Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

 

‘Rats leave the sinking ship’ you must have heard before. In fact rats move in a sinking ship judging from the near collapse of Syria. It was long in coming and the crew are a motley mixture of sects that are attracting some rats from far off. The Arab Spring was a reef that the ship of Bashar al-Assad could not avoid. The “Friends of Syria” meeting in late February met in Tunis in order to ship arms to Syrian rebels. Friends are in name only. In fact all those Sunni factions wherever they are want to settle scores with Shi’ia faction supporting al-Assad. Saudi Arabia and members of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),- like Qatar and Kuwait, are friends on geopolitical grounds. If the royal family of Bahrain,-Sunnis, has a stranglehold on the majority Shi’ia population the troops sent by the Saudi government are there to prop up the King.
A country which was once broadly secular is now damaged by proxy war. External powers caused sectarianism pitching the country’s Sunni majority against the president’s Shia Alawite sect. Such divisions have encouraged both sides to commit atrocities that have not only caused loss of life but also torn apart communities, hardened positions and dimmed hopes for a political settlement. The latest outrage using Sarin gas raised the hackles of the US who showed their token outrage by sending missiles. So Assad is hit but Russia is there to fix his headaches. The so-called Islamic State (IS), which controls large swathes of northern and eastern Syria, is battling government forces, rebel brigades and Kurdish militias, as well as facing air strikes by Russia and a US-led multinational coalition. Thousands of Shia militiamen from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen say they are fighting alongside the Syrian army to protect holy sites.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to counter the influence of its rival Iran, has been a major provider of military and financial assistance to the rebels, including those with Islamist ideologies.

So we have proxy war and war on grounds of ideology and Jihad. All the three are waged by rascals whose ideas whether it deals with religion or politics are same in that these can be counted in dollars and cents.

Russia and Iran has set their own red line now and have warned the US not to cross them. This red line is the latest in the many red lines they crossed the one redline drawn by God. Do these beggarly crew think Syria lost or won will give them peace?

I had written a post “What ails Syria” sometime in July 2012. (Ack: BBC Apr.7.)

benny

Read Full Post »

Eldorado Or Bust? ©

 

An intrepid traveller went into Eldorado and he was surprised that the roads were paved with gold and no one seemed to take any notice of it. Gold nuggets were thrown in heaps as gravel in his own land and the inhabitants went about their chores carrying firewood and breadfruit in baskets woven with banana leaves. All the more amazed was he to notice man and woman were naked and they did not seem to bother with the great wealth heaped about them as if with an indifferent hand. He approached one man and managed to make himself understood. He wanted to speak with his chief. He smiled and led him to a hut erected with utmost simplicity a spacious hall unadorned except for a raised platform. At the centre was a three legged stool and a Panama hat. The visitor would have burst out laughing had it not been for a number of locals who were standing before it with gravity.

He murmured to his escort where the chief stood among them. The cicerone without any change of expression said, “Our chief rests on his stool.”

“But why those six standing before it and in solemnity?

“They are taking counsel from Great Chief and what they decide there they accept as coming from him.”

“Don’t you want your voice heard?”

“What for?” the local said in amazement, “ We live in peace with ourselves and we have nothing to complain; nothing to improve our lot since nature takes care what we cannot.”

Later the visitor after careful study of their manner of running their daily affairs without much trouble and in the amity that existed among them he realized the Chief exerted a great influence upon their lives even without stirring from the spot.

Politics is the art of the impossible concept made to look as possible. The idea that one better and more schooled in public affairs can better your condition is sold by fellows who have nothing to be happy with themselves so they create a smokescreen of their superiority. Not having anything worth in themselves they sell you a pie in the sky. Poitics is for the gullible who shall not be content with themselves. Look at the social history of nations. Which nation can justify that they have found a leader who created Eldorado or made happiness their lot?

benny

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

We are let down by those who are expected to represent our best interests. 

Not so long ago to be exact on September 24,2002 the British Government published what we now know as the September Dossier. The paper was part of an ongoing investigation by the government into weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, which ultimately led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It contained a number of allegations according to which Iraq also possessed WMD, including chemical weapons and biological weapons. The dossier even alleged that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons programme. Without exception, all of the allegations included within the September Dossier have been since proven to be false. One might wonder how can a body of men selected for their expertise and life experience to be part of Joint Intelligence Committee, could go wrong. All the more disturbing is the fact we expect our city fathers, law givers are seized of the fact that any action they take shall have serious ripple effect on large part of the globe.(ack:wikipedia) We have misplaced trust in our elected representatives. They are as muddleheaded as most of us are.

At best data are cherrypicked and the sets of data thus collated are farther from reality. 

Since we are very much reeling under the fall out of a chain of bad decisions we may ask how come people whom we look us as paradigm of wisdom and probility get it so wrong. How can data of stockpiles of WMD be not intelligent data at all? What are data but nuts and bolts with which we erect an intelligent body that helps us with decision making, If Iran has developed nuclear capability Bibi can draw model for the media and draw a redline to indicate the critical line, crossing of which would mean danger for the State of Israel. Similarly financial experts make a pie chart based on the data they have collected. We look at their position in the world and accept their words uncontested. Why would the Prime Minister of Great Britain or Israel want to mislead the mass media.? Or why would  late defunct Enron present a dodgy forecast to the boardmembers? Here we go wrong. All these fellows are relying on data, which we need to understand is only sound as far as the user want to get his share of sound bytes across. Data are not all equal or perfect. Its slight anomalous position become a disaster when one sets it context of another set of data.

‘When Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans region in 2005, the US government’s Department of Homeland Security charged with monitoring the hurricane and formulating an appropriate response, made the wrong call, ignoring key topographical data.

Instead, Katrina was judged to be a hurricane, like so may others that hit Florida each summer, and therefore not worthy of extreme measures. With that mindset in place, the highly-decorated retired Marine Corps general in command of the probability and risk-assessment team proceeded to interpret the various information coming into his office in a manner fully consistent with his pre-judgment, while disregarding the rest. Reports of levees breaching were viewed as suspect and incomplete — not as factual and needing an immediate change of course for the response plan. When the general saw a report on CNN showing people in the French Quarter of New Orleans partying in the streets, he concluded, as he testified to Congress, that Katrina wasn’t going to be as bad as some had feared.

The biggest problem? Most of New Orleans is below sea level; most of Florida isn’t. And the French Quarter in New Orleans was one of the few places in the city above sea level and hence, relatively immune to the devastating effects from flooding.’(How we wrongly convince ourselves we’re right by Sydney Finkelstein-BBC News/Capital of 23 April,’15)

The concerned official setting data on New Orleans with that of Florida and presents to his peers at each chain of command perception on the data collated becomes curioser and curioser.

Politicians want to be survivors and data they create have the best chance to convince the people.In other words their real motives are to throw wool over the public.

Afterall man shall only believe what he wants to believe. His rational mind is superficial with which he shall reason out why Katrina would not be any more serious than any other hurricane that hit Florida. Real culprit is not in your conscious mind but deeper in the unconscious part of the brain. Isn’t that happened in the Enron debacle? Greed and preservation of one’s own skin had already seized the CEO and his coterie to make the Company’s financial malfunction go away before the shareholders. Everytime the same scenario till it blew apart in their faces.

Man presents data created unequally and if we wonder why a nation built on the sound principle that all men are equal suffers from gross inequality we need look no further.

Benny

Read Full Post »

Let me quote an earlier post on Gandhi and Tolstoy (July, 2011) “…When a man like Tolstoy, one of the clearest thinkers in the western world, one of the greatest writers, one who as a soldier has known what violence is and what it can do, condemns Japan for having blindly followed the law of modern science, falsely so called, and fears for that country ‘the greatest of calamities’, it is for us to pause and consider whether, in our impatience of English rule, we do not want to replace one evil by another and worse. India, which is the nursery of the great faiths of the world, will cease to be nationalistic India…’
19th Nov.1909,MK Gandhi
(selected from A Letter to a Hindu, by Leo Tolstoy)
In India’s case India winning Independence from the British colonial masters was a turning point. But did not the Congress party lost direction? Corruption under the Congress rule had run into every walk of life and with some 60 years what is left of is Gandhiji’s Moral example but no takers. His political blindside notwithstanding was sound in choosing a liberal as Nehru at the time of transition. But Jawaharlal Nehru as the PM led the nation and it somewhere short cut democratic credentials it chose to uphold in creating a dynasty rule. How did that happen is for historians to settle.
How Congress rule was egregiously inept and corrupt was proved in its utter rout of recent national elections. The nation has altogether a new set of masters who are spiritually still in a reprehensible time- warp of casteism, child marriage and rank reliance on Hinduvta ideology that has no basis in terms of geography, ethnography or in terms of cultural well-spring.
India is a breakaway land mass from Africa and the landmass pushing ever into Tibetan plateau goes on still. So India’s connection with Africa is in present tense. Just as Indians prefer seeing themselves as part of Indian sub-continent I am of the opinion is arbitrary and has no practical value. World wide web has erased much more such outdated concepts of narrow nationalism Now it s of big blocks as EU and ASEAN etc., Harping on Hinduvata is eye wash. Ask oneself instead ‘are we not part of the whole world?’ This is what any Indian steeped in spiritual values ought to ask. One cannot butter one part of the bread with Jam and other with Andhra chutney. If we have in ages past cultivated spiritual values these must be focused to keep us calm centered every citizen in India must prove on the International market his worth. A fitting and truly shining example is their Mars mission. Similarly each Indian has unprecedented opportunity to make a splash in the Information technology or any other.
In terms of ethnography we are offspring of migrations originating from Africa. Out of Africa hypothesis still holds true for most parts of the world. Even a white supremacist in deep South of US is a white washed negroid. Aeons of time to work changes of our ape ancestor is a kind of genetic trigger and if the African ancestor has shed his hair and bleached by cold climate it is nothing to crow about. Some castes in India demanding privileges over the fact of their Aryan blood are anachronistic and living under a delusion. Mingling of many streams of human migration has created more robustness than those who inbred for centuries. The case of Pharaohs may be seen as a case in point.
Since Congress proved incapable of holding the mantle of Gandhiji the Hindu Fundamentalists have come forward to lay claim. Since they won good and proper through the ballot box it cannot be helped. They can lay their own rules. If a statue is erected to honor Gandhiji’s assassin it is one of the perks of the powers that be. No worse than Chief Minister Mayawati’s vanity to comemmorate her rule in Uttar Pradesh.
In a democratic set up rats and weasels are of same value since the people have settled the difference.

benny

Read Full Post »

I’ve been away from you a long time.


I never thought I’d miss you so.

Somehow I feel this time it’s real


White House I long to be.


The birds are singin’,

Ann is a-wingin’ 


The Air Force One ready for take off

I know that I shall look you up folks


Rominee, You’ve arrived.

Chorus:


Rominee,


How I love my ole Pappy


My dear old Rominee!



I’d give them an offer

That they can’t refuse!

Even Tagg want a shot at peace

Waitin’ for me, prayin’ for me

Rally round Rominee!

The folks up north won’t see me cringe

When ticker tape parade go by

Rominee, Rominee

Rominee, Rominee

I love my congregation (repeat)

Read Full Post »

In the City of God St. Augustine narrates an anecdote,( which in all probability was drawn from Cicero-de republica)), where Alexander the Great confronts a pirate. When that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.’ Augustine’s argument is that, in fact, the existence of justice is the only qualitative difference between legitimate and illegitimate coercive power: “Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?”

Isn’t this anecdote relevant even these days?

Have you noticed how law is weighted in favor of majority than small in numbers? Let me give an example: the President of a nation with his superior numbers may invade a country and in the ensuing war the casualties mount. Is he hauled before the law of the land and tried as a warmonger? On the other hand a man gets into a brawl after drinking one too many and kills one. Do you think he shall escape the law because of he was drunk? The President whose rhetorics led to a war situation and after so many provocations ratcheting between the two states, shall become all the more laudable despite the deaths of some 20, 000 deaths. He may even win a second term for the many advantages of war being added to the Treasury of the State. He may retire with the aura of a statesman. Not so with the individual who killed another one in a drunken stupor. Certainly he shall be squeezed dry in the rigmarole of legalities that face him and its trauma haunt him for the rest of his life.

Now we see similar situation in the world of finance. One of the few things not in dispute in the criminal case against Abacus Federal Savings Bank is that it began with a mortgage closing on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009, for a two-family home in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.

On May 31 of 2012, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced criminal charges against the bank and 19 former employees, some facing up to 25 years in prison. “Mortgage fraud became institutionalized at Abacus Bank,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said at a news conference. Abacus, like many banks, had sold its loans to Fannie Mae (FNMA), taking the proceeds and lending them back out to earn more interest. The huge government-backed company in turn bundled those mortgages into securities it sold to investors. Abacus lied about applicants, Vance charged, because otherwise its loans wouldn’t have met Fannie Mae’s income requirements, and the bank depended on Fannie’s money for a significant chunk of its profit.(bloomberg businessweek of Jan 31,2013/drake bennet)

But why was that bank prosecuted and why was Goldman Sachs or Chase not prosecuted? Legal authorities consider it not feasible to go after companies of a certain size, while Abacus is a small fry and easier to succeed if they threw the book at them. While it may be more satisfying to go after the bigger companies, to quote a SEC commissioner who talked about “shot selection,” like in basketball, bureaucracies go for the baskets with the greatest chance of scoring.

It’s not just about poor people. The agencies hesitate before they decide to proceed against a well-heeled, well-defended company [against which] they’re going to have to fight for years and years and years just to get the case in court.

This situation isn’t anything new. It goes back to the Clinton years: Clinton signs on to welfare reform, Clinton and the Democrats begin to court the financial services sector and begin to adopt deregulatory policies.

So now you have political consensus in both parties on both issues; both have the same approach to poverty, to people at the bottom, and they have the same approach to enforcement. And so what begins as deregulation of Wall Street concludes, ultimately, in potentially non-enforcement of crime; and what begins as being “tougher” on welfare cheats in the ’90s, and being tougher on the whole process of giving out benefits, devolves into something pretty close to the criminalization of poverty itself … And that’s just something that happens naturally when you have a political consensus, which is what we have now.

Holder, as deputy attorney general in the Clinton years, outlined what was actually sort of a “get tough on crime” document. He gave prosecutors all these tools to go after big corporations. But, at the bottom [of the memo], he outlined this policy called “collateral consequences,” which was — all it really said was, if you’re a prosecutor and you’re going after a big corporation that employs a lot of people, and you’re worried about innocent victims, you can seek other remedies. Instead of criminally prosecuting, you can do a deferred prosecution agreement, a non-prosecution agreement or, especially, you can levy fines.

When he wrote that, it was nearly a decade before the too-big-to-fail era, but when he came back to office [as Obama’s attorney general], this idea, which initially had been completely ignored becomes the law of the land now, insofar as these systemically important institutions are concerned.

Consequently the agencies think about collateral consequences before they go against companies like HSBC and UBS because they’re worried about what the impact might be on the world economy.

What’s interesting about it is that this idea suddenly matches this thing that happened with our economy where we have the collapse of the economy in 2008, [and] instead of breaking up these bad companies, we merged them together and made them bigger and more dangerous. Now they’re even more unprosecutable than before, now this collateral consequences idea is even more applicable. And that’s the reality we live in now; it’s just this world where if you can commit an offense within the auspices of a company like that, the resolution won’t be a criminal resolution, it will be something else.(‘It’s total moral surrender’/Matt Talibbi from his book The Divide/interview with Salon/Elias Isquith)

benny

Read Full Post »

On April 23,2011 post ‘Will the Real Anna Hazare Stand Up?’ I had suggested the mischief he was likely to sow in Indian politics. While he was conducting his ‘Mr. Clean’ act there was a Baba also creating ruckus in New Delhi. The Baba soon proved to be not Mr. Clean but a tool for the Fundamental groups (that like Hazare would put the lower caste in their place) and both were cut from same communal casteist cloth. As elections are in the offing Ms. Kiran Bedi has let out the secret ingenuously: She is rooting for Narendra Modi and by extension she hinted which way Anna Hazare was blowing. The cop-turned social worker has much more to do in order to counter Kejriwal’s populist antics. AAP in my calculation is more likely to cut the numbers that traditionally would ally with BJP.
Indian Politics is slowly clearing up. No party shall be able to form a government without a coalition. Naturally clean politics implies comparison: will neck deep in mire is better than your good hand tainted with feces?
That begs the question: is secularism proven by deeds (however half-hearted) or a clean-up act promised by Casteism?

Benny

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »