Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Out with the Old

In with the New

In the same month as U.S. elected a President for another four year term, the 18th Congress of the Communist Party is electing a new President and a Prime Minister for a ten year term. To be formally announced on Thursday, November 15, the new Chinese President or The General Secretary of the Communist Party will most certainly be Xi Jinping 59 (above), supported by a new Prime Minsiter, Mr. Li Keqiang 57 (below).

Li Keqiang

These two gentlemen have been groomed for several years and will be supported by possibly another five or seven Politburo Standing Committee members.

The real reformer of modern China is the late Deng Xiaoping, who moved China from hard core communism of Mao to a successful market economy. He was succeeded by Jiang Zemin (86) who himself was succeeded by the now retiring leader Hu Jintao. Hu is leaving a strong legacy behind for moving China's economy into second place, but it seems Jiang still holds sway over Communist Party, as he seems to have a great say in picking Hu's successor.

The two new leaders are largely unknown, though not entirely. Both have been actively involved in the Politburo for the last several years. Xi Jinping is a Chemical Engineer by profession, his daughter studies at Harvard. Li Keqiang has a degree in Law and a PhD in Economics.

The new leadership is expected to focus on economic reforms, consolidate substantial gains made under Hu Jintao's leadership and improve standards of living of common people. The Chinese public is becoming restless and outspoken. Demonstrators have managed to stop construction of chemical plants in their neighborhoods, something unheard of a few years ago. Also, corruption is rampant, it needs to be dealt with sternly. Hu Jintao's 'state-of-the-union' speech to 18th Congress laid great emphasis on it.

The new leadership will need to deal with these challenges in a humane manner and lift the Chinese economy to a much level if they wish to leave behind a legacy of Number One economy in the world. Currently Chinese GDP accounts for 11% of the world, compared to US' 23%. OECD estimates that by 2030, Chinese GDP will account for 28% and US 18%.

Deng Xiaoping and his successors have accomplished an economic miracle in China. A major reason for this success, China avoided American style misadventures in Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan. The new leadership needs to stay that course. China will need to pacify its neighbors, especially Japan and South Korea and avoid conflicts over some uninhabited islands. Similarly Japan & South Korea need not be influenced by other powers, if they want peace and prosperity in their region.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

President Obama wins despite big money and big buisness stacked against him

(Photo courtesy The Daily Beast)

Karl Rove, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, Jack Welch, Pundits & Evangelical preachers - eat your hearts out.

President Obama won the re-election decisively. At the time of writing he has 309 delegates against Romney's 206. Florida's final tally has not been completed, if the President wins that too (which looks possible), his final tally will be 332.

Big money was riding on the election, by some estimates as much as $2.3 billion was spent on the Presidential race alone. Despite the fact that most that money and pundits were stacked against Obama, he still won and won big.

Karl Rove is a probably one of the shrewdest political operators in America. He successfully ran both campaigns for George W. Bush. His Superpac 'American Crossroads' is reported to have raised hundreds of millions of dollars, mainly for the purpose of defeating Obama and snatching back the Senate. He didn't defeat Obama and instead of gaining, Republicans ended up losing two seats in the Senate and a handful in the House. I guess Mr. Rove forgot that having been one of the closest advisers to President George W. Bush, he shared the blame for a disastrous Presidency, which botched the war in Iraq, unnecessarily prolonged Afghan war and at the same time gave tax cuts to the wealthy, leading to an economic disaster like none other since the depression.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell must be nursing his wounds as he had openly declared to make Obama a one term President. In this ridiculous quest, he blocked virtually everything in the Senate that President Obama proposed. The cost to American public of these shenanigans has been heavy.

Donald Trump played the role of a joker, virtually challenging the President to a 'document duel'.  The person most ridiculed in all this is the former CEO of General Electric and one time respected executive, Jack Welch. He cut such a sorry figure berating Obama at every opportunity. Then there were the Corporate Executives who threatened their employees that they will lose their jobs if Obama won. Some Evangelical preachers too forbade their flock to vote for Obama.

However, all those efforts came to nothing. The American public is smart enough to figure things out and is not impressed by pundits, big money, big mouths or even preachers. They have shown political maturity in electing a President who was handed a destroyed economy and has since managed to pull it back from the brink despite severe obstructions by Republicans. Hopefully, the Republicans have learned a lesson and will cooperate with the President to tackle big economic challenges.

This is democracy in action.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


A portrait shot of Barack Obama, looking straight ahead. He has short black hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background are two flags hanging from separate flagpoles: the American flag, and the flag of the Executive Office of the President.

President Obama set to win 280 Electoral College votes to Romney's 256.

This is based on current trends of President Obama winning the sure Democratic States plus Ohio, New Hampshire and Colorado.

Florida is too close to call and is currently counted in Romney's column, However if President wins Florida, he will have additional 29 votes and Romney 29 less.

Monday, November 5, 2012

US Election down to the wire, but President Obama looks like winning.

(Photo courtesy The Daily Beast)

The U..S. Presidential election appears tight on the last day, and Governor Romney deserves credit for elevating the fight to this level from a distant second within a matter of weeks.

However, numbers don't seem to add up for Romney bar a miracle. President Obama is marginally ahead in opinion polls, however popular vote does not matter, the number of delegates do. To win, a candidate needs to secure 270 delegates. According to an average of polls (reported by Real Clear Politics), the President can so far count 201 on his side and Romney 191. It all comes down to 146 delegates from swing States.

President Obama will need another 69 delegates and he seems to be ahead in following States:

                             State               Number of delegates

                           Iowa                           6
                           Michigan                   16
                           Nevada                      6
                           Pennsylvania             20
                          Wisconsin                  10

This adds up to 259, so it is imperative for the President to win Ohio State with its 18 delegates, which will put him over the top. Though lately, Obama may have swung back in Florida and could win that State and its 29 delegates and New Hampshire with its 4.

Intrade odds are currently running 67% in favor of President Obama and 37% for Romney. I guess that says something. It looks more and more difficult for Romney to win.


There is a possibility albeit extremely remote, that both candidates end up with 268 delegates i.e. a tie. In that case the U.S. Constitution gives the power to the newly elected House of Representatives (Republican dominated) to elect a President and they will naturally elect Romney. The Senate (Democratic dominated) will elect the Vice President, presumably Joe Biden unless he does not want the job and Hillary Clinton (with an eye on 2016 election)  is anointed Vice President instead. The country could end up with a President from one party and Vice President from the other.

President Obama has to win by clear and significant margin, otherwise danger lurks for him. Some States do not bind delegates to vote as per their declared intent, so they can switch sides. If Obama wins by a small margin of (say) two or three delegates, some creative Republicans and their financial backers could 'persuade'  enough delegates to switch sides, causing a tie, thus throwing the election to the House of Representatives. 

One hopes, the results will be clear and precise and none of these shenanigans will come into play and there will not be a repeat of the 2000 election drama.