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To top of this day's posts Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Asks Shashi Tharoor: Should Indians be proud of Bobby Jindal?

Answer: Indians should be as proud of him as black Americans might be about Clarence Thomas being on the Supreme Court.

It's good that Tharoor acknowledged that his classification of the "two kinds of Indian migrants" is overly simplistic. He also doesn't mention that the leadership of an Indian dominated hoteliers' association invited Narendra Modi to speak at their convention, a couple of years ago. Like among their non-Indian counterparts, there are Indian-American businessfolk who would not let a pesky pogrom, or the general misery of fellow humans distract them from their all-important pursuit of profit. They may not like the prospect of their children being required to pray to somebody else's god, but they like even less the slightest drop in their profits. These are the Indians who would be giddy about Jindal and his bonafide conservative stripes in the Louisiana state Capitol.

Incidentally, if there were something to be proud of, the pride would be South Asian, not just Indian. The petty distinctions that tear up the motherland are pointless here. I wouldn't, however, blame non-Indian South Asians if they'd rather we kept this particular instance of "pride" to ourselves.

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1:32:31 AM  To top of this post
To top of this day's posts Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Via Slashdot & BloggersCollective.

The Indian government has apparently asked Indian ISPs to block certain blogs, and the ISPs seem to have blocked entire blog-hosting sites in response.

I would like to think that the ISPs did this in order to publicize this attempt at censorship by the government. Had they just blocked individual blogs, it wouldn't have created the buzz that it has, so quickly. If this wasn't their intention, then I hope that their snafu has the unintended, but desirable, effect of shaming the Indian government for its encroachment on Indians' freedom of speech.

This is not how the government of the world's largest democracy ought to behave.

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12:43:07 AM  To top of this post
To top of this day's posts Saturday, June 24, 2006

I'm now convinced that there's nothing that the Bush administration can't fix with more Executive power. Just listen to how the President can shrink the national budget deficit with the power of a line-item veto:

A line-item veto would allow the president to remove wasteful spending from a bill while preserving the rest of the legislation.


 A line-item veto would reduce the incentive for Congress to spend wastefully because when lawmakers know their pet projects will be held up to public scrutiny, they will be less likely to suggest them in the first place.

Why don't the stupid Representatives and Senators, representing the even stupider Americans, just do as he says? How many more billions does he have to sink in unending wars with juicy war contracts to Halliburton subsidiaries before we get this simple truth? He even resorted to a grand giveaway to pharmaceutical companies under the guise of Medicare Drug Benefits. This is not what the few real, smart Americans paid all their hard-earned estate taxes for, which, by the way, we greedily want them to continue doing, despite all that these fine folks have already sacrificed for us.

This President has less than two years to turn things around, and the lack of power is really getting in his way. It's not as if he hasn't tried to work around it, but we keep meddling with our nitpicking about esoteric minutiae like "checks and balances" and "constitutional rights." The nation can't afford this level of stupidity.

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1:11:59 PM  To top of this post
To top of this day's posts Monday, May 22, 2006

"New Recoding (sic) of the National Anthem" was the subject of an email that a friend forwarded to me. If "recoding" was a typo, it was a serendipitous one. It's exactly what the US national anthem � and what it symbolizes � needs. The American "manifest destiny" needs to be recoded so that this great country can claim its rightful place as a part of the world, as opposed to its beleaguered, self-defeating stature of being apart from the rest of the world. It can happen, American innovation is alive and well!

Here's the aforementioned email:

Subject: New Recoding of the National Anthem
From: "John Raymond Pollard" <>;
Date: Mon, 15 May 2006 21:24:07 -0700


I am pleased to announce the availability of a free download the multi-lingual recording of the Star-Spangled Banner, which I produced. It is performed by Voices United for America, an ensemble of musicians who sing in ten languages and deliver the final two lines in unison in English.

The recording was produced in response to Senate Resolution 458, which was picked up by the house as House Resolution 793. The title as stated in the Library of Congress is "A resolution affirming that statements of national unity, including the National Anthem, should be recited or sung in English." This resolution was passed by the senate by unanimous consent and without amendment. It currently sits before the House Judiciary Committee. .

The recording is available for free download at At the site, please sign the petition urging your elected representatives to reject the proposed legislation. If you want to share the music and message with others you are welcome to add the album cover graphic to your site with a link that will link to the download site.

The song will be included as part volume 118 of Next Big Hit New Music Mix podcast. (Get a free subscription to this weekly program that features 12 songs from independent artists at Also, The song is slated for broadcast on as part of the New York Live talent showcase at the Village Underground, 130 West 3rd Street (just off 6th Avenue) Tuesday night. It will be played between live music sets, probably around 9PM.

Singing the Star-Spangled Banner in ten languages, including English, Voices United for America is an ensemble of ten New York area musicians: Chris Andersson, Danny Katz, Dave Hall, John Raymond Pollard, Lydia Greenberg, Michael Gilboe, Stella Wixson, Steve Sandberg, Susana Dé, and Vlada Tomova.

I trust that you will enjoy the recording.

E Pluribus Unum.

John Raymond Pollard

Oh, and if you digg, then go there and digg this.

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9:09:07 AM  To top of this post
To top of this day's posts Tuesday, February 14, 2006

So, we see our eschatological fantasy come to life in our time. The great Clash of Civilizations is upon us. This is a time of Profound Upheaval, but even Righteous Warriors need a little humor sometimes; for they must keep their spirits up in the midst of the corporeal carnage that is meant to pave the way to our respective Providential Victories. Turning our civilizations into cartoons is an effective way to achieve that.

Reza Aslan explains how this paradigm was employed recently:

...the sad irony is that the Muslims who have resorted to violence in response to this offense are merely reaffirming the stereotypes advanced by the cartoons. Likewise, the Europeans who point to the Muslim reaction as proof that, in the words of the popular Dutch blogger Mike Tidmus, "Islam probably has no place in Europe," have reaffirmed the stereotype of Europeans as aggressively anti-Islamic.

Civilization W(est) mocked its adversary, Civilization I(slam), using as a stealth weapon one of its strongest, but judiciously used, precepts, Freedom of Expression (FOE). Using caricatures of CI's prophet (Mohammed) as the vehicle of ridicule was a brilliant idea. CI, however, saw through this tactic; it realised that CW knew that CI shared all of CW's prophets (Jesus, Moses, Abraham, etc.), so could not retaliate in kind. In its retaliation, CI sought to knock down CW's boosted spirits by simulating Hell in the shrines of another of CW's purported precepts, Diplomacy. Having apparently gained the upper hand, CI then proceeded to turn CW's FOE weapon back on CW, and shot back with cartoons mocking the attempted extermination*, 65 years ago, of what is now CW's local proxy. This was an easy target for CI, since this CW proxy's existence and behavior in CI's midst had been a bone of contention between CI and CW for over half a century.

An unintended side-effect of this skirmish was that each side turned itself into a caricature of itself. This must be what they mean when they say that God works in mysterious ways. I wonder if He's laughing with us or at us. Possibly I think about it...He's most likely going, "Hmmm. A civilization is just like the people it's made of. It can endure injustice and humiliation up to a point. Eventually, if pushed relentlessly, the eruption of its cumulative outrage can be triggered by the slightest jab at a raw nerve."

* Corrected inaccuracy: Changed "attempted genocide" to "attempted extermination."

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5:07:38 PM  To top of this post
To top of this day's posts Sunday, February 12, 2006

Jamaal, of Opinionated Voice, said the following in response to my last post:

I think USA was never invincible. It has been unstable for a long time. There is no American dream, and no real democracy. I'm both anti and pro USA. It's difficult to only be one or the other.

Besides pride in or admiration of its principles, being pro-USA requires acknowledging and facing its shortcomings and its inconsistencies. Like the concomitance of pro & anti, America both has a democracy and it doesn't; its citizens vote but only for their favorite ad campaign. The American dream also still endures, because it's being adapted as a fantasy in order to maintain its allure in today's dynamic reality. Of course America was never invincible, it was a role it perfected in front of a mirror and performed it with the conviction of a method actor, so much so that it couldn't tell itself apart anymore from the character. As for being unstable, that could never happen here, those who'd make trouble would be locked up in our flourishing, profitable prisons.


5:03:35 AM  To top of this post
To top of this day's posts Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The New York Times -- which, we're told, is the flagship of The Liberalmedia � was no doubt trying to mend its ways when it dutifully included the following statutory qualification in its reporting of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize acceptance speech (emphasis mine):

The playwright, known in recent years as much for his fiery anti-Americanism as for his spare prose style and haunting, elliptical plays...

He was "anti-American" because he eloquently criticized American foreign policy, or as the NYT puts it (again, emphasis mine):

Mr. Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not.

Having established the correct perspective for the reader, it was then safe enough to reveal Pinter's message:

Mr. Pinter said it was the duty of the writer to hold an image up to scrutiny, and the duty of citizens "to define the real truth of our lives and our societies."

The only thing written by Harold Pinter that I've read is his Nobel lecture. Years ago I saw one of his plays in New York, and didn't quite get it. That might make me a philistine, but at least I ain't one of The Liberalelite. So, if what he says resonates with me, chances are that it does with other non-Liberalelite folks as well:

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

The customary "pro-American" response to this is that this pales in comparison to Saddam Hussein's brutal reign over Iraq, which America ended. Besides, this is the �war on terror� that we must fight where our enemy lives, in order to remain secure in our homes. And, of course, we are America, and we only want to spread freedom and democracy in the world. This response begins with the implicit assumption that, no matter what our government does internationally, it is unlikely that its goals are anything but honorable; and, should there be a tragic outcome for others affected by our actions, it couldn't be helped, and is an acceptable price to pay for our ultimate goals. In case of war, there's always the need to "support our troops," so anything but support for their Commander-in-Chief would undermine their heroic sacrifices. This is the pitch of the salesman that is Pinter's America:

As a salesman [the U.S.] is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love.

Americans have bought the pitch and become loyal consumers of this commodity. We let it blind us as recently as November of last year, when we needed to see clearly, and now we're complaining that we were duped. That wasn't very pro-American of us. You could even say that we were anti-American. We accepted the claims of our government, without bothering to inform ourselves. This, unfortunately, is hardly the first time when we have been party to the mockery of our own democracy, by remaining uninterested in what our government does abroad in our name.

Our current President's lack of knowledge and curiosity provides ample fodder for our comics, but the joke's on us. He represents us, particularly since we re-elected him. Perhaps his plummeting poll numbers also reflect the American people's realization that they dropped the ball as citizens of a democracy. If so, then we might have taken a truly pro-American step, and Harold Pinter would likely applaud us (yes, emphasis mine):

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.

September 11 punctured America's bubble of invincibility. If our leaders fail to realize that it was indeed a bubble, not a shield, then I hope that we can enlighten them. This is probably not what Congressman John Murtha meant when he said that �the American public are way ahead of us.� He has pragmatic concerns for our military, and rightly so. However, if Americans cannot see beyond extricating themselves from this misadventure and bringing our troops home, then we'll have failed to appreciate our folly. America has the power, might and know-how to impose our will outside our borders in a way that no other nation can, but this, by itself, makes us neither invulnerable, nor effective as a world leader, particularly if we like to think of ourselves as seeking to spread our enlightened principles. If we are not prepared to engage with the rest of the world, then those whom we give the power to act on our behalf will have to do so assuming our consent, because we are not exceptional enough not to need our co-inhabitants on the planet.

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6:17:29 PM  To top of this post

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