Thursday, December 31, 2009

Israel next challenge: make the cities bloom? [Israeli Palestinian conflict]

Israel's next challenge: making the cities bloom?

I groaned upon reading travel writer Paul Theroux’s supportive portrayal of young Vietnamese "getting rich selling rice" now that the Americans have long gone, in his “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star". You don’t get rich selling rice I smirked; you get rich selling Samsungs and Kias like another Asian country where we Americans managed to hang on.

Suddenly I caught the parallel between the ignorantly satisfied Vietnamese rice peddlers and every bit as foolishly joyous Israeli olive grove purloiners – said groves purloined at a national cost of pain and strain which could have produced one of earth’s leading industrial and technological lights just as easily as it has produced one of the world's ever more despised military powers, ever more challenged to hold on to those olive groves.

WWII Germany at the height of its menace never possessed the like of 3000 Merkva and M-60 tanks (built 1350 Tigers), 400 F-15s and F-16s and reputedly 400 (!) nuclear bombs. How much world class industrial strain does it take to produce even one such explosive? Ask Iran – a giant nation compared to Israel – which may now be straining with all it's might to produce a single one. It took the US's vast postwar nuclear electric power industry to supply material needed to produce its many weapons.

"Made the desert bloom!" Really new immigrant stuff: compares to the joy of owning your very own taxi cab in a free Western city. Israel’s native born would have appreciated much more an economic/technological miracle in their cities. Had Israel gone the "legit" economic route when the UN ceded 55% of Palestine to the Jews, its kids might have afforded to BUY all the olive groves they wanted anywhere in the world by now – and everyone including the Palestinians would be sanely happy.

A billion Arabs supposedly long to drive Israel into the sea – so Israel must maintain a world class military anyway – with half the population of the city of Buenos Aires? Even that won't be enough once Israel’s Mid-East neighborhood goes nuclear – not if the Arabs really do want to push Israel into the sea. Just one unexploded nuke left to be discovered in a Tel Aviv alley could be enough to empty all of Israel on the quick (click here for further explanation) under its present inadequate defense arrangements with the US (visions of delirious Palestinians dancing in Tel Aviv’s streets).

Only major US military bases on Israel’s soil in the context of a mutual defense treaty such as the US has with Japan or in the context of a “compact of free association” such as the US has with Micronesia can make Israel secure against conventional powers without Israel forever using up the last of its capital, human and otherwise, just to keep breathing or against hostile nuclear powers against whom Israel can have no defense of its own. No one tells the 800 pound gorilla to "move over."

But, the US will no way base the smallest military force in Israel for as long as Israel maintains a single controversial settlement in the West Bank or even in East Jerusalem – or ever more successfully mounts its starve-em-out siege of Gaza (see details of the latter below *). More and more Americans are waking to the realization that on 9/11 the US essentially traded skyscrapers for settlements – especially in the ruthless lights of Lebanon II and Operation Cast Lead.

What would be in an ethical (and just incidentally more prosperous) Israel for the US? Not trading any more skyscrapers for settlements is a good start. Not living with the potential of a nuclear blow out in the Middle-East finding its way to Manhattan is even better. Just shutting down Israel’s abominable ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as Al Quaeda's chief recruiting magnet would be worth the price of admission for US military basing in Israel alone.

[ * Check out Egypt finalizing its end of the tunnel-proof "iron wall" to forever seal off Gaza's 1.5 million already half-starved Palestinians from the earth at]

[ For an Israeli "psychological check up" check out]

LINK -- Abundant, safer THORIUM takes the place of uranium reactor fuel?

Abundant, safer THORIUM takes the place of uranium reactor fuel?

Monday, December 7, 2009

On California's supposedly insurmountable deficit

California's supposedly insurmountable deficit...
...amounts to about $1,000 a year per each of its 38 million citizens. Should not be as REPUBLICAN governor Arnold seems determined that even the very poorest and most destitute can afford to lose $1000 a year in food and rent welfare benefits as their share of the solution: an almost exactly equal per capita share. What about the rest of our good citizens; are they willing to pony up for what their state spends?

["Together the cuts would eliminate $1.324 billion in grant payments to more than 1.3 million Californians between May 2009 and June 2010."]

Friday, December 4, 2009

Disband the US Senate: end "cheap seats" via internal state secessions

End "cheap seats" in US Senate: via internal state secessions:

West Virginia seceded from the rest of the state in 1860, as soon as the US Civil War began -- creating two extra US Senators in the post era war.

Quoth the US Constitution, Article IV, section 3: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

I would reconstitute the US Senate -- at least for openers; allowing future democratic rethinking -- with one senator for every two million population. California for example would break itself up into nine smaller states for a total US Senate representation of 18. One senator to two million would add up to 160 US Senators overall in my calculations.
A reconstituted US Senate could pass a constitutional amendment instituting a new representation formula (one per two million?) -- then the states could by prearrangement reconstitute themselves into their traditional form.

Lilliputian state senators might filibuster any such movement to death? Many senators who applaud the Lilliputians come from states with huge -- and not so unprogressive -- populations (e.g., Texas, pop. 24,000,000) and might have trouble explaining to their constituents why they don't support more fairly democratic representation. Many Lilliputian states are ideologically progressive (e.g., Maine, pop. 670,000) and would go along in the interest of putting the nation as a whole on a progressive path. If nothing else a national movement to at last put the "greatest legislature in the world" on a truly representative basis would provide extraordinary moral pressure on the recalcitrant.

Allowing small population states to keep two senators is not perfectly democratic but is not very scary sounding either. Automatic salesmanship: one big population state just has to begin and the race will to make sure no heavily (normally) populated state's US Senate representation is left behind.

Sounds like a good proposition for one of the California democratic voter propositions (I'd call it "Prop. 160").