Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snuffed in Copenhagen, States in Big Deficit Trouble, Fun With Iran

Mehdi Khalaji
Tobin Harshaw
Amy Siskind

"While Copenhagen may fall far short of the deal we need, leaders know voters are not prepared to change their lifestyle. Despair is not acceptable, but it may be inevitable. " - Polly Toynbee
“It sounds very vague. There’s no next step, nothing to link through to how to get a final deal done.” - John Lanchbery
“It is now evident that beating global warming will require a radically different model of politics than the one on display here in Copenhagen” - John Sauven

Ok, did anyone really think that 120 nations would get together and agree on anything? Everyone knows that in any meeting the actual business gets done in the first five minutes, the rest of the time is spent massaging people's egos... Barack Obama didn't need to attend a lot of meetings all week long, all he had to do was jet in, go to one meeting that they were trying to hide from him, and hammer out a tentative agreement that makes him look good: "President Barack Obama burst into a meeting of Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders to try and reach a climate agreement in late Friday negotiations in Copenhagen.

Chinese protocol officials objected to Obama's presence in the meeting, according to a senior administration official, who said that the president didn't want the leaders negotiating in secret." Of course, Hillary earlier pledging another $100 billion that we don't have must have helped...
"The Big Winner: Barack Obama: Active and unconventional personal diplomacy enabled President Obama to dominate the global summit like no other figure. Whatever you think of the result, this showed who the most important world leader really is." - Walter Russell Mead
Most of that money will probably go to countries like Brazil and others who wanted to get paid to stop deforesting the tropical rainforests that produce most of our planet's oxygen. None of the big economic countries want to reduce the comfort level of their living standards to benefit the poorer, developing countries, so anger, frustration, and prejudice were the main products of the Copenhagen conference.

I'm surprised that no-one addressed the drought that is now affecting the Middle East and Northern Africa. If it keeps up for a few more years there will be mass migrations out of the region, making the religious and political struggles instantly vanish in their search for water and food... But, as the UN says, hey, it's a start...

buying off another senator...
It looks like Nebraska's Senator, Ben Nelson, has been successfully bought off, and the health care bill will go on the floor for a vote. It's undergoing frantic last minute changes to pacify both the right and the left, and will probably look like a mess. The only thing guaranteed is that the insurance and drug companies will have won, and Barack Obama's ratings will rise with the New Year. The GOP may have spent all of its energy and will limp into the 2010 elections like a deflated balloon. But they will still win seats in the election because the budget deficit on the state level keeps on growing, and it always creates a backlash against the party who is in power: “The shortfall is emerging as forecasts and data catch up to reality,” says Nicholas Johnson, a co-author of the CBPP analysis. “Some states haven’t done an official budget projection since last spring,” says Mr. Johnson, who is director of the organization’s state fiscal project. This past spring, most states were still trying to recover from trying to fill their 2009 budget gaps. Many used rainy-day funds and one-time gimmicks, and they borrowed as much as their constitutions allowed. Some, such as Connecticut, North Carolina, and Hawaii, raised taxes on the highest-income residents.

The stimulus package passed by Congress in February helped states cover 30 to 40 percent of their shortfall. But revenues have continued to decline for most states. For fiscal year 2010, CBPP estimates, 48 states are facing budget shortfalls that total $190 billion. (This figure includes the new gap of about $34 billion.)

The following year is not much brighter, with some 41 states anticipating deficits. Initial estimates for 2011 put the gap at $97 billion, but Johnson estimates that the shortfalls are likely to be closer to $180 billion. “By then, we will have seen the end of the federal aid,” he says."

Much of the state deficits are intertwined with unemployment, and it will remain above 10%, projected to last until after 2011. Gee, I'm so glad that Wall Street is bouncing back and their employees will once again receive huge bonuses, while the crime rate and domestic violence rate climbs sky-high. Maybe I should go back and read that Russian writer, Ayn Rand, she'll make things appear much better...

still crazy after all these years...
The recent events happening in Iran don't make any sense, and illustrates how divided the country really is. They want to put 3 American hikers on mock trial over trumped up charges that no-one in the rest of the world will take seriously, except maybe Italy. Next, 12 prison workers are being put on trial for abusing, possibly raping and killing prisoners after the first protests after the election. Right wing extremists are foaming at the mouth over a poster of the Ayatollah Khomenei that may have been ripped apart and shown on Iranian television, or it may have been doctored in Photoshop by the government trying to gain sympathy for its storm-trooper tactics.

The Revolutionary Guards are still so worked up that they went over the border into Iraq and forcibly took over a working oil well, then denied all accusations, defying all logical explanations Troops from both countries are heading towards the disputed region, the oil field is shared between them, and who knows what may develop next even though both countries have vowed to work their way out diplomatically. This would be Shia nation against Shia nation, leaving one to wonder which side Syria will be forced to support, with the Sunnis and Kurds sitting down to tea and a hubble-bubble, watching Malicki and Ahmadinejad scramble to save face... And it may escalate horribly by tomorrow morning.

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