Spare them the spotlight

Do the spouses and kids of candidates have to be paraded all around at these conventions? The recent Democratic convention saw families of the John Edwards and John Kerry actively participating in “pitching” for them. It is more than likely that the same will happen at the Republican convention. The argument is that this is an opportunity for the country to get insights into the personal side of these candidates. Unfortunately, these events are so scripted like “product demos” that even if these individuals wished to reveal something new about their spouses, its more than likely that it will be staged and crafted. The net effect is that we have speeches from family members that hardly come across as genuine, but instead appear fake and untrue. We know they love their spouses, we know they think their spouses are the greatest (even Hillary told us that!), we know they will do anything to impress us to vote for them, then why bother? Moreover, it puts so much pressure on these individuals to be dragged into this whole drama that the candidate is involved with as they run for public office.

I watched Teresa Heinz Kerry’s speech the other day at the Democratic convention. She is not exactly a great speaker, didn’t exactly reveal anything personal about John Kerry, and is hardly qualified to talk policy. I think the same is true of Laura Bush. These are two women who are probably more comfortable doing their own things, than making speeches at political conventions. It would be better off if they stuck to press interviews and appearing in public with the candidate and stayed away from giving speeches, especially at conventions. This way, if you really care about the candidates personal background you are likely to research it and find out for yourself. At the same time, it will make sure that people don’t end up casting their vote after falling for a dog and pony show at a convention.

Finally, here is what I think is interesting about Teresa Heinz Kerry and is likely to appeal to most Americans — She appears relatively simple and certainly does not look like a woman who has over $500M+ assets. She wears minimal make up and does not fuss over her hair. She can speak five languages, was born and raised in Mozambique and is not afraid to ask people to “shove it” (which BTW is both good and scary at the same time!). What I knew about Teresa Heinz Kerry, I knew even before her speech and I think that was more than sufficient. I would have preferred (and the DNC would have been better served in my opinion) instead to hear a few more up and coming stars of the democratic party like Barack Obama.

Voting Machines from India?

According to pollsters, the Nov election is going to be a very closely fought race. Given all the drama that happened at the last election which deeply divided this country and created a lot of resentment among the Democrats, why doesn’t the US govt. sign up to use the voting machines from India? They clearly work well and the massive Indian elections have just proven that the counting time can be reduced by two thirds. The machines are only $200 a pop.  No issue with re-counting, no hard feelings from the results, just pure harmony guaranteed.  How come little is being said about the counting and the overall plan to avoid the fiasco of the 2000 elections?
Its a global economy, its the voting machine of the century, “let’s bring ’em on!”


The Politics of Threat Levels

Our US govt. tells us that there could be a terrorist attack between now and election day. Apparently, the intent of such an attack is to scare Americans and influence the outcome of the elections as it did in Spain.

First, lets us look at the Spain situation for a moment.  Given the current state of the world, terrorist attacks happen at various times, irrespective of whether the elections are there or not.  Its very hard to say with certainty that Jose Aznar’s party in Spain was booted out of power because of the terrorist attack. The truth is that Jose Aznar led his country into the war against popular public opinion and this in itself could have resulted in the party loosing power.  Once the blasts happened his party promptly blamed the ETA in a great hurry before realizing that they had little to do with the attack. This plus the fact that the Socialist party led by Jose Zapatero, had consistently been against the war and had committed to the withdrawal of Spanish troops, might well have widened the margin of defeat. But its unlikely that it changed the result of the election from possible victory to defeat for Aznar and his party.

In the US, the “elevated” threat level that is currently being proclaimed by the govt. appears to be motivated by politics — drive fear into the public, so they decide not to vote out the incumbent — could be a motive for this increase in threat levels. Opinion polls indicate that President Bush is likely to do a better job of safe-guarding the country in the event of a terrorist attack.  An easy no-brainer way to cash in on this sentiment is to drive up the threat level.  A terrorist attack between now an election day, is only likely to drive up this sentiment even more and favor the incumbent.  So any terrorist attacks executed before the election are likely to help the incumbent than the other way round. (Note: If you are terrorist reading this, you will be ensuring the return of the current President for another 4 year term if you go ahead with an attack prior to the election).

So the ruling govt.’s formula is very simple, if there is a terrorist attack they could say, “look, we told you about the heightened threat”. If there isn’t any, then re-inforce (and possibly increase!) the issue of the threat level. This will ensure that the Nov vote is based on the big question, “Who can do a better job of protecting America” while all other issues fall by the wayside. The Democrats will have to dream up a strategy to counter this if they have to win this election. Meanwhile, as the elections draw closer don’t be surprised if you hear increased threat level announcements from our govt — they could be for real, but they could also be politically motivated.

Middle East Mess Recipe

French President Jacque Chirac recently said:

“Democracy is not a method; it’s a culture, Reform is not imposed from the outside. It is accomplished from the inside.” See the full report report

This is a very sensible comment from the French. I only wish they had pursued this line of argument to oppose the war in Iraq at an earlier date. They have further emphasized that democracy can’t be achieved in the Middle East without solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Focusing on solving this conflict is the most sensible thing leading world nations can do rather than identifying a target list of rogue nations, axis of evil etc. and going around invading them. Given the mess that has been created in the middle east, thanks to the current US administration, its painful but true that this mess can be fairly easily re-created given the right framework. So here goes…

  • Picture this — you are assigned to maintain law and order in a town where two groups are constantly clashing because of certain differences.
  • Don’t try to address the differences between the groups, instead simply draw up a short list of you favorite violent elements and start beating them up!
  • Then you go around making statements in favor of one of the groups.
  • Imprison a bunch of people and torture and humiliate them. Make sure youtae some pictures
  • And remember when all hell breaks loose, make sure no one takes responsibility, and don’t fire anyone.
  • Lastly, be sure to start a lengthy investigation which will lead no where, of course.
  • Throw in a bit of religion if you care for any and your own “Middle East Mess” is ready.

    Presidential Election – How about GC holders?

    The recent Businessweek had a good article on the Presidntial election and why the process of electing the President has to change. Very well researched, analyzed and written.

    I wish they had mentioned about voting rights for green card holders. If green card holders live here for many years and pay taxes like anyone else, it makes sense that they have a right to vote, especially, given that these days the US President can wreck havoc all over the globe.