Sunday Reading for the Voter

Threw a kick-ass Halloween party last night and had a blast. Lots of friends and lovers and tons of pirate kids. Went this morning to a GOTV training session. Felt empowered until I was reminded of my non-voting status. Boo. I live in Chicago. I can vote, right Mayor Daley?

  • So what if losing the election turns out to be a better deal? That is the question posed by Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe. Uh, no.
  • It’s victor v. Victor in the‚ĆUkrainian elections going on right now. From the sizable crowd gathered this afternoon outside the Ukraine Consul in Chicago, I say, go victor.
  • Will Hutton in a piece in the Guardian says to forget about the election because American conservatism has already won comprehensively. Of course, he uses Tom Franks’ What’s Wrong with Kansas? Franks is really smart and I am only a third into the book but there is something not right with his thesis. Will say more once I finish the book.
  • Twenty years ago, today, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. If you remember her policies towards the Sikh separatists and the aftermath of her death on Sikh population in Punjab, that picture of Manmohan Singh appears that much incredible. Viva Democracy.
  • Speaking of Democracy, Eric Hobsbawm would like a moment of your time.
  • If an incumbent is up for re-election, the result of the Redskins game is a good one to note. Bush loses.

Limp Politics

I love Kentucky. Mainly because I love Steve. And he represents Kentucky. It is a gorgeous state filled with some truly special people. The senate race in Kentucky is pretty tight. The incumbent Jim Bunning who was gonna win handsomely started acting a tad weird – calling his opponent, Dan Mongiardo, the son of Saddam Hussein because of his dark features. Others read that as the onset of some mental disability in the old-as-dirt Bunning but I think it was a brilliant move. As someone who has dark features and has visited Kentucky many times, that plays well in Lexington. Still, the polls have tightened up and while I don’t think Bunning will lose, his advisors are losing some sleep.

Lately, they have started called Mongiardo “limp-wristed”, and a “switch-hitter”, as well as, not a “man”. Now, that’s what I call a “hard” attack. Mongiardo is single. And he does look like the penny pinching dandy depicted by Norman Rockwell in this ad for Kentucky Bourbon.

To his credit, Mongiardo has responded strongly:

Mongiardo told a group of reporters he is not gay. Then he was then asked can a single man run for office without rumors being spread? “It’s a shame but I’m hoping all of this attention could help me get a few dates,” Mongiardo said.

Ain’t politics fun? I think duels, slurs, challenges to manhood and womanhood do have a place in the political realm. All this liberal whining about being nobler than all that always strikes me as misplaced morality. Politics, at its best, is a playground popularity contest. And if you think back to your playground days, the bullies and the wits won while the “sensitive” kids sat and sulked about their given funny names. Look, for example, what Bush’s entire strategy after the first debate is: LIBERAL from TAXACHUSETS. That is it. If that ain’t school yard name-calling, I don’t know what is [thanks Mark for the tip].

unrelated i: The subaltern is back writing his journal from 1848. It is a good read, if you will.
housekeeping: I am SICK of the spam here. Blacklist ain’t working. Over the weekend I will move to 3.1 since WP 1.3 is still not out. curses.
unrelated ii: I got a trackback from Antibalas! I even thought of going to the Metro show to catch them. Next, Colin Meloy needs a blog….


Imagine, if you can, a Kerry presidency. Really think about it. Doesn’t it feelbetter? Like a tall glass of cool lemonade on a hot summer day? That ticker which runs constantly along the bottom of your screen won’t say “Threat Level: Elevated Threat Level: Elevated Threat Level: Elevated Threat Level: Elevated Threat Level: Elevated”. Tom Ridge won’t interrupt this broadcast to tell you that they are looking at your bridges. John Ashcroft won’t beam at you from behind the eagle seal and say that the biggest, baddest group has been caught and, yet, you will never know who they were or what they did or even if they got convicted. Condi Rice will not interrupt Tom or Tim to say that that was just a historical document. John Snow won’t claim that 1 million jobs were created while you were watching the Factor alone. No child will be left behind.

I am tired of living in anger. I am tired of living in fear. I do not want to hate my government. I do not want to ridicule my president. I would like to believe that those sworn to protect me do not hate my liberties. I would like to go back to making jokes about sneaky, lying, cynical politicians and not having the punchline blow up in my face for lack of irony. Things are bad all around but I would like to have some hope – everywhere.

Kerry is no magic pill for all that ails this world. But, he gives me hope. A new administration gives me hope for new answers, new paradigms, new methods. The world needs a ctrl-alt-del. We need a re-boot. We need a start over.

Bush may win. By hook or by crook. And I will have to live through 4 more years. But, I will not live quietly. I will not keep my head down and hope it all goes away or that no one looks at me. I will raise my voice. I will protest with millions. I will hope that I do something to make a difference.

But, I really, really hope we get a fresh start. My prediction, and my hope, is in the graphic up there.

PS: I am not one to pay any attention to editorial endorsements but this from Economist emphasizes exactly the points I would raise were I to write this blog more lucidly.

updated Nov 3, 12:13 AM CST: Aaj bazaar mein pa-bajolan chalo

Chashm-e Nam, Jan-e Shoreeda kafi nahin
Thumat-e Ishq poshida kafi nahin,
Aaj bazaar mein pabajolan chalo

Dast afshan chalo, Mast o Raqsaan chalo
Khaq bar sar chalo, khon bad-aman chalo
Rah takta ha sab Shahr-e Janaan chalo

Hakim-e Shaher bhi, Mujmaa-e Aam bhi,
Teer-i Ilzam bhi, Sang-e Dushnam bhi,
Subh nashaad bhi, Roz-i nakam bhi

Un ka dam saz apnay siva kon hai
Shehr-e Janaan mein ab ba-Sufa kon hai,
Dast-Katil kay shaiyan raha kon hai

Rakht-i dil bandh lo, dil fogaro chalo
Phir hamien Katl ho aiyn, Yaro Chalo

A wet eye, a shaken life is not enough,
The accusation of a hidden love is not enough,
With feet in chains, Let us go in public today.

Let us go with palms exposed, with a song and dance,
with dirt in our hair, with blood on our chest,
Let us go while the entire city of lovers watches.

For the warden of the city, and the crowd of the commoners,
And the arrows of accusation, and the stones of abuse,
And the glum morning, and the failing day,

Who is there to give them life except us?
Who is ready in this city except us?
Who is honorable enough for the killer’s hand except us?

Pack up your belongings O Injured heart ones!
Let us go friends and get killed once again.
– Faiz Ahmed Faiz, 1959 (Lahore Jail)

[all mistakes in the translations are mine and should be excused]

State Sanctioned Killings

Yesterday, the Lower House of the National Assembly in Pakistan “banned” karokari (honor killings). Specifically, the legal code will now treat such acts not as “crimes of passion” but as premeditated murders and upped the punishment for such a crime.

I know that there are some serious reservations about the amended law, and it’s all about the application anyways, but I have to applaud the Minister of Law, Wasi Zafar, who took time off from much more important business for this measure. Like any other Pakistani, I grew up hearing and reading about women killed just for glancing at someone or even just accused of glancing at someone. I place the blame squarely on the State for that. And not just Zia’s Islamization efforts. Such killings are never prosecuted because they are class crimes as well as gender crimes. Rich, powerful landholders in the villages of Sindh and Punjab are the main culprits in practicing and promoting violence against women in the context of family honor. The local thanay dar simply looks away unless the national media makes a stink and, in that case, a simple FIR is registered and forgotten. If the State cannot protect its most vulnerable citizens, it cannot claim any legitimacy.

Honor. Anachronistically, a woman’s body remains the locus of the South Asian family’s honor. To protect the family name, you put the woman in a veil. To promote the family name, you seek marriage with a family of a higher station. To avenge the family name, you rape or kill your opponents’ women.

How does one combat such practices? The first thing, obviously, is to actually have laws on the books that can be used by those fighting such medieval notions. In that regard, the amendment passed is a crucial step. Second, again obvious, is to actually enforce such laws. No great hope for that in the short run. But, media can play the pivotal role in this regard. It can often shame the government’s hand.

But real change can only come when societal norms shift due to economic or political stimulus. In the urban communities, the economic change is happening as women constitute a growing segment of income earners in the public sphere. These professional women are more likely to assert their rights and have access to support structures outside of the family. In the rural communities, the majority population where honor killings occur, women have always worked in the public sphere and it has not helped them. In that context, I think change can only come through societal shifts brought about by political pressure. Religion, duh, is the obvious marker here. The State must undertake a radical and aggressive educational effort that emphasizes the rights of women in the Islamic world and back that up by cleaning up the Hudood code, doing Madrassa reform, teach-ins, promoting civic NGOs etc. I have little hope that The General is interested much in all that.

For now, let’s see what the State does in this case.

Mosh Through The Marsh

The video is amazing [also here or here or here]. The lyrics are harsh and powerful (strap him with an AK 47, let him go/ Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way).
This is what F 9/11 hoped it could be. Eminem’s Mosh could very well be our anthem, our Times They Are A-Changing, our last rallying cry in this last week. I need a mp3 quick.

Welcome to your October surprise, Mr. Rove.

[I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands
One nation under God
It feels so good to be back..]

Scrutinize every word, memorize every line
I spit it once, refuel, reenergize, and rewind
I give sight to the blind, mind sight through the mind
I exercise my right to express when I feel it’s time
It’s just all in your mind, what you interpret it as
I say to fight you take it as Im gonna whip someone’s ass
If you don’t understand don’t even bother to ask
A father who has grown up with a fatherless past
Who has blown up now to rap phenomenon that has
Or at least shows no difficulty multi task
And juggling both, perhaps mastered his craft slash
Entrepreneur who has held long too few more rap acts
Who has had a few obstacles thrown his way through the last half
Of his career typical manure moving past that
Mister kiss his ass crack, he’s a class act
Rubber band man, yea he just snaps back

Come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won’t steer you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors

To the people up top, on the side and the middle,
Come together, let’s all bomb and swamp just a little
Just let it gradually build, from the front to the back
All you can see is a sea of people, some white and some black
Don’t matter what color, all that matters is we gathered together
To celebrate for the same cause, no matter the weather
If it rains let it rain, yea the wetter the better
They ain’t gonna stop us, they can’t, we’re stronger now more then ever,
They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go,
Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know
Stomp, push up, mush, fuck Bush, until they bring our troops home come on just . . .

Come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won’t steer you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors, come on

Imagine it pouring, it’s raining down on us,
Mosh pits outside the oval office
Someone’s trying to tell us something, maybe this is God just saying
we’re responsible for this monster, this coward, that we have empowered
This is Bin Laden, look at his head nodding,
How could we allow something like this, Without pumping our fist
Now this is our, final hour
Let me be the voice, and your strength, and your choice
Let me simplify the rhyme, just to amplify the noise
Try to amplify the times it, and multiply it by six
Teen million people are equal of this high pitch
Maybe we can reach Al Qaida through my speech
Let the President answer on high anarchy
Strap him with AK-47, let him go
Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our soil
No more psychological warfare to trick us to think that we ain’t loyal
If we don’t serve our own country we’re patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes, it’s all lies, the stars and stripes
They’ve been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And Replaced with his own face, mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you’ll know why, because I told you to fight

So come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won’t steer you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors

[Eminem speaking angrily]
And as we proceed, to mosh through this desert storm, in these closing statements, if they should argue, let us beg to differ, as we set aside our differences, and assemble our own army, to disarm this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president, for the present, and mosh for the future of our next generation, to speak and be heard, Mr. President, Mr. Senator

Will it get air-play?

Muslim Vote II

Will Safire is troubled. In today’s column, he writes that the Arab Americans are ALL voting for Kerry. Which is ok, he says, it is their right. But, the bizarro world scenario is that the majority of Jewish Americans are also voting for Kerry! His overall point is that the Jewish Americans should vote en bloc for Bush because Kerry’s policies are mere me-toos while Bush has a record as a staunch ally of Israel. Safire can make that point without mentioning at all the Muslim Americans. But he opens the column with it. Is he making an implicit argument for the Jewish American vote to be contrary to the Arab American vote? Or is it a Look! those guys know which way the toast is buttered!? Nifty use of stereotypical politics, I think.

The truth is that there is no real difference in the policies of either candidates. Kerry panders as much as anyone else for the Jewish vote. On the other hand, at least one group, the media-savvy Muslims for Bush claim that Kerry has not pandered enough to the Muslim bloc and, hence, does not deserve their vote. In their view, it is Bush who has consistently supported Muslim Americans while Kerry never even met with any Muslim groups and is, also, weak on the Patriot Act [How is the guy who enacted Patriot Act better?]. A quick web search on the respective candidates’ official websites disproves that. There is no page for Arab Americans or Muslim Americans on There is no statement on civil rights or the Patriot Act (the site’s search kept crashing on account of having to search through so many internets). There is, at least, a page on John Kerry’s website for Arab Americans, as well a statement on the beginning of Ramadan. There are also a bunch of links on Kerry’s commitment to anti-profiling, fair adjudication etc. There is even a fact-sheet.

Back to the Muslim bloc that Safire uses as a red herring (green herring?). The party claiming to represent the Muslim American bloc is the American Muslim Taskforce. They are an umbrella organization over the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and various smaller groups. Last week after much hemming and hawing, they finally unveiled their qualified endorsement for Kerry. The qualification was that Kerry has not done enough to protest the civil right abuses under the Bush administration. Seems like the AMT is hedging its bets and not wanting to seriously piss off the Bush administration. They say they got to this endorsement by doing town hall meetings in more than 70 mosques and community centers across America. Maybe they should have asked Zogby whose Sep. 22nd poll showed a 76% support for Kerry. Pretty unqualified in my opinion.

My anecdotal reading is that the Muslim American community is largely culturally conservative and would tend to go Republican BUT Ashcroft has scared them off at least this administration (on a side note, I will be Ashcroft this Halloween!). I do not think that the Democrats will hold this bloc that easily. They will need solid civil liberties re-assurance as well as some movement on the Immigration reforms.

Will the Muslim Vote, like the NASCAR Fathers, the Security Moms be the demographic du jour for the next few days? Let’s see. One thing is for sure, it will play a role in Michigan and Ohio.

Crickets Chirping

Over at tsk, is an ad hominem attack on Cricket. And I am asked to defend it. Just as tsk has to defend white man’s brutal colonialism that has led to the unfortunate situation where a poor sepoy has to defend the landed gentleman’s leisurely pursuit of sipping tea and knocking around a leather ball in a green lawn.
But, you know what? I ain’t doing it. I have actually played and watched both sports for at least a decade. tsk, on the other hand, has merely read about cricket and watched 10 minutes of footage on my tv before passing out. And, that, does not qualify one to level a critique.

Instead, allow me to list the reasons why baseball sux.

1. Yankees.
2. DH
3. Home Run Derby
4. Home Run Chases
5. Steroids
6. Salaries
7. I-am-a-busted-dot-com Stadiums
8. Mitt
9. Chew
10. Curses of Bambinos or Billy Goats

Having said that. Let me be fair. A ball in baseball is harder to hit. A ball in cricket is harder to field. An at-bat in cricket is way tougher. A pitcher in baseball is way tougher. To be the captain of a cricket team is the toughest gig. And cheerleaders suck in every sport.

I will now extend a public invitation to tsk and anyone else in chicagoland to meet up for a game of cricket and allow me to kick your ass. Commentators feel free to take on tsk’s list.