Friday, September 30, 2011

Continued Bachmann Non-sense

Rep. Michele Bachmann is resourceful, every now and then she delivers one highly original non-sense. This week's pick is 'blaming Obama for Arab Spring'.

1. First things first, is Arab Spring good or bad? Normal human being on this planet would regard it as a good thing since Arab Spring is ending dictatorial regimes. Bachamann does not think so. Someone needs to ask her then does it mean she wants common Arabs not to have political freedom? How does that square with freedom, liberty and equality values of Conservatism? Or is she suggesting only Western folks and Israel should have all these rights and Arabs don't? Is it racism?

2. Next, it seems she does not recognize difference between democratic Arab Population and religion based Islamic Revolution of Iran. She implies both are same, again how rudimentary and ignorant.

3. Finally, the fool lady with her blind sycophancy of Israel does not even realize that any political leader of a stature would not negate human emancipation for ruthless domination of Israel over Arabs. She is all okay for rest of the world to continue to live in non-democratic systems just so as Israel can continue its imperial policies. The whole historical context is missing for her. Well, may be it is too much to expect from her 'small brain'.

National Security Presidency?

First, it was the big prize of OBL. Now, it is someone named Awlaki. Who is next - Haqqani Network guys? We are probably on quite a trophy set. In Bush-Rove days, this all would have been sufficient to be successful politically. But times have changed, the nation has gone little soft and very much demanding about basic 'bread and butter'. People will applaud but then will demand 'show me the money'. Nothing wrong, that is how Democracy works. Otherwise even after WWII victory, Churchill would not have been soundly defeated.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

European Crisis

The debate has focused entirely on what cannot be done rather than what can...

European policy has been constantly lagging behind. This will continue.

Do we really believe the Greek government can implement one austerity plan after another with a majority of five seats?

So even if Europe’s leaders were to come together tomorrow and agree on all the necessary steps to end the crisis, they would not have solved it until they could demonstrate that they enjoyed full political support. That is unlikely to be the case for a while yet.

The European Union has wasted two precious years with dishonest stress tests that have shaken the credibility of the European Banking Authority, the European Commission, national central banks and national bank regulators. If you factor in the economic slowdown, Europe’s banks could be undercapitalised to the tune of €500bn.

Based on previous performance, it is hard to imagine that the European Council will rise to the occasion. If it does, it is even harder to believe that they can get the support back home.

I have never seen Europe’s policymakers as scared as I saw them in Washington last week.

That is what a reputed financial journalist has to say who has been following this saga very closely.

For a lay person issues can be relatively simple:

- European banks have given lot of debts to sovereign countries of EU which are not in the position to repay. Greece is far most  but Italy, Portugal and Ireland are not far behind; though Spain could be in bit better shape. So defaults are inevitable. First question in defaults is how to compensate for losses of these European banks. You can never have a modern working economy without healthy banks. Weak banks with losses, triggers bank runs and that is the end of the story. Geithner rescue model for American Banks is the working template here, question is whether Europeans want to emulate that or not. Many countries in the world - China, Brazil, India, Australia, etc. will be interested in picking up equity of European banks and that is the way to increase the leverage of initial recapitalization by European governments.

- Once the immediate danger of bank run and consequent collapse of European banks with a shock to the global economy is avoided, next question is how would you bring recovery to these battered economies. This means demand needs to increase. With the straight jacket of single European currency and absence of more jobs which produce tradable goods and services in an economy like Greece; it is hard for these economies to have any sustainable recovery. For economy like Italy which does produce tradable goods and services, as currency devaluation option is not available; it's competitiveness is always threatened.  Not all nations can pull off Germany all the time - high cost but ultra efficient in producing high value adding tradable goods and services. Not to ignore the political tensions within Germany, but as a society and a political system; there is a degree of cohesiveness about policies which would retain this global competitiveness. Even a country like USA with it's free floating currency and high base of tradable goods and services producing economy; it  struggles to achieve basic national and political cohesiveness about policy prescriptions which can retain its global competitiveness. Hence deck is stacked against Greece and Italian economies unless their political act comes together along with all the necessary support and understanding from rest of European countries.

My impression is eventually Europeans would address the first issue; but the second is quite hard. That means chances of avoiding global shock are not too bad, but economies like Greece and Italy will be left behind for long, long time to come; dragging down most of  the Europe for a substantial period.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Faster than Light

Pretty much that is the only good news coming out of Europe - possible observations of faster than light particles. If these observations are validated in next few years, it will be a total revolution in Science and our overall understanding of the world around us will change. In that sense, this research by European, Russian, Japanese and Korean scientists (no Americans, Chinese, Indian or any other) is far more consequential for humanity than shenanigans by politicians across the board.

Regardless of eventual affirmation (Americans will be trying their hands on these experiments with less precise instruments at Fermi Lab) or rejection of these observations, what it establishes is the core ethos of Science - there is nothing given, everything is always subject to scrutiny on the basis of what we see in reality. European politicians may be running away from reality, but nobody does 'better' Science than these Europeans. Amazing stuff.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No one grew rich in America in isolation

That is a war cry from Elizabeth Warren, the top class progressive case.

Greg Sargent is right, practically this country does not know how potent a truly 'progressive populist case' can be. Obama far sure has so much to catch up here, having totally beaten up so many times by 'willy and smart Tea Party' on different kind of populism. 

My hunch is many more rank and file Democratic donations will go to Warren than to Obama. Not that Obama will fall short of his Billion  Dollar mark to raise campaign fund as he has Warren Buffett on his side. Just that Warren may turn out to be the 'darling of Left' in 2012 election, the queen bee to be protected and nurtured at any cost.

What she needs now is keep staying one step ahead of Sen. Brown and GOP in generally. GOP would love to politically assassinate this high priest of Progressivism. Bring down Warren and you have got Liberal/Progressive case totally mauled down in this political cycle. That is what she needs to battle for, obviously it is far larger than the Massachusetts Senate seat.

When ideas clash so explicitly in an election, you would probably go in thrall of democracy - the whole reason our founding fathers started this business in the first place. (On GOP side Florida Senator Marco Rubio is the one who I heard with that passion as well as humility. He is a class too.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Which other way then?

David Brooks column in NYT is making ripples all around. Bloggers like Megan McArdle joins the bandwagon.  But all these critics undermine - even if acknowledge - that:
- Obama did offer twice the grand bargain which critics like David Brooks strongly urged GOP to accept but which preferred to bring down Obama and American Economy; and
- given the adopted GOP political strategy of 'scorched earth'; what can Obama do now which otherwise would have advanced a right policy for Americans? 

Politics of GOP opposition is as simple as - anything this guy proposes, GOP has a political advantage in opposing despite any collateral damage to American Economy. To ignore this 'nihilism' of GOP while criticizing Obama is simply being 'partisan' of another type and at worst to be a bad, 'un-balanced' pundit.

Obama could have focused more on jobs and our economy in lieu of ObamaCare in first two years, that is a valid criticism. He tried to do too many things instead of prioritizing policy prescriptions. He should have accepted Simson-Bowles and should have firmly come behind that; is a valid judgement on Obama Presidency too. But having missed these calls, if you want to say that 'let Obama be one term president only'; then which president would have completed full 2 terms in recent past? All these past missed opportunities are water under the bridge. Question is what can he do now and here.

Being a leader to expect Obama to pull off 'a rabbit out of a hat' and to expect somehow GOP may sign anything what Obama proposes; is like expecting miracles. But adults do not live life on miracles. Truth is GOP would sign anything what Obama proposes, only if Obama has 'made the case successfully with Americans' for his proposals. That is the core of Politics - take it on the road and make serious attempts to convince Americans. So long as that works - and jury is out on that - GOP would see some political incentives in agreeing few things with Obama. To propose plans which will only get erudite reviews from Brooks and McArdle but have not addressed the underlying politics of it - we have seen where it all goes. It leads to S&P downgrade.

Obama will have a chance with Americans if he fights for a policy in which he demonstrates his convictions. A firm leader which withstands his political opposition, that is when Americans would bother about what he is saying. Capitulation to GOP - neither it generates public trust nor any good for America. Granted he behaved all that and still ObamaCare came short. But issues there are different - Obama and Democrats failed to make a strong case about the importance of containing health care costs for longer term sustainability of American Finances as well as to high light appropriate measures in the law which would have helped us to accomplish such cost containment. Lesson learned - passing a bill in absence of 'selling the policy on road' does not lead you anywhere. In a sense, politics comes first and policy after. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day of Reckoning is coming for Israel

Misguided and Jew pandering GOP dominated Congress (actually Dems are no different when it comes to Jew pandering) would pressure Obama Administration to cut aid to Palestine in response to its pursuit of UN resolution. But that would make things even more problematic as it will push Palestinians over the board and radical elements would get encouragement.

The real incentive for radical political factions of Palestine - Hamas of the world - to avoid violence will be 'avenues opened to legally prosecute Israel military' via international courts and other international institutions which it will get access to. Extremists in Israel deserve all these problems and consequences of UN action. There is no going around that.

Palestinian People waited for the entire 20th Century for America and West to solve their problems in addition to their own hubris. All they have got in return is misery and they have been deprived of their birth right to have 'self governing nation state'. It is true that Palestine and PLO at times went on misguided path of violence and terrorism. What is of consequence is whether Palestine at present has abandoned the path of violence or not. They have and UN vote will open new avenues to pursue legal and effective solutions for their grievances.

If anyone needed a proof of inability of America to solve Israel-Palestine issue, one should look at what happened in NY-9 House Election. The way American Politics works, it is inordinately influenced by Jewish Vote. So long as it is a rational influence, one can understand it, one can accept it. But what NY-9 shows is substantial Jewish Vote is motivated by absolutely wrong notions what any American Administration should do with regards to Israel. Despite the fact that Obama Administration went out of it's way to help Israel Jewish voters still have a grudge against Obama Administration and punished it electorally. No wonder Palestine would conclude that there is no point to depend in anyways on American Political System to deliver them what belongs to them rightfully. If 2012 election brings GOP President, things are going to go even more downhill and why wait then? World has experience of America driven by maniac Neo-Conservative Presidency like Bush-Cheney and so the world knows how to deal with it. The recession of 2008-2010 and resultant fallout have weakened American and Western Economies and have moved the center of gravity in a sense away from West. So next time any Neo-Conservative Presidency comes along, the world would be in even better position to ignore it, even though how much nuisance it will be.

It is true that Palestinian pursuit of UN legitimacy would further isolate and weaken Obama Administration - the very force in American Politics which is attempting to go away from Neo-Conservatism. Well, assessment of any independent observer would be - Obama Administration is so weak politically that it would not have any capability to help Palestinian cause in near term even if it wanted.

Does that mean then that Obama Administration should not veto Palestinian resolution in UNSC? That will be political 'immolation' in American Context. So it cannot do that. What it needs to do is keep putting forward a reasonable and sensible proposal so as any Palestinian rejection of the same would give it the necessary cover for veto in UNSC and then America's opposing vote in General Assembly would not have much of an impact. That way Palestine still gets Vatican like status and doors get opened to pursue legalities against Israel irrespective of Westeen Powers and which in turn can be a lid on Hamas. More Palestinian People realize that they can get longer term benefits - not immediate - through these UN and International Court means, more effective will be restrain on Hamas style violent means. As for Israel - they all deserve horrible options which will start unfolding in front of them unless Israeli Politics mends its ways and goes away from Avigdor Lieberman type politicians (which does not seem likely).

Make no mistake - in immediate term Israel will make lives of Palestinians horrendously difficult by way of chocking their financial pulse and many other stymieing ways. But one way or the other Palestine People have to go through this pain to realize their dreams. There may be even some early victories for Israel in this path of confrontation, but eventually Palestine Nation/State would start rolling. One thing is very clear that - America does not have any ability at present to resolve this issue and hence Palestinian 'call' to go UN is fundamentally right. Self destructing conservatives and extremists forces are firmly in control of Israel and they are on ascend in USA in the form of Jewish vote pandering GOP alongside shortsighted view of many American Jews. Those conservatives and extremists politicians in Israel are soon going to find their GOP friends probably in power in USA; so all of that gang is well set on continuing their destructive policies for years to come. Hence, there is no point in waiting for any change in America.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Madhuri Dixit

Come as you are, as you were,
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend, as an old enemy
Take your time, hurry up....

-- Kurt Cobain, Nirvana

If at all you needed any signal to migrants of South Asian origin that sun is setting in the land of dreams - America - here it is. Heart throb of millions and millions of young Indians in their yore days, came here when America was shining then like a glittering 'that city on hill' decades back. But now she is calling it a day. Of course, Dr. Nene - her husband - would find far more lucrative or fulfilling roles in India. (And what to say about ObamaCare which is going to make medical profession probably not that lucrative in days to come; in fact America's financial sustainability is directly linked to how much less lucrative it makes the medical profession!)

And for Madhuri - oh sure, Mumbai will be at her feet....

Good luck Madhuri Dixit Nene and Dr. Nene. With kinds of borderline racist talk coming from leading Tea Party Members; may be Nenes are exercising a good choice instead of keep fighting for rights of migrants in the supposed land of immigrants.

Update - Changed format so as it is easy to read on smaller cell phone screens.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pakistan Refusing to Change

"Time and again we've urged the Pakistanis to exercise their influence over these kinds of attacks from the Haqqanis. And we have made very little progress in that area...I think the message they need to know is: we're going to do everything we can to defend our forces."

The guy who got unanimous Senate confirmation is being straight here, is doing the job for which he was hired. But seems like Pakistan does not get it -

"But if the militants are doing something inside Afghanistan, then it is the responsibility of the Afghan and Western forces to hold them on the borders"

-- A senior Pakistani government official involved in defense policy

Pakistan does not understand that just because crime is committed across the border does not mean it has the luxury to let free these folks in their own back yard. That is the same mentality which allowed OBL to live in Pakistan for years and that is the same doomed approach which Pakistan uses to justify harboring of terrorists against India.

Anyways, Obama Administration does not have any choice other than keep ratcheting 'drone pressure' on bad guys anywhere they are in AfPak region. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

...but joy cometh in the morning

"And they will know that nothing can break the will of a truly United States of America. They will remember that we have overcome slavery and Civil War; we've overcome bread lines and fascism; recession and riots; Communism and, yes, terrorism. They will be reminded that we are not perfect, but our democracy is durable, and that democracy - reflecting, as it does, the imperfections of man - also gives us the opportunity to perfect our union. That is what we honor on days of national commemoration - those aspects of the American experience that are enduring, and the determination to move forward as one people."

He said it well. It is a simple but moving speech. Thanks President for saying this.

The day started with a kodak moment of Red and Blue Presidents coming together to commemorate the anniversary. 

Well, not bad for a battered nation and the declining super power - some glimpses of her true strength. 


"The reawakened Republicans are no longer the loyal opposition. They’re revolutionary Bolsheviks who want to eat Obama alive. 

When the president stays insulated with his little circle that doesn’t know how to push his messages, and he lets the nihilist Republicans go unchallenged in their crazy claims to be saving the country they’re hurting, he sets the stage for Rick Perry. 

It’s still impossible to sum up what Obama’s presidency is about right now, except saving his own job."

That old lady is in the end razor sharp when she says "Does he get it together when the country’s in trouble or when he’s in trouble?

That is the indictment even though it is 'electoral politics working as intended'. May be it was wrong to expect anything 'more inspiring and nobel' from a premature Nobel Laureate.

You cannot run for Presidency unless you have the self-awareness above a cut; in lay person terms 'unless you are a narcissistic bitch of certain degree'. That much is given in case of Obama too. But really it would be disappointing to know - he would only fight real hard when his re-election bid is in danger and not as a response to the country in need, nation in despair. That is hard to swallow, especially on the day of national unity - Tenth Anniversary of 9/11. 

Well, Sleeping Barry, can only absolve himself of this indictment by fighting very hard sustained over a longer period, by not 'folding like a cheap suit' and delivering what this country needs very badly - leadership for economic vitality.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Euro Pickle

Prof. Drezner had it right while talking about Euro. So this post is a minor update in the ongoing saga. In a way blogging about Euro and Europe is easy, hardly anything changes substantively! It is the same old set of problems while European leaders continuing to go in circles.

Today's news is how formal political apparatus in Europe is making the noise about 'unsolvable knot called Greece in Euro'. If it were about Greece only, Europe and World would have found it cheaper to help Greece on humanitarian grounds after it had existed Euro. But exit from Euro is not only difficult for legal reasons, it is a question of what to do with Greek debts on balance sheets of European banks which are already very weak. In other words, only when German, French and other European banks feel okay to absorb Greek loan losses fully and their political bosses are convinced off that; exit of Greece from Euro will actually take place. Till then, Euro pickle will continue to marinate. 

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Pass Along

When a respected journalist like James Fallows passes it along, you just do it - a case against Obama.

It explains what is there for President Obama to answer. Indeed it is looking like one term Presidency. May be it is not just Sen. DeMint who is tired of Obama Speeches, we all could be tired. Especially when we know it hardly matters.

Neither the guy is ready to 'lead' nor his leadership calls are coming out to be any true as far as domestic economy goes. At the end of the day, in a way America is getting prepared to 'write off' this Presidency and look beyond that. Not only does he have no clue about what is happening to our Economy and he is unable to execute any strategy to rectify our predicament; he simply missed 'the call' with default debate. Americans wonder - if S&P downgrade was so consequential, where was he? Why did he accept the half hearted solution of $1.5Trillion Dollars knowing fully well that Market was expecting $4Trillion Dollar deal? As far as Americans are considered, it is simply abduction of duty. What they are looking for is a chief executive which will get things done from Congress and we all know how much success President Obama is having there.

Friday, September 02, 2011


Anything which hampers job growth is on table; jobs of any type. When you are talking once in six decades type of lowly job growth, you cannot fault President Obama to rescind EPA restrictions.

We need to understand at the end of the day USA is the third largest producer of crude oil in the world - after Russian and Saudi Arabia. Texas is practically Saudi Arabai in North America. Part of America's problems in recent years is because it is a union which harbors this same oil rich Texas along with California which rightly believes in risk taking of Solyndra type.

To the extent it is a scientific fact that man-made global warming is real, it is also a fact that we have some time, some room to deal with eventual environmental crisis. At least that is the theory on which Obama Administration is operating.

Really Greens in USA have got it wrong - instead of actively funding Democrats; what do they need to do is fund campaigns which will make life miserable and tough for Tea Party members or for that matter anyone who is protecting traditional Carbon based industry. You have a mix here - naturally Blue California is well disposed to Greens, but even more Blue New York is still ambivalent about 'fracking'. Oil rich states like Alaska and Texas are naturally Red, but things get complicated about West Virginia which is Coal rich Hillary type Democrat. You have a phenomenon of most contentious, partisan members of Congress from opposing political parties agreeing about what Florida should do - oppose any kind of drilling in their backyard. Effectiveness of Green campaign is determined by how do they convince someone who is making living in digging out Carbon which burns and not by who already sees Capital Gains in making a solar chip.

Given all this complexity and mixture, it does not make sense to put your lot with Democrats only. Dems in Congress will very well agree for stronger EPA, provided GOP comes along. Anyways you cut it, brow beating Obama for his decision to restrict EPA does not calculate when he is desperate for any job growth. All said and done, you have time to adjust changing environment on Earth.

What you don't have is time for Unemployed. In a sense, though Obama got it right on the eve of Labor Day; he missed clear leadership in explaining his EPA decisions. Leaders do not duck in explaining their decisions, especially the ones which are really pragmatic. But as usual, Obama failure in Communication is glaring and well known.

Happy Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

What were they thinking?

"... it’s not so much that the speech is important George, it’s the follow up after the speech, ... this is going to have to be what they are going to run the 2012 campaign on…this congress is not going to pass anything that the president proposes, that is pretty clear.”

It is stupefyingly baffling why would Obama White House like to make an issue out of scheduling. Why were all those things not sorted out as like mature adults? It is so typical of Obama that he will 'play dirty for petty things' whereas leave the 'core battles uncontested'....

All this gives great confidence to American Public about their political system! Clearly remaining period till Nov 2012 is going to resemble to waning months of George Bush Presidency during 2007 and 2008 - total inability of the political system to respond to challenges faced by Americans. Kind of complete paralysis on policy initiatives.