Thursday, June 28, 2012

The guy who owns the day

I believe Chief Justice Roberts would feel worth all the scorn Conservatives are showering upon him if President Obama and Democrats do what they are now asked to do - defend the Obama Care by pointing out real benefits which would accrue to all those 'have-nots' of this land for which so many politically forces in this country tried for so long to provide the minimum health care.

Hands down Chief Justice Roberts stole the show. Not for nothing an ultra sensitive mind like Jonathan Chait would feel relieved today.

In one respect one can say that Chief Justice Roberts made himself available for the retribution of Gore loss in 2000 which James Fallows lamented couple of days back. Of course, these are long terms historical accounting items which this humble / small blogger cannot grasp. But what matters is Chief Justice Roberts rose for the occasion to make a genuine try. Absolutely, that is great for this Republic.

Update - Chief Justice Roberts rightly attempted to put a limit on 'commerce clause'. Indeed Democrats and Congress will do good in not testing the limits of Commerce Clause and be within their limits. That is for sure Chief Justice Robert's gift to Conservatives

ObamaCare Hangs On

Looks like Supreme Court is holding ObamaCare law along with the individual mandate. But the ruling can be complicated so will have to read more to offer any opinion.

Chief Justice John Roberts seems to have gone his extra mile to dispel 'fears of likes of James Fallows' that our justices are nothing but politicians in robes. Again, more will have to be parsed before making any definitive judgement.

(Side notes - if ObamaCare fares better in the Supreme Court ruling, watch for House Republicans to go for all the drama of passing strictures against Holder and more vitriolic, at least for the day.

Declining Economy may be the only positive trend for Romney at this point after this back to back set backs from Supreme Court, first in Arizona Immigration followed by ObamaCare.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fraught time in our national life

James Fallows, one of my favorite Journalists and Columnists, is back swinging in a very profound way - correctly diagnosing 'national state of mind' and how we my slip further down. Another equally bright mind, Jonathan Bernstein, brings a different take on the matter.

Unprecedented Media spot light on Supreme Court (absolutely for right reasons) is basically making many Americans to think in much more holistic ways, reflective ways. Here are few more thoughtful commentaries I found which give some hopes that this nation can still find some 'sense in her public life':

- An instant classic about how GOP successfully built the narrative where 'mandate is gone' becomes a fate-accompli.

- Much more reasoned take on what Arizona Immigration Ruling means.

- Possible inner workings of various rulings which are going to hit this week.

- A text book example of how justice is to be delivered at local courts (where I would say core of 'rule of law' is implemented).

- Why in the end Supreme Court still has to respond to political winds of the time.

And my personal opinion about the Supreme Court ruling about Arizona Immigration Law - Court got it right, but it compromised 'efficiency' of our government and essentially of American Society by letting 'future litigation' to address the very likely excesses of 'papers please' clause. But since future litigation door is left open, one can live with the ruling. What does it say about ObamaCare ruling? I think nothing, will wait till Thursday.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Supreme Court Ruling on ObamaCare

I guess any political prognosticator worth her salt is expected to speculate what will be the ruling from Supreme Court on ObamaCare as the day of reckoning has arrived:

- I think mandate will be turned down; preferably by larger margin or unanimously and
- still rest of the law is upheld.

Why do I expect this? Any ruling along the lines I mentioned above will be essentially a 'political statement' rather than legalities. At this time, it is too much to expect American Supreme Court to go above 'partisan short sightedness' (it is not German Constitutional Court) and considering the high brain trust on that bench, such a political compromise seems more appropriate or feasible. 

Politically you shoot down the mandate for two reasons:
- majority of Americans have come to view accordingly (mostly because of unpopularity of Obama for variety of reasons and his & Democratic Party's failure to sale ObamaCare correctly to Americans); and
- at some point you want to have a limit drawn on the Commerce Clause and ability of Fed to set constraints on Americans for whatever reasons. Even if 'mandate' say is narrowly legal, it is much better to err on the side of caution in this regard and firmly set a line in sand so as no future Congress or Administration dares for any such risky policy.

The reason you want the ruling to strike mandate down unanimously is to simply protect Supreme Court as an institution in these bitterly partisan times. Further, the reason any such ruling will be political is for any such unanimous ruling, Conservative judges should be ready for a separate judgement for validity of the rest of the law as such (which can be for sure as narrow as like 5-4) and in which few of the Conservative judges are able to cross over to support Liberals and help save rest of the law (which really should not raise much of a  question, considering a fact that Congress - if it wills - will be able able to find appropriate substitute for the mandate and indeed implement the law in revised form).

Along with the mandate, to strike down major portions of the law or the entire law; will be too polarizing and help entrench a view with half of Americans that Supreme Court has decisively moved in favor of Conservatives. Agreed, it is not the job of John Roberts Court to rule what is palatable politically in the current environment. But think of it, American System structures Judicial System in most politically aligned ways and for the Supreme Court to come swinging the bat to deepen already divided society is hardly worthy of its core mission - to bring balance, justice to the land to steer forward American Society. If it were only Hermeneutics of what our Founding Fathers wrote, then may be we should have Gadamer on our court. 

May be in eyes of a conservative, an ObamaCare supporter arguing in this fashion is a total victory already. But we all know what 'political overreach' means. This is the moment for Conservative Thinking of this Country to avoid the 'overreach' trap. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Xabi Alonso

Move over Beckham, here is another star. (Of course Beckham went out long back!). This was Xabi Alonso's match - 100th apperance for Spanish Team and to finish that with 2 goals! Way to go Xabi; all the swagger fully delivered.

While Europe is ravaged by recession, European Cup is providing some relief and joy. Spanish Team still looks as solid as like defending Champions. But I believe Germans are the most potent team at this point with full mojo to destabilize Spain or any other European Team. So remaining 4 matches (one quarter final to decide between England & Italy)  are all going to be absorbing. 

Watching these young European Football players, it is disheartening to know European Politicians however are not able to show any of that kind of dynamism. Two years have passed and Europe is still not near to a permanent resolution of the crisis. One just wishes, for example, Spanish PM was as competent as Xabi and many other players from Spanish Football Team in what they do. 

Well, we are unlikely to be so lucky and the crisis will continue. It was Europe which gave us the gift of two world wars in 20th century after centuries of colonialism. Here it is once again forcing upon us unending recession with no choice. What is new in Europe - perennially unable to get its act together? So long as its Footballers are able to get their acts together and produce one after the other quality games; no wonder European Public prefers to get absorbed in that and rest of the world enjoys too while the championship lasts.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The way to go

"It is important to create a cultural shift in which officials are not so afraid of being perceived as racist that they turn a blind eye to evidence." 


I have no idea if USA has any such laws against forced marriage. But if it does not, then I suppose all states should pass such laws. 

Cameron Government may be failing in its core duty of reviving UK Economy because of it's ideological blindness; but at least in case of Social Policy of preventing forced marriage, it has got the mojo and it is doing what is right. Hopefully American Conservatives learn few things here from Cameron.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Global Economy

Here are few of my observations about happenings around the world:

- It is conventional wisdom that Greek elections do not clear Euro problem as Spanish bonds have already hit high rates and Spain is still in big trouble. Conventional wisdom is right in this case. Further, as elementary politics indicates - Communist parties in Greece Opposition are simply waiting to pounce back and make more chaos in near future (12 months or so). The ideal option was Communists getting the power, Merkel not blinking to their threats, eventually that breaking the Communists and that imparting a resounding message to rest of Europeans in undertaking reforms. We are not there. The situation of Greece is beyond control even for newly elected government while Europe has whack-the-mole game to play.

- Despite G20 pressure, Merkel will continue her approach of 'straddling'; attempting to pursue reforms while dispensing cash grudgingly from time to time. It is unlikely rest of the Europe would learn any reforms from those lessons. 

- Back at home, not much to write about Obama or his political handling of the situation. It seems like even after so much of public prompting for him to step forward and show some  'leadership' in proposing a believable framework to deal with deficits paired with growth strategy; he has decided either it is not politically worth or he does not have any gumption to go there. Unless some foreign policy crisis (quite likely Iran as things are going south there) presents him an opportunity to manifest leadership; the election will be inevitably a referendum on Obama and as things stand he is unlikely to do well.  Though GOP is not bringing anything fresh ideas to the table, 'hanging tough till November' is a sound enough strategy to win political levers.

- Bright spots is Mexico while original BRICS go down. Indian case has been heavily reported and there does not appear any positive catalyst to change things. RBI was right to hold the rates as 'stagflation' is the right diagnosis of Indian Economy which is structurally so distorted due to endemic corruption, lack of functioning court system and unending regional politics. I guess ruling party would be hoping for a good mansoon to cool down temperatures and then find some way. 

- Meanwhile, nothing much worthwhile will happen until leadership change is complete in China, though Communist party would be relieved to see 'media focus slowly going away from Bo affairs' to return to Europe - Euro Championship, followed by Olympics; all on the constant background of Euro crisis.

- Other than these usual suspects list, new hot spots are Syria, Egypt and Pakistan. Courts in later two are extra political players and they are inflicting more damage. All these countries very well may not be part of G20, but trouble in the world invariably comes from those who are 'left out'. So despite the confabulation of G20; all it demonstrates is how little it controls things around the world. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Are we there? Not yet Mr. President

First the positive side about President Obama's speech today:

- It was great candor by Obama to say that Foreign Policy or Social Issues, those will not matter that much but what matter will be American Economy in coming election. Excellent that he is willing to fight this election on 'substance' rather than flimsy issues.

- His basic case against Romney and GOP is right - that they will be enacting same policies, probably on steroid, to take us more in the ditch. He must stick to the argument that GOP reluctance to raise taxes on rich stymied any efforts to move reform through Congress and GOP will double down on tax cuts for rich.

But this is still not enough. For two reasons:

- As like Obama candidly admitted, but for a political punch, that GOP is not specifying what entitlements they want to cut; he himself is doing the same. That is why Dana Milbank is right.

- Secondly, he fails to articulate how he would be able to overcome the 'gridlock' in Congress which has pulled down USA. That is what Matt Yeglesias rightly points out.

As Milbank says, unless Obama gives up the fear of loosing this election and daringly proposes concrete principles for entitlement cut (as like how he concretely says Bush Tax Cuts for income above $250K should expire); there is no leadership. Think of this way, even after Obama reelection it will not be easy for him to do any entitlement reforms. Unless he has effectively campaigned for such cut, got votes and then enters 113th Congress with 'a mandate to reform entitlements'; he will not be successful. At that point Obama's two term would not matter at all.

Finally, as this campaign heats up; public assessment of an ability of a president to break the Congressional 'grid-lock' would matter and it will become a significant issue. Already 'smart money' and many on Wall Street are saying that Obama may be fine, but he will not be able to get anything done from Congress; so why waste your vote on him? At the same time there are Indies who would prefer 'grid lock' least because a Dem majority would drive another of ObamaCare. That is the paradox both of these candidates have to solve, more so for Obama - how do you argue for 'grid lock breaking' ability. For Obama it is imperative because for him, constraints on his success in the first term can only be explained by pointing out obstacles GOP raised (which is a fact).

Obama can argue that to break the Congressional Gridlock he needs 'parliamentary majority'. But then how do you guarantee that there will not be more of ObamaCare - legislation with no bipartisan support? People are scared of that and they do not want that. (For sure, same for GOP super majority too and that is what could be the single most potent reason why in the end people may opt for Democratic White House but GOP dominated Congress.) The only way my mind can think here is the way they do in parliamentary system - party manifesto and a compact with voters that you would stick with that manifesto. Clearly as Milbank says, in terms of details, Obama is no where near to that. In the name of 'bipartisanship' American Politicians are habituated to be irresponsible in not telling what would they do if they get majority. That is the mold Obama has to break successfully and convince Americans to trust him again.

He is no way near to that, thought the speech is the first step in that direction. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Leadership

Joe Nocera wonders why is that Europe could call 'Daddy' and demand 'how could you do that, it is no longer just an American problem' during 2008 while why America cannot be so demanding in turn. Joe, Germans will answer your question - 'it is all silly election talk in America which should be all ignored' if Obama dares to talk anything like that (and in any case, they have the backup plan ready, to talk about American fiscal woes).

Or may be a short answer is - whether Uncle Sam is able to see through this crisis or not; America dons the mantle of 'leader of free world'. Followers always 'demand' answers from leaders whereas job of a leader is to 'endure and find a new path'.

We in America very well may bring down an incumbent president, we very well may accept ideological excess of GOP in the process and help dismantle all the common welfare we worked to erect over last 6 decades; but in the end we will have to find our own path without blaming others. That is the meaning of 'self-help and leadership'. Do I have guarantee that America will do that again? I read Jeb Bush's pessimism as a good sign - at least one serious politician is starting to talk some sense here. If I have to bet on a society, despite the dictum 'past performance is no guarantee for future'; I would bet on America. How and in which manner America will face her issues - we all will see how it unfolds. With or without Barack Obama, the day of reckoning is approaching fast for us.

Joe Nocera further says

"The reason Europe lacks a lender of last resort is that its citizens don’t want one."

to which I say, scars of past conflicts still have not been fully healed nor folks in Europe have grown up. One sovereign country and a civil war among states of that country, that does not compare with multiple wars among multitude of sovereign countries; which is what European History is to American one. I believe Merkel knows this and hence she is taking such a gradual approach. That way Germans themselves start sensing the crisis as troubled waters reach their shores while remaining 'too proud history to succeed' nations of Europe start accepting inevitability of conceding their sovereignty. In a way I do believe Angela Merkel is the one who is grasping the mantle of leadership in very unusual ways; probably more appropriate to the current situation.

No one is saying that Germany did not benefit from Euro and combined market. But to underplay what that society has achieved through hard work, reforms and discipline means to get following type of reactions from Germans:

- Is it about deeper integration or about simply getting more cash from Germans?
- It is not easy for Germans to accept hard work till 67 to retire so that a Frenchman can retire and enjoy wine after 60.

No doubt these are angry reactions and not valid assertions after scrutiny. But for rest of the world to miss the 'sense' and thinking of Germans here is not correct, nor productive. May be what messers Paul Krugman, Martin Wolf and other learned people are advocating is true - that Germany should simply shell out more money right now and ask questions later. But some where in all this cacophony, to ignore the substance of 'reform and discipline' which Germans are insisting is a sure sign of not being a good follower

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Can Obama do that?

"In other words, he must put front and center his view of debt reduction: entitlement cuts, defense cuts and revenue increases via tax reform. Essentially a more Democratic version of Bowles-Simpson. Then he has to just call Romney out on refusing to raise any taxes on the very wealthy. If it's framed this way, Obama wins.

Obama should run rather on the most equitable way to cut the long term debt, and then insist on some short-term easing on the imminent austerity. And he has to combine this with one signature and clear second term commitment.
...
So far, the Obama campaign has seemed to me overly negative and tactical, as opposed to positive and strategic. I'm not saying the Bain ads should be pulled; they're legit and they appear to be working. I'm not saying that Romney's extreme wealth and privilege should not be highlighted. But I am saying that Obama's core strength must stay what it was last time: sane, centrist, profound reform.


You need Andrew's moral strength and eloquence to frame what Barack Obama needs to do in next few months what he started and so many Americans picked in 2008 - a moral way to change us. 

Question is, will Barack Obama listen? So far all those signs are negative and we do not see any light here.

Come Jan 20, 2013 and chances of inaugurating American Republic with Mitt Romney as 45th President seem bright with every passing day. Along with Paul Ryan, we will have a revolution in this country; only chances are that it will be a long and costly detour for America before she wakes up. 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Private Sector is Fine

Why is Private Sector 'not' fine? Are they not getting Capital? No, they have plenty access to Capital thanks to Uncle Ben and his low interest rates; companies are going IPO and VCs continue to fund start-ups.

Are there more regulations than what need to be? No, let GOP prove that. Obama should go for this argument and show how wrong GOP is there. By the way, no American wants repeat of BP Oil Spill in Gulf or Fukushima on USA soil; none of that can be ensured without minimal regulations.

Is there any less market access globally to our Private Sector? No, more trade deals are done; definitely more than what access was there in Bush times. Obama needing more to do is a different story, but for sure he has increased global access for American companies. Further, Obama Admin. has not created problems by declaring China as Currency Manipulator despite what Romney advocates to make Obama and America fail (while in Opposition). Also because of Obama Admin encouragement, Export Import Bank bill was passed and generally more encouragement to Export is given in Obama Administration.

Has Unionism increased in Private Sector? No. Auto industry Unions took cuts and adjusted to new structure. There are no new strikes in Private Sector.

Has Private Sector faced more taxes? No, it has been all tax cuts in Obama Term so far. Sarbanes-Oxley for small companies was refined in Obama term while the original act was by his predecessor. Dodd-Frank regulations are still not enforced nor banks have been forced to take 'write offs' on their mortgages. (Those banks on their own entered into the settlement with States, but that is not the deal with Federal Government.) And despite all this Jamie Damon JP Morgon fiasco continues to happen.

Is Private Sector getting appropriate workers? Sure, no problem there. Is any industry asking for more H1B? There does not seem to be any issue too.

Is Private Sector punished for 'outsourcing' or 'tax shelters' outside of USA? Well no one has heard any concrete laws or regulations during Obama Term. If at all, just check his royally upset Labor constituency for that.

So if Private Sector profitability is determined by General Economic Growth and they are able to hire as many people as they think appropriate for the given 'demand', where is the issue? What should Obama Admin do? Give money from USA Treasury to Private Sector? Or generate 'demand' from thin air? Where are defenders of natural  business cycles?

The so-called uncertainty - that is all creation of Tea Party to take to USA on the brink. Congress does not want to balance what it spends and what it collects; but wants to 'trip' the President when he goes to borrow more to cover the gap Congress has left. Where are deficits-don't-matter-Dick Cheneys?

Truth is unbridled credit expansion to housing sector caused the last recession and that was not the fault of Obama but of uncontrolled, unrestrained Capitalism of Messers Greenspan and Bush. Of course, GOP wants to hide that.

Is it not 'business cycles' part of Capitalism? So when it is a down business cycle, these free market ideologues tell us 'not to intervene, private sector may shrink but eventually would come back'. And that is how it has indeed come back too.

As my past post shows, I am no fan of Labor Unions - Public or Private; nor anyone is denying that Private Sector in USA has seen demand shrinkage. But folks are conveniently forgetting that it has nothing to do with Obama Administration nor they are ready to listen that from Obama. Shame. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Chuck Reed

That is the man Democrats need to look to - the San Jose Mayor who is trying to bring 'sanity' to public employee pensions which are 'eating out' city budgets. May be when President Obama is visiting Bay Area, he should ensure that he talks to Reed and have few photos with him flashed around.

Else as Douthat has painted, 'electoral losses' are going to stay with Democrats. Seems like American Public is moving ahead when it comes to Unions and consequently possibly ready to accept 'tough entitlement cost controls' as well. Question is whether Obama wants to be with American Public and guard their entitlements in a sustainable way or by simply not talking anything on this topic he gives complete opening to GOP. Democrats in Senate need not move, it should be synchronization between Dems in Senate and White House that Obama talks about entitlement curtailment while Dems in Senate hold tight till a right deal comes on the table. As is, Dems in Congress are likely to go into Minority after November 2012 so they can use 'filibuster' to stop GOP on reckless entitlement reforms (unless Sen. McConnell removes 'filibuster' upon capturing Senate since that will be consistent with late GOP policy of playing 'hardball'!). 

Current political cycle in USA is clearly on the side of Republicans with their ideas of 'breaking unions and curtailing entitlements' winning with Public. On the fertile ground of Bush mistakes, Obama has not been able to 'cultivate any progressive environment'. At best he can hope to hold it for a while even if he wins White House; which means continued GOP ascendancy. So the best bet for Obama and Democrats is lay the ground by seriously committing 'entitlement reforms'. Until it happens Dems now risk to loose dramatically in 2012 political cycle - not just elections but any remaining safeguards for 'have-nots' in American Society.

Few would argue that 'entitlement reforms' have nothing to do with 'taking on Unions' and in any case 'entitlement reforms' are not in itself popular with American Public. That is true, but it is about 'establishing bona-fide of leadership' by being able to tell 'virtues of eating spinach' to public at large and in the process also exposing your political opponent in terms of how 'misguided' they are. That is the opportunity and possibly only opening for Democrats in coming years.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Waterloo of Democrats

Every elected leader should and will be asked: Do you favor bargaining rights for public employees? Why are their benefits richer than those taxpayers receive in the private sector? Once the voters grasp the implications of a system in which labor bosses give to politicians who then return the favor across the bargaining table. The heyday of public labor unions is over.


Indeed 'heyday' of public labor unions is over. Their attempt in last few days to come from behind was admirable and something to value. But I wish that collective enthusiasm they reserve for introspection, necessary reforms and way forward in fights in days to come. Democrats also need to learn a thing or two:
- division earlier between Labor and establishment Democrats while selecting a candidate to challenge Walker was not helpful, Dems should have avoided that; and
- the larger issue - after year and half they should have realized that the original cause of labor strife (Walker's attack on right to union for public employees) was no more relevant. Having sensed subdued backing, they could have walked out of this fight earlier while 'keeping alive' the public anger against Walker. Unions harried to 'encash that anger' rather than to use it as a spring board for longer term. You do not 'abuse' Public Sympathy so much that eventually you do not get anything, as Wisconsin general voter was really tired of this constant electionaring; all brought by Democrats.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama is 'doomed'. I do not share Nate Silver Optimism that these governor elections do not relate much to presidential elections. Obviously this Wisconsin recall election was important and it has shown to Republicans that:
- you can 'take on unions' and get away with it.

I am not sure how much all this Obama 'gets'. But if one reads articles like this, it is clear that Barack Obama is  simply missing the basic argument against GOP:
- that he tried to contain deficit while not pulling a plug on Public Spending to avoid recurring recession, 
- but GOP resisted for a balanced approach of deficit reduction (entitlement curtailment along with taxes on rich) and 
- worse GOP is offering policies which will make deficit a real disaster (more tax cuts to rich with unbridled spending on defense). 

All of this argument would sound credible only when Obama himself is ready to offer some basic willingness for 'entitlement curtailment'. You do not do that on behalf of 'Peter Pan Progressivism'; you forfeit any right to pose yourself as an adult in the room. Yah, Public is blind; they will never realize what 'hatchet of Ryan-Romeny' is going to do but will fall for them anyways because Obama does not offer any deficit reduction nor does he have any obvious magic to improve Economy. It is a job of a smart leader to steer Public to make right choices and Barack Obama is not that smart leader at the moment.


Friday, June 01, 2012

Obama in serious trouble

"Obama has let the Republicans put him in a box on the economy and the deficit.Their refusal to allow any further economic stimulus and Obama's failure to make that intransigence an issue have made him politically dependent on an improving economy. Their refusal to agree to a "grand bargain" on the deficit and his failure to pursue one himself have given Republicans another issue on which to base their campaign.

So what, now? Obama needs a serious Plan B, a campaign strategy that doesn't assume slow economic growth but figures out how to win with unemployment back on the rise. It may very well be impossible to win under those circumstances, but the current frame of "forward versus backward" is on the verge of obsolescence. It's time to contemplate the abyss and emerge with a message that tells the truth boldly and consistently — as the president himself sees it — about what he will do to turn the economy around and put our country's finances in order."


I think Carter sums it very well. Problem is not just today's rotten employment number, but needlessly defused campaign strategy adopted by Obama. All that Clinton bravado, seems quite misplaced at this point. With Greece exist from Euro and Spain driven economic shock, things are getting worse every passing day in Europe and it would take its own sweet time to resolve one way or the other. This means 'drag' of European Economic crisis is not going to go way till November Elections; all the more reason why Obama needs to 'level with Americans'.

With impeding Democratic Waterloo in Wisconsin in hands of Scott Walker and very likely adverse decision about ObamaCare by the Supreme Court in coming weeks; the stage is set of utter 'darkness' for Democrats. Instead of steering Democrats and America with a steely determination and leadership, we have wobbly Obama who is not sure of his own campaign, who has lost the impulse, who does not have any coherent political strategy and above all willingness to articulate consistent policy proposals which can corral Americans and for which his supporters can fight along with him.

The fundamental problem in all this is not that Obama will not get re-elected. The problem is Romney is all set to let 'loose Ryan' in Romney presidency - the policies GOP is advocating are 'worse' than what is happening now; more tax cuts for rich and reduction of help to poor (entitlement cuts are necessary but GOP way is not an intelligent way there). Voters will simply react as like 'throw the bums out' without realizing that newcomers will be taking us on a more desperate path. To believe otherwise is totally discount Romney and GOP campaign currently underway and I am not sure how smart that is

Why blame Greeks? Even American voters are unlikely to be any wiser. We know that our President is simply politically 'incompetent' to take us through these crisis times; but our other choice does not look any promising and voters will ignore that unfortunately while throwing out Obama.

Update - Joe Nocera is hitting the nail on Obama Administration coffin in another way. Why would Romney not argue that GOP has been 'way tougher' on Crime than Obama and he will have business friendly environment without being a hostage to Capitalists? That is what, for sure, George Bush Administration achieved in the hindsight. Really Obama Administration is losing the altitude fast.