"Outsiders" World Watch: What a Way to Start the 4th Quarter
The last quarter of 2012 has been before us for a number of days now. As I have reflected upon the past number of months, I remembered this admonition from Dr. King:
be afraid to do what’s right,
especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake.
Society’s punishments are small
compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul
when we look the other way.”
The key event that has continued to dominate the headlines in the United States and beyond has been the first US Presidential Debate of 2012. The "Great Debate of 2012" First Edition was quite a spectacle. Just like millions in the United States and around the World, I also watched it.
After the debate, I started my virtual "walk-about" in Facebook to assess what the "buzz" was. Many were disappointed in how the President performed. He seemed detached, tired and disengaged. Cable News Punditry was also on overdrive. One of the cable channels even had the guy behind the Actors Studio out criticizing the performance. There were body language experts too. There was also the polls...oh those daily polls that seemed to say that the election was over today.
As I assessed this, the one I found closest to be credible was Lawrence O Donnell on MSNBC. I have to note that he's also an entertainer. However, he has a very distinguished background as a long-time US Senate Staffer who truly understands the political process and has been especially involved in Tax Policy for many years. He also was one of the key architects behind the West Wing TV Series that truly depicted the very ideological battles that is dominating the US Political Scene today. I was with him when he totally dismissed the handicapping done by the pundits about who won and who lost. John Kerry won all three debates. But, he ended up staying in the US Senate. Walter Mondale won his debate, but lost 49 states.
On a much more crucial point, Mitt Romney opened himself up to more scrutiny. He ditched his own Tax plan, agreed with the essentials of Obamacare and embraced regulation. Of all the latest switches in his views, what I found especially surprising was his embrace of regulation. He noted that markets needed regulation. It was quite a performance. Chris Christie, during an appearance on Meet the Press, noted that Mitt Romney's appearance and performance will be a "game changer". He was right. Romney surrogates were making the rounds though to push the "hype". I admit I was shocked when John Sununu called the President lazy and detached. He went even further and essentially called the President stupid on Fox News. No matter what may think of the President, the man is a graduate of Columbia and Harvard. He started his academic career at Occidental College. These three institutions are three of the premier academic institutions in the United States. Whatever he is--he's not stupid. What I await is the Vice Presidential debate. Hopefully Mr. Ryan will tell the Country and the World how they propose to make it all work.
Interestingly enough, the essential dynamics of the race did not change. As a matter of fact, the New York Times' Nate Silver increased the probability of the President winning the election at almost 86 percent with over 318 electoral votes. The National polls have the race as close as ever. I noted in my last "watch" column that I viewed the election as the President's to lose--I still view it as such despite all the current "hype" over the President's debate performance. I have also noted that it is going to be close. I continue to be convinced of it.
Beyond the Presidential election, there are the "down ticket" elections. One of the races I have been following has been the race in Virginia between Eric Cantor and Wayne Powell. I caught glimpses of the debate and was amazed by how Wayne Powell went toe to toe with Eric Cantor. There are a number of other races that seem to also be going down to the wire. Although Nancy Pelosi, The US House Democratic Leader, believes that the Democrats can take back the House, it is going to be a tall order. There are some great candidates--including Wayne Powell who has taken on Eric Cantor.
Beyond the US, though, the World continues to be as chaotic as ever. Europe continues to be in the midst of an Economic Meltdown. Spain is on the brink of collapse. Greece has entered its' 6th year of recession. Over 18 Million People are unemployed throughout the Eurozone with no apparent end in sight.
Moving onward ot the Middle East, Iran is also in a state of near Economic Collapse. The Rial has lost 80% of its' value. Sanctions are starting to bite and hurt the average Iranian on the street hard. The people have been protesting--as the Government has been very busy playing the blame game. They have been arresting supposed speculators and have said that they will impose discipline. I have reviewed reports of demonstrations throughout the Country. The newest reporting reflects a new plan presented by Iran to deal with the nuclear crisis as noted by the New York Times. One will have to see where that goes. What is clear is that when under pressure, the crowd in charge in Tehran has adapted. Such adaption apparently is already happening. Two of the stalwarts of the Regime, Larijani (The Speaker of the Majlis-Parliament) and the Ex-President Rafsanjani (about whom I have commented on repeatedly here in "outsiders") have spoken of the need to moderate and transform. Two of Rafsanjani's childrens were under indictment for various crimes and were sentenced to prison. What was interesting was that Rafsanjani's outspoken daughter, Faeeze, had already received his sentence--yet was allowed to leave the Country to visit his brother Mehdi who was in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom ostensibly to study. Mehdi was one of the key backers of the Islamic Azad University--the largest University system in the Country (similar to the University of Phoenix) in the United States and oversaw the development of the Tehran Metro. Yet, he was remanded to Custody. Kaleme, the voice of the Green Movement, speculated about what that all entailed. There was also speculation by others that Rafsanjani may seek the Presidency again to unite the various factions within the ruling crowd. What is clear is that the politics in Iran is bound to get very very interesting indeed.
Beyond Iran, there is Turkey. Turkey got hit by Syrian Mortars and responded in kind. Syria has expressed regret but not an apology. Turkey's Parliament has given the green light to the Prime Minister to do whatever it takes to defend the Country. But Turkey has its' share of challenges. The Kurds continue to be restive. The Turkish Economy is slowing down. As I conclude this, Jordan has entered a period of uncertainty too. King Abdullah has dismissed his latest Government as protests continue to gather steam in the Country.
The winds of change seems to blow ever more strongly.........what a way to start the final quarter of 2012.........