Friday, April 30, 2010

Drill Baby, Drill

What we are waiting for is Sarah Palin 'chutzpah' on Gulf of Mexico oil spill - 'make responsible parties to pay the bill and Obama Administration needs to do their job of better inspection'. That is coming since with this classic fiasco unfolding in Gulf of Mexico, GOP & Tea Party demand of 'offshore drilling' is completely exposed, thoroughly debunked and the only way for them to argue now is to start blaming Obama since those folks do not know 'logic and reasoning'.

But enough of speculating how Palin would react. What is clear is Obama got this 'offshore drilling' call horribly wrong. It is one big oily, black stain on his policy judgment. It is just that politically it will not cost him anything since Left will feel like welcoming home of 'this lost child Obama' whereas Right will have no basis to blame Obama after he had listened to their advice. But not everything is measured in political costs all the time. Damage is done here and may be President Obama now starts putting forward forcefully his vision of 'alternative energy' to America in more broader sense, in more robust manner. What about Natural Gas? Jim Cramer and many others have been harping on that for so long. With continued coal mining deaths, horrible oil spill and spiraling costs of nuclear energy; one hopes this Administration comes to senses and gives up this shell game of adopting energy policies just to please GOP. Just getting few folks from A123 Advanced Battery company for photo op when oil disaster photos are flashed all over the world is a cheap trick. Shall we say that is too much like Palin?

Greece and Beyond

The forces of 'status quo' are winning - IMF and ECB are clobbering together 120 Billion Euro package for 3 years. The test for this package will be:

1. Greece parliament and Greek people accepting basic austerity measures which IMF is prescribing.
2. German parliament is able to approve the commitment of 8 Billion Euro in the first year and total of 25 Billion Euro over the period of 3 years.

In itself this is not easy and chances are that these parliamentary approvals and social acceptance may not come through.

But let us say these measures passes through. What is next? Will Greece, the nation state which is so addicted to consider itself a rich nation like Germany just because it is using Euro, be able to execute on the austerity measures? History here is not on the side of those who think Greece will fulfill her commitments.

So apart from observing whether parliaments of Greece and Germany are able to muster enough support to stick to Euro, the real thing to watch is whether Capital Markets want to make a run on Spain and Italy to call the bluff of ECB and force the ever larger bailouts from IMF. Today, in the end those who literally gambled on Greece bonds for higher yields will be reimbursed by this Greece Bailout even though IMF may force some 'private participation / haircut' for bond holders. The chances of 120 Billion Euro package for Greece pacifying the market are not bright and in that sense this saga is not yet over. Market is in a way emboldened here unless 'haircuts' are deep. Who knows IMF itself may fall short of necessary funds when a larger economy like Spain comes knocking the door with a bowl in a hand. At that point, being a largest share holder of IMF, American Tax Payers will have to fulfill their 'draw down' commitments to shore up IMF capital base. Surprise none in our Congress are alerting American Public for such a possibility.

The rational course of systematic and orderly default followed by introducing Greece's own currency is not advocated here, or rather it is advocated but as usual ambitious European Politicians would not heed this advise and continue their 'half baked' experiment of EU and Euro. Now IMF, the proxy of rest of the world, is party to this risky game.

Monday, April 26, 2010

India's Opium

Shobhan Saxena of TOI says it right, IPL (20 over cricket matches played among privately owned clubs) is India's Opium. Indeed as Soutik Biswas of BBC rightly explains the rot Indian Cricket has become and how it represents what is wrong with India, it is clear that unless India's rulers (Dr. Singh, Sonia & Rahul Gandhi and folks like Pranab Mukherjee) sweep this dirt thoroughly nothing substantial is going to change. Otherwise it will be a phony capitalism with Mao separatists making more audacious attacks on Indian State creating a grave national security crisis.

Corruption has been always there as a part of India. But with new capitalism and so much new money, married with new phenomenon like IPL, vast number of Indians are satiated with this new opium with no ability to bring any change whatsoever. Truly, these are depressing stories coming out of India with little hope.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Continued China Rise - Status Update

Everyone knows that the story of early 21st century is nothing but continued rise of China in global economy and global power structure. Ever since China came our first, fast and furious out of 2008 recession, China has gained the momentum in her journey to the center of the world. With Greece crisis exposing Europe and UK mired in potentially unclear voter verdict; Old World is making place for China very rapidly. When Obama started his Presidency, USA was pack of the leader in this Western journey in conceding global power to China, but lately Obama might have stopped American slide for variety of reasons. So at the minimum it will be G2 world (USA & China); but chances are that it will be a multi-polar world with China USA jostling for the top position in a perennial struggle until who knows how it settles. Since by very nature this is all at best idle speculation with much thinner supporting arguments, it may be easier to concentrate just on China rise stories to understand the extent to which the global power structure is changing dramatically. Here is the list of noticeable news items I came across in last few days:

1. Reuters report G20 inability in mustering the political will to pressure China to appreciate Yuan. This is contrary to what Daniel Drezner predicted so far quite rightly that it will be other countries in G20 apart from USA who would like to urge China to adjust her currency. But apparently other countries do not 'dare' to offend the mighty China.

2. Geithner is officially indicating curtailment of Western control in World Bank. One more clear indication how Western World is finally making way for China ascendancy (though this news story does not indicate by how much China, India and other countries would increase their share; mostly at the cost of Europeans and even USA too).

3. NYT portrays the increasing influence of China Navy. Apparently Chinese have started to tell Americans to mind their own business and not to get involved in Southern China Sea.

4. Some do not read China Navy expansion so moderately at all and see further danger signs.

5. NYT also reports how China is learning the ropes of empire building - that necessary art of influencing and meddling in affairs of far away places. China is trying those tricks on the African continent in full force. Since China does not have established list of client states or proven allies; China is working hard to get this badge of indispensable Super Power. Soviets had their Warsaw pact allies as well as scattering of nations from Cuba in Americas to many in Africa. China is at the early stage of the game, but with 2.4 Trillion Dollar Foreign reserve kitty, she has enough purse to go on a shopping spree in Africa.

6. So while China is growing all over the world, then is the hope for USA is what Tom Friedman calls Green Tea Party? It turns out, we may be out of luck there too; any Green Economy will depend again on China as this WaPo article explains.

7. And finally, if nothing else then this particular news from WaPo should convince everyone that indeed China intends to be very serious when it comes to throwing 'weight' around the world. For, there cannot be any more ultimate sign of power than control of 'news and media'. China is daring to go there.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

UK's Trident Problem

Max Bergmann argues that UK should rather abandon it's Trident Nuke Submarine program. His are reasonable points and there is a lot of merit in that argument.

However, the reason many in UK may still want to have the nuke bomb ability is - in an event say UK is threatened or actually attacked by a nuke bomb by a rouge country or player and say America refuses to get involved in that war by retaliating by another nuke; what would UK do? The question is what are the chances that USA will remain on sideline? Didn't USA side against UK in Suez Canal crisis? Is USA not so friendly with UK in the Falkland island dispute? So the question is - is NATO's legal status enough for UK to assume the nuke protection from America. Germany, Italy etc. are assuming that protection under NATO. But is it sufficient for UK? Because Germany or Italy did not have Suez Canal or Falkland island problems. This means, are we talking additional separate treaty between USA and UK to extend the 'nuke protection umbrella'? The reason UK will be tempted to have submarine based nuke deterrence is look at UK's overseas territory map. Bermuda with 64K population and substantial economy and many other scattered commitments through out the world; all left of overs of their past Empire. So the question is will USA be ready to extent such 'nuke' protection cover to all of these scattered territories. With Germany, S. Korea or Japan; geographical extension and population concentration make it feasible for USA to have such nuke security umbrella. Besides, Germany & Japan do not have the choice after WWII end result whereas in case of S. Korea USA literally saved it from the North Korean tyranny. So I do not think the issue is that simple here for UK to simply concede its nuke deterrence.

Now the question is, can there be any cheaper solution here for UK instead of spending $100B? What about USA Trident Subs 'leased' to UK for 25 years? After 25 years, based on the global state of affairs on nuke disarmament UK public can decide whether then they can be like Germany or things have had changed dramatically. May be USA should be active in this regard since Bergmann makes a real smart point about UK Army. UK Army is highly competent with extremely rich institutional history with very strong established processes. Meanwhile America needs to continue to get involved in 'boots on ground' battles in many parts of the world for foreseeable future. All this makes UK Army very critical for USA's war efforts for many years to come. Question is in lieu of that what commitments USA is able to give to UK population so that they do not have to go for the expensive propositions like $100B Trident Program. Considering UK's financial situation it is obvious that UK cannot truly afford this price tag.

Or are NATO commitments that 'iron clad' and I am not understanding those?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Polarization in Obama Times

Finally, we are getting some serious discussion about 'big government' criticism of Obama Administration, validity of such criticism and the new 'cultural war' created. David Brooks is arguing in NYT how cultural war mongers on both sides have taken the political space by 'big government versus small government' debate and how that does not leave any space for centrist like him. Fair point.

Andrew Sullivan on the other hand argues that the historical context of 'big government' involvement cannot be ignored due to the unprecedented scale of the financial crisis as well as extreme, unwarranted adventurism undertaken by previous Bush Administration and all the carcass it has left, spread all over the globe. Sullivan thinks it is the duty of intellectually honest to understand 'why big government' is needed in these unusual times and likewise not to fall prey for shenanigans of 'big government critics'. Fair point too.

For me the real worry is practical - as it is becoming clear that Obama and Dems will be able to pull off Financial Regulation (FinReg) Bill and as economy is showing every sign of improvement (except unemployment rate which will be high for long time to come); Obama and Dems are expected to entrench an image of Party of Governance in the minds of American Public. Further, if FinReg bill is followed by yet another legislative victory (immigration or START Treaty or Cap & Tax measure); Obama and Dems would have had created a credible record of governance, execution and delivering results. The real problem is despite all these achievements, public approval rating for Obama neither improves nor 'divisive' image of Obama & Dems decreases any further. This means this cultural war of 'big government versus small government' has taken the toll on Obama and despite all the practical victories to make life of common Americans better; Tea Party & GOP gang are actually 'winning' the mind share of American People. That is scary, frustrating and in the end hardly useful for America in the long term. If short term 'propaganda' triumphs over substance means the real disease of American Politics - addiction to cultural wars as instituted by Past Masters of Cultural war Messers Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and George Bush - is still uncured. The disconnect between 'execution, governance, delivering results' and 'feel good factor' is quite pronounced.

Messiah Obama was supposed to cure American Polity from all these infestations, but looks like he himself has fallen victim to a newly resurrected cultural war - big versus small government and so far vultures at Fox, Brainbret, Drudge Report, NRO, Rush & RealClearPolitics have won the game. That is why it is refreshing when our bright minds like David Brooks & Andrew Sullivan are engaging to know what is going on here. Such inquiries are no late at all.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Solvency of Social Security via Immigration

Amity Shlaes puts forward the economic case of what Tom Friedman has been saying for long - grant instant Green Cards to Software Engineers coming from India to work in USA.

Our 'politicians' are slow to grasp fiscal dimensions of immigration. However, with so intensely regressive laws are passed by some of the sates in the Union and Neo-Nazis are holding rallies in America; it is understandable that our 'politicians' want to be careful in not flaring this charged environment further by passing any immigration bill. But then is Obama's Deficit Reduction Commission going to consider proposals like what Shlaes is advocating? Or those commission members are only going to oppose VAT? (Not that I support it much since VAT is too easy tax money to our addicted politicians and we are likely to have higer prices across the board reducing competitiveness of American Economy in general further.) I agree mandate of Obama commission to reduce deficit does not cover immigration policies, but somewhere someone needs to make this sensible linkage and start crafting policies and laws which will encourage immigration of skilled workers and in the process ignite American Recovery as well as competitiveness.

Sen. Lindsay Graham is the lone fighter from GOP side. But he is getting pulled down in defending his sexual preferences in personal life. And there is no reason to talk about Sen. McCain who is finished as a sensible or responsible politician. And that is the problem. Current GOP obsession of winning Congress 2010 by continued riding of Tea Party Tiger does not make it conducive for any GOP Politician to talk about immigration.

This means as and when it will have to pass, immigration bill will have to endure the partisan fight only; meaning Dems running foul. Neither it is clear that Dems want to do that before Nov 2010 nor the chances of Dems having sufficient numbers in Congress after Nov 2010 are bright. This means regardless of Shlaes rightly pointing the potential of 'immigration' as a solution to Solvency of Social Security; things do not look that much promising politically.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tea Party Critique

I agree here what Andrew Sullivan is explaining why he cannot join the Tea Party.

But I feel that he is bit underplaying the 'racist' tone in that movement. May be it is just few bad apples who are roiling the whole party. But as Kathleen Parker rightly explains here, unless Sarah Palin & Dick Armey of the world do not come out swinging against this 'racism' and stop explicitly any interpretation as incitement of violence; it is not convincing enough.

It is possible that 2010 Nov election will be the 'high water mark' of this phenomenon and ultimately it will be a storm in a tea cup despite how sharply Tom Bevan wants to warn President Obama.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vatican Stop Blaming Others

Instead of playing down earlier missteps of blaming homosexuals, Vatican is ratcheting up its blame for homosexuals. Case in point is utterances by one Cardinal in Chile.

Vatican is primarily blamed because:
1. Many in clergy wrongly and unlawfully abused many kids and minors for their own sexual pleasures.
2. Second, Catholic Church Hierarchy made concentrated efforts to conceal this abusing clergy and has gone out of its way to protect these criminals rather than protecting abused children.

What has that to do with your views and doctrines about homosexuality? You may very well consider 'homosexuality' unacceptable or Church may continue the requirement of celibacy. But those are all besides the point. As a moral institution, Church was expected to own its mistakes and take appropriate actions. But since that is not happening, it is a matter of 'law enforcement' at the core.

Any organization which is trying to divert attention from their own culpability to some unrelated issues, is doing so as a Media Ploy or Politics; plain and simple. This is horrible and Media and Society at large need to condemn, boycott Catholic Church for that until they stop this non-sense.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oil - Is it on way to History?

People do not want to talk but the current recession was caused partly, or exasperated definitely, by oil at $140 in summer of 2008. So few thought that we may be on that way again when like a clock work oil prices started to climb as Summer approaches. But looks like prices have stalled. Conventional contention is that it is a sign of lingering recession. Generally prices peak by Memorial Day and so we have some time. But I suspect conventional wisdom may not be right this year.

When GM is recording good sales, when Ford is recording high sales but yet oil demand is not so hot; are we missing something here? Valero is closing refineries in USA, there are no new refineries planned as that does not make much business sense. Or is it that Industry already knows that we may be past peak as far as oil consumption in USA goes?

Leaf - Nissan has started to take booking for this 100% electrical vehicle. Fisker is expected to come up with it's another model too. Smart from Mercedes Benz is very popular in SF Bay Area. GM will come up with Volt next year (meaning road show this year). Ford cannot be far behind too. Tesla in Silicon Valley is waiting for a Billion Dollar IPO and Toyota will have to improve its act on Prius. All these are 'oil consumption reducing' cars on road.

Why would we need more oil in USA even though 'miles driven' is picking up? Is that the reason why there is no upward pressure on oil prices? Are we seeing twilight of 'black gold' in America? If it is the case then it is not too early at all. Who knows, much talked 'strategic opening' for American Economy in going away from Oil may be slowly but surely opening.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Some Indians are very angry....

Tarun Vijay in Times of India is very angry. He does not get much time from his diatribe against Hillary and Obama to tell us why he is angry. It is many paragraphs of his criticism about Hillary, before we come to know what is he talking and for what is he so angry.

1. He, and apparently many Indians, are angry because Americans 'bracketed' India with Pakistan at Nuclear Summit in Washington. Obama is trying to earn his Nobel Peace Prize and hence taking on a professorial role in working with nations around the world in securing nuclear material. No matter how much people criticize Obama, his homework and sincerity cannot be challenged here; though it is fair to expect that no one should earn Nobel Peace Prize by trading sensitivity of certain people. Indeed he is trying to move this big rock over the hill. While expressing expectations from countries in adhering norms in securing nuke materials, Hillary said that it is difficult to meet these expectations when countries like Pakistan and India are operating outside of international framework (read NPT). And this 'bracketing' of India with Pakistan is making these Indians angry. There is a point in that. Pakistan actually has a history of proliferation whereas USA would not dare to say something similar about China. But safe bet for India would be to note publicly India's rejection of such characterization and move on. Obama or Hillary word is not a word from God and they do make mistakes. But getting 'worked up' beyond a point is hardly useful for India.

2. Tarun Vijay argues further as if unless USA takes care of India being on board about Afghanistan, USA cannot hope to get anything fruitful there. This is a 'rich' statement. It is American blood and America's borrowings which are sustaining that war and India's money in Afghanistan cannot compare with that (or even few tragic India lives which are lost in that country). From there to 'threaten' America as if nothing can happen without getting India involved is asking too much. But why? If peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is going to come with less of Indian involvement, is it not good for India? Also what can India do just because it does not want USA to solve the problem of Afghanistan? Do more sabre rattling on Pakistani border so Pakistan gets more nervous ignoring its Eastern border to totally focus on Western border? True, Americans will suffer in that as well as when Pakistan further nourishes it's terrorist network. But which of that is anyways beneficial to India? It is nonsensical for India to make America's life harder just because it does not get 'so called fair play' to meddle in Afghanistan affairs.

3. Finally Tarun Vijay complains about favorable Russian treatment by Obama in securing new START treaty. It seems that he does not understand true benefits to America in reduced tensions with Russia. Just because Bush did not understand that, implicitly Tarun Vijay thinks Obama should be also equally stupid in not trying some serious weapons treaty with Russia. Next, we know that Indian Economy is growing better than Russia, but to consider India in the same league of Russia when it comes to nuclear weapons and technology is to have to an exaggerated view of India. Finally, if the point is Obama cares more for adversaries than friends, that is a valid criticism Obama is already facing in USA Press. If Tarun Vijay wants to advocate for India to be a tough negotiator or just get nasty with America plain and simple (to get more benefits long term); then that is a different matter and he better say so. Getting upset about START treaty without any reasoned basis is hardly useful for Indians, purportedly the audience Tarun Vijay is supposed to serve.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Benedict - Dirt is gushing

It is now gushing with full force...

AP news broke it first. Bit unusual for Andrew Sullivan to take commentary so late on this news, but he has taken that with force.

If Time report is to be believed, this Pope is not interacting much with his fellow officials. Meaning, it is doubtful whether all this damning news is reaching him. But anyways, that is his problem. Reality is Galileo of our times - Andrew Sullivan - is standing firm against Vatican and Moureen Dowd is not quitting her endeavors in asking right questions to Pope. Where do Pope supporters like Peggy Noonan go from her? I guess to hell.

Don't know how all this will end. Everyone knows for sure that the Pope is with way too thick skinned. But that does not matter - what matters is this world has folks like Sullivan and Dowd who will not quit calling the bluff of this 'failed' Pope.

Benedict is disgrace to Faith and is bringing shame in the name of Prophet.

Yuan Replacing Euro?

That is how reality is shaping up.

With Germany and other European nations insisting on Greece 'not getting' loans from IMF at lower rates but at higher punitive rates, though that has changed after latest compromises; Capital Markets are hammering Greece bonds and Euro. German Politics make it impossible for any 'Greece bailout' because German voters rightly fear that it will be followed by Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and so many other bailouts. When a German worker becomes eligible for pension at 62 whereas Greece worker at 60, there is no way in the world German voters are going to back any Greece bailout. And Angela Merkel is not an American Politician so far to go for a bailout because German banks are on 'hook' on Greece bonds for the tune of $100B. Yes, there is an element of German voters inviting more of their own losses rather than enduring costs of Greece Bailout; but at least today German Politics regard the danger of 'run away bailouts' to other European countries more serious than possible losses of German banks in Greece debacle.

All this means, Euro is in all likelihood damaged seriously.

Add to that most likely small, but concrete, steps by China to float Yuan and start doing more trades denominated in their currency. Though Yuan bond market is not as deep as Euro (France offers 50 years sovereign bond denominated in Euro and volume of total European bonds is substantially large), all movements out of Beijing point towards further ascend and wide spread acceptance of Yuan as the international currency. Tim Geithner effectively blessed this international role for Yuan too.

Clearly at this point it is legitimate that if China is able to execute on her plan in next couple of years, Yuan will rise in place of Euro. Rise of Yuan will be at the cost of Euro (and for sure Japaneses Yen since Japan is never able to get its political act together), not at the cost of Dollar. Indeed it is G2 world now with Dollar and Yuan as primary currencies.

This journey of Yuan can still go haywire if China Bear like Chinos turns out to be right - that over inflated Chinese Real Estate Market tanks, pulling down the entire Chinese Economy. No educated guesses are possible there though. Overall consensus is China will avoid such over heating without damaging their economy. Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley is still bullish on China and that says a lot.

Some other second run currencies which may start getting prominence will be Brazilian currency, S. Korean, Australian, Canadian and possibly Indian. Pound, Euro and Yen will not vanish; but all will be in 'been there, seen that' kind of state.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Nonsense - WSJ Style

So here are Murdoch's bright bulbs after so much water gone under Tigris who think that Bush backed Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki to defeat al Qaeda! The money quote is

"President George W. Bush decided to support and work closely with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during the 2007 U.S. military surge in Iraq. The Maliki government was sectarian and sometimes incompetent, and some of its officials were no doubt corrupt, but Mr. Bush understood that the larger goal was to defeat al Qaeda and to stabilize the country."

Of course WSJ will conveniently forget that Bush had both his hands tied and had no option apart from backing any Iraqi ruler. WSJ will criticize Obama and Dems for not upholding 'freedom' in other countries but will always tolerate USA backing of corrupt rulers all over the world - especially backing by Republican Presidents under the pretense of 'realpolitik'. The point is not that Bush should not have backed Maliki government in Iraq, but circumstances were different there.

Afghan people know how corrupt Karzai is. In fact 'backing Karzai' and tolerating his corruption are invitations to Taliban. There is no future to Afghanistan under the leadership of corrupt Karzai unless he changes his ways

All this does not mean that there cannot be a valid criticism of Obama Administration. Chief among that is apparently there is no road map Obama Administration has when say Karzai is removed or reduced to negligence. Who will rule Afghanistan then? How is that leadership going to get the legitimacy (assuming that Karzai election should belong to a dustbin, which in itself is quite problematic too)? Even if Obama Administration wants to start with a make shift leadership, what will be the road map to gain legitimacy and backing of Afghan for that government? This is all very critical because the whole edifice of McChrystal plan is 'using the magnate of local governance' to wane insurgence rather than bullets only. (Fred Kaplan explains this here.)

Even if Obama Administration has to work with Karzai, which is what in the end it looks like, what tricks Administration has to change Karzai behavior? By exposing all corrupt deeds of his brothers and his cabinet members, will it help? Or by withholding money and directly giving that money to locally chosen leaders will help? All these questions are unanswered. Obama Administration can very well engage in a 'taunts and shouting' match; but that is unlikely to produce anything effective.

WSJ Editorial does not talk any of these points. It is also astonishing that WSJ Editorial left out an opportunity to demand 'veracity of Karzai claims' when he says few Americans indeed sabotaged Afghan election. Clearly that is a huge rebuke to American way of life - respecting people's mandate. Beyond that if it is true; what about the danger it created to America's strategic interests endangering lives of American soldiers on ground? Where is the accountability for such KJB or CIA games? Is it not that Obama Administration claimed to go away from such manipulative, secretive, imperialistic style of governance? What happened to those pledges to bring transparency everywhere? How can then Obama Administration square with these allegations? Does it not see the need to 'clear' the name of America in all this sordid drama of Afghan election?

It will be more statesman like if Obama Administration asks an independent (Congressional?) committee for a quick investigation of these Karzai claims. It will serve two purposes - if indeed there are few bad apples in American Foreign Policy establishment, those will be brought to books. If not, Karzai claim will sound hallow and will help bolster Administration in pressuring Karzai. That will also clear the name of America. It will help increase America's credibility in the world in either outcome. For too long rest of the world, rightly or wrongly, has the opinion that America sabotages people's will in other countries for her brazen self interests. This is an opportunity to take a step in cleaning that mess and restoring some credibility.

WSJ misses all these points and simply resorts to some partisan and useless commentary on this topic.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Greenspan & Pope Benedict - what is common?

You got it - stubbornness in face of facts which contradict their views. No accountability, no remorse and no penance while still preaching the world what they cannot follow.

We have a leader in Roman Catholic Church who is totally bereft of 'reality' and is absolutely loath to admit his own mistakes and his own sins. On the other side we have another past leader - Greenspan - who still refuses his culpability in all the mess he helped to create. Greenspan's refusal is exactly what one understands when one reads Michael J. Burry's OpEd in NYT.

Michael J. Burry says "As a nation, we cannot afford to live with Mr. Greenspan’s way of thinking."

The sad truth is as a nation we will learn to live through this ordeal. It took Robert McNamara 20 years to admit his mistakes about Vietnam war and Alan Greenspan is on track so far.

When Burry suggests that Greenspan should come clean for the sake of our nation, he is too generous and kind. It is too bad that Alan Greenspan cannot be prosecuted and punished. I am not saying we need to find creative ways to do that, but just expressing my frustration here. Greenspan and coming clean? Forget it, that is not going to happen. It is similar to expect that Pope Benedict should resign. It needs to happen, but will not happen ever.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Israeli Urge to go to American People

Again and again these Israeli commentators talk about 'going to American people to make the case for Israeli interests' rather than simply constrained by Barack Obama White House. This is what Other day another of Jerusalem Post commentator fell for Nancy's grin and speculated 'but Speaker is on Israeli side' by looking at the red carpet treatment (or compared to White House so) extended to Bibi by Congress. How childish not to understand that there is no way in the world Nancy is going to cross the sword with Obama about some foreign policy issue (even if it is Israel)?

That is fool's errand. Anyone who thinks that some outside USA agency can 'whip public opinion' better than Obama, especially when he is not on their side; does not understand the political reality in USA. Look at Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, John Boehener, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Rush and the whole gang. This is the gang which is desperately trying to ring public opinion against Obama or his ideas for over year now and how far have they gone? Why does these Israeli commentators feel that Israel can have more 'fire power' and an ability to whip the public opinion better than this GOP gang?

Look, it is not just one single Health Care Reform bill victory; but the President Obama has settled into a style or pattern where he will not go along the Regan line - articulating great narrative which Tom Friedman and Peggy Noonan of the world crave so strongly. He is just going to keep on 'chipping' without bothering whether it is 'politically attractive or grand or esthetically pleasing'; but just keep getting results. He has got in his mind finally right that the political environment is so divisive he can only spend his political capital so much in trying to clean that poison in the air. Better is to focus on 'results and execution'.

And you know what, that is working and it will be working more in days to come. Given that, no amount of 'noise' on Right is actually making any dent here. So to have illusions that folks sitting Israel who can move American public opinion in favor of Israel contrary to what White House wants is actually a disservice to Israeli Public by setting them on a wrong path. Wake up folks and do not entertain fancy ideas that you can 'stir' America without running through White House.

Finally, as so many Americans have tried to point to Israeli (and which will be confirmed eventually by the year end when American Census 2010 results will be out) that Demography of America is changing dramatically and proportion of Hispanics, Asians and many other non-European descend is on rise. Naturally as a result, cultural affinity or shared history of Christian White European Descendant Americans towards Israel is not strengthening any further. I know these all are simplifications, but to ignore how America's Demography is changing and why that results in natural inclination towards Obama and his Israeli Policy is same as how Israeli Right ignores the Demographic reality in Israeli - Palestine region.

So those folks at Jerusalem Post and Israel; hold on and don't bank on 'going to American Public Straight' strategy. We may have differences with what these Israeli commentators advocate and it is perfectly legitimate to argue that Israel should adopt a path independent of America or Global Powers (which is what Caroline Glick argues neatly in her article). That is their prerogative, Israel is a sovereign nation and we respect that. But to base anything on 'short cuts to American public opinion'; I think that will be non-starter.