Realm Of Randomness

March 15, 2008

The anti-climax that awaits us

Filed under: America,Politics — Randomizer @ 2:48 pm

By all means, this has been an irritating election season, and I wish I knew how to get ‘dis-interested’ in something. I wish I could just turn this interest off whenever I wanted and be immune to all these drama filled Obama/Clinton wars. There’s really no way to come out of this without being frustrated -if you are a Clinton fan, you would be tearing your hair apart over the blatant media bias favouring Obama, and if you were a (Ba)rack-star, you’d be pounding your fists in frustration that the contest didn’t get over on March 4 and that we have to read not only another 300 articles about Clinton vs Obama, but have to prepare to stoop into lower levels of muck that the Clinton campaign throws at us… for at least another 2 months.

Now that my fave Ron Paul is out of the question ( I guess he really never was ‘in’ anyway ), I have a new favourite – and judging by only the way they have carried out their campaigns, I am pretty clearly in Obama’s camp. He’s run a decent campaign so far, and I like that. The whole world is following this war, ( even IndiaUncut these days, Google’s number one search result for ‘India Blog’) and the funny part is that it in all probability, it might not even matter. The silent bystander John McCain with his decades of experience could just sweep this election away – after all, I am pretty sure than Obama supporters who have nearly come to hate Clinton over the last 3 months will not readily vote for her in November if she wins. And nor are the die-hard Clinton supporters going to vote for her inexperienced opponent Obama.

In all probability, the supporters of the losing nominee will be apathetic towards the elections after their favourite is off the ballot and will not even vote…. if not the more drastic choice of voting for McCain himself! The only thing McCain has to worry about right now is to try and stay in the news, and generate some funds for his campaign. All the mud-slinging of his opponents are being done by each other, at each other, and when he faces his bruised candidate in November, half the work would have already been done.

What a hilarious anti-climax it will be for us to join and finance McCain in his hunt for ‘them terrists’ for another 4 years in the mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s so pathetic it should make you laugh :-D. As for me, I am going to try my best to stop following this possibly and probably meaningless democratic contest, and waste my time doing something else.

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February 19, 2008

Why we end up caring

Filed under: America,India,Opinion,Politics — Randomizer @ 2:27 am

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(Indian Parliament, src: Wikipedia Commons)

A long time ago back in high school, when I was probably in my 9th or 10th grade, we had an essay writing competition on ’50 years of Indian independence’, which I took part in. Having been abroad for a lot of my childhood, I did not harbor as much patriotism for my country back then as most of my friends, and was often very critical of India, often annoyingly so. Anyway, I remember writing in that essay that the Indian government really meant nothing to me, and that I felt no patriotism towards a country that was corrupt and sustained societies filled with stone-age customs like the caste system and dowry. 50 years since gaining independence, I argued, we have nothing much to be proud of.

To say the least, my essay was controversial :-P and I really thought that I would be summoned by the vice principal… in fact, my English teacher even told me that this very summoning was going to happen pretty soon. Word went out far and wide and I was asked about it by a friend in church that Sunday (who wasn’t even studying in my school anymore, but heard of it through his sister’s friend!). There were thinly veiled comments at me all through that week during English class, and I was quite nervous about the whole thing, quite frankly.

Luckily for me, nothing much happened and the incident was slowly forgotten by everyone… whew!

The reason I remembered this a few days ago was because one of my good friends from school who recently saw this site was shocked that I was following politics so closely… You see, I have always been quite apathetic towards politics, and to me, it was always a dirty ‘word’ , and a dirty ‘world’ as well. I blame Indian politicians for this, for the crores worth of scandals they were involved in at the time made me hate the system so much that I was just left with nothing more than apathy for my country.

It is true that American politics is relatively ‘cleaner’ than Indian politics, but in concept, both are much the same. It is still ‘politics as usual’. If Indians have bribes, the Americans have lobbies. If Indians are bogged down by caste politics, the Americans are bogged down by race politics. So what has really changed, and why have I stopped ‘not giving a damn’ about politics any more? Some might say it’s all a part of growing up, but that is actually a very broad answer… there is something a lot more specific than that. Well, the answer is simple:

It lies in another dirty word, called Taxes.

When we were back in school, it was ‘them’ against ‘us’. But now that we are earning, it is ‘them with our money‘ against ‘us’. Reading the Fountainhead has all the more increased my awareness of what is really going on, and seeing things from an individualistic point of view, I am forced to ask myself – what do I gain by giving a portion of my wealth to society through taxes? I will get back to this at the very end.

Universal health care is a system where the government helps reduce the costs of health care… those of you in the United States will know how exorbitantly priced a visit to a doctor is, or the cost of a simple X-ray or test. The following is a diagram of countries attempting Universal Health Care. Please enlarge this and spend at least 2 minutes looking at the countries and the description on the bottom-left corner of the image before you continue:

worldhealth2.png

(src: Wikipedia commons)

If the above diagram is to be believed, and I hope it is, for the editors would have surely been careful on such an important topic, then there are two very interesting observations to be made:

  • The US is the only developed country with no universal health care in place
  • Iraq and Afghanistan have universal health care paid for by the US war budget

So what does this mean to every person currently employed in the United States, myself included? It simply means that I will:

  • Pay for the bombing of Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Pay for the injuries of the Iraqi and Afghani civilians
  • but I will be left fending for myself if I get hurt here in the USA !

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And that, my friends, is why I follow politics… to be aware of how my money is being spent – not my country’s money, not my government’s money, not my parents’ money – but mine. To know who is out there to rip me off, and who is out there with policies that benefit me and the people I care about. It really can’t get any more selfish than that – to hope that the money you worked so hard to earn benefits you in the best way possible. After all, we expect ‘value for money’ in every product we buy and every service we pay for – There is no reason that we should expect any less from our government.

[ Please read the amazing collection of ‘Where your taxes go‘ articles by Amit Verma from the India Uncut blog to see how else your money is being spent, if you are in India. This one was particularly alarming ]

January 14, 2008

Who are you politically ?

Filed under: Current events,Politics — Randomizer @ 2:33 am

A year ago, I’d taken a ‘political affiliation’ quiz and found out that I was more ‘Centrist’ than left-leaning or right-leaning. This came as a surprise as I’d always thought I was left-leaning – I guess I assumed that since I hated the policies of the Bush administration, and Bush was a Republican, I should therefore be pro-Democrat.

I have lately been addicted to the American election, a sad irony since I do not have the right to vote in this country – and do not have the slightest interest in Indian politics, where I *do* have the right to vote :( . Anyway, I have watched all the debates so far – have closely followed the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, and have found a clear favorite…. and guess what, he’s Republican.

Ron Paul, so far an underdog in the Republican camp – and as out of place there as an ipod in the jurassic era, is a man very clear about his policies, and broad-minded enough to step away from the politics of fear and do the one thing that is badly needed for this country – to save the economy that’s likely heading into recession this year. Watch this youtube video here, where the host (from conservative Fox News) mocks him by asking him at a debate ‘Let’s talk about electability … do you (looking at Ron Paul) have any, sir?’. As the audience laughs away at this man, he comes away with a brilliant response …

(Do watch the whole video)

What I realized after watching tons of these debates is that we tend to ‘stereotype’ politicians based on the party they come from. Most of the time, our assumptions of their policies are dead on – but then, you have Ron Paul, and your definition of a Republican just goes up in smoke.

Ron Paul openly blames his country for terrorism, saying that ‘we attack their countries first, and it is our flawed foreign policy that is generating this hatred’ – a position that others refuse to admit. He is anti-war, pro-life and pro-civil liberties. He strongly puts forward his belief that America should go back to having a foreign policy of ‘non-intervention’. He is mocked by his opponents on the stage at every debate, but he has a fan following now that is reaching cult-like status. He has a tremendous internet presence, constantly bagging the ‘Most Viewed Video’ on YouTube, whenever a debate is over, and he has a record for the most campaign contributions on a single day from internet donors. People are listening to him, and they are liking what they hear.

But he will not get anywhere close to winning the Republican nomination, and there goes probably the most eligible candidate from the race.

He is described as a Libertarian – i.e. one who promotes individual freedom and small governments. The reason I liked him the most became clear to me today when I took the political affiliation quiz – Please go ahead and take the quiz too. I realized I was Libertarian too, and the analysis of my quiz showed the following result:

liber.jpg

Libertarianism taken to the extreme (as shown by the diagram above) is the support for Anarchy, and I am actually quite surprised to see myself that close to it… or maybe the diagram is misleading. I hope you take the quiz and find out more about yourself and your position. Whether you are involved in this election or not does not matter – knowing where you are on the political scale is according to me, as important a definition of who you are as the nation you come from.

Do let me know !

December 27, 2007

And Bhutto’s gone…

Filed under: Current events,Politics — Randomizer @ 2:29 pm

I can hardly believe it, but a face and a name we have grown up hearing on the news is now officially no more. Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated.

It’s always tragic for a leader to go out like this, losing not by electoral defeat, or by a fallacy in one’s own policy, but by a person/organization that hated her so much they were ready to die along with her in a suicide attack. Though I know very less of her past, and the supposed skeletons in her closet, she has always been at the forefront of Pakistani politics – and I admire this woman who went against all odds to end up leading a conservative muslim nation. More recently, she was the last glimmer of hope against the blatantly dictatorial General Musharraf.

What will become of Pakistan in the next few months? Musharraf will stay in power, obviously – if he lives to see that day, that is. I don’t see Nawaz Sharif instantly winning Bhutto’s ex-supporters too soon, and with the state entirely in his control, Musharraf will sweep whatever is left of this excuse of an election. Some way or the other, Musharraf is going to stay.

With Bhutto gone, so goes a hope for a meaningful democracy and a hope for change. She might have been a flawed politician, but the last few months of her brave resistance to dictatorship will martyr her through history. A long discussion on this is on Sepia Mutiny, here.

R.I.P. Benazir Bhutto.

June 29, 2007

How will this go down in history ?

Filed under: Opinion,Politics — Randomizer @ 2:50 am

ancient_book2.jpg

So we are a year away from the election, and the big guns are making their mark – Obama, Hillary, McCain, Guilani. The current administration has almost been forgotten in the flurry of campaign debates and early promises.

Yet we still hear some pretty arrogant statements these days. Today’s headlines reads ‘Bush won’t supply subpoenaed documents’.. The other day it was the same statement, though from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. People seem completely unconcerned with the slumping chart that is Bush’s approval ratings. .. and have pretty much written him off from any political concerns whatsoever. The vetoes on the Iraq withdrawal plan, or the Stem Cell research federal funding have been brushed away with a ‘Did you expect any better?’ wave of the hand.

The fact that Yahoo News used a picture of Mr.Bush fishing to report the headlines ‘Bush defends military buildup’ is not only hilarious, it is very representative of the general mood in America, as well as the media’s portrayal of him. Long gone is any confidence in the President, his Vice president, the Attorney general, the Defense secretary – basically the entire administration has long been a lost cause to the American people, a good portion of them Republicans. The Iraq war hasn’t changed one bit in the last 3 years, and it is surprising how cruelly immune I and I’m guessing most of you as well, have become to the headlines ‘Baghdad bomb kills x people’ ( where 40<=x<=200). The number doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect us anymore.

At times like this, I wonder about what the future will write of this decade in the History books, year 2000-2010… and of the President’s term in office. What will be the ‘consensus’ about this debacle? I’m sure that at the time of World war II, the decision to bomb Hiroshima/Nagasaki might not have been as inhuman as we view it with our eyes in the 21st century. Nor was the Vietnam war during its time. But now we have these ‘established notions’ (only occasionally debated as being the right thing to do) that the atom bombs were cruel, the Vietnam war was a mistake, and so on.

We are LIVING a moment in history right now, as we speak. How will this decade be described to our children and grandchildren in their History lessons ? Will it be the decade of terrorism? Will the Iraq war be as ‘unfortunate’ an event as the Vietnam war ? Does it depend really on what happens next or is the damage already done ? Will President Bush go down as another Richard Nixon, a pseudo-dictator, or will History go easy on him ?

What do you think ? What chapter of History are we living ?

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