Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union

A less than impressive 49 minute speech with only a polite applause from the Democrats. Nancy Polosi looked rather uncomfortable except when he talked about health care when all Democrats rose in applause - but Dick Cheney stayed glued to his chair. The Democrats also cheered the President enthusiastically when he talked about immigration reform. Throughout the speech Bush seemed uptight, uncomfortable and less than convincing. He talked about Iraq with not much conviction, an issue that is most important to most Americans.

The strange thing was that Vice President Cheney sat and smirked through most of the speech and Codolozea Rice seemed to be on another planet.

This State of the Union address did not help Republicans any. If the President continues this course the Republicans are in danger of losing more seats in the House and Senate in 2008. With already the possibility of a Democratic President in 2008, checks and balances will be out of the window.

The Republican lawmakers may need to chart their own course to keep their seats and the balance of power which was so cherished by America's forefathers.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Should Bush be Impeached?

Consider this hypothetically. President Bush's surge in Iraq does not work and fatalities rise. Democratic & some Republican politicians make a lot of noise and impeach Bush. Then what?

Dick Cheney takes over as President, but isn't he the guy who promised rose petals for American soldiers in Iraq, so the Congress impeaches him too. Then what?

The next in line, Speaker of the House - Nancy Polosi takes over as President and America has a woman President after all. Then what? After a year or so in the job, she says she likes it and decides to run for President in 2008.

The question is, do Senators Clinton, Obama and Biden on the Democratic side and Hagel, Brownback & McCain on the Republican side want to coronate Nancy Polosi as President, only to taker her on in 2008? I think not. President Bush has nothing to fear.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So Who will be the Democratic Nominee for President?

Hillary Clinton has been in the lead for Democratic nominee for President. She has four years of Senatorial experience, but more importantly has that formidable machine behind her called Bill Clinton. He is not only experienced, shrewed and Soave but he also relates to people in a very positive way. But he is not running for President, Hillary is and at the end of the day she will have to prove that she can win the Presidential race. Also her initial support for the Iraq war and subsequent silence may come back to haunt her. Republican long knives are already out for her. So they will malign her every which way that only Republicans know how to.

Barrack Obama has thrown his hat in the ring. He is fresh, is a terrific orator and brings excitement to the race. He is also very bright and intelligent, has not voted for the war (as he was not a Senator then) so unlike Clinton he does not have to defend his position. He is already generating tremendous excitement and could create a new wave of voters who are fed up with more of the same hypocritical Washington politics. But it is too soon to say if he will conquer the deep seated prejudices that exist in some states to this day. It will all depend on how the South views him and if they are buying then he will be a formiddable candidate.

But what about John Edwards, the Vice Presidential candidate in the 2004 He is young, smart, experienced and has that captivating boyish smile. He could have been more effective in the 2004 race had Kerry's handlers not pushed him into the background for fear of overshadowing their candidate. Edwards has that Kennedyesque charm, friendly demeanor and an approachable personality. He is already setting the agenda for the campaign which may force other candidates to respond to. He charms the North while he is from the South and that is a valuable combination. So while Clinton and Obama may slug it out with each other, will the man with boyish smile steal the candidacy?

Then there is also Jo Biden. He may not be making much noise right now, but he will get a lot of TV time in the next few months in his capacity as Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee will shortly start hearings on Iraq war and many an Administration officials are likely to be on the mat. Joe Biden is a class act on his own and may not wish to run a gruelling race. But he is likely to play an important role in a Democratic Administration. He will make an excellent Secretary of State.

Whoever wins the nomination (and barring any unforeseen circumstances - skeletons in the closet etc.) it seems that at least two of the first three names are likely to be on the Democratic ticket in 2008.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More Troops to Iraq

So President Bush marches on. Another 20,000 troops to Iraq to implement his agenda. Secretary Gates says no one knows how long these troops will stay in Iraq. Perhaps the problem is not the number of troops but the Agenda itself.

President Bush Sr. had a good reason to attack Iraq and dislodge Saddam Hussain during Gulf War 1. He could have gone all the way to Baghdad and he would have supported by the whole world. But he did not, even though his then Defence Secretary Cheney and the author of current war, Wolfowitz egged him on. Bush Sr. was smart to know that entering Iraq is easy but leaving would be difficult.

Enter George Bush Jr. as the President, Cheney as Vice President and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz in charge of Defense. The stage was all but set for an Iraqi invasion, no matter what. After four year of disastrous war when Baker-Hamilton commission suggest a way out, the President just shoved their reccomendations aside.

It seems that President Bush fails to comprehend realities on the ground. The current Iraqi Government of Al-Maliki is a proxy for Muqtada Al Sadr whose militias are wreaking havoc in Iraq through revenge killings. Many of Sadr's men have penetrated the police force and are killing opponents under the cover of police uniform.

Providing more troops to support this Iraqi government will only increase violence. If anything, President Bush should have threatened to withdraw troops unless the Iraqi Government made good on its committment to broaden the base by including all stakeholders, established an oil revenue sharing formula and disarmed all militias.

The Vietnam war ended because the Congress cut off finances. It seems the time has come for Congress to act again.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Holocaust, Germany & Palestine

The Holocaust conference in Iran was in poor taste. Most Muslim countries felt a great deal of unease about this event. We all know that a large number of European Jews were slaughtered in Nazi camps during World War II so why bring it up again.

In my view numbers are irrelevant. It would not have been any less despicable had only half a million died. The fact that this horrific event happened is shameful and a blot on western civilization. I was travelling through Poland by train a few years ago. The train stopped at Aushwitz and while the Poles calmly went about their business I felt sick to my stomach thinking about the killings in Nazi camps. If as a Muslim I am so horrified, I can imagine the pain Jews feel when the name Aushwitz comes up.

Interestingly, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor was most vociferous in denouncing the Tehran conference. I guess memories are short. Was it not Germany that did this to the Jews in the first place? Those German actions are causing havoc in the world especially the Middle East to this day. Creation of State of Israel and the resultant conflict in the Middle East is a direct consequence of that. Millions of Palestinians have lost their land, property, freedom and dignity.

If Germany really wants to hold its head up high then perhaps Frau Merkel should step up to the plate and offer substantial aid to the Palestinians (say) $100 billion. So that their youth, instead of blowing themselves up can get a good education, the Palestinian Entrepreneurs can set up factories to create jobs and Palestinians can live a normal life. This will surely reduce the violence and help Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Breaking the Marble Ceiling

So Nancy Polosi has finally broken the marble ceiling. Congratulations Mrs. Polosi, I am sure a position well deserved. But it begs the question, why has it taken so long for a woman to enter one of the top four offices in the United States?.

While England is the birth place of democracy, United States has no doubt promoted it in its present form over the last 200 years. No other country has gone through the democratic process in the way the U.S. has, starting from creating a most marvellous constitution (largely preserved in its original form to this day) to a fair and a just society for all. Then why is it that this great country has not allowed a woman or an African American to become President, Vice President, Speaker of the House or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

India had a Muslim woman ruler in 1236 - yes a Muslim woman ruler by the name of Razia Sultana who ruled successfully and brought reforms to that vast land. In more recent times, women Prime Ministers have ruled in all the countries of Indian sub-continent i.e. Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bagladesh. So why is it that the marble ceiling is only being broken in the U.S. now? Could it be that hypocrisy has prevented women and African Americans from exploiting their potential for such high offices and the Male folks been saying one thing but meant another?

Well, the proof is in the pudding. It would be interesting to watch the 2008 Presidential election to see if the person elected to the office of President is for his/her qualifications and capability rather than gender or colour of his/her skin.

Hopefully Mrs. Polosi has broken that marble ceiling once and for all and the best candidate will win the next Presidential election.