Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Restraint & Containment Against 'Terror'

My NYT Comment #103.
New York City
September 30th, 2009
9:52 am

New York City
September 30th, 2009
5:34 am

Restraint & Containment against LeT

India has followed a policy of Restraint and Containment against the LeT, JuD, LeJ and other Terror (yes NYTimes Terrorist, not Militant) Groups operating from bases in Pakistan.

This continues to be the wisest and most astute policy. Slow and steady wins the race. Attrition is better than the nuclear non-option.

While this policy of restraint and containment is frustrating to hawks in the Indian establishment, as well as within India's aggrieved polity, the ground reality for the past 60+ years is that the REGION of South Asia has functioned as a theatre for various conflicts --

1. The Cold War that the US invented and deployed mainly in Eastern Europe against the Soviets but fought on the ground in Afghanistan. The US trained and deployed the Mujahideen that partly now is the Taliban and provided a training ground for Al Qaeda.

So did the US create Al Qaeda?, yes.

And let's not forget the US-Saudi nexus in West Asia (aka the \"Middle East\") and in Afghanistan.

2. The US subjugation of Pakistan as part of State Department policy beginning in the '50s.

3. Various internal factionalist/separatist movements WITHIN India, Pakistan, Bangladesh Sri Lanka, and Nepal in which terror is an instrument.

4. The US has sought and succeeded in gaining \"strategic depth\"

in the western part of South Asia. The US presence and its hold on Pakistan will continue to destabilize any confidence-building measures undertaken by India and Pakistan.

Within this context, India must continue to practice Restraint while proactively containing Terror.


Through implementing Social Justice within her borders, while deploying the most effective and proven intelligence at her disposal to keep Pak-based terror out.

India is cognizant of the US menace in South Asia. The US is a state sponsor of Terror.

Pakistan is also cognizant of the US menace but her successive governments have been too weak to act, either against her own US-trained ISI or to call for the US to desist. US 'aid' is too attractive to Pakistan's military-feudal-terror complex.

The bottom line is ordinary Indians and Pakistanis are sisters and brothers.
They are not terrorists.

Restraint & Containment make practical sense in ETHICAL Democracy, which is a wholly attainable ideal for India's civil society and for the Greater Collective Good (GCG) for ALL of South Asia's fragile, yet resilient civil societies.

Satyameva Jayate.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Network of Militants Is Robust After Mumbai Siege

Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba has persisted, even flourished, since 10 recruits killed 163 people in a rampage through India’s financial capital.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Democracy Gets a Modest Boost in Zimbabwe

My NYT Comment#1(expanded for blog)
New York City
September 28th, 2009
10:04 am

(wow, its Yom Kippur so only 3 comments, with no more accepted
Now you know who the majority of NYTimes writers and readers are :)
In contrast a whole slew of article about sanctions against Iran, and Iran's testing of missiles)
That's Power in action)

New York City
September 28th, 2009
9:37 am

Mugabe's got to demonstrate that democracy does not include holding office for life, by stepping down, getting out. Who is he, Gaddafi? Hilariously unsuitable role model.

This is not at all to say that Mugabe has not done his share to free Zimbabwe, erstwhile Rhodesia, because he has.

Mugabe has tried to wrest the most fertile, productive, wealth-producing lands from white settlers who made huge profits for decades, on the backs of indigenous Black Africans, during the long period of Brit colonialism.

Settler colonies had a more intransigent and entrenched white settler/farmer/wealth base and in Rhodesia Ian Smith led the settlers in consolidating their power against the African nationalists like Sithole and Mugabe.

I remember reading about ZANU as a schoolgirl in Kolkata. If Ihad been born and raised in the US, I would probably have been kept ignorant about the African nationalist struggle against the minority landholding whites led by Smith.

Land reform and land redistribution are still at the heart of Z's economic inequities, now compounded by pervasive official corruption, as in many postcolonial democracies.

Again, as in many democracies of the Global South, Z's Supreme Court has been sporadically proactive and upheld universal human rights and the rule of law.

Kudos also go to LHR Lawyers for Human Rights, they made the case for human rights which includes freedom of speech -- and Democracy won. So of course, did civil society. So of course did the individual in civil society. Democracy, civil society and the individual are inextricably interconnected. Nice work, Z.

So-called Powersharing with the opposition's Tsvangirai is not enough, cosmetic powersharing is a travesty of the election process and an insult to the long- suffering people of Z.

The UNHR Council is now deliberating in Geneva and those meetings will end October 2, with a Resolution of some sort.

Jestina Mukoko's release is most heartening and not a nano second too soon. Her capture and torture must result in the humane interrogation and suitable punishment of her oppressors who are in truth the oppressors of Zimbabwe's fragile but resilient democracy.

Mukoko's courage and dignity are an inspiration.

Chithra Karunakaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes Copyright
Zimbabwe Court Frees Rights Activist
The decision of the country’s supreme court to release Jestina Mukoko represents a rare triumph for human rights activists in Zimbabwe.
Published: September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Who Nuked Innocent Civilians?

My NYTimes Comment #55.
New York City
October 1st, 2009
6:58 pm

New York City
October 1st, 2009
5:23 pm

\"Iran Agrees to More Nuclear Talks With U.S. and Allies\"

It's commendable that Iran is trying to defuse the heated and aggressive response by the sanctions-crazy US.

Hey let's not lose sight of the fact that BOTH Israel and the US have their nuclear stockpiles. So of course Iran must have nukes too.

Why not?

I totally agree with India's position: The International Nuclear Order cannot be discriminatory. That statement recognizes Iran's quandary and is implicit support for Iran. India has steadfastly refused to become a signatory of NPT, while maintaining an impeccable non-proliferation record.

I didn't see that extremely well-reasoned position reported in the NYTimes or any US mainstream newspaper. .

What Iran needs to figure out now is how to strategically withdraw from the NPT, without the US going totally nuts and invading Iran, OR sending in the CIA to destabilize Iran as the US did with the popularly elected Mossadegh government in the early '50s

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes copyright Agrees to More Nuclear Talks With U.S. and AlliesBack to Article »

The talks in Geneva on Thursday included the highest-level bilateral discussions between the United States and Iran in many years.
My NYT Comment #18.
New York City
September 27th, 2009
11:19 am
New York City
September 27th, 2009
10:20 am

U.S. to Demand Inspection of New Iran Plant ‘Within Weeks’

How about:

U.S. to Demand Inspection of ISRAEL Nuclear Plant[S] ‘Within Weeks’

Now that would be eminently newsworthy. That's the only \"roadmap\" that makes sense to me.

Addl notes: the US wd not dare to mess with India coz we are the world's largest democracy and we simply wont let you. We are not a signatory to the NPT. We did not make that mistake.

And the US is not calling for inspection of Pakistan's nukes, coz Pak will not let you either, Pak is also not a signatory to NPT. SmartPak, despite subjugation by the US since the 1950's.

Unfortunately Iran signed on to NPT in 1970 under duress while US was blatantly interfering in Iran's domestic political affairs. Now Iran has to time its strategic withdrawal from NPT.

So long as US and Israel have nukes, Iran must have them too.

Let us never forget that the US is the ONLY country in the world that has actually used nukes against innocent civilians.

I like to base my opinions on hard evidence. Show me new evidence and I'll readily modify my opinion.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyright
U.S. to Demand Inspection of New Iran Plant ‘Within Weeks’

The Obama administration plans to tell Iran this week that it must soon open a newly revealed nuclear enrichment site to international inspectors, according to senior officials.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

G-20 Showcases Priorities of Previously Oppressed Economies [POE]

G-20 Showcases Priorities of Previously Oppressed Economies (POE)

The US and Europe still consider themselves to be the center of the universe.

Sorry the G-20 is not your uncle's G-8!

There is an emerging World Economic Order dynamic that is NOT made up exclusively of the former colonial powers, and neo-imperial states like the US continue to destabilize the emerging world order.

This Times article focuses on what the US and Europe's leaders say. Is that important? Not so much.

It is China, India, Brazil and others who are calling the tune.

Their comments and concerns should have been more comprehensively reported. The Times should not be serving as a mouthpiece for the power who caused the economic downturn in the first place.

Your reporter's job is to provide fair and balanced reporting that presents concerns and priorities of ALL the G-20 members, not just the G-8.

Suck it up, get over it, there is a power shift, the world is multipolar and the G-20 like the G-77 are part of the global shift towards social justice. The G-8 deserves to become obsolete.

Now if we could also do away with the UNSC..... abandon all efforts to expand it, as Brazil and India regrettably want to do.

The UN General Assembly consisting of ALL member states should cast votes on regional and global security issues, not the US-Euro-led UNSC, or any expanded form of the UN IN-SECURITY COUNCIL.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
New York Times copyright
Group of 20 Agrees on Far-Reaching Economic Plan
Published: September 25, 2009
The Hindu copyright
So is G20 the new G8? Not quite
by Siddharth Varadarajan
Pittsburgh: The White House describes it as part of the process of “creating a 21st century international economic architecture” and analysts around the world have already hailed the G20 as the worthy successor to the G8 group of leading industrial economies. But when the hype from Pittsburgh settles, one thing is clear: the absence of political coherence in the larger group of 20 means the group of eight will remain a useful platform for the United States to try and forge a common stand on key strategic issues, even if the G20 assumes the mantle of global economic stewardship that the smaller, more exclusive group can no longer credibly or effectively discharge.

“Dramatic changes in the world economy have not always been reflected in the global architecture for economic cooperation,” a White House statement released shortly after President Barack Obama hosted a banquet for G20 leaders here on Thursday night. “This all started to change today … [as] leaders endorsed the G20 as the premier forum for their international economic cooperation. This decision brings to the table the countries needed to build a stronger, more balanced global economy, reform the financial system and lift the lives of the poorest,” the statement somewhat grandiosely asserted.

At the time of going to press, the G20’s final communiqué had not yet been released, though key elements of the U.S. formulation are believed to have been incorporated. The communiqué is also likely to endorse the continuation of global stimulus measures, the need for rebalancing consumption and savings in major economies, better financial regulation, as well as tying the remuneration of international bankers to the adherence of their banks to prudential norms.

For the U.S., Europe and Japan, the G20 is a better forum to accommodate the rising aspirations of Brazil, Russia, India and China than the G8 because the majority of the larger group still consists of Western, OECD countries. A truly representative G8, on the other hand, would give the BRIC nations a collective voice roughly equal to the four largest Western economies.

The G20 brings for the U.S. an added advantage: the presence of China and India helps blunt the opposition of Europe to certain structural adjustments in the management of the world economy that America, on balance, favours, such as a change in the composition of the IMF board. Since Europe has a disproportionate presence, reducing its representation there in order to make way for the emerging economies is a low-cost way of getting the latter to support wider U.S.-led initiatives. But on political issues like nonproliferation, the G20 would never allow the U.S. the kind of latitude it enjoys at the G8, despite the presence of Russia in the smaller grouping.

How does the size of the high table matter? A senior Indian official involved in the climate change issue told The Hindu that the presence of a large Western group which already has many of its positions worked out means a country like India is always forced to go in batting on the back foot.

Traditionally, India has tended to serve as the bellwether for developing country positions on a wide range of issues. India works well with G77-plus-China and is able to leverage this wider alliance during multilateral negotiations. But in forums like the G20, the West fights back with formulations that seek to chip away at the developing country consensus. This might be harder to do in a smaller setting like a truly representative G8 or even the G8 plus Outreach-5, where India and China do not have to raise their voice in order to be heard.

A case in point is climate change, where the U.S., and to a lesser extent Europe and Japan, have simply refused to implement the prescribed norms of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for binding emission cuts. Yet, in the run-up to the Pittsburgh summit, India and China, which have taken on voluntary mitigation targets, found themselves under pressure in the G20 to “do more.”

Times of India copyright
UNITED NATIONS: India today welcomed the renewed global push for achieving a world free of atomic weapons but underlined that the international
nuclear order cannot be "discriminatory".

"India attaches the highest priority to the goal of nuclear disarmament and has an impeccable non-proliferation record. We welcome the renewed global debate on achieving a world free of nuclear weapons," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said while addressing the 64th session of the United Nations here.

"The international nuclear order cannot be discriminatory. Further, States must fulfil the obligations they have undertaken," he said in the backdrop of pressures on non-NPT signatories to join the pact. India is not a signatory to the NPT yet.

The United Nations Security Council resolution piloted by US President Barack Obama this week asked all non-NPT signatories to join the treaty as non-nuclear weapon states but India, which views the treaty as flawed and discriminatory, has refused to accept it.

However, Krishna said India was committed to a voluntary and unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.

"We remained committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing," he said, adding that India will continue to engage with key countries to garner greater international understanding to achieve nuclear disarmament.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

GOATS -- for Social Justice

The Goat Narrative seems to be gaining ground, clambering into ethical spaces in some of the most conflicted and battle-weary war zones of South Asia.

Kashmir and Kandahar (and several hundred villages in between), would benefit from a few thousand extra goats.

Homegrown goats from across South Asia and perhaps a nice Goat Exchange set up with our sisters and brothers in sovereign nation-states in the previously colonized and still oppressed Global South. Indonesia, Africa, Ecuador.

We need Goats instead of Drones.

Let those US generals and US-led NATO European occupiers, chew on that.

Let Obama ruminate.

Goats have work to do. Peacework. Pro-Poor development.

This past summer I volunteered in Srinagar with an innovative Social Medicine project called PACE -- Prevention & Care for Everyone. The founder-director a serene,intense,dedicated Kashmiri doctor who had quit his safe government job to directly offer care to persons suffering from symptoms related to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as drug related problems,
told me a Goat story.

One day, Dr. Arshad Arif was treating an elderly woman patient. She suddenly asked him:


Is anyone listening to this innocent casualty of terror, violence, hunger and deprivation?

What is she telling us?

That she is fully capable of self-diagnosis. She doesn't really need a doctor to tell her what's wrong with her.

She knows what ails her. What has made her mentally ill is a cruel denial of livelihood opportunity.

If she has a goat, a goat will give her milk that she can sell to her neighbors and the money earned will give her a chance to feed herself and her family.

She will walk around while tending her goat and the very act of walking will take her outdoors with something safe and productive to do.

The very act of walking will kick in her endorphins, lessening her pain and despair, and lifting her depressive symptoms.

She wants to be an entrepreneur. She wants to be self employed and earn a living.

Who's listening?

She wants to be well and knows exactly how to get well.

She's basically saying Don't get my Goat. Just give me one.
Or two.
Or three.
Throw in some sheep to optimize sustainability.

Over in Afghanistan the Goat narrative has been repeated many times over. (see link below)

Who's listening?

Goats for PEACE of MIND.

Goats for a PIECE of the Rock, A Slice of the Pie.


Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyright

Read the link below to understand why the US govt will probably NEVER get it right in South Asia. Unless they give up their loose-cannon, control-freak , extremely profitable, expanionist, militaristic mindset.

In this article, the author, a US soldier,(read his bio below) collects powerful factual data from a local Afghan elder. He then proceeds to DRAW the WRONG CONCLUSION, based upon the US IDEOLOGY OF GLOBAL DOMINANCE.

I have bolded passages in the NYTimes text, adding my own emphasis, to refute the soldier's NYTimes article and instead, make the case for SOCIAL JUSTICE. (CKK)

VIOLENCE is the preferred(read -- most lucrative)option of the US in South Asia.

The sooner WE THE PEOPLE of the sovereign nation-states of South Asia recognize this on-the-ground proven fact, the better for us all in South Asia.

Our own homegrown so-called leaders in South Asia just don't get it, so it is up to WE the PEOPLE of South Asia, working TOGETHER.

Sorry James Morin, Goats and Drones just don't go together. Goats and Troops don't go together. Goats and deadly Firepower don't go together.

Morin, You just don't get it and neither does the government you purport to represent.

I am a voter too and I vote for Social Justice and against Profit-making Violence.

I Vote for Goats.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Patience and Staying Power
James Morin

James Morin, an attorney and a former captain in the U.S. Army, has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a fellow with the Truman National Security Project. (a paid propagandist proxy of the US govt, my note ckk).
Reading General McChrystal’s long-awaited assessment on Afghanistan this morning, my thoughts were pulled back to the frustrating time I spent there as an infantry platoon leader in 2003, and how much our military has learned since then.

In addition to more ground troops, military trainers and civilian experts, we might need some goats.

I remember my first mission in particular, a patrol to a small village of goat-herders, a stone’s throw from Pakistan. Upon arrival we accepted the elder’s invitation to tea. Eager to curry favor with the residents (and learn the whereabouts of the local Taliban), we asked if there was anything the village needed: school supplies, food, medicine.

One elder stroked his long, white beard and responded, “We would like a pair of American goats.”

We chuckled about the similarity to the old adage about giving a man a fish, and then off-loaded thousands of dollars of packaged food and coloring books. To my knowledge, we never gained any intelligence from that village. But then again, we didn’t have enough troops to go back and ask.

So went the remainder of my tour. We hunted the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but we didn’t spend much time listening to and acting upon what the people of Afghanistan needed. General McChrystal seems poised to change this focus to one which “is credible to, and sustainable by, the Afghans.”

With new training manuals, revamped schooling and six years of experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military is well-schooled in the art of counter-insurgency. They now have a strategy to match. But winning, as the assessment makes clear, will require protecting the populace — not just from militants, but from disease, hunger and ignorance as well. Yes, this will require more ground units, more military trainers as well as more civilian experts in governance and economic development. Perhaps, it will even require goats. But more important, this new strategy will require patience. We will only win if we show that we are not just passing through Afghanistan.

Note: Parts of Morin's bio are self-explanatory

Jim Morin is an attorney in the Project & International Finance Group at Hogan & Hartson LLP, where he has worked on a variety of projects involving renewable energy, infrastructure as well as financing both profitable and nonprofit development activities in a wide variety of countries including Iraq, Liberia, Afghanistan, Ghana and Turkey. He has published work on the financing constraints facing renewable energy projects.

Prior to graduating Georgetown University Law Center, Jim served for 6 years as an officer in the U.S. Army, including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq as an Infantry Platoon Leader in the 82nd Airborne Division. He also served as a Company Commander in the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard (the Escort to the President). He has also served two years in the Virginia National Guard, with a mission focus on homeland security in the National Capitol Region. He was twice awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Exceptional Service in Combat. He is a 2001 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he majored in military history, focusing on counter-insurgency and low-intensity conflict. During the Obama campaign Jim served as a Director of Virginia Veterans for Obama.

Jim lives in Herndon, Virginia with his wife and four children.

ATTRA/NCAT copyright

Goats and Sustainability
(this is my content title, read more on their website. ckk)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Debacle Decades: US and NATO in South Asia

My NYTimes #62. October 3, 2009 10:01 am Link

When US MEDIA becomes part of the US WAR Machine

The language deployed by the NYTimes reporters, as well as the language of the US war apparatus etc are EQUALLY troubling. They are similar. They became embedded in the US War Machine in West Asia in Iraq and now they are in South Asia Afghanistan and Pakistan

“Chosen” Company? That should go down really well with the Afghans, just about as well as it would be received in Gaza.

A “hostile frontier village” in Eastern Afghanistan, writes Thom Shanker. Who is the hostile entity? the people who live there or the US and US-led NATO who are droning and killing?

I could go on and on. picking examples out of both Shanker’s reporting as well as the document on the Wanat Battle.

“Winning” is now being being cosmetically configured to fool the US public. No point trying to fool the Afghans. History shows they don’t tolerate occupiers. Your firepower is nothing compared with their staying power.

In fact, many thousands of NYTimes readers over the past several months have questioned what the US military means when they use the word “win.”

McChrystal and his propagandists undoubtedly are Times readers,. They see there is tremendous US public opposition to the Army’s notion of “winning” in Afghanistan.

The Army understands that our unemployed and underemployed, our millions wihout healthcare and our tens of thousands saddled with foreclosures, think that "winning" is not warfare in South Asia but means — bring the troops home NOW.

McChrystal and his hawks are incapable of learning any new lesson in Afghanistan, despite their claims of lesson learned from Wanat. Why? Because the US military premise is mistaken.

The US does not have any role in Afghanistan except at the negotiating table and in humanitarian efforts to undo the damage already caused by US/NATO deadly use of firepower.

GOATS — for Social Justice article
— Chithra KarunaKaran

NYTimes copyright
Report Cites Firefight as Lesson on Afghan War
Published: October 2, 2009

Wanat Battle Cited as Lesson in Afghan War
By The New York Times

My NYTimes Comment # 46. September 22, 2009 8:46 am Link

The military presence of the US and US-led NATO is a continuing mis-step by the West in the South Asia region.

The US created the Taliban who once were the Mujahideen, that the US paid and trained in their invented Cold War against the Soviets.

If history is any guide the Afghans will continue to be unassailable.

Unfortunately the US has (temporarily) gained what is has sought -- strategic depth in South Asia. The US has accomplished this mainly through a long (since the early 50's) subjugation of a weakened post-Partition Pakistan.

It will be a while before South Asia's sovereign nation-states can muster the solidarity needed to kick the US and NATO out of the region.

We South Asians are not there yet for reasons of our own long oppression under Brit colonialism.

Our own postcolonial dependency mindset, manipulated by our own homegrown political, military and feudal elites,
prevents us in South Asia from freeing South Asia from the US and Europe.

The Debacle Decades are with us at this time.
My comment to the NYTimes Public Editor
Should'nt NYTimes Readers know who "The Editors" are? (see link below)

Today's Room for Debate is written by "The Editors"

"The Editors" reads like a subterfuge for some paleo-policy with a distinct subtext, which i prefer not to name,in response to your own chosen anonymity.

Where's the transparency?

Where's the authentic Room or Debate?

Who are (the white males?) with AIPAC creds.(?) who wrote it?

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes copyright
September 21, 2009, 7:06 pm
Fending Off Failure in Afghanistan
By The Editors

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Breath Eternal: Earliest Emotions in the Making of Democracy

Before Democracy there was AWE.

AWE was surely universal among beings self-ascribed as human.

AWE resided in the individual being before that AWE, felt by that being, was shared within the group.. The group became therefore the bearer of a collective Awe, on its way to develop Faith and Reason.

AWE likely existed before FAITH.

AWE precedes FAITH. AWE precedes REASON.

One may likely come to FAITH -- as a consequence of AWE.

Beings, many among us, come to faith, after AWE.

But EQUALLY, the one and the group may come to INQUIRY, DOUBT, SKEPTICISM and REASONED KNOWLEDGE as a consequence of AWE, instead of coming to FAITH.

FAITH and DOUBT are equal options, following upon AWE.

Faith is the prerequisite of Religion. Without Faith, continuing in Faith, a state of Faith, there can no Religion.

Doubt is the prerequisite of Science. Without Doubt, continuing Doubt, a state of Doubt, there can be no Science.

Faith requires Surrender, Science requires Doubt.

It was likely that within the group, not merely within the individual, that the notion of a shared universality of Breath was given shape and substance.

It was likely in the group that aggregated beings discovered the Breath Eternal. They came near to one another to collectively discover Breath.

What united them was Breath. What separated them from Death (known all too well among them) was Breath.

That each being, each one among them, shared Breath in common with all living others others and all of observable nature, was likely felt, noted and uttered.

The Breath Eternal likely became the basis of the social bond, Breath became the basis of community, Breath became the basis of endeavor to promote the well-being of the individual and the group, Breath became the ground of language, art and science.

In all instances, whenever or wherever Breath was perceived to be limited in scope, or adjudged to be possessed by few instead of ALL of Nature and the universe, Breath likely became deployed as the basis for violence and misery, injustice and want.

The Breath Eternal, from the earliest days of its acknowledgment, by individuals within groups, as part of the individual, as shared by the group and was universal, became the fountainhead for the making of Democracy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Star Wars in Czech Republic or Poland

My expanded NYTimes Comment #60.
New York City
September 17th, 2009
9:45 am

My expanded NYTimes Comment #
New York City
September 17th, 2009
9:48 am

Excellent -- the Poles and the Czechs got lucky. No Star Wars planned there.

Hope the President, whom I and the majority of the US electorate voted for, will re-think any attempt to tilt at windmills in Iran. Iran has a right to go nuclear and nobody can stop them. The US govt's Iran policy has a powerful lobby-backed pro-Zionist subtext. Give Peace and the Palestinians a chance.

Now can we do the entire South Asia region a favor and get the US and US-led NATO, the hell out of there too?

If history is any guide, the Afghans, can do that on their own, with no help from anyone.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes copyright
White House to Scrap Bush’s Approach to Missile Shield

The Obama administration plans to announce a reconfigured system that won’t be based in Poland or the Czech Republic, and will be aimed at intercepting Iranian missiles.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Segregation vs. Social Justice in Democracy: The India Case

New York City
September 16th, 2009
4:23 am
My NYT Comment #75.
New York City
September 16th, 2009
8:39 am

Segregation vs. Social Justice in Democracy: The India Case

\"New Peace in commute\" for India's women? Your article illustrates the axiom -- No Justice No Peace.

Women-only commuter trains are an integral part of an adhoc, unequal, inadequate and functionally inequitable public transportation policy in Indian Democracy.

Gender segregation on public transportation reinforces the most negative aspects of India's powerfully entrenched patriarchy. Sequestered travel on a train to work is predictively unlikely to increase women's safety, or equal participation in India's democracy.

India's public transportation systems are grossly underfunded. This inequity punishes the poor, especially the poorest women. The nation's poorest women, don't get to ride these commuter trains. That structural inequity is the crux of the problem. In a nation-state that should be providing adequate public transportation for ALL, while making every attempt at a smaller carbon footprint, regardless of what the West does.

Finger-pointing at the West will not help Indians become more ecologically responsible or more socially just, as they attempt to meet their expanding transportation needs.

An Indian policy implementation of relentless attrition in funding, blatantly devalues PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION as a universal social good that should be intentionally deployed, through policy, by both the Centre and the States, as a powerful social leveler, in our unprecedented democratic civil society.

I travel to India twice a year every year (since 1999), spending a total of 5 months, every visit. Over this past summer, I traveled in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, logging thousands of miles and several days on trains and buses. That's democracy on wheels.

A woman, I travel alone in India, entirely by State public buses, state-run commuter trains and the Indian railways ((Second Class sleeper), refusing to use cars proffered by my middle class relatives. Any form of PUBLIC transport is acceptable to me.

Now that may appear eccentric or overly zealous but I am attempting, always in flawed fashion, to sincerely develop ethical practices of civic participation, in myself (no one else), within Indian democracy.

In my view, India cannot afford to produce, much less dispose, a paper cup, as millions carelessly do daily on the Indian trains, any more than India can afford to promote PRIVATE transportation over PUBLIC transportation. Mass Public Transit is a core social justice issue in India's current stage of development, right up there with food/water security, shelter, universal healthcare, universal primary/ secondary education, employment.

My Indian women and men co-travelers in Democracy, especially the burgeoning, heavily subsidized and bribegiving/bribetaking, complicit-in-corruption middle class, who are the main beneficiaries of the women-only commuter trains, can fight JOINTLY for adequate affordable PUBLIC transportation for ALL, instead of cynically choosing cars over buses and/or riding separately in trains.

Such vigorous civic participation would likely advance the Greater Collective Good (GCG), a wholly attainable ideal of ethical democracy.

Satyameva Jayate!

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
New York Times copyright
On India’s Railways, Women Find New Peace in Commute

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Social Justice, Whiteness & Discursive Restraint: A Case Example in US Democracy

New York City
My NYTimes comment
September 17th, 2009
3:53 am

Comment #93.
New York City
September 17th, 2009
8:36 am

(scroll all referenced URLs below my comments)

Using RACE as a Political Weapon against We the People

President Obama is making the right decision by refusing to get drawn into the so-called race debate.

What debate? This is no debate. It is a cynical attempt, by some inside and outside Congress, to destroy healthcare reform.

It is WE the People who will pay the price, if healthcare reform is not enacted.

A majority of Republicans would like to USE RACE to scuttle Obama's healthcare agenda. That is what one Republican, Joe Wilson, did when he insulted the President, on primetime national TV in an unprecedented shoutout, inside Congress.

But here's the issue. Joe Wilson has the healthcare I want.

Both Clyburn and Carter EXPOSED Wilson and Co. and the hate agenda of some Americans both inside and outside Congress. Actually Maureen did it first. Dowd led the way.

Let us keep our Eyes on the Prize -- FAIR healthcare for ALL Americans, with no one left out.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy as Lived Practice
My NYT Comment #132.

New York City
September 16th, 2009
12:07 pm

Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina shouts "You lie" on primetime national TV, to President Obama while Obama is addressing the joint session of Congress on his proposed Healthcare plan.

Wilson is White, Obama is Black.

Wilson is advised by some of his Republican colleagues to call Obama to "apologize".

Wilson calls the White House and conveys his apology to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. Emanuel informs Wilson his apology is "accepted" by the President.

The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, discusses and passes a Resolution of Disapproval on Wilson's accusation against the President

Former President Carter, white, male and Southern like Wilson, asserts that Congressman Wilson statement was "based on racism."

Wilson's performance of whiteness can be explained most comprehensively through the Theory of Systemic Whiteness. Without using a rigorous theoretical explanation, statements like Wilson's, as well as the statements and actions that follow, will continue to be seen as unusual, atypical, incidental. When viewed through the lens of Systemic Whiteness, we see race as performative and structural, indispensable to US civil society and its particular trajectory of democracy. We see whiteness as a system of Power exercised over unadmitted others. WE undestand Toni Morrison's comment that Bill Clinton was the nations first black president. WE can understand why powerful middle aged white men in the Republican Party did not think he was qualified to be President because Clinton satisfied every Black stereotype -- poor, working class, raised by a single mother. With all those self-fullfilling racialized stereotypes, why should he be allowed to be president? Strip him. Now, that's the power of systemic whiteness.

Q. Is discursive restraint essential to advance social justice in Ethical Democracy, or will ethical practices advance precisely because of the absence of discursive restraint in the public sphere?


NYTimes Comment
New York City
September 16th, 2009
6:17 am

Discursive Restraint & Democracy

Maureen I think you were the first reporter in the entire country to pick up on, and analyze the racial subtext of Joe Wilson's \"You Lie\"

verbal assault on President Obama, in Your earlier \"Boy Oh Boy\" column. I think you gave Clyburn the boost he may have needed, to follow up with that successful Resolution of Disapproval that passed today in Congress 240 - 179.

Even former President Carter made his assertion that Wilson's comment was racist, AFTER your column. Good going, thanks, your antiracism, not to mention drawing scathing attention to boorishness disguised as candor in public service, is appreciated.

Persuasive persistence pays, that is Discursive Democracy at its best -- and it made Wilson pay.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
New York Times copyright
Op-Ed Columnist
Boy, Oh, Boy
Published: September 12, 2009

Skip to next paragraph
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Maureen Dowd
The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

The outburst was unexpected from a milquetoast Republican backbencher from South Carolina who had attracted little media attention. Now it has made him an overnight right-wing hero, inspiring “You lie!” bumper stickers and T-shirts.

The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president. Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.

I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

“A lot of these outbursts have to do with delegitimizing him as a president,” said Congressman Jim Clyburn, a senior member of the South Carolina delegation. Clyburn, the man who called out Bill Clinton on his racially tinged attacks on Obama in the primary, pushed Pelosi to pursue a formal resolution chastising Wilson.

“In South Carolina politics, I learned that the olive branch works very seldom,” he said. “You have to come at these things from a position of strength. My father used to say, ‘Son, always remember that silence gives consent.’ ”

Barry Obama of the post-’60s Hawaiian ’hood did not live through the major racial struggles in American history. Maybe he had a problem relating to his white basketball coach or catching a cab in New York, but he never got beaten up for being black.

Now he’s at the center of a period of racial turbulence sparked by his ascension. Even if he and the coterie of white male advisers around him don’t choose to openly acknowledge it, this president is the ultimate civil rights figure — a black man whose legitimacy is constantly challenged by a loco fringe.

For two centuries, the South has feared a takeover by blacks or the feds. In Obama, they have both.

The state that fired the first shot of the Civil War has now given us this: Senator Jim DeMint exhorted conservatives to “break” the president by upending his health care plan. Rusty DePass, a G.O.P. activist, said that a gorilla that escaped from a zoo was “just one of Michelle’s ancestors.” Lovelorn Mark Sanford tried to refuse the president’s stimulus money. And now Joe Wilson.

“A good many people in South Carolina really reject the notion that we’re part of the union,” said Don Fowler, the former Democratic Party chief who teaches politics at the University of South Carolina. He observed that when slavery was destroyed by outside forces and segregation was undone by civil rights leaders and Congress, it bred xenophobia.

“We have a lot of people who really think that the world’s against us,” Fowler said, “so when things don’t happen the way we like them to, we blame outsiders.” He said a state legislator not long ago tried to pass a bill to nullify any federal legislation with which South Carolinians didn’t agree. Shades of John C. Calhoun!

It may be President Obama’s very air of elegance and erudition that raises hackles in some. “My father used to say to me, ‘Boy, don’t get above your raising,’ ” Fowler said. “Some people are prejudiced anyway, and then they look at his education and mannerisms and get more angry at him.”

Clyburn had a warning for Obama advisers who want to forgive Wilson, ignore the ignorant outbursts and move on: “They’re going to have to develop ways in this White House to deal with things and not let them fester out there. Otherwise, they’ll see numbers moving in the wrong direction.”
Recommend More Articles in Opinion » A version of this article appeared in print on September 13, 2009, on page WK17 of the New York edition.
NYTimes copyright

Rapping Joe’s Knuckles

The pressure from House Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, on Joe Wilson to apologize was a rare triumph for civility in a country that seems to have lost all sense of it.
CNN copyright
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House of Representatives on Tuesday formally admonished Republican Rep. Joe Wilson for shouting "you lie" during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress last week.
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, shouts "You lie!" during President Obama's speech Wednesday night.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, shouts "You lie!" during President Obama's speech Wednesday night.

The House passed a resolution of disapproval on a 240-179 vote that was mostly along party lines, reflecting the Democratic majority in the chamber. Twelve Democrats voted "no," while seven Republicans voted for the measure. Five representatives, all Democrats, voted "present."

According to the Office of the House Historian, it was the first time in its 220-year history that the House has disciplined a member for speaking out during a presidential speech in the chamber to a joint session of Congress.

During debate on the resolution, Wilson called the measure a waste of time and failed to apologize to the chamber, as demanded by House Democrats.

"When we are done here today, we will not have taken any further steps toward helping" the nation deal with urgent challenges, said Wilson, of South Carolina. "It is time that we move forward and get back to work for the American people." Video Watch House members debate the resolution »

He and other Republicans noted that Wilson apologized to Obama immediately after the speech, and that the president accept it. Asked after the vote if he apologized privately to House leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Wilson told journalists it wasn't necessary.

"In my view, by apologizing to the president, the most important person in the history of the world, that applied to everyone," Wilson said.

However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said Wilson's refusal to apologize to the House for his disrespectful behavior to the chamber required admonishment.
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The issue, he said, "is whether we are able to proceed with a degree of civility and decorum" that Congress requires.

The House resolution was the mildest form of discipline the chamber can exercise for misconduct on the House floor.

"Whereas the conduct of the Representative from South Carolina was a breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings of the joint session, to the discredit of the House: Now, therefore, be it resolved that the House of Representatives disapproves of the behavior of the Representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson, during the joint session of Congress held on Sept. 9, 2009," said a text of the resolution posted earlier on Hoyer's legislative Web site.

Before debate on the measure began, one Democrat said the disrespect shown Obama by Wilson never would have happened to a white president.

"It only happened when this country elected a president of color," said Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia. Another noted the heckling of the president in the House was unprecedented, and the chamber needed to enforce discipline in order to maintain civility. Video Watch Johnson comment on why he supports the resolution »

"No president has been subjected to that type of treatment on the floor of the House of Representatives, and if we go down that road, then it's the law of the jungle, and I think that's just wrong," said Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia.

However, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio called the resolution "piling on."

In the debate, Boehner and other Republicans acknowledged the mistake by Wilson while citing his military career and how his four children also served in the military. They noted that he already had apologized to Obama and accused Democrats of a partisan stunt intended to deflect attention from what they called increasingly unpopular health care legislation. Video Watch Boehner talk about health care, support Wilson's apology »

"The American people want less politics and more jobs," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana.

In closing the debate, Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the House Majority whip, noted that all Americans, especially schoolchildren, learn about civics and government by observing the House.

Clyburn, a former schoolteacher, said failing to enforce House rules against Wilson's outburst would send the wrong message.

The House Democratic leadership agreed to move forward with the vote after meeting to discuss the issue Monday evening, according to two Democratic leadership aides.

Kristie Greco, a spokeswoman for Clyburn, said the discussion at Monday's meeting was about "how this speaks to the breach of decorum alone, and not addressing the issue sets a precedent for bad behavior."

"We're not the British Parliament for a reason," Greco added. Video Watch combative politicians in other countries »

Wilson on Sunday described his loud retort to Obama's statement that illegal immigrants would not be covered under the Democrats' health care bill as "a town hall moment." But he made it clear he would not apologize on the House floor.

"I called immediately, I did apologize, but I believe one apology is sufficient," he said.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the episode "unfortunate" and told reporters at her weekly news conference, "It's time for us to talk about health care and not Mr. Wilson."

But when Pelosi met with Democratic leaders later that day, her colleagues argued that unless Wilson apologized on his own, they would want a formal vote on a resolution of disapproval, according to several Democratic sources.

On Tuesday, Pelosi refused to comment on the resolution to reporters outside the weekly Democratic caucus meeting, saying that journalists should be focusing on the health care reform issue.

Other Democrats offered their thoughts.

Johnson said Wilson's comment amounted to a "wink" of approval to right-wing extremists who have brought highly charged language and imagery -- such as posters depicting Obama with a Hitler mustache or as an African witch doctor -- to the health care debate.

"He [Wilson] did not help the cause of diversity and tolerance with his remarks," Johnson said. "If I were a betting man, I would say that it instigated more racist sentiment feeling that it's OK -- you don't have to bury it now."

Johnson added that failing to rebuke Wilson would bring increased racism in the public discussion on health care, saying: "You can bring it out and talk about it fully, and so I guess we will probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again riding through the countryside intimidating people."

"That's the logical conclusion if this kind of attitude is not rebuked, and Congressman Wilson represents it," Johnson said. "He is the face of it, and that's why I support the resolution."

To Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, a member of the moderate Blue Dog Democratic coalition, the issue was simple: "He has not apologized to the House for the embarrassment he brought" to the chamber, Altmire said.

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California, a leading member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Wilson's violation of House rules was "egregious enough that it warrants an apology on the floor." Without that, the resolution of disapproval is called for, she said.

On the Republican side, Rep. Steve King of Iowa began circulating a letter among House Republicans last weekend urging Wilson not to apologize on the House floor.

The letter stated, "We urge that you hold your ground against those who seek partisan advantage and reject all demands for additional redress. When the president of the United States accepts an apology, no observer has an additional claim."
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CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report.

Associated Press/Yahoo News copyright

Jimmy Carter: Wilson comments 'based on racism';_ylt=Ai9mfZisPYyC1O81svEugZW2GL8C;_ylu=X3oDMTMxNTlrZ3R1BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwOTE2L3VzX2hlYWx0aF9jYXJlX2hlY2tsaW5nX2NhcnRlcgRjcG9zAzEEcG9zAzEEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yaWVzBHNsawNqaW1teWNhcnRlcnc-

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writer Greg Bluestein, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 39 mins ago

ATLANTA – Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst to President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act "based on racism" and rooted in fears of a black president.

"I think it's based on racism," Carter said in response to an audience question at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders.

"Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," he said. "It's deeper than that."

Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, was formally rebuked Tuesday in a House vote for shouting "You lie!" during Obama's speech to Congress last Wednesday.

The shout came after the president commented that illegal aliens would be ineligible for federal subsidies to buy health insurance. Republicans expressed their disbelief with sounds of disapproval, punctuated by Wilson's outburst.

Tuesday's rebuke was a rare resolution of disapproval pushed through by Democrats who insisted that Wilson had violated basic rules of decorum and civility. Republicans characterized the measure as a witch hunt and Wilson, who had already apologized to Obama, insisted he owed the House no apology.

Wilson's spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but his eldest son defended his father.

"There is not a racist bone in my dad's body," said Alan Wilson, an Iraq veteran who is running for state attorney general. "He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won't comment on former President Carter, because I don't know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it's just not in him."

"It's unfortunate people make that jump. People can disagree — and appropriately disagree — on issues of substance, but when they make the jump to race it's absolutely ludicrous. My brothers and I were raised by our parents to respect everyone regardless of background or race."

South Carolina's former Democratic Party chairman said that he doesn't believe Wilson was motivated by racism, but said the outburst encouraged racist views.

"I think Joe's conduct was asinine, but I think it would be asinine no matter what the color of the president," said Dick Harpootlian, who has known Wilson for decades. "I don't think Joe's outburst was caused by President Obama being African-American. I think it was caused by no filter being between his brain and his mouth."

Harpootlian said he received scores of racial e-mails from outside South Carolina after he talked about the vote on Fox News.

"You have a bunch of folks out there looking for some comfort in their racial issues. They have a problem with an African-American president," he said. "But was he motivated by that? I don't think so. I respectfully disagree with President Carter, though it gives validity to racism."

Carter called Wilson's comment "dastardly" and an aftershock of racist views that have permeated American politics for decades.

"The president is not only the head of government, he is the head of state," he said. "And no matter who he is or how much we disagree with his policies, the president should be treated with respect."


Associated Press Writer Seanna Adcox in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.
New Yorker magazine copyright
New Yorker comment by Toni Morrison on Clinton as the nation's first Black President

Thanks to the papers, we know what the columnists think. Thanks to round-the-clock cable, we know what the ex-prosecutors, the right-wing blondes, the teletropic law professors, and the disgraced political consultants think. Thanks to the polls, we know what “the American people” think. But what about the experts on human folly?
by Toni Morrison October 5, 1998

Lewinsky, Monica;
Clinton, Bill (Pres.);
African-Americans (Blacks)

This summer, my plan was to do very selective radio listening, read no newspapers or news magazines, and leave my television screen profoundly, mercifully blank. There were books to read, others to finish, a few to read again. It was a lovely summer, and I was pleased with the decision to recuse myself from what had become since January The Only Story Worth Telling. Although I wanted cognitive space for my own pursuits, averting my gaze was not to bury my head. I was eager for information, yet suspicious of the package in which that information would be wrapped. I have been convinced for a long time now that, with a few dazzling exceptions, print and visual media have thrown away their freedom and chosen jail instead—have willingly locked themselves into a ratings-driven, money-based prison of their own making. However comfortable the prison may be, its most overwhelming feature is loss of the public. Not able, therefore, to trust reporters to report instead of gossip among themselves, unable to bear newscasters deflecting, ignoring, trivializing information—orchestrating its minor chords for the highest decibel—I decided to get my news the old-fashioned way: conversation, public eavesdropping, and word of mouth.

I hoped to avoid the spectacle I was sure would be mounted, fearing that at any minute I might have to witness ex-Presidential friends selling that friendship for the higher salaries of broadcast journalism; anticipating the nausea that might rise when quaking Democrats took firm positions on or over the fence in case the polls changed. I imagined feral Republicans, smelling blood and a shot at the totalitarian power they believe is rightfully theirs; self-congratulatory pundits sifting through “history” for nuggets of dubious relevancy.

I did not relinquish my summer plans, but summer is over now and I have begun to supplement verbal accounts of the running news with tentative perusal of C-span, brief glimpses of anchorfolk, squinting glances at newspapers—trying belatedly to get the story straight. What, I have been wondering, is the story—the one only the public seems to know? And what does it mean?

I wish that the effluvia did add up to a story of adultery. Serious as adultery is, it is not a national catastrophe. Women leaving hotels following trysts with their extramarital lovers tell pollsters they abominate Mr. Clinton’s behavior. Relaxed men fresh from massage parlors frown earnestly into the camera at the mere thought of such malfeasance. No one “approves” of adultery, but, unlike fidelity in Plymouth Rock society, late-twentieth-century fidelity, when weighed against the constitutional right to privacy, comes up short. The root of the word, adulterare, means “to defile,” but at its core is treachery. Cloaked in deception and secrecy, it has earned prominence on lists of moral prohibitions and is understood as more than a sin; in divorce courts it is a crime. People don’t get arrested for its commission, but they can suffer its grave consequences.

Still, it is clear that this is not a narrative of adultery or even of its consequences for the families involved. Is there anyone who believes that that was all the investigation had in mind? Adultery is the Independent Counsel’s loss leader, the item displayed to lure the customers inside the shop. Nor was it ever a story about seduction—male vamp or female predator (or the other way around). It played that way a little: a worn tale of middle-aged vulnerability and youthful appetite. The Achilles’ heel analogy flashed for a bit, but had no staying power, although its ultra meaning—that Achilles’ heel was given to Achilles, not to a lesser man—lay quietly dormant under the cliché.

At another point, the story seemed to be about high and impeachable crimes like the ones we have had some experience with: the suborning of federal agencies; the exchange of billion-dollar contracts for proof of indiscretion; the extermination of infants in illegal wars mounted and waged for money and power. Until something like those abuses surfaces, the story will have to make do with thinner stuff: alleged perjury and “Lady, your husband is cheating on us.” Whatever the media promote and the chorus chants, whatever dapples dinner tables, this is not a mundane story of sex, lies, and videotape. The real story is none of these. Not adultery, or high crimes. Nor is it even the story of a brilliant President naïve enough to believe, along with the rest of the citizenry, that there were lines one’s enemies would not cross, lengths to which they would not go—a profound, perhaps irrevocable, error in judgment.

In a quite baffling and frustrating manner, it was not a “story” but a compilation of revelations and commentary which shied away from the meaning of its own material. In spite of myriad “titles” (“The President in Crisis”), what the public has been given is dangerously close to a story of no story at all. One of the problems in locating it is the absence of a coherent sphere of enunciation. There seems to be no appropriate language in which or platform of discourse from which to pursue it. This absence of clear language has imploded into a surfeit of contradictory languages. The parsing and equivocal terminology of law is laced with titillation. Raw comedy is spiked with Cotton Mather homilies. The precision of a coroner’s vocabulary mocks passionate debates on morality. Radiant sermons are forced to dance with vile headlines. From deep within this conflagration of tony, occasionally insightful, arch, pompous, mournful, supercilious, generous, salivating verbalism, the single consistent sound to emerge is a howl of revulsion.

But revulsion against what? What is being violated, ruptured, defiled? The bedroom? The Oval Office? The voting booth? The fourth grade? Marriage vows? The flag? Whatever answer is given, underneath the national embarrassment churns a disquiet turned to dread and now anger.

African-American men seemed to understand it right away. Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas. And when virtually all the African-American Clinton appointees began, one by one, to disappear, when the President’s body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, when he was metaphorically seized and body-searched, who could gainsay these black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear: “No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and—who knows?—maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us.”

For a large segment of the population who are not African-Americans or members of other minorities, the elusive story left visible tracks: from target sighted to attack, to criminalization, to lynching, and now, in some quarters, to crucifixion. The always and already guilty “perp” is being hunted down not by a prosecutor’s obsessive application of law but by a different kind of pursuer, one who makes new laws out of the shards of those he breaks.

Certain freedoms I once imagined as being in a vault somewhere, like ancient jewels kept safe from thieves. No single official or group could break in and remove them, certainly not in public. The image is juvenile, of course, and I have not had recourse to it for the whole of my adult life. Yet it is useful now to explain what I perceive as the real story. For each bootstep the office of the Independent Counsel has taken smashes one of those jewels—a ruby of grand-jury secrecy here, a sapphire of due process there. Such concentrated power may be reminiscent of a solitary Torquemada on a holy mission of lethal inquisition. It may even suggest a fatwa. But neither applies. This is Slaughtergate. A sustained, bloody, arrogant coup d’état. The Presidency is being stolen from us. And the people know it.

I don’t regret my “news-free” summer. Getting at the story in that retrograde fashion has been rewarding. Early this week, a neighbor called to ask if I would march. Where? To Washington, she said. Absolutely, I answered, without even asking what for. “We have to prevent the collapse of our Constitution,” she said.

We meet tonight. ♦
end of New Yorker copyrighted comment

As Race Debate Grows, Obama Steers Clear of It

Beyond posing a distraction, the race issue could further strain the president’s broad but tenuous coalition.

(My NYT comment in response to this article, appears above

Sunday, September 13, 2009

SOCIAL JUSTICE & The Green Revolution

An expanded version of my Comment NYTimes #25.
New York City
September 13th, 2009
11:58 am

I am proud that I grew up as a schoolgirl in India knowing who Borlaug was. No, his name did not appear in my grievously irrelevant postcolonial high school curriculum, but in newspapers I read avidly even then.

Borlaug richly deserved his renown. He fed people. I salute Borlaug. He died yesterday in Texas, age 95. Bless him for working untiringly, and without exception, for the Greater Collective Good (GCG).

I quote from your NYTimes article to make 2 related points and assert that both Borlaug and his critics were wrong about the unprecedented Green Revolution ignited throughout the Global South, by him.

Your article states:

"The Green Revolution eventually came under attack from environmental and social critics who said it had created more difficulties than it had solved.

Dr. Borlaug responded that the real problem was not his agricultural techniques, but the runaway population growth that had made them necessary."

My Point #1:
The self-styled "social and environmental critics" were part of the problem. They represented the political class that, at least in India, cynically overturned many of the potential benefits of the Green Revolution,by preventing farmers from leading the GR, instead exploiting these innovative farmers, through middlemen who brokered speculation in grain prices and stockpiling grain instead of feeding the starving. So, blame the pols. and their client middlemen. These pols and middlemen are still causing farmer suicides in many parts of India. Go figure.

My Point #2

Borlaug was a plant geneticist, he was neither a politician nor a political sociologist. Borlaug mistakenly blamed accelerated population growth for the limited success of the Green Revolution. He blamed WE the People, the ordinary beneficiaries of his extraordinary accomplishment. I know I ate better because of Borlaug. Millions did.

Every study conducted in former colonized nation-states, shows that accelerated population growth is mainly the INTERIM (note interim) result of Social Justice indicators -- access to food, water and shelter, better healthcare, ergo freedom from famine, the chance to survive.

If these social goods CONTINUE and become PERMANENT, the rate of population growth will causally go DOWN, not up. Ordinary people are rational maximizers. Species including our own, adapt to survive, If a people's food supply is assured and their social wellbeing is assured, they will have fewer children, not more. It would not make sense to them to threaten their food supply by being prolific at reproduction. This is true from Sweden to Singapore, a fact based on evidence not opinion.

Social Justice impedes runaway population growth.
Hunger (which is a core component of social INjustice) accelerates population growth. So, Borlaug was mistaken (though he saw the big picture on social justice) to blame a faster population growth before and during the GR.

Social Justice redistributive policies, (which are the responsibility of government not the obligation of individuals, that is precisely why we have govts) did NOT accompany the GR, hence populations (especially birth rates) continued to increase. More food through the GR, did not end up feeding timely all the people it was intended for.

Social Injustice breeds accelerates birth rates, which are of importance when studying population growth rates.

Don't Blame Borlaug & His Green Revolution.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyright
Norman Borlaug, 95, Dies; Led Green Revolution

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, he developed high-yielding crop varieties that helped to avert famines worldwide.
NYtimes copyright
NYTimes copyright
Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

DINNERTIME Sudanese refugees unload bags of food at a camp in neighboring Chad. The refugees had fled the violence in Darfur.

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Published: September 19, 2009

This past week the world celebrated the life and achievements of Norman Borlaug, the Iowa-born plant scientist who created high-yielding wheat varieties to stave off famine.
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Norman Borlaug, Plant Scientist Who Fought Famine, Dies at 95 (September 14, 2009)

Dr. Borlaug, who died at age 95 on Sept. 12, led the so-called Green Revolution that created bumper crops in once impoverished countries like Mexico, India and Pakistan. In lauding Dr. Borlaug’s achievements, the United Nations’ World Food Program said he had saved more lives than any man in history.

But the eulogies for Dr. Borlaug often neglected an important and perplexing fact. Despite his accomplishments, more people are hungry today than ever and that total should exceed one billion people this year for the first time, according to the United Nations.

How can so many people be hungry when farmers produce enough food, at least in theory, to feed every person on the planet?

The answers are complex and involve everything from American farm politics and African corruption to war, poverty, climate change and drought, which is now the single most common cause of food shortages on the planet.

But David Beckmann, president of the antihunger group Bread for the World, boiled the causes down into one unifying theme — “a lack of give a damn.”

“It’s mainly neglect,” he said. “Political neglect.”

The yield gains of the last half-century, both in the developed and developing world, led to grain surpluses and low prices, creating a sense of complacency about agriculture and hunger.

“There was an attitude following the Green Revolution that the problem was solved,” said Gary H. Toenniessen of the Rockefeller Foundation.

So much grain was being produced so cheaply that Western leaders encouraged poor nations to buy grain on the world market rather than grow it themselves. Surplus was shipped to poor countries as food aid. But that aid system has often been ineffective in alleviating hunger in a timely way and in addressing broader agriculture problems facing impoverished countries. Support for agricultural research in developing countries was also cut back for other priorities. The result? While the food supply grew faster than the world’s population from 1970 to 1990, as the Green Revolution’s gains took hold, the situation has now reversed itself. Productivity gains in agriculture have slowed, and since 1990, the growth rate of food production has fallen below population growth.

The consequences have been particularly dire in sub-Saharan Africa, where the gains of the Green Revolution have been difficult to replicate. Among other problems, irrigation — which was key to the Green Revolution — is relatively scarce in Africa.

Few paid attention to these problems until last year, when a confluence of events caused food prices to spike to record levels. Riots erupted in many nations, and even American consumers felt pinched as prices soared.

Prices have come down in the United States, but the situation in Africa remains dismal due to an exploding population and now, a severe drought that threatens millions. The World Food Program says it is critically short of funds.

At a July summit meeting, President Obama and other leaders of industrialized nations pledged $20 billion for agricultural development in poor countries.

Activists say that some of the tools for success are within reach provided the financing and political will persist: those tools include seeds fine-tuned to local conditions, fertilizer and better roads and other infrastructure improvements.

The more difficult problems may lie within our borders. Farm programs are among the most entrenched entitlements in Washington. But crop subsidies and America’s habit of shipping grain to the poor tends to undermine robust markets in developing countries.

Dr. Borlaug, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, understood well the limitations of the Green Revolution’s success. After receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, he noted that the “battle to ensure food security for hundreds of millions of miserably poor people is far from won.”

“World peace will not be built on empty stomachs or human misery,” he said. “It is within America’s technical and financial power to help end this human tragedy and injustice, if we set our hearts and minds to the task.”

A Grievious Wrong Wrought By The Brits

A Grievious Wrong Wrought By The Brits

The India-Pakistan Divide, the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Divide, the Kashmir Accession, the Afghanistan Impasse, were 300 years in the making. It took a lot of doing.

The people of South Asia have inherited the Imperial Project. They have yet to move their leaders to dismantle and overturn the ideology and practice of that imperial Project. It took the British (and lesser colonial powers) that long, 300+ years, in days, months and years, in decades and centuries, to robustly execute their Oppress-Exploit-Divide-Rule strategy. This strategy is in stark evidence today throughout the Global South, Angola to Zimbabwe, Indonesia to Iran, Singapore to Seychelles.

Lest we forget, we in South Asia are still playing out that strategy in 2009, with real oppressors on the ground or in the air, and imagined enemies among our very own sisters, brothers and cousins. The Great South Asian Family Quarrel has transposed itself onto the emergent struggling nation-state, carefully fractured by our departing Brit masters. Pesky relatives believe the malicious gossip and decide to walk out of the door while tea is being poured and sweets are being distributed. The taste in our mouths is bitter, watered by tears over the days of bloody parting.

We ourselves have become master performers of that cynical strategy of our erstwhile masters. Ironically we have ourselves mastered that strategy, added new rules and regulations. We oppress each other. Our families have turned on their own members. So it is today in our region, South Asia.

So it will continue -- unless we reflect and return to ourselves, our deeper collective selves.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bloody Crossroads or Public Square?

Comment #59
New York City
September 8th, 2009
10:09 am
New York City
September 8th, 2009
5:30 am
David Brooks asks his own question:

" But how does government alter culture?" in reference to an article in the new magazine National Affairs that Brooks is showcasing in his Opinion piece today.

Fortunately, no narrowly self-defined set of intellectuals writing safely in a magazine can substantively shape a running cultural narrative in the streets, where Democracy lives (or dies).

It's not what you call the "Bloody Crossoards" that We the People seek, but the Public Square where Hearts and Minds can meet, not always amicably, but meet neveretheless.

US Culture of WE the People lives, albeit gasping now -- both geopolitically and fiscally.

Can we instead reverse Brooks' question and ask "How can Culture alter Government?"

Culture is the expanding totality of divergent, distributed, meaningful symbols, held and performed by a people, occupying a particular space, over a considerable period of time.

Assuredly, there are shifts of emphases in these divergent meaningful symbols in space over time -- freedom, liberty, happiness, dominance, violence, war, poverty, wealth, family, faith, state.

The US govt has consistently failed to listen to US Culture. The US Govt. has failed to hear its very own people as they experienced significant cultural shifts -- the 1900's and slavery, the 60's and Vietnam , for example. Equally, the US govt. has failed to keep its ear to the ground to hear cultural messages spoken in other voices, as also at home, in its continuing depredations around the globe.

The diverse, dynamic and vibrant culture of We the People can and must alter the US government, not the other way around.

Let us see if the culture of We the People will trump govt on healthcare and in Afghanistan, for a start.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
New York Times copyright

The Bloody Crossroads

A new quarterly magazine called National Affairs occupies the bloody crossroads where social science and public policy meet matters of morality, culture and virtue.

Monday, September 7, 2009

UNESCO Deserves An Authentic PROVEN Leader, not a HATER

Comment #26.
New York Times
Chennai, Tamil Nadu India
September 7th, 2009
9:23 am

Chennai, Tamil Nadu India
September 7th, 2009
4:23 am

Quoting [my emphasis added] from Roger Cohen's valuable expose article on Farouk Hosny, Egypt's Culture Minister:

Questioned in Parliament [last year] about the presence of Israeli books in the Alexandria Library, the minister replied: “Let’s burn these books. If there are any, I will burn them myself before you.”

Did the devil make Hosny say it? Hosny blabbed himself into being unfit to head UNESCO. He has only himself to blame. Hosny is accountable for what he says. He said what he said, just last year.
Wowie, Hosny, what made you change your mind? Cheap ambition?

Now Hosny wants the plum, prestigious (hey I want it too, Farouk, doesn't mean I'll get it) UNESCO job, so he's disavowing his assertions before Egypt's Parliament, that is supposed to represent the PEOPLE of Egypt. Disavowal comes easy to a person from an intolerant, non-secular, religious and political culture in which blasphemy is a central tenet.
Worse, Hosny said it in Parliament, Farouk Hosny chose to lie to his own people, THE PEOPLE of Egypt. Should he then be given the opportunity to lie to all the peoples of the member-states that constitute UNESCO. Why?

This guy is even worse than Van Jones, Obama's green man, who rightly lost his job this week, even though he conveniently ate his incendiary words about the Bush administration's direct involvement in 9/11.

Farouk Hosny should get the Van Jones treatment and be booted out, not elevated. Hosny is a hater.

Hosny deserves to lose his present job as Egypt's C[Vulture] Minister, not promoted to head UNESCO. That would be an illustration of the Peter Principle in action.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
New York Times copyright
An Egyptian for UNESCO

Talk of naming Egypt’s culture minister, Farouk Hosny, to head Unesco raises issues of Arab prejudice and cultural bridge-building.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

India a Democracy not a Feudal Theocracy

In India WOMEN and MEN have EQUAL rights. Period. End of story.

NO religious interpretation, or assertion, or belief ,can supersede the CORE guarantee of India's Constitution that women and men are EQUAL in the eyes of the law. That equality must be upheld by the apex court and ALL courts within India's judicial system.

Any woman can UNILATERALLY divorce her husband, under Indian constitutional law, if she so chooses. She can also unilaterally marry him without the permission of religious patriarchal authorities, her father, her uncle, her male goat, or whoever.

Patriarchal Religious extremists -- Go live in Saudi Arabia or go inhabit The South Pole, if you cannot follow India's constitution. Your citizenship in India carries rights as well as responsibilities. Citizenship does not come cheap. Your male patriarchal citizenship does not come at the expense of women. Your voting rights in a Democracy demands your compliance with Indian constitutional law. You do not have superior rights, just EQUAL rights. Same as women.

The all-MALE shariat court's decision (see link below) has absolutely no force in law, is cowardly and just plain illegal, and it should be appealed by the woman whose divorce was set aide by the shariat court.

The Indian nation-state and women advocates must protect this woman's life against male patriarchal violence and help her receive justice through the Rule of Law of courts of the Indian judicial system.

Women and Men are equal before the law in India, from cradle to grave.

Chithra Karunakaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Garhwal Post copyright

Muslim clerics support court decision on divorce
Thursday, 13.08.2009, 11:43am (GMT+5.5)

SAHARANPUR, 12 AUG: Several clerics at the renowned Islamic seminary Darul Uloom unanimously have upheld the decree given by a shariat court in Muzaffarnagar, where a husband, Shafiqullah, from Aligarh filed a lawsuit against his divorce saying that his wife forced him to sign on their divorce papers. The court annulled the divorce saying that Islam didn’t authenticate any divorce in which a wife pressurised her husband to sign divorce papers. All the fatwa Ulema supported the decision as fully justified.
Ustad Mufti Arif said to Garhwal Post that a woman in Islam wasn’t given any right to unilateral divorce. “The right is bestowed only on man. If a woman pressurises her husband to tender divorce, it would become null and void. It becomes ultra vires for the court as shariat recognises it as God’s will,” he added.
Nazim-ul-Wali, who heads the famous All India Al Quran Foundation, described divorce as Darul Qaza, which signifies that the matter goes beyond the jurisdiction of any man-made court. “Islam doesn’t give the right to wives to divorce their husbands. “Anything that coercively promotes a husband to divorce his wife is haram (sacrilege) in Shariat. Divorce is only admissible if husband allows it with mutual consent,” he added.
The judgment is likely to have serious repercussions as mutual consent is not appropriately defined by the clerics. People are likely to use it in the exploitation of women, added a lawyer on terms of anonymity.

US, US-led NATO Presence in South Asia is the CORE Problem

NYTimes Comment #247.
Chennai, Tamil Nadu India
September 6th, 2009
12:22 pm

Chennai, Tamil Nadu India
September 6th, 2009
10:16 am

US Presence is the Core Problem
Quoting from the NYT article:
“Our policy makers do not understand that the very presence of our forces in the Pashtun areas is the problem,”

That's the crux of the problem. The US and US-led NATO are not welcome in Afghanistan. You strike us and you strike out. (see Also AP story below of US and NATO storming a hospital run by a Swedish charity)

I'm sitting 2000 miles away in the deep south of India and guess what -- I and tens of thousands of Indians feel the same way as your quote above. So do my friends in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

South Asian nation-states are perfectly capable of working together to solve their local, national and regional problems.

US and NATO have no right or excuse to be in South Asia. Being here is a neo-imperial lose-lose strategy, a defeat the size of Vietnam for Obama.

The US has long been a state sponsor of Terror in our region. The US runs a highly profitable Weapons & Terror Complex in our South Asia region, reaping billions from armaments and drugs, while sowing death, destruction -- and inviting justified retaliation.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes copyright
The Afghanistan Abyss

Sending more American troops into ethnic Pashtun areas in the Afghan south may only galvanize local people to back the Taliban.
Associated Press copyright
Charity: US troops stormed through Afghan hospital
09/07/2009 3:24:32 AM
By KAY JOHNSON Associated Press Writer

A Swedish charity accused American troops Monday of storming through a hospital in central Afghanistan, breaking down doors and tying up staff in a search for militants. The U.S. military said it was investigating.

The allegation that soldiers violated the neutrality of a medical facility follows the reported deaths of Afghan civilians in a U.S. airstrike in the country's north last week. An Afghan human rights group said Monday the strike on two hijacked fuel tankers may have killed as many as 70 civilians in Kunduz province.

Civilian deaths and intrusive searches have bred resentment among the Afghan population nearly eight years after the U.S.-led coalition invaded to oust the Taliban's hard-line Islamist regime for sheltering al-Qaida terrorist leaders.

Foreign forces are working to persuade the population to support the Afghan government after last month's presidential election, which has yet to be decided amid allegations of vote-rigging.

On Monday, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division entered the charity's hospital without permission to look for insurgents in Wardak province, southwest of Kabul.

"This is simply not acceptable," said Anders Fange, the charity's country director.

The U.S. troops came to the hospital looking for Taliban insurgents late at night last Wednesday. Fange said they kicked in doors, tied up four hospital employees and two family members of patients, and forced patients out of beds during their search.

When they left two hours later, the unit ordered hospital staff to inform coalition forces if any wounded militants were admitted, and the military would decide if they could be treated, Fange said.

The staff refused, he said. "That would put our staff at risk and make the hospital a target."

The charity said on its Web site that the troops' actions were not only a violation of humanitarian principles but also went against an agreement between NATO forces and charities working in the area.

"We demand guarantees ... that such violations will not be repeated and that this is made clear to commanders in the field," a statement said.

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker confirmed that the hospital was searched last week but had no other details. She said the military was looking into the incident.

"We are investigating and we take allegations like this seriously," she said. "Complaints like this are rare."

Violence has surged across much of Afghanistan since President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more U.S. troops to the country this year. Two foreign troops were killed Sunday when their patrol hit a roadside bomb in the country's south, NATO said without giving their nationalities.

NATO was also investigating last week's U.S. airstrike. The strike came despite new rules for foreign forces limiting use of airpower to avoid civilian casualties.

The provincial government said most of the dead were militants, but on Monday, the Afghan Rights Monitor said interviews with 15 villagers indicate that only a dozen gunmen died and 60-70 villagers were killed. The group called for further investigations.

"Even if all the victims were supporters of the Taliban, the fact that most of them were unarmed and were not engaged in any combat activity does not warrant their mass killing," said Ajmal Samadi, the rights group's director.

A spokesman for the provincial government, Ahmad Sami Yawar, said Monday that only five of the estimated 70 killed were civilians.

The increasingly violent insurgents have killed more civilians in bombings and other attacks. On Monday, the government said three militant rockets landed overnight in the capital, Kabul, hitting a house and killing three people. In central Uruzgan province, a remote-controlled bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded in a busy market, killing two children and wounding 16 other people, according to local police official Gulab Khan.

A United Nations report in July said the number of civilians killed in conflict in Afghanistan has jumped 24 percent this year, with bombings by insurgents and airstrikes by international forces the biggest killers. The report said 1,013 civilians were killed in the first half of 2009, 59 percent in insurgent attacks and 30.5 percent by foreign and Afghan government forces. The rest were undetermined.


NYTimes copyright

Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.