Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Immoral Trump Presidency

With a devastating press conference, Donald Trump has revealed few more things fresh:

1) He is an incompetent leader. Fundamentally, any good leader needs to understand an import of a moment - which aspects to 'highlight' and which aspects to 'downplay' for the larger and longer term good of the country. In this case, for Donald Trump to equate White Supremacists with those who oppose it; is politically damaging in the short term as well. But still, he went ahead and pulled down every anti-Nazi American to the same level of David Duke. What an incompetent leader!

2) Secondly, Donald has no morality; there is no 'moral compass'. He is a ship wandering this world shamelessly, responding to his animal spirits and it goes wherever his 'inner beast' takes him. Forget the Presidency, as a 'man' he is not the person anyone wants to be a friend with or anyone wants to work for him. He is a failed personality with no place in a decent society. Imagine this is 2017 and we have an occupant of Oval Office justifying Racism in a press conference! What Lincoln legacy he can be expected to continue?

3) Finally, he has exposed his complete lack of qualifications as a law upholding elected leader. This is because he is simply refusing to see the 'party which broke the law' - a Fascist who plowed the car killing an innocent bystander exercising her political rights peacefully. There cannot be any comparison and you cannot simply accord a blame when none belongs to Americans who were peacefully opposing Racism.

This is an unbelievable moment in American Politics - the President justifying racists in some form. 

As some have rightly said, those who 'voted' Donald Trump knew this was the risk and realistic possibility with his candidacy, but they still did so (just because Hillary's Candidacy was not up to the mark). Equally those Bernie Brothers and Sisters are guilty for this mess when they failed to overcome their frustration with the Bernie Loss to Hillary and did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. 

But that is all water under the bridge. What is needed is 
- Republicans in Congress wake up and start pushing back Donald's nonsense; and
- Civilians in America start participating our politics to remove Donald Trump.

Because otherwise, Donald is likely to grow into an existential risk to our Republic and the way we live in this country. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Commentary: the indignity of dying in the sewers

Even as the nation mourns the death of over 60 children in a Gorakhpur hospital and even as ordinary citizens feel outraged by the suspension of Dr Kafeel Ahmad at the hospital who made super-human efforts to save the children, there is another kind of tragic death that deserves our attention too. As if living a life of indignity was not bad enough, the death of sewage workers in India due to toxic gases has become a routine. According to this report, ‘The tragedy happened six days after three sanitation workers died inside a Delhi Jal Board-managed sewer line in Lajpat Nagar. Before that, four labourers were trapped to death in a sewage tank in south Delhi’s Ghitorni in July.’ While it is not our practice to maintain data on such deaths, according to an estimate in the report, around 100 people die in our sewers every year, which seems a very conservative figure looking at Delhi alone. It is not clear why this task cannot be partly or fully mechanized to keep human beings at a safe distance from the poisonous filth. The safety gear listed by the report includes gas masks, safety harness belts, helmets and mechanized equipment at dangerous sites such as clogged underground sewers – all of which must be provided by the employer. The incident took place at a shopping mall in east Delhi and one fails to understand why the resourceful employer failed to invest in some basic safety measures. There is even a law entailing imprisonment when the employer fails to fulfill his duty. But like many other instances, who is there to enforce such laws! So let us add to our long list of cries in the wilderness as governance at every level gives in to nonchalant indifference!

Monday, August 07, 2017

The politics of painting the victim as the perpetrator

Ratnakar Tripathy

I have never heard of a historian who complained of too much factual material to build a story. But these days I keep hearing historical and contemporary narratives that seem to not simply keep a safe distance from well-known facts but to even reverse the story on the basis of wild theories and postulates that reflect the beliefs of the narrator and no more. What is striking here is the apparent lack of conviction that starts on a note of denial and posits completely white lies as facts. As human beings, we are equipped to deal with situations when there is some minimal consensus on what may have happened. We are ill-equipped to deal with situations where a blatant lie is presented in front of us as the obvious truth. It is worrying for some that they are unable to prove the existence of Unicorns, but isn’t it even more worrying that its definite non-existence cannot be demonstrated either? In brief, faced with a white lie, we get stumped and begin to stammer incoherently and perhaps even consider plain yelling if not physical assault!

That Mughal and western history seem irrelevant to syllabus-makers in Rajasthan is a serious enough matter but it doesn’t hurt with the same immediacy as the lies that attempt to turn a victim into a perpetrator – recently when a lady named Varnika Kundu was driving to her home in Chandigarh at around 12 AM, a vehicle tried to aggressively block her path though she managed to reverse her car and report the incident to the police. I first got this piece of information from Facebook through an elaborate post by her father, an IAS officer. I saw it as a horrifying incident that was duly aborted and forgot about it. But the very next morning it made national news when the stalker was revealed to be the son of a senior BJP leader in Haryana.  The lady in question, a career woman took matters in her hand and managed to get help from the police, largely I feel since she is the daughter of an IAS officer and couldn’t be dismissed lightly. The offenders however were faced with extremely light charges by the police and let off in no time. The offender perhaps comes from a family of warm-blooded men and women who take it for granted that men will assault and that it is the girl’s onus to keep out of the way. If a woman is unlucky enough to fall in the way, well, she has just been unlucky and must get over it soon. All these matters are what we call ‘cultural’, a distortion from the feudal days which is why a BJP leader from Haryana demanded an answer to his question – what was Varnika doing on the roads at 12 AM in the night.  

What is not cultural however is when a BJP spokesperson N C Shaina, a highly educated person demanded justice for the perpetrator Vikas Barala instead of showing sympathy for the victim or just plain keeping her trap opportunely shut. She has since deleted her tweet more out of shame than remorse, although Nidhi Razdan, the famous TV presenter scrupulously copied it and preserves it, engraved as it is forever in the digital stone.

I am of course moved by the plight of the gutsy young lady from Chandigarh who claimed that like many other victims, she doesn’t care to stay anonymous and since as a victim rather than a perpetrator, she has no reason to hide her name and face. But I also feel concerned by a general tendency to paint the victim as the perpetrator these days – the media does it and so do the politicians on the right. The farmer, the tribal, the villagers asking for rehabilitation, the conscientious teachers, the whistleblowers and the suffering students are now the new villains of a society that has lost its moral compass. Such reversal can turn our entire vocabulary toxic and snap the last straw of human decency, forget the higher ideals of goodness and rectitude.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Commentary: NPAs show a jump of 41% in current year

In recent years in India, the banks have failed to curb a steady rise in the Non-Performing Assets [NPAs], the term NPA just being a euphemism for defaulted loans. The reason behind this is however neither the small businessman nor the farmer but the major behemoths. The bigger industrial groups are often in a position to argue that further loans will enable them to repay the loans incurred earlier – this logic can, however, go altogether awry as the loans pile up and the financial system is drained of resources. The question the ordinary citizen may ask here is – where will the money come from and how will the vacuum get filled up? The answer is a long story of banking mismanagement and political interferences in the financial sector that amounts to what is often called ‘crony capitalism’.

According to an earlier report ‘The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is moving to resolve the bad loan crisis with an Internal Advisory Committee (IAC) of the RBI having identified 12 accounts of corporate borrowers who owe over Rs 5,000 crore each — and overall involve an amount of close to Rs 175,000 crore — for insolvency proceedings under the newly enacted Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 (IBC).’

The present report provides little analysis but is a surely an update for 2017 – it seems that the NPAs rose by 41 per cent in the current financial year despite the government’s professed attempts to curb such growth. Part of the same logic is the argument that there are businesses and banks that are too big to be allowed to fail. This ensures that the taxpayer is eternally committed to shoring up these entities lest the resulting turbulence upset the financial system in some fundamental ways. The interesting thing about the modern state in India and elsewhere is while it withdraws from sectors like education and health and to some extent even from infrastructure, it turns pro-active in securing loans for certain business houses presuming them to be growth leaders and creators of jobs. The NPAs are thus indicators not simply of a persistent policy blunder but also reveal some deep fault lines within the state apparatus.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

The cunning melancholy of Nitish Kumar

Ratnakar Tripathy

Nitish Kumar: strategic pessimism? 
There are several reasons why the political commentators of a liberal-progressive persuasion are hopping mad with Nitish Kumar. First, he as a fallen idol has come to be seen as the very ultimate in political betrayal. In times when the levels of political morality have fallen too low for anyone to voice sublime democratic ideals, the expectation was that a man with Nitish’s track record would stick to a simple promise made to the voters of Bihar, not to mention the commitment made to the alliance partner RJD. This may be the reason that most of the commentators seem to take a literary view of Nitish as a character from fiction that stands out for his utter lack of scruple. Far from the higher principles of public morality, Nitish is now seen as a back-stabber, as a perverse character seeking to damage, perhaps at some cost to himself his own mates and partners. Lalu and his son Tejaswi, and Rabridevi included have unleashed a rhetoric of righteous wrath that the better part of the press has swallowed hook, line and sinker. Whether Lalu or the press however cannot make up their minds if Nitish unleashed a complete surprise on RJD or his negotiations with the BJP had been going on awhile. They seem to say both without seeing any contradiction. Clearly, you cannot used expressions like ‘bombshell’ and ‘thunder strike’ as well as well as ‘conspiracy’ and ‘orchestrated plan’ to describe the actions of a man.

Second, Nitish has now transformed himself in a matter of days if not hours into a hope diminished, indeed a fond hope completely and decisively sunken. The progressive elements from large parts of India were hoping that the man would patiently stitch some semblance of an opposition to the BJP, some patchwork of a platform that one could pitch one’s hope on. Now that platform, that ground has slipped away from under the feet turning everyone furious at the act of great betrayal. In his first media interaction after returning as Chief Minister, Kumar said “I would always say I lead a small party and cannot have big national aspirations.” Nitish’s betrayal is thus seen not simply that of a friend or a partner but also of a likely savior. Nitish has however abdicated the status of a savior if his statement is to be taken seriously. Nitish also seems to convey the message that his shoulders are too frail to bear the tremendous onus of national politics in the time of Narendra Modi. How heartfelt this modesty is I am unable to tell. Or does he mean he wishes to contain his legendary arrogance within the confines of Bihar strictly?

Third, and this reason seems to me to be the chief one why everyone is so annoyed with Nitish. He has committed the sin of undermining what he sees as a false hope of getting all the rag tag political parties in one grand political formation. According to Nitish, the so-called opposition has a ‘reactive’ agenda, an anti-BJP stance and the fulminating rhetoric of a noisy and disgruntled crowd that has no core whether ideologically or organizationally. The Congress that could have formed an adhesive force is instead coming apart like a cracking spine incapable of holding the skeletal structure together. Much of Nitish’s gloom may be attributable to his decision to finally and decisively give up on the Congress. In many ways then, the reason why many commentators seem almost personal in their ire at Nitish is he has dared to attack our vain hope for a savior in the shape of a jingbang flock with no focus or clear purpose.

There is a reason why I feel grateful to Nitish for peeling our eyes en masse with a well-deserved harshness. I feel that the BJP in its present avatar plans to radically alter our political system by wrecking whatever democratic tradition we have built over the decades. Even worse, Modi’s regime is persistently corroding all our shared cultural norms by attacking us viscerally at the level of dress, diet, speech and even physical movement. I believe that the response to such well-orchestrated and well-oiled move deserves an equally radical and bold response. This is not about minor peeves and harassments. This is not even about someone molesting you in the street. It is about someone entering your house with the aim to turn you into a servile attendant. The BJP has managed to create an enormous anomie that is fast sucking out our moral and political energies and turning us into melancholic brooders incapable of any meaningful action. The BJP of today in brief requires an equally radical and bold response from the liberal-progressive stream. Nothing less would do.

If I feel grateful to Nitish for injecting some long awaited realism into the political discussions of today, I also look at him with disdain for claiming that Shri Narendra Modi has or will have “no challenger” in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This claim gives me two messages – an arrogant one that Nitish may have been the only challenger if everyone concerned endorsed his leadership, and that we necessarily need a towering leader as an answer to Modi. Despite the overall leadership vacuum at the national level, we have many ‘small men’ ready to lead, the true strength of a democracy. I keep a close watch on them on a daily basis though this is no place to list them. So while Nitish sits on his development and corruption-free throne in Bihar dreaming of a colossus who will rescue him from a mess of his own making, I feel dread at the very idea. To dream of tall figures in the manner of ‘yada yada hi dharmasye’ [a la Shrimadbhagwat Gita] should be seen as an anathema in a democracy. To me small and determined men would do equally well or better. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Commentary: Politics in the era of moral outrage

Destination Rajya Sabha
The sudden shift of Nitish Kumar from the RJD to BJP is now seen as a historic landmark, a watershed moral low that one thought may not be exceeded for a long time to come. The commentators and ordinary citizens active on social media just don’t seem to digest it and see it as the new normal. And yet every other day if you care to notice brings us face to face with a greater low and our moral standards seem to sink day by day. According to several reports, dozens of MLAs have been flown out of Gujarat to the safe confines of a resort in Bangalore where the daily tariff is around Rs 7,000. But in view of the impending Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat the Congress party is in no mood to take a risk, as there are allegations that the BJP is offering the mouthwatering amount of Rs 15 crores to the Congress MLAs for voting in favour of its candidates. While the BJP is targeting Congres's Ahmad Patel, trying to ensure his defeat, Patel on his part is fighting with all his claws and clout to stay where he stands presently.   

This report captures some of the high drama including the decision of the Congress to parade them in front of the media. This is obviously to ensure that once their allegiance is established, the MLAs may hopefully find it difficult to give in to their temptations. If one were to go a bit deeper into the matter, the Congress party is as much protecting its MLAs from the pillaging enemy as the candidates from their own spontaneous urge to follow where the pelf is. The ethical vacuum in Indian politics is indeed getting denser by the day if one were to use an oxymoron! 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Senator John McCain - An American Hero

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict party-line basis without a single Republican vote...We should not make the mistakes of the past.”

The cynicism of Republicans in Congress, the outright lying and the deceiving of American People by Trump and his Administration about Repeal and Replace of ObamaCare had been on display for a while. For 7 years Republicans promised to their 'base' that they would kill the ObamaCare regardless of how much harm it inflicts upon poor Americans without insurance from their employers (millions would be affected). Donald Trump promised that he will offer something better than ObamaCare, provided Congress just allows him to 'kill the ObamaCare first'. There was a glimmer of hope in November of 2016 after Donald's victory that indeed he would work out something meaningful to replace ObamaCare, 

But alas, six months into the Trump Adminidation and Donald himself on record saying "who would know that Health Care will be so complicated!", the guy was never prepared, never undertook even the minimal homework to make the governance effective and proved our worst case scenario - he is so mad and vindictive that he would not care lives of millions of poor Americans so long as he keeps his 'promise' with the base (well, actually the half promise since he also promised that he will 'improve upon ObamaCare'); regardless even if his own base would suffer in 'killing of ObamaCare'. In a moral sense, Donald Trump is one of the colossal moral failures of the American political system - a populist leader actively going on 'harming substantial folks of his own citizenry' for the sake of nothing.

That is the charade Senator John McCain has finally ended.I guess his own suffering from 'brain tumor' has literally inflamed his urge to do the 'right thing' for America for yet another time while he fights for his own life.

“I love John McCain. He’s one of the great heroes of this country...Whether we agree or not, I still love the guy.”

-- Sen. Hatch

Senator John McCain fought against Barack Obama in 2008. He made mistakes in his campaign. He rightly complained about the ObamaCare for its lack of bipartisan support. All throughout 2016 election season, he kept his battle against the 'no nothingness of Trump Campaign'. He endured ridicule and criticism from  Donald Trump, sustaining insults from a useless and utterly despicable character like Donald Trump. A few days back he stumbled upon 'life threatening brain tumor'. Despite all that, tonight he rose to his fundamental duty of 'upholding the moral compass' so that you remain faithful to the Republic - caring for ordinary people. 

In a sense, he has saved Republicans from having 'the blood on their hands' when inevitably more poor Americans would suffer in the absence of ObamaCare. He has left Democrats in an eternal political debt if ObamaCare stands (which it seems since Senate Majority Leader McConnell says "it is time to move on" and I doubt 2018 midterm elections would give any political room to GOP to undertake any such hopeless legislative chicanery like the killing of ObamaCare). He gave the cover to sensible Republican Female Senators when stupid White Male Republican Congress Members are daring these female law makers for a 'duel' as if we are in the Medival Period! That is all true, but in the end, the truth is Sen. McCain registered his disapproval in siding with the 'destruction of lives of weaker Americans'. That stands tall. 

Without his yesterday night's vote, Sen. McCain was already an American Hero for all what he accomplished in his service in American Navy. But tonight, this workhorse showed that even in Trump's America, not all of America has become 'senseless, immoral and stupid' as like Donald Trump.

Bihar: The state of confusion

Ratnakar Tripathy

Nitish: a tragic masterstroke? 
Probably the most decisive factor in the formation of Nitish Kumar’s personality and politics is his continued inability to win an election and form a government on his own. Over the years, Nitish has shown a streak of lonesomeness that keeps him from being a successful ‘party man’ and a leader of men despite the great respect he has won for his skills at governance. No wonder his most insightful biographer Sankarshan Thakur chose the title ‘Single Man: The Life and Time of Nitish Kumar of Bihar’ for his last book on Nitish. A few days ago Nitish decided to resign from his alliance government with Laloo’s RJD in what may seem to outsiders a lightening move and an impulsive act. But those familiar with the goings on in Bihar claim that the events the other night were not abrupt at all and that trouble has been brewing for some time between the two Bihar stalwarts Laloo and Nitish. Laloo’s son Tejaswi Yadav’s insistence at continuing as the Deputy CM may just be only the most visible reason. With a series of CBI raids at 12 different location of Lalu Prasad Yadav last week, several corruption cases have been registered against him and his family implicating the Deputy CM Tejaswi, his daughter Misa as well as her husband. As Laloo claims, the BJP at the centre has been acting vindictively against Laloo. Perhaps truly so but that by itself makes for a weak defense in Laloo’s favour.  There are also seemingly farfetched rumours that under tremendous pressure from the centre, it was becoming likely that Laloo may seek relief from the torment and go to the extent of offering a handshake to the BJP. In which case Nitish just beat him to it!

While talking to the press soon after his resignation Nitish expressed his frustration with the alliance partner Congress Party that refused to intervene in the tug of war or try and persuade Tejaswi to give in at least for the time being. This frustration seems to have gone a long way with Nitish who seems to have decided that there is nothing much one can hope of the Congress anymore, including the possibility of the Congress providing a core at the centre around which other political parties may come together in a front against the BJP. Whether one approves of the move made by Nitish or not, clearly Nitish had lost all hope of forming a Mahagathbandhan [Grand Alliance] with any sense of efficacy.

What the several commentators worry about at this point is the continued weakening of the opposition forces in the country that does not bode well for an already weakened democratic order.  With one more bastion of opposition gone, Bihar is now truly in a state of mess. The only plus point here if one may look cynically at the scenario may be that the centre is now likely to be generous with Bihar by offering all manners of largesse. My fear however is that this is not the end of the tug of war but only the beginning of another one and that the JD[U]-BJP handshake may not last at all. With three different forces competing for their sway over the state – RJD, JD[U] and BJP [consider the Congress non-existent], Bihar should now expect more tearing and renting rather than repair for some time to come. As for Lalu, in the long run he seems to be damaging the career of his own son, praised lately by for his good work in Bihar, very much in the manner of Mulayam in UP. Akhilesh has been trying to find his redemption. Tejaswi is not even doing that!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Commentary: Transfer of officials as political weapon

Actually, the term ‘whistleblower’ used in the heading would be a misnomer in the present context. A whistleblower is generally a third or fourth party not directly concerned or with a direct stake in a governance process who acts out of the urgings of the conscience. D. Roopa, an official from the Prisons Department of Karnataka who was transferred days after reporting murky goings on at the Karnataka prison, and more specifically on the bribes allegedly paid by Sasikala, the Tamilnadu leader to make her stay comfortable at the Central Prison, Bangalore probably saw it as part of her routine job to report the shady dealings at the prison. Instead of acknowledging the good work the government of Karnataka decided to transfer her out of her posting and be rid of the nuisance. This is not unusual at all and in fact may be one of the routines followed by the state and the central government. There have been too many cases in the past of honest officials being perpetually on the move from one posting to another. It does not take much imagination to see what it means for the official concerned and her family and friends – it is indeed a severe form of punishment comparable to suspension or dismissal. The message behind these transfers is of course ‘mend your ways or be ready to live a nomadic life’.

This report dwells at length on some such cases.  As R. Sri Kumar, former Vigilance Commissioner of the country and retired IPS officer from the State quoted in the report says ‘Transfers are being used as a punishment to silence officials. As per the present Act, whistle-blowers need to seek protection under the Act at the outset itself. This needs to be amended to help officials seek protection from transfers and other such action.’ The Indian political system thus tries to ensure that more and more honest officials are flushed out of the system or made ineffectual and the compliant officials fill up the vacuum. 

Experiencing ‘Jagga Jasoos’: a Film Review of sorts

Ratnakar Tripathy

Let me begin by admitting that I am generally reluctant to review bad books and movies, since the idea is to quickly forget about them and move ahead in life, instead of lending them the immortality of the digital print. But this once I will crib – going out for a movie to a cinema and travelling through the dense traffic make you feel like a martyr already, even though unlike my adolescent days one needn’t stand in a queue for ages. Also, when you invite a friend to join you, it seems to put on you the onus of providing some decent entertainment to the companion and not ruin his day. Who knows the next time you have a similar offer, the friend may make all kinds of excuses for avoiding your disastrous company!  I feel penitent for inflicting the pain on a friend when she could have easily done without it.

‘Jagga Jasoos’ is an experiment in all variety of immature and superfluous forms, symbols and genres. It attempts to follow the comic book format, provide some exciting adventure to an eager child and also turn a stammering boy into an international hero. For some reason Anurag Basu is fixated with characters that stammer and I find this fixation rather morbid, never mind the deep symbolism. So Jagga [the orphaned stammerer Ranveer Kapoor] is instructed by an adoptive father that he can sing his way out of his muteness. The therapeutic strategy of course turns the movie into a full-fledged musical, unlike the common run of Hindi movies that are half or quarter musical. As a result we get some really bad recitation and singing from Jagga, a record low for Pritam, one of my favourite music composers.

It didn’t help that my neighbours had begun grumbling within half an after the film started. After all, no one visits the cinema just to sing the national anthem, as is the requirement these days! A raucous child nearby broke into hysterical laugh every time Basu touched a new low with his improvised turns and twists in the story. The lady next to me was soon busily texting on her phone, her instrument glowing boldly in the dark and I was transfixed at the very idea till I noticed another couple on the other side was doing the same. They had all given up on the movie rather early into the tale and unlike me were sufficiently resigned to their fates for the next three hours. They all munched popcorn of course with completely undivided attention.

The film takes a series of puzzles and murder mysteries that bloat in scale, starting from a local homicide to the grandly global level. Various folk dances, mask shows, spectacles of the most banal sort pass before you – after a while you can make little sense and get reduced to sheer qualia – colours, sounds and inexplicably raw sensations had in a state of coma, except an occasional nudge from the fidgety friend assures you that you are wide awake. Basu in brief has made a puerile film that makes you feel cheated for all its pretentious novelty. Indeed, I am now determined to avoid all his future offerings, if indeed he manages to get another stab at it. If I was a producer, I would erase him from my memory forever, although Ranvir Kapoor, one of the producers of the film and according to me one of the most talented actors in Bollywood today, may just go running back to him, seeking further punishment.

Jagga Jasoos reminded me so much of a moment I had years ago – I was dining with my family at a supposedly south Indian restaurant and had ordered dosas for all of us. Two bites into the dosa and my wide-eyed wife exclaimed in sincere astonishment ‘how can you make such a bad dosa’ more in fascination than disgust. I went through many such moments watching ‘Jagga Jasoos’.  

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

2017 Fourth of July

Fourth of July Celebration in Cupertino, CA; 2017
Those residing in Bay Area may feel under the siege now that Kim from DPRK has apparently fired a missile which can carry a nuke bomb all the way from North Korea over the Pacific to good old USA West Coast. That is one way to count how our freedoms are under some kind of threat in the 241st Independence of this Republic. This is in addition to the threat of ISIS and terrorism inspired by Al-Qaeda and likes of that. Fortunately, as American forces actively back Kurds to take on ISIS; the threat from ISIS is likely to go down. Even for terrorism in the name of Islam; somehow America is able to avoid it for last 16 years or so and that is good.

However, it is the 'intolerance' of Trump Administration at home, which is of concern. Donald wants to ban folks from certain countries based on the predominant religion of those countries even if courts in the USA do not agree with him. Next, he wants to ensure poor folks of this country go without an affordable health insurance. Trump also wants to push America on her 'fossil fuel addiction' even if it means abdicating global responsibility towards Paris Accord. The sad part is none of this is going to create jobs in the Red States who voted him in the hope of bringing of 1950's America.

The truth is America is caught up in a vicious cultural war. Neither Hillary nor Pelosi-Schumer duo offers a credible alternative in eyes of many Americans. Cultural baggage of these folks is too much for a vast number of Americans to 'see' the logic or any fact-based policy. As a result, America struggles with contradictions of Republican Policy - how to give more tax cuts to rich while fulfilling the promise of government help to poor of Red States. 

Needless to say, this Republican exercise is unlikely to result in any better America. But so long as a credible Opposition Voice does not emerge who can explain Americans what is terribly wrong with Trump's America in simple terms; we will continue to live under the danger of losing our cherished freedoms.

Maybe 2017 Fourth of July makes more Americans to realize all these dangers to our freedoms we enjoy, courtesy of Americans soldiers who fight for us as well as a neat system our Founders left for us.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Why Nitish is not charmed by call for opposition unity

Ratnakar Tripathy

That Indian politics in its everyday sense is fast sliding from a state of excessive zeal to dire fatigue and anomie is becoming clearer by the day. While the critics of the present regime habitually look for a ray of hope in the opposition parties and find none, it seems wiser to follow the public mood of the voter, the government’s changing rhetoric at its different layers and likely developments within what seems a monolith of a regime with all the powers concentrated in the PMO. When one examines the regime as an executive engine and an agency of change, it becomes clear that there is little about it that seems lasting. If anything, the Modi regime is likely to leave behind a legacy of false starts and rather forgettable if not traumatic memories. The question is how soon will that happen? There is a certain persistence of hope among the citizens that continues to work as an emotional capital favouring the BJP in the minds of the voters – it is almost as if every time the voter may feel frustrated and angry with the present regime, the haunting images of a Rahul or Sonia Gandhi chases them back into what they see as a safer haven of the BJP. It is however becoming clear that the present regime, very much like the Emergency of 1975 will prove to be one more dead end for the Indian democracy – sometimes indeed, it is perhaps more important to learn pathways to be avoided rather than forge a clear path ahead. Such predicaments can seem like a psychological standstill or even an impasse but may represent a pause of political learning for the common voter.

Such is the context for any talk of opposition unity in the country. When recently Bihar’s Chief Minister was criticized by both RJD and Congress leaders for his inconsistent and ‘unethical’ support to the BJP over its presidential candidate Ramnath Kovind, till some days ago, the BJP-appointed Governor of Bihar, the ethical terminology failed to attract the ears of the voters. It is commonly known in Bihar that Nitish runs a regime in Bihar that is in equal measure supported and harassed by the RJD elements who would like a cut out of the government schemes and contracts. Nitish is not willing. Some say that Bihar’s prohibition of alcohol may be driven professedly by Nitish’s support among the woman voter of Bihar, but its real target were the RJD hyenas howling at the gates of Nitish. Banning alcohol has effectively decimated their largesse and a solid source of income. Similarly, when the Congress terms Nitish ‘unethical’, the question may be asked, despite the sublime abstraction called ‘opposition unity’, what can the Congress give Nitish that he already doesn’t have? That the Congress is a spent force at the centre is a fact that we must force down our gullets with great haste, as any hope of the Congress seen often as the lesser evil will seriously skew our political analysis. The Congress may indeed be a lesser evil but it is also completely effete and will remain so for a long time to come. If the Congress made substantial gains in the last Bihar assembly elections, it was largely due to the momentum that favoured the RJD and JD[U] and not the other way round.

As far as the ‘ethics’ of Nitish goes, he is stuck in a strange predicament. With a thinner voter base than the RJD in Bihar, he is reduced to playing the BJP and the RJD against each other on a daily basis and support for Kovind is no exception. As for the Congress, I am not sure Nitish’s already cluttered mental space will allow him to spare even a passing thought to a party wrecked by its top leaders despite its grand tradition. As for Modi-Shah duo, they will need more time to wreck the BJP but they are already at it on a daily basis. With these two megaliths gone, all you see on the Indian landscape of the future are small rocks, some stones and a huge expanse of fine gravel. If the Congress failed to run the engines of a heavily centralized structure, there is no reason to believe that the BJP with a much larger family of sister organizations will succeed at the same in the long run or even for a short term. Centralism as an ideology alone is not adequate for keeping a centralized structure intact and running. So if at all, the opposition’s strategic handshakes will only make sense during a regional election for some more time to come.        

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Native noises from Darjeeling: imposing Bangla can hurt Mamata

Ratnakar Tripathy

A scene from an earlier agitation at Mirik
If you thought Mamata provided one of the toughest bastions against the present regime, try a question mark to get real. Mamata seems to have shot herself in the foot when there was no need to do so. However uneasy, the Gorkha issue around Darjeeling was in a state of truce. Yes, they do want their own state and are not content with the autonomous council which they understandably see as an interim arrangement or even a base camp for the final climb to statehood. But they were being unusually quiet about their passion till Mamata’s attempt to impose Bangla on them roused them from a temporary slumber by imposing Bangla as a compulsory subject till class X. But as a newspaper edit put it ‘Longstanding issues such as the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal cannot be wished away with a magic wand.’ Indeed, Mamata went far beyond sitting idly and wishing. She provoked the Gorkha pride with her magic wand instead, poking it where it hurts the most. The Bengali sense of superiority may be meekly accepted elsewhere in the country and people may let it pass, but Darjeeling is the wrong place for articulating Bhadralok presumptions. Although the regime in Kolkata partly withdrew, announcing that the subject will be optional in the hill district, the damage is done. That the sleeping tiger has been stirred and the new phase of Gorkhaland agitation is now supported by all the hill parties will cause enormous glee in the BJP is obvious. BJP has had tie ups with Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha [GJM] during elections in the past and will not hesitate in granting statehood to Gorkhaland if it serves its purpose in cornering Mamata in her own domain.

The proposed Gorkhaland
What may follow is even worse – the West Bengal voter is unlikely to forgive Mamata for losing Darjeeling, their own backyard hill station and picnic spot. If you wish to assess the Bengali arrogance do have a look at this jaundiced take on the agitation – the article starts with ‘What is wrong if the West Bengal government wants to merely include Bengali as one of the languages in the state-funded school education curriculum?’ And then the commentator goes on to elaborate on what clearly seems the deep-seated Bhadralok bias that sees no difference between an argument and plain grumbling. 

‘Such unity among the people of the hills was last witnessed in the 1980s. Gorkhaland is a sentiment of the people of the hills, which you cannot afford to ignore. It can be suppressed for some time but can't be wiped out," Jan Andolan Party (JAP) chief Harka Bahadur Chetri said as tension continued to simmer, 11 days after the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) called for an indefinite shutdown on 8 June’ reports another source’ – all this must seem like sweet music among the BJP top brass who have been eyeing at West Bengal as the next trophy to bag. The way Mamata has let matters escalate in Darjeeling has made her an enemy of the Gorkhaland movement in a rather personal sense and the bitterness will not evaporate easily, even she mends her ways in a hurry to ward off an upheaval at this stage, delaying the inevitable for the time being.


Monday, June 12, 2017

The democracy of fear and the fear of democracy

Ratnakar Tripathy

At a somewhat late age I realize that we intellectuals and academics have a life assignment that may be described fairly simply – to try and protect the rest of the humanity as well as ourselves from two malaises – first, an overwhelming sense of obviousness about life meanings and social order, and second when aspects of personal and social life seem too burdensomely mysterious, to simplify and unravel them. The sense of obviousness is one when you begin to feel that life has been emptied of all the mysteries and enchantments and everything is oh so obvious and clear – so much so there is no need to know any more than one already does. By too much mystery I mean a sense of being crushed by puzzles that seem unanswerable. This is no mean assignment but according to me, totally worthwhile. 

So at this present conjuncture in Indian politics when I went out to seek some light, some insight and hopefully some pearls of wisdom too, where did I find it? In this video by Ravish Kumar the well-known TV journalist from NDTV, known for his grassroots news coverage and his apparent humaneness as a reporter. I do not know Ravish personally although we do have dozens of common friends. What I do value as a real bridge between us is the fact that we both come from Champaran in Bihar, the place where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi started his satyagrah against compulsory farming of Indigo by Bihari landowners a century ago. Several colleagues and friends of mine are currently busy organizing the logistics for a march within Champaran and from Champaran to Delhi later this year. I wish them well not simply for reasons parochial involving pride over coming from a clan rooted in Champaran, but because these are people who are chasing hope with the same desperation, affection and passion as I do, given the present predicament of our country.

So what has Ravish taught me? As someone trained in philosophy and inclined to carry the torch all my life, I have a bias for convoluted theories and a temperamental inability to talk and write without quoting Derrida and Heidegger and some sundry Indian thinkers too. I have to at times try hard to shed these philosophical callouses and think with the purity of one’s own mind.  This essay is an attempt to do precisely that.

To reiterate the question, what did Ravish teach me?

With apologies to those who do not read or understand Hindi, the simple lesson I learn from the longish speech is, the present regime is mainly about two things – it is trying on a 24x7 basis to instill in us a sense of dread and fear. Why should a regime that came riding on the back of a democratic system want to do that instead of feeling grateful to it for fulfilling all its appetite for power? Because Ravish says, it is a regime that shudders with fear of democracy and our votes on a 24x7 basis. So it is the good old bully from school trying to scare you because he is scared of your talent, your decency and warm human feelings.  Is that an oversimplification? Of course it is. But at a moment when you are seeking desperately for ways to ensure survival, you need a pointing finger clearly defining the direction for your attack and escape – you do not need an international conference for a broad exchange of viewpoints and perspectives.

Another reason why I found my wisdom in Ravish. For the past few years I have noticed that my friends, colleagues and acquaintances, mostly intellectuals and academics from India are divided into two groups with frequent overlaps – ones who have given in to a dark, broody gloom, and those who get hysterical within seconds after waking up in the morning and reading the trivialest of current news.  While I appreciate both the emotive predicaments, I have often been made to feel like an ever unremedied and irremediable case of pathological optimism, a genetic disorder to be despised and at times envied. I do not think however that I am afflicted with chronic optimism at all. I just feel that the gloom and the hysteria are both equally irrational and untimely. The situation is a bit like Geeta the little big book from our tradition. Right at the moment of urgent action, the great warrior Arjuna finds himself paralyzed just looking at the faces his arrows should hit – his grandfather, his gurus, and his playmate cousins of his childhood. Krishna then steps in and reminds Arjuna that it is too late and what must be done must quite simply be done, although many of his arguments cross the boundaries of the here and now, soaring above at cosmic heights.

Not that I have even an iota of Krishna’s rare package of wisdom and cunning, what is the one line Geeta moment here? [Remember half of Gandhi’s exegetes see him as a cunning baniya, and the rest see in him an untainted saint]. It is just this – while you hide and hesitate before a fellow countryman, albeit your ruler, you forget that he is quite likely more scared of you than you are of him.  I will now tell a story from my college days, a momentary digression from the conversation but I promise it will prove to be very relevant.

Once upon a time in my BHU hostel room I was invaded by a lumpen-bully batchmate of mine. He accused me rather arbitrarily of not returning his greetings. He shut the door behind him, looked me in the eye and said ‘what if I give you a tight slap in your face?’ I had no choice and no time to think. I said ‘I will give you a tighter one’ and those were days when I did some weights. The bully stared at me awhile and then rushed to me to put his head on my shoulders and hug me. What do you think the big bully man had to say? The hysterical bully told me ‘what? If a friend in a moment of anger gives you a slap, you will forget your long history of friendship and hit him back?’ this melodrama queen was actually teary eyed saying this and we sat down and exchanged some pleasantries, smoked a shared cigarette and parted.

So what is the moral I am trying to squeeze out of this petty anecdote and Ravish’s epic speech? The moral is the enemy is a human being, however evil. So Ravish’s stance is not that of a murderous gallant wanting to squish the enemy under a big thumb but that of love actually. He doesn’t want the rulers to evaporate in the white heat of his anger – he just wants them to come down the pedestal a few rungs and go home with their heads bent in common humility. He wants them to go home and relaxe and do things they may want to – such as not eat beef, not ask too many questions of authority and to blindly follow its dictates, to hug the national flag in the bed and enjoy peaceful sleep, to dream of killing Muslims without acting on the impulse, to believe that the Indian civilization is ten million years old and the mother of entire humanity, that women are meant not to love but to despise, and that drinking cow urine is a better deal than a pint at the club. Your agenda is much longer of course, but dear ruler sir, please do not try to impose any of it on a whole country and do all this at home in your privacy. The right to harmless madness must be counted as a major human right I believe, although I am not aware if our constitution explicitly dwells on it at all. These are times when the CCTV state will cart you to a psychiatry ward if seen making faces at yourself in the mirror, after all!

Gandhi would have been fine with all this talk and the video too and would chuckle toothlessly listening to the man from Champaran.

So have I made clear why this near worshipful piece on Ravish’s video?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Film Review: Wonder Woman

The underlying theme of Marvel and DC comics character based movie is 'good guys prevail over bad ones'. It is simple, after all the inspiration is from the world of comics meant for growing kids entering adolescence. Occasionally this fight or conflict is used to make a commentary about the way we live our lives. Being imaginary characters, the tradition of comics is to generally opt for 'beyond nation states or other prosaic identifications' so that it provides the fulcrum to make a meta-point about humanity. For any such meta-commentary to succeed, it is critical to transport the audience effortlessly to 'a station' where what characters are saying is heard in all earnest. That is the trick director Patty Jenkins has been able to pull off in this wonderful movie. 

Nowhere there is any pretension by Jenkins that this film is nothing but a make-believe story telling. It is all imaginary. But by crashing that 'fiction' in the hard and grim reality of World War I, by unravelling the 'innocence' of Wonder Woman slowly over the span of the movie; Jenkins created the space or context to ask the primordial question of humanity - why do humans become so reckless to kill off each other to an extent where extinction of humans from this planet becomes a real possibility? The director presents Diana's love for Steve as a proof that 'love' is a convincing answer for ills of humans and our proclivity to destruct one another.

The sequencing of major scenes, coherent unfolding of the plot, competent cinematography and reasonably good performances by Gal Gadot and Chris Pine; all achieve the purpose of taking the audience in a 'reflective mood' where the questions of 'war and peace' can be debated in a mature way. Too often in our today's politics, we are routinely turning our back to the reality and facts and refusing to ask and answer some obvious questions. It is only Diana's slow comprehension of how human mind interacts with other people makes it possible for us to ask these fundamental questions and prepares us to be receptive to answers which are so openly revealing in front of us. The director and scriptwriter were smart to demonstrate that in the end, it is few 'humans' who saved Humanity from the disastrous chemical weapons. Diana was the inspiration. She does only two fight scenes of significance - one to liberate a village when she answers the question of "when to help needy" by effectively saying "now" in an emphatic and spectacular manner.* The other one is when she makes her stubborn statement against the "hopelessness of the humanity" as cunning Iros has been waiting for ages for mankind to annihilate itself. While Diana wages these other worldly battles for morality of humans, in the concrete "here and now" world of humans; it is only the goodness residing among ordinary people who undertake heroics to bring us back from the precipice. The movie renders two parallel worlds - the grim and real world of "here and now" inhabited by Steve and his ordinary friends; and the ideal world of "where Humans ought to go", inhabited by Diana and Amazonian People. The beauty of the movie is by making violent and bewildering clashes between these two worlds, with full utilization of artistic freedom, the director has opened the audience for a larger debate; a classic use case of 'pure art' is fully attained by this movie.

* But alas, ultimately her saving of villagers does not work; they all die in the test chemical attacks.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Comey Testimony

Three things happened in the ex-FBI boss Comey's testimony:

1. There was no new ground broken which would have been called as new evidence of 'obstruction of justice' by Trump. All that big yawn you hear from Republican Congress members, it is because 'it could have been worse...' kind of relief Republicans are having.

2. But Comey laid his case effectively. Trump practically threatened Comey to end Flynn investigations, made it clear what he expected from Comey, then he fired him and finally went public saying Russia investigation was on his mind. It is difficult to see other than what is obvious here - Trump wanted Comey to end investigations and Comey paid the price for not obliging Trump. In a sense, there does not have to be a new evidence since Comey - with seven pages of written testimony and oral one today; established very conclusively that there was a clear attempt by Trump to stop Comey. This in itself is very powerful.

3. As Comey said, special counselor Mueller will have to determine whether Trump action constitutes an 'obstruction of justice' or not. But what Comey achieved is he made the 'liar' label stick to Trump. In the Court of American Public, more are likely to believe Comey's case that Trump tried to defame him and the Bureau untruthfully. Politically this is a big deal too. American Public knows not to take Trump literally and all politicians lie. (At least that is the 'meme' with Trump supporters!). But in this case, American People also know stakes are high.

Indeed far from unshackling himself, Trump will continue to be under a cloud with further loss of his credibility. Democrats are going to cherish this slow dripping.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Trump Exits Paris Accord

Source - NASA / Wikipedia
From a substantive point of view, I get what this Wall Street Journal Editorial is saying in endorsing Trump's action of ditching the Paris Accord. There is a merit in a viewpoint that getting prosperous now, having accumulated wealth now, is more important than worrying about a problem which will arise 50 years down the line. But there are a number of issues which remain unanswered in this line of thinking:

1. WSJ Editorial argues that Obama committed steep emission reduction targets for the USA but did not execute on the corresponding legislative action of aligning taxes to encourage such emission reduction. Ok, knowing Republicans controlled Congress for 6 years of Obama Era; we cannot recall WSJ Editorial chastising Republicans in Congress for not pushing any such tax alignment. Moreover, the right corollary of such an argument will be to urge Trump Administration to take an initiative to bring necessary tax and regulatory changes so that natural alignment happens between America's Energy Producers and the goal of voluntarily reducing greenhouse gases. WSJ Editorial does not do that but just could not resist itself in falsely criticizing Obama regime.

2. The accord sets voluntary targets. As the editorial says it correctly, the Paris according is nothing but an exercise in moral and social signaling. Given that, for America to reject when 190 countries have done so; it is simply an arrogant assertion of American Exceptionalism. It is bogus, egoistic and manically suitable for the Trump style. But in decades to come when the World is dominated by China and India, this arrogance of America is not going to help her anything. Wise Statesmen would have seen the merit of staying in the Accord but ensuring that American Industry does not pay any undue price. Meaning, this repudiation of a global according is going to be the poster child of Dumb Trump when it comes negotiating with rest of the world.

3. It is not as if rest of the world does not know how divided America is. But what this act will enforce is the futility of negotiating anything with an American Administration when the execution extends more than a sitting presidential term. In the case of Donald Trump, even Republicans cannot guarantee that he would last till next year! It is easy to imagine no nation with integrity or character would take an American Administration very seriously. In other words, Trump simply compounded his enemies and the way Bush's Iraq War continues to cost Americans; it is possible that Trump's mistake will continue to cost America for a long time to come - in terms any nation co-operating with America. Combined with Trump's refusal to confirm commitments to NATO, this American Administration has accumulated international damage of enormous proportion. Trump backing out of Paris Accord is going to open a void and equally an opportunity for China, India, and EU to fill that void. Political stars are aligned in these regions that indeed these nation states would step forward to lead the world. One should not be surprised few decades down the line when one would point to this Trumpian Exit as the genesis of the sunset of American Exceptionalism.

4. Trump said he was elected to protect interests of Pittsburg and not Paris. The question is by ditching Paris Accord, are Trump and Republicans going to bring jobs to Carbon Counties? When you are a political force which is ready to cut basic medical insurance of 20 million Americans; when you have an Administration which literally wants to cut the life line of millions of Americans in programs funded by Federal Government; there are no hopes that any such jobs will be created. Creating jobs is a hard work, and it needs a Government which is very agile, innovative and still willing to spend where it matters. No such dexterity is shown by Trump Administration nor by the current Republican Congress. One can imagine a Democrat campaigning in the Red Counties in a year or two, asking "has Trump brought you any jobs?".

The part which is more persuasive in the WSJ Editorial is when it says it is the American Private Industry which will innovate our way out. I would add to that the enlightened investor pressure as well. Ultimately Paris Accord represents a way of life humans want to follow on this planet, and that path is trying to pollute less of our natural habitat. It is cultural for sure. But there is nothing wrong in that. Humanity might have achieved more prosperity via Slavery, Apartheid, and Castism too. But that does not mean Humans allowed that. 

The essence of a religious faith is - do things what we think moral even though we can get away otherwise. Trump act of ditching Paris Accord simply does not take this high road. Sure, there are jobless folks in Pittsburg who need to be employed. But it does not mean the only path in finding jobs for those folks should be polluting more of this planet. There are many other ways to bring employment to Carbon Counties of America. But the exit of Paris Accord by Trump formalizes otherwise an expected behavior from this Republican Regime which refuses to work through alternatives while co-operating with rest of the world.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Book Review - The Dirty Parts Of The Bible, a very good read

- Uday Oak

An Amusing, Enchanting, Involving, Outstanding and Ultimate experience!
Ever since I acquired a Kindle, collecting books became a virtual experience. Certain websites would push 'deals of the day' through email, and I would lustily download, especially if the books were free for that day.
Most of the 'deals of the day' are in 'thriller' category. And after reading quite a few, I developed an uncanny knack of spotting the dud ones in the first few paragraphs, if not in sentences. Unfortunately, then onward, reading kinda lost the old golden-platinum halo, acquiring a more functional stainless steel one.
This book (rather, e-book), suddenly brought the old thrill back, and some! Including the melancholy feeling one starts developing towards the end, simply because the book is going to end.....
I had experienced this feeling a few times earlier, but the total count in my life has never gone beyond a score. Tortilla Flat and A Confederacy Of Dunces are two names that spring up.
And now to the book.

At times, the language is rather 'direct' (to put it euphemistically). But only at times. And the author is not using it as a trick or a show-off or a USP. Otherwise the overall flow is very easy, very comforting, very natural.
Set in 1936, it starts in Michigan. And moves on to Texas through Illinois. A baptist preacher's virgin son, obsessed with two things - god and girls (not necessarily in that order). Hard cider, bird droppings and a weird blindness push the story forward.
A hobo, who spouts philosophy without appearing contrived is a fabulous character. If ever a movie is made on this, there would be no other person than Morgan Freeman to play this role.
Well, writing anything more would be taking the fun away....
On the whole, a must read, if you like Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole kind of humor.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump in Trouble

"I hope you can let this go,” 

Can American Public say so to President Trump?

At this point, we are looking at the first serious challenge to Trump Presidency. It all boils down to few specific things:

- Saying "I hope you can let this go," [1] was it just the manner of speaking or a command or an implicit threat?

- Knowing Trump, the chances are that he would have asked Comey and others many times on this matter. If it turns out to be a threat - entirely possible with Trump - then 'obstruction of justice' charge sticks to President Trump, which is enough to get impeached.

The problem for Donald Trump is, how do you discredit James Comey by providing any other alternative explanation? Trump believes in his reckless aggression so much that probably he never bothered to think through how Comey can boomerang on him.

The 'tapes' with which Trump threatened Comey may, on the contrary, contain accounts to bolster Comey's case than Trump's. Sure, one can imagine 'foolishness of Trump' where he is trying to threaten someone which actually undermines himself. Chances are that, if those tapes exist and I think so, those tapes would rather undercut President Trump.

There are still too many unknowns, and the case for  Donald Trump Impeachment has not cooked yet. But what we do see is a possibility of such "baking" to start for sure. If it develops along those lines, there will be a point when GOP House Representatives and Senators would find it politically indefensible - for their own political future - to stand by Donald Trump. When Nixon realized that Republican House Members would not stand for him, he resigned. That is the dynamics here.[2]

As James Comey's public testimony in Congress develops as well as his memos make roads through Congress; we are bound to learn more. Yes, there can be a possibility that Trump is exonerated as more information comes; but knowing how unprepared Donald Trump is to the presidency, knowing that Trump himself is famous 'political destructor' of himself; odds are we are looking at a perilous presidency here.


[1] New York Times reports that is what then FBI director James Comey wrote in his memos after meeting President Donald Trump. Other Media outlets are confirming it independently.

[2] After all the staunch Conservative like Mike Pence as the President, after Trump is impeached, is a very much 'viable vessel' for Ryan's of the world for their agenda.