Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A freshman perspective

posted by Rob at 3:17 PM

Nice op-ed in today's student newspaper at Appalachian State. I'm not sure what depresses me more, though. That so many of her classmates hate this country, or that the point of her column is so obvious it shouldn't need to be written. You can read it here.

Some excerpts:
Recently in one of my classes, my professor asked, “How many students think America sucks?” I was appalled by the response: over half of the class raised their hand. ...

In Africa, more than 25 million people are living with AIDS, which is 24 million more than North America. People in most Sub-Saharan African countries do not receive any kind of health care assistance. In the United States, a hospital cannot refuse emergency care to anyone, whether they can pay or not. ...

Despite the occasional litterbug, this is one of the most sanitary countries on the planet. In India, cows roam the streets freely creating animal waste that often goes ignored. Most people do not even have running water.

We have trash collection services, proper biochemical waste disposal and water treatment plants that maintain a clean water source for all who live here.

The unemployment rate in America is under 5 percent and is actually dropping, not rising. In Germany, the rate is almost three times higher than ours.

These days, any willing person can go to college. Financial aid is available to those who cannot afford to pay tuition, meaning that if you want to, you can get a degree.
Odd that I would read this the same day Matt Laurer softballs a teacher caught preaching America hate in class, such as:
Do you see how when, you know, when you're looking at this definition, where does it say anything about capitalism is an economic system that will provide everyone in the world with the basic needs that they need? Is that a part of this system? Do you see how this economic system is at odds with humanity? At odds with caring and compassion? It's at odds with human rights.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Note to Chris Matthews

posted by Rob at 3:11 PM

Even though Bush's trip to Pakistan was little different than President Clinton's, Chris Matthews sees the former's trip as being "extraordinary." Here's how he "played" Hardball last week:
Matthews: "But he's coming in like a drug dealer. I mean, having to sneak in like that, with the lights off, with the windows slammed shut on the plane. Is this a security question, really, or is it a problem of that government? Is it a problem that within the security service in Pakistan there are people out to hurt the President?"
Then this:
Matthews then turned to Gergen to opine on "what message this sends to the people of Pakistan. They know how the President's coming in over there. Guess what, the leader of the greatest nation in the world, our ally in the war against terrorism, had to sneak into the country last night by cover of night."

Friday, March 03, 2006

The view from India

posted by Rob at 4:59 PM

My post below inspired a lengthy comment from D.Rajesh, Bangalore, India. He makes several interesting points.

An excerpt:
The point about the Indian protest was that it has got nothing to do with common Indian people.

The core protester group:

1. Communist - No comments about followers of Stalin and Lenin. Guess who their best friends are ?? Kim-Il-Sung, Castro, Iranian Mullahs, etc...
An old Tamil (my mother tongue) saying is that one is known by his friends...

2. Radical and moderate Muslims groups - Although most of the Indian Muslim population are docile a small section still live in 7th century and look towards Arabian Muslim culture for everything. The problem is that a small section of 150 million is still a big number. Do not feel ashamed or sorry if these guys burn American Flags of effigies of G.B. You cannot expect anything better from them than this.

3. Politicians - There is one huge crooked gang of politicians in India whose single agenda apart from looting the country is to try to get the Muslim votes by any method. If needed they will go to Mecca, renounce their religion (most of them are Hindus), pander to Islamic terrorists in the name of negotiations, just to get those minority votes. Mr. Bush has offered these morons a great opportunity to show to the Muslims as to how they care about them. We in India call this as Pseudo secularism.

4. General crowd – Just announce a meeting anywhere in India with a few known faces, you certainly will get a big crowd. The general crowd comes to see what’s all this about. Have some entertainment watching this entire ruckus and back home without knowing what this is all about.

5. Intellectuals – We have this unique breed in India, 99.5% of whom are communist sympathizers and who love to hate USA on just about any matter. Over the years they somehow have squeezed themselves into the media, and all other opinion making forums and sound their drum against anything that is done to help the poor by the way of liberalizing trades, cutting the red tape etc. They get angry when things start improving in a way that has not been advocated by Marx or Lenin etc. For these intellectual giants this is just not possible. They prefer to look away and blatantly spread misinformation about things that do not fall in the line of their intellectual dogma.

As one can see none of the above groups represent India. These are simply backward looking people who just give importance only to their own ego and faith. One end of the spectrum of such groups are the communists and in the other end the Islamists. Both are dogmatic and unwilling to accept anything even if the facts are spread before them.
Interesting points. I find it interesting in just how easy it is to manipulate national and international media to accept as a "national message" the beliefs of a small minority of people. I've known that was the case in the US. It's interesting to read how savy the political groups are in India.

About those Bush protests in India

posted by Rob at 10:25 AM

I got into another verbal debate with my closest friend over - as usual - President Bush. My friend is of the opinion that Bush is one of our worst presidents because the world hates us now more than ever. He quoted the day's news as evidence.

He pointed to the reported protests which greeted Bush as he visited India this week. He compared that reception to the photo of former President Clinton during his visit there in 2000, during which at one point he was showered with rose petals.

A quick Google search led me to this article by a communist publication:
At every turn in President Bill Clinton's tour of India and Bangladesh, there were protesters there to challenge him. Only in Pakistan, where the military government banned all protests, were there no demonstrations.

Days of student actions led up to Clinton's March 20 visit to Bangladesh. On March 14, protesters burned an effigy of Clinton in front of the U.S. embassy. On the day Clinton arrived, police attacked the demonstrators, injuring at least 15.
A CNN report backs up the details:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE INDIAN: We are here to burn the effigy of Bill Clinton, number one, because he represents the unholy trinity of IMF, World Bank, and WTO, he represents the domination of the multinational corporations in the world, he represents a cultural onslaught on our people and on our culture. And, therefore, we feel threatened by his arrival here in this country.

BINDRA: Most of these demonstrators are workers and farmers. They say Clinton represents the agenda of large U.S. multinationals and does not understand the poor. Others in this country of one billion people disagree. They say Clinton will bring jobs and investment to a region where more than 350 million people still live on less than one U.S. dollar a day.
Back to the present. Yes, there have been large protests against Bush in India. Guess who is behind them. Average citizens of India? Nope.

Communists (emphasis mine):
Left leaders say they are not embarrassing the Indian government, which has invited Bush. "It is the people of India who will be embarrassed because of the presence of Bush," D. Raja, deputy leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI), told IANS. ...

With the Left, which holds 62 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha, and the Samajwadi Party pledging to protest any speech by Bush, the government does not want the US president to address parliament. Unlike during Bill Clinton's visit, when the Left parties merely boycotted a joint session of parliament he addressed, the Reds are determined to make a noise if Bush speaks in the house.
So communists, a political minoirty in India, hate Bush. They also hated Clinton. They just weren't as loud then.

There's also this nugget buried in an AP report:
Dozens of protests have been planned by Islamic leaders and communist politicians.

While Bush remains more popular in India than he is in many other countries, some here object to U.S. policies, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. India, an overwhelmingly Hindu nation of more than 1 billion people, has the world's second-largest population of Muslims.
Enough about how India feels about Bush. What about Pakistan? How did Bush's visit there this week differ from Clinton's trip back in 2000? Well, for one, Bush was actually able to let people know he was there:
Bush's trip comes six years after President Clinton visited amid elaborate security: After switching planes in India, Clinton flew to Islamabad aboard an unmarked executive jet, behind another plane dressed up as Air Force One.
CNN reported this morning (I can't find a link online) that Air Force One would land in Pakistan with Bush and his wife on board.

I am not criticizing Clinton for taking prudent measures. I'm just comparing the difference in their visits. Clinton had to sneak in. Bush let everyone know he was there (must be the cowboy in him).

Another difference is that apparently there is now no ban on protests. There has also been a murder of an American:
A nationwide strike called by Islamist parties paralysed Pakistan on Friday ahead of the arrival of U.S. President George W. Bush a day after a suicide car bomber killed an American diplomat and two other people. ...

White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters in India that Bush's visit to Pakistan, a nation shown by polls to be among the most anti-American in the world, was not risk-free.
They didn't just hate Clinton or now hate Bush. They hate Americans. Doesn't matter who.

I admit there are some parts of the world less than happy with Bush for making tough and unpopular decisions. But I have yet to see much evidence that those who hate us now didn't hate us eight years ago when another guy was in office.