Bernie Sanders Hit Job

Senate Democrats Hold Briefing On GOP Attack On Social Security

Bernie Sanders is the latest darling of the left. If you try and match his support, there is a near one to one correlation with those who support AAP in India.

Thats not a coincidence. These are people dissatisfied with the mainstream left, represented by the Congress here and Democrats like Hillary in US. Congress and Hillary talk of the leftist principles, but are in the pocket of the rich. They have totally abandoned the principles of socialism by now. They essentially have no principles. Republicans are the same from the other side. They claim to be for Capitalism, but are in the pockets of their cronies and thrive on religious and nationalist sentiments. Much like BJP, really, but they don’t have a charismatic and largely honest leader at the top.

Thats why the Republican presidential field is littered with petty, small people. How bad do you have to be to be behind Donald effing Trump?

But we digress. Sanders. He has been a congressman (member of parliament) for several years, and as such hasn’t run anything. He has been activist for the Left, that’s it. But he did run something once. The city of Burlington. As a candidate against both Democrats and Republicans. A third alternative, so to speak. Do you know what his platform was? Lower cost Electricity and Telecom. He claimed that the utilities companies were robbing the consumer. Starts sounding familiar to our dear Kejriwal, right?

bernie20There’s more. Politics is a serious job. Like all jobs, you show your seriousness by dressing formally. Not him. he had dishevelled hair, a crumpled shirt and loose, badly fitting coats. He talked all the time about the rich guys talking things away from the common man. He always, at all times, stood against what America was for. He has had wet dreams about a revolution since 1970’s and proclaimed that him being elected mayor of Burlington was the start of a socialist turn for the US. his quote: “I think from one end of this country to the other, people are ripe for political revolution. The whole quality of life in America is based on greed. I believe in the redistribution of wealth in this nation.”

He attended rallies outside US, happy to collaborate with and give support to dictators as long as they were socialists. And anti-American. (At one of them in Nicaragua, he attended a rally celebrating the “defeat” of USA. They were chanting: “here there everywhere, the Yankees will die.”)

This is not all of course. He is a socialist, remember? Sanders has supported stealing the assets of corporations. He has supported nationalising all television. He has even supported taking the assets of a company and called for a state takeover of utilities “without compensation to the banks and wealthy individuals who own them.” He has supported state takeover of all oil business.

He made it a personal mission to attack the Rockefeller family. At that time the richest Americans. He advocated seizing their wealth and distributing it to the poor. He suggested that appointing Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President would lead to a dictatorship of the country by that family. Nothing if that sort happened, of course. Rockefellers declined in relative wealth, as other innovators overtook them. As happens in capitalism.

People say he is not really a socialist. He just uses that label. Look at the man and his positions when he was not prominent. That’s the real Sanders. Very similar to our own Kejriwal. You can just replace Ambani for Rockefeller and copy paste the speeches. Hating the rich and making them out to be demons is the central tenet of socialism.

The similarities are not a coincidence. This is the Left. They are all about seizing, capturing, taking something that doesn’t belong to them, and then doing charity with it.

America is not a perfect society. Far from it. But what makes it great is the individual liberty, the freedom to pursue greatness and riches, the celebration of innovation.  In short, the Capitalism. Read again. These are the same attributes that we admire in Indians. We are not a society of conformist society when we are at our best. That’s the worst part of India. That leads to castes, dominating women, creating barriers. At our best, we are an open, innovative nation. Innovation only thrives when there are incentives to innovate. That’s what capitalism is.

Electing a socialist to the top of the largest economy in the world, and one of the best nations in the world will be a disaster for the whole world. I hope Americans are not stupid enough to do that.

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Left’s Islamism Problem

Islamism is the political ideology seeking the supremacy of Islam over all other values. those “other values” include not just other religions, but also the concepts of freedom, secularism, and the liberal democracy itself. This is what threatens to take over the Islamic world when powers such as ISIS, Taliban, Hamas and other Salafists rise. We must separate this “political” Islam from the religious Islam that ordinary Muslims practice and cherish. Islamism is a poison both to ordinary Muslims and to the rest of the world. But saying g that it has nothing to do with Islam is disingenuous and dangerous. That’s what Left has been preaching, though.

 

Left has had a problem in the west. Given how successful capitalism has been, and given the success of emerging economies as they become more capitalistic, propagating socialism keeping getting unfashionable despite a recent resurgence, via Sanders etc. In general though, the Left in West has become enmeshed with identity politics. Women’s rights, Black rights, Immigrant rights, minority rights in general.

 

These are all issues close to anyone seeking liberty. Equality is the cornerstone of a modern society. The problem starts when this thinking becomes cultish. It is a short distance from “minorities should have rights” to “minorities are always right”. We know this well in India, were there is a history of appeasing minority “leaders”, whether they are right or wrong. And in the name of “social justice” we have created gangs of goons roaming the hinterlands. This approach benefits neither majority nor the minority, nor the socially disadvantaged. It just keeps some leaders happy, the backwards backward and the Left in power.

 

The Left is a means to struggle against oppression. It started against the royalty and the dictators. In 50’s and 60’s, some western Leftists raised their voice against USSR too. Today, they only stand against whoever happens to be the majority in their country. So the American Left idolises the “Eastern Spiritualism” and to them Yoga is the most eclectic exercise ever, but Indian Left starts convulsing as soon as the PM wants to promote it. And while all liberty loving people in the Islamic world recognise the dangers of Islamism, the Westen Left wants to hug and protect everyone who is against Western powers.

 

french-president-francois-hollande-might-give-upCase in point: Francois Hollande, the french president. He belongs to the Socialist Party. He did not support the ban on face-covering burqa that previous president Sarkozy applied. He campaigned to the muslims claiming to be their deliverer from Sarkozy. He got 93% of Muslim votes in a face-off with Sarkozy. That was no doubt a factor in French parliament unilaterally recognizing Palestine.  Even after Charlie Hebdo, Hollande was pretty mild, resisted criticizing Islamism, and tried to prevent the PM of Israel from attending the solidarity march, as that may offend Muslims. So what happened? France is the largest non-Arab exporter of fighters to ISIS. France has had coordinated attacks against jews. Of course Charlie Hebdo. And now this.

 

Why does this happen? Slowly, by broad generalizations. Left feeds into and reinforces the feeling of victim-hood that has spawned political Islam. There have been attacks on countries with Muslim populations by the West, but they were not Islamic nations anyway. Iraq and Libya are probably more Islamic today than they were under their dictators. And There have been more attacks on Muslim countries by other Muslims (Yemen, ISIS, Iraqi Shia-Sunni clashes, Turkish-Kurd conflict, I could go on). If every attack on any Muslim by a non-Muslim is portrayed as an attack on Islam itself, it feeds the narrative of Muslims v/s the rest. It feeds into a feeling of isolation and pushes people into ghettos. It isolates both the sides. Pushes them apart. Left has been feeding this narrative of victimhood to the Islamic world, and the chickens are now coming to roost.

 

If only Hollande was an exception, though. We have a barrage of idiocy from Left, starting with the refusal to recognize the threat of Islamism. When the Left, from Obama onwards, keeps shouting at the top of their voices that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, they are fooling the world, and probably themselves. ISIS, and similar organizations, have a mission according to their reading of Islam: that of making Islam and Islamic Caliphate the predominant power in the world.

 

By keeping Islam and any criticism of it out of public discourse the Left has created a vacuums that is being filled with rabid hatred of Islam, and of Muslims in general. The rise of far right parties, like UKIP in England, and National Front in France is precisely because the rhetoric of Left seems hollow. When, time and again, bunch of young Muslims kill themselves and others to the chant of “Allah O Akbar”, repeating ISIS has nothing to do with Islam makes less and less sense.

 

Nor does ignoring all reformist, liberal and feminist voices in the Islamic world. Those people, fighting for the oppressed, are painted by the Western Left as cronies of the West. Any criticism of Islam is tarred by the brush of Islamophobia, and brutal suppression is condoned as “cultural difference”. The natural allies of Left are thus abandoned. Long term Leftists are recognising this and raising their voices.

 

It is very important that ordinary Muslims not be tarred by the same brush as ISIS. It is clear that ISIS represents a small minority of Muslims. It is also clear that ISIS and other Islamists do represent some Muslims. And that their ideology is based on Islam. You don’t, after all, see Buddhist ISIS fighters. Islamism is a threat to ordinary Muslims as well as to the non-Muslims. Its imperative that the Left takes a note of it, and fight it. But the head is so far down the sand that I doubt they are listening.

Liberties

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Happy Republic Day. Today we had our first president and we had our constitution. (But I won’t blame you if what you remember about today is largely boondi ke laddoos)

I have always believed that today should be Liberty Day. I also agree with the Americans that the constitution is basically meant to protect an individual from the people in power. i.e. government, and the majority.

Government has a duty to protect the rights of all people. That becomes hard in a democracy if a sizeable portion of people want some person/group punished.

Two examples: Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and Africans in Khirki in 2014.

Let me explain: Even before these riots Ahmedabad was rife with communal animosity. There were riots every few months. Curfew was routine. After 2002 there haven’t been any riots at all. It’s improved prosperity and the feeling of safety- for Hindus. Let’s assume the assertion that that massacre led to peace. Does even that justify it? Just because an overwhelming majority believes it was a good thing does it make it ok?

In Khirki, an overwhelming majority doesn’t want the Africans. Plain and simple. I have seen such attitudes in Jabalpur where there were a lot of African students when I was growing up. Our country has xenophobia and whoever denies it is lying to themselves. Of course there was late night noise in Khirki, of course there were occasional fights. Have you ever seen a student hostel where these things don’t happen? And there may have been crime. Actual crime. (And this would be the only crime ridden place in the utterly peaceful Delhi) 

But listen to people and listen to their subtext. The opposition is cultural. They don’t want women in short dresses, especially if they are moving with and around guys. They don’t want these foreigners in their area. They don’t want their sons and daughters talking to these people. Especially not daughters! Culture is the crux of the problem. And a midnight raid is the perfect way to intimidate and drive out a few students. Is it a good way to bust a drug cartel? Not so much.

(Before someone accuses me of supporting congress: how dare you? They have committed some of the worst transgressions against liberty. Same with Police. They are useless and dangerous, of course. I focus on these two because the urban elite generally supports one or the other)

So think on this. This is where constitution starts to matter. Are we all guaranteed security from harassment & violence, or can that security be taken away when the mob decides against us? This is the test of liberty.

A democracy of two wolves and a sheep will have the sheep for dinner. Liberal democracy demands protecting the sheep. One day you may be the sheep.

That’s what we need to celebrate today. The day we were promised our rights. We should keep fighting against people who violate these liberties. Especially if the one doing the violating is “one of us”

Meanwhile, enjoy the Boondi ke laddoos.

Pursuit, espionage, and the human factor

ImageIts the story of mission to capture India’s number one most wanted: Ibrahim Khan (Were the makers afraid Dawood was going to sue them for defamation? Actually it would be hilarious if he did an got caught doing that…. I digress)So we send a bunch of agents and start a proper thriller. All spy movies are about agents killing each other, or trying really hard to. The difference lies in whether you care about them, and for a Bollywood film the further test is whether you care beyond just for “patriotic” reasons. In this case, the agents are well fleshed out, human, and understandable, if not alway likeable. Irrfan is outstanding, but what else can ou expect. As a man taking hard decisions, you feel for the guy torn between different forms of loyalties. Huma Qureishi is under-utilised, but shows the depth of emotions she can portray. And Arjun Rampal plays, to my utter and complete surprise, a strong, silent type character. Thats his strength, in fact the more silent the better I say. 

A thriller is only as good as its bad guy, though, and Rishi Kapoor is just fantastic as the bafoonish but evil target. The guy who has thwarted various agencies for so long that he mocks them even when ostensibly lost. The Pakistan establishment in the film is corrupt and disloyal to its servants. As bad as the Indian establishment in fact. Its a subtle thing, and I think deliberate, that depicts both countries as equally corrupt and cowardly, and urges the individual to rise above it. 

ImagePlans, which turn on human factors and acts of God, are not central, the planners, executioners and the innocent by standers are, and that makes the movie good. Shruti Hassan is passable as the Karachi prostitute, but Shriswara as Irrfan’s wife is outstanding. Her innocence and vulnerability make not only her character but also Irrfan’s dilemmas come alive. Another standout is Chandan Sanyal as the villain’s twisted, sadistic nephew. 

He figures in the song Alvida which is for me a Imagehighlight of the film as a character walks through a crime scene and pieces together a story as if a part of it. Kudos to the director Nikhil Advani just for that. The music in general is good and takes the drama forward (Although I have to wonder how many versions of Damadam Mast Kalandar we need)

In the end this is not flawless, not by far, but its made with heart and brains. And for the love of cinema, lets promote that.

The Two Heroines

Who do you think would be more interesting? On the one hand we have housewife with two kids, a distant husband, and a constant struggle with self esteem. On the other a girl infatuated with a silent, intoxicating stranger and who keeps fluctuating between a harsh reality and lascivious dreams.

20121013-181950.jpgWell let’s look at the latter first, you seem to say, so here goes. In Aiyya, Rani plays a dreamy “girl” who maintains sanity by lapsing into fantasy. She inhabits a world of squalor, and dreams of clean, quiet streets till a mysterious dark, red eyed, brooding man with an enchanting smell walks in her life. And then she is torn between her attraction to him and her impending marriage to a simple guy who likes Deepti Naval. There is a good idea here, and a sorta kinda twist at the end of this tale, but stretch this over two and a half hours, and you start wishing something bad happens to her, just to make something happen.

The best thing about this film is its complete reversal of gender roles without breaking the world we live in. The girl is not empowered, she is paraded before prospective in-laws, and no one asks her for consent. But within herself, the heroine experiences what can only be described as lust for the dark stranger who smells really nice.

Had the makers eliminated an unnecessary and unnecessarily loud grandmother, toned down the mom, removed the dogs and fired the Lady Gaga lookalike coworker, we would probably have a decent film. As it stands though, this movie is symbolized by the ever present, all encompassing garbage.

20121013-182223.jpg Run therefore, to the one symbolized by fresh, enticing laddoos, English Vinglish. The warm, sweet tale of a lady suffering a crisis of identity, because her family cruelly makes fun of her. She finds acceptance everywhere else, but keeps craving for the respect of the ones she has dedicated her life to.

It turns out she needed a break from them to find herself. Learning English is not even a path, but a mere side effect of her self discovery and self appreciation. From making an assortment of new friends, and even an admirer, she learns to love herself, and live for herself.

The best part is the language she uses to express herself. Sridevi shuns all words and uses her face to say all she needs to. To say Sridevi is good in this is like saying laddoos are somewhat sweet.

In Aiyya, Rani is at her best when she is in her ridiculous costumes in the item numbers, but adds to the shrill tone when she is annoyed or complaining. In the end, however, Aiyya’s failure is not hers. That blame lies solely with the director. Director Sachin Kundalkar earlier made Gandha in Marathi, and this is literally one third of the story of Gandha. And Gandha was a total of 96 minutes long. No one should be surprised that this film feels bloated in the extreme.

Gauri Shinde, on the other hand, crafts a story with believable characters and understandable situations. Even she finds it hard to resist stereotypes, but tried to control the tone of the film. It’s to her credit that the character of Sridevi, although designed to evoke sympathy, doesn’t fall into the “Bechari” category, and instead becomes endearing and relatable. English Vinglish not perfect by any means, but does enough, maybe a bit more than that.

Thus it is that a story of a simple housewife is more compelling than that of a young girl passionately enchanted. Don’t blame the subject, however. Blame the story.