Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cricket - Aussie Domination Continues

ICC World Cup has so far 11 editions including what concluded tonight in Cricket's glory place -MCG. (Boy, imagine 93 thousand folks watching the game in a magnificent stadium; any sport will be proud of having this number in the audience.)

Aussies made to finals in 7 of those 11 editions and have won 5 times by now; that is called dominance! (FIFA World Cup has had so far 20 editions, Brazil appeared 7 times in the final and won 5 times while Germany appeared 8 times to win 4 times.)

During the 2015 tournament when Aussies lost their only game, it was while visiting New Zealand. Apart from that, Australia played all their games at home and what it showed is that they are simply the cricketing force of their own at home. Swashbuckling batting all through the team till 8th wicket, deep quality bowling bench and equally enthusiastic fielding; that has been the recipe of their success. 

But beyond that, there is something about the Aussie attitude which says a lot - always attacking, never to give up; aggression to the end. Say what you about that - it has brought success to the Aussie team so far in Cricketing. 

One of the most admirable things I find in Australian Cricket is Leadership of their teams on the ground and succession in their leaders. No Sport has seen such a smooth transition in leadership and grooming of next leaders as like Australian Cricket Teams; generation after generations. Michael Clark had the perfect sense of timing as well as poignancy of the historical moment in declaring his retirement from ODIWhat more glorious way can be there to retire from the game when you are atop of the world and when you had had a majestic inning! Well done Michael Clark while the 'golden summer' of Smith continues nonstop.

Billions in South Asian sub-continent may be sulking today and that is understandable. But sporting competences shown by a country of 4.5 millions and mighty Aussies, a country of around 24 millions, are still unmatched.

ICC World Cup 2015 edition was a great sporting spectacle and indeed it was a 'show case' cricket. Host nations staged an impeccable tournament and 14 top teams displayed 'cream of cricket'. Once again Australia leads us to the glorious tradition and history of Cricket.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

GOP is Governing!

"Don't look now but we are actually governing"

-- Rep. Renee Ellmers (Republican House Member from North Carolina)

One can understand the elated feelings of GOP given all they have achieved in recent years is 'tantrums, endless Obamacare repeal bills and government shutdown'. As 'hell no caucus' folks like Rep. Jim Jordon (Ohio) turns the corner, Speaker Boehner is going to find that it is easier to cut deals

This Medicare fix has been long overdue. In Speaker Boehner's own terms, Congress has kicked the can 17 times. No one at the start of 114th Congress would have thought that 'this' deal would be feasible given the rise of ultra-conservatives in GOP and initial legislative stumbles faced by Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell. 

It seems early on 'purchase' from Nancy Pelosi essentially created the 'space' for Boehner to plow the course in this case and as the bill became inevitable; it made easier for rest of the Republicans to ride the bus. Senate should adopt this bill. Hold out by Senate Democrats seems out of place here.

No one is expecting this bipartisan co-operation will continue. This bill had been unique, it has unique circumstances while Nancy Pelosi and Democrats had vested interests in getting this passed. But this passage does show that despite shrill noises by Ultra-Conservatives in Republican Party, Boehner is going to get more and more space to cut deals as Obama Term fades. Essentially, American Politics is moving forward as Obama Political Fights become history. Like a clock work, 'political upside in opposing Obama' is a diminishing return now. All these presidential candidates, sure they will continue the staple diet of talking Obama trash; but it will only remain a talk, as accomplishments of Obama Presidency starts cementing in American political edifice. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bibi going nowhere

Clearly, global media over estimated strength of Israeli Center-Left parties in today's Israeli elections. Though PM Netanyahu's speech to Congress might not have helped, two of his last minute political calls seem to have helped to coalesce all of the Right votes for him:
- emphatic 'no' to a Palestinian state and
- racial and apartheid style hectoring of Israeli Arabs who voted in droves for the Joint List. 

Later seems to be the only positive outcome of this election along with not so sterling performance of some of the right wing parties.

Assuming PM Netanyahu cobbles a coalition, which he seems to be more in the position than his opponent, there are number of consequences of this development:
- Radical elements in GOP which greeted Bibi with full embrace will get emboldened; resulting in continued shrill rhetoric in American Politics so far as Middle-East Foreign policy goes.
- More spanners in work for Iranian peace deal, more headache to Sec. Kerry; almost making it difficult to pass.
- 'Cause of independent Palestine' going completely to toilets with not much possibility of any peace deal any time soon. This would mean Palestinian faction will bring more votes to UNSC, they will escalate their fight in Europe and in global public opinion with a real possibility of further isolation of Israel in global body politics.

With complete neglect of economic policy by Netanyahu administration and willingness to allow rabid capitalism which induces more and more inequality in Israel; I suspect at some point more number of Israeli people will have buyer's remorse. (Equally it is imperative that Center-Left coalition improves upon their current political acumen since they could not match the political hard-ball of Bibi in this election.)

But beyond Israel (after all it is a working democracy and it will be forced eventually to solve the problem of life beyond Bibi); immediate questions are for Obama Administration. It can accept the election result pliantly and  consider this as the mandate for Bibi. I doubt Obama Administration will do that and indeed it should not do that. Obama Administration simply has to run down the clock here. Solving Arab-Israel problem is off the table and even if it was on the table, with Bibi's refusal for an independent Palestinian state and expected refusal to stop Jewish settlements in Palestinian land which he will undertake now with vengeance; it will be waste of time and waste of political capital, whatever political capital left with Obama Administration.

Ideally, I would love President Obama never to meet PM Netanyahu in remaining days of his administration. Sec. Kerry can continue the low level dialogue, but there is absolutely no reason to elevate that dialogue any higher. There is no need of Bibi visiting White House nor any coordinated initiatives apart from whatever projects are in works (like Iron Dome, sharing of intelligence and coordination for fight against ISIS). Because what is ahead is - more protracted conflict in Middle-East, more settlements on occupied land, possibly next Intifada and continued bombastic rhetoric from rejuvenated Israeli PM Netanyahu. 

In the end what is perplexing is a country with population little more than Bay Area (which has 7 Millions versus Zionist State at 8.2 Millions including 20% Arabs) would have such an outsize influence on Washington Politics and Global Politics. The job for Obama Administration is clear - to cut down this undue influence to it's rational proportion. 

Bibi's re-election offers that opportunity to this President.

Monday, March 09, 2015

What is happening in Australia?

While we continue to enjoy scintillating ICC Cricket World Cup; we come to know tragedies likes an Indian Techie slaughtered in Sydney, Australia. The murder was ghastly.

Australian PM Abbott has taken uncompromising line against Terrorism and Immigration. Will he do the same and bring to books those who murder an innocent Indian Techie? A proud, loving and caring Mother and Wife; Prabha died of no fault of hers. Or are lives of brown skin Indians of inferior class compared to white skin? What a disaster on Women's Day. PM Abbott must be judged by Indian Government based on how does he stop such violence going forward and bring justice to murders of an innocent victim in this case. 

India's PM Modi needs to hold a firm line here. His job is to let rest of the world know that "lives of Indians are not cheap". India's IT professionals have been braving this racist and bad world for a while. These IT professionals working across the globe do not need all that crap VIP treatment on NRI mela's. What we need is might of rising India in demanding accountability from these foreign states who fail to protect law abiding Indian Techie's. 

That may not be a bad resolve for the Indian state on the occasion of International Women's Day.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Hillary is Back!

Your reputation precedes you. In case of Hillary Clinton, her scandals have arrived perfectly in advance of her widely expected presidential bid. It is true that she has been battling such political controversies all through out her public life and her opponents - Republicans - have every interest in igniting such ruckus. But still one cannot miss the uncanny ability of Hillary Clinton to be in news for all wrong reasons. Why is that there never is a big news about her policy prescription while it is always about one stupid decision after another? I wonder Americans are in any mood to accept such a "drama queen" especially after 6 years of "Obama no-drama".

No matter which way you cut it, it was a bone headed decision to host Hillary Clinton's Email Server privately in her house rather than use Federal Government's email system when she was Secretary of State in Obama Administration. This reveals many things - Clinton thought she would "get away" with it. She and her team have been completely out of tune when it comes to understand American's expectations about transparency from their public officials. No wonder Jeb Bush camp will be giddy as he dumps all his emails - san privacy concerns - during his Florida Governorship. Hillary Clinton has a knack to bring forward "wrong things" while pushing the real policy debate in the background.

It is not just her email scandal, bigger issue is proprietary of over 2 Billions collected by Clinton Foundation; many of these dollars from foreign sources with full implicit knowledge of she might occupy White House come 2017. If this is not Corruption in 21st century then what? We do not need literal "greenbacks under the table" for Hilary to grant possibly favorable political and economic decisions once in the Oval Office. Who knows how many "chits" she collected while collecting these millions? (It is irrelevant whether collected monies were used for private consumption of Clintons or towards a charity. Unanswered question is, what did Clintons commit in soliciting those dollars?)  

Apart from her "scandal prone, always me centric" politics, one is not sure whether Hillary Clinton has got it right what ails American Politics and more importantly how to push forward a progressive agenda given the gridlock of American System. There have been polemical articles recently about what is wrong with American Politics. Heart of it is Congressional Gridlock. Barack Obama famously claimed that his 2012 re-election would reduce the fever of partisanship in Washington. That did not happen. Hillary Clinton is simply disingenuously claiming that she will do "kumbaya" with Republicans and that is it.

Until Democrats start looking at their leader as someone not only who would win the presidential election, but carry the larger vote for Democrats in Congress; there is no substantive progress here. In other words, in today's America only those leaders are going to be towering, transformational who bring their own parliamentary majority. Hillary Clinton is nowhere of this goal. 

However, Hillary Clinton has still few things going in her favor, despite usual dirty, entitlement oriented politics which she practices:
- American elections are still bought with large sums. Roberts court has given that gift to us in the name of 'freedom of speech' and there is no one in the American Politics today except possibly Jeb Bush who can produce as much "cash" as the duo of Hillary and Bill Clinton. Not for nothing all those "deep ties" to Wall Street have been nurtured for decades by Clintons.
- Republicans are still on the sedative of "tax cuts for rich" in the name of Reagan. It is year 2015, we have had Thomas Piketty and still all that Republicans think is more tax cuts for rich. Given that, it is a potent platform for any Democrat to run as she is the only candidate who would stop further plundering of American Middle and Lower Class while not siding with Rich. That is brass knuckle class warfare, but that will always win; especially given the glaring inequality in today's America.
- Finally, who else if not Hillary on the Democratic Ticket? After all it is basics of 'identity politics' - it is time for a woman Commander-in-Chief...Exactly, that is the tragedy of Democratic Party and with torrent of Hillary Scandals; who knows, Dems will pay the ultimate price in 2016 - loss of not just Congress, but White House too.

Now that will be the transformative moment and an immense loss for the progressive cause. Hillary's disposition in 'running narcissistic' politics rather than policy based discourse would have contributed immeasurably to it by then.