Saturday, August 31, 2013

Politics of Syria Resolution

I am with Fred Kaplan here, President Obma is right to seek authorization from Congress for any attack on Syria. 

A question can be raised whether President Obama should have proceeded from the start in this manner. Possibly. But important point is, seeing what happened in UK Parliament, it was prudent to seek similar authorization from American Congress and that is what President Obama has done.

So what are the chances that such an authorization would pass? Those chances do not look good. Those are bit better in Senate considering Democratic majority there. As far as policy position on ideology goes, President Obama's middle path of limited action is coming under attack from both Right and Left. Military hawks like Sen. Lindsay Graham and Sen. John McCain have been upset for a while because President Obama has not been more interventionist. These hawks and neo-cons have been wanting President Obama to spend more of his political capital to follow footsteps of ex-President George Bush. President Obama refused so far but now he comes to Congress for legitimizing some limited intervention. That is 'too late, too little' for these neo-cons and one would not be surprised to see that these hawks vote down any limited intervention resolution. 

The arguments on Left are reasonably simple - what happens in Syrian conflict does not pose any direct security challenge to us, so why bother? Whether Chemical Weapons are used or not; that is irrelevant. As far as international norms and accords of prohibiting usage of Chemical Weapons go; Left argues that "well, USA takes that responsibility when UNSC minds its own business". Basically, it is all about 'shrugging shoulders' and usage of Chemical Weapon is no special case.

Question for Republicans in House will be, what is the political upside in pulling British PM Cameron on President Obama and while they are snubbing him; what political price they would have to pay in future if any abnormal things like further usage of Chemical Weapons happen or terrorist would pull a chemical weapon attacks on American interests. 

Being a second term President and the issue being of National Security it is possible that sufficient number of Republican House Representatives might find it OK to support President Obama's Syria intervention resolution. Yes, the extreme partisan politics of today's Washington has come to this stage - each Republican Congress member determining a vote based on how much it would harm/snub to the sitting Democratic President. If Republican Representatives and Senators determine that they still have something to gain by snubbing President Obama, they would do that regardless of how much it is a setback to nation's interests. Speaker Boehner and others are already laying the ground for Congress passing Syria resolution as the function of President's success in 'selling this intervention to America People'. Convincing majority of American people can be the sole responsibility of President Obama provided Republicans are going to vote in a faithful manner to reflect 'will of people and nation's interest'. As there is no such verifiable way to determine that, Republicans in Congress would have equally perfect opportunity to ambush President Obama as was done to UK PM Cameron. May be two equally snubbed leaders on both ends of Atlantic could sustain the otherwise damaged special relationship between USA and UK.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

War Drums

Usage of Chemical Weapons by Assad or anyone is unacceptable. Reasons are clear:
- There is a reasonable consensus among world powers that it is not a way where we as humans want to go. Even though war of any kind is bad, no one wants to revive memories of Nazi gas chambers.
- When a regime breaks this taboo, there needs to be consequences to the regime.
- Or else the usage of chemical weapons would proliferate. That is dangerous considering the ease with which any evil intended regime can assemble these weapons and deploy on weakest sections of society, even if we keep aside implications for terrorism.

In a reasonable world the most legitimized global body like UNSC would come forward and would pass a resolution backing a military intervention in Syria. Clearly with Russia of Putin - who sees glory in Cazarist Russia of suppression and rekindled dreams of Soviet Union and China which refuses to grow up to its global super power role responsibilities (or may be frightened as usual for any kind of intervention least people start questioning absolute power of Communist Party in China); we have an impasse. UNSC would neither pass any resolution condemning chemical attacks nor would take any steps to stop it.

President Barack Obama would have his best chances of procuring any legitimacy for American military interventions in getting backing from NATO and Arab League. NATO member Turkey has crucial national interests vested in containing civil war in Syria. Same is the case with Jordan. As far as Israel goes, stable Syrian region is preferred to the current turmoil even though who prevails in the end would not matter much (as all are equally detrimental to Israeli interests). These 3 neighboring countries and Egypt, Saudi Arabia; all have regional interests in stability of Syrian region.

Given this predicament, beating of war drums by Sec. John Kerry is understandable. Questions are what specific action President Obama can undertake and to what goals. The most desirable goal of having Syrian integrity retained and Syria as a peaceful democratic state seems far fetched now. Bashar Assad is not losing this civil war at present, but it is hard to see how he would be able to quell it either. Rebels are no longer that much push over. Given that Assad family has inflicted repeated genocides on people of Syria; it is hard to see how rest of non-Alawait Syrians would accept Assad regime any further.

Can there be a peaceful Syria possible without Assad? That seems hard too given the relative strength of Assad who can at least carve out Alawite regime in coastal mountainous regions of Syria. And as far as rebels go, Islamic extremism and fanaticism are not in short supply there. World has seen inability of Islamists in governance (Morsi of Egypt). Does that mean, equilibrium of some sort in Syria is only possible after 'fragmentation of existing Syria'? Seems so, considering to start with there were all these arbitrary states cobbled together.

Then what would American attacks achieve; apart from American President retaining his credibility in drawing 'red lines'; keeping Iran on hooks and in general not losing the might of American power? Stopping another chemical attack seems a reasonable and achievable goal in all this. It does not have to be on the basis of wiping out each and every chemical weapon depot. All it means Assad regime understanding that chemical weapon attacks may be still feasible, but the collateral and strategic cost (by way of losing strategic assets like air power) do not warrant those. If that is what Obama Administration wants to achieve as the goal of military intervention; that may be feasible. But any war is inherently non-deterministic, President Obama's Syrian Civil War Intervention cannot be an exception. Prudence is keeping it restricted in scope but not hesitating for bit of prolonged involvement (3 to 6 months?) if that is what it requires to produce a consequential result. 



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

You don't go half distance only

David Ignatius has put up a bold case to argue that 'interests of USA should be not synchronized' with retention of Islamic Monarchy in Saudi Arabia. 

David Ignatius is right in pointing that Saudi Arabia has used its Petro-Dollars to prop up regimes which it feels more comfortable to its 'custodian of Islam role'. To complain about that while not realizing what United States of America has done ever since WWII dominance is 'going half way only'. David Ignatius cannot forget that USA precisely bought such influence with Egypt for decades (what NYT called $60 Billion of reliable money over decades) - all to the end of protecting its ally Israel. (Would Ross Douthat dare to call Israel as the 'client state of USA' and dare to say that let USA go free that client state away?) 

I should know more about how Saudi underwritten 'influence' can be a menace. Any reasonably knowledgeable Indian can tell how Saudi financed Madrasas have made life of Secular India hard as well as provoked Islamic elements in Pakistan to wage a religion based explicit or terrorism filled implicit war against India. That is all well understood.

But still Saudi Arabia is playing by same rules by which international foreign policy influences are bought and purchased. It is no different than how USA has been buying favors all over the world for decades (and Soviets did until their demise followed by Russia) and how China is buying favors in Africa. To complain about Saudi Arabia is an analysis only half done.

If David Ignatius wanted to sustain his criticism of Saudi Arabia, he will have to question why did USA pay all these monies to Egypt over years.

Reality is, since American Political System does not have any gumption to question supreme subservience towards Israel, Americans better be wise in not questioning Saudi's when they are doing precisely a right thing in undermining non-secular forces of Middle East. Why Saudi's themselves are non-secular and un-democratic - that is an altogether different question for a different time and place which David Ignatius has not set himself to answer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dr. Dabholkar Shot Dead

A prominent Western Maharashtra Progressive Activist and Thinker Dr. Narendra Dhabholkar was shot dead in my native city - Pune, India on August 20, 2013.

Maharashtra, Western Maharashtra in particular, has centuries old tradition of Secular and Rational / Scientific Thought which many native folks have attempted to seed and nature in that part of India. In my early life, I have been fortunate enough to learn and understand moral certitude, but humbleness towards knowledge, from these masters. Dr. Narendra Dabholkar was one such erudite practitioner of this art of Progressivism fully embedded in the soils of Western Maharashtra. It is a sad day that he was shot dead.

I no fan of NCP leader Sharad Pawar. But he is right when he said

"The progressive thought for which Dabholkar gave his life, will not die in Maharashtra"

Dr. Narendra Dabholkar exemplified this true spirit of centuries old Maharashtra and 'sanity in the ocean of insanity'. We are at loss with his demise (and it is expected that Maharashtra Government brings those killers to books); but what he taught to generations of Maharashtrians, to Indians, will last with us for ever and we will continue to build 'our sanity' on that foundation. 

Thank you Dr. Dabholkar for what all you have done to we Marathi speakers as well as to we Indians at large.

Rest in peace Dr. Dabholkar. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Slaughtering Brotherhood

That is what Egyptian General el-Sisi is up to. Now joins the interim Cabinet in dissolving Muslim Brotherhood itself. Even though the associated political party of Brotherhood is allowed, it will be hobbled because its most consequential Brotherhood leadership will be behind bars. At that point, the path may look like Syria - continued deaths every day - but Egypt would have essentially settled in Hosni Mubarak era status-quo: the most popular political force in the country underground.

The question is whether the militant factions of Brotherhood would want to take Egypt Syrian way - open civil war. It is possible, but I believe Egyptian Army is more organized and structured to quell any such armed uprising, obviously at much more blood cost. 

The other question is whether Army and intrim government creates enough 'political space fast enough' so as non-Brotherhood political forces - mainly Liberals and including ultra-right parties like Naur Party - claim some political vacuum created by displacement of Brotherhood. 

These are the two important questions foreign governments would have to hazard their guesses about. If Obama Administration heeds to advises both on right and left in cutting military aid and relationship with Egyptian Army; Administration will have to have plans to face:
- slightly higher chances of Egyptian Army succeeding slaughtering Brotherhood followed by new claimants to the political power (say Liberal and non-Brotherhood political forces) while not turning Egypt into an Islamist state (i.e. retaining its secular character).
- Egyptian Army going out of USA and NATO sphere of influence and start siding with Putin's Russian.  Clearly Putin will not leave any stones un-turned in luring back Egypt to Russian sphere of influence as like Nasserite Egypt was. 
- Finally, the coalition of Egypt, Russia and Iran would prop up Assad regime in Syria, would continue to pull wedge between Saudi Arabia and rest of the Islamic countries in the region, keep stretching Turkey in their direction as well; all essentially detrimental to Israel. All this may sound far-fetched, but seeds of such potential realignment will be sowed if Obama Administration and Western Nations turn their backs suddenly on Egyptian Army and Egypt overall. During these tumultous times in Middle-East; there are two principle interests America needs to serve in that region - Israeli security and Saudi Alliance. None of that is going to get served if in the fit of 'moralistic thinking' Obama Administration and West decides to cut loose with Egyptian Army. 

There is no sugar coating here - the proportion of human right abuse by Egyptian Army is unprecedented even from brutal standards of Egyptian history. But Brotherhood failed miserably when in power - it did not attempt to solve economic problems of common people and up above showed tremendous interest in usurping power and changing Egypt from whatever secular state it has been to an Islamist State. One can imagine when even an Islamic Theocracy like Saudi Arabia does not see any value in Islamization Project of Brotherhood in Egypt. 

Obama Administration, Western States and other world organization should collectively do as much as possible to reduce the ongoing violence and human rights abuse in Egypt; by pressuring Egyptian Army. But from there to push Egyptian Army in Russian bear's hands / embrace of Iran to create issues for Israel; that may be too much un-raveling. Sec. Kerry needs some breathing space of a year or so to push forward at least some partial peace arrangements between Israel and Palestinians. Regardless of many experts questioning prioritizing Israel-Palestinian conflict over other flash points in the region; reality is hardly in any other conflicts America or external powers can change situation on ground whereas Israel-Palestinian conflict - arguably the hardest - at lest provides an opportunity to USA principally to exhibit some chops; all to be en-cashed in other intractable problems of the region. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Getting Votes Right

America's existing 'voting process' is lot flawed, prone to endless litigation famously exemplified by 2000 election and those problems are still not gone completely. It is pathetic to see that for a country like America, folks have to wait for hours to cast a ballot as happened in 2012 election. Uniform voting process all across America is absent because each State has their own jurisdictions in these matters; that constitutionality is given and unlikely to change.

Add to all this mix, a recent verdict of  John Roberts Supreme Court with regards to Voting Rights Act. John Roberts Court asserts that we are no longer in the Civil Rights Era of Mid 20th Century. We are in the Internet Era where political mobilization is instantaneous and intense. The premise of the court that the political process itself will ensure 'fairness' is reasonable. But this is all workable if political interests of competing political parties are aligned properly. When we have one political party heavily dependent on White American Votes, we may not be in a balanced position since one party would have disproportionate interest in suppressing voter turnout with certain groups; all via manipulating voting rules. Knowing all this and particularly racial history of largely confederate states, VRA had an important clause of certain States getting Federal permission before enacting voting process changes. John Roberts court stripped away that provision. Justice Ginsberg was right in bemoaning that aspect of the verdict.

Like fiscal and immigration issues, voting rights have joined the pool of deeply diversionary and polarizing wedge issues in this country. With Roberts Court decision, quite likely Democrats are going to be on the losing end in the short term and they would have to fight this battle at activists / local level. Increased and passionate turn around may help Democrats, but it is not known how much of all that turnout would realize in Mid-Term elections.

With 'political war outbreak' in Congress quite possible, there seems to be no chance any legislative solution can be found for these voting process abuses. But surprisingly Republican Majority Leader in House, Eric Cantor has shown some interest in legislating changes to VRA. On the background of inability of this Congress to do anything worthwhile, passing some reasonable voting rights changes could serve the purpose of showcasing at least some legislative achievements for this 'do nothing Congress'. 

But it will not be easy for Democrats to reinstate exclusionary provisions like only certain states requiring pre-approval before changes. In other words bringing back the provision struck by the court will be almost not possible. However, Democrats can make a counter proposal here - let all 50 states in the union require pre-approval for voting process changes and let the actual process of approval be swift and efficient. The best way to remove racism era vestiges is to treat all states equally and to submit all states to the same standard. No one is taking away state jurisdiction over these matters, states would continue to propose process changes as like today. Political reality is such that California is unlikely to propose anything which would cost voting rights of minority, so why California would worry in getting approval from a federal level body if that arrangement subjects Texas and other states with racial era history to the same process and essentially prevents them from getting away from voter suppression? 

If Republicans do not want Federal Department like Justice Department to get involved; Congress can authorize an intra-state agency which directly reports to Congress and which gives these clearances to changes proposed by states. Or else Congress can empower Federal Election Commission in this regard. Idea is let all 50 states of the union come together to decide and bring uniformity in voting process rather than making racial era history as a burden for certain states. It is true that California and other states did not do anything wrong in the past to loose the freedom of enacting voting process improvements without pre-approval. But there is a larger interest of this union to be served by forfeiting these certain state privileges - current day abuses of voting rights in Texas and other southern states to be prevented. Co-operative model of state interactions which submit all states to the same standard ways could be more palatable to Libertarians in Republican Party rather than allowing 'the competing Federal Power' to usurp State Rights in every aspect.



Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Raghuram Rajan

In advanced economies, policy makers and politicians have come to regard appointment of 'chief banker' (the bank which prints its own national currency) as a crucial decision making point. It shows in the raging debate about Fed Chief appointment in USA, or celebrated news of Carney talking over improving UK or difficulty of Netanyahu in finding a right head for Israeli bank to follow in footsteps of great Stanely Fischer. Whereas in Japan strongman PM Abe has BOJ policies as the cardinal part of his solutions to what ails to Japan and likewise appointed his trusted person to BOJ chief position. But Indian Public would yawn on hearing the news of new RBI head and I take that as a sign of healthy democratic politics of the country. Not only day to day struggles of most Indians are much different than economies of West, Indian people know that tricks by RBI have much less influence in daily lives than what would happen at central banks in other economies. 

From the perspective of Indian Public, the narrative on Dr. Singh's Second term is reasonably simple and clear: that Dr. Singh's Government essentially squandered all the good will during early years of the second term by ignoring raging corruption from Coalgate, to 2G scam to Commonwealth Game fiasco. With total destruction of Political Capital, UPA government did not have much credibility to push any meaningful reforms. No wonder, Opposition took the advantage of this weakness by completely stymieing UPA government in parliament. Unable to stop pervasive corruption, nor able to deliver on next stages of economic liberalization; UPA government is resorting to Brazilian Lula'a trick of 'direct subsidy payments' to poor and needy in India under various schemes. In itself, those are politically powerful ways to address poverty in Indai. Those policies are needed in some sense and indeed would help to make progress. However, what is needed for those policies to succeed is:
- transparent and efficient delivery / administrative mechanism, and
- resources to finance to those schemes apart from printing notes (which results in fast depreciating rupee).

There are steps taken by UPA government in bringing transparency in these new 're-distributive policies'. But one does not get a sense that those efforts are adequate and there are real dangers that 'leakages in the system' would still make these policies ineffective and waste of resources. As far as 'financing' of these schemes go, UPA government has clearly failed in identifying and mobilizing extra resources. UPA government has not found any new sources of revenue (since selling of Public Sector companies did not progress well nor auction of national assets like air wave frequencies and mining rights; all got caught up in the tangle of corruption). No wonder Market is fretting about the fiscal mismatch and running away in droves from Indian Market as well as her currency.

Easy liquidity immediately after 2008 recession provided comfortable context for developing economies like India because of easy availability of global capital. Instead of taking advantage of those easy finance conditions; Dr. Singh's UPA government has nothing to show and as Fed is starting to tighten up in response to improving American Economy; capital is leaving emerging markets like India.

So what can new RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan do in these circumstances? I believe, not much. Worse, I also doubt whether he is any better choice at this point. First, I am not sure whether Rajan understands the political context of UPA government's mismanagement; which hopefully would have prompted him to extract certain private assurances from Dr. Singh. (But we have no ways to know about those in public and in any case those assurances have no place in an open democratic system.) Next, what about internal contradictions in Rajan's own economic understanding? He may be picking up wrong lessons at wrong time in wrong places.

Though Rajan is famous for having warned Fed in 2005 about the impeding housing crash, he has been on the wrong side of the debate in American Economic Policy by not prescribing to standard Keynesian means (government to spend money without concern to debt and Fed to keep low interest policies). We all only need to read Paul Krugman to understand how thoroughly discredited Raghuram Rajan thinking is in this regard. Krugman has been vindicated and Rajan has been wrong here.

Next, Rajan has been susceptible to supply sider fetish of 'don't tax job creators' kind of non-sense. Romney defeat in 2012 not only has shown that people do not take this 'maker versus taker' argument any seriously; but rescinding of Bush Tax Cuts since January of 2013 has been a blessing to American Economy as well. So Barack Obama is indeed showing that 're-distributive policies' can help mitigate economic crisis too. Once again Rajan finds himself on the wrong side of economic debate.

What did Dr. Singh see so promising in candidacy of Rajan then? But I suspect that the damage may not limit in Rajan having only contradictory views. It could be that he will forget how profligacy of State without backing resources in Indian context, however would not deliver results as well as unduly tight monetary policy in India would choke export and business expansion. Indian Rupee needs to depreciate for competitive reasons, the challenge is make those currency movements gradual over period and not any sudden to create an economic shock. In Indian context, deficit inducing stimulus may not work that well because of corruption induced extreme leakage in the system and unresolved structural deficiencies. In absence of transparency and enforcement; stimulus in India is stimulus for corrupt politicians and middlemen. That is the lesson not lost on Indian Public and hence they all yawn on appointment of new RBI Governor. In appointing Raghuram Rajan, Dr. Singh might have placed a leader with faulty economic understanding and  wrong judgement to compound the problem further.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Washington Post Sale

"But Bezos’ move—and even the potential purchase of Tribune newspapers by the Koch brothers—is close enough for a 21st-century media landscape. These transactions should be seen not so much as the end of an era, but as a necessary recycling of control. A business that’s always somewhat depended on bigwigs more interested in challenge and prestige than pure profit maximization is naturally going to need some new bigwigs once in a while. It’s the circle of life."

--Matthew Yglesias, Slate

That is what pretty much what I think. Bezo's deep pockets would afford him to undertake lot of cutting edge Media experiments. One would be curious to watch out for those.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Larry Summers - Obama's Insurance

I do not have 'chops' in weighing on the raging debate of Left - who is better suited to replace Ben Bernanke at Fed, Larry Summers or Janet Yellen. It is sad that we on Left have come to a state where we think a bureaucratic contraption like Fed as our 'nirvana' instead of undertaking the true path of democracy - changing people's lives by winning elections and enacting change. Notwithstanding the suicidal politics of 'self-destruction' on Right; at least they have the 'game on' their side: the game of trying to influence 'minds of majorities'. But Left in America is all engulfed in this instrumentality of Fed rather than waging the politics what it is supposed to be - make change in people's lives by a democratic process.

May be there is a reason why Left is resorting to such an administrative means to effect agenda. We all can see what Congress has descended into - an active agent to bring down Americans, to behave in ways which will make lives of Americans harder, more miserable; all in the name of misleading mantra of 'serving Americans'. 

No wonder the President then wants an insurance in having an activist Fed to limit the damage to be enacted by 113th and 114th Congress. Fed, and in having a familiar leader like Larry Summers in running this Fed who has proven balls to stand the completely destructive agenda of Congress; becomes a natural 'insurance' in the looming disaster what these Republicans can bring onto America.

The argument is neither about demonstrated independence of Janet Yellen nor about gender imperative in having the first female Fed Chief. It is all about having the 'gall' to take on messers Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Paul Ryan and all those white Republican males who are all callus about the kind of pain they would inflict on Americans while they chase Ayan Rand style Libertarian ideological purity.

Agreed, that is politicization of Fed - expecting Fed as the last bulwark against the 'barbarians knocking on the gate'. But imagine things going wrong and Senate as well flipping to the Red Column in 2014 and these Republicans passing bills after bills in slowing American Economy further. That is the nightmare scenario against which President Barack Obama might be needing an insurance and he finds that in the abrasive, 'propelling head' Larry Summers.

During the dire days of the first half of 2009 recession when American Economic Engine was shedding more than half million jobs per months, America's Banks were totally under the siege. Brightest minds on Left like Paul Krugman, Simon Johnson were all with the deafening chorus of 'nationalization of banks'. But trio of Geithner, Summers and Bernanke stood up to the challenge by devising the 'stress tests' and enabling of Americans Banks to raise Capital from Market in toughest of market circumstances. That single act is what differentiates America from continued descend of European banks and shell Banking of China; it was that act of 'not nationalizing Banks and yet reviving Americans Banking sector using private means' which separates America from downward spiral of Europe. Summers stood tall then along with Geithner and Bernanke. He again pulled off to get some concrete 'stimulus' enacted when Christina Roemer - howsoever well intended - would have failed to get any stimulus through Congress for the lack of political acumen. That is the acumen President Obama might be desperately looking and seeing in the proven material of Larry Summers - the guy who would have 'balls' to stand Derrel Issas and Ted Cruzes of the world to keep ploughing ahead American Economy in all these treacherous circumstances.



Thursday, August 01, 2013

Tipping Point?

Ezra Klein may be pre-mature in declaring that Republicans are feeling the heat of 'non-governance' because one can still understand Minority Leader Sen. McConnell providing cover to shenanigans of 'House Crazies' (the term, courtesy Jonathan Chait) for the end game.  What is not clear is whether Sen. McConell's fights are simply twilight or messers Ezra Klein and Chait are reading 'tea leaves' where none exist. 

What is clear though is Obama Presidency has reached a tipping point - as whether opposition for the sake of opposition going to be the case in  remaining years of the second term or we are talking some kind of progress. By Fall 2013, possibly the course of remaining Obama Presidency will be cast in stone.

Pundits like Ezra Klein may have a reason to think optimistically since 'dyed-in-the-wool' Conservatives are calling the bluff of 'crazies in House'. That is not a mean feat. 

But, still one may not reconcile that we have reached the end of the road until GOP indeed 'cries uncle'. That would happen when schools start in a month or so, yellow pencil school buses start playing on fog filled Norman Rockwell American roads and that aroma of Fall Coffee goes into nostrils of most Americans to realize how disastrous this Republican caucus in Congress has been; including Red States. 

What it needs is steadfastness from President Obama and Democrats; not some kind of hand-wringing in declaring that super PAC money is the only reason to corrupt American Politics (which is of course not true, ask Karl Rove).

Because there ought to be a point where majority Americans would realize that 'the gridlock for the sake of control on rulers' would work only if both parties know when not to jump over the cliff. Let one party jumps over the cliff, which is what Republicans are preparing for; our democracy would need a jolt from voters.

Democrats can achieve such a jolt in 2014 if they stick together united and this President 'rises above the fray' - not just in sparing Congressional aides and Congress members, but overall in declaring that he would want to work with Republicans to solve problems of this country. A leader's tipping point comes exactly when he extends the olive branch while his opponents are in 'no come back' state. Apparently Republicans are approaching that dead end fast enough. That should silence some bitter critics of Obama Presidency