April 23, 2014

The Potential for Civil Unrest Here and Those Russian Idiots …

Not much organized thought going on here at C2 over the past week, but I do think you ought to read and consider a couple of things.

Peak Oil, the Economy and the Potential for Civil Unrest

From the End is Near Department, Tom Whipple of the Falls Church News-Press is ending the year with a column on the potential for civil unrest here in the U.S.  Check it out.  Whipple has been studying and writing on Peak Oil for years.  There is a growing number of folks out there who believe that the U.S. is ill-equipped and has waited too long to develop and implement an energy policy which takes us from the Oil Age to whatever will be the next energy economy.  From farmers’ fields to the long commutes many of us make to get to suburbia to work every day, so much is dependent on oil.  So much of that oil is now supplied from sketchy parts of the world.  The theory goes that as the world’s supply of oil peaks – and it will (or has) – the society’s ride on the downside slope will be difficult and long; again, because we’re not prepared with an alternative(s). 

Writers like Whipple, James Howard Kunstler and Matt Savinar to name a few believe that this post-peak period will be a test for America that could include civil unrest.  You can read about these issues in many places and make up your own mind.  I tend to think that rather than years or decades of unrest and awful economic pain, we may be looking at years of discomfort.  I accept Whipple’s final paragraph:

America has not faced a serious domestic crisis for 150 years. We have never faced a situation where 300 million of us bound up in a complex and interdependent society has had to make major involuntary changes in our lifestyles.

I’m Beginning to Think the Russians are Bigger Blockheads Than I Once Believed

A recent poll by a popular Russian TV station found that Josef Stalin was the third favorite Russian (he was actually Georgian) of all time. He was beaten by a medieval prince and an early 20th century prime minister.

Among the greatest butchers of history, Stalin ranks right up there with China’s Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and Germany’s Adolf Hitler. What’s the problem with the Russian people? Fifty million votes were cast in the poll – I have no idea as to the control over how those votes were cast. You can read about it here and here.

Russia today announced they are preparing to halt natural gas supplies to the Ukraine.  From the New York Times:

The transit of Russian natural gas across former Soviet states to Western Europe is a pivotal economic and security interest of the Russian government as taxes on exports of oil and natural gas account for about 60 percent of the budget.

About 80 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe, meanwhile, cross Ukrainian territory.

Customers include major European utilities like Germany’s E.On and the Italy’s Eni.

This is a rather aggressive move, especially in the wake of the conflict Georgia earlier this year.  It would be one thing for Russia to make a move like this and affect only one of its former Soviet republics.  It’s an entirely different matter if Western Europe pays an economic price.

With everything President Obama will be dealing with after January 20, I hope he’s saved some of his and others’ brainpower for Putin and Medvedev.  These guys are half-cocked and dangerous.

Maybe Super Prosecutor Fitzgerald Screwed Up

burrisLots of hand-wringing going on today about whether or not Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s senate appointment has “standing” or whether the Illinois Secretary of State or Senate Majority Leader will derail the appointment.

The only dispassionate view to be heard was former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson on NPR’s All Things Considered.  He points out that the Governor is still governor, he’s not been impeached and Illinois law states that he has the authority and duty to make the appointment.  Thompson also points out that the Secretary of State’s duty to certify the governor’s appointment is only administrative under law – Jesse White, the official in question, doesn’t have discretionary authority.  He’s just a pass through.  Finally, Thompson – who is an attorney – said that the U.S. Supreme Court decided decades ago that senators may only contest the seating of a new senator under questions of age, citizenship or residency.  Any attorneys or jailhouse lawyers out there can comment.

Thompson also made another point.  This January will see the 111th Congress considering legislation of greater than usual importance.  The country is in two wars and a recession.  The financial system is still in intensive care and what’s left of our manufacturing sector is a ship dead in the water.  Illinois deserves its full complement in Congress.

Unfortunately, the only way to get there is for the governor of Illinois to make the appointment.

This all got me thinking about what’s made Blago a household name outside of Oak Park and Evansville.  Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been investigating the governor by some accounts since 2003.  Fitzgerald gets some juicy stuff on tape and makes the arrest, holds the press conference.  My question is, did Fitzgerald move too soon?

There’s a lot of unnecessary drama unfolding in Springfield and Chicago if the Illinois governor tried to sell a senate seat.  Or, does the Illinois governor just have a big, foul mouth?  Should Fitzgerald have waited for a deal to be made?  If this was a better movie, the good guys would’ve had the money exchange hands on tape and then G-Men would’ve burst through doors and swung in through the windows on ropes.

But, instead, we’ve got f-bombs on tape and one big-mouth, preening politician being himself – a douche bag.  If there was more to Fitzgerald’s case, perhaps the governor would’ve resigned by now or there would be more for the Illinois legislature to work with in impeachment proceedings.

If what they say about Roland Burris is true – that he’s an upstanding public servant not tainted by Chicago’s political cesspool – perhaps the wise thing to do is let the man take his seat unencumbered in the Senate.  Just forget that Captain Hairbrush appointed him, put it out of your mind.  The people of Illinois do deserve both of their votes in the Senate, don’t they?

Transcript: Rod Blagojevich appoints Roland Burris to U.S. Senate | With Bobby Rush | December 30, 2008

(Source: CNN)

GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you very much.

Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. Happy new year. Feliz navidad y prospero ano nuevo.

The people of Illinois are entitled to have two United States senators represent them in Washington, D.C.

As governor, I am required to make this appointment. If I don’t make this appointment, then the people of Illinois will be deprived of their appropriate voice and vote in the United States Senate.

Therefore, I am here to announce my intention to appoint an individual who has unquestioned integrity, extensive experience, and is a wise and distinguished senior statesman of Illinois. This man actually once was an opponent of mine for governor.

(LAUGHTER)

So I’m here today to announce that I am appointing Roland Burris as the next United States senator from the Illinois.

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Video: Meet the Press | December 28 | Livni, Axelrod & Predictions from Panel


Transcript: David Axelrod on ‘Meet the Press’ | December 28, 2008

(Source: NBC’s Meet the Press)

MR. GREGORY:  And turning back home, we are now joined from Chicago by senior adviser to President-elect Obama, David Axelrod.  Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

MR. DAVID AXELROD:  Thanks, David.  Good to be here.

MR. GREGORY:  What is the president-elect’s position on this offensive against Gaza by Israel?

MR. AXELROD:  Well, obviously, it’s a very serious situation.  He spent some time on the phone with Secretary Rice yesterday, and he is monitoring the situation.  But we’ve said repeatedly through this transition period that we–there’s only one president at a time, and President Bush speaks for the United States of America until January 20th, and we’re going to honor that moving forward.

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