Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rudi - Judy - Bizarro Love

Rudi Guliani, the leading Republican candidate for President was speaking to the NRA this week. In the middle of this address to what is a core constituency of the GOP his cellphone rang. Rudi took the call. It was his third wife, Judy Nathan calling from London. What followed was either the most staged public display of affection since Al Gore tongued Tipper on stage or proof perhaps that Americas mayor is completely henpecked or just that he is a plain ol' weirdo. Here is the event. You draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mordern Satire - From A Modest Proposal to Jon Stewart

A Modest Proposal was a very popular essay written by Jonathan Swift - author of Gulliver's Travels and probably one of the greatest satirist of the English language - to shock London society into thinking about the devastation that the English absentee landlords had brought to Ireland.
I first came across this in my Grade 12 English Lit class with Mrs. Cheung. And reading it again after almost 21 years I realize it has not lost its impact on me.
Where is satire and irony today? I would say the mantle has been passed from the print medium to TV. From Swift to Jon Stewart to Stephen Colbert...
So here is Swifts A Modest Proposal

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti takes his final bow

Le Roi est Mort.....Luciano Pavarotti arguably the greatest tenor ever is no more. A voice that I have always believed is one of the more definitive proofs of the existence of the divine has left us for good. There are times when the sum of the beauty of the world measurably diminishes and the passing of this Maestro is one such moment. We will never hear him live again but thank God for audio recordings.

Listen to his rendition of Schuberts Ave Maria conducted by Zubin Mehta. The power of his voice is just unbelievable.

And here is Luciano singing with U2....a really nice take on the same Ave Maria with beautiful anti war words penned by Bono.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Stranded Carpenter in Bahrain to Fly Home to India after 25 years (from Gulf Daily News)

An Indian man, stranded in Bahrain because he had no legal documents to prove his citizenship, is leaving in December under the government's general amnesty after working here for 25 years. Gopalakrishnan Achari, 52, came to Bahrain on March 27th in 1983 to work as a carpenter with a construction company.He says that he worked for the company for three-and-a-half years on a BD60 basic salary and then had to seek employment elsewhere after it started losing money and he wasn't getting paid.He also claims his sponsor gave his passport and legal documents to immigration officials, but that he could not retrieve them since no one knows their whereabouts.Indian Embassy officials had provided him with a letter to obtain a certificate from his panchayat(village court) stating that he is an Indian citizen."I obtained the certificate from my village and the embassy has provided me with the out pass," said Mr Achari."My passport and all other legal documents were taken by my sponsor a few months after I reached Bahrain. "I had to live on loans from friends as I had no fixed job."However, I am happy as I can now see my family after25 years. I thank the government and the embassy for providing this opportunity."Mr Achari has three brothers and three sisters, all married and settled in Ernakulam, Kerala.Two friends of Mr Achari, Sunil Kadri and Vivian Mascarenhas helped him get the relevant legal documents and promised to pay the ticket expenses too.

Why do the gulf employers insist on keeping the passports of the third world citizens they employ? The WTO should make this practice illegal. They don't do it for Americans and Brits and Canadians and other first world citizens..just for poor people from the third world.....Its completely coercive and racist.

Handling Adultery...Mohammed vs Jesus

Muslims portray Mohammed as the perfect man. Here is a good comparison of his actions versus Jesus when faced with a similar problem. You decide who's actions were more moral - the perfect man or Jesus.
(For the record I am agnostic and do not endorse or follow any religion)


Mohammed and the Adulteress (The woman from Gamid - from the Hadith of Sahih Muslim 4206)

There came to him (the Holy Prophet) a woman from Gamid and said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, I have committed adultery, so purify me.’ He (the Holy Prophet) turned her away. On the following day she said: ‘Allah’s messenger, why do you turn me away? ... By Allah I have become pregnant.’ He said ‘Well, if you insist upon it, then go away until you give birth.’ When she was delivered she came with the child (wrapped) in a rag, and said ‘Here is the child whom I have given birth to.’ He said ‘Go away and suckle him until you wean him.’ When she had weaned him, she came to him (the Holy Prophet) with the child who was holding a piece of bread in his hand. She said ‘Allah’s Apostle, here is he as I have weaned him and he eats food.’ He (the Holy Prophet) entrusted the child to one of the Muslims and then pronounced punishment. And she was put in a ditch up to her chest and he commanded people and they stoned her.

Jesus and the Adulteress (From the Gospel of John, Chapter 8)

1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?" 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again."


I think I (and I would posit most people regardless of the religion they belong to) would prefer Jesus interpretation and actions in this case to Mohhammeds. Mohammed’s approach is harsh and barbaric, Jesus approach is sublime and merciful. This story sums up neatly the difference between Islam and Christianity. Until we understand the Islamic mindset of utter submission to the will of Allah and his laws we are never going to understand Muslims and will never win the war on terror or whatever the heck we are calling this ongoing clash of two civilizations.

Bush already thinking about the lecture circuit

A new book on the Commander in Chief, 'Dead Certain" by Robert Draper was released last week. (I am still reading it). In this book Bush is already starting to think about how much money he is going to make on the lecture circuit. Bush has said a lot of dumb things in the last 7 years but to talk about his post Presidency activities and the amount of money he is going to make ("the old man makes $75,000 a speech") while he is still sending young kids off to Iraq to get killed just shows how much of a cocoon the guy lives in. If it weren't so tragic it would be laughable.

Bush "Crying Baby" strategy for Iraq

Bush strategy is to keep the troops till April and then draw down next year.....he will use any underhanded means and spin to do that. Why April....well in April the major rotations end and the troops will be coming home anyway. This means come next spring they will start saying that benchmarks are being met and the troops are now ready to come home. This will give the GOP candidates for President the ability to say that they got the troops home. After the troops leave the full blown blood letting will start and it will be the successors (probably a Democrat) problem. So just as a baby sitter hands over a crying baby to its parents after a difficult night and hightails it Bush is counting on doing this to his successor. This way Bush ensures his own personal legacy. He can state that as long as he was in charge there was no widespread sectarian blood bath..NO KILLING FIELDS........Chris Hitchens says that the apt comparison for Iraq is not Vietnam but Cambodia....with the Sunni and Shia militias being closer to the Khmer Rouge rather than the Vietcong.....Chilling indeed if what Hitch says is true

Gen. David Petraeus "Kodak Moment" next week

The cognoscenti all seem to be in agreement that the generals report will be positive on the workings of the surge and that Petraeus will ask for time to April 2008 to crush al-Qaeda and quieten down the insurgents. (I am positive its not working from a holistic perspective though...yes Anbar Province is safer and yes Ramadi is now walkable without wearing a Kevlar jacket or being accompanied by a platoon of Marines...woo hooo). What is really telling is the non partisan GAO report indicates only 7 out of 18 key benchmarks have been met so far.....the Petraeus Report will perfume the pig but a pig is still a pig even if it smells nice temporarily.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Larry Craig like Luca Brazzi sleeps with the fishes...

The GOP leadership wasted no time in dispatching Sen Larry Craig. The three term Senator resigned yesterday after finding that all support, moral or political had dried up from his fellow Republicans. The White House and Sen Mitch McConnell the minority leader distanced themselves from him faster than you can say "gay republican". Sen McConnell went so far as to call his behavior "disgusting".

What is particularly interesting is that David Vitter is still in the Senate. Here is a guy who admitted to having sex with prostitutes - ie a clear felony. Craig on the other hand pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for public lewdness. Why the double standard?

I think it ultimately comes down to the type of sex. Had Craig got caught soliciting heterosexual sex he would still be in the Senate. This is really the anti-gay streak in the GOP coming out rather than a sudden desire to act either ethically or morally.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Republican hypocrisy - Top 10

One of my brothers maintains that all politicians are hypocrites...and I agree. However there is a version of hypocrisy within the GOP that I believe is particularly egregious. There has been a literal parade of so called family values and holier than thou Republicans who are getting exposed for some extremely poor behavior recently. Is this just bad luck or is there a deeper malaise that is surfacing in the Republican Party? Here are some of their greatest hits on the hypocrisy charts in the last 2 years.

1. Newt Gingrich admitting to the Rev. James Dobson that he was having an affair WHILE he was leading the charge against Clinton during Monicagate.

2. Senator David Vitter of Louisiana who was sent to Congress initially to replace Congressman and speaker elect Bob Livingston in 1999, when Livingston was exposed as having had numerous extra marital affairs. At that time Vitter pledged a new type of honesty and morality. Well he was exposed as being a frequent visitor of a high class Washington brothel. (Needless to say Congressman Vitter was one of the loudest baying hounds during Monicagate also).

3. Senator Larry Craig from Idaho who was very strong on opposing gay marriage pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for lewd conduct....the lewd conduct being soliciting gay sex in an airport bathroom.

4. Congressman Mark Foley who was chairman of the sexual crimes against children commission was exposed as having inappropriate contact via email with several underage male interns and pages in Congress. He was also accused of stalking these "children".

5. House Speaker Tom "the Hammer" Delay, a law and order, fire and brimstone fundamentalist if there ever was one brought down by his tawdry associations with lobbyist Jack Abramoff that led to him accepting gifts from the lobbyist that he did not declare (including a 100K jaunt to play golf at St Andrews in Scotland)

6. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska - his house was raided by the FBI after one of his associates fingered him as a key receiver of graft.

7. Rev. Ted Haggard - a key Bush Lieutenant during the 2004 election to rally evangelicals was exposed as having had an affair with a male prostitute and also having "experimented" with crystal meth.

8. Rush Limbaugh - the voice of the "disenfranchised white male" - exposed as having been addicted to prescription drugs and buying them illegally. This is the same Rush Limbaugh who stated for years on his show that the government should throw the book at all drug dealers and users and lock them all up (no therapy for users) if they wanted to solve the drug problem in this country.

9. Jack Abramoff the disgraced lobbyist who hired Ralph Reed the former President of the Christian Coalition to rally evangelicals to help close down an Indian casino chain (To prevent the corruption of our society). It was exposed that Abramoff was actually representing a competitor Indian Casino and was not particularly interested in saving Americans from gambling away their life savings.

10. Ralph Reed for knowing about Jack Abramoff''s plan of duplicity and still going through with it

Jack Warner announces retirement

Sen Jack Warner (R-Va), the senior Senator from Virginia and my favorite GOP politician is calling it quits after 30 years in the Senate. This is indeed a great loss of experience for the nation as a whole. It is also a singular opportunity for the Dems to add another Senate seat (Va used to be a red state until Jim Webb proved otherwise in 2006) in 2008.

Senator Jack Warner was everything the current GOP party is not. Bipartisan, secular, global, smart, erudite and urbane. With his mane of white hair (mostly intact), his great choice in clothing, his star power (he was married to Liz Taylor and dated Barbara Walters for a while) and his knowledgeable and able leadership as the Armed Services Committee chairman he was a formidable politician and the closest thing we have to an "eminence grise" in the Senate. In recent times he has come out and stated his disappointment for the way this Administration has prosecuted this war. His concerns made headlines.

He will be missed indeed.