges.

So, with Blagojevich calling the Dems bluff, the ball's firmly in Obama's court now. If he approves of Burris, he looks like an ass for backing Blago, plus Burris can never live down the appointment scandal. If Obama rejects Burris he looks like an ass for dumping on one of Obama's own political heroes and it'll be clear that Blago will simply try again, and if he does nothing, he looks like an ass for doing nothing.

Harry Reid basically is saying Blago can go to hell.
The Senate will not seat Roland Burris if Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich attempts to appoint him, a Democratic leadership aide said.

Majority Leader Harry Reid views Burris as "unacceptable," the aide said.

The die, as they say, is cast.

PS: Hey Harry, where was this sudden backbone six months ago on FISA?

[UPDATE] Blago has balls. Real balls.

"Please don't allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man," Blagojevich said.

House Of Pain

CNN is reporting the Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 US markets fell a record 18 percent for October. The CSI is always about six weeks behind the times, but the numbers are still bad bad bad given that the effect of the housing markets on the rest of the economy can reverberate for months down the road.

If housing prices are still falling (and this confirms they are and will be well into 2009) there's no real chance at recovery for the economy in the forseeable future.

Year-End Clearance

It's "Predictions for 2009" time 'round the 'net, and we start with the Frog Pond's ertswhile Steven D's pretty detailed list of what he thinks will go down in '09. Highlights:
* Unemployment (real unemployment, not the massaged numbers the media reports) will hit 20% or more in the USA this Spring.

* Corporate Bankruptcies will hit record numbers and will include many, many major retailers, and automobile related companies, including one or more of the Big 3 (Chrysler and GM especially).

* Automotive Lobbyists will scream loudly to change the bankruptcy code to make Chapter 11 (the reorganization provisions) more corporate friendly and less labor friendly. Expect those to pass easily.

* Individual bankruptcies and foreclosures will also increase spectacularly. Do not expect much relief for homeowners, individuals and small businesses, however. Senate Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats will see to that.

* Health Care Reform will pass, but it will be too little, and provide too many bones for Big Pharma and the Health Insurance companies to be of any real benefit to most Americans. Health Care costs will continue to rise for most people.

But the gobsmacker is that there's a couple of pretty disturbing social predictions that I see as plausible enough to explore further:
* Riots will break out this summer in one or more major American cities. The causes could be unemployment, food shortages, hot weather, racial animus, anger at police violence, or all of the above.

* The number of assassination threats against Obama will skyrocket. The FBI and Secret Service will break up more than one serious conspiracy. Other political figures will also see increased numbers of death threats with the risk that various politicians or other prominent leaders will be killed.

* Food shortages may occur later in the year, particularly of produce.

Considering this morning's StupidiNews story on a US Army War College professor gaming out scenarios where this sort of thing happens and the US military's role should include the effort "to rapidly determine the parameters defining the legitimate use of military force inside the United States", it's worth considering the effects of that.

Things are already pretty bad in a number of major American cities. Facing another year of draconian state and local budget cuts greatly affecting law enforcement, mass layoffs continuing across the country, and real unemployment approaching one in five if not one in four Americans, I happen to think there's a significant amount of merit to the prediction of shortages, unrest, and some sort of major incident occurring in a US city in 2009 or 2010.

I'll have my own predictions up in the next day.


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