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.

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* 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.

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[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.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Emmanuel Macron

Source - Wikipedia
By securing an emphatic victoryunlike Donald Trump, Macron has indeed contributed to stalling the bad politics of Donald Trump and Brexit. Both Trump and Brexit want to simply 'rip out' the existing global trade, finance, and security systems under the banner of ultra-nationalism without much thought for substitute solutions. Marien Le Pen may not have been as shallow as like Donald Trump, or Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson when it comes to policy matters. She has chops. But that may be just how French Politics and French Society works - there is a less tolerance to the lying and stupidity of Trump scale. And yet, Marien Le Pen's policy implementation would have imploded Europe, would have created more 'entropy' in world institutions. Her willingness to go in cahoots with Putin is completely deplorable. So it is great that majority of French voters saved the world from the spectacle of more instability. Macron has done the job number one well - to remove the archaic ways of established traditional French political parties and then to defeat Marien Le Pen soundly. Around two-thirds of French voters rallying behind this young President is a solid victory.[1]

Apart from stopping the spread of anti-globalization, populist, ethno-nationalistic political choices; Macron win will boost Europe and make EU stronger in dealing with the recalcitrant UK. German Chancellor Merkle should benefit politically as more and more people are seeing through the politics of 'blow everything rhetoric' and realizing the value of established political players and institutions. As Chancellor Merkel makes rounds around the globe to expand German / EU trade; along with China, the world will have two established players - EU & China - rooting for the continued growth of global trade and capitalism. It is entirely possible that History will count Trump era as the period when America actively hurt herself by withdrawing from world affairs and trade without Trump bringing any meaningful jobs to the Rust Belt. Consequently, Trump's America is conceding a lot of 'global political space' to China. What Macron win means is at least a firmer EU will be there[2] to guard interests of Western Liberal Democracies when Trump has trivialized affairs of global order, and British folks are engaged in a race to the bottom in pursuit of naked White Nationalism[3].

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[2] Germany needs to be accommodative of Macron policies to entrench European Integration further. 

[3] Theresa May is going to get the coveted political victory in coming UK elections, given the ineptitude and dogmatism of UK opposition Labor Party under the disastrous leadership of one Jerome Corbayan. But none of that is going to help May in stopping the fissures which are opening with Scotland and Northern Ireland as she prepares for her 'high act of Brexit negotiations' with Europe. For all we know, by the time she reaches the finish line of those negotiations; there may not be the UK as we know since possibly Scotland and Northern Ireland would have started the divorce from Westminister by then.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

AAP in a state of befuddlement



Ratnakar Tripathy

We are going through times when politics has become highly volatile and unpredictable. It has become genuinely difficult or even impossible to make forecasts. And yet I am time and again amazed by the pretense of clarity shown by experts after the event, as if they knew beforehand what’s up and for some reason decided not to share their deep insights. Fear of proving wrong can be quite paralyzing of course and any analysis of events must face the risk of being proven wrong. It was thus amusing to read comments and analysis of the recent turmoil in the Aam Admi Party [AAP] which does seem to be in a state of a daze after its defeat in the Delhi municipal elections.  Sanjay Kumar, political analyst and professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies claims that “The results have come exactly how it was predicted and even if the exit polls was not conducted, if you just walk the streets and talk to people you would have been able to guess these results.” But he does not explain why a party known for delivering more than any other should lose to a party that did not even allow any of its formerly incumbent councilors to contest the municipal election of last month. In brief, what does the voter want and what does the sweeping verdict reflect? Whatever the reasons, it is apparent that the AAP is under a severe strain simply to make sense of the results. Several news reports after the elections did indicate that the common voter cast his vote not so much for the BJP but the PM Narendra Modi, believing him to be capable of strong executive action. This piece of information carries within it the beginnings of an explanation.

I feel that AAP’s recent turmoil and the move against Kumar Vishwas is an indication of the bewilderment among the AAP leaders and the volunteers. AAP among all the parties believes in a rational democratic principle, namely, your voter necessarily chooses you for all the good work done and promised for the future. This belief has now come under serious questioning since by not allowing a single incumbent to fight the elections, the BJP in effect admitted that its councilors were non-performers, even if corruption may not be an issue. Despite the implicit admission, the BJP, of course, swept the elections and came back to power in all the municipalities of Delhi leaving AAP completely aghast at the verdict. I do not think AAP leaders have managed to find a satisfactory explanation for the rout even after several weeks and the reason for this may be the extraordinary climate of the day when the voters are swayed by a single personality and his promises, rather than a party as such.

Thus when the now expelled AAP leader Amanullah Khan alleged that Kumar is a BJP-RSS agent and Mr Vishwas hinted that Amanutullah Khan is a proxy for Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and other top leaders, I would read it as a sign of overall daze caused by the common failure of AAP leaders to comprehend the election verdict of last month. Even I have the same problem although I am willing to question the rational principle implicit in AAP’s sense of wonder. I do feel that at least for the interim this principle is in a state of suspension and we do not know how long such an irrational political environment persists. When a political party is unable to see its plight with any clarity, factional fights are bound to grow and here again, I see mental befuddlement as the reason behind panicked accusations of a sort that does not seem sober at all.  This showed when Mr Vishwas told NDTV at the weekend that Mr Kejriwal is surrounded by "yes men" who are misguiding him. Mr Khan on his part had alleged that Kumar was plotting to overthrow Mr Kejriwal and if he failed would join the BJP, taking with him several AAP legislators. Clearly, AAP has to decide if following the rationality principle, AAP must introspect and find faults in its delivery system, or simply accept the verdict as a sign of bad times that will pass.

The trouble with the politics of exuberance is that despite all the opposition, the popularity of Modi is not waning steadily or fast enough. This by itself is frustrating and the AAP leaders still have to learn that the voter will not easily lend it the mantle of a stable political entity and the factional quarrels will just make this public hesitation worse.


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Commentary - Polemical Review of Trumpian White Nationalism

I doubt Trump ever thought of White Nationalism in an as serious manner as what Andrew Sullivan is analyzing in this long post. This is a polemical work - we got to face any pretense of intellectual foundations on which Donald Trump and Theresa May stand. Andrew Sullivan does a great job of breaking the damn and opening an intelligent dialogue with scholars who support Donald Trump.

This long article by Andrew Sullivan reminds his similar mold-breaking case for Obama in The Atlantic.

The 'die is cast'. Democrats are not going to clinch the power just on anti-Trump rage. No wonder more Americans think Democrats are more or less equally sold out to interests of Corporations. [1] Unless and until Democrats 'understand what is at stake' and devise politics which goes beyond Clintonism; Americans are not going to accept that party as a solution.

Any subsequent political force in America must face head on what Andrew is articulating in his post. 

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is one such concrete exemplification of what that 'beyond Clintonism' politics looks like.

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[1] To overcome the perception of 'beholden to corporations'; to start with Democrats need to ban the entire PAC funding and like Bernie Sanders just depend on individual contributions. Hillary raised more money that Trump; but we all know the result. So then why compromise in the way campaign finance gets done?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Chetan Bhagat gains respectability through syllabus




Ratnakar Tripathy

As a student of popular culture with a number of academic publications on the subject, I have had many occasions to question my own fascination for the popular and even the crass. It is not a simple question to answer but an obvious answer may be that it is a good way to find access to popular concerns and attitudes among the common folk who are least interested in a Hazari Prasad Dwivedi or a Milan Kundera. Like it or not, unlike politicians or administrators, students of human society do not get to wade through the minds of the common folk. Even anthropologists deal with a small sample of population and are wary of generalizing too far or at all. But does inclusion in a BA elective course on ‘popular literature’ amount to an elevation of rank? Chetan Bhagat seems to think so and there is little we can do by way of disabusing him of his fancy. According to a recentreport, Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’, Bhagat’s book will be taught along with fiction novels by American novelist and poet Louisa M Alcott, English crime novelist Agatha Christie and British novelist JK Rowling. ‘Five Point Someone will be part of the Popular Fiction paper in the General Elective, which is offered to second-year undergraduate students pursuing honours and programme courses under the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS).’

Bhagat’s glee at this development comes mixed with his well-known arrogance and the tweets below fully reflect the delusions of a pulp writer who sees a towering literary figure when he looks in the mirror.
‘Am honoured DU added my books to their course. Literature is about being open minded, reading the classics as well as the contemporary.’
‘Elitistaan theories trying to diss me and literary value of my books have failed miserably with DU adding my books to their course. Sorry.’

He may be right in assuming that to be popular is not the same thing as to be bad. Novelists like Premchand and Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay and even Rabindranath Tagore have remained immensely popular as anyone visiting a book fair in 2017 will find out in minutes.  But the converse is not true – popularity on its own does not make anyone great either. Those who have read Bhagat and found him gifted with a storyteller’s ability also understand that his English prose is neither here nor there. It is not even a form of Indian English and seems interesting for allowing you a peek into the minds of the English speaking Indian middle class and that is absolutely the upper limit of praise one may grant him.  Imagine a reader who will hold Bagat’s novels in high esteem and place him alongside Bhalchandra Nemade or Shreelal Shukla or even a Vikram Seth.

Unlike politics or even economy, art and literature are ruthless arenas where you cannot presume equality. Ranking a work may be an eternally debatable issue, but there are clear lines to be drawn. Who knows may be in my doddering old age I might feel nostalgic about Karan Johar’s movies, and fondly hum ‘kal ho na ho’ but I am sure I won’t place him along a Tarkovsky. In sum, Bhagat represents the aspirational classes of India but his aspirations this time round have run into an insuperable roadblock.


French Sanity in a Crazy World?

Emmanuel Macron, Source - Wikipedia
From Indonesia, China, India, Middle East, Russia to Europe and America; the world is awash with Authoritarian Politicians winning elections after elections. Anti-liberal, Ethno-nationalistic, intolerant, non-secular politics is spreading like wildfire. In Indonesia, liberal centrist President saw the defeat of his trusted ethnic Chinese team member to someone who played Muslim religious card unabashedly to win a critical Governorship of Jakarta. In China, there never was a hope that Xi Jinping would introduce any baby steps for liberal democracy. But midway through his minimum 2 terms tenure, Xi is going for a total power grab. The concentration of power in Xi's hands is exceptional by even standards of Chinese Communist Party. Meanwhile, in India, PM Modi might not have turned to more authoritarian politics while he establishes hegemony in Indian Politics after the UP win. But nurturing the atmosphere of 'intolerance and illiberal politics' - that is proceeding full speed on Modi's watch, and it is not a surprise given how vested RSS is in Modi Raj. 

Vladimir Putin of Russia is the leader of the class when it comes to non-democratic, anti-liberal and ethnonationalism politics. His regime has been killing journalists who dare to expose his culpability, killing his political opponents, taking the art of 'influencing foreign elections' to a whole new sophistication; all while grabbing Crimea and destabilizing Ukraine. What is so disheartening is to see leaders after leaders of the world ready to ignore literally murderous politics of Putin (murder of People as well as the murder of Democracy and Freedom) and willing to embrace him. Trump may have been stopped for now from  'his consumption' in the marriage to Putin, but just look at the stupendous 'political acceptance' French Leader Maria La Pen offers to Putin. Vladimir Putin has pioneered a murderous, fake news based politics while draping in election credibility patina; all in the service of enriching himself and continue his hammerlock in the Russian Empire.

Except for the brief infighting when Turkey forces blew a Russian aircraft, the deep bonding between Putin and Turkey boss Erdogan continues to flourish. By arm-twisting ordinaryTurks and by undertaking manipulations in the election process; he just amassed total power in Turkey

Putin, Erdogan are the pace setters in this club of illegitimate, politically corrupt power holders who set the anti-liberal, anti-secular agenda at the global level. With regional enablers like Egypt's Sisi or Hungarian Orban or incumbent intolerant Polish regime; there is a lot of company to Putin-Erdogan. Politics of African nations hardly has any bright spots when thoroughly corrupt Zuma continues to be at the helm of South Africa. As an example of how little things change politically on the African Continent, look how the Congolese leader fleeces money from his own people in mundane things like Passport. Except for Argentina, Chile and few other smaller countries; things are not particularly encouraging in South America too. The continued insanity of Maduro Government in Venezuela and the stable, but lacking in credibility, government in Brasilia; are the manifest examples of continually broken political system in South America. 

Given this global context, one wonders whether humanity is heading towards anti-liberal, anti-secular, non-democratic, 'power by any means' era all across the globe. To save us from that nightmare, we need to stop this 'anti-global, anti-liberal' Tsunami. One of the few countries one can expect to rise to that occasion is France, the birthplace of contemporary secularism and liberal democratic order. 2017 French election naturally provides that fulcrum and the first round clearly shows that substantial voters in France are ready to re-engage Centrist arguments of Liberal and Secure Polity. That is the heroic job Emmanuel Macron has done

Macron and France have an unprecedented opportunity to grab the mantle of global leadership in reasserting the Liberal, Secular and Rule-based Global Order. Sure, global trade and current global Capitalism have problems and it leaves local employment in doldrums. But the answer to that is not 'blow up everything' politics[1] while adopting chauvinistic, illiberal, racism-tinged anti-sematic corrupt politics. By electing Macron as the president of the Fifth Republic, maybe France will show the world a path forward.[2]

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[1] I am sure the preview of this 'blow everything politics' as exhibited by Donald Trump in first 90 days or so would not have been reassuring to many French voters. Buyer's remorse may not be there for Trump's American voters, but he would have alarmed enough Europeans in the process though. The flip side of these developments is it will nudge Trump Administration more towards the traditional liberal world order foreign policy successive American Administrations of both parties have adopted since WWII.

[2] If Angela Merkel gets elected for her fourth chancellory term in 2018 - which seems more likely, the core axis of Europe will stabilize; providing much needed political booster shot to solve Europe's problem. While Trump Administration gets its act together on foreign policy which is in shambles by design or by ineptitude; rejuvenated Europe will be a much-stabilizing political force for the whole world. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Commentary: 16 opposition parties clamour to ensure that EVMs remain tamper proof



A good and conscientious journalist’s worst moment in life may be when after a coherent and sensible analysis of election results he is told that the EVMs were found to be tampered with. I don’t know about others but I would definitely go into deep depression and it would take me a long time to recover from the shame of plying my flawed wisdom with misplaced élan and smugness.  But that is a subjective issue. The real point is that lately doubts have been raised about the EVMs being susceptible to systematic tampering. Recently after the UP elections, Mayawati raised the issue and just yesterday AAP’s Kejriwal brought it up forcefully. The reaction in the press has been ludicrous. They are both being jeered all over for being bad sport. There is no evidence that any member of the press tried to go deep into the issue but the prevalent despise for Mayawati and Kejriwal seems to have become the common policy. The Election Commission has termed the stray instances such as the Dholpur election in MP supposedly to be cases of malfunctioning but the allegations of tampering have persisted with claims that the incidents are not isolated but ‘systematic’.

The contradictions between the sublime ideals of democracy and the actual procedures are hardly matters to be ignored or to be pushed under the rug. Just view this brief show by John Oliver on gerrymandering in the US elections and you will fully appreciate the significance of foolproof procedures in a democratic system.  Similarly, a well-known columnist points out the implications of booth wise display of election results where the issue of privacy raises its head. Quite simply, if a candidate gets to find out that you voted against him, will he take vengeful measures against you? So on the whole the issue here is that of ensuring that people trust the EVMs and are able to clearly see whom they voted for through Voter Verified Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT).


In the light of all this, this report acquires special significance. Whether the opposition parties are able to come together on a political platform against the BJP juggernaut is far less important than their united efforts to ensure the trustworthiness of the EVMs. That the Election Commission has agreed to hold an all-party meeting instead of giving specious arguments in the defense of the EVMs claiming total infallibility is equally welcome. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Show Time for the Commander-In-Chief

What a fabulous day to impress Core Leadership of Chinese Communist Party:

- Donald Trump hosts Xi Jinping and his wife at the glittering Mar-a-Lago;

- Donald Trump basks in the glory of Gorsuch confirmation all delivered by Republican Senators by busting the Democratic filibuster;



Pretty impressive. Donald is winning, winning and winning. Great way of pressurizing China, by exposing her inability to explode bombs anywhere on the globe by a simple click of a button. Let us see if Xi yields Donald anything or like a seasoned politician just withers away Donald's good day.

The truth is Donald has been a wounded beast for weeks, searching desperately for a 'win'. Exploding few 'bombs' in distant places is always an easy route available for an American President. 

President Trump's missile attack on Assad regime is justified. Sure, there is no UN Resolution for that. But Assad went a step too far to use Chemical Weapons. To leave him without any type of consequences is simply accepting a total breakdown of the global order. That Trump refuses to completely discard the existing global order is a big, big statement given that his campaign has been an insurgency against the established order. Needless to say, it is all work of seasoned players like Defense Sec. Gen. Mattis, NSC Advisor Gen. McMaster and others in Trump's strong security cabinet (devoid of Bannon now). President Trump has done well in enforcing consequences when an errant dictator crosses the red line.

But the tough part comes after this 'shock and awe'. All said and done, Trump has not completed his homework here. There is no 'well articulated Syrian policy' from this Administration. What happens the 'day after' and how does Trump Administration want to manage the Syrian Conflict is very critical. There is no room for 'hold your cards to your chest' style Trumpian negotiations in this highest order poker game. Trump Administration must articulate what is the 'end game' here. Is removal of Assad the eventual goal or just to stop him from using Chemical Weapons is the objective? 

It needs to be made clear that Trump Administration is entirely willing to play the hardball with Putin's Russia while Putin's Client Assad is pummelled mercilessly.[1] Trump Administration must be fully ready for emboldened ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Iran because of these attacks. We are in the familiar territory of Bush's Iraq quagmire. 

Donald Trump has shown sufficient instincts in not going the way of Bush's Iraq War. There is no appetite among today's Republicans or American Public to fund another entanglement in the Middle-East. But Obama Administration also showered missiles on Libya to remove Gaddafi, and in the end, the world landed with a failed state of Libya. 

So it is far more critical what happens next. Would Trump Administration quickly develop a coherent policy for the end game in Syria or the same 'on the fly' approach of Trump Administration is at play here? For an American President, it is much, much easier to conduct military fireworks in far away places; but dealing with consequences is far difficult. Especially when your foreign policy homework is still work in progress.

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[1] As Vladimir Putin starts to internalize that Trump Administration is no friend of 'his interests', we are likely to see some explosive 'kompromat' against Donald Trump coming out; provided it exists. If no such compromised information gets revealed and Trump continues to be tough to Russia; he wins the politics of his RussiaGate scandal. The fact that Trump is willing to risk any such compromising revelation by Putin is a big political win for Donald Trump. Democrats will have to up their game in that case - just playing anti-Trump card will not be sufficient.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Oh how much our national conversation has changed


Ratnakar Tripathy

'Dialogue Des Sourds (Dialogue of the Deaf)' by Isabel Miramonte
Try an experiment – google for news pages from your favourites daily from four years ago and place them along with pages from today, and you begin to get an idea of how far things have changed in these years. The basic concerns of the people may not have changed that much really but the topics of national conversation reflected on our media platforms are now radically transformed. We are now a nation and society constantly talking about kosher food, appropriate clothing, and the permissible things to say in the wider society. We are very concerned about our sexual mores and the liberty to meet and interact among young boys and girls, about the right dose of reverence to be shown for symbols like the national flag and the anthem, about the due respect for major gods and minor deities, and about myriads of things that were earlier left to the individual, the family and the immediate community.

Not anymore! I suggested the experiment not because I believe that people haven’t perceived the enormous changes and I am the only guy around who has his eyes wide open. The reason I suggest this is sometimes the enormity of change in its incremental dosages gets split into many days and weeks and one may end up staring hard at yesterday’s pile, forgetting the larger mounds crowding our courtyards and street corners. No one I spoke to in recent times claimed that things have remained more or less the same since the last few years.  Of course, men and women from varied backgrounds differ when it comes to making sense of the change. There are those who wear a glint in the eyes and speak in the language of hope but are mostly unable to specify or pin down the exact contours of this hope. There are those who see a great danger and decline but are saddened by what they perceive as lack of political alternatives – it is depressing to talk with such people these days because every alternative posed in front of them is shot down with a cynical finality that I find highly disquieting. These conversations invariably end up with references to analogies from different eras and parts of the world, as if the chosen historical patterns are waiting to replay in India all over again. But I find the boldness of optimism far more oppressive. I am not sure I understand this hope very well but it seems to be more of a wait for a series of miracles than something substantial. I find it strange that after so many years of habitual dismissal of promises made by politicians of all sorts during the Congress era, we now have a climate of easy, no, completely facile hope. I feel this hope is based mainly on a sense of executive vigour and a rhetoric so virile that it seems to guarantee that a time for decisive action has come. If the voter decides that the proposed ‘decisive actions’ have been drawn from his own dreams and agendas, or even related to them at all, it is difficult to douse his raging wishfulness. There is no denying that we are dealing with a rather widespread pathology except there is no telling exactly how widespread it is. But I find it wrong to assume that the metastasis is complete. I do intuitively feel that after the big high we will see a phase of depression and extreme anger. It’s just that we cannot predict the moment when the tide of anger will come rushing in and the grinning faces will begin to gnash their teeth in fury. Just now I see a very thirsty populace rejoicing at the sight of a water tap and even admiring its beauty. It is reluctant to turn the tap to make sure it delivers water in the fear that the hope may turn out to be a vain one. So we are in a state of tense wait hoping that a naïve child will step ahead and yell out an appropriate label for the emperor.


My main question is do we have a government or a system of representation where the chosen leaders seem to care for the citizen or our democracy is just based on the skill of luring the voter into a five year trap of self-inflicted suffering?  These days it has become rare to talk of suffering, even as the magnitude of real pain mounts at a fast pace. We are going through times when the language of the victor has taken over completely and wars are being fought on the behalf of the common man on several fronts – food, attire, religious faith, sexuality, sundry opinions on personal issues, all of which featured in the media quite rarely till recently. Whether and for how long the voter will continue to tolerate or endorse these battles is what will determine the future of our democracy, of course.          

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Turning Point of Trump Era

Andrew Sullivan characterizes defeat of RyanCare Bill in House as the moment when finally 'political gravity is catching up with Donald Trump' while others either see a harder road going forward or an opportunity to 'break the nihilistic lock of partisan politics' which has gripped Washington for a decade or so. One of the extraordinary possibilities of Donald Trump Presidency can be how Trump helps Washington finds it way back to a normal politics and I am enthusiastic for that.

With the fiasco of RyanCare[1], few things ought to become evident to the Tea Party and Trump Voter Base:
- That, it is not a Democratic president occupying White House who makes deals impossible, but it is folks in their own party who make any change difficult.
- There are limits to Donald's magic of deal making, and Donald will have to reach across the aisle to Dems.

Indeed Donald's Chief of Staff is very much making 'sounds of bi-partisan' approach on Sunday Talk Shows. That is as mainstream as possible for the ruling class in America. Washington is finally internalizing limits of extreme politics of so many Republicans and likes of Freedom Caucus.

One of the important questions is how far Congressional Democrats engage with Donald Trump. There is a wing of Democratic Base, having tasted victory in early Trump Days, which will be completely reluctant to engage constructively with Trump Administration. And why blame them? Having observed total obstructionism of Republicans to Obama in last few years getting awarded with a complete victory for GOP in all branches of American Political Power; logical conclusion is to follow the same playbook. Equally, there is the question of RussiaGate[2], no-one knows how radioactive this administration would become given seriousness of allegations as well as abundant corruption opportunities which are unfolding every day. The last thing any politician wants is wasting her political capital on an administration which is not going to last.

But the political reality is such that there are some Democratic Senators[3] who need to retain their seats in 2018 from states which have voted overwhelmingly to Donald Trump. Further, if Nancy Pelosi has any dreams of becoming the house speaker again; Democrats need to win districts beyond their current Blue States. That also means having certain bipartisan wins under the belt for these Democrats. No doubt, there is a risk in aligning with a president who can be impeached. But any cooperation with Trump Administration for a particular bill does not mean Democrats do not hold Donald's feet to the fire when it comes to serious possibilities of treason, or unconstitutionality or breaking of laws.

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The campaign of 2016, results of that election and early tumultuous days of Trump Presidency; all these things are likely to cringe anyone who cares about democracy. But I feel lot better these days, we do not need Barack Obama to conduct affairs of this country. As over centuries it is shown again and again that this country comes up with political leaders and conducts her business without dependency on any single person. To start with, first, Americans accepted election results of 2016 even when Trump did not have popular votes. American Media might have missed reading the mood and possibilities with American Voters, but after the election, it has gone into the role what it does best - keep investigating the administration and hold 'powers be' accountable.[4] 

Trump trash talked Federal Reserve and Janet Yellen on the campaign trail. But after the election, as he appointed Wall Street Bankers and smart economists to his Economic Team;  Trump has stayed away from meddling in affairs of Fed. Again, a network of intermingled interests ensures that 'independence of Fed' is retained. It is a reassuring sign that 'institutions of this republic' will withstand political pressures.

Next, courts (primarily Federal, but states too) in this country have not hesitated to throw away Donald's legal transgressions beyond what our Constitution allows to the executive agency. Courts of the land making an emphatic statement about conducting affairs in a constitutional manner is a big, big positive revelation about America in recent months.[5]

Now finally, Congress is arriving at a point where it will be forced to shed counter-productive political practices of years. In other words - our Media, our Courts, our Institutions and Congress all are working as intended by our framers and that is some astounding statement for the endurance of Democracy in this land.

In a democracy, People have rights to make mistakes. Falling for Donald Trump's campaign or failing to overcome Hillary hate in performing our citizen duty in voting for her; some of the most stunning political mistakes this country has made in decades. But thankfully, our constitutional framework and willingness of so many people to adhere to that; all that will help us even in the darkest hours of this republic.[6]

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[1] It is not Freedom Caucus solely who stopped RayanCare. By the time Ryan and Donald concluded their negotiations - rather dole outs - to Freedom Caucus; enough damage was inflicted to insurance assurances of Medicaid receipts so much so that moderates like New Jersey Republican House Member Rodney Frelinghuysen could not stomach anything more. When likes of Rodney started to throw in the towel, it became apparent to all how 'destructive' RyanCare bill had been. No sane person with basic decency and empathy can tolerate what Paul Ryan advocated in the name of ObamaCare Repeal and Replace - wholesome 'selling' of poor on Medicaid, all for tax cuts for Rich. As Nancy Pelosi said - "it is in DNA of Republicans": treat every policy opening as an opportunity to reward "haves" at the cost of "have nots"; all in the name of debunked Ayn Rand philosophy. 

[2] Daily Kos with HuffingtonPost are following these stories in all earnest. Good for American Democracy. What needs to be proven in the end is:
- either Donald Campaign contacted a foreign entity - in this case, a Russian entity - to alter the outcome of the 2016 election
- or Donald engaged in quid pro quo kind of deal with Russians which benefits him personally at the cost of a compromise or deviation in nation's foreign policy.
The key thing is to establish culpability of Donald by showing that he 'willingly engaged' in such transactions. GOP-dominated House would not take the impeachment bill so lightly if Donald is found guilty. There will be Court cases before anything happens. We have to see if respectable cabinet secretaries like Gen. Mattis drop out earlier or not to retain their own personal credibility when things get murky.

As FBI digs deeper into this investigation, a possibility of someone providing lot more details under a 'plea bargain' cannot be ruled out. After all, it is not the competence of FBI sleuths themselves, what matters is the weight of Law which FBI can bring to the table in forcing a witness to spill beans.

[3] Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana; all are vulnerable Democratic Senators for reelection in 2018. These are Senators from States which voted overwhelming to Donald Trump in 2016.

[4] Resignation of Michael Flynn is a testament to the vigilance of Media in this country. American Media made it impossible for Trump to carry on Flynn once his failures were exposed.

[5] When even Paul Ryan proclaims that "ObamaCare is the law of the land" and it is here to stay for a while; the adherence to the rule of law is explicit and exemplary.

[6] Just look at Russia. Around American Tax Day - April 15 - big nationwide rallies are planned urging Donald to release his tax returns. I do not see Russian kind violence for those rallies.