Packed the newly weds off back to London last night, and Lorraine is up in Providence on a consulting gig, so the house has fallen silent except for the occasional yawning of the dogs. Feeling like King Lear, with one daughter in San Francisco and the other in London. Oh, how the heart aches, sharper than a serpent’s tooth! At least I’ve got the boy to keep me company.
Today I will attend a book launch for David Roodman‘s “Due Diligence: An impertinent Look at Microfinance” at the Center for Global Development. I will try to behave myself. David’s a good guy, but after just the first chapter I find myself disagreeing with him, especially when he says microfinance doesn’t empower women. I think we live in different worlds.
Check out the A&E bio of Natalie Portman, either tonight at 8pm or tomorrow (friday) at noon. Lots of footage from her work with FINCA.
Greetings to all who share with me this space-time continuum. We are but specks of dust in this vast universe — but let’s do our best to be meaningful, useful specks and try to leave this world a better place, one day at a time.
And now for a few predictions in the geopolitical space:
1. Romney wins GOP Nomination, picks Santorum as his running mate, loses to Obama in November. Romney knows his only hope of a big Republican turnout is to choose a “Tea Acceptable” running mate. But it’s not enough to prevent Obama from riding a rising economy to victory. Congress successfully kills any further stimulus, arguing that it increases the deficit, but firms in the private sector start investing again, fearing to be left behind in the recovery.
2. The Euro survives, and the EU survives. Europe, despite it’s problems, rides a weakened Euro to an export-led recovery, powered mainly by demand from increasing purchasing power in Asia, Latin America and Africa and — surprise — not just from the elites, but a growing middle class.
3. Assad hangs on in Syria. A war-weary EU and US don’t have the appetite to intervene, deferring to a toothless Arab league continuing it’s on and off diplomacy, while the government pursues a carefully measured campaign of murdering the protesters — never enough to provoke intervention but enough to discourage open rebellion.
4. Obama continues his predator-based counter terrorism strategy which, while largely effective, fails to prevent one significant terrorist strike in 2012, which almost derails his re-election bid.
5. Iran gets the bomb. Ahmadinejad assures Israel it will be used for peaceful, domestic purposes.
6. Kim reconciles, remarries, redivorces. Surpasses 20,000 Followers on Twitter.
Prospero Ano Nuevo a todos!
That’s what the Handy Man at Camp Chewonki used to say upon completing any work of carpentry when I worked as a Counselor up in Maine during the summers of the 1960s. Seems my Housing Start websayito was prescient: housing starts hit a 19 month high in November, another sign the economy may be recovering.
I thought this would be seen as bad news by the Republicans, but when I ran into John Boehner at National Airport, on his way home for the holidays, he was not crying but wore a broad smile on his face.
“I’m really proud of the work we did in Congress this session,” he explained. “We eliminated the uncertainty that was plagueing the economy by killing tax breaks and unemployment benefits for the lower and middle class!”
I asked him if he was concerned that Obamacare resulted in another 2.5 million people being covered by health insurance. Now his eyes welled with tears.
“I know, it’s terrible! We have to repeal that program, Rupert, and I need your help! Please, vote Republican in 2012!”
I asked him if the GOP had a healthcare program of its own, as I hadn’t heard any of the candidates talk about it other than to denounce Obamacare.
“Of course we do, Rupert, do you mean you haven’t heard of our “Don’tcare” program? ‘What, you don’t have health insurance? We don’t care.’ ‘What, you’ve been bankrupted by an operation you had because you are uninsured? We don’t care.’ ‘Oh, still paying for that kid you had ten years later because you had no insurance? We don’t – ”
I told him I got the idea. Before he dashed off for his plane, I asked him if he was glad Sarah Palin was considering getting back into the race.
“Yes, Sarah told me that being out of the limelight was really costing her in terms of book sales and speaking fees. She said she got out too soon, and that she should have stayed in at least through the primaries. Okay, Rupert, got to run. Promise me you’ll vote for Newt, Sarah, Ron, Mitt, Rick or Michele in November!”
I told him I would think about it.
Our revels now are ended.
But what a celebration!
A Hollywood-beautiful bride, a Hugh Grant-handsome groom, with better hair, the incomparable Colin Ross on the piano, backed by his wife Mig, who composed a haunting Scottish ballad (she’s Irish) recounting the legend of how the couple met on a moonlit, sand badger-infested beach in Norfolk, brilliant, tear-soaked speeches, a best man-cum-violinist who redefined Dylan’s “Hurricane”, the fabulous officiate, Marian, who kept us laughing through the World’s Most Serious Vows with her off-the-Moors humor and brogue, the great food and wine selected by Lorraine and Lesley, the un(?)forgettable pre-ceremony pub crawl engineered by Robert and Rupert, the guests who had come from the four points of the compass — San Francisco, Toronto, Washington, Sarlat, Singapore — and so on, and so on.
Thanks to everyone, especially my dear wife, who made this event a huge success!
And to Michelle and Douglas: I hope you felt the love. You guys take it from here!
Winding down after a mad 10-day run which included 3 speaking engagements and dozens of lunches and dinners with interesting people wanting to help us get FINCA UK into high gear, all against the backdrop of a crumbling Eurozone and the ever wonderful antics of Those Wild And Crazy GOP candidates.
Poor Romney, how could he possibly compete? He should withdraw now. He stands out in that line up like an Ozzie-and-Harriet throwback to the 50s when America still knew who we were and where we were going. Contrast that with Tongue-Tied Rick, who offers another Celebrate-Our-Ignorance candidate in the Bush-Palin mode, who can’t even remember which parts of the government he will destroy when he takes power. And what can we say about Hands-On Herman, aka The Octopus, who would use our tax dollars to purchase upgrades for his harrassment targets?
I can’t think about that now. I can’t think about that tomorrow.
I’ve got to put on my ‘Wedding Face’.
It’s Day Three of Opportunity Collaboration, and I can already say it’s working for me. I’ve met a lot of people doing fascinating, creative, good things, and you would be forgiven for thinking that maybe we are on the verge of a major restructuring of the Global Economy, but this time not something crafted by an elite group of economists and politicians from the upper strata of society meeting in their redoubts in Bretton Woods or Davos, but from the people who have been working at the very bottom. Couple this with CNN’s scenes from the streets of Athens, where half the work force is on strike this morning against the austerity measures imposed by the ‘troika’ of creditor nations, and there is a distinct feeling that, this time, the poor and middle class aren’t going to pick up the tab for the transgressions of the sharpies and speculators who periodically puff wind into financial bubbles and then gleefully pop them, laughing all the way to the bank.
I know, it’s not that simple. But neither is change. When vast numbers of people who used to live pretty well suddenly do not, and when others who never lived well live even worse, then it becomes less tenable for those who benefit from the existing World Order to defend it on any other grounds than a flippant ‘Works for me’.
One of my favorite British authors, Malcolm Lowry, a dipsomaniac who wrote the brilliant ‘Under the Volcano’ to describe his struggles with his demons in Cuernavaca, a city not far from here, described the Mexican Revolution as ‘The Unbandaging of Giants in Agony’.
One gets the feeling that we are just at the beginning of our Global Unbandaging. It will take a lot of right moves to avoid a lot of agony.