Sunday, October 30, 2005
Running mate: Hillary.
Secretary of State in waiting: Obama.
Campaign headquarters: Jackson Heights, New York City.
Our Iraq: Nepal.
The South: Conquer it.
Dean 2004: Blog; Dean 2008: Blogalaxy.
Core vision: Three pillars.
I have offered these thoughts earlier. Today I would like to add to that.
In 1996 it held the Olympics. In 2008 it gets to host the Democratic Convention. This is about taking the South in a grand way.
This is about paying homage to the past three Democratic presidents, all southerners. Atlanta is the capital of the South.
This is about a great city.
Atalanta just so happens to be the first really big American city I ever went to. It was a Maths Club trip to Georgia Tech first year at college.
And I took all the pictures above. From a 18 wheeler. That I was piloting.
Thinking thoughts on Dean 2008 feels like writing the script for a movie. It will be a blockbuster.
Posted by Paramendra Bhagat at 9:37 PM
My blog has become a minor topic of debate among the DFNYC leadership recently. The vision I am offering is very much a work in progress. And I feel the need to explain.
Do events, blog events.
I have offered that as a mantra to Deaniacs earlier. This is not a clash with old media, but the idea is to bypass old media. The vision I am offering is of a scalable media. Google Earth is scalable. You can watch the planet from outer space, or you can zoom in to literally see the house I live in in the city.
Blogging makes that kind of media coverage possible. I have covered some DFNYC events at this blog, and the coverage has expanded. The first one had no pictures and little text. The recent ones have tens of picutures. The most recent one even has video clips. But this is still old media, kind of, although there are bits that can read like my personal journal, and that is very much intended. Blogging is not newspaper gone online. And old media of course does not give that kind of space to these events, if any at all.
But if a half dozen bloggers were to cover one event, then we are talking. That is when you outdo old media. You offer pictures, audio clips, video clips, text. And free flowing text. And each blogger links to all others who covered the event. And you cover one event from many different angles. And if you do it well enough, the event breaks free from both space and time.
It is okay to create an echo chamber as long as you blog it, then it is not an echo chamber no more.
That's the rudiment of the vision. As I said, it is still work in progress.
I have no desire to climb up the DFNYC leadership ladder. It is mostly a structureless group anyways. But for me it is like saying, here is the leading DFA group in the country in the progressive capital of the world. How can it keep competing with itself to keep getting better and better? The passion does not have to depend on presidential campaigns. It can be month in and month out.
I almost function with the detachment of an outside consultant. I play with ideas. I enjoy the company of the people I meet. For me my DFNYC involvement is about doing more of what I have been doing. I really don't wish to get into things like event planning, for example.
For me it is about Dean 2008. DFNYC is one atom, one star in the galaxy, the brightest star, but still one star. I am a big picture person on ideas, and a boosting morale person on leadership. Maximal delegation is my style.
I feel like headway is being made.
Posted by Paramendra Bhagat at 9:14 PM
I dropped by the Ferrer campaign headquarters earlier today: it was quietish. One staffer has been to Nepal. Another that I met for the first time today is from Kentucky where I went to school for five years. She now lives at the other tip of Prospect Park. "Kentucky is beautiful country physically, but the social conservative elements can be tough."
"I know. The Bible Belt stuff." She is from the western plains in the state, by the Ohio river.
I made some phone calls on behalf of Ferrer. I must be out of the loop. The first mayoral debate was today, and I did not know about it. I have only been aware of the one on Tuesday because DFNYC has a debate watching party going on. I plan to show up. I called up Abhi yesterday to ask if he was showing up. It was a yes, no, maybe kind of political answer.
I watched the debate online after I got back. Ain't that grand, being able to do that? All of TV should be like that. If I had to sum it up, it would be as follows.
Bloomberg: "I can pick up the garbage better."
Ferrer: "There are two New Yorks."
This is the first time I have watched Bloomberg speak. This is not a politician, this is a businessman. To some of the Ferrer attacks he simply responded with an "okay." He sees it, he understands it, but he does not feel like the exertion to hit back is worth it. Political barbs are foreign territory. I read one article where he was complaining about the horse-trading ways of politicians. He is a manager who happens to be mayor.
I tried to understand his appeal. He made his own money. And so people think he has the management skills. And he makes it sound like if you elect Bloomberg, there is you, the New Yorker, and there is Bloomberg, nothing in between. But if you elect Ferrer, there is this huge Democratic machine between you and the mayor. And he cashes on this with great political acumen. When he says he does not have a "machine" like Ferrer, he almost sounds like he is the underdog you need to feel sorry for. Look, I got to compensate for the machine, I got to spend a hundred million dollars on ads.
Looks like the Democrats have most of their fun during the primaries. And then they act spent.
As for Ferrer, I think he did really well. He was well prepared, he was aggressive. He was confident. He made Bloomberg look diffident. "Okay." His weakness though is he needs to focus more on his agenda. As in, this is what I will do if you elect me. That is the part where he is competing with himself. Ferrer spent so much energy trying to reduce Bloomberg to size after weeks of getting pounded in the media by the Bloomberg ads, he did not get a chance to put forth his own alternate vision.
Bloomberg has a 27 point lead in the polls. That is quite a lead. TV ads work. If it were only about policy logic, Hillary had great ideas for health care reform. But the anti-reform people flooded the public consciousness with TV ads. Not that I think Bloomberg is like those anti-reform people.
Bloomberg does have a decent record he is running on. But then Gore had it too and he still lost. Gore had a much better one. If I were Ferrer I would spend the better part of the final debate on offering an alternate vision. Not just on policy but also on management style. And it has to touch all issues. How will you better raise the morale of the police and the fire fighters and the emergency responders? How will you better raise the morale of the school teachers? What are all the things you will do and not just on housing? How will you interact with the City Council better? With Albany? With DC? With your Congresspeople and Senators?
Bloomberg tried to tie Ferrer to Howard Dean. As a Deaniac, I thought that was amusing. It almost sounded like Bloomberg was complaining Dean had appeared with Ferrer too many times in support. Bloomberg did not mention any of the others, not Edwards, not Kerry, not the Clintons. Just Dean. I am sure Dean and Bloomberg are on cordial terms. I can't imagine their not having met. Walking to the train station after watching Norman Siegel debate, DFNYC Executive Director Heather casually mentioned to me having met Bloomberg, so Dean must have. I think he genuinely does not understand how Dean can shake your hand, say hello, make small talk, and then go campaign so vigorously for the other guy. Some of the other Dems have been polite in their appearances with Ferrer. Dean has been outright.
Bloomberg is very aware of DFNYC. That is the impression I got. These are big cats I am dealing with at DFNYC.
The New York Times has a good piece on the debate, on the styles of the two deliveries. Some sentences and phrases:
The spirited, often testy encounter was dominated by efforts by Mr. Ferrer, the Democratic nominee, to score direct hits against Mr. Bloomberg, the Republican, while standing shoulder to shoulder with the incumbent mayor for the first time in a campaign in which the mayor enjoys a huge advantage in spending and in public opinion surveys.......... Mr. Ferrer, feisty and at times passionate, hardly let a speaking opportunity pass without criticizing Mr. Bloomberg ....... The challenger came out swinging from the start ....... Mr. Bloomberg, often matter-of-fact and at times visibly annoyed, stuck close to a nearly clinical recitation of his record and plans for the future ........ the Ferrer camp viewed the debate as a rare chance to press the case against Mr. Bloomberg in a way its candidate has not been able to afford to do in television commercials....... From the start today, it was clear that Mr. and that Mr. Ferrer was looking for a fightBloomberg was largely trying to avoid one ......Ferrer, who has frequently been criticized for being flat on the stump, was anything but. He often seemed to be trying to rattle the mayor, frequently standing to the side of his lectern and staring directly at Mr. Bloomberg as he spoke or listened, sometimes even stepping toward him or wagging his finger as he made a point....... Ferrer seemed more rehearsed and frequently used what appeared to be preplanned zingers ...... Bloomberg started the most heated back-and-forth during the debate, using a question about a spike in gun-related crime in the city to note that Mr. Ferrer had been "out campaigning with Howard Dean, who was eight times endorsed by the N.R.A....... at another point asking him pointedly if he was proud of Mr. Bush......
The wisdom is being mayor of NYC is second only to being president of the country in terms of job toughness. For his career, JFK skipped running for mayor of Boston because he was not eager to "sign sewer contracts." Some people are great at nuts, bolts, logistics. Others are comfortable with ideas and people in a general way. It might be a small picture, big picture thing. Atomic physicists are not less smart than cosmologists, they are just different.
Ferrer can afford to be less aggressive during the final debate, but he does need to focus on offering an alternate vision. Offer the program.
Posted by Paramendra Bhagat at 8:40 PM
Over 60 people dead and counting. People who were busy with their holiday shopping. Diwali, the festival of lights.
I went to Delhi when I was real small. I remember one of the places from then that was one of the sites for a bomb: Connaught Place.
These are not Muslisms. Muslims are like Hindus, or Buddhists, or Christians. They are people of faith, many are poor and illiterate, they just want the best by their families. These are Islamists. Islamists are like fascists, Nazis, like the evil brand of communists. The Islamists are like the KKK, they are a hate group. They will not think twice before they kill innocent Muslims. Their fight is not on behalf of Muslims of any ilk. Or they would at least spare Muslims, but they kill them too.
They are not seeking a debate. They are armed. They mean damage, physical damage. They mean to kill.
Mosquitoes are a problem. The drain has to be swamped. Proactively spreading democracy until every single country on the planet is a democracy is the only true solution. But it is also a military problem. It is also about fighting armed, evil men with arms.
They have to be fought on many fronts all at once.
The democracies of the world need to unite.
I am feeling a little numb right now. India is a poor country. For all talk of an emerging India, outsourcing, and software and calling centers, all that dazzle touches only a very small segment of the population. An average Indian is dirt poor. People die to diseases and train wrecks, to hunger. But this is different. This is murder.
Evil is for real. It exists. It has to be countered. Its sophistication and tenacity has to be understood. This is like medical science and a new strain of virus. They are not a standing army that can be fought in traditional ways. They ask for novel approaches.
"Move through the villages like fish through water," Mao advised his fighters. JFK countered that with the Peace Corps program. But also by talking from a position of strength.
It is not a choice between military strength and spreading democracy. And it is not just about military strength. The old tools are too blunt. New tools have to be shaped and put to use.
A social backlash against the Muslims would be the worst possible response. There are more Muslims in India than in any other country. Socio-economically speaking the Muslims in India are like the African Americans in the United States.
I would not be surprised if Muslims were among the dead.
Tomorrow is October 31. I think that is Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. Why did I just say that? It just occurred to my mind. I am a little confused.
- Three bombings target two crowded markets and a bus, killing at ... Houston Chronicle, United States
- New Delhi bombings toll hits 61 CNN International
- New Delhi Blasts May Be Aimed at Derailing India-Pakistan Peace Bloomberg
- Delhi blasts: Death toll rises to 61 Sify, India
- Delhi blasts toll crosses 60, nation put on high alert Hindustan Times, India
- 3 New Delhi Explosions Kill at Least 58 ABC News
- At least 50 dead and 150 wounded in coordinated attack on busy ... OhmyNews International, South Korea
- State of emergency in New Delhi after blasts CTV.ca, Canada
- Bombings rock India ahead of major holiday Newsday, NY
- Serial blasts kill 65 in Delhi Deccan Herald, India
- India update: Terrorist bombs kill 50, UN chief appalled Bangkok Post, Thailand
- State of emergency declared as Diwali bombs rock Delhi Independent, UK
- 'The blast was so powerful my house shook' Independent, UK
Posted by Paramendra Bhagat at 2:33 AM
Friday, October 28, 2005
For the 1984 Asiad Games held in New Delhi, India had adopted a baby elephant for mascot, named Appu. It was quite a craze. The mascot was long remembered after the event had escaped the public mind.
Race and gender are elephants in the room and they ask to be greeted. I have brought up social issues at this blog. And I believe that has been a little rattling in some quarters. For a lot of progressives and, frankly, also to many others, race and gender are issues they are beyond. There are others who are racist, sexist, homophobic, what have you, but they themselves are beyond all that.
My 1-10 spectrum concept challenges all that. Start by assuming noone is a 10. Then also for all progressives race and gender are work in progress, very much so. Your unwillingness to address these issues are perhaps a sign you are more likely a 5 or a 6, and less likely a 7, 8 or 9.
Progressives should feel comfortable talking about these issues.
Does that mean dialogue is the panacea, the cure all? No. But it is for otherwise open-minded progressives where the assumption already perhaps is that racism, sexism and homophobia are wrong. And dialogue perhaps is the best option for a 5 wanting to be a 6, and so on.
There are people out there who harbor the social ills as tools of political power. They are not racist or sexist because they do not know any better. They mean to be so. For them dialogue might not work.
There are other instances that ask for legislative and law enforcement initiatives.
For the progressives my message is, Say Hi To Appu. Keep the conversation alive. There is no need to feel defensive. You change your mind or not, that is your thing, but be willing to say where you stand, and be willing to see where others stand.
Posted by Paramendra Bhagat at 9:45 PM