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thoughtsnips
Sunday, February 29, 2004
 
Former Karnataka CM Bangarappa to quit Congress - Newindpress.com

And that will be what? the tenth time he is leaving the Congress?!

 
NEWS.com.au | Bush orders bin Laden caught (March 1, 2004)

Hmmm... I thought this order was given on September 12th, 2001!!

 
There is a U.S.News Survey on whether to Ban Gay Marriage. As of now, the result is 84.6% against ban to 15.3% for. Vote here.

BTW, did u hear of the fiasco with American Family Association's survey? The conservative group was planning to take its "survey" showing a decisive "majority" against same-sex marriages up the Capitol Hill. It should have been pretty simple, given that only their members/allies go to their website in the first place. But Gabe Anderson published the info on his web page, and the news spread... result? The AFA is trying to now suppress the result, which was decisively for same-sex marriages. Hehe...

 
>Can a government exert control in social sectors while reducing the role of govt in economic affairs?

Ramki, perhaps what is meant here is that the govt would reduce its economic activity in an enterprise capacity, and limit it to a rule-making regulatory role.

Saturday, February 28, 2004
 
Powerpoint Pashas : OutLookIndia.com: "'Most of us believe in less, not more government, in the economic sphere,' says Jaitley."
I do not understand this statement.

Can a government exert control in social sectors while reducing the role of govt in economic affairs? IMO, any governmental control in social sphere could be justified only based on two reasons - defence, or economic well-being (the second being used in a very restricted manner). That being so, how could he single out economic sphere here?

Friday, February 27, 2004
 
Non-uniform Civil Code

>I support laws that provide freedom to me as an individual, not as a member of a particular community.

Eh? Who said you wouldn't have the right to switch communities? I don't understand how libertarian demagogues divorce the individual from the community.

> it presupposes that a person born to, say, Muslim parents, is bound by Muslim laws, unless he/she explicitly gives it up in favor of another religion. I do not see why this should be so. Can a person escape enforcement of his community's law by, say, simply declaring himself a non-believer? The answer is "No."

Why not? If you don't agree with what your community considers a fundamental law, then obviously you don't agree with that philosophy. How drastically you "defect" is upto you. For instance, if a gay Catholic can find enough people like himself (or who support his POV), then they can always form a separate sect. The don't have to make a switch to a completely different culture.

Alternatively, there can always be one standard civil code applicable to anyone who wishes to be included in that sect. That was one intelligent suggestion made even in India, where any person (Muslim or otherwise) can legally choose to be included under that secular civil code. That way a Muslim woman who does not agree with triple talaq can legally get herself included under that standard cover.

The only debate is, in cases where the separate civil laws conflict (as in marriage, etc), which one predominates, or what is the compromise formula.

Note that a fluid caste-system with seperate "dharma" rules has been a standard feature of Indian society since time immemorial, and worked pretty well in certain periods, and caused problems at other times. But the concept is no new.


 
Ummm... this letter to Andrew Sullivan captures, I think, what Carl is saying (though I believe it is exaggeration of the other side's opinion)

Many people who do not hate gays or want to disenfranchise them, or take away any rights they currently have, nonetheless are reluctant to tamper with marriage as an institution. Your recent statements seek to put them in the same category as all gay-bashers. That is akin to arguing that anyone against the war in Iraq must be a pacifist. When you are finished with your tantrum and want to get back to persuasion, please let me know.

 
This was too good to pass up... Thanks Andrew Sullivan

http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/luckovich/index.html


 
Carl

First off, I do NOT support non-uniform law. I think it is a Democle's sword as far as minorities are concerned, and they create unmitigated distrust between communities. I support laws that provide freedom to me as an individual, not as a member of a particular community. There are many flaws with the Indian concept. Let me give u my core legal objection to it - it presupposes that a person born to, say, Muslim parents, is bound by Muslim laws, unless he/she explicitly gives it up in favor of another religion. I do not see why this should be so. Can a person escape enforcement of his community's law by, say, simply declaring himself a non-believer? The answer is "No."

Thus, paradoxically, this so-called secular law prevents a person's life from becoming completely secularized - a decision that his liberty still allows him to take. I think it is plain wrong for the state to claim that it is providing a person liberty, but allowing his/her community to be a perpetual regent.

I will provide my arguments on that status quo issue in a while.

Thursday, February 26, 2004
 
> do u want the law to call u or ur roomie immoral for having a female roomie?

Gosh, let me further elaborate: I was talking about how to go about debating this issue, not what the final outcome should be. So if people started lobbying to call male-female cohabitation "immoral", then my first reaction in this case would be to show respect for their sensibilities and move out, then take it up with them if I felt strongly about it.

In a democracy, public debate and discussion is crucial. It follows that sensitivity and moderation in speech accompany the process if it is to be well-oiled, otherwise if can be damaging. Misdirected and ill-motivated public discourse can be the most damaging to a democratic society. We as Indians know that.

Going back to the chat I was having with those people, the afro-american went on and on about the putative parallels b/w this debate and the civil rights movement, she ranted against this imaginary monster that she called "status quo" (!), she trivialized constitutional and social concepts of individual freedom, etc...while she also said that she would not shed a tear if anyone assissinated Bush tomorrow, etc etc. Another person today remarked that all the gays he knows are very kind and helpful people. My point is that none of this has any logical connection with the real issue at hand, and there lies the danger. Historical conditioning, prejudice, and other tangential notions are influencing the debate.

In short, just because, historically, status quo notions have been used to justify what we no consider to be evil, does not mean that any party that appeals to status quo notions is in the wrong. How difficult is this to understand? Yet everyone, including you Ramki, continue to use that argument. That is dishonest.

OK more importantly, you guys must respond to the main idea I threw up in my previous post -- compare our non-uniform civil code as an option.

 
Re: Gay-rights issue

Carl

I perfectly agree with the second para of ur comments. If it were upto me, I would shut up both Bush, and Gavin Newsom, stop it from getting into the constitution, and leave it to states to offer civil unions.

There is a difference between social condemnation/criticism is different from a codified law. Carl, my question to you was, do u want the law to call u or ur roomie immoral for having a female roomie?

My thoughts on the crux question later.

PS: Carl, did it occur to you that Rachit could have said it pre-emptively to prevent you from taking what I said personally? Hmph!subtleties, subtleties.... ;-)

 
Re: Gay rights issue

Hehe.... Carl, though the last thing I want in India is a culture war over gay rights, it is not an issue that will not touch India ever. The first gay marriage on the Indian soil has already happened. A french man married his Indian lover, who happens to be a Goan, under French laws. The consular officer was the witness.

Another instance - my friend in India told me this. Apparently, Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan co-hosted the Filmfare(?) awards this year, and re-enacted the comedy scenes from Kal Ho Na Ho with its stong gay content. Later, a journo asked Shah Rukh about the fairly prevalent rumor that he is bisexual. Shah Rukh Khan simply shrugged, and topped it off with this: "I think it's high time we start respect people who are different."

Sure, this does not, in any manner reflect the situation among the common folks... just gives me a satisfaction of nudging Carl a li'l ;)

 
Gay-rights issue

I had an interesting chat with a girl the other day about this gay-rights rucus. Being afro-american, female and having a lesbian sister, she was quite passionate about the things she said. Others with equally passionate views also joined in. While talking I also realized that this issue will touch the fundamentals on which this society (and society in general) is based. The reason I have been saying that this hasn't interested me is because it isn't big (yet) in India.

Rachit & Ramki, why TF do I have to keep repeating myself? I only said that unnecessary confrontation and spite should be avoided. Gays must demand their legal rights, and -- as John Kerry said -- try to effect cultural change in a step-wise manner, i.e. by accepting a separate label like civil union first, and then later seeing if there is a generational change in attitude.

Ramki, since you wanted to test my reaction to a real personal instance:-- if I was in India and people around made a big fuss about it, then yup, I would NOT share rooms with a female. I would do this out of consideration for the female roomie's reputation, and her and my parents. It all depends on how serious the situation is.

Main point in this post:
--------------
Taking the current debate further, does it seem to any of you that America may end up with an Indian-style non-uniform civil code? Where you designate yourself by a particular community-label, and you have a separate set of rights. That way, individual groups have the satisfaction that the purity of their cultural concepts is not diluted.
--------------
PS.: Ramki, now you see, even Rachit thinks you're taking this issue too personally, asking subtle questions that I don't get and all. Do I sound like a Hyderabadi who appreciates subtleties? :)

 
A debate bound to flare tempers

Time reports a comment by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of the MA Supreme Judicial Court about her sister judge, Justice Martha Sosman: "[Sosman] so clearly misses the point, that further discussion seems pointless."

Looks like the debate is doomed to be super hot. Whether in an SJC, or thoughtsnips.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004
 
Here are my two cents on the whole debate about Government interference and gay marriage.

Carl, I know you are not following this issue and are not interested in it, but please remember that this is a major social phenomenon and has major ramifications. Today its gay rights.. tomorrow the govt. may decide to take away some of your other rights. At that time, would you still accept it at face and not create an issue? In my view, the issue of amending the constitution is an extreme reaction and a shamelessly political move. It pains me that the President of the most 'developed' and 'forward looking' country is taking his country back to the days of discrimination against the minority. The issue of gay marriage needs to be debated and it requires a significant mindset shift. its a question about change and resistance to change. Instead of debating it, the powers that be are being confrontational about it. Not a good sign. You talk about the in-your-face attitude being bad - are you suggesting that because they are in the minority they should shut up and not demand things and silently pay the price? If no, then what do you think is the best way to resolve this?

I am not an expert on the role of government nor have I read nearly enough, but from a purely humane perspective, it seems unfair to discriminate against a section of the society for what is perhaps not even under their control. Further, I see nothing wrong in using this issue to debate the role of government. The question really is about limits and where does the buck stop. It's a current issue and perhaps the most challenging. And as educated people we ought to be talking about this issue irrespective of our orientation.

I have a request for all - we might have differences of opinion, but lets refrain from taking it to the personal level. As is said in Hyderabad Blues, 'Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar' !

Thanks,
Rachit.

PS: will respond to some of Ramki's comments later.

 
Re: LOCKE V DAVEY

I took at sneak peek at Scalia's dissent in NYT... and this statement jumped at me.
``The indignity of being singled out for special burdens on the basis of one's calling is so profound that the concrete harm produced can never be dismissed as insubstantial,'' wrote Scalia, the father of a Catholic priest.

At the risk of being accused of being obsessed, I am going to make a comparison now to his dissent in Lawrence v Texas last year:
"Countless judicial decisions and legislative enactments have relied on the ancient proposition that a governing majority’s belief that certain sexual behavior is “immoral and unacceptable” constitutes a rational basis for regulation."


Now, dictionary.com defines "calling" as "The strong attraction or appeal of a given activity." Now, Justice Scalia does not mention any "higher" calling in his Davey dissent (doing so might force him to spell out just why Theology is a higher calling than, say, optometry).

How then, could a minority, who have a strong attraction to an act that the majority deems unacceptable, be called to bear the burden of proof that their action do not constitute harm to the society (which is effectively what rational basis holdings demand)? And in arguing this, let not any one try to demean the importance of sex in our lives - so many rulings - starting from Griswold - have upheld the importance of that "calling."

 
LOCKE V. DAVEY

This was a very important case. I was intending to write my opinion on this, but never got around to doing it.

The majority opinion has some very, very important statements that are bound to be quoted in the future cases. The most important, in my opinion (I have to read this atleast two more times to grasp the full implications of it), are these: "It imposes neither criminal nor civil sanctions on any type of religious service or rite. It does not deny to ministers the right to participate in the political affairs of the community." and "But training for religious professions and training for secular professions are not fungible."

What Justice Rehnquist has done is, he has set a higher scrutiny when it comes to funding theological studies, as against funding other disciplines. It is surprising that James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance was not quoted... but then, that would be very unlike Rehnquist :).

My opinion: In the case at hand, I would welcome the SC ruling. However, one thing I missed in the majority opinion is an explication of the distinction between studying general theology, which encompasses no specific religion, and the specific pastoral studies that Davey wanted to pursue. However, Justice Thomas has, in his dissent noted this difference, though he arrives at the opposite result.

Justice Rehnquist threw a big surprise by reversing his trend in supporting state's rights in Hibbs case last year, when he decided that Nevada could not claim sovereign immunity in that case. This case could be the equivalent surprise this year.

I love Scalia's dissents. Though they arise out of completely unacceptable (for me) premises, he makes very sharp points. I have reserved it for later.

 
Carl

You could not be more mistaken in your opinion that I have been talking abt all these with a single point of reference. It is your jaundiced view, and I cannot do anything about it. To dispel your notion, I did make a subtle reference to how the state deciding 'moral' norms could land you in trouble. But, apparently, you did not get it. So, let me put it plain. If this had been 60's Florida, you and your roomie would be in jail under the co-habitation laws, and you know what? Those laws too were passed to promote families. And there is no contitutional principle that would protect you and not the gays who are fighting for their rights today - except the discretion of a bunch of people sitting in Washington, DC.

If you are comfortable with that idea, do continue feeling so. I respect your right to think so.

 
Ramki,
I think I understand why you have been consistently "disagreeing" with me. Its because you have been discussing the whole thing with this gay-rights drama in mind, while I have not. Now that that's clear, just read what I've said again. I said that I have a right not to have something I find offensive forcibly shoved in my face (or in my children's faces)...and certainly if this is the case with the majority, then offensive or objectionable displays in public may be subject to regulation. I gave valid examples with prostitution and porn.

Since you keep returning to this gay-rights issue (news I haven't been following and am least interested in), let me try to state my opinion: I think no recognizing a social phenomenon is silly. But, given the situation here in American society, I think gays must also not pursue an aggressive in-your-face attitude. That way there's less conflict, everyone's happy and minds their own business.

Also, don't pick up a democratic principle (of govt scope) and trivialize it. You sometimes have this tendency. If you were to pursue that narrow logic, then everything from market regulation to film censorship is unconstitutional. Defining what is an externality is always a fuzzy area. So that means that half of what they legislate on economics is unconstitutional?

 
Carl

I am not being extreme simply because I say that it is wrong for the government to interfere in people's personal lives in the name of maintaining moral health of the society. It is the cornerstone of liberty, and needs to always be borne in mind. This definitely not my own morals. Yes, I do absolutely believe that I have every right to decide what I do with my life, and my body, as long as it does not cause harm to the rights of another person. At the same time, I need not restrict my rights just so you will not be offended. This law goes for everyone. Even in the very issue we are discussing, viz gay rights, I would always side with the conservatives if something were to try restricting their right to criticize the gays. It is their right, as long as they do not cause physical harm (or forced mental harm), I would say the gays just have to turn a deaf year to them and lead their lives.

This standard does not exist in your view. What is deemed right and wrong, and what I could, and could not do, is completely at the hands of the government, and a majority of the society to decide. That is the greatest threat to individual rights, and I abhor it. I do not see why I should temper it any.

As to your last comment, well, if you think I should have undergone personal persecution to feel anger at something that is wrong, well, all I could say is that we are different, and that is not so with me. And one more thing - please stop asking me to cool down, I can assure you that I have not been a bit angry with any of your stands (even though I disagree with them completely).

--R

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
 
Ramki,

I have no problem if you were arguing against a particular legislation on the basis of general moderation. But you have been going to the other extreme and trying to make out some generic logical case (an absolute moral of your own). That is what is not acceptable to me. Read some of your posts and see how you often lose your cool and make spiteful and illogical arguments as if the issue at hand touches some very personal memory of persecution. Cool down.

 
Stepping out of the closet

Today morning, the President of America stepped out of closet, and came out as an openly Bigotted Politician who gives a damn to the moderate political traditions of this land.

 
> What logic is this? A man is allowed to change his ideas. Just because Mr.Bush was a drunkard at one point in his life, he has no right now to stop others from going down the same path?
Yeah, rite.... But then, he cannot claim he always respected his marriage either.

And he has a right to stop others? Carl, I do not know what you think abt this - but I am content with having one dad. I do NOT want one more - least of all a President.

 
Re: Tale of two fences.

What's the point exactly? I think we ought to post our comments along with an opinion article.

Also, you said, "Oh, BTW, does that "always" include the time when he was a vagrant drukard?"
What logic is this? A man is allowed to change his ideas. Just because Mr.Bush was a drunkard at one point in his life, he has no right now to stop others from going down the same path?

 
A tale of two fences
Read the whole article b4 reacting...

 
MSNBC - Bush to endorse ban on gay marriage: "'He has always strongly believed that marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman,' White House press secretary Scott McClellan said."
Oh, BTW, does that "always" include the time when he was a vagrant drukard?

 
MSNBC - Bush to endorse ban on gay marriage
Bush received the votes of a million self-identified gay men and women in 2000. This time, he might receive one - that of Mary Cheney. With this, the terms Republican and Conservative are well and truly divorced.

 
Re: My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

Ramki, your logic can be turned against you as well. To what limit are you going to take this "individual liberty" argument? People have the right to consider some things objectionable, and to not have such things shoved in their face.

Why is 18 yrs of age a benchmark? Dont some mature earlier, and some later? Huh? Parents cannot use harshness to deiscipline their kids? Now there have been court cases and parent-child "divorces" already. People cannot protest against morally offensive behavior in PUBLIC. In other words, your arguments are totally discounting any notions of morality. Anything goes.

You are the extremist here. Note how I used only the word "regulate". I said that those who won't listen may be given the freedom to indulge themselves. But their indulgences must not be advertized, innocent citizens must not be unnecessarily tempted (this is the nature of morality). So publicly objectionable things should be made purposely out-of-the-way.

So if you are a compulsive porn-addict, by all means you can access porn. But you have to seek it, and if you are determined enough, you will find it. What I was arguing against is for prostitites to advertize themselves to young boys coming back from college/school, or for hard-porn to pop-up when someone is surfing the web for less objectionable stuff. That is the nature of such things.

There is, of course, a possibility of draconian laws and interference in any democracy, and there is no sureshot way to guard against it. We can only argue to regulate, under a vigilant public eye. You are free to have your walled nudist and other communities if you so please.

Obviously this is not a clear-cut issue. If you cannot agree to the philosophical idea of morality (and something being publicly objectionable), then there's no way to argue.

Monday, February 23, 2004
 

PM declines comment on Yadav’s entry into BJP

What exactly is the PM saying here? That the party he is leading into the polls is doing things that he does not want it to do? Just how effective is his leadership of the party then?


 
Blog for America : Governor Dean's statement on Ralph Nader | February 23, 2004
Good spirit, Gov!

 
Re: My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

Okay, I am going to respect Carl's refusal to be drawn into a debate on the morality or otherwise of homosexuality...

Carl, I do not agree with your view on governmental role. I tend to believe that "overall health" is a definition that is broad enough to give government an unlimited power, for there is nothing that could not be related to public health. Besides, I certainly do not see any reason why a government that is empowered to regulate prostitution cannot be empowered to ban it. Why should that government deem it a social necessity? What guarantee is there that regulated prostitution will be okay for the "overall" health of the society?

And hey, if I am lured by pornography, that is nobody else's business. I do not see why I should let government control my libido, or the way in which I satisfy it. Once u Let's take even a serious issues, like pregnancy among unmarried women. I do not think there would be a huge opposition to the government if it says it has legitimate concern about the issue. However, if it were to be allowed to act to control it without restricting parameters, it has a broad range of legal options. Going along your logic, many states in US at some point had laws banning co-habitation of unmarried individuals of opposite sex. It is a gross violation of individual choice. However, it is an effective mechanism of controlling pregnancies! Thus, you see, government may be concerned to any extent. That, in itself, is not reason enough to enable it to expand its power or influence over our individual choices.

BTW, I disagree with both your contentions about prostitution - it is neither a necessary evil, nor is it that prostitutes (or their customers) should be periodically embarassed and socially humiliated.

 
Re: My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

Boss, we Hyderabadis are gross.

1) Now don't ask me to talk about what is "wayward" about homosexuality, because I intentionally made my post neutral on that issue. I only wanted to point out that _if_ I were in the anti-gay crusading group, I would think of a more intelligent solution than a legal ban on recognition gay union.

2) By "morality" in education, I mean inculcating a healthier mentality and way of living among the younger generation. I did _not_ mean Taliban-like teaching that goes like..."(1) Stone adulterers (2) Kill homos"...etc.

3) About the state's right to interfere in consensual citizen contracts, the same principle applies...to ensure that there are no harmful "externalities", and if the participants in the contract are "qualified" to be making such decisions. Pedophiles convince minors to elope, and even do it, over internet chat. That is an obvious case for the second part. The first part is slightly more fuzzy. It would sometimes take us back to the moral issue. I would express my opinion thru an example:

IMHO widespread prostitution (and even widespread casual sex) are detrimental to social health. The govt is responsible fo the overall (including moral) health of the citizenry. So perhaps regulated prostitution is a social necessity. It is like the gutters in the castle, as one Frenchman wrote. Without them the whole castle would fill up with sewage. So prostitution can be regulated. The "lowliest" (can't be helped) would converge on the lowliest, and so keep the undesirable limited to the lowliest. But prostitution should be isolated and relatively inaccessible, not be advertised, and periodically some participants should be embarassed and socially humiliated. Similarly, I strongly believe that pronography should be made much less accessible than it is today. Because unrestricted advertisement can tempt and lure individuals who could have continued in a healthier state of mind otherwise.

That should give you an idea of how I think of such issues.

 
It's BJP, Arif Mohammad Khan has made up his mind

This is very good. Arif Mohammad Khan is a person I respect a lot, a Muslim leader who actually thinks about bringing the community into the mainstream from the backwaters where they are stuck today. His resignation from Rajiv Gandhi govt after its shameful surrender to the hardline Muslim establishment in Shah Bano case is a point to note.

The demand for Uniform Civil Code from BJP sounds a lot like Bush's coded rhetoric about equality among organizations in funding for social projects - a thinly veiled signal to the right wing. With influx of people like Arif, and as I hear, Dr.Najma Heptullah, this demand could actually start representing what it is supposed to be - a genuine concern that the protection the law offers to the members of the majority should also cover the members of the minority communities.

 
Re: My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

And what a gross way of saying it Carl! Geeeezzzz....

 
Re: My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

Carl

I was particularly interested in the your views on looking at marriages as contracts, and the state's rights in precluding a contract depending on the nature of the parties.

I do not understand what you mean in the second paragraph: what waywardness? As I understand it, you are saying that teaching children morality is a solution. But solution to what? You think it is going to cure homosexuality? Even if that were so, what right does the society have to do that? And moreover, how is what you are suggesting now any different from what the hell-and-brimstone preachers have been doing all this while?

I am a lot more interested in ur opinion on question in the first para. But if u do throw light on the questions in the second, we could have a, ahem, good debate. ;)

R

 
Re: My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

Ramki, I don't really have an opinioon on gay marriage per se. From the Indian POV, I'm sure the average Hyderabadi "Chhilkan" prolly thinks, "agar ek feesadi awaam ko bhosadi maarney ka shauq hai to humko kya diqqat, miyaan?".

From a legal and socio-political perspective also, if groups have a moral problem with it, then the solution lies elsewhere. Not in banning the recognition of an existing social practice, but in educating young minds in such a way that "waywardness" (as they see it) does not happen. Thus, moral solutions in society should be well-conceived and well-targetted.

 
Indiainfo.com -> News -> India -> Manmohan would make a good PM: Somnath Chatterjee

Hahahahahahaahahahaahahaaaaaaaa....... heeeheeeheeeeheeee.....sniffle sniffle.......

 
Op-Ed Columnist: Theory vs. Reality: "Mr. Schumer said: 'Ricardo set up a model that served very, very well for a very long time. But now there are new facts on the ground.'"

Yeah, rite... worked very, very well for the European and American whites. Now that it is benefitting the Chinese and the Indians, it is suddenly wrong?

All this while, the West was arm-twisting the third world into opening its markets. While this was seen as exploitation by many there, the West always claimed it was simple free trade. The anger against the "exploitation" lies at the core of the anti-West feelings in many parts of the globe.

If the West now closes its markets, it would only prove what the anti-West brigade has been telling the people of the east all along - the West was just exploiting the third world. And that is not good, or safe, for the West.

Sunday, February 22, 2004
 
Slumming It Out : OutLookIndia.com

Which way will this go?

I heartily welcome the efforts of Periyavaa (HH Shankaracharya) to integrate the Hindus - if that is what this is. However, there are obvious problems with this: I doubt if Periyava really understands that preaching as a superior, the way he is doing, might grate in the ears of the upcoming groups (as Martin Johnson's response indicates)? Does he understand the cultural differences between the communities? Has he readied himself to accept these differences? Many Brahmin youth are put off by the style of preaching followed by the elders in the Brahmin community. Why would Dalits now accept it?

Also, I am queasy about all this political negotiations going on. Periyava should staunchly refuse to enter the political arena, even as a supporter of a party/individual. His work is in the social arena, in parallel with the politicos. If he or anybody around him forget this, it could be dangerous to the prestige, and safety, of the Kanchi Mutt as an institution.

 
Edwards at OSU

I went to the Edwards meet at OSU. Unfortunately, he was late, and I could not stay around till he came. The place was, as could be expected, overcrowded. I found my neighbor, till the other day, a Deaniac, sitting inside. Well, put simply, moveon.org :).

I came across this very funny badge... It simply said: BUllSHit

 
Re: My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

Rachit

1. Reg. the Age distribution every poll shows that support for gay marriage is higher among the 18-30 age group (in some polls, a majority support marriage). However, it is the baby boomers who are going to be dominate in the next three or four presidential elections. So, you cannot assume that law making is shifting anywhere else. It is not for nothing that Medicare is such a big election issue.

2. I agree that this is going to be an election issue - something that is not good for Democrats - and supporters of gay rights.

3. I do not agree that this comes down to X-Y factors. One, you cannot quantize the costs in social issues. Even if you, you should not decide issues based on that. Many times, the rights we have are enjoyed by us at the cost os some societal inconveniences. And yet, it is deemed important that we enjoy rights that the society suffers the inconveniences to afford everyone the rights. What the benefits are, we will never know.

4. Religious texts - well, I could not say much. May be Carl can help out there :).

 
Op-Ed Columnist: Meet the Zippies

I am an unabashed Friedman fan. But lately, many of his pieces on Iraq have been, let's say, shoddy. He completely missed the point that the entire foundation on which the idea of democratic peace rest on was shaken by Bush going to war based on lies, bloody lies, and Republican rhetoric. But, this piece is good horse sense. It deals with India - so, I guess u guys don't want to miss it.

 
Osama trapped, likely to be seized soon: Report

If Osama is captured, it might be that big boost Bush wants. Some suspect Osama has already been captured, and a la Musharraf, Bush is waiting for the Kodak moment to release the information.

But if the nightmare scenario of an attack after Osama's capture occurs, Bush will lose the gamble badly - it will more of what is happening in Iraq - Saddam is in gaol, but the violence goes on.

Saturday, February 21, 2004
 
Re:My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

I agree with most of what you say. Personally, I believe this is a major societal change and it requires a significant change in mindset of the people. It will therefore be an extremely slow process.

I would be interested in seeing an age distribution of the various polls conducted. I want to know how many people in the age group of 20-40 support gay marriage. With baby boomers getting increasingly older and lawmaking shifting to the next generation, their views would tell us how long an acceptance of this issue will take.

For the time being however, this might turn into a major political issue for the next election. Surprisingly, none of the prez candidates are pursuing your line of reasoning.

I view it rather simply - if X happens at the cost of Y or consumes Y in the process, then X might be undesirable. But if X happens and Y also happens, then whats wrong with X? So it passes the logic test.
However, opponents of Y argue that religion states that Y is the only way to be and so X is wrong absolutely. Now logic takes a back seat. And convincing people otherwise is a long and ardous process which I think will happen very gradually.

Ramki, would you be able to give some information on what various religious texts state on this issue?

- Rachit.

 
Is the 'first lady' joining the BJP?

I have always had quite some regard for Dr.Heptullah, and I would be very glad if she does join the BJP. The BJP would also be helped by having such identifiable moderate minority leaders in its ranks.

 
My opinion on Gay Marriage Issue

Well, everybody around here kind of knows what my views on this issue is - but only kind of. I think it would help if I clear it a little further.

1. Yes, I believe that any two individuals fully consent to be bound by a contract called marriage should be allowed to do so, without the state getting into a process of judging the social utility of the contract. Now, there are certain difficulties in this line of argument. For example, we would be hard pressed to find justification for, say, anti-trust laws. However, a little more analysis would make it clear that the constitution does not afford companies or commercial entities the same rights that it affords to individuals.

2. I was immensely happy with Lawrence v Texas. However, my happiness had less to do with the holding in that case (though I welcomed that too) than the justification that Justice Kennedy offered for the ruling. His harping on liberty of the individual to make personal choices, and refusal to conduct an enquiry into whether sodomy was a fundamental right (which was the question in the Bowers v Hardwick case) are immensely important. Why? Because, no more is it important for you to justify your action in terms of your fundamental rights for it to escape governmental scrutiny. The burden of justifying the laws it enacts is on the government now. This would make it much more difficult for the government to restrict personal freedoms in the name of morality etc. This is the greatest bulwark against dictatorship of the majority, one of the greatest weaknesses of democracies. If followed through, this would be the Griswold v Connecticut of this century.

3. I think the logical follow up of Lawrence is very important. Removing discrimination in the laws that penalize the very existence of one's identity as a homosexual. For example, the so-called "Romeo and Juliet" law in Kansas and imporuning law of Ohio(now overturned). The Kansas law explicitly awards a much lighter punishment to a person having consensual sex with a minor of opposite sex. Now, as Justice Kennedy says in Lawrence ruling, the consent in the case of minor is not meaningful. That is why sex with a minor could be punishable. This argument is gender neutral - thus whatever punishment the law metes out, it should be irrespective of the gender of the participants. But the Kansas law (enacted in 1999) discriminates between the homosexual and heterosexual encounters, supposedly because heterosexual encounters could lead to marriage! It is a wrong premise, and the law is wrong. Similar laws exist in many states. This kind of discrimination that should be fought.

4. Marriage, IMHO, is not a very pressing pressing problem. It is certainly important. So, if it is going to succeed, I will be happy, and will keep supporting it as an ultimate goal. However, I think CA-like legislations are good for now. Let people see that civil unions work - and that marriage between John and Ashley does not get torn apart by the fact that Jim and Jim are living together, and the state recognizes their relationship.

Friday, February 20, 2004
 
New Mexico county OKs same-sex marriage licenses
By Susan Montoya Bryan
salon.com

Feb. 20, 2004 | BERNALILLO, N.M. (AP) -- A lesbian couple was issued a marriage license and exchanged vows outside the courthouse Friday as other same-sex couples lined up for their chance to tie the knot.

At least a half-dozen gay and lesbian couples waited outside the Sandoval County courthouse after county clerk Victoria Dunlap began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

The move came just over a week after San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to thousands of gay couples in a direct challenge to California law.

Dunlap said she made the decision after county attorney David Mathews said New Mexico law is unclear.

This has nothing to do with politics or morals," she said. "If there are no legal grounds that say this should be prohibited, I can't withhold it. This office won't say no until shown it's not permissible."


NOTE: New Mexico has no law explicitly excluding same-sex marriage.... the other states that do not have such laws are Wyoming, Oregon, New York, Maryland, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
NOTE2: More trouble for Democrats if Gov.Bill Richardson of New Mexico is the Veep candidate.

 
Phoenix New Times | Aryanfest was hardly the badass event it billed itself. Shaved-headed men hugged each other like they were at a gay pride picnic
I was ROFL reading this piece of "news"! :))

Thursday, February 19, 2004
 
Re: Bangalorean code-writers

The divorce and suicide have less to do with code-writing (or the job pressures), and more to do with the dissipate lifestyle that is most popular in the software professional community in Bangalore. A wholesome social environment and activity can absorb anything. Its all in the mind. A few years ago, I read that one of the biggest reasons Hyderabad wasn't able to attract IT business from B'lore was that Hyd did not have the same kind of "night life" with all the pubs, swingers, etc. Now I hear that sort of culture has transplanted itself successfully in Hyd too. The situation in the Indian countryside is also pretty bad, and has been so for a while now.

I want to emphasize that this is not how it has always been. Shri Aurobindo wrote this on March 31, 1908:

"The Indian peasantry have always been distinguished from the less civilised masses of Europe by their superior piety, gentleness, sobriety, purity, thrift and native intelligence. They are now being brutalised by unexampled oppression; attracted to the liquor shops which a benevolent [British]Government liberally supplies, bestialised by the example of an increasingly immoral aristocracy and gradually driven to the same habits of looseness and brutality which disgrace the European proletariats. This degeneration is proceeding with an alarming rapidity. In some parts of the country it has gone so far that recovery seems impossible.... We have heard of villages where the liquor shop and the prostitute, institutions unknown twenty-five years ago, have now the mastery of the poorest villagers. Many of the villages in West Bengal are now well supplied with these essentials of Western civilisation.... These conditions of the worst districts tend to become general and unless something is done to stem the tide of evil, it will sweep away the soul of India in its turbid current and leave only a shapeless monstrosity of all that is worst in human nature."

Clearly, it is a question of what values and culture are held up in society. When the elite dresses itself up in such filth, you can expect the rest to follow. We've been independent now, but for the last 50 yrs the "native" elite has not changed too much. The current economic development can have a multiplier effect and so these are crucial times -- will the upwardly mobile youth imitate the leftover Westernized elite, or will they form a new elite rooted in Indian culture?

 
Question abt FMA

Let us start with the fact that marriage is a contract entered into by two parties. It is an *exclusive* contract, in the sense that there cannot be an addition of a third party into it, and precludes the entry of either party into another marriage contract with a third party. This, then, is the justification of Anti-Bigamy laws. In fact, any law concerning marriage could be construed as valid, and respecting equal protection, only if it is applicable to any person who wants to enter this contract.

The whole idea of having a constitution and a government is to have some mechanism of enforcing contracts entered into by the people. Now, the problem with FMA is that the federal constitution is precluding two people from entering into a contract, which is not violative of any other contract already protected by it. Just how valid is this function?

-R

 
Economist.com | The science of love

I have always wondered just how all of us have different tastes when it comes to whom we find attractive. Some like fair-looking people, while some prefer people who are dark. At the same time, we also have certain patterns in our attraction. Studies show that people are predominantly attracted to an opposite sex member of the same race. That seems to be some kind of norm (which is not to say the others are unnatural or anything). Why is this so?

If this theory is true, it could explain this question. It could be that there are as-yet unidentified features that we subconsciously about our partners and reward ourselves when we are with them (I am not sure if this happens only when we have sex). Now, if these features also include our own genetic makeup , there is a good possibility that we automatically get more reward when we are with a person more similar to our own make.

Interestingly, this also debunks an argument abt homosexuality - that since animals do not exhibit homosexuality, it is unnatural. Well, first, animal do exhibit homosexual behavior. Second, well, may be, we are the only species with a minority among them developing in such a way that they feel rewarded only with a partner of the same sex!

Another thing... I might be missing something here. But this still does not explain why, if we are genetically inclined to like a particular partner, there are cases where such affinity, even sexual, wears off drastically.

 
Bangalore code-writers top in taking lives, breaking marriages - Newindpress.com

A very, very disturbing trend.

 
The Salt Lake Tribune -- Mullen: Utah's petty little stand can't stop gay-marriage avalanche

All I wanted to say, and could possibly say, are in the article itself. And notice, this is the Salt Lake Tribune talking - not the New York Times.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
 
Re: School timings in UP

Hilarious quote from report:
"State BJP chief Vinay Katiyar reacted strongly, saying that the government was communalising education. He added, "classes on Tuesdays should begin after noon so that Hindus can pray to Hanuman."

BTW, here's a nice rendition of the Shri Hanuman Chalisa -- Link

 
How much more blatant can it get? Why call just the BJP communal? This is nothing but a softer version of what the Mulayams of the world accuse the RSS and BJP of. Puts me off big time.

Reduced school timings in UP

 
Here's a harsh one for Azhar. To me, he has no business making statements like 'you cant get tired when playing for the country'. Well, maybe he wasn't tired of playing coz he was busy fixing matched and minting money by the side. I dunno why newspapers even bother interviewing him.

Azharuddin interview

 
re: Shiite Vote Plan Would Exclude 'Sunni Triangle'

I suppose this is where the shiite hits the fan.

Sorry, couldn't resist...

 
Dean to Quit?

There are conflicting accounts rite now, but we will know in a few hours. If he is indeed going to endorse Edwards, it is bound to give Edwards a big shot in the arm - and might represent a credible threat to Kerry nomination on Super Tuesday.

 
Shiite Vote Plan Would Exclude 'Sunni Triangle'
This represents the gravest turn events in Iraq have taken to date. Even a belief that such an alliance exists could whip up communal fears among the Sunnis. At the same time, I do not know if there is any way this alliance could be broken. Reason is the best guarantor of minority rights in a democracy. And reason is not ruling the minds of Iraqis these days.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
 
Swing States

George Bush won Ohio and Missouri last time. If these two states fall to Democrats, the election is easy. And there is a good chance.

 
Wisconsin... phew!

Well, what do you know! Almost everyone I talked to (who want Dems to win) are happy that the coronation was not tonite. There are two ways of looking at it :

* People are internalizing the fact that Bush is beatable, afterall, and the panic that so helped Kerry is subsiding. People are ready to look at other choices, and Edwards looks like a good guy.
* People are still afraid that Bush will win, and want to be absolutely sure their candidate has it in him. And it's way too early to conclusively decide that Kerry is that man. So, they are uncertain.

It could even be a mixture of both these sentiments.

Another interesting analysis to make, as I have been saying for some time now, is how votes get transferred from candidates who have dropped out. In the case of WI, this is important because the voters had a week since the last candidate, Gen.Clark, dropped out.

Interestingly, the exit poll says that a full 75% support for Edwards came from last minute fence sitters. This strongly suggests that WI voters wanted this contest to go to Super Tuesday. It also suggests that contrary to popular belief, Edwards might be able to pick up more independents and moderates in November than Kerry.

--R

 
MSNBC - 'It's an intense, overwhelming experience'

Funny no one noticed - Hillary Clinton was not the 42nd first lady - she was the 44th. William Jefferson Clinton was the 42nd President, though.

 
Comedians on Campaign:
(Thanks, mercurynews.com)

"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno":

"The White House finally found one guy who says he remembers serving with President Bush on National Guard duty in Alabama. Isn't that amazing? Now if they can find someone who remember Bush working on an economic plan!"

"President Bush had a great time at the Daytona 500. He told reporters, 'I like speed.' And today he got a call from Rush Limbaugh: 'Hey, I like speed too! Can you get me some? Without a prescription?'"

"John Kerry won the primaries in Nevada and Washington D.C. That's great. One is a haven for hookers, gamblers, and general lowlifes, and the other is the home of Las Vegas!"


"Late Show with David Letterman":

"It's a great night and I'll tell you why. The entire balcony here in the Ed Sullivan theater is full of guys who swear they were in the National Guard with George Bush."

Monday, February 16, 2004
 
Re: Menaka and Varun

Ramki,

I think its unfair to view the mother-son duo in light of the emergency. That was ages ago. We all know the fall out in the Gandhi family since then. Menaka Gandhi has also been a fairly active minister in the NDA government. And at least I have not heard her talk ill about the BJP. If you read the article, it talks about Mahajans logic for Varun to be a part of the BJP, which makes sense to me. Sometimes you pick people based on pure potential. Only time will tell whether that potential is realized or not. It happens all the time - in cricket, in business, in arts - everywhere. So why not in politics? I don't think its too ironic. Pragmatic, yes. Good move BJP.

 
Game of world domination
I was completely exasperated with this king of all conspiracy theories.

 
Re: Janet Jackson

ramki,
yup, i agree.
C.

 
Re: Janet Jackson

Carl, I did not say it was a rebuttal - a response is something different.

Anyways, I do agree with you in that gender should not skew our judgement of what is obscene.

The point is that the whole damn show was objectionable. But only she is expected to apologize at every podium. And I think that is wrong.

 
Maneka, Varun Gandhi join BJP

Of all ironic things, this could be the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it). The son and widow of Sanjay Gandhi, the protagonist of the emergency, joining the party of some of the most important antagonists of the emergency. Hmmm....

Interesting is Venkaiah Naidu's stmt abt "Varun in particular has appeal for the youth". I wonder why. AFAIK, he has not shown any great leadership at the grassroots level. If it is because he is the latest generation of the Nehru dynasty, why would Priyanka and Rahul not be better claimants to the title, given that they descend from the better loved Rajiv?

 
Ramki,

>So, you see, my question still stands - if these guys can grab their crotch and gyrate their way into fame, why is it that she is expected to apologize so many times for her two second baring of her torso?

I dunno how that is a rebuttal of what I said. To quote from my previous post on the subject:

"Similarly, if a man with a naked torso was gyrating and flicking his nipples, then that *is* objectionable."

So I also explicitly condemned that sort of vulgarity, male or female. My point in that previous post was that the naked male torso is not vulgar per se, while in a normal context it is probably vulgar for a female, especially when a man rips the undergarment off. There is no double standard here.

Sunday, February 15, 2004
 
Janet Jackson

Carl, here's the response to what u had said abt Janet Jackson. I am quoting from Frank Rich from NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/15/arts/15RICH.html?8hpib) :

In the two-plus hours "before that happened," parents saw not only the commercials featuring a crotch-biting dog, a flatulent horse and a potty-mouthed child but also the number in which the crotch-grabbing Nelly successfully commanded a gaggle of cheerleaders to rip off their skirts. What signal were these poor, helpless adults waiting for before pulling their children away from the set?

So, you see, my question still stands - if these guys can grab their crotch and gyrate their way into fame, why is it that she is expected to apologize so many times for her two second baring of her torso?

 
Seven women tonsured for embracing Christianity - Newindpress.com

This is very despicable. If conversion by force is wrong, so is retention in the fold of religion. It violates the fundamental right of a citizen to embrace any faith he/she chooses - and the government should crack down on the perpetrators.

 
Top Dean Aide Discusses Plans to Back Kerry

I think it's end of the road for Dean. Sorry for the chap actually. If Kerry wins, he has a lot to thank Dean for.

BTW, there would be one problem for Edwards - once everyone else drops out, Kerry being the clear front runner, he will have no reason to attack Edwards - he will be attacking Bush. And obviously, Edwards cannot complain about that! The muted (if any) attack on Kerry by Edwards is actually going to help put him on a strong wicket for the second ticket.

PS: Rachit, my comments on HR violations in Kashmir tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2004
 
Ramki,

HR violations - why were we in denial all these years? How crucial is this initiative in your view?

- RAchit

 
NDTV.com - Respect human rights in J&K: Advani

This, again, is very much welcome development.

A country should not be in denial about problems it has dealing with a segment of its population. A lot of Indians are under the assumption that India is on the right as far as Kashmir was concerned.

It is not entirely true. There have been a large number of HR violations by Indian forces in the state. And now, India is owning up to these. That is good.

 
Current Events - THE WEEK

When Mulayam Singh Yadav is forced to speak the New Indian language, we know we are on the move. I hope this does not turn out to be a re-run of that disastrous attempt of the other Yadav - Laloo - at putting on the moderniser mukhauta. I do not want to be pessimistic.

Friday, February 13, 2004
 
'We will go to war'

In all this crazy rants, Gul makes one valid point - we still have weak joints. It is important that we handle this problem.

Many Indians believe simple economic progress would solve the problem. This is so wrong. Remember - the last time there was a referendum in Quebec, those who wanted secession lost by less than a percent votes. And Canada is a so-called developed country.

Thursday, February 12, 2004
 
Why Kerry is more difficult to smear than, say, Clinton

At the beginning of this campaign, if you remember, Kerry got admitted to the hospital for a few days. He underwent a surgery that might well provide him with an immunity from GOP smear attack now. Yes, Sen. Kerry had his prostrate removed. So, no blue dresses to show this time. ;-)

 
Majority of Americans Doubt Bush's WMD Claims


I think its about time people started doubting !



 
Republicans Accuse Kerry of Planning Dirty Campaign

Dirty campaign - look who's talking !

 
CNN.com - Source: Clark to endorse Kerry - Feb. 12, 2004

If this is true, the Drudge report that Clark said "Kerry will implode" cannot be. I smell a Rove.

 
The War Begins
CNN.com - San Francisco weds first gay couple - Feb. 12, 2004


 
Re: US elections 2004

About Kerry's alternative ideas (and their effects on India):

1. I think Kerry would abandon this stupid idea of pre-emption. But if he were to do that, he would have to take to pro-active defense, and I believe that would be good. There would not be any great move away from Israel, which would also good. However, Sharon will lose a massive pillar of support, which would be very good. There could be some reconciliation with Europe, but I expect the Franco-US relations to continue to be cool.

2. As for economic policy, I expect Kerry to be forced into Clinton style economics. If he does not do that, it could be potentially disastrous. However, I am not sure how a liberal like Kerry could pull this off. One good idea might be to appoint a Republican/Conservative as Treasury Secretary.

3. The real problem might be that Kerry would want some rollbacks on free trade. I am not sure how this would play out. IMHO, this would be bad for the US. Some companies, at least, may decide to pack up. India is not ready yet to benefit from any such mini-exodus.

4. Kerry's general opinion about India is pretty high. Very early in the campaign, I read a paper written by him on his website which mentioned India as a very important ally etc etc.


 
Kerry Scandal?

A while back, I had written that the one thing that could potentially screw up a Kerry candidacy is a scandal. Drudge Report, IMHO not really a reliable source, reports that it would soon be revealing an affair between Kerry and an intern. (Thanks Michelle at Volokh Blog)

May God save us.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
 
Re: US elections 2004

Ramki,
You could be right about Bush's ideological delusions. It is also possible that, given a second term, he would be encouraged to go ahead with the more zany programs on his agenda.

But the point remains that Bush merely exercised what (to me at least) was a very politically appealing option on the US strategic gameboard. I also believe that any other candidate who may take over will not give up or unequivocally reverse the real foreign policy moves Bush has made.

Let's get to the real subject. What is Kerry's answer to all you accused Bush of, especially economic and foreign policy. Let's lay it out so we can think about it. Also, what's in it for India.

 
Re: US elections 2004
Carl

There is more to it than just theoretical considerations of ideology. Pres Bush is actually acting on very serious issues with his wrong headed ideologies.

The Patriot Act, FMA, the funding of religious outfits are all assaults on essential safeguards in the constitution that will have consequences. So much for his domestic policies.

Frankly, I do not believe Bush has any idea of what the consequences of his economic policies would be, if the economy does not, in reality, grow at the fantastic pace that he claims are possible. As of now, there seem to be no indication of that happening.

His foreign policy has been an unmitigated disaster. The failure to find WMDs and the now proven defects in intelligence gathering mechanisms of the US intel agencies have thoroughly discredited the so-called Bush-doctrine of pre-emption.

Thus, you see, in every field, he is a disaster. And he believes he is the Messiah. He is what every false messiah is - a disaster.

 
US elections 2004

Ramki,
So you are viewing this whole thing from an ideological POV. What about the possibility that politicians use ideological rhetoric to pass through certain kinds of necessary phases of government policy? As I posted a while back, the US (a threatened superpower) has a few tough choices before it, given the current international political economy. In that perspective, I am not yet sure about what the Dems's plan of action is.

If the Dems come to power, IMHO it will offer the international community the apparent change of ideological rhetoric that will help the US to console agitated parties and curry favor.... and consolidate the putative gains that Bush's aggressive foreign policy gamble has acquired. Thus, we can have two apparently opposed ideological waves serving to fulfill two phases of the same project and purpose -- US national interest.

So I think there may be a problem looking at this politics purely from an ideological POV. Also, which of the two choices do you think we -- as Indians -- should prefer?

C.

 
Re: Rachit and Ramki

Carl,

To an extent, I am inherently biased against Bush. Actually when I came to this country a year and half back, most of the talk centered around the Iraq war. I was thus exposed to what I saw as plain arrogance. Thus, foreign policy is the first reason for my anti-Bush stand. I do not agree at all with the policy of pre-emptive strikes, especially when they are selectively used based on questionable intelligence. I see his administration as challenging the very fundamentals on which the foundations of peace among nations is based on. I will never forget, that in his speech on the eve of the war, he mentioned that we want peace, and so there is war. The next thing that got to me was the absence of WMD in Iraq and the complete spin by the current administration on the rationale for the war. Saddam might have been a mad man and a tyrant, and it is good that we've got rid of him, but if that was the reason to go to war, then it should have been stated upfront. I am also very skeptical of the shady manner in which reconstruction contracts are being awarded. Though my views might sound extremely simplistic, I am sure there are a large number of people who think like this.

I also do not agree with the huge deficit that this administration is creating. It's clearly a case of the future generations paying for the needs of the present generation. Though tax cuts etc. do release disposable income into the hands of the people, leading to economic stimulation, the revenue shortfall builds up and corners are cut somewhere. In this case areas like education and the environment suffer.

I don't know whether this is a Dem or Rep view, but I do not like intolerance in society. I see this administration as being intolerant, whether it be their views on gay rights or abortion. I dont think that the Government has the right to be the moral torch bearer for the people, which Bush almost practices.

Lastly, I am not a big fan of the Bush team, right from Cheney, Rumsfeld to John Ashcroft. Don't ask me why. Maybe its just plain bias. And as you might have guessed by now, the ABB factor is at work even here !

- Rachit.

 
Re: JFK

But wouldn't that make Edwards a very regional candidate? I have my doubts on how he would generate appeal nationally. But I still think Kerry stands a good chance of beating Edwards in Southern states with the possible exception of N. Carolina.

- Rachit.

 
Re: JFK

Oh, I forgot to mention... only four out of the southern states have gone to polls till now. Other big ones are ahead - Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi etc.

In Georgia, Dean might try rallying, given the support (not endorsement) of Fmr Pres. Carter (if it still holds). In North Carolina, favorite son Edwards will win.

What happens in Florida might be crucial, given that it's the biggest, after Texas (and a possible pick for Democrats). Now, Edwards is the only southerner in the field. So, if he picks all these states, he could become a formidable opponent.

 
Re: JFK

Rachit

While he certainly looks very strong, I would still wait until Super Tuesday to decidedly call him the candidate. Victories in VA and TN might be important for him, but remember, even before Kerry is anointed, the un-Kerry has emerged viz. Edwards. In a straight fight between the two, Edwards might pull a surprise or two. I must say, though, that there are very strong reasons why this might be improbable.

Normally, the anti-Kerry people might have coalesced around Edwards. But this seems improbable now, since the Democrats are so scared that Bush will get a second term, that they are ready to make a horse the candidate, if they can be sure Bush will lose to it. And Kerry is better than a horse.

Overall, Edwards would be a very good Veep candidate. He has got the exposure, and the popularity, and the ability to connect with voters - a strong contrast to Kerry's aloofness.

I also keep hearing the name of Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico. He was vast experience, having been a congressman, a cabinet secretary, the energy secretary under Clinton, and US Ambassador to the United Nations. He is a Latino, and quite a popular one too. And Latino vote is a big issue this time.

I agree with you when you say that Kerry needs every ounce of support he can get. The fly in the ointment might be Dean, especially if Nader opts out. But the way things seem if you read liberal publications, Dean is hated there. And the one chorus seems to be ABB. So, Kerry might get that support after all!

 
Re: Rachit and Ramki

Carl

Yes, I do not support Bush. That does not necessarily make me a Democrat. In fact, I am as much as centrist as you could come across. It is my belief that Bush is far from anything that Republican party used to represent - smaller government, greater individual freedom etc. In fact, Bush is taking teh GOP where Democratic party used to be - the party of Protestant compassionate liberalism. To explain my opposition to Bush, I need to explain that movement.

Protestant liberalism dates back to very beginnings of the US. There was a strong movement, propelled by the awakenings, which was anti-enlightenment, strongly protestant, and viewed those whom we call the founding fathers (such as Franklin, Jefferson, Madison) as an elitist class. This movement also had some positive aspects - such as their opposition to slavery. Remember, this opposition did not come out of any belief in libertarian ideals of the Madison genre. It came more out of Christian belief. Back in those days, the North used to be the more devout region. The problem with this kind of liberalism is that it does not believe in pluralism or does not guarantee liberty to anybody. It could, over time, lead to a theocracy. Bush represents this ideology, which is anathema to me.

To the extent of their collectivist ideas, I oppose the Democrats too. However, today, they stand more for pragmatic ideas, which I find palatable. If things keep going the way they are currently, I think the Democrats would come to represent the moderate libertarian philosophy (high degree of individual liberty, combined with some social support), which would be the best.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
 
Rachit and Ramki,
correct me if I'm wrong, but I sense that both of you are anti-Bush and pro-Dem (Kerry). Please explain why.
Thanks.


 
JFK - the democrat presidential candidate - sealed?

With his victories in Tennesse and Virginia, John F. Kerry is almost certain to be the dem presidential candidate. I really hope Edwards is offered to be his running mate. And hope there are no spoil sports to this election now.

With Bush-Cheney ready to unleash their massive fundings into campaign propoganda, JFK needs everyone behind him.

Anyone thinks its too soon?

 
Cite: One Cool Analysis

This may explain why Gephardt could not be in, making it a 5-candidate system. After all, Gephardt would be nS, nV, nO - and would have had two similarities with each candidate. Poor man. :)

 
Karnataka acting like separate nation

Can anyone throw some light on the Cauvery dispute and what the contentious issues are?

 
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Howard endorses gay partnerships

Parts to note:
"To recognise civil partnership is not, in any way, to denigrate or downgrade marriage. It is to recognise and respect the fact that many people want to live their lives in different ways."
"Mr Howard made clear that, while he may have softened some of his views, amid deep social changes in recent years, he remains true to his core belief that the state should play as small a role as possible."

Libertarian wings in conservative parties seem to be calling the shots everywhere - except George W's party. May be, GOP is too old - and is on its way to metting the grim reaper.

 
As I said....
Boston.com / News / Nation / Lost publicity high price for Democrats' unity

Monday, February 09, 2004
 
Kerry, Bush and the deficit

Kerry and Bush - who's the liberal?

 
Re: primaries

Ramki,
Those were just fancy terms for simple concepts. Saying that choices are "transitive" means that if candidate A is preferable to B and B is preferable to C, then A is preferable to C. But we can show that that need not be the case in reality. "Multi-peaked" preferences means that, given a situation and asked your opinion, you may state one preference A. Now in a single-peaked scenario, the further you move from opinion-point A on some hypothetical graph of preferences, the lower is your concurrence. But in multi-peaked preferences, that may happen only for some distance, after which you may start agreeing again. For instance, concerning the War on Iraq, many Americans were against War as an immediate option (they wanted more inspections, etc). But once war has started, they would rather go for it full-force, rather than in small spurts of military action (like India does with TSP).

So that was that. Its been show that if the obove two (or any of 4 more) conditions exist, then agenda and other factors become very important to the outcome of a political process.

Now back to the topic, the points you make are quite valid, but consider the other side too. Dems getting rough with each other makes them look bad in the eyes of some, especially at a time in the US where people are tired of the polarization, and yearn for some national reconciliation, both ideological and emotional. In taking on "extremist" ideologues like the Bush clique, the Dems may want to put forward a more united, less vicious, and more balanced face. Kerry is turning out to be perfect. The only side he's ranting against is outsourcing and "special interests". So the Dems go thru the primaries process to satisfy the "Darwinians", and then achieve the other objective also.

 
Re: Kerry ahead in VA, TN

Carl

Okay, I was whammed by that post. In order that yours faithfully understands your (what I understand to be) concurrence, please translate it to laymen English. Transitive? Multi-peaked performance?!

There is one problem with what you have said - there is a reason why primaries take place. It's the ultimate Darwinian world in primaries. By the time the cadidate gets through the primary, their skeletons are out of the closet (most of them, at least), they have very good name recognition, and the challenger gets a lot of free airtime. All these are adversely affected by shrinking the span of the process.

And if I were the opposition, any day, I would rather see the prospective candidate's shortcomings sighted in the primary season than when he is up on stage debating against the incumbent president!

 
Ramki,
you're right. In political theory, where the situation is not transitive, and there are "multi-peaked preferences", then the ordering of events is of crucial importance. Agenda matters.

So even the sizes (in terms of # of delegates) apart, the relative chances of delegates in various states should also be a factor. But given the circumstances, I suppose the ordering in a descending cascade is the most logical. It would be to the detriment of the Dem Party to have a protracted internecine battle. The sooner a single candidate emerges, the better they can have a go at th GoP.

~C.

 
Kerry ahead in VA, TN

I dunno... I think this idea of having primaries cascading down rapidly needs to be looked at again. The frontrunner (now Kerry) gets away too easily, and that is not necessarily a good idea. Who knows, if Edwards or the Doctor had had some more time, they might have bounced back.

But for now, if Kerry wins VA and TN, as polls predict, he will be the nominee. I hope Edwards gets the veep ticket.

Sunday, February 08, 2004
 
Reuters | Breaking News from Around the Globe

Wow!! I never thought I would live to see the day when an Indian defense minister would say anything that could even remotely be construed as an oblique defense of Pakistan! :)

 
A welcome development: BJP to hold series of public meetings in UP - The Times of India

Venkaiah Naidu addressing rallies in Meerut. This is, I think, an unprecedented move. There have been presidents of the national parties from the South, even titans like K.Kamaraj. But none, as far as I know, have been given the kind of exposure that Naidu is getting. It will go a long way in promoting true integration in the country, and hence, must be appreciated.

 
Gujarat riots' missing: Cops used 60 kgs salt to get rid of bodies - Newindpress.com

Shame!

Saturday, February 07, 2004
 
India on the move!! This is how we turn into an progressive nations. Kudos!
Number 1551 is ringing non-stop with calls about mushroom, mustard - Newindpress.com



 
Word for Word

Kerry has promised that he would not take the Bush machine's attack on him for being a "Massachusetts Liberal" lying low. This is important. Why?

Primarily, the people want a fighter now. In fact, if you see the icons to-date, Bush or Dean, they are seen as fighters who would not budge an inch. The messianic streak in both of them makes some uncomfortable. But, the reassurance that they get out of this image makes them popular. Kerry should show that fighter instinct. Give as good as, or more, than he takes, while displaying a lack of messianic delusions. Some plain realist-speak will do him loads of good.

 
To substantiate my earlier view abt the schism in the offing, here is natural law theorist Robert George in National Review, "But let us have no illusions about the compatibility of the conservative and libertarian moral visions. There simply is no tent big enough to accommodate both visions."

 
Conservatives Use Gay Union as Rallying Cry
Here it starts. Let not anybody undermine the importance of this debate. Just as desegregation and Civil Rights Act switched poles of the American polity, making Democrats the liberal party, and the Republicans the conservatives, this debate is going to lead to a big realignment.

Libertarians are increasingly uncomfortable in the company of these religious rightwingers, who are as much collectivist, and way less pragmatic than liberals. If Bush pushes this gay marriage issue too much, rather than take the easier, and in some sense, better way, or saying it is for the states to decide what marriage would be in their territories, he would be pushing the religious agenda, and alienating this big group of voters.

Remember, the young are, these days, leaning more towards GOP, not because they think that God made earth 6000 years back, but because their independent streak makes them like GOP's individual liberty mantra. Try peddling extremism to this group of, as Andrew Sullivan calls them, South Park Republicans.

 
Re: Same sex marriages

>Why not send a letter to Taft explicitly stating that this bill has made me decide that I do not want to settle in Ohio? What if a few hundred people send such a letter to the Governor?

Ramki, that will definitely make an impact. At this point, the legislators are going against it because there is a concerted lobby only from the few who would actively oppose it, while the general majority who don't mind (or care) are passive. For instance, two weeks back I attended mass at a Mormon Church near campus, and the announcement was made for each one in the congregation to write to so-n-so to support the defence of marriage thing. Pamphlets with a sample letter and all the contact info were handed out, etc. So this is a concerted lobby. There doesn't seem to be such lobbying from the other side. Maybe there are too few gays in Ohio, or they aren't organized enough.

 
What if....

President Karen Holbrook has written to Gov. Taft abt Ohio House Bil 272, banning same sex marriages. This bill goes way further than the similar bills in other states. While the other states have just banned gay marriage, the Ohio bill also bans all benefits afforded to same sex partners as domestic partnerships. President Holbrook has repeatedly stressed that this would adversely affect the job climate in Ohio, and would make it difficult for the industries and academies of Ohio to attract best talent. I agree.

I, for one, do not want to live in a state that is so conservative and close-minded. I have an idea. Why not send a letter to Taft explicitly stating that this bill has made me decide that I do not want to settle in Ohio? What if a few hundred people send such a letter to the Governor? I am willing to try.

Friday, February 06, 2004
 
Brett Lee makes wish come true

Nice gesture by Lee. More cricketers should emulate.

 
Scalia and Cheney

Scalia has come up with, what I think, is a facetious reasoning for why he could sit in judgement in in re Cheney. His reason goes like, when we are allowed to attend parties in the White House, why should a hunting trip be wrong?

The problem with that argument is that when they go to the White House, they are guest not of George W. Bush as a private person, but as the guest of the President of the United States. Now, whether or not they like the person who is the POTUS, they would go. The intent there is not building or maintaining some kind of personal relationship, but cordiality between the offices of the state. The hunting trip does not fit this. It was private, and hence, improper.

Thursday, February 05, 2004
 
JFK (this time, Kennedy) about Columbus, OH

"There is no city in the United States, in which I get warmer welcome and fewer votes than Columbus, Ohio"



 
Woodrow Wilson on George W. Bush

"If you think too much about being reelected, it is very difficult to be worth reelecting."

 
Washington state court upholds gay equity ruling
They may not marry, but they may divorce! I dunno about you - I really found this amazingly quirky.

 
AP Wire | 02/05/2004 | AP Enterprise: Rogue Hunt Goes Worldwide

Looks like the net is out to grab as much malcontent as possible. This could only be good for the world. As fittingly, it started with Pakistan.

 
It's official: Rao backed off N-tests after call from Clinton - Newindpress.com

I can already hear BJPwallahs say "ah hah!"

 
Not a Good News
Joshi slashes IIM fees by 80 per cent - Newindpress.com

Okay, now that the fees have been slashed, how does the government plan to fund these institutions? By govt grants? Just how irresponsible can these people get?!

 
>If Justin Timberlake had bared his torso, would he be on the TV today, tearfully apologizing? Why is it that a woman has to be so much more ashamed of her body?

I know you love debating legalistic technicalities, but this is taking it a little too far boss. I guess we're expected to say that its the innuendo that matters. Showing a naked woman taking a holy dip in the Ganges in the morning cold is *not* taboo. Similarly, if a man with a naked torso was gyrating and flicking his nipples, then that *is* objectionable. Jesus!

 
Why should Janet Jackson be so ashamed?

I understand that people are upset. After all, what happened is not something that is common or accepted in this society. But I think many, especially FCC chairman Michael Powell, are going overboard with protestations. Come on, Powell is heading an investigation now, all the while making clear his indignation at the incident. As I said, I would be skeptical abt his fairness in this issue.

But, the essential question is this: If Justin Timberlake had bared his torso, would he be on the TV today, tearfully apologizing? Why is it that a woman has to be so much more ashamed of her body?

 
Musharraf Pardons Pakistani Scientist (washingtonpost.com): "... government of Pakistan take seriously their commitments, their assurances that they were not going to allow their technology to be used to help other nations that might be trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. . ."

And how exactly? I think Bush administration has rushed to praise the efforts of Musharraf way too soon. This is just beginning.

Since it has decided to pardon him, now the sin is on the Pakistani state now. How is Pakistan going to prove that its arsenal now is really safe? What changes have been made to the research structures to ensure that it is leakproof? Is that nonsensical concept of multiple entities working in parallel on such a sensitive area as nuclear arms going to be dropped, with a merger of Khan Research Labs and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission?


 
Race towards Armageddon

Op-Ed Columnist: A Rude Awakening

It is the belief of one school of thought that the enmity between India and Pakistan, rooted firmly in the 1947 partition, was made worse by the hurried manner in which the division took place. There was really no time at all for discussions. Sure, discussions did take place on whether to partition the country, but none was there on just how to organize it. The resultant bloodshed resulted in a lingering bitterness in both countries.

The Bush administration's urgent withdrawal from Iraq and hurried transfer of power is not very different, and it is dangerous. It might lead the country into strife, and the whole exercise (whether it was democratization or just greedy wildcatting) will be in vain.

Same applied to the Sharon plan. If Israel quits, it must get at least peace in return. But this unilateral division does not have anything that creates hopes of such a positive outcome. It would only lead to more bloodshed, and possibly a re-occupation. Dangerous, and stupid.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
 
Re: Ramki, on religion

Yup, we can talk in person.

Let me just point out for the record here that the main claim of "tremendous import" that I relayed is the conclusion that is reached within the first 5 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita, and is stated as such by The Speaker in so many words. Just a reference. To end, could you also provide any references that led you to so emphatically state your point?

The best way to approach God, however, remains a topic of considerable debate among people despite the seemingly clear conclusions and recommendations in the Gita. As has been demonstrated on this blog, the question itself suggests the answer, and so the debate is not apropos, but rather is evasive of the object of the question itself...and that is why such a debate is never-ending.

~C.

 
One more thing - I do agree with the duty to propogate the faith. It is just that I do not believe it should lead to closing of the mind to others' ideas, or to politicizing of the faith, and strife.

It is my belief that since we are human, with all our limitations, we do not, as a single individual or even a limited group, have the immense grasp that is needed to understand and experience the Divine. Given that fact, our best bet then lies in trying to understand and learn from the experiences of a wide a section of the human race - wider, the better.

This does not necessarily mean that we accept everything everybody claims. It rather means that we should be able to weigh ideas with an open mind wherever they idea originated.

Seen from this perspective, it is indeed a duty to share your experience for the benefit of others.


 
Re: Ramki on Religion

Carl,

The primary difference between ur view and mine is in the subdivision the religious hierarchy. I do not hold priestly corruption, but that of scholarship, responsible for the fall in religious belief. We are in agreement on the fact that exclusion lead to stagnation, and corruption.

As for the difference you have pointed out, yes, we hold antipodal views on the role of faith. To me, God is of no consequnce without the Creation. This is valid, in my view, whether u look at the two as single or separate. That is why I would say the Creation occured in the first place - it gave meaning to God. Thus, the study of God is pointless if you do not couple it with the study of the Creation. You, I believe, would not agree with this idea.

I am not sure if I understand what you mean in the last paragraph (the tremendous statement). May be we should talk in person.

 
Irbil and Al Qaeda

Irbil attack on PUK and KDP offices in Irbil is another instance of the biggest trouble that Al Qaeda has faced, and is going to face in future. Put succintly, two different nationalisms or identities are colliding here - the religious, and the ethnic.

Remember, almost all the dead people were Muslims. Bin Laden constantly advocated unity among Muslims in the fight against crusaders. That being so, if it is true that Ansar al Islam is responsible for the attack, and that Ansar al Islam is related to Al Qaeda, then, Al Qaeda's allies have gone against the grain in carrying out an attack that will weaken the unity among Muslims - dangerously along ethnic lines. This is not really new. Taliban was seen as a Pakhtoon outfit, opposed to the Tajiks and Uzbeks in Afghanistan, and no one could be as closely related to Al Qaeda as can be Taliban.

May be, this IS what would be the nemesis of global Islamist terrorism.

 
Re: Ramki on religion

Ramki,
Had time to take a closer look at our posts on religion. It seems that in your last post on the subject, you concurred with me in saying:
"I was arguing that the corruption of that system, and its closing to vast segments of society is what created the stagnation, and virtual rot, in the system."

However, we still have differing perspectives on the main bone I picked in my post, which you were replying to. You said:
"Thus, if you remove the sociological aspects of a faith, it is lifeless. It is not pseudo-intellectual. It is, indeed, what one who wants to be truly enlightened should seek, and what all those great people you talk abt in ur discourses have sought."

True, spiritual masters have been tortured seekers alright, but on what level? It should be clear that in these matters it is not possible to ascend to the spiritual through factual investigation of the mundane, unless the seeds are already within the individual. Any such mundane "seeking" that is fortunate enough to burst forth into the spiritual is merely a pre-ordained clean-up act. There's a tremendous amount that's been said in this last statement, and its not possible to discuss that here. We'll talk about it in person.

But I still want to impress the point that, if it is to be meaningful, sociological thinking and analysis must come after thorough spiritual knowledge that is based on nothing but its own premises. As indicated before, the reverse is not logically possible, as a little thinking will reveal. Once informed with pure spiritual knowledge, it is possible to set forth a societal structure that provides the most conducive environment for spiritual development.

Lastly, all I've tried to do is convey what I've read and heard (and which struck me as profound), and so the offending "discourses" weren't really mine at all :)

~C.

 
Primaries

Big winner - undoubtedly, Kerry.

Losers? I would say Libermann (good concession speech), Dean (again, bad concession speech), Sharpton (what concession speech?), Clark (no concession till Tennessee and Virginia speak).

If u ask me, for all practical purposes, Dean is cooked. Tch tch.

Wildcard? Edwards. MSNBC reported that Kerry camp hinted that they ceded SC to Edwards. They knew they were not winning. They let him widen the gap, so that he would look more like a person who deserves a ticket. As I said earlier, Kerry, from the day go, has had Edwards in his shortlist. Let's see.

One has to note one thing abt Kerry campaign. This one has some really brilliant strategists. There is also a talk that they tactically wanted Clark to win Oklahoma, thus avoiding the campaign from becoming a two-man race between Kerry and Edwards now itself. This would be bad news in more than one respect - Kerry would get too much attention, minus the punching bag Dean. It might affect the chances of a Kerry-Edwards ticket later if Kerry is forced to take on Edwards with no gloves now.

But the biggest news? Kerry actually smiled on TV. I must say as much - he has a good, winning smile. If only people get to see it more!

Tuesday, February 03, 2004
 
Climate collapse -- the Pentagon's weather nightmare

This scenario is definitely less fictional than Gen. Paddy's magnum opus. Looks like the Indian political class regularly yields poets and writers.

 
Ramki,
I think you made a fascinating point in your last post about religions. Hope to reply to it later.

Yes, I'm aware that the Azhwars, etc were considered Bhakti proponents, and that it has always been there -- no doubt about that! But in the recent historical context, it was only later in the north and east that the philosophy, mode of worship, etc were put together into an integrated revitalized whole, and a new society created.

Thus, the sociology of religion is relevent subsequent to the establishment of an integrated philosophical perspective, and not the other way round. hope to return to this later.

Lastly, excuse any misunderstandings in my last post, which was written in some haste.

 
Uma's agenda

Uma's development
agenda


I see where concerns about her performance are coming from. Btw, any idea of where a cow based economy might have worked?

- Rachit.

 
What each state would mean tonite:

Missouri: Biggest catch in terms of number of delegates. If opinion polls are right, Kerry can hope to have a lot more delegates than the others tonite. Another interesting thing about Missouri is that it is an interesting mix of South and Midwest. South, that Democrats think they can only dream of, and Midwest that Dems know they have to win.

South Carolina: Southern state. But unwinnable in general elections - even for Edwards. What is more important is that this state has a huge population of African Americans. And they are mighty important to Dems.

New Mexico: The other minority vote, Hispanics, dominate here. Turnout here, if very high, would be seen as a failure of Bush's immigration ploy.

Arizona: Big time Republican state. But a gauge of how the west thinks.

Oklahoma: It might turn out to be Clark's last stand. If he is convincingly beaten here, he's out.

North Dakota, Delaware: Can't imagine any big difference these two can make. Sorry.


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