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Laelth

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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Member since: Sat Oct 16, 2004, 02:36 PM
Number of posts: 21,292

Journal Archives

Now we see an attempt to turn Democrats against Jay Inslee. WTF?

Dude, the more you pit Democrats against other Democrats--the more you attempt to turn us against one another--the more transparent you become. Jay Inslee is not a one issue candidate, and, even if he is, I suspect my children would appreciate his reminding the Democratic Party that climate change is the #1 threat to our entire species. Why attack him? Why bring this issue to our attention in the way you did in this OP? I have my suspicions about your motives, to be sure. After all, you and I have been reading one another's work (on multiple fora) for a long, long time.

Someone. Please alert on this post. I have had enough of MineralMan (one of the greatest concern trolls I have ever encountered on the internet), and I would be thrilled to have a jury consider this question. His latest OP, I posit, is a concern troll post, as is nearly everything else that MineralMan has ever posted on Democratic Underground.

So is this: https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1287&pid=145229

I could go on and on ...

-Laelth

This is why we should IMPEACH!

https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/28/politics/allan-lichtman-donald-trump-2020/index.html


"Democrats are fundamentally wrong about the politics of impeachment and their prospects for victory in 2020. An impeachment and subsequent trial would cost the president a crucial fourth key -- the scandal key -- just as it cost Democrats that key in 2000. The indictment and trial would also expose him to dropping another key by encouraging a serious challenge to his re-nomination. Other potential negative keys include the emergence of a charismatic Democratic challenger, a significant third-party challenge, a foreign policy disaster, or an election-year recession. Without impeachment, however, Democratic prospects are grim."


I say impeach NOW.

Recent history shows us that an impeached President is always followed by a President of the opposition party (Nixon/Ford—>Carter, Clinton—>Bush). Just impeach this monster and get it over with. I would much rather see our spectacular field of candidates talking about a positive vision for America than to keep investigating this scoundrel that currently occupies the Oval Office.

-Laelth

Just IMPEACH HIM already and get it over with.

There's plenty of evidence to support the impeachment of President Donald Trump AS IS. If you consider that one of the Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon was "lying to the American people," it's clear that Trump is utterly impeachable and that he becomes more impeachable every day. Add that to the ten counts of obstruction of justice that Robert Meuller described, and it's clear that we need no further investigations. I say, just get it done. Then it's Mitch McConnell's problem, and Democrats can say with a straight face that they did their Constitutional duty. Instead of talking about Trump, Democrats can then focus on the issues that matter to the American people. I suspect that Speaker Pelosi could punt this ball to the Senate (by passing Articles of Impeachment) within 30 days if she wanted to. I would much rather have the Senate responsible for resolving this mess than to continue to talk about Donald Trump's petulant, childish, and privileged criminality.

I hate seeing all these House committees focusing on investigating a person that the American people already know is a lying scoundrel. Just impeach him, already, and then get on with the business of the people. Whether or not Trump is convicted by the Senate is irrelevant. That should be Mitch McConnell's problem. I am sick and tired of talking about the President's criminality. I think it would be wise, strategically, to force the Republicans to talk about it instead. If we impeach Trump in the House (the only Constitutional power the Democratic Party currently has), then Democrats can be done with it all and focus on other issues that matter more to the American people.

-Laelth

Bernie Sanders is running for President. Everyone else ...

... in the field of Democratic candidates allegedly running for President are actually running for Vice-President, with one exception, and that's ...



For better or for worse, JOE BIDEN will, almost certainly, be our 2020 nominee, and, at this point, everyone else in the field is running for Vice President, with the notable exception of Bernie Sanders, as I mentioned, above.

Discuss.

-Laelth

Impeach ... NOW!

In his report, Robert Meuller handed us ten, separate counts of obstruction of justice and said, in effect, “If I could say that these were NOT criminal offenses, I would say so,” yet he refused to deny that these were criminal offenses. In other words, in Meuller’s opinion, at least ten of President Trump’s actions WERE criminal offenses, but because the Justice Department can not indict a sitting President, Meuller placed the matter squarely in the hands of the House of Representatives to proceed with Articles of Impeachment. Only Nancy Pelosi can make this call, and I will respect her decision on the subject, regardless, but I think that we should use the power that we have (control of the House) to impeach President Donald Trump. Here’s why:

1) We want to stand for the rule of law.
We have a President who has demonstrated, time and again, that he considers himself above the law. Allowing this philosophy of executive power to stand without challenge would make us complicit in the erosion of our democratic republic’s foundation—government by rule of law, as opposed to government by the whims and “divine inspiration” of the monarch (precisely what Trump perceives himself to be, just as any corporate CEO might imagine). I want my party to be on the right side of history on this subject. We have an opportunity to call out a gross display of “supreme executive power by divine right,” and I think that we have a duty to do so.

2) We need to punt the ball.
Currently, we have three committee chairs investigating these matters (Cummings, Nadler, and Schiff). My sense is that the American people are sick of talking about this. They generally concede that Trump is a scum-bucket, but they are more concerned about whether or not they can pay their bills next month. The more we investigate this matter, the more we play into Trump’s “witch hunt” narrative. So, I say IMPEACH, and do it quickly. Do it quickly, and then drop it, entirely. Make this Mitch McConnell’s problem. Let the Senate deal with it. Democrats will have done their Constitutional duty once the House of Representatives has impeached the President. We can then just abandon our investigations and start focusing on the things that matter to Americans—health care, student loan debt (Thank you, Elizabeth Warren.), climate change, and the increasing wealth gap in our society.

3) Impeachment improves our chances of taking control of the Senate in 2020.
I want all the Republican senators who are up for re-election in 2020 on the record, here. I want a YES or a NO from them on Trump’s guilt. If they say “YES,” they lose their base. We win. If they say “NO,” they lose credibility and lose the center because most Americans are convinced that Trump is, clearly, guilty as sin. Again, we win. This is why it is so important to pass Articles of Impeachment QUICKLY. McConnell can delay, and save his members an embarrassing vote, if Democrats delay the process by insisting upon further investigations. What Mueller has given us is PLENTY to proceed with Articles of Impeachment. If you recall that one of the Articles filed against Nixon was "lying to the American people," it is obvious that we have plenty of grounds to impeach President Trump ... NOW. No more investigation is needed.

4) There's very little down-side.
In the unlikely event that we end up with a President Pence, for a short time, the nation will be safer, and history indicates that Pence will not be elected President in 2020–just ask Gerald Ford and Al Gore. Again, we win.

It is indeed rare, in politics, when doing the right thing is highly likely to result in an excellent outcome with very little risk of a negative outcome, but I think that this is one of those occasions.

Speaker Pelosi, I implore you ...

Impeach ... NOW!

Yes, this is all about energy--Syria, Iraq, IS, and the President's Speech.

Yesterday, the President announced his intention to escalate our campaign against the Islamic State (IS) in both Syria and Iraq. The doves of DU, as we all should expect, are outraged. I've seen calls here for complete American isolation and American energy independence. I've also seen anguish over what appears to be a never-ending war against "terror" and expressions of horror that the United States is, once again, engaging in a war of choice against an alleged enemy that has done us no harm.

Frankly, I am sympathetic to all of these arguments, but the truth is rather more complex. This is all about energy, as many DU posters acknowledge and concede. Energy matters. Japan, which has no oil or natural gas resources of its own, gets 80% of its energy from the Middle East. Our allies in Western Europe (the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and a lot of other countries) lack sufficient energy reserves of their own to sustain their energy consumption. The United States, for better or for worse, has become the guarantor of the free flow of energy from the Middle East to our allies. We can not fail in this task, for, if we do, our allies' economies will crumble, and our own economy is so intertwined with that of our allies that if we were to allow Russia (the bogeyman, here) to control the price of energy flowing to our allies, our own economy would suffer, and it would suffer dramatically. We insure the free flow of oil and natural gas out of the Middle East. In exchange, the world has agreed to allow energy to be traded in our currency, USD, and this has made us rich and powerful. We must resist any attempt by any nation or power who proposes to trade energy in any other currency. Our ability to fund our national debt is directly tied to the world's trading energy in USD. It would be very stupid for us to become isolationists and only worry about our own energy needs in this environment (as the President fully understands).

So, we must stay involved in the Middle East, and we must insure the flow of energy to our allies. We continue to do so. That's what the conflicts in both the Ukraine and Syria are all about. We initially supported the overthrow of Syria's Assad regime for this very reason. Our European allies asked us to facilitate a pipeline from Northern Iraq (through Syria) to the Mediterranean, so as to relieve the pressure of the Russian monopoly on natural gas flowing to Western Europe. We wanted to oblige, and we began preparing to topple Assad's regime (a Russian and Iranian surrogate state) in order to relieve that pressure and allow the needed pipeline. We probably encouraged Saudi Arabia to support IS for this purpose. Then something strange happened. Cameron, the UK's Prime Minister, took the issue to Parliament, asking Parliament to back a war in Syria against Assad's regime, and the UK's Parliament bucked him. They refused to authorize war, and President Obama was left holding the bag. He backed off from war against Syria, and we did not escalate. In the end, I think this was a good thing, but it embarrassed Obama, and it did not resolve the central problem--Russia's monopoly on energy sales to Western Europe.

Then we chose another route. We pushed for an independent Kurdistan, and we convinced Turkey to allow a pipeline through their country to move energy from Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq to the Mediterranean. This has worked. The envisioned pipeline is up and working and Europe now has access to Middle-Eastern energy through Turkey. I don't know what we promised the Turks in order to get this concession (probably our refusal to support a populist revolt against Turkey's current regime), but at this point in time even Israel is backing an independent Kurdish state, and the United States is also doing so (in private, at least). Note that when Israel makes a move in the Middle East, it's almost certain that whatever they are doing has the full backing of the government of the United States.

We should all acknowledge that the current conflict in Ukraine is about the same underlying issue (Russia's monopoly on the flow of natural gas to Western Europe). There our initial strategy also failed. We backed a right-wing coup in Ukraine to release the pressure on Russia's energy monopoly (significant natural gas flows through Ukraine to Western Europe), and we have almost created WWIII as a result. The Ukranian conflict has yet to be resolved. I give the President credit for not engaging us in the war in Ukraine (yet), but this conflict could escalate and require our involvement (Goddess forbid). Nevertheless, the Ukraine conflict has now taken a back seat (and we have not become more involved) because the Kurds are now shipping energy resources to Europe though Turkey. Russia's monopoly has been broken, and our allies are pleased about that.

As it stands, we don't need Syria for our pipeline. Turkey is taking care of that for us--so long as we maintain an independent Kurdistan, and that's what the current action against IS is about. IS was threatening the Kurds (they even captured a major dam in Kurdish territory), but IS has been driven away from the dam and is now retreating. SA and its gulf-state allies have withdrawn their support for IS. Now, IS has no rich backers. They have limited funds and are in retreat on all fronts. IS is not a threat to the U.S.

But we're still going to engage in limited military action against them. Why? Because IS has no allies left, and because the drums of war are beating. In order to fend off the constant charge that Democrats are "weak on defense," the President must do something (if for no other reason than to protect our electoral interests in the 2014 mid-terms). We can't look soft. We have to look strong, and the President has decided to project that image.

Can you blame him? Can you blame any politician in a republic or constitutional monarchy for insuring that the price of energy is low? If you were the head of a nation, and you allowed energy prices to double in your country, what would you think would happen? Most likely, you and your party would get voted out of power and you might not see power again in your nation for a generation. European politicians are deeply concerned about Russia's energy monopoly. We, their ally, have tried to help them escape this monopoly. That's what this is all about.

I don't like the fact that it's so easy to gin up support for war in the United States, but I give the President credit for doing something (if only to protect Democrats who are running for office in 2014), while at the same time circumventing Russia's energy monopoly and keeping the United States out of any full-scale, troops-on-the-ground war over this issue.

-Laelth

Who will help the Kurds?

Now that President Obama has launched a program of humanitarian aid for the Kurds and has authorized limited offensive air strikes against IS, DU has erupted in debate along very familiar lines. Some support the President's decision and the course of action he is taking. Others abhor his decision to risk involving the United States in yet another war in the Middle East.

A recent DU thread asks whether we are "ready" for another war in the Middle East, and I think it's author is right to caution us that "limited" assistance to the Kurds could very well spiral into full-scale war (as we learned from Vietnam). That's a very real risk, and well-meaning people on DU are worried about that prospect. Some of them argue (in typically isolationist terms) that the Kurds are not our problem. Some even go so far as to argue that the Middle East is not our problem (even though they know that Japan, for example, which has practically no oil reserves of its own, gets most of its oil from the Middle East).

This isolationist/pacifist bent among my well-meaning peers at DU is what prompted this thread. To those people who rightly fear another pointless war I ask, who will help the Kurds (who are being attacked, brutally, by IS)? One person suggested that Turkey should help. Iran, which also has a substantial Kurdish population could help, if they were so inclined. The point of this thread is to suggest that nobody wants to help the Kurds. If the United States doesn't do it, nobody will.

Consider the following map:



The Turks do not want an independent Kurdistan. They're probably secretly pleased that IS is attacking the Kurds and forestalling their ambition to establish an independent state. The Turks, for their part, are intent upon keeping their Kurds and their Kurd-inhabited lands (which are rich in mineral resources). It's unlikely that the Turks will help the Kurds, and Turkey is a NATO ally, so we have to consider their interests very carefully whenever we make decisions that impact the region.

The Iranians do not want an independent Kurdistan. As such, they are unlikely to aid the Kurds and are, most likely, secretly pleased that IS is attacking the Kurds. Iran doesn't want to lose territory to an independent Kurdistan, so they are unlikely to aid the Kurds in their fight against IS.

As such, it appears to me that the only state on Earth that has both the power and the will to aid the Kurds is the United States. President Obama agreed to provide humanitarian aid and limited military strikes for this reason. We created this mess in Iraq with a disastrous decision to go to war in 2003. The people of Iraq were much better off under Saddam Hussein, as most sane people can see in retrospect, but because we created this mess, I feel we have a continuing duty to ameliorate the damage that we caused, and that's what I think the President is doing now.

Will this action lead us to full-scale war? Perhaps. Note that ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) no longer exists. Neither does ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). They have both been superseded by IS (The Islamic State) led by a Caliph to whom, supposedly, all Muslims owe allegiance. IS is an existential threat to peace and security throughout the Muslim world. We will have to deal with them sooner or later. For the time being, however, President Obama has decided to aid the Kurds--quite specifically and in a very limited way. Because no other nation has the ability and the willingness to do so, I think he made the right call. Personally, I'd rather deal with IS now, in its infancy, before it grows into a greater menace.

For the time being, however, I ask DU this question: if we don't help the Kurds, who will? Perhaps nobody, and this is a key factor that President Obama considered in making the decision to engage, once again, in this volatile region.

-Laelth



20K

For my twenty-thousandth post I just want to say that I am only slightly embarrassed by the magnitude of posts I have so-far recorded on DU. 20K posts in just under ten years, i.e. @2K posts/year, isn't too obsessive ... is it?



In any event, thanks to DU's admins, moderators, volunteers, and jurors for letting me hang around for so long. I have enjoyed my DU experience, and I intend to continue to do so. Thank you all (the entire DU community) for making this a great place to stay informed and to discuss ideas with allies and intelligent, like-minded people.



-Laelth

"What shall we do now?" (re. the UCSB shootings)

Michael Moore responded to the UCSB shootings in a Facebook post (quoted here) with his usual argument about the need for better gun control. Accidentally, perhaps, he hit upon what I see as the underlying issue that demands our attention when he said this:

Nearly all of our mass shootings are by angry or disturbed white males. None of them are committed by the majority gender, women. Hmmm, why is that?


Moore asks the right question, but then drops it like a hot potato, preferring, instead, to focus on the guns. I see this whole mess as a gender issue--as a backlash against the enormous gains in power that women have made over the past century. I see our obsession with guns as a lame and futile attempt to re-assert some kind of "masculine" power. I see the success of right-wing parties in Europe as a product of the same backlash. In fact, I see the political success of the modern Republican Party as a result of the same, underlying issue. How else can we explain why so many people vote against their best interests?

Strangely enough, this topic is hardly ever addressed on DU (as I noted here). Perhaps it is too frightening for us to rationally grasp and consider. Many years ago, I taught an upper-level, college rhetoric course in which we focused on Pink Floyd's 1982 film, The Wall, for a few weeks. It was a transformative experience for me. The following short clip from that movie is illustrative. If you haven't seen the movie, I'd recommend you do so if you have any interest in gender studies. Just take a look at this short segment from the movie (and try to pay attention to the lyrics):



As hideous and shocking as that imagery may be, I think it explains a great deal about the world as we know it today. What to do about this is another question altogether, but I strongly feel that we should talk and think about the dramatic changes in our gender roles and sexual dynamics over the course of the past century.

-Laelth

The Indian Election of 2014 (informed ramblings)

The greatest democratic election in the history of humanity concluded on Monday, May 12, after 551 million Indians cast their ballots for their own representatives in the Lok Sabha, the lower and more powerful House of the Indian Parliament. Turnout reached 66% (pretty good for India, and considerably better than what we manage in Presidential elections in the United States). Regarding the election, President Obama said:

"I congratulate the people of India on concluding their national elections. India has set an example for the world in holding the largest democratic election in history, a vibrant demonstration of our shared values of diversity and freedom," Obama said.

"The United States and India have developed a strong friendship and comprehensive partnership over the last two decades, which has made our citizens safer and more prosperous and which has enhanced our ability to work together to solve global challenges," he said.

"We look forward to the formation of a new government once election results are announced and to working closely with India's next administration to make the coming years equally transformative."

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/obama-looking-forward-to-working-with-next-indian-govt/1/361573.html


India, being the largest republic on Earth in terms of population and a country with which we have strong economic ties, matters. If you want to know more about what just happened in India, keep reading. President Obama rightly noted that a new government will come to power in India as a result of this election, and that has significant implications for both the United States and for the world.

The Parties and the Players

The first thing you need to know is that India has been governed, with only a couple of interruptions, by the same political party and its coalition since India's 1947 independence. That coalition (called the United Progressive Alliance or UPA) is a center-left coalition that is dominated by the Indian National Congress--INC, for short, but this political party is usually called (quite simply) "Congress." Opposing Congress and its UPA coalition is a center-right coalition called the National Democratic Alliance (NDA for short). The dominant and controlling party in the NDA is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP for short--in English the name means "Indian People's Party".

Leading Congress and the UPA is its candidate for Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi, who is both young and attractive but also shy and reluctant. Rahul Gandhi effectively inherited his current position (Member of Parliament for Amethi) from the powerful Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has dominated Indian politics since independence. Rahul's mother, Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, has been President of the INC since 1998. Rahul's father, Rajiv Gandhi, served as Prime Minister from 1984-1989. Rahul's grandmother, Indira Gandhi served as Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 until 1984. Rahul's great-grandfather, Jawaharal Nehru was India's first Prime Minister and held the post from 1947 until he died in office in 1964. Nehru was a close associate of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (the Gandhi we all know), but also note that there is no blood relation between Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the Nerhu-Gandhi dynasty. Nerhu's daughter, Indira, married Feroze Gandhi, a Zoroastrian Parsi from Bombay (Mumbai), who was not at all related to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was a Hundu and was born in Porbandar, in Gujarat (state), India. As you might imagine, many Indians object to the Nerhu family's adoption (and co-opting) of the Gandhi name in service to their own political agenda. Gujaratis are particularly sensitive to this as they see Mohandas Gandhi as their native son. Many of them reject the Nerhu-Gandhi political dynasty for having "stolen" their hero's name.

[font size=1]Speaking of names, we, in the West, often refer to Mohandas Kamarchand Gandhi as "Mahatma Gandhi." "Mahatma" means "great soul," but Gandhi, himself, believed in the essential equality of all souls. He rejected the honorific title "Mahatma." He claimed that it "pained" him to be so honored. Hindu Gujaratis continue to refer to Gandhi as "Mahatma" (because they are rightly proud of him), but I refrain from using that title because it is, essentially, in opposition to everything that Mohandas Gandhi wanted to achieve in his lifetime.[/font]

Opposing Rahul Gandhi and his coalition (the UPA) is the BJP/NDA's candidate for Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Modi has been elected Chief Minister of Gujarat four times and has held that office since 2001. My Indian friends are primarily Gujarati (and if you know any Indians with the last name "Patel," it is likely that they are from Gujarat). These friends tell me that Modi is a great leader who will "clean up" Indian politics (and they are right to note that Indian politics are notoriously corrupt). Modi reformed the Gujarati economy, focused on public works, and (as these friends argue) "transformed" the state. Modi has benefited from vast media exposure, and is projected to be the next Prime Minister of India. (More on that later.) Modi leads the center-right NDA coalition, and he is a media star compared to the apparently-sedated Rahul Gandhi.

Regarding India (and how these ramblings are informed)

Most Americans can't really fathom India. While the United States is highly multi-cultural and multi-religious, no nation-state on Earth compares to India in terms of religious, cultural, class, and racial diversity. None. As I mentioned above, I have Indian friends from Gujarat. Gujarat is the 10th most-populous state in India (and it has a population of 60 million, roughly the size of Italy). India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has a population the size of Brazil (nearly 200 million people). If 800 million Indians died tomorrow, India would still have more citizens than the United States. It's really beyond the comprehension of most Americans.

Narendra Modi, having run a state with as many people as Italy has for the past 13 years, is no political novice. He knows what he is doing, and he has proven to be a capable leader. That said, he is the leader of the center-right coalition, and said coalition carries with it baggage that is quite familiar to us in the United States. All of the pro-Hindu religious parties in India back Modi's NDA (just as our Christian fundamentalists back the GOP). Modi uses Hinduism (and the fact that most of India is Hindu) to advance his agenda.

Nationalism vs. Communalism

Mohandas Gandhi was an Indian nationalist. He sought a united and independent India (in all its multi-cultural and multi-religious glory), but he opposed what he called "communalism" (that political tendency to favor religious/caste/state/regional interests over and above the health of India as a whole). Narendra Modi has been accused of being a "Hindu nationalist," but it chaps my hide to see Western media describe Modi in this way. Modi (if you want to disparage him) is a Hindu communalist, not a nationalist. Frankly, nobody can run India as a communalist, so these kinds of attacks on Modi are silly, imo, but there is no doubt that a number of Hindu communalist parties are allied with Modi's BJP.

There are roughly 150 million Muslims in India (nearly half the population of the United States). The Congress Party has consistently maintained a secular and tolerant attitude toward religion in India since the party's inception (following Gandhi's teachings). Note that Gandhi opposed the partition of India. He wanted a united, multi-religious India, and he did not think it wise to create separate states (Pakistan and Bangladesh) for Muslims. Nevertheless, the British decided to partition India because the Muslims (who ruled India under the Mughal Dynasty for hundreds of years prior to the British Raj), feared that they would be persecuted by the majority Hindu population if said population ever gained political power in India. Note that many religions originated in India, including Hinduism, Buddism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and that adherents of many other religions are present in India, including Christians, Zoroastrians, and Muslims. India is outrageously diverse in terms of religion, and I am of the opinion that no leader of the country could rule effectively as a "communalist," but that certain politicians (Modi is just one example) play upon communal instincts in the populace to advance their own political power.

Whereas the Congress Party defines itself by its multiculturalism and tolerance for all Indian religions, the BJP and its allies are perceived as being pro-Hindu and much less tolerant (and, given the company they keep, this is not a baseless accusation). That said, Modi (in his campaign) avoided discussing religion and caste and, instead, focused on economic development and the corruption within the Congress Party. Congress, for its part, occasionally played upon fears of religious genocide (some going so far as to evoke the name of Hitler) to stoke the fears of the religious minorities in India in order to secure their loyalty at the ballot box. This is the background from which we can understand the 2014 Indian electon.

2014 Exit Polls

In 2009, the Indian government banned the release of exit-polling data until the entire election was completed. We, in the United States, are accustomed to having a single "election day," but this isn't practical in India given the number of people who have to vote. Instead, the election is staggered over several weeks so that the state can marshal its resources and focus on one area of the country at a time. The election concluded on May 12. Results will be released tomorrow, May 16, 2014.

Exits polls (as is typical for India) have been all over the place. Exit polls are notoriously bad in India. In the 2004 elections, the exit polls showed a BJP landslide that did not materialize, and the same happened in 2009. This is not because the elections in India are corrupt or unfair, but for a couple of different reasons. For one thing, many Dalits are afraid to upset their landholders (Dalits, i.e. untouchables, are the poorest of the poor in India, and they are beholden to the wealthy people who own the land they farm). Dalits are often afraid to be honest when asked about their electoral choices, and, in addition, most Indians are fully aware that the Indian media is owned and controlled by wealthy interests in India. They want to appear on television as badly as your average American, and they think their chances are better if they tell the media what they think the media wants to hear (i.e. the right-wing media bias is as present in India as it is in the United States). Our exit polling in the U.S. tends to be more accurate because Americans are less afraid to say what they think (this is a blessing of our 1st Amendment which we protect vehemently--see Citizens United). The Indians don't have the same kind of reverence for speech. Thus, for these reasons, their exit polling has always been unreliable.

Current exit polling shows a victory for Modi and the NDA. How big a victory is the only question. It takes 272 seats to control the Lok Sabha. Current exit polls show the BJP (alone, minus its allied parties) getting anywhere between 220 and 290 seats. Even if the BJP (alone) doesn't get 272, it's clear that the center-right coalition (The NDA) will cross the 272 threshold. Barring unforeseen circumstances, a new Indian government led by Narendra Modi will soon take power in India.

My Conclusions

As I mentioned above, I have a number of Gujarati friends, and they are quite excited about a Modi victory. Modi is from Gujarat, after all, and state loyalty means more in India than it does in the United States. In part, this is because most states have their own native languages--Gujarati (Gandhi's native language) is different from Hindustani, Bengali, Urdu, Marathi, and all the Dravidian languages of Southern India). Frankly, as enthusiastic about Modi as my friends are, I don't share their enthusiasm, but I placate them. It's their country, after all, and I feel I have little right to object to their politics.

Modi's project is essentially neo-liberal, and the more I study the issue, the more I dislike the BJP and the center-right coalition. In many ways, Narendra Modi is the Ronald Reagan of India. That said, Congress has been in power for too long, and a brief respite may be in order. That is my hope ... for a brief NDA coalition government, followed by the return of a stronger, less-corrupt, left-center, Congress-led coalition in 5 years. Rahul Gandhi is a very weak candidate, ultimately. Besides which the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has ruled for too long. Dynasties are not healthy for a republic.

I seriously doubt, however, that the BJP will get over 240 seats. The NDA, on the other hand, will cross 272. That much seems certain, but recent history shows that exit polls showing a BJP/NDA landslide are usually in error. I will be stunned if the BJP gets the 290 seats predicted by the exit polls of the most pro-Modi members of the Indian media.

Results will be announced tomorrow, May 16, 2014. Stay tuned.

-Laelth

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