Monday, September 30, 2013

Rep. Huelskamp

"Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) continue to be hamstrung by a few dozen conservatives in their party, who seem to reflexively oppose their leadership at every turn. If you ask some of those lawmakers how they plan to force Democrats to defund the health care law, they have an answer. 

"We have sent a number of things to the Senate that are consistent with what the president’s already did,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), speaking of delays to Obamacare. 

"What we’re doing here is extending what he gave to big businesses and extending that to the  rest of the individual mandate."

-- Rep. Huelskamp, (R-Kan.); Politico

Ok, then why don't you leave it to Commander-in-chief to decide about rest of the concessions? Why are you jumping ahead Rep. Huelskamp? Rep. Huelskamp you did not get 5 million votes more than Romney all over America. (By the way, he is the same guy who counted how many House member votes he would get to challenge Speaker Boehner. Of course, I find it hard to imagine how Speaker Boehner is going to retain his post no matter what happens. If USA Defaults - and it will if GOP does not change since for President Obama to agree to GOP about Default is same as not just resigning his own Presidency but nullifying future presidencies too - Boehner will go. If it does not Default, members like Huelskamp will make his life miserable. May be an honorable thing for Speaker Boehner to do is pass Default avoiding bill on the backs of Democrats and declare his readiness for retirement simultaneously.)

Well, there is no rational discourse possible with these people when they think to pull down America is all Kosher. Even respected analysts forget the line between 'political activism' and 'damage to common public good'.

But then, this shall pass too. Only now after full 11 months or so Republican Party is coming to terms with Romney and Senate loss of November 2012. But few in Republican Party will finally come to senses to understand what games Sen. Ted Cruz and DeMint are after. American needs to be patient here while these 'slow learners' (Tea Party) get up to speed.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Next - Break ACA from Inside

"We will pass a bill that will keep the government open, that will reflect the House's wishes, that will have fundamental changes to Obamacare"

The idea which is gaining traction in some Conservative Circles is to strike at the heart of ACA Law by delaying "individual mandate". By depriving participation of 'healthy individuals' in these insurance pools; these willy business minded conservatives are basically aiming to 'sabotage' ACA from inside. So expect Monday night a third iteration from House GOP members - a bill which allows ObamaCare but without "individual mandate" in response to a return bill by Senate on Monday. Again Senate and Obama White House cannot fall for such tricks even though few Red State Democratic Senators would fall cheaply for such traps (the weakest link in united Dem front)

House GOP wants to keep playing this pin-pong. In a way they are loath to admit the defeat on ACA. Until that acceptance happens, Federal Gov. will remain closed while like a parrot House GOP will keep repeating that "they will not shutdown the government". That is just a cover to hide their machinations in engineering precisely such a shutdown. May be once many Republican House Members are able to demonstrate the inevitability of ACA to their 'base'; they will get a respite from a Tea Party backlash as they would have tried everything humanly possible to stop this law by then. That could be the point when this log-jam may resolve.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shutdown Certain

First, it was 'de-funding' of ObamaCare. Now, it is about 'delay'. So Federal Shutdown seems certain now.

The real political  fight is not between President and Tea Party, though President has to remain steadfast in not yielding to all this non-sense. It is between Ted Cruz wing of GOP and GOP Establishment represented by John Boehner. Ted Cruz also gives 'damn about ObamaCare or America'. All he is interested is getting Boehner removed from the Speaker's position, have someone more pliable installed in that position (or himself?), keep easing out Sen. GOP Leadership to a favorable group of Senators and essentially lay the groundwork for Ted Cruz Presidency.

That same Ted Cruz will be sold on dime to retain ObamaCare or other compromises if he get's his people installed in position of power. His is the classic case of a 'greedy politician' at any cost. He thinks others in America are stupid not to understand what games he is up to.

Given all this utter personal vendetta at stake and ugly intramural politics at play; it is much better for President to stay outside of the line and watch the unfolding show. He explained his thinking and his response, that is all good and right. Now, President stay there and let this 'fight to death' of these alpha-males sort out.

Speaker Boehner could opt for shutdown to manifest his GOP Colleagues that, "look guys I took so much hit for you; but I cannot destruct this beautiful country"; meaning he will have Debt Ceiling on the back of Democrats. Having Gov. Shutdown for few days and letting that 'dog' to be chained by negotiations between  Ted Cruz and Harry Reid / Barack Obama while removing the danger of Debt Default is a way out for this Speaker. But then these Republicans have not taken so many sensible choices, so one cannot be sure that they would avoid Default as well.

As all these tremors happen, it is difficult to imagine Speaker would be able to protect his job - either he remains in the job and the country's economy gets destroyed or he saves country's economy by sacrificing his job.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bravo Rahul!

"If you want to fight corruption in the country, whether it is Congress or BJP, we cannot continue making these small compromises. Because if we make these small compromises, then we compromise everywhere."

Congress Secretary Rahul Gandi delivered today for years what we have been looking for - Leadership. His Dad might not have been a successful politician altogether, but he died as an honorable man and (ex) Prime Minister of a great country. His Mom, she has demonstrated that one single act of Political Courage goes long, long way in the well being of a country.

Today, Rahul stepped forward when he rejected Dr. Singh's backdoor ways of letting 'convicted criminals' to serve in legislatures. Make no mistake, Dr. Singth has still done more good to his country than any harm; it is just that the old man is showing the weight of carrying burden of Billion Plus country.

This is probably one of the fantastic news for India - that its young politicians do have sense of "what is wrong and right" even though the 'old guard' at times seems to have lost the way.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Larry Ellison - Always a Winner

I thought there might be something which stops Ellison's ambitions, but he seems to get his ways always. He always gets the prize on which he sets his eyes.

Conspiracy theory - Oracle Team had deployed best software on the yacht and other tricks so they were confident that they would prevail. Then Larry called and told team to lose few so that the competition can be lengthened maximum possible....So this is all part of the plan. Not bad Marketing as well when annual Oracle Open World Conference is going on in Moscone Center, San Francisco.

Anyways, Larry Ellison deserves kudos and his team high five and generous rewards.

Update - The more I think, it seems like an Oracle Corporate Marketing ploy...Mark Hurd, Oracle Co-President is on record to indicate that Oracle is late to the 'party of business applications on cloud' aka business models of SalesForce, WorkDay and others. But seems like Oracle wants to send an emphatic message that despite being behind, they will catch up with rest of the field and ultimately be the winner. Good tactic or bad marketing...I do not know. Because in business, all these tactics are kosher essentially, at least in American Capitalism.

Missed Opportunity

While Sen. Ted Cruz performs his 'tamasha' in Senate, what is clear is Republican Party is spilling and burning precious political capital on a singular issue like De-funding ObamaCare (without any credible solution) and adopting wrong policies under the grab of reducing deficit when deficit is actually falling. This is clearly a missed opportunity for Republican Party.

Well, the opportunity will be missed if only Republican Party exists at all after the Default. Let us try to imagine how events would un-fold: Republicans would have conceded on government shutdown because their leadership would have promised de-funding of ObamaCare in Debt Negotiations. While the GOP leadership is busy in arguing historical precedence of past Debt Negotiations; President Obama would have closed his escape hatch publicly with full intention of calling GOP's bluff. With no saner minds prevailing in GOP and Business Community (the one which has maximum stakes in Default) failing to avert excesses of Tea Party; America would default. Markets would crash, bond yields would rise and Dollar may crash. Chinese Yuan, Euro, Japanese Yen, Korean currency and host of other stable currencies will soar. World would have changed on dime with permanent pricing of America's broken political system in whatever Americans avail from global market. Shift of Global Finance from New York will fasten. With jeopardizing of American Economy, it is hard to imagine how lives of common Americans will be any better.

Longer the Default situation lasts, more people will start understanding how toxic Republicans have become. For sure, we would have crossed the line at that point to bother about what is the fate of Republican Party. Precisely that is how end of 'political forces' is written and Republicans will be only on a path to become Whigs at that point. More and more Republicans, (ex-Republicans at that point) will start coming forward lamenting how saner minds did not prevail and how they were closet non-Republicans in the first place. Others in Republican Party will start running to Libertarian Camp, just to get rid of Republican lable. In other words, there will be a problem of how to absorb these ex-Republicans.

Just as President Obama started his Presidency in collecting broken pieces of American Economy; he will end his Presidency in the same manner after the Default. The only difference will be Republican Party would have retired to history books then.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

No Debt Negotiations is Right

Glenn Kessler of Washington Post slams President Obama for his arguments defending 'no negotiations with Congress for Debt ceiling raising' and Conservatives pick up that line immediately. Larry Kudlow, one of the reasonable Conservatives despite his continued faith in discredited policy of 'Tax Cut solution for every problem'; immediately picks up and wonders why is President Obama not negotiating to raise Debt ceiling. Here are the reasons for President to be so clear and adamant in this regard (and he needs to be so stead fast in days to come):

- During remaining years of Obama Presidency, America will need to increase Debt ceiling at least once; probably 2 or 3 times. What things President Obama can offer then to these hungry, irrational 'barbarians knocking on the door'? Delaying ObamaCare by one year will be already done by that time if Obama listens to Kudlow and other conservatives. If Republicans get even one more seat in 2014 Mid-Term elections than what they have today, that will be construed as mandate to dismantle ObamaCare. On the other hand if Republicans loose some ground, sanity is not going to come back. Romney loss in 2012 has not made GOP wiser but rather even more extreme. Which means GOP will be rallying to dismantle ObamaCare and ginning their base for 2016 election with the promise of total turning back on healthcare. President Obama does not have anything which will satisfy these hungry folks in the next Debt ceiling increase. Would he be then forced to dismantle Social Security or Medicare or 'zero tax for rich, I mean for job creators'? 

- Looking further ahead,  it is clear that American Politics is unlikely to be any different than the hyper partisan divide it has today. No President then wants to undermine future presidents so much so that Presidency essentially becomes 'rubber stamp / care taking' Presidency in domestic affairs. That is what repeated 'bending of President for Debt Ceiling' will do. Glenn Kessler is fine to evaluate President Obama's statement strictly on factual basis only since his job is not to consider politics. But what past politics tell us is in absence of hyper partisan Congress, there were avenues to 'negotiate and compromise' and that 'give and take' retained some incentive for Presidents to talk to Congress. What incentive President Obama has when every indication is 'entering into negotiations' is a slippery path? It is not that White House is not ready for offering entitlement reforms. That is what Obama White House Budget has been trying to do. How many of those entitlement reforms Republicans have taken seriously to negotiate and compromise about? In fact it appears that after accusing Obama to de-fund beloved Medicare to fund ObmaCare in 2012 campaign and still facing wrath of Americans for talking reduced entitlements; Republicans are hesitant to talk about any entitlement reform in lieu of increasing Debt Ceiling. In absence of any real reform proposals, opposing ObamaCare comes handy. 

Pilling of National Debt does not happen without complicity of Congress. Bush Presidency pilled on debt for Iraq War and Tax Cuts for Rich (which CBO is saying will still cost USA when President Obama only got half loaf there). In fact President Obama can comfortably claim that today's Debt is what Congress pilled up since ObamaCare has not yet kicked in at all. It is the Congress which is responsible for America's 'purse' and President cannot / should not allow Debt Ceiling as hostage taking. Let Republicans win elections and make whatever changes they want. Kicking in of ObamaCare implementation is far more critical and it will tell America what things ObamaCare got right and what things need to be improved further. Throwing or delaying the act cannot be on table. For that matter when it comes to Debt Ceiling, nothing should be on the table to negotiate since entitlement reforms during budget talks is a right way to control deficit. If President Obama ensures that, it will be one of the most enduring legacies of his presidency.

Update - Another danger White House or any rational political player would like to avoid is, if President Obama succeeds Republicans to drop their ObamaCare de-funding requirement but concedes something else in return; Republicans can very easily argue about how dear ObamaCare has been to Democrats that they did not mind compromising so many other things. For every glitch or difficulty in implementing ObamaCare law, it will be much easier for Republicans to highlight what other things were compromised by Democrats to get purchase. Given that, not to enter this quagmire of negotiating over ObamaCare is a rational response. All negotiations / compromises apart from ObamaCare can be done in the context of regular budget negotiations. Only when composition of Congress and its electoral politics allow members to adopt more positive attitude to improve the law further, should Democrats open negotiations about ObamaCare.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cruz Ride

Clearly, Sen. Ted Cruz is taking the entire Republican Party on a wild ride here. First, it started with taunting Conservatives. But at some point, established Conservatives like Rep. Paul Ryan are not going to accept such an empty rhetoric from Senator like Cruz. If at all any political force is going to finish Harvard and Princeton educated stupidity of one Senator Cruz, it will be the comeuppance over 'died in wool conservatives like Ryan' and others. They know, this whole business of ruining the entire party for the grand standing of one gadfly like Sen. Cruz is the true threat to their political careers and GOP's political future. All that Dems have to do in 2014 is to argue to Indies that GOP is the Party which deceives its own base (they promised to de-fund ObamaCare fully knowing that they would not be able to deliver on that...). It is not President Obama who is the nemesis of Conservatism. It is this foolish, selfish, upstart Sen. Ted Cruz. Because Sen. Cruz is challenging their Conservative Credentials in the first place, followed by taking them over a precipice when he himself is simply unable to deliver what he is asking of his fellow Conservatives. All for the purposes of hogging political capital for himself and stoking his own ambitions

May be here is one game plan Spokesman Boehner would be trying to deploy: exhort GOP House members for their 'conservative pride'; throw the CR bill with ObamaCare defunding over the wall to Senate and  then call the bluff of Sen. Ted Cruz. Once that 'paper tiger' named Sen. Cruz is slain; Spokesman Boehner can go after 'crazies' in his own House by taking them to the 'deep well of default' while rescuing CR with ObamaCare on the back of Nancy Pelosi. In all probability, his friends in the Business Community will do the needful by controlling 'crazies in House' and by then Spokesman Boehner would have demonstrated his extra-ordinary leadership skills in making America to avoid both the government shutdown and default.

Well, that is at least one theory. But in Politics nothing is certain and we will see if that is the script Spokesman Boehner indeed wanted to follow.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Keep Talking?

While Congress is burning on "insanity"; it all reminds me of Pink Floyd - Keep Talking...especially when I read: 

"Of course, much of evolution is down to luck, so this isn't concrete, but we know that complex, intelligent species like humans could not emerge after only a few million years because it took us 75 per cent of the entire habitable lifetime of this planet to evolve. We think it will probably be a similar story elsewhere. 

To date, no true Earth analogue planet has been detected. But it is possible that there will be a habitable, Earth-like planet within 10 light-years, which is very close in astronomical terms. However reaching it would take hundreds of thousands of years with our current technology. 

If we ever needed to move to another planet, Mars is probably our best bet. It's very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the Sun's lifetime -- six billion years from now." 

-- Earth Expected to Be Habitable for Another 1.75 Billion Years, Science Daily 

But remember, this study is by the author working for the same University which started the Global Warming Controversy

Monday, September 16, 2013

Insanity Returns

Next, Republicans in Congress are back to their games of sabotaging lives of common Americans by Government Shutdown and Defaulting on America's Debt; all for ObamaCare since shrinking deficits make deficits as the non-issue. GOP House feels having got lesser total votes than Democrats, they have 'rights' to destroy lives of Americans by sabotaging the nascent economic recovery. Republicans want to stop functioning of American Government because they do not want a program which will give medical insurance to more under privileged people! They want to create global economy havoc unless a legally passed law is killed!!

Negativity and hate of President Obama is so full with these people that it is suffocating and it has clearly deprived America from its ability stir her course and do even basic governance.

Consequences of all this insanity are so dire and failure of political system will be so devastating that mind of a common person fails to grasp how we got entangled into this and how do we get out of this mess.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Assertive Left

My guess is when Larry Summers met Sen. Elizabeth Warren, he finally realized that he would not convince her for his candidacy. She is the 'bell weather' senator for Left on Financial Matters. White House thought Summers qualified and potentially very useful to President Obama in circumstances like when GOP is controlling both houses of Congress and forcing to adopt economically detrimental policies. In such scenarios Summers would not be easy to stream roll or intimidate and Summers led Fed would work as the 'backstop' for all the sabotaging Republicans would do to American Economy. But once Summers realized that he does not have necessary critical support among Democratic Senators; he did the right thing by withdrawing nomination. Just after Syria Congressional Authorization brawl, one more fight with Congress would not have helped President Obama any further.

Already there are doubts about how Democrats are not 'united behind Obama'. What all this means is despite the talk of 2016 is far away in future, American Politics is slowly re-grouping / re-aligning for the post-Obama Period. And the safest bet for politicians in that situation is to become 'populist'; Dems rushing to drop any Centrist politics and going to the safe bet of Left politics while Tea Party going full tilt on Conservative side. If indeed, talk of 'increasing inequality' catches the fire (having seen the peak of pro-rich agenda in Romney-Ryan ticket of 2012); Dems may be simply going to older agenda. Votes for New York Mayor candidate Bill de Blasio indeed show that - the hard Left turn to earlier policies.

The danger in all this is further polarization, assuming there is still room to go extremes without breaking this union! One just has to look at how Colorado successfully recalled gun control advocating state legislatures. All this means, Blues will go more popular on Left side and Reds will go more popular on Right side. No more 'tough votes' of any sort in Congress.

I do not think President Obama has any choice here. He has to bow to the wishes of his assertive Left Base. Else nothing, nothing at all will be achieved in remaining years of this Presidency; the Presidency which is looking lot weaker in the very first year of the second term. You cannot swim against the public pressure, if you intend to preserve some political capital to be used at right time (like say attacking Iran without Congressional approval if in the end there is no peaceful solution for Iranian nuke pursuit)

As far as the business of governance goes, President Obama should simply accept Janet Yellen as the Fed chief. That should make the base happy and no surprises to Market. Sure it has the feel of picking up 'second best choice'; but when you do not have marbles, you accept the reality as is. The only other choice worth risking would be ex-Israeli chief banker Stanley Fischer; Ben Bernanke's teacher who has sterling reputation in central banking circles.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kerry's First Delivery

By and large we have forgotten what our Secretary of States are for. We think generally they are there either to 'sell Mushroom Cloud Fear mongering on Sunday Talk Shows' or splash 'reset buttons' with Superpowers which in reality do not reset anything.

No please, I am not sexist here to criticize two former lady Secretary of States. (OK, here is you Kerry installment; now you feel better?) But both these ladies were 'light' in deliveries is their record. Condi Rice had some success in Lebanon for Democratic transition, but nothing else. With Hillary, apart from pushing few women issues with Saudi Arabia and other countries, there is nothing else to show. But the thing with John Kerry is, as and when he avoids talking too much and his infamous gaffes, the guy gets what Secretary of States are for - to dig and pull the 'sh*t' out of foreign relations to normalize relations among states and to get done something concretely. That is what this framework agreement implies. It was good that President Obama did not hold on too much in insisting explicit mention of 'use of force'.

As usual, there is a long, long road to achieve anything concrete here (or for Messers Putin, Lavrov and Kerry to claim their Nobel Peace trophies; which for sure these gentlemen do not want prematurely as a certain occupant of White House got). Next stop is UNSC resolution embodying disarmament plan followed by international inspectors on the ground to undertake the gory work. Even if things roll without impediments - which is hard to believe considering fractious relations among different players and unusual situation of continued Civil War in Syria - it will be at best later half of the next year when Chemical Weapons would be diminished from Syria. 

Meanwhile Sec. Kerry has many more unfinished papers in his briefcase - Israel-Palestine conflict, continued pursuit of nukes by Iranian Ayatollahs, peaceful transition to democracy in countries like Egypt and Afghanistan. Equally important are trade talks with EU for trans-Atlantic Trade Pact (hopefully those get kick started once Angela Merkel starts her 3rd term in Chancellery later this month) as well as negotiations with Asian countries for trans-Pacific Trade Pact. We will see, how many of these things Sec. Kerry can deliver.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Larry Taking the Knock?

What I am saying is blasphemous living in Bay Area, but who would not enjoy that the Software Mogul Larry Ellison is with the bloody nose here! All those Billions, all that promotional reporting over months, all those eulogizing photos; all that 'marvel of engineering' is simply not able to compete with the basic sailing skills from these Kiwis. What a show this New Zealand Team is pulling off! They are stopping the man who has never been stopped in his pursuits - just look at those thousands of Valley Employees who were laid off over years when Oracle acquired one after the other all of significant Business Software firms in the Valley.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Glimpses of Tomorrow's World?

An elected leader of another country addressing folks of another Democracy directly:

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

-- Vladimir Putin, New York Times.

There will be time to appraise merit of his argument in NYT or whether he is playing duplicitous games with America. But today's is the day to appreciate that leaders of different countries are wanting to talk citizens of our countries directly. 

That in itself cannot be anything but a positive development on this somber day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

USA goes to Brazil

Jurgen Klinsmann's USA Team does it! They are qualified to the Soccer World Cup 2014. Fantastic achievement by USA Team.

USA has not failed to qualify to the World Cup since 1990, that is a solid track record. Hopefully, next year they best their 2002 performance when they came 8th in the global elite club of Soccer Supremacy.

President Obama's Syria Case

Some quick (clearly not completely thought through) impressions about President's speech:

- The President made a reasonable case where he kept the focus on Chemical Weapons, enforcement of international treaties and the role of military intervention in such enforcement while rest of the world may not be ready to lead.
- In a sense, this speech completes an important chapter of American foreign policy about the current Syrian problem. At times messy, but not completely lost.
- Hopefully, there is some lull in the breath taking coverage of this topic as Sec. Kerry and his Russian counterpart pursue something meaningful agreement.
- President Obama would not be able to simply wash his hands of this matter anytime soon. Even if diplomacy makes good progress, complexity of honoring any agreement will continue to 'hog substantial' White House bandwidth and consequently of American Political System. 

Meanwhile Washington can return to its normal programming - partisan bickering and continued political battles of GOP with Obama White House!

Monday, September 09, 2013


It is consistent with President Obama's core goal to embrace Russian mediation in the Syrian situation. The core objective has always been about enforcing Chemical Weapons ban. If Russia and Syria want to propose something which addresses the goal of stopping future use of Chemical Weapons, indeed it is a welcome development.

The basic case here is there are no internationally achievable mechanisms to enforce global pact like banning Chemical Weapons. General expectation is UNSC would play that role. But when UNSC is paralyzed, which is the case today when Russia and China simply do not see the seriousness of spreading usage of Chemical Weapons, it falls on other capable nations like USA to try to enforce Chemical Weapons ban. Yes, there are dangers of reprisal; there is uncertainty of consequences. But not taking the risk of enforcing accountability on Syrian regime is a slippery slope of increasing usage of weapons of mass destruction. America, which has been victim of large terrorist attacks has every reason to be alert in this regard and adopt the path of enforcing these global treaties even if no one wants to do that job. That is the core argument expected from President Obama tomorrow.

President Obama can very well argue that precisely because America has not been hesitant in proposing military intervention; Syrian regime is talking about the possibility of forfeiting Chemical Weapons. That in itself is a strong reason why Congress should back President Obama's call for authorizing Syrian military intervention.

Politics is what it is, President knows he does not have votes today to secure any such backing. Surprise is wouldn't have Russians also seen it? May be they would be thinking 'risk of unilateral attacks' by Obama Administration without Congressional backing (even though that would certainly open the politics of impeachment) is still worthwhile to mitigate. Or Russia and Syria would not want to disturb Assad's relatively stronger position in Syria by allowing American missiles on key infrastructure pieces. Whatever is their reasoning, Russia is indicating some flexibility here. For Obama Administration, it is time to 'walk the talk' - that what Administration has been claiming all along that American intervention is not about regime change but is about Chemical Weapons ban enforcement. 

President Obama can ask Russians to make their cards open by asking:
- submit a realistic plan to enforce eradication of all of Assad's Chemical Weapons and
- move a serious proposal in UNSC.

Meanwhile, it would give room and time for American Congress to wait. Ideally Administration would have liked to have a Congress authorized resolution. But considering all negative sentiments of Congress and American Public in air, Obama Administration would prefer to wait here simply. That seems about a practical path going forward. 


Going forward Obama Administration will seriously have to get their act together as far as how to conduct Foreign Policy.  Some of the obviously avoidable mistakes are:
- President did an abrupt turn in going for the Congressional Approval. White House should have maintained from start that at some point Administration would start a serious dialogue with Congress so as there were no surprises. This one is on President's lap when he dumped his Cabinet Secretaries.
- Next, Sec. Kerry got to be lot prudent in what he talks and he cannot be a lose cannon. That had been his Achilles heel in his past political roles and general expectation has been that he would avoid such mistakes. Clearly, that has not happened. Agreed, the job is taxing and times are trying. But still Secretary needs to up his game here.
- Finally, in going to Congress 'so ill prepared' for this vote; it is not so inspiring as far as abilities of the President to understand what Americans are thinking in general. Once dust settles (and Obama Administration may not be so lucky here considering the stack of all the problems pilled up with Congress in coming months); President Obama needs to think hard in terms of how to bring more competence and professionalism in all of this.
- One last point: as America explores the option of Russian offer; clearly it would mean no regime change. How is that going to be taken by Syrian Rebels which Sec. Kerry cultivated so far? What happens to Prof. Drezner theory of 'keep Syria-Iran-Hezbollah' engaged with the Civil War? Clearly Syrian Rebels, any good of them, would not take this 'throwing of them under the bus lightly'. Well, guess what? Once again that is the job of Sec. of State in 'mopping up the mess left behind' even though it is not his fault.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Answer Questions of Rep. Alan Grayson

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer exhorts Congress members to back President Obama in Syria intervention authorization only if Obama Administration is serious. One way Obama Administration can demonstrate its seriousness is by answering valid questions raised by Democratic House Member Alan Grayson. He asserts that Obama Administration is not as open as needed in this case and is not sharing crucial information required by Congress Members to make their decision. This is no way going about making your case to the Congress and Country. Hoary rhetoric, flag draped Oval Offices speeches, thundering performances by Sec. of State in Congressional hearings and bombarding performances on Sunday Talk shows; that is all fine as parts of "flood the zone". But unless and until the Administration comes 'clean'; Sec. Kerry finds a proper process to share core intelligence findings and its underlying raw data with Members of Congress; Obama Administration is going to fall flat on its face in this case. Losing vote in this matter is fine; but it should not be for reasons of incompetence in sharing appropriate information with Congress. That will be pathetic.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Different from UK?

Cynics are wrong to say that Congress would not consider national interest and America's larger role in the world. Speaker John Boehner has done well in understanding the context and removing suspicion in minds of blogger like me as well (shush, we still do not know how crazies - Tea Party Members - in House would vote).

May be indeed more members of Congress would come together and support President Obama for Syria intervention. Those who still believe in Congress may not be dismayed here.

And may be, just may be, this whole Syria Authorization business helps Congress and White House in reducing this fever of extreme partisanship. That would not be a bad outcome for America...

Monday, September 02, 2013

Conundrum for Conservatives on Syria

Jennifer Rubin is out with her bat in hitting Obama Administration while another Conservative luminary Ed Rogers wants to pass the 'no confidence motion' on President Obama. I have no idea how did Ramesh Ponnuru judged George Bush's Iraq war, but today he says it makes much less sense to intervene in Syria than Bush's Iraq's war. Ponnuru forgets that not only Obama Administration is sharing all of their intelligence with members of Congress, in Syria we have actually seen usage of Chemical Weapons while there was no reported incidence of nuke explosion by Saddam's Iraq. It is also well established fact that Syria's Assad possess and controls Chemical Weapons. So do we still think it is 'apples to apples' comparison between Iraq and Syrian situation? Again, as expected 'partisan' allegiance colors views of these commentators. 

Jennifer Rubin argues that precisely because of such partisan debates, Presidents are expected to take foreign military interventions orthogonal to Congress. This is to argue as good as like "oh, we know Congress Members are unable to rise above their political obligations; so why go there".  To what a cynical level should we go here? Is it not job of Congressional Members to consider 'national interest' issues above partisan politics? Why are we forgetting what Tea Party Members would love to advocate - constitutionalism that Congress and President are co-equal branches of our Government? Whether Obama's decision to go to Congress for the Syrian Resolution is epochal or not, as some commentators on Left think; what is needed is Congress to be fully part of this decision. (True, for any future American action against Iranian Nukes President Obama or future American President would have to take Congress's authorization too.) If that does not happen in the prevailing environment, should we not make efforts to change that? Think about this way - it is all right for Republicans to plan 'default of America' - the single most direct threat to our national security - and all the concomitant partisan politics is OK there; but it is not OK the same politics for a foreign intervention?

Truth is Republicans feel robbed of a topic in 'cheaply criticizing President Obama forever' for the Syrian situation. If he does not act - blame him he is weak. He plans to act - either it is too late, too little or why is he taking us to another Middle East War? He does not take authorization from Congress, he is imperial. He goes for Congressional Authorization, let us pull 'no confidence vote on him'. The only way these Conservative critics are going to be happy are when like a magic President Obama makes Syrian Assad to disappear, disappear those Chemical Weapons and bring some secular political force in-charge of Syria without divisions (which after decades of efforts, Trillion Dollars and significant number of deaths in neighboring Iraq did not materialize)

President Obama can be blamed for a lack of fully coherent strategy, but the thing is not that there is any coherent policy approach available for taking. President Obama rightly avoided to get involved in Syrian Civil War so far. But now the incidence of WMD has happened. If Assad gets free from any consequences, he would do it again and usage of Chemical Weapons will be established as 'business as usual'.

It is true, after shooting an arrow, it is still possible that Assad would use Chemical Weapons yet another time. But that would mean the same / similar punitive actions will have to be applied. Assad's air force, communication and broadcasting infrastructure can be destroyed along with possible carriers of Chemical Weapons. Once Assad's air force is eliminated, America could deploy 'drones' effectively to monitor possible usage of Chemical Weapons and enforce the ban.

It is understood that Assad's military capabilities will be reinforced by Russia and Iran. But West can equally further equip rebels in not letting the balance go in favor of Assad. And finally, it is quite possible that in desperation Assad or his supporter Hezbollah could attack Israel or neighboring countries like Turkey and Jordan are pulled into the quagmire because of the continued flood of refugees.  In all of these cases, America and West will have to stand behind their allies like Israel, Turkey and Jordan. To let go these countries without help as well as to let down ally Saudi Arabia is hardly any useful for America

America does not need Middle East Oil. But it needs Middle East which is not a fertile ground for easy availability of WMDs. America needs its Middle East alliances intact to thwart dangers of Syrian-Iranian axis. All this means, not to ignore usage of Chemical Weapons and this all needs to be understood by all Americans and by Congress.