Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where is Accountability?

There has been some fascinating discussion among eminent progressive bloggers of American Political System about how ‘lefty’ Barack Obama is. Nat Silver has a good response to the original blog post by Ezra. In that response Nat writes that:

“On the other hand, Republicans — despite having taken continually more conservative positions — have not seemed to pay a price in elections to the Congress. They have controlled both the House and the Senate in most years since Mr. Clinton became president in 1993. As a result, the position of Congress as a whole has generally drifted to the right on economic issues over the course of the past 30 years.”

Two things come to your mind:

1. Obviously, American Political System is displaying remarkable lack of ‘accountability’ all these years since 2000. It is cliche to say that American voters are predominantly Centrist. However, one political party has been consistently taking extreme positions and keeps on increasing it’s ante in each subsequent elections without any political consequences. It is hard to believe Democrats have been so incompetent that Americans have no choice but to go for GOP all these years.

2. In the first decade of this century American Right has been able to pursue following conservative policies:
- Bush Tax Cuts
- Iraq invasion and ultra-aggressive foreign policy
- privatization of new Medicare benefits Part D
- overall business friendly, less market regulation, policies leading to Housing bubble and eventually TARP
and failed to pursue:
- privatization of Social Security
- controlling big government. All along Government expenses continued to increase regardless of how much revenue is collected; which further continued in Obama years due Great Recession.

The question is how much of lives of Americans improved in all these years? Again, this is the first decade after WWII where average American Family failed to see reasonable increase in it’s income. In other words, American Living Standard has lost while major parts of rest of the world continued prospering - China, India, Brazil and many other countries.

So what is the verdict of American Political System on these decidedly ‘darker results’ of application on mixed set of policies? The verdict is not to restraint Right Policies, but rather to reward Conservatives so that they would complete this ‘destruction project’! Naturally, Right is proclaiming that ‘there is work to be done’ like killing current Medicare as per Paul Ryan plan. Hence Conservative urge to keep electing them back.

People respond saying where did Obama resolve this knot? In asking this question, clearly there is ‘undermining’ of saving America from another great depression which Obama Administration did. As they say, politicians rarely get rewarded for ‘crisis saved or catastrophe busted’ and that is what is happening here.

Obama is faulted for assigning higher priority to Health Care Reform over full repair of American Economy and there is a point in that. But Health Care Reform is not ‘the diversion’ which many critics want to portray. It is the right step for the longer term in ‘controlling spiraling’ entitlement costs of American State. What has happened here is Obama failed to ‘sale’ the pitch of ‘health care cost control’ to American People - why it is needed and why ObamaCare helps to achieve that. (Otherwise on the backlash of Medicare destruction under Ryan plan, Republicans would not have said that Ryan Plan is in a way ObamaCare itself).

Again Obama failed to point out reasons of deficits in last 2 years: decreased revenue due to recession and continued tax cuts, continued wars and stimulus package. He needed to say that there has not been ‘run way’ spending on his watch to pile deficit for the sake of it. A simple point about ‘stimulus’ - one third was immediate tax cuts, one third was funds to states (Medicaid and unemployment) and only around one third on infrastructure related spending (you are talking probably less than $250B spread over 2 years).

What all this means is American Political System has essentially become - or it has been always so - a pure play on Media; how Politics get played in Media with no relations whatsoever to policies and holding American Politicians responsible for consequences of those policies. Stretching this further, American Politics has become ‘art of blurring’ the Public Mind so that in this ‘dizzy state of mind’ Public fails to hold these master magicians accountable. Obsession with birther issue, infatuation with Sarah Palin, Donald Trump and assorted clowns; all that shows the ability of American Public and Media to focus on what matters them most is dramatically dwindling. Conservative Politics is all about keeping this ‘lost state of mind’ of Americans and enhancing that. Otherwise job creation and improving economy would not have conceded it’s top billing issue to ‘deficit controlling’ by any means while chopping legs of nascent recovery. And now American Public is bought into this faulty thinking that by cutting so called spending, prosperity is around the corner. This is because no political party is explaining to Americans that discretionary spending is only about 10 to 15% of budget where as rest are entitlement programs which need to be restrained without risking immediate recovery.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Palestine Taking a Clue from Arab Uprising

Jackson Diehl is ‘one’ Israeli hack who writes in Washington Post. He is trying to portray the important Palestinian unity efforts between Fatah and Hamas as potentially ‘an egg’ on Obama’s face. If you take the traditional criteria of American Presidents needing to be consequential in Arab-Israeli conflict then it is true.

But we are in 2011 when tectonic shifts are occurring in Arab and Middle East world. We all know America is no longer the preeminent power of the globe as it’s economy very likely to be eclipsed by China in 2016 as per the latest IMF projections. It is all right to keep hammering Obama for this ‘fall’ of America; but the whole world and History will know that it is the Conservatives who in the end pulled down America. Naturally, as Palestinians learn a lesson or two from Arab Uprising and decide to get their act together; what better way than to point a finger at Obama?

It is all right for Eric Cantor to run foreign policy and effectively threaten / undercut Oama while keeping the Israeli bias of American Conservatives intact. It is all right for Republican Congress to meddle in conduct of foreign policy and to ask Israeli Prime Minister to address Congress while not co-ordinating with White House and State Department.

Now wonder Palestinians have decided to go the royal route of ‘votes for Palestinians in Israeli Democracy’. You either give a separate state to Palestinians or else they will ensure that Israel no longer remains the Jewish State. As Goldberg has so prophetically said in his blog post -

“An Israel that formally denies the Palestinians independence, and also denies them the right to vote in Israel, is an Israel that will eventually become a pariah in the United States.”

That is the end game here.

In a sense it does not matter how many times Eric Cantor calls Bibi in front of Congress or how much trashing these folks do of Obama for this state of affairs. Truth is, Arab-Israeli conflict is getting away from the legacy framework where America mattered as like in past. With stupid GOP politicians who think they can ‘whack’ OPEC to bring down the oil price, the irrelevance of America is simply going to get hastened. May be it is much better for Obama to stand still and not spend any precious political capital on this unfolding saga. Let Israeli and their Conservative friends see the writing on wall and change their behavior if they want to retain peaceful Jewish Israel.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Libya Policy - Obama is fine

Anytime we have one GOP loud mouth - the one which Obama trounced in 2008 - criticizing Obama for not getting involved more while another one criticizing getting involved at all, we know that Obama has achieved a fine policy balance here. True, polls do not show any support for the President’s policy. But then polls were very supportive of Bush’s Iraq war in initial days. Who has ever benefited by betting on intelligence of Americans? Let us leave it there only...

As Sanger says, the issue is what is American Objective. It is fairly certain that neither Pentagon nor American Public wants third active war, meaning boots on the ground situation. If that means abrogating NATO leadership, who cares? For Obama, in order to keep his Progressive base content and bury the ghosts of Rwanda in Clinton times, what was required was to avoid ‘genocide photo’s of Benghazi. That is done and that will be the criteria going forward. If ‘drones’ are going to help there, despite these censures; that is perfectly fine for Obama. Answer to this criticism is here.

As some experts are speculating, France may be in here for the ‘killing’ and removing Gaddafi permanently and America may miss the chance of being a leader of rare victory of West. But we are not talking here France replacing America in geopolitics. Notwithstanding foreign policy victories of France, China will continue to be competing influence to America and West and that bulwark will have to be USA. In that context, ‘sharing the burden’ means making space so as France can step forward. If France takes the lime light; it is fine because at the end of day saving resources by not involving in Libya directly and using those resources to either repair the domestic finances of America which are in shambles or to fortify defenses in Pacific; all that is for more worthwhile for America than running after some short term glory in removing Gaddafi. Obama is facing far more pressing concerns at home than getting involved in Libya more than warranted. All in all, Obama White House is running this Libya involvement prudently.

Class Warfare and Market Shocks

It is fairly understood that in order to address America’s long term deficit, couple of things need to happen:

1. Increase taxes on rich and possibly on middle class too, either as expiration of Bush Tax Cuts or reduction in tax expenditure like mortgage tax subsidy, health care insurance tax subsidy and so on.

2. Reduction in entitlement programs by introducing ‘mean testing’ and rationing of health care. It is a variation on ‘pulling plug on Grandma’ except that when she is rich plug is pulled on tax dollars and by rationing health care, fancy expensive processes are dispensed much, much carefully.

Now you have one guy - Barack Obama - who is saying he is partially ready for #1 (taxes on rich but not on middle class) and very much ready for #2. Another guy - Paul Ryan - who is not all ready for #1 and for #2 he says all the burden actually to be shouldered by poor. Would you call these positions ‘equivalent’ and both are ‘bad a**’ politicians? That is what otherwise good OpEd of David Stockman is doing in NYT. That is the ‘false equivalence’ Paul Kgruman and Ezra Klein are fighting.*

It is fine to keep berating a guy who is not finishing his ‘spinach dish’ as he is only eating part of it. But then to compare him with someone who is not eating his ‘spinach dish’ at all and on top of is only eating ‘desert’; that is rich.

But the real point missed by Stockman is he did not take the issue of ‘stark wealth gap’ to a logical conclusion. This whole debate is ‘class warfare’ because all the exceptional wealth which has been gained by rich in last decade is essentially at the cost of ‘American middle and poor class’. Last decade was the first decade after WWII where average American family did not do well at the end of the decade than at the start. In other words, the entire decade has ‘passed by’ for most Americans. Then what is wrong in giving them a slack on taxes? Why should Obama be not fighting a ‘class warfare’?

Truth is Obama is a bad warrior for poor and progressives. If one reads articles like this, one wonders what principle stance this White House is going to take when it comes to taxes. When it comes to the wire, feeling is this White House in the end will simply follow it’s standard routine - drop the pants, spread the legs and let GOP come in.

Unless Barack Obama is ready to loose his second term, he is unlikely to do anything long lasting good to average Americans. He has to fight his reelection with full willingness of loosing it. Only then he can adopt policies which are in the good of Americans. It is not just GOP which can issue the ‘ultimatum’ in the debt ceiling debate. Obama can also say that unless taxes on rich are increased he is not going to accept any deal. Sure, that means Market Shocks and consecutive 500+ points drops in indices. But as many are speculating, only those market shocks can finally prompt GOP to come to senses. Obama can do all this if he is willing to put interests of this nation above his reelection and 2012 Congressional election. There is no point to go with the illusion that he has time for all these issues in his second term. Like Steven Pearlstein, David Stockman is right here - there is no time left. Obama better understands that and tries to solve this issue now. After all what better he can do in his second term if he quits this ‘class warfare’ in between.

* - Wonks like Ezra argue correctly that the real culprit is ‘health care costs’ and no matter whether these costs are on Fed books or individual books as per Ryan plan; destitute for Americans is certain unless the demon of health care costs is slained one way or the other. Problematic political discourse like America hardly has the maturity to make reach this point across common Americans. Barack Obama failed to make his argument for ObamaCare in 2010 and hence we cannot have any hope that he can make the wonkish argument about health care costs to Americans howsoever that is desirable. Ryan is also skirting that argument and is simply interested in ‘cleansing Fed books’ by pushing all this radioactive trash to check books of millions and millions of Americans.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

GOP - Slowly Moving in the Corner?

Not just the budget deal of 2010-11 where real cuts are only around $20Billion when GOP Conservative Bench was sold for $35Billion which is creating feeling of ‘being cornered’; the longer game is slowly turning against GOP too. Andrew Sullivan has already pointed the ‘panic set’ among GOP while Paul Krugman is in ‘zone’ while tearing apart Conservative case lately.

Basically, the bottom line is very simple. Democrats did not make the case in 2010 what GOP stands for - always tax cuts for rich in any circumstances regardless of diminishing returns to overall Economy while Middle Class and Poor would pay the real price for these tax cuts. We all know Deficit Talk from GOP is just a ‘wash’. That is what essentially the Ryan Plan is.

Americans may not like to hear it, but at the core American Politics is nothing but a simple ‘class warfare’. GOP is representing ‘rich, Capitalist’ class. All this blind faith in Market, there is a fundamental disconnect with American People there - what the recession of 2008 shows clearly is Markets do not work as intended in American system (if not all, at least few crucial markets like Capital or Housing, Utilities, etc.). Long lasting two centuries old Political Discourse and Democracy where vested interests have full influence (sanctioned by Supreme Court in Citizens United verdict); essentially makes American state incapable of putting in place ‘regulations’ which other wise would make Markets to function as expected.

Whatever regulations Obama Administration tries to initiate, look at relentless ways in which GOP wants to subvert all these new rules. Paul Ryan not only wants to kill Affordable Health Care Act but his eyes are set on Frank-Dodd Financial Regulatory Reforms too. GOP and Wall Street Journal do not want ongoing deal between State Prosecutors and Mortgage Industry which would put something in place to help put a bottom for Housing Market because banks may need to pay for that some ‘change’. EPA, permits to Oil and Gas Industry; everywhere GOP wants to create road blocks for every nominal effort to regulate an industry. These and all other persistent efforts to undermine any regulatory regime means eventually America not having any stable framework where Markets can play fairly.

Argument from GOP is these regulatory regimes are hampering job creation and in other sense trampling rights of American for ‘free enterprise’. But the line is thin here and smartness is in striking a balance.

Not only GOP has been taking it’s base on ride in tending to smash sensible regulatory structure, it is keeping its base in dark as far as it’s core designs are concerned - to dismantle welfare State (Medicare and eventually Social Security too) to make life easier for rich and then make everyone else left to sacrifice.

The reason this fundamental contradiction would push GOP in the corner is as Democrats start exposing this design of Conservatives; their very own base would find it hard to accept GOP Politics. What I see is things unfolding in this year so as every event and every budget fight would push GOP further down the path where it will find it hard to keep this inherent contradiction under wraps. That is the reason unless GOP changes a track, the journey will be uninterrupted.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Budget Fights

Expectation is ‘automatic trigger’ to cut spending and tax deductions / tax expenditure - in the event of savings not materializing - becomes the deal clincher. But GOP’s inability to support tax increase in any manner means no deal is likely to come. There are hot heads in GOP who would give damn about American Default and will not budge from opposition to tax increase in any form. Like today’s budget of 2010-2011 either Boehner would have to take help of Dems to increase the debt limit or Obama would have to capitulate again. Based on yesterday’s speech, it seems Obama wants to stop giving the ‘house’ to ‘tax cuts at any cost’ crazy gang. So if not deal clincher the ‘trigger’ should help to buy some time, meaning increase the debt limit by minimal amount till 2012 when both Obama and GOP would take the case to American People in the presidential election. Odds of this happening are not too bad. Meanwhile Obama has an opportunity to build a solid progressive case - that GOP is giving Tax Cuts to Millionaires and Billionaires while cutting Medicare of Gandma. Yesterday’s speech was an encouraging start, question is whether he will continue to keep that pressure on GOP.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Open Society

This can only happen in open societies - a national icon performs abroad (China), back home a marquee columnist takes him to the task and then an equally vintage journalist comes forward to put a proper perspective to the whole criticism. Simply delicious.

I am sure Bob Dylan must be having a satisfactory laugh that his home country is not ‘forgetting’ what he wanted to tell her all along - be fearless, be open.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Another take...

“Mr. Obama’s budget waiting game, however, has helped to fuel widespread criticism by Republicans, pundits and some Democrats that he has failed to lead.”

-- NYT

Sure that is the standard interpretation. But may be, just may be; this guy despite his avowed opposition to ‘Washington ways’ might have become a consummate politician and hence would have decided to wait to split open the chasm between Tea Party and GOP Establishment. Go back to January and try to understand what was the conventional wisdom then, on the background of Rep. Giffords incidence - that Tea Party will do the job for Obama to pull down GOP Establishment.

Having Speaker Boehner fully installed in the saddle, his own ‘smart’ declaration of being with Tea Party; may be Obama is finally concluding that the so-called division in GOP caucus is not coming through. Ironically, as Tea Party popularity starts plateauing, Tea Party would feel more secure to be with GOP Establishment; one more reason why ‘highly pundit speculated’ wedge between Tea Party and Establishment GOP would not come. (Sen. McConnell’s call is coming true - instead of antagonizing Tea Party, let GOP welcome it.)

Remember, Microsoft is the incarnation of a strategy - not to rush to the market first and mastering the game of ‘catch up’. Same as like in business, coming second in Politics need not result in failing to achieve an end goal. May be this all to do with ‘timing’.

In the end, this is all good for America - that the President is trying to read our situation better and his political antenna’s are not totally out of order. Let us see what does he have to offer us on Wednesday.

Hazards of Energy Policy

President Obama has been making a classic hash of his Energy Policy in last few years. First he was for Cap and Trade but then he sacrificed that for Health Care Reform (which looking back considering the Tea Party backlash does not seem any smarted even assuming that Tea Party would have opposed Cap and Trade too). Next, he opens large swath of Atlantic cost for deep drilling followed by Macondo Deep Water Disaster in Gulf of Mexico. Obama appoints Nobel Laureate Nuclear Scientist Steven Chu as the Energy Secretary, makes political case for Nuclear Energy, offers huge Federal guarantees for new nuclear power plant and then we have this Fukushima disaster in Japan to turn public opinion against it. Once again we do not go anywhere.

In early years, Obama famously missed to support Natural gas which he is trying to correct now. At the moment when Public is becoming more attentive about this energy source, we get this news! In the same energy policy calibration speech he talked about bio-fuel but that will be one of the worst choices for America and World because first of all ‘energy efficiency’ (unit intake to produce one unit of that energy type) of these fuels is not necessarily high and next with global food demand ratcheting up dramatically, precious resources will be moved to generate energy rather than food. This country has a golden opportunity to ‘feed’ rest of the world and prosper on the back of huge export of grain, meat and food to rest of the world. All that will be missed if we engage in expensive bio-fuel.

Solar, wind and other alternative energy sources are good; but GOP opposition and vested interests of Oil & Gas Industry make it harder to achieve anything substantial there. Besides, ‘carbon foot print’ of creation of Solar Panels is not small, nor environmental challenges of Wind Power any low.

What all this shows is bit of ‘shallow and knee jerk reactionary’ approach by Obama to the energy policy. It is a major failure in the whole litany of what has gone wrong with this Obama Presidency.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Obama’s Predicament

Paul Krugman is right when he points out that Obama and White House are betting on the general economic uplift to negate all these policy retreats. Having accepted this strategy after loosing House in 2010 and executing it well in Tax Cut deal of 2010 and April 2011 budget deal; one may be tempted to say Obama has got a formula to work with Tea Party - keep selling silverware of progressive agenda in order to buy peace and no shocks to economy. Benefits of keeping economic recovery intact are obvious.

But I have my own doubts about the efficacy of this strategy, especially for the looming fights. Let us extrapolate how things will unfold in next few months and what does this strategy tell Obama to respond those unfolding challenges. Ryan budget plan will be the raging battle. Nothing useful or lasting would happen on the plan nor that plan would go anywhere. What it would do however is it will create the appropriate ‘atmospherics’ so that it will be very difficult for Obama and Dems to avoid the question of entitlements. What Dems and White House would do in that case is keep dragging that fight as much as possible.

Which means the next fight will be about increasing Debt Ceiling because it has a hard stop. If Tea Party was reluctant to accept 2010-211 budget, it is guaranteed that they would not accept increase in Debt Ceiling without worthwhile entitlement reforms (now that ‘gas’ out of discretionary spending is gone). The main argument of the While House will be how damaging it will be to Economy if Debt Ceiling is not increased. Obama would like to keep ‘debt ceiling increase’ in isolation, without any linkage to debt / entitlement reforms or budgetary reforms. Will it be possible? Considering today’s political environment of this country, it seems impossible. The core political purpose of the Ryan plan is in effect to make it impossible for Obama to ‘box’ the debt ceiling increase issue and force its linkage with entitlement reforms.

Then what happens at that point is Obama and Dems will be forced to accept ‘entitlement reforms’ in order to get the debt ceiling increase. Question is which entitlement reform - do they accept faulty and rich favoring Ryan vision or will finally Obama and Dems come out with their version along the way saying Bush Tax Cuts should expire for rich after 2012. First of all, even if Bush Tax Cuts for rich were to expire, Obama and Dems would still have to accept / propose entitlement reforms to cover large deficit. Secondly, the question remains why would Tea Party accept Dem vision of entitlement reform with expiration of Bush Tax Cuts.

All this means increasing Debt Ceiling is quite possibly linked to expiration of Bush Tax Cuts. The threat will be of American Default at that point. From Progressive perspective, this is a great opportunity to go to American People saying that Tea Party is forcing default of America and colossal damage to American Economy for the cause of tax cuts to rich. Will Obama argue that? Or would he prefer to keep receiving flagellation from Tea Party while hiding this real issue with a hope that it will avoid the American default and one more lethal threat to economic recovery? Obama may do the later with a vague promise of ‘entitlement reforms’, get the debt ceiling increased and avoid the ‘taxman’ blame from GOP. How far that would go then? If Obama were to hold on to the clutches of Simpson Bowles during the discussion of entitlement reform, it will not be totally anti-Progressive. But in absence of willingness to say equivocally that Bush Tax Cuts should expire for rich by 2012 end and to offer alternative entitlement reform plan (which has to be along the lines already laid by Affordable Health Care Act to control real health care costs); Ryan Plan will be the only game in the town making harder and harder for Obama to avoid that.

In other words, limits of the strategy to accept anti-progressive economic policy in order to avoid shocks to economy are going to be exposed very soon and that is very likely to force Obama finally to commit one way or the other his policy preferences - willingness to stick to taxes on rich and entitlement reforms along the lines of ObamaCare (since Ryan and GOP also are not bringing Social Security in the mix having learnt a hard lesson of privatizing Social Security in Bush era).

That should be the ‘teachable moment’ for Dem base and essentially that will seal the fate of Obama re-election bid. Obama is past listening Dem base long back, that divorce is done long ago. It will be the Dem base which will have to decide whether they can afford to stay with Obama or remain leaderless until a true warrior comes along the way.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Are we there? Yes, we are

As expected that is the latest news from the Hill. What a timing when most of the Americans are simply relaxing after a hard work week (and relaxing means ignoring news about Politics)!

Question is what ‘theatricals’ Congress would have to invent to ‘up the ante’ in case of 2012 Budget fight and Debt ceiling increase fight.

Hopefully, with Speaker Boehner’s credentials fully established; GOP should find reasonable compromises for the remaining fights and focus on ‘defeating Obama and Dems’ squarely in 2012 instead of playing the game of brinkmanship. In the end it is hardly beneficial to GOP or to Americans to continue these games.

One down, two more larger battles to go. Indeed the year is long for Americans as if our day to day troubles are not enough for us.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Shutdown Drama

I just get a feeling that there is too much of showmanship going on here. Primarily it is a need of the GOP Speaker to show that he has got the best bargain from Obama and Dems so as he can ensure some workable trust from Old Guard of GOP (read Rep. Mike Pence and his friends) and Tea Party Hot Heads (read Rep. Michele Bachmann and her friends) so as he remains the point man for the impeding 2011-12 budget fight and debt ceiling fight. So I expect a deal announcement tomorrow to avoid the Fed Government shutdown.

But I have been wrong in past, there are no limits to craziness of Tea Party and stars may have aligned to give lots of gifts to Dems. This is because it is no brainer that in the event of shutdown, it will be Obama and Dems who would benefit politically. Of course, like Sen. Mike Lee, Tea Party would start attacking saying that Obama wanted this shutdown all along!

There are jokers in Tea Party who say they do not want the shutdown. But when asked then why can’t they accept the compromise, these jokers reply that they have the mandate from their voters not to accept the compromise. What do these fools think - did Dem Senators and President Obama stole the election or what? Don’t they also have the mandate? The disdain permeating with Tea Party towards Dems is totally undemocratic and in effect make them brothers and sisters of Gaddafi in some sense. The hate is unbelievable. These same Tea Party folks who all the time swear by the Constitution, does not regard anyone else elected as legitimate in American government. In essence, they want to rule as King George while professing American Constitution!

New Delhi Metallo-Beta-Lactamase 1 (NDM1)

This is a scary news, as if we do not have enough problems in this world.

My suspicion is indiscriminate usage of anti-biotics for immediate gain might have contributed to development of such a ‘super superbug’ along with poor sanitation which would not be cleansing drug saturated human waste in appropriate manner. India does not have any systematic ways of managing and controlling drugs dispensed by private doctors nor there are financial incentives both for doctors and patients to be ‘guarded’ in usage of anti-biotics. Development of NDM1 looks like consequence of such madness.

As and when First World drug MNCs may develop next set of drugs for such bugs, we can see genesis of First World versus Third World fracas if by then country like India pays a heavy price for the development of these superbugs.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Budget Politics - Obama Choices

The main question is whether Obama and Dems want to offer anything in response to Ryan Plan. One choice for Obama and Dems would be, as the shutdown for 2010-11 budget is looking more probable, they would think that in the generated ‘uproar’ Ryan Plan will simply fly away and there will not be any need to offer any other plan.

The other choice is Obama and Dems would simply criticize wrong aspects of Ryan Plan and would lay bare the core class warfare open - reduce benefits of poor to fund more tax cuts to rich and corporations. As Politics, that is pure gold. Obama would be tempted to conduct his 2012 re-election on this and he would put forward only tentative responses to Ryan Plan to be effected after 2012.

Question is whether Obama would get that much time or not. He thinks he has time till 2013 to address these issues, presumably arguing that Economy needs to heal meanwhile. More honest politics will be Obama to offer counter proposal to Ryan Plan while economic recovery is continued and compromise somewhere in between while rallying Dems behind him. It just seems that, Obama has become far too smart in negative sense (a perfect Washington politician) to undertake any such honest politics.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Dhoni’s World Cup

Indian Team may have dedicated their win to Sachin and possibly for right reasons, but the final triumph in Wankhade, Mumbai essentially takes Indian Cricket beyond ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ era. When Sehwag was down without a score on the second ball of Indian Inning and Sachin himself fell cheaply for 18 at the team total of 31; it was an opportunity for Dhoni and the new gang to step to the plate and they did it. No wonder why Sachin must be feeling this win as the proudest moment. Apart from waiting so many world cups for the final win; Sachin must have felt that the ‘torch of Indian Batting’ has indeed been passed from himself and Sehwag to new the gang of Dhoni, Ghambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, etc. at the most precious time. (It also kind of institutionalizes move way from individual record oriented way of Indian Cricket to team result oriented cricketing. What better place to demonstrate this move than Mumbai where it at all started when India started to follow records of Gavaskar and Tendulkar decades back. No longer a nation of billions is likely to agonize for the glories of a single Sachin century. Gambhir's missed century is no more a lasting wound.)

This win is a great ‘diplomatic achievement’ for India as Indian Team cruised to the pinnacle while cleanly defeating two top notch neighboring teams - Pakistan and Sri Lanka; having already defeated Bangladesh in the opener match. There is no going away from the ‘big brother’ image India projects in the sub-continent; but it is the most benevolent way of exerting this dominance. Politicians of the sub-continent must be happy for the shape of events unfolding. Indian Politicians will be particularly content since successful organization of this tournament helps to keep behind the ‘mess’ of organizing Common Wealth Games. (Lesson to India - work with neighbors to move forward instead of trying lonely heroism to compete with Beijing.)

Ghosts of past losses in World Cup to non-Subcontinent Teams on Indian soil (1987) are now fully buried. What happened in 2011 in South Asia, the dominance of Sub-Continent Cricket has been fully established. The world of Cricket has moved away from the most familiar team - Australia. Dhoni has achieved this transition in his ‘cool manners’, in his own ways and by displaying the essential character of ‘leadership’. We have had two expositions of truly world class performances in last few days - one by Ricky Ponting and the another in sublime century by Jayawardene in the final. Dhoni and Ghambir’s innings were India’s answers and those were equally great. What a way to assert the mantle of leadership!

No wonder this win will go down in Indian popular memory as one of the most cherished occasions and the priceless moment for Modern India.