Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Populist Turn in American Politics

When a pro-rich, himself rich, guy starts talking about the gulf between rich and poor, you know things are changing in American politics. A second term president in his last two years and wide open Republican primary is a fertile ground in any case for such tectonic shifts. No wonder President Obama fully exploited this moment to play out his party's differences in this regard with his political opponents. 

However, what I find most astonishing is the ease with which Mitt Romeny blamed President Obama for all this rich-poor gap when exactly it has been Romney's party which has defended capital owners at all costs while Mitt Romney deciding to be the candidate of top 1%. May be it is no surprise there and that is how politics always work: keep opposing your opponent on ideological basis and when a problem is detected in your policy prescriptions blame your opponent even if it is your ideology which causes the problem.

The question is will American Public see through the hollowness of sudden populist turn of Republicans. Will Public make it harder to Republicans to  claim populism while trying to protect their true benefactor class - rich folks? There is no problem of a Republican who adopts populism and truly believes that with a credibility to deliver - that rich will have to pay more to address inequality in today's America. But are there any such Republicans who are ready to insist for "shared sacrifices" from rich? 

Politics of next few years in America will be determined by whether Republicans succeed in "selling to America that it is all fault of Obama and Liberals for all this inequality" (and hence we need to give more tax cuts to rich, oops...job creators in the dictionary of Republican Party). Generally Republican politics has had more success in selling all sorts of "snake oil" to Americans (Bush's Iraq War) than Democrats being able to point out contradictions in Republican Policy prescriptions.

2015 State of Union Address by President Obama was an attempt to help Democrats in this contest

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Je Suis Charlie II




"It is we who forgive, not Muhammad.”


Trying to get hold of my copy of the issue, let us see if I am lucky. Clearly it is a collector's item; all worth of course.

Arrest Anjem Choudhary

British Cleric Anjem Choudhary calls new issue of Charlie Habdo as an "act of war". Who is he to call something as an "act of war"? I assume only British PM or British Crown can declare something as an act of war on the sovereign land of Britain. Given that, the question should be asked why not UK Government arrest this cleric for inciting population and trying to fuel societal tensions?

The fact is despite the carnage of last week in Paris, folks don't get it. May be it is too easy to assume that blood of few cartoonists would have established the right of free citizens to undertake so called blasphemy. But then the fight has started and there is no looking back.

It is not just the cleric, but lot of mainstream media as well does not get it. Take for example a NYT report where it says:

"Muslim groups and scholars in France and elsewhere voiced concerns on Tuesday that a satirical newspaper’s first cover since the attack on its journalists last week could ignite dangerous new passions in a debate pitting free speech against religious doctrine" [bold type added to emphasize]


Question is where were educated editors of New York Times when they allow the impression of "religious doctrine" as not to depict Mohamed in any form? There is no such doctrine and NYT failed miserably in not being precise here. But it is not just a factual error, it is moral laziness and cowardice on behalf of Gray Lady; and so goes for many media outlets.

As many have noted and I argued earlier, the problem in UK and Europe is the cuddling attitude towards these stupid clerics who continue to inflame people's emotions on the basis of religion. These clerics and many in Islam (including Al Qeda and ISIS, which at some point will get decimated completely) must understand that this Earth equally belongs to Atheists as like it is for religious people and all would have equal rights of humor and satire. If you do not understand and try to enforce Medival traditions, those times are gone and must end. (Why is that there is no good satire magazine making fun of we Atheists? Bring it on bro!)

It is the same lax attitude which took UK so long to convict Abu Hamaza and finally it has to be USA to put him behind bars. UK Government has chance to rectify this mistake and start prosecuting fools like Anjem Choudhary and likes of him before it is too late. Real fear is not from these bigots who consume the very same Freedom of Speech allowed by Western Societies to declare wars on those very same societies and for sure gun down our heroes; but weak UK politicians (you Ed Miliband and you Labor Party) who will be sold out for misguided Muslim votes in coming UK elections. (Oh yah, in India we have seen this movie so many times; just ask Congress Party and Samajwadi Party.)

What happened last week in France is really a wake up call to Western Societies and Politicians that they must a draw line and never tolerate non-sense of curtailing freedom of speech for concerns of few wrong clerics.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beyond the March of Millions

Every legitimate polity needs to step forward, take responsibility and need to make an emphatic statement of its resolve to meet its challengers head on in times of crisis. That is what Millions of Parisians and French did today accompanied by panorama of 40+ heads of states and national rulers. What the march has achieved is to provide people's mandate and legitimacy as France, Europe and greater world embark upon a sustained fight against terrorism in the name of Islam.

Why is terrorism in the name of Islam flaring up so much in recent years? If one attempts to run down chain of global events and traces possible causes, few things come to mind.

First and foremost, in some basic sense this is a standard law and order issue because terror in France is all perpetrated by French born citizens living in France. Part of causes for rise of Islamic Terror in Europe are due to domestic policies Europe has practiced so far. Here is the money quote from Paul Mason in The Guardian

"The only common culture that will survive the onslaught that IS and its allies are planning for Europe has to be built on two principles: first, religious tolerance and respect for migrants’ rights under international law; second, the aggressive pursuit of secularism, rationalism and individual liberty. The liberal centre and the European left have this weakness in common: they find the tolerance bit easier than the aggressive fight for humanism and modernity. The collapse of the old left’s economic project, and the current collapse of the economic project of the centre, has sapped their will to fight for the culture they believe in."

Today's Europe in most ways would not have any guilt or moral burden of past colonial imperialism over Muslim world. But if at societal level any such burden is felt, then throwing 'welfare' Euros and Pounds to Islamic Migrants and their descendants while ignoring failures to assimilate those Muslims fully in French and European Life is not going to address any of these past burdens. Resultant alienation of Muslims in France and Europe gives rise to all these problems. As like Ummah needs to demand why criticizing and depicting Islam Founder Muhammad is blasphemy and why such laws are passed; Europeans need to actively pursue - as well as demand - assimilation of Muslim population in greater European ethos. 

During immediate years after WWII, Europe enjoyed torrential growth as it was busy rebuilding the war torn continent. But after the Oil Shock of 1973, Europe never seemed to have achieved sustained accelerated growth period. Germany got bogged down in the integration, then Euro came. Brief period of bright years came to Europe, followed by global recessions induced by 9/11 and 2008 American financial recession. While European born Muslims were growing into young adults looking for jobs; Europe adopted misguided economic policy of Austerity. So European economic policy is not generating jobs, but throws welfare Euros and Pounds while not tracking hatred spewing Imams and would be terrorists travelling to Islamic hot spots world over; no wonder danger of home grown terror increases.

Secondly, though France in particular is active in responding to upheavals outside of Europe; in general Europe has been slow to challenges thrown by militancy in Arab and Islamic world. It almost seems like European leaders think passing symbolic resolutions backing Palestine is all that they need to do so far as responding to outside Europe challenges. After Arab Spring, many middle-east Islamic countries are still fertile grounds for militants. The biggest problem is of course Syria and rise of ISIS. ISIS in Syria got a boast by the failed adjacent state of Iraq which gave it vast expanse of Mesopotamia to advance the nihilism of terror. This new out growth of a violent creed is turning out to be the channel for festering dormant resentment against Europe and feeling of left behind among many misguided youths of Muslims in Europe.

Sure more co-ordination, information sharing, new laws to track traffic of European born folks to jihadi hot-spots of the world; all that is good and  necessary. Whatever more needs to be done, West needs to undertake that. But the question remains - how do you politically challenge these forces of terror? Can there be any other case apart from joining the fight against ISIS? Hoping that if we let ISIS live, they would not disturb Western societies; one wonders how credible that reasoning is.

Anti-immigration and xenophobia are distractions from real challenges here. Hope is French people and Europe at large would 'see through' politics of National Front. But that is just one part, what is needed is to built upon overwhelming public will displayed today to take on all those inside and outside of Europe who want to kill Europeans just because West does not want to go back to Medieval times.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

The fundamental 'glass ceiling' few in West are trying to break here is - Prophet Mohamed can be criticized, can be put in the historical context and essentially humanized. That is the take for me. For too long many in Islam have pointed 'gun at the head' of those who dare to criticize, comment, depict and make cartoons of Prophet Mohamed. 

Those guns fired today.

Well, those heroes died for us so that we do not tolerate this non-sense. You see, in West folks can perfectly challenge whether historical Jesus Christ even exited or in India folks would neither hesitate to call the bluff of Hindu Mythology nor of India's rulers who are attempting to hide behind past and religion.

As Sec. Kerry said, if any nation knows better "to see through" blinkers of Religion, it will be France; the country which gifted to the whole world the concept of Secularism. There cannot be any doubt, just look at the way that country is standing to the whole challenge thrown to its way of life; it will be France which will rise to it's 9/11 and lead the fight against what Salman Rushdie rightly called "religious totalitarianism". 

History of early 21st century will be how West and rest of the world deal firmly and definitely with religious bigotry and religion based terrorism. No doubt, what happened in the City of Lights today will galvanize France, Europe and West to take this "fight" to a conclusion. Yes, there are dangers that West might over-react (but isn't France different than George Bush's America?); but the fight must be engaged and in the end freedom of speech must prevail. Today is the day when that resolve is tested and we all owe to these heroes to stick with that resolve.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Palestine - Road To Nowhere?

If thinking of PLO Chieftain Abbas in going to ICC is to buy time till Israeli elections, then one can see some merit in that. This is because after joining ICC, PLO will have to wait in any case for around 3 months to lodge a case and by then Israeli elections will be done (voting on March 17). Having the option of going to ICC strengthens PLO in negotiating with Israel. But that only works if Israel is ready for any kind of engagement.

By going to ICC, first of all PLO has made Israeli Hawk's argument stronger in the thick of an Israeli election. PLO did not show any political dexterity of strengthening hands of moderate and centrist forces in Israeli election, players like Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog. Seems like with Hamas on ascend, PLO is interested in taking head on with most Conservative forces of Israeli politics. What all that means is any ruling coalition after Israeli elections would have much less room to negotiate with PLO. There can be differences based on who becomes Israeli PM. If Tzipi Livni or Herzog were to become PM, it is possible that new Jewish settlements would not take place. But with Bibi at the helm it is impossible to imagine how he would stop settlements. Continued settlements is 'the rent' which a Likud coalition has to pay to Ultra-Conservatives in order to stay in the power. Nevertheless jumping the gun and going to ICC is fitting with the pattern of PLO - the same way it sabotaged last year Sec. Kerry's peace proposals. All this means either PLO does not think stopping of settlements is of any use (which in minds of any rational observer is the single most important condition to restart peace negotiations on credible footing) or PLO simply does not understand how to serve its own interests.

This is because, going to ICC is risky. First of all, it is not given that ICC would take PLO's complaints.[1] Like USA, China and India; Israel is not a ratified member of ICC. American Congress is bound to stop all aid money to PLO when it lodges a complaint with ICC and Israel can stop all transfer of tax collection to PLO. Only European monies will continue to PLO. But the Europe which is barely coping with Russian Dictator Putin (come Spring of 2015 Germany will be embroiled in an intense debate of continuing sanctions on Russia or not), dealing with hiss fits of Greecelooming danger of Brexit and barely battling it's own economic stagnation is hardly in any great position to support PLO in the first half of 2015. There will be some noise in France and UK might pass some symbolic measures to garner Muslim votes in May elections; but thereafter it is harder to see how Europe will be the real back stop for PLO. From media strategy point of view, European political landscape will be consumed by so many internal challenges, it is hard to believe Israel-Palestinian issue would register more than existing noise levels.

Lack of political maturity and better understanding between Hamas and Fatah are stalling Gaza while hellish life continues there. Once money stops coming to PLO upon opening a litigation against Israel at ICC; all those warm stories about how a competent West Bank minister improved lives of Palestinians will be gone and West Bank will join Gaza in misery.

The real shocker to Palestinian people will come when Israel will retaliate PLO at ICC by filling cases against Hamas and all terrorist activities by various PLO folks. If any of those claims stick, there should be buyer's remorse in PLO for going to ICC.[2] Equally, if ICC decides that it better stay away from this political quagmire, Palestinian's will realize uselessness of going to ICC.

When UNSC declined the statehood request, PLO Chieftain is right to ask "where are we to go"? But the answer this question has - uniting all factions of Palestinian people and presenting a peaceful, credible negotiation partner to Israel - PLO does not seem ready to accept. History of Palestine - Israel conflict has been such that Jewish state winning land, then giving back part of the land in the hope of peace while Palestine sticking to a perfect solution and in the process losing everything. That is what Yasser Arafat did and that is what Abu Mazen doing today. He is worried about his own irrelevance among Palestinian people - it is unlikely that it will be addressed by superficial actions like going to ICC.

In 2015, the global politics is unlikely to be any more receptive to predicament of Palestinian people. Obama Administration's priorities in Middle-East are clear - securing Iraq by defeating ISIS, putting conditions in place to eradicate both ISIS and Bashar Assad in Syria and clinching a deal with Iran. There will be zero interest as well as need for Obama Administration to invest in Israel-Palestine conflict. In a sense, it will be on auto-pilot and Congress will do all the hard work. With Europe pre-occupied and American politics firmly rolling towards 2016 election (which will invariably retain / strengthen Conservative pro-Jewish bias of American polity); Palestinian cause would reach a dead end pretty soon.

Another intifada or another battle is par for the course in these affairs. So long as IDF avoids mass killings of Palestinian innocents to remain below radar of global 'outrage industry', Israel's mastery in "periodic grass mowing" will come handy. So the real interest of coming Israeli election will be how that election sets the course for a "unilateral solution" to this problem. Going to ICC now or engaging another mindless intifada, when those are the responses of PLO; Israel has to live with "no credible partner" and chart her own course in Middle-East. With President Obama occupying the Oval Office, Palestine had had an opportunity to work out something. That window is closing very fast. Republican President in 2016 is quite possible and even if Democrats win, it will be Hillary who will be more hawkish than Obama in these matters. All in all, we might be looking at early signs of Palestinian resistance getting folded to History books like many other moral, but inept resistance movements. 

---------------------------------------------
[1] - As a recent ICC case shows, if the court finds that a national court is able to prosecute alleged criminals, it would not take such cases. So long as Israel can show it has prosecuted excesses by IDF, it may be able to claim non-admissibility of Palestinian cases against IDF. On the other hand in absence of Palestine lacking any prosecution of terrorists attack by Hamas, PLO could be on a weaker wicket!

[2] - One can argue that to cut down Hamas to a size, Abbas picked the gauntlet of going to ICC in full knowledge...no idea if that is the kind of sophistication Abu Mazen is trying here. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

MS Dhoni's Departure and Culture in Sports

Indian Test Cricket Captain – MS Dhoni - retired from Test Cricket; both as the Captain and a player. I had a spirited exchange with a young fan of Dhoni back home and I argued that Indian Captain, highly acclaimed player with most towering sports personality in a Billion Plus Country of India and Cricketing Global fraternity (with equally great pay check, probably in the vicinity of Peyton Manning’s), missed on Test Cricketing Culture in executing his departure from Test Cricket.

Test Cricket has been played over a century and is the most classic, longest and complete form of cricket game; all rich in tradition. At the heart of it is Civility, Sportsmanship and Team Spirit. As such, Captain of a Test Cricket Team occupies the special place and role in all that – all inspiring, leading from front and “captain leaves the sinking ship last” mentality. Generally retirements at such stratospheric level of Test Cricketing and profession are handled gracefully and methodically. This means that for MS Dhoni, despite howsoever disappointing the current Test Series has been going; he was required to declare that he would put down his Captaincy cap after completing the home away series in Australia. He owned at least that much to the game and rich heritage of Test Cricket.

But in MS Dhoni’s case it seems like his propensity towards a practical, non-emotional approach saw better of him and he simply cut the chord – instantly, in all too unfamiliar manners of Test Cricket. As I explained to the young fan in India, it is true that all Indian Test Team players are multi-millionaire adult athletes; but still it gives an impression that Dhoni abandoned them in the middle of action.

May be MS Dhoni never had much heart in the rich heritage and tradition of Test Cricket, neither much cared beyond a point what Test Cricket has bequeathed over a century to Billions of people of this globe. I am not saying this because I am sad for his departure. No, I am not his fan in Test Cricket and the decision for MS Dhoni to quit now is right. Test Cricket and One Day Cricket formats have developed so far at this point that to expect that one single player fulfills roles of captaincy in both formats as well as succeeds as a player is too much to ask for. That is injustice in a sense to the player as well as to the game. So yes, sooner or later India indeed needed to find appropriate players for captaincy roles in these two separate teams. It is just the jarring manner in which MS Dhoni pulled off that; otherwise one of the most respected, ethical and honorable players of the game.

The thing is it is not Test Cricket only which has tradition and respected players are expected to honor that seminal heritage. Here is the case where Jonathan Chait explains the meaning of losing of my home town Football Coach – Jim Harbaugh of 49ners - to Michigan University which has American Football history of more than century.

Sports is fun because we humans reconnect to ‘our ancestors’ in some unique fashion to establish continuity of present life with past and it is only human that the athletes we love and respect realize, preserve and nurture this emotive craving of we spectators.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Interview and Fed Responsibility

As SONY attempted to correct its earlier decision of not 'releasing the movie'; what is required of Americans is to flock to watch the movie and assert our freedom of speech. I enjoyed my viewing using Google Play on Christmas Eve on the beautiful West Coasts of Fort Bragg; the same coast threatened by North Korean ICBMs.

The movie is nothing great. The picture it portrays of Americans as generally ignorant and unaware of things happening in rest of the world is by and large plausible. But the whole movie continues on this dumbness of audience. Perhaps those who are familiar with Bollywood movies can readily recognize such movie making and would not find 'the dumb audience' assumption so out of place. Mercifully, the movie is not long. For other critical reviews, one can read here and here.

The movie raises few important questions.

First, about hacking and cyber security. Clearly SONY's protection of its digital assets (essentially everything what it creates) and it's digitized information has been very poor. As a profit making company, it clearly failed its share holders by not adopting a stronger digital security regime. However, such problems are not limited to one single global corporation. Most publicly traded companies as well as other big organizations are more or less in the same boat. No wonder cost of digital security breaches is pegged already at around Half a Trillion dollar. As more and more our Economy depends on Digital Products and assets, it is bound to surpass a Trillion dollar mark soon, probably within a decade or so. Global Capitalism is only now waking up for the true challenges posed by 'hacking'; blissfully assuming it is all State Responsibility so far.

Imagine a big hacking attack on Gazprom of Russia or ICBC of China or Saudi Armaco of Saudi Arabia or Petrobras of Brazil. (There was one such cyber attack on Saudi Armaco in recent years.) In each of these nations, attack on these state owned public companies will be regarded as sovereign cyber attack. The political pressure in wresting control of Internet on national basis will be unstoppable and right there 'fragmentation of open, global Internet' would start. Among global corporations, only Banks (especially American Banks) seem to have invested continuously to digitize operations and secure those operations all along. Most non-banking corporations seem completely vulnerable. Even company like SONY for which only assets are it's digital creations; its digital security is all too porous. Beyond corporate data, hard assets like oil and gas pipelines, industrial automation (Stuxnet!), water grids, electrical grids and telecom / broadcasting grids; all are susceptible for cyber attacks

Question is what can be done. One way is Silicon Valley way - keep pouring money in cyber security start-ups. But it is wild wild west chase here with no guarantees of finding any 'holy grail' of digital security. Besides, the problem is inherently difficult to address - how to secure data when there are practically infinite ways in which one can reach data to destroy or steal it (because data without data movements in and out of that 'data sink' is of no use and does not exist). Sure there is money to be made here and Valley VCs will ensure that effectively there are no dollars left behind on the table so far as cyber security goes. But again there are no guarantees.

Another way is companies with cyber empires, mostly American companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook; but upcoming non-American companies like Alibaba as well; undertake more co-operation with Federal Government as well as international agencies to keep intact open global Internet structure while making it more secure. Since these companies have maximum stake in retaining secured open global Internet; these companies need to take lead and spend as needed to fashion a uniform response.

Finally, Congress needs to make necessary legal amendments to put in foundation which makes secure cyber possible. For example, before the world of SEC; corporations were lax in security trading. Today we cannot imagine a public company without a vetted audit. But one has to understand that all those regulatory requirements which we take it for granted were imposed on industry by State (do you hear any more noise about Sarbanes-Oxley Act?). In the same manner, may be time has come where 'data security audit' of public corporation is mandatory. Or else liability insurance premium for such corporations should skyrocket. Congress needs to formulate all such policies and pass necessary laws. But one cannot be much hopeful here considering interests of GOP dominated Congress. (Where are the leading lights of GOP? Nowhere so far as cyber security is concerned. All the brain power of GOP is busy in institutionalizing snake oil mechanics of dynamic scoring when many in GOP themselves are wary of 'tax cuts for everything' policy.) 

The second issue SONY hacking exposes is what should be the government responsibility in underwriting security when cyber attack linked threats are made to private companies. Sure, SONY chickened out in releasing the movie in theaters. But part of the reason was SONY was not sure about its protection when an American Movie Theater would be blown up and hundreds of Americans would die in that physical world terrorist attack. Legal liabilities and reputation loss would have completely wiped out SONY in that eventuality. That is where we stumble upon the missing piece - it was all right for President Obama to call the bluff of SONY in not releasing the movie; but it was precisely required from him as the Commander-in-chief and nation's leader to keep some record straight and make it explicit Fed's security underwriting. As many have noted, indeed American Government does so in many industries. While being coy about what State needs to do but to pillory SONY for being coward - that just seems a cheap trick to solicit clapping from chest thumping Republicans. (You got it - Nationalism, Patriotism, Freedom of Speech, Right to make any movie we want or our Right to watch any movie we want: once such hoary phrases start flying, like a moth to a flame; all these Republicans started jumping on the bandwagon of SONY criticism.) Again, one appreciates President Obama's forthrightness in pointing out where SONY failed; but politically the heavy lifting is left out. That Americans understand, if they want their rights to be preserved, just trotting guns is no use; but occasionally they can be victims of these cyber terrorist attacks as well. The political bulwark which President Obama does not seem to be undertaking is education of America that it has to take the lead in securing global cyber world.

For decades, American Navy guarded Oil tanker passages all over Earth's oceans to guarantee that wheels of global commerce continue to flow. Now is the time for America to do so again in the Cyber World. It is as much a political task as legal and technocratic. With a solid start to his fourth inning, President Obama has an enormous opportunity and duty to lead America in laying down foundations of global cyber security for all and for ages to come.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Massacre in Peshawar

On the eve of Sandy Hill Tragedy anniversary, we get another horrific news of school killing in a far away place. One cynical way to look at all this is - 'Pakistan is a true ally of USA'. America was feeling lonely in her inability to stop the gun culture, the culture which tolerates annihilation of its own progenies on the pretext of right 'to make money by selling military weapons to civilians' disguised as Second Amendment right. American hypocrisy is all too evident when we Americans will stop cars for Flashing Red Lights of Yellow School bus way at a distance, almost in some of kind reverence to school going kids; but we will simply not see the stupidity of what havoc our permissive gun policies do to our own kids and people. Now America need not feel lonely, Pakistan has been forced to join her ranks.

Well, ranting against America's gun culture aside; this massacre is utterly inhuman. Evil does not respect the holiday season or feeling of 'giving, sharing and love' during these festive days. I guess Taliban stated it - they were 'giving'; what they were interested to give was 'pain of loss of loved ones' to Pakistani Military.

Clearly the cause honored in awarding Malala is right one - the right of Pakistani kids to pursue education safely. What is unclear is how did that award honor scores of many other Pakistani school going kids who brave the stupefying violence and in the end pay the ultimate price as like many kids did in this killing spree.

There have been so many wake-up calls to Pakistani Society and her Politicians about the danger of playing with fire i.e. guns and Taliban. They have an opportunity not to be America - where our political class (and judiciary too) is simply beholden to the gun makers lobby. True, reasons and motivations for violence in these incidents are different. In Pakistan's case clearly it is the war waged by Talibans against larger Pakistani Society; fundamentally a different issue than America's failure to control guns. But Pakistani Army has tended to harbor terrorists for petty tactical gains against India or Afghanistan or simply opposing political force for too long and her politicians have failed to rein it so far. Like America, it is the failure to stop causes of violence.

Pakistani PM is responding in right ways to the tragedy - publicly grieving for families who lost their loved ones, visit Peshawar and help manage the crisis on immediate basis. Early on in his term, PM Sharif first extended his hand of friendship to Talibans despite political perils of such an approach. Taliban rejected that and he has reluctantly started to mop up Talibans militarily. PM Sharif needs to continue on this path strategically and needs to bring together the entire Pakistani Society with him to fight terrorism of Taliban. It is a common enemy of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and even USA. 

Many young and affluent people in Pakistan get lured by theatricals of Pakistani Opposition Politician Imran Khan. They need to realize, it is much better and much patriotic to join Pakistani Government and Army in their fight against Taliban rather than getting embroiled in some flimsy agitations perpetrated by Imran Khan for his political opportunism. It is time for Pakistan to come together and take decisive steps in getting rid of Taliban. Specter of South Sudan is never far away. 

India needs to help Pakistan as much as possible in this fight against Taliban (but still continue the policy of armed response for any terrorist adventures from Pakistani side on Indian border). Immediate reaction of PM Modi is setting the right tone, India needs to sustain it over a period.

The biggest actor who can take Taliban head-on is Pakistani Army. First it needs to stop playing Taliban against India or Afghanistan or USA or political opponents. Then only it can wage an effective war against Taliban. It is not about doing favor to America or anyone in fighting Taliban. It is all about protecting children and families of Pakistan itself. The enemy has reached at the heart of Pakistani Armed forces - their progenies. 

(From tactical perspective it is utterly foolish to attack Pakistani Military Personnel's school. This will remove any ambivalence of Pakistani Army against Taliban. It is a direct provocation of Pakistani Army and Taliban just ensured that there will be a brutal counter-attack by Pakistani Military against Taliban. One hopes it does not escalate into some kind of mindless violence.)  

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Dissonance of American Politics

Bill Cassidy crushes sitting Democratic Senator from Louisiana by around 15% or so. How does he enjoy his victory? By saying this:

“[ObamaCare] It’s pounding the American people...People are upset about this law, and we must do something about it.”


The contradiction and pathetic state of our politics is all evident here. Republicans are not winning by pointing what needs to be improved either in ObamaCare or in our health care system. They are getting elected by demonizing a working law, by spreading outright ignorance and pledging their political capital to further destruct an improving system rather than constructing something more useful.

Another example - again and again it has been proven that the 'voodoo economics of tax cuts for rich bringing prosperity to all' is a gimmick which does not work. GOP wins Congress in 2014 and what do its bosses plan the first thing to do - start the campaign to force CBO to adopt 'dynamic scoring' (the one which has intellectual foundations provided by one Herman Cain). Sam Brownback destroyed State Finances by giving un-affordable tax cuts without benefiting the State. What do American Voters do? He gets re-elected with a full mandate of possibly further destroying the state of Kansas by his 'voodoo economics'.

We have had 57 months of continuous job growth and in November we get signs that finally income growth could be happening for average Americans too. On this background, considering above pronouncements by GOP politicians, one gets the sense that GOP is all set to wreck incipient American economic recovery. By 2000, Bill Clinton brought prosperity to large number of Americans. GOP promptly destroyed all that economic build up by starting a un-related war and Trillion Dollar Tax Cuts for rich. Only when those Tax Cuts were reversed in 2012 after Obama re-election; did the Federal Deficit took a decisive turn for better. But with GOP intent on resorting back to 'voodoo economics', we are about to see the movie of Bush Republican era again. (Feels like American Politics is nothing but one party repairs the damage while the same culprit comes back again to break it.)

In the remaining two years President Obama will need to wield his veto lot more frequently to fight back all these destructive policies unless saner minds in GOP prevail.