Thursday, October 21, 2010

Precisely The Time For Progressive Fervor

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via WikipediaIn 2008 progressives used to make it sound like registering people to vote was revolutionary, getting people to show up and vote was the grand stand, calling voters up was Gandhi's Salt March. By 2010 the standards should have been raised. Where is the organization that has a one point agenda to take the minimum wage to $10? That organization should have been going toe to toe with "the American Family Business Institute, which is dedicated to abolishing the inheritance tax." Instead of building such organizations the people who stand to lose the most are planning on sitting out this election. It is not easy to organize the poor and the powerless, but in this day and age you would think it would at least be easier.

Citizenship is a near daily responsibility. It is not a vote once and watch Barack walk on water proposition. Even dictators who engage slave labor to build roads and bridges have needed a minimal of cooperation from the people. But in a democracy the people have to offer willful, fervent cooperation if they want big things to happen.

A crowd that wants a tax cut for the super rich that would be as big as the stimulus bill was but complains the stimulus bill happened is borderline insane. But the insane will carry the day if the common sense people will let them. People responsible for unpaid wars to the tune of trillions long lost their right to preach fiscal responsibility. And they know they did. That is why they have now climbed down to downright economic illiteracy. The dogma they are preaching is coherent, but it is as coherent as the gold standard. The name Tea Party is no accident. This is not a longing to kick out the British: there are no British. This is a hearkening to the slavery era.

The billionaire sponsors of the Tea Party drama got pawns running up and down the streets. The previous administration turned record surpluses to record deficits. It went into two unpaid wars. It blew up another trillion on tax cuts. It did not give drugs to the seniors. It gave a give away to Big Pharma.

That the government has to spend big when families and businesses are stepping back on their spending is elementary economics, it is quite basic. It is like demand and supply. Even George Bush knows that. But once you get the economy back on track, then you bring down the deficit which is not hard to do at that point because the revenues are coming in. Deficit spending in a recession is not only a good idea. It is the only idea.

Since Ronald Reagan real wages have not much gone up. There were a few years of anomaly in the Clinton years. But otherwise the no movement has been the norm. Barack Obama has to set the tone for a generation. He has to put into place a worldview whereby it is a rising tide lifts all boats kind of thing. And so you can't have the political pendulum swing the other way right now.

Those who have the most to lose seem to be the least interested in fighting even when they have at their disposal the mightiest political office ever created in the history of humanity. The apathy of the powerless is mesmerizing.
The New Yorker: October 25, 2010: Harry Reid And Sharron Angle Square Off In Nevada: The third group was the American Family Business Institute, which is dedicated to abolishing the inheritance tax....... “Our Contract with America is the Constitution”; “I want Harry Reid to stop doing more for Nevada—we can’t afford it!” ..... repeal the health-care-reform bill; liquidate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal home-mortgage agencies; oppose the Administration’s lawsuit aimed at overturning Arizona’s immigration law. ...... the anti-tax Club for Growth, the Tea Party Express, and American Crossroads, the new conservative organization co-founded by Karl Rove...... Nevada is in such bad shape that comparisons to the Great Depression are justified. It has the highest foreclosure rate, the highest bankruptcy rate, proportionally the highest state budget deficit, and the highest state unemployment rate in the country....... Congress passed more major pieces of progressive legislation in one session than it has in decades. ....... Nevada .. the most nationally powerful politician in its history....... she has called for abolishing the Departments of Energy and Education and the Environmental Protection Agency, and for privatizing Social Security, Medicare, and the Veterans Administration....... “Man up, Harry Reid!” .... Reid plainly had gone into the debate with the idea that he could demonstrate that Angle is “extreme,” but nothing seemed to stick....... some of the distinctive aspects of American life in the twenty-first century (loosening of social bonds, soaring hope in new ventures, rootlessness, risk, debt) have been cultured ...... more recently, he has called Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, the “hottest member” of the Senate ..... Everybody in Nevada politics has a story about the brusque telephone calls he makes at all hours..... Charged with cleaning up the casinos, Reid faced down the real-life versions of the Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci characters in “Casino.” ...... only once in his long career has he won more than fifty per cent of the vote in an election. He’s a will-power politician...... He took personal umbrage at George W. Bush. “I have made no secret of my antipathy toward the second President Bush,” he wrote. He added that Bush “is an ideologue who has done incalculable damage to the government, reputation, and moral standing of the United States of America.” He twice publicly called Bush a liar, explaining, “When one lies, one is a liar.” Late in his Presidency, Bush summoned Reid to the White House and tried to appease him. “I never went to Kennebunkport as a kid,” Reid recalls. “I never went anywhere. And I’ve got no blue blood in my veins, just some desert sand. So as he and I sat there in the Oval Office, I said little in return.” ...... practically the only good thing that ever happened in the life of his father was joining a union ...... “The American government is the greatest force for good in the history of mankind”; Social Security is “the greatest social program since the fishes and loaves.” ..... most establishment Republicans in Nevada, is backing Reid over Sharron Angle ...... “Social Security unites all Democrats. It’s the founding principle of our party” ..... he had spotted Barack Obama as a comer and given him a prominent assignment ..... Without the barest hint of braggadocio or conceit, and with what I would describe as deep humility, he said quietly: ‘I have a gift, Harry.’ ...... Reid’s gift—relentlessly working the Senate Democratic caucus, member by preening member—is one that Obama lacked any interest in during his four years in the Senate..... Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist, and Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut almost-Republican ..... In the partnership between the Obama White House and the Reid Senate, Obama supplied the eloquence and grace and originated the policy ideas. Reid’s role was to get it done. Between Obama’s Inauguration, in January, 2009, and the congressional recess early last month, more consequential liberal legislation passed than at any time since the Great Society: health-care reform, the economic-stimulus package, financial regulation, a big education bill, the rescue of the auto industry, and the second phase of the rescue of the big banks. Others (a large expansion of protected public lands, funding for universal broadband access) didn’t get the attention they normally would have......... Reid would explain that each senator is a “brand”: Maria Cantwell, of Washington, is high-tech ...... respecting the power of committee chairmen helps to win their loyalty..... In 2005, Reid decided to establish an early Presidential caucus in Nevada, like Iowa’s..... Reid had the wit to become actively involved in the Republican primary campaign, so as to get the opponent he wanted in the fall...... She is unlike Reid in almost every way except in her relentless determination..... she and Reid are in a dead heat in the polls ...... Reid, a teetotaller who doesn’t gamble ..... beginning in 2007, and escalating in 2008 and 2009, Nevada went spectacularly bust. Last year, the state lost population for the first time since the Great Depression. Next year, the state legislature will meet to balance a budget that, on a two-year cycle, has a three-billion-dollar deficit, on total spending of less than seven billion dollars. The construction industry—Nevada’s second-largest, after casinos, during the boom years—has nearly disappeared. More than half the students in the Clark County public school system are eligible for the federal school-lunch program........ “You had a large group of people from California who took advantage of the system. Come here, buy a house, no money down, take out a HELOC—a home-equity line of credit—use it to buy another home, get a second mortgage, get some cash. And then they’re gone—poof. They all came at the same time and they all left at the same time....... MGM is not just Nevada’s largest employer and taxpayer; it is proportionally among the largest single taxpayers in any state, supplying eleven per cent of the budget of Nevada’s government. ....... Angle’s campaign ignores what would seem to be a basic rule of elective politics: that you have to promise to deliver government services to your constituents, especially in hard times. ...... European governments get into trouble by overloading on pensions and other expensive benefits; American governments get into trouble by practicing a kind of casino liberalism, in which credit flows too easily, everybody goes too deeply into debt, and if the growth ever stops, everything crashes.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Tea Party Is Getting America Talibanized

MLK: In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
If your economic anxiety makes you have racist thoughts, guess what infant mortality makes me want to do. I should be having World War III thoughts. But I have been learning positivity from Barack Obama. He is a special person. America is not my country, but Barack is my president.

If your newly minted millionaire leader Sarah Palin wants her guns "reloaded," I am not going to beat around the bush. I got done doing that in 2008. I am going to think she is talking not about lower taxes, or smaller government, I am going to think she is having violent thoughts. That is the Taliban way.

A presidential election guarantees you a president, it does not guarantee you a great president. Democracy has its limitations. About once or twice in a century, someone like Barack Obama shows up and you get to vote for him. You get lucky.

The Palin way is the way for America to lose its number one status in the world. After the Roman Empire collapsed, Europe again became a society of hunters and gatherers. A Palin who urges you to "reload" wants you to more than lose your number one status. She wants you to go back to hunting and gathering.

Citizenship gives you rights, but it also gives you responsibilities.

America is in crisis. America is at crossroads. From here America could go to never before seen heights, and emerge a stronger, healthier, richer country than ever before. Or it could pull a Japan and become a has been country. America could become yesterday's power fast.

The crisis was not of Barack's making. It was the making of the people who have not yet changed the policies that brought the crisis in the first place. They never said sorry. This thing could still get much worse. The hole could go much deeper. Unemployment could go to 29% from 9%. It is still very much possible. When that happens to
Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via Wikipediaa society, suicide rates go up. Palin's "reloaded" is going to have a whole new meaning then.

Deep in my heart I believe this crisis is a direct parallel to the crisis FDR faced. But by the time FDR was done, America emerged stronger than ever before. America has huge advantages over its nearest competitor China. Those advantages are democracy and diversity. But those who say "reloaded" do not believe in democracy. Those who talk racist talk do not believe in diversity. Minus those two advantages China w-i-l-l have a shot.

Yes, we Obama people took this country. We did that in 2008. We did that through house parties, not gun rallies. You have a right to organize. But gun talk is Taliban talk. Violence is not the democratic way.

I believe this country could go to new heights of greatness if it handles this crisis well. And this country is lucky to have a global president like Barack Obama. Barack Obama is the most global president America ever had. This guy exhibits at least three different continents in his persona. After his eight years are up, it might be a long time before America sees a global president like him again. America is lucky to have him in the White House. Because the biggest challenges America faces today all have global dimensions. Some people try to teach themselves global world views. This guy was born with those global instincts. They are his reflexes. And so America is lucky.

The Palins of the world should be punished for saying the stimulus bill should never have been passed. Minus the stimulus bill America would have been at a 20-30% unemployment rate right now. If you think 9% is bad, imagine that. If I were America I would go ahead and cancel one of her book contracts. Ask her how much for a gallon of milk.

The stimulus bill was not perfect. The health care reform bill was not perfect. The Wall Street reform bill was not perfect. Barack Obama himself is not perfect. He owned up to it before you ever voted for him.

But the choice is not between perfection and whatever. You put 10 Obama people in a room and they are not going to be able to agree on a perfect health care reform bill. You put 100 Ralph Nader people in a room and they are not going to be able to agree on a perfect Wall Street reform bill. You put 1,000 Sarah Palin people and they are not going to be able to agree on a perfect tax bill.

That is what democracy is all about. There are tens of millions of voters in this country. The political process tries its best to balance the interests, and wishes of all of them. One person's tax cut is another person's many many children left behind. How do you strike out balances? How do you get things done?

When Sarah Palin talks about tax cuts for the super rich, I end up thinking she wants to eat children for breakfast. Not even the Taliban eats children for breakfast. What do we have here?

In many ways supporting Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008 was much easier than it has been to support him once he got in to office. Maybe back then we did not fully comprehend what we were getting into. Power is a complex thing. On the campaign trail it was only about getting people to show up and vote.

But then the hard part begins. You get into power. And you have to sit in government. There are three branches and numerous agencies to the government. And Sarah Palin goes ahead and retires from being Governor and gets a job with Fox television. I mean, whatever happened to the idea of public service?

Being in power is more complex than being on the campaign trail. A lot of Obama 08 people this year have been acting like they miss being in the opposition. Trust me, you don't want to go back to being in the opposition. When you were in the opposition, you wondered why not even common sense things were getting done. Now you wonder why Barack Obama is not even bigger and better than he has proven to be.

This is a president who inherited a crisis that was on its way to becoming a Great Depression. He did damage control and turned that into a
This is an alternate crop of an image already ...Image via WikipediaGreat Recession as step one. The jobs will come back. The deficit will go down. The debt will stabilize. But it will not happen tomorrow.

Not only that but bigger and better things will happen. This president has been laying the framework to give America its second industrial revolution, one based on clean tech. This president has visions for high speed electric trains that crisscross the vast spans of this country.

This president did not get into the White House on his own. And he can not do his job on his own. He needs the willful participation of the people to take this country to new heights.

I can't think of one reason why the people who supported him and voted for him in 2008 should abandon him in November. If you ever thought pulling a lever for a second is all it takes to change a country, boy, were you wrong! 2008 was about making the change. 2010 is about keeping the change. Change is hard work. It takes years.

There are a whole lot of black people in America who are thinking, okay so Barack Obama is in the White House, and why am I still working this minimum wage job? I am going to sit this one out: change does not seem to be happening. Just like there are a whole bunch of women in this country who kept thinking, if only Barack had let Hillary win, or had not run himself in the first place, they would be seeing gender equality right about now. Let's go sit this one out.

I grew up watching parades of women heads of state in South Asia. Their coming to power did not change the gender dynamic at the ground level much, if at all. The take home lesson is that it helps to have a black president, or a woman president, but ultimately it is for each black person, and each woman to do what it takes at the ground level to make change happen, and even then it takes time. Barack can pump billions into inner city schools like he did, but the kids are still going to have to show up and work hard. And don't tell me you were not having self esteem issues before Barack showed up.

Supporting a president like Barack Obama is sustained, hard work. It asks for governance literacy. You have to feel his pressures of power. You have to understand the principles behind the three branches of government.

The choice is between going backwards in time, or forging ahead into the future. Barack Obama represents the future. Sarah Reloaded Palin represents the past. She is the American Taliban: Sarah Mullah Omar Palin Taliban.

America need not go into the past. America need not relinquish its number one status. But the American people sure have a choice to make. You have to support a president for him to be able to do great things.

The recession has been painful, sure. But this guy did not create it, he prevented it from getting even worse, and he now deserves the time it will take to put things back to normal and to take the country to new heights.

It is not a choice between Barack Obama and Gandhi. It is a choice between Barack Obam and Sarah Palin. Make the right choice. You will be rewarded.

Is America In Decline? Is It Rome Or FDR?
Newt Gingrich: Monkeyface
White Supremacy: Unsustainable

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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Is America In Decline? Is It Rome Or FDR?

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 04:  A young child wearing ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The New Republic: Political Columnists Think America Is In Decline. Big Surprise.: Samuel P. Huntington noted that the theme of “America’s decline” had in fact been a constant in American culture and politics since at least the late 1950s. It had come, he wrote, in several distinct waves: in reaction to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik; to the Vietnam war; to the oil shock of 1973; to Soviet aggression in the late 1970s; and to the general unease that accompanied the end of the Cold War. Since Huntington wrote, we can add at least two more waves: in reaction to 9/11, and to the current “Great Recession.” ..... “By faith and honor, / Our madams mock at us, and plainly say / Our mettle is bred out and they will give / Their bodies to the lust of English youth / To new-store France with bastard warriors.”

There has been relentless talk that America is in decline. Just like the Roman Empire ended and the sun set on the British Empire as World War II concluded, America's number one position is now gone. That is the suggestion. That is one train of thought. (Another Trillion To Buy Real Estate?)

Another train of thought is that Barack Obama is like FDR. His Great Recession is like FDR's Great Depression was. Just like that big crisis, handled well, took America to new heights, Obama will handle this crisis well as well, and America will be taken to heights it has never seen before. (Father Of India Dot Com Craze Gives A Thumbs Up To America)

I belong to that second school of thought. I am a Barack Obama fan. I am an optimist. I have a realistic idea of where India and China stand today. China is still largely a Third World country. Hundreds of millions of Chinese are still Third World poor. And China does not have America's democracy or diversity.

But I am a cautious optimist. They say the proudest title to wear in a democracy is that of a citizen. The proudest hat during Obama 08 was that of a volunteer and I was wearing that hat. Barack Obama has done a good job so far, but he has not yet done everything that needs to be done. The unemployment level has to go down to five or six per cent on his watch, for example. And the political winds might blow in some unforeseen ways, he might lose the House next month. That might complicate matters for him.

The fundamental transformation has not happened. If America were to go back to the same old same old now, if America were to go back to being a country where only white men became president like the Tea Party wants, then yes, America is a power in decline. It is already a multi-polar world as it should be. Attitudes that get alarmed that China is pulling hundreds of millions out of poverty are attitudes that will ensure America's decline.

America could emerge stronger than ever out of this crisis, but that is not a certain outcome. The arc of history bends towards justice, but it does not bend on its own. There is work to be done. America could still see a second industrial revolution driven by clean tech.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Reshma Saujani Is Back

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on June 2, 2007.Image via WikipediaWell, she is.

Last Friday I went to see the Facebook movie in Murray Hill. Before that I had made a firm decision to not go see the movie. (The Social Network: Before Seeing The Movie) I was going to express solidarity with Mark Zuckerberg. But I was to learn later the entire Facebook team went to see the movie around the same time I did. Fred Wilson and I call it mind meld. There have been three times so far when Fred Wilson and I have talked about the same thing the same day at our respective blogs independent of each other. (I Gave In: Facebook: The Movie, To Make Sense Of The Facebook Movie, Facebook Needs To Revamp Email Next, Facebook's Location Patent)

On my way back, at the train station, on the platform, as I lay sitting, waiting for the train, a Reshma 2010 staffer walked over to me, former Reshma 2010 staffer. Jay Ko. New York is a big city. It is rare to meet people you know when you are out and about town. Happens about once a year for me.

"She is resting," he said. Oh, okay. (ANTA Convention: Emotional Bath)

I never really turned that Google Alerts thing off. For days it was yet another publication breaking news that "the Indian American woman who ran for Congress lost." Okay, I got that. I was at the election returns watch party, and that was like two weeks ago. I snapped out of it within seconds. Or maybe minutes. Definitely by the following day. Carolyn Maloney is mediocre. That is my permanent impression.

Looks like Reshma Saujani's coming out event was some Punjabi dude running for City Council. At some level she never really woke up from the Obama 08 Democrat From Punjab episode. I took a personal hit when that happened. It just felt wrong. I was the only full timer Obama 08 volunteer in the city at the time. And I am Indian, watch out. (There Is An Albert Einstein On The Obama Campaign Staff) I sent out a missive and Barack Obama personally responded. He said that press release was "stupid" and the work of some lowly staffer.

Reshma has a Punjabi roommate.

The Prime Minister of India is a Punjabi. Barack shall soon meet.

I am in America because Nepal is not safe. America is safe, or so I thought. Bobby Kennedy was no longer campaigning in June. (Competing With Hillary Now)

Politics was not safe, I thought, and so I decided I was going to pour myself into tech entrepreneurship. 2009 was my tech year. (The Dumbfuck Immigration Laws) I was a regular at the Science House MeetUp, not to say the NY Tech MeetUp, which is where I met the Science House people in the first place. Late in 2009 the FBI started sniffing around the Science House. A few months later they were still sniffing around. And I lost it. I am thinking, not now, not when my guy is in the White House. (Obama's Got Momentum: He Could Defy History In November)

Tech was not safe either. What to do?

Only later I read somewhere that Carolyn Maloney's husband had died in Nepal late in 2009. And I am thinking, fuck.

Maloney has been of no interest to me in the five years I have been in the city; until Reshma 2010. She was a mere blip on the screen. She was mediocre. She filled a slot. She was part of the landscape. Hakeem Jeffries, on the other hand. (Hakeem Jeffries: Principled Compromise, Hakeem Jeffries Debate, New York Times: Hakeem Jeffries)

Nepal has a Shangrila image, and rightly so, it has been the most popular destination among Peace Corps volunteers for half a century, but that is only half the story. Nepal is also the poorest country outside of Africa. It only a few years back ended a decade long civil war. Nepal saw the rise of the number one ultra left group in the post Cold War era. Compared to the Maoists of Nepal, the Shining Path of Peru was not much. One of the drug routes goes through Nepal. High level people in the country's army get involved for the money.

I have walked in every part of New York City, and at all hours of day and night.

I am a nonviolent person, always have been. I am a political person, always have been. But nonviolent militancy is still nonviolent. (To: The Ayatollah, Newt Gingrich: Monkeyface)

I am too politically gifted to be wowed by a Barack Obama, even when it is my firm judgment he is going to go down in history as a great president. (I Touched Obama: Babel, Barack) I might not have felt the same intimacy if he had been a pastor or a pilot, but politics I know.

A few days back I read a piece where Osama Bin Laden was seeing a connection between global warming and the recent unusual floods in Pakistan. No politician in Pakistan saw that connection, not that I heard of. When random fires erupted all over Greece a few years back, they arrested all sorts of arsonists with records. They did not know to blame global warming. And I am thinking Bin Laden is a smart guy, just like I thought. He is that other butterfly effect dude on the planet.

And here you have two blog posts from Reshma Saujani. The question I have asked - before ever meeting - is what if she is too racist and too sexist by my extremely high standards? Internalized racism and sexism are still racism and sexism.
Reshma Saujani: Want to Break the Glass Ceiling? Give Young Women a Running Start: the outcome of the 2010 midterms could lead to the biggest reduction of female representation in Congress in over three decades...... Women make up 17 percent of the members of Congress, ranking the United States 68th internationally in women’s political representation ...... in the 20th century, twelve of the nineteen presidents were thirty-five years or younger when they were elected to their first office. ...... nurture and mentor young female candidates who lose their first local, state or federal race and empower them not to get discouraged and to continue to strive for elected office. ..... What progressives cannot do is let Sarah Palin’s Mama Grizzlies define what the female politician looks and sounds like in the 21st century. This country is hungry for female leadership, and as women continue to be the majority of voters, we must take the opportunity to paint our nation pink.
Sarah Palin: Palin 2012: Rogue
Reshma Saujani: Bullhorn: Democrats Need to Fire Up the Fed-Up: we need more candidates running insurgent campaigns to engage communities who feel they do not have a voice. ..... the turnout of the South Asian community in the 14th district primary reached historic proportions. On election day, I saw crowds of Bangladeshi Americans come out and vote who have never participated in a primary election before. Young South Asian girls surrounded me holding my campaign materials, telling me that they too can run for higher office. ...... dropout factory schools ...... The ironic outcome of America electing the first black President is that it energized the right but not the left. ..... For many of us who were moved by President Obama’s historic campaign, we are fired up and ready to go – but the question is, where are we headed?
Reshma Saujani: Blogger

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Finally A Small Jobs Program

SAVANNAH, GA -  MARCH 2:  U.S. President Barac...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
New York Times: White House Plans Job Training Partnership: help better align community college curriculums with the demands of local companies. .... The new White House initiative, Skills for America’s Future, will try to foster more of these programs, and to certify a list of best practices for public-private retraining partnerships..... As yet there are no plans to request government money to support these efforts
I have long maintained that the US government has to do for job creation what it did for bank bailouts and what it did with the stimulus bill. It needs to do something big. I don't know if this step is big enough, it probably is not, but it is a step in the right direction.

This needs to be a 50 billion dollar program, not a zero dollar program.
BBC: It's election time again for Obama: At his best he is an electrifying speaker..... wielding power in this country is even harder than winning it. .... This country's election cycles are starting to interlock and overlap...... The media is turning into a psychotic toddler that cannot rest until the obsession of the moment has been assuaged, and then cannot remember it five minutes later. ..... Every day this bruising spin cycle picks up the issue of the moment like a tornado ripping a barn up off the prairie. .... America wants a president who is good in a crisis until there is a crisis ...... Obscure procedural rules dating back to the days when senators used to arrive at Capitol Hill on horseback, are used to block the appointments of relatively minor officials..... a built-in bias towards centrism and pragmatism.

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Israel, India, Palestine, Kashmir: Parallels

Map showing the relative proportion of Christi...Image via Wikipedia
New York Times: Pankaj Mishra: Games India Isn’t Ready to Play: “as hard as we try to build a new India ... old India still has the power to humiliate and embarrass us.” ...... Since June, a mass insurrection, resembling the Palestinian intifada, has raged in the Indian-held Valley of Kashmir. .... The contrast to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in which the Chinese government largely overcame controversy and staked a claim to a dominant place in the world order, is all too depressingly clear..... Beijing faces no political problems as severe as the many insurgencies in central India and Kashmir, or tragedies as great as the waves of suicides of tens of thousands of overburdened farmers over the last two decades ..... the private wealth of the 49 Indians on the Forbes list is nearly 31 percent of India’s gross domestic product ..... there are more poor people in just eight Indian states than in all the 26 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, with the large state of Madhya Pradesh comparable in intensity of deprivation to war-ravaged Congo. ..... the four million Muslims of Kashmir, who every day suffer the brutalities of what’s arguably the world’s largest military occupation ... a minority kept under perpetual siege by a paranoid nation-state.

America is the world's oldest democracy, India its largest, and so the two should see common gorund. Israel is the Middle East's lone democracy. And India is that other democracy across a few states in between, and so Israel and India should see common ground.

Those are valid lines of reasonings, except Israel fails miserably in Palestine as India does in Kashmir. And Israel and India are democracies. Palestine and Kashmir are fault lines that are important to understand and act upon if we are to make progress in terms of spreading democracy across the Arab world.

Muslims in India are like African Americans in America. They are that other people lagging in all socio-economic indicators. There are a few high profile Muslim Indians, but that does not change the fact that the Muslim masses in India lag behind, and often get demonized by the Hindu majority. The periodic Hindu-Muslim riots that flare up are not even fights. There are too many Hindus. They got too much. They control too much. They have too many allies. The Hindus are the state.

Democracies should be capable of introspection and frank debate. Democracies should be able to deal with social wrongs. In that both Israel and India stand challenged.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Health Care For FDR, Iran For Lincoln

Abbasid Empire 750-788Image via WikipediaLong before the first primary vote was cast, Barack said, for him it was not if he can get elected president, the issue was, once he got elected, could he become a great president. That's my guy. Well, after health care reform, he has hit FDR levels. Destiny put the Great Recession in his lap. That was a recipe for greatness. You need a big crisis to become a great president.

But there is a difference between FDR and Lincoln. FDR is Mars, Lincoln is Jupiter. You need an issue like slavery to hit Lincoln heights. The closest thing to slavery we have today are the women in the Arab world and what the mullahs do to them on a daily basis. The black slaves back in the days did not have to walk around with their heads covered.
That is where Iran comes in. Iran is Barack's chance to attempt Lincoln heights.

The question is not if the mullahs in Iran will go, of course they will go. Of course the democracy movement in Iran will succeed. The question is, can we turn success in Iran into a 1989 moment for the Arab world at large? I want the Saudi king out. I want Mubarak out. I want democracy in Jordan. I want democracy in Syria.

I think it is possible if all us play our roles, those of us who are members of the global netroots/grassroots, those who in power in the democracies of the world, the diaspora of those countries. We all have to pitch in and do all we can for the masses in those countries.

The hunger to be free resides in every heart, in every soul. There is a plant in every seed, but the seed does not become a plant on its own. It needs that right environment. We have to creat that environment.

A democracy movement is both art and science.

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Criminals Do Not Get To Organize Political Parties

Ruhollah KhomeiniImage via WikipediaAfter the regime in Iran is gone, an interim government will come into power. That interim government will hold elections to a constituent assembly. Iranians will have the right to organize political parties to contest such elections. That would include people who are currently part of the Iran state structure. But that would not include criminals.

People in power directly and indirectly responsible for unleashing brutality upon peaceful protesters are criminals. They have to be tried either in the International Criminal Court or by the interim government domestically.

Criminals don't have the right to vote, let alone the right to organize political parties.

Khomeini is a war criminal. He unleashed war weapons upon peaceful Iranian demonstrators. Khomeini has a right to not accept the demands of peaceful protesters, but he has no right to deal violently with peaceful protesters. But he did, and he is a criminal. That bearded, disheveled dude in Iran is a criminal. He is going to be in handcuffs sooner rather than later.

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