Saturday, July 18, 2015

Train Wreck Called Trump - Coming to a Halt?

Democrats have been devouring the beauty of how the candidacy, the outlandish rhetoric and surging poll numbers of Donald Trump would hurt GOP in 2016 election. It is well understood that, not just a candidate or two, but across the board Trump Presidential Campaign is destroying viable GOP plan in 2016 general election.

But may be the bonus for Democrats is coming to an end. Donald Trump lampoons Sen. John McCain for getting caught by Vietnamese. This political attack is way below the acceptance level of most Americans; I suspect including even the minority of racist and anti-immigration White Americans who might have enamored with Trump Politics. 

Obviously no soldier becomes POW with any willingness. All soldiers, except few exceptions, go to war to die for their country, to defend their country. It is like not better than arguing that Trump went into business to make money in corrupt ways! Of course most good business people want to make money in legal ways. Given this simple context of a soldier, war and POW - well established over centuries - all civilized societies regard their POW with respect and honor. Needless to say, common logic and basic human decency tell us that POW is the embodiment of heroic efforts to defend one's country. Trump would be wise to read how Jews deal with POWs and Jews set the example there.

Sen. John McCain's captivity was beyond a simple case of POW. It is always worth mentioning his exemplary display of moral character when again and again he prioritized release of other POWs than his own release when Vietnamese were conscious of high predegree of his family in American Navy. Where does Donald Trump's moral character compare with this bravery, impeccable patriotism and adherence to high morality?

Truth is Donald Trump is a vessel of 'filth in American Politics', he is serving that role for 2016 cycle. Possibly every Democracy needs such a ludicrous character who practices such 'gutter politics' to remind us that we the voter have responsibility to keep aside such bigotry and utterly dirty politics. Human frailty is such that, we need constant reminder of what we need to avoid and then there comes Donald Trump to fulfill that role.

Apart from his contradictory and outrageous lies against Mexican Immigrants, he attained the stupor by questioning Jeb Bush's Immigration Policy because he married to a Mexican woman. He deleted that tweet, but we got one more revelation of the 'hellish world' of Trump. And now comes questioning of Sen. McCain's war skills and his patriotism.

Republican Party has one of the worst tendencies of 'chicken hawks' symbolized by Dick Cheney and George Bush. These two folks and phalanx of Conservative pundits, themselves never served in American Military nor Trump too, but never hesitated in pushing lives of young American boys and girls in waging unwarranted wars in places afar on this globe. Donald Trump is the next step in that evolution - trash lives and honors of those who survive these ordeals. The way Karl Rove conducted a brutal politics against a proud Democrat veteran  Max Cleland in 2002; one feels 'trashing of veterans and POW' is not far from worst political instincts of GOP. 

Chances are that many Republicans themselves and definitely majority of Americans would not find trashing of American soldiers - POW or dead or victors - acceptable. 

It was bound to happen - the way Donald Trump train was speeding; he was bound to lose any remaining sanity and with Sen. McCain criticism we are getting glimpses of how that 'train wreck' would end in a complete political disaster.

(May be Fox News Channel should demand complete unconditional apology from Trump to Sen. McCain and all American POW before he is allowed to stand with other candidates in the coming televised debates. Fox has a fantastic chance to tame the 'tiger named Trump' which is ragging a havoc in the GOP tent.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Iran Deal

It is still early in the day to fully assess this fairly important deal between Iran and World Powers (USA, Europe, Russia and China). But here are first impressions:

1. For the core of the deal, here is a take:
a. Basic contours of the deal in terms nuclear program containment, inspections and lifting of sanctions are retained as agreed in the April 2015 deal.
b. For the first 10 years, break out period - time needed for Iran to rush through to the first nuke - remains at least 1 year. After that Americans are aware that it will start reducing, implicit to that is the classified part of Iran's long term nuclear program which would calm down American Congress. 
c. Snapback arrangements are in place so that if Iran breaks terms of the deal, West will be able to restore sanctions despite hesitant Russia and China.
d. Missile embargo on Iran will remain for 8 years and arms embargo for 5 years, potentially both of which can be reduced if Iranian adherence to the accord is truthful.

In general seeing that the 'core of the April 2015 accord' is retained is a good thing, avoiding Sec. Kerry the caricature of a 'sold out American diplomat'. 

2. The harder part of the deal is still maneuvering it through Congress. At least one or possibly both chambers are expected to vote against the deal and it will be only President Obama's veto on the back of Democrats which will stop Republicans from damaging the deal. We are looking at least 3 months or so before the dust settles. By then Papa Pope Francis is expected to come to the dean of American Hawks and ruffle enough feathers among GOP members on topics of Global Warming and Poverty that Iran issue would go on the back burner. We would also have potentially Fall Government Shutdown, an 'annual Republican show' by hardliners in Republican Party when budget negotiations come up. All in all, there are enough 'shiny things' in Congress making Republican Members opposed to Iran Deal lose the focus.

3. There is a big component of follow through of the deal through UNSC followed by a year long preparatory and inspection steps in 2016. Obama Administration's UN Ambassidor has her task cut out as well as Sec. Kerry needs to put in place Iran Czar Diplomat to implement the deal on the watch of Obama Administration. This administration is not well known for it's administrative competence and follow through, so danger of Obama Administration bungling the deal in execution is there. That is what Sec. Kerry will have to ensure if he intends to secure his legacy (about that Nobel Prize, we will see this Fall if anything comes there).

4. Tantrums of Bibi, is a nice 'side show' to this Iran Deal; entertaining world public in otherwise a grave and somber process. President Obama needs to continue to keep distance from that 'loud mouth' and if possible leave Oval Office without meeting Bibi at all. All low level contacts and institution to institution interactions are in place so as USA can coordinate security level cooperation with Israel as the war in Syria and Iraq continues. But it should be 'that's all'. Until Israel political class and society wake up to the new reality and embark upon peace initiatives; there is nothing what USA or rest of the world can do - all the opposition by Israel and critics to this deal; it is all vain. 

5. Addressing anxieties of Saudi Arabia and other Arab States is a different matter. President Obama, Sec. Kerry and Sec. Ash Carter; all of them need to do whatever it takes to keep American ally Saudi Arabia in good understanding. Otherwise this whole endeavour of bringing Iran in a peace deal would loose it's other necessary half part - that Arab States continue to be partners of USA - squandering all substantial benefits.

6. Kernel of the deal and President Obama's faith is that as Iranian Economy opens, sufficient stakes are created for Iranian Youth so as they would be reluctant to go back to past where Iran pursues nukes at the cost of wellbeing. Some question this basic premise, but overall that is the risk worth taking as other choices are not helpful too

7. As far as American domestic politics goes, American Public will back President Obama while Republicans, especially presidential candidates, will continue their shrill rhetoric making the process of 'going away from broader Americans' uninterrupted for Republicans.

8. It is good for Syriza PM Tsipras and Greece that the world media attention goes away from them. That will give some breathing room for Greek Parliament to start drinking the chalice of European Medicine.  

9. If the progress of the deal in coming months goes smoothly, it will help potentially to thaw relations between Russia and America. As Obama Second Term starts winding down, both Putin and Obama would have incentives to undertake some tentative steps in mending relations between these two countries. As Greece issue recedes and Iran Deal on track, Chancellor Merkel and Europe also would find the room to start repairing relations with Russia for issues like Ukraine.

Back to back progress in Greece and Iran Deal would provide badly needed stability to fried nerves of global investors while Chinese Government works through its peculiar band of State level heavy arm twisting to calm down Chinese Stock Markets. This all should be good for global capital markets in the short term.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Reluctance to Lend More to Greece

It is a fact that when Syriza government took over in January of this year, Greek Economy was relatively on the path of improvement. Greece had primary surplus and lenders had not been fully burnt with it. The achievement of Tsipras and Syriza after coming to the power is fully destroying Greek Economy and dramatically increasing the amount needed in the third bailout - probably increasing by $50 Billion or so. And zero concessions or debt relief in the process from Troika. 

No wonder, no one trusts Tsipras, Syriza and Greece anymore. There is a case to be made that even after European Tax Payers have ponied the bailout money for the third time, Greece would not improve as it is endemic to the Greece Culture and Politics to keep blaming outsiders for their weak economy while refusing to take their own full responsibility and yet again and again go to Europe with a hat in its hand.

The dynamic here is, there are countries in Europe like Portugal which have successfully reformed on harsher terms than Greek and countries like Finland and Slovakia which do not have welfare programs as generous as like Greece. So what is important for the Europe - to continue to consolidate the Euro project with these countries while letting go Greece or to expose the Euro for further fissures down the line. Seems like Chancellor Merkel's assessment is rather than spending more money on Greece, it might be worthwhile to take the hit but apply the resources to further consolidation of Euro with remaining members.

As I argued earlier, the danger is after getting evicted from Euro, Greece will fall in the lap of Russia. But there are limits there as well - to start with it is not that Russia has lot of change to spare for Greece given subdued Oil Prices which will continue to be so once Iranian Oil floods global market after the expected deal with West. Secondly the same internal divisive forces in Greece which squandered European help twice, would also waste Russian Monies as well. In other words, it is difficult to imagine that the melodramatic political culture of Greece would use any external aid wisely.

Outcome is Europe demanding 'all legislative changes' upfront from Greek Lawmakers before loosening up any purse and Europe will continue to lend money in piecemeal fashion, depending upon how Greece fulfills her mighty reform promises.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Well done South Carolina

As South Carolina chambers pass the bill to lower down confederate Flag from statehouse grounds, we all see one step forward in this republic.

American republic has no place for any divisim and for any racism. Agreed, American South would need more than lowering the racist Confederate Flag. But one step forward is much better than no progress at all in the name of perfectness.

Yes, yes slowly; the American Republic keeps moving forward. That is what South Carolinian legislatures showed today. We applaud those chambers for that and we thank them for their 'sense of belonging to a nation at large'. 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Soccer Champions - USA and Chile

USA Women Team wins FIFA Cup for the third time, long time after 1999 when they had won last. The dominance of USA Team, progressively assertive as its deep tournament run unfolded, was crystal clear. Carli Lloyd showed it all. 

With this win USA Women's Soccer will continue to gain popularity, more advertising and endorsement dollars as Fox Channel finds it out. With USA Women's Soccer - it is bipartisan compared to more Democratic slant for USA Men's Soccer due to popularity among Hispanic population. For sure USA Women's Team success and popularity will 'rub' positively for USA Men's Soccer as well. 

Talking of Men's Soccer, Chile scored a major win in almost a century after defeating mighty Argentina in Copa America. Chile would be savoring this win greatly given that South American soccer is always overshadowed by super powers of the game - Brazil and Argentina. For world's greatest soccer player - Lionel Messi - the bad luck in championship games continues.