Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hindutva Bigotry in America

Two years back I attended an event that featured Subramanian Swamy, a rabid Hindutva demagogue, in New Jersey and blogged about the event as "Subramanian Swamy and his parallel universe". Swamy who had recently been fired by Harvard University for a racist column worries me least unlike the Indian-Americans who were cheering his call for 'viraat Hindu'.

Indian-Americans, who are mostly Hindu, enjoy the liberal secular atmosphere of America. Today the White House celebrates Diwali, the First lady joins a Bollywood jig, Empire State Building lights up in tricolor on August 15th and Indians take out 'India day parade' in many American cities on August 15th gleefully waving the tricolor. Hindu temples, many are extravagantly lavish, dot the landscape across America and are mobbed during Hindu festivals. Schools in Edison, NJ have declared Diwali a holiday. Indians have an association for every language and caste in US with each declaring and fervently believing that they are the most superior. Local libraries, however cash strapped they are, buy Hindi books (and Mandarin and Korean). It is common to see Indians celebrate Diwali at offices replete with women bedecked in garish sarees. Corporate cafeterias serve Indian food. Princeton University Hospital serves Indian food for patients. Indian-Americans have been appointed as CEO's of mega-corps. The Smithsonian museums has organized an exhibition to celebrate the cultural contributions of Indian-Americans, a very recent group of immigrants, to America. E Pluribus Unum, indeed.

The single most frustrating attitude of many Indians is their steadfast and smug refusal to learn anything from America and American culture. Step into any Indian association function and you'd not see it conducted in any way different from how it'd be conducted in Chennai or Ahmedabad. And I don't say that as a compliment. We Indian-Americans enjoy the fruits and liberties of a pluralist society and yet how many even look at our Indian attitudes in the mirror? Indian attitudes on race, religion, caste and language remain very firmly Indian. I've time and again written how unflatteringly and overtly racist references to Afro-Americans and Chinese are made by Indians in personal conversations. All that  pales into insignificance when one looks at the sheer vitriolic hate propaganda by Hindutva brigade in US.

A Hindutva hate monger from US, using a fake ID on Facebook, posted a shameful article titled 'The untold census story' with a picture of a Muslim man driving a two-wheeler with 6 family members as passengers. The article stokes a standard Hindutva propaganda about increase of Muslim population percentage that outstrips Hindu rate of population increase. Its a fact. But to pretend that 130 million Muslims will outnumber 800 million Hindus is sheer fantasy. This trope about changing demographics and its implications for Hindus is a perpetual scare tactic by Hindutva brigade. That Hindu American, part of a million plus and counting influx of Indians, forgot that the US might not be a caucasian majority in 30 years. And that is due to just immigration, most of which is illegal, unlike India where minorities are citizens for nearly a 1000 years. And by the way the word 'minority' is a completely misleading term when we refer to a people number 130 million which is one half of US population.

Muslims have larger families in India and the 'family planning' drives by Government healthcare policies do not reach enough into those communities. An American commentator would look at reasons beyond scaremongering. Poverty and lack of family planning go hand in hand. Most Indian Muslims are stuck in grinding poverty. Also Indian healthcare policies for family planning only target women, given the male chauvinism of Indian males, it runs counter to Islamic principles. Simple but powerful facts that elude a mind filled with hate. By the way I know that entire American neighborhoods have been taken over by Indians driving out Americans who could not afford the rising prices anymore.

'Uniform civil code' is another pet fetish for Hindutva hate propagandists. Oh so innocently they would point to Western countries and ask "don't they have a single code for marriage etc". Western countries, unlike India, did not have to, until recent times, deal with religious minorities to a great extent. Let us take a few simple very mundane examples to see how Hindu Indian-Americans feel when they run into 'uniform' laws.

Americans love religion and religious people. It is common for a church to become famous and outgrow its size when the congregation multiplies. When that happens quite often the church, either by itself or at the request of authorities, would move to location thats suitable to the growing size. America has strict codes for parking spaces, how a large community center can fit into a residential area, traffic impact etc.

A temple in Chantilly, VA grew in size way beyond what was originally projected as possible size of members. Good. Great. Enjoy. With increased numbers comes problems. Indians, as Indians do, parked cars haphazardly in front of driveways of homes. Noise levels increased. Any home owner will be displeased seeing strangers, by the hundreds, streaming in and out of his/her neighborhood. Don't tell me that its not so in India. Complaints started pouring in and county officials requested the temple authorities to move the temple as churches do. Washington Post ran a story on this. The Hindu community dug in their heels saying that as per Hindu custom once the deity is consecrated in a certain place the good lord takes root there and cannot be uprooted. Unlike what Hindutva brigade wants for minorities in India the American authorities did not throw the book but opened a dialogue with the community and tried to work amicably.

Time and again temples run into one problem in America. Expansion. The concentration of Indians in pockets makes temples in that vicinity to grow exponentially. The relative affluence of Indian-Americans makes fund raising a cinch for temples. Many temples roll in considerable wealth. Customarily Americans like to keep their residential areas pristine with least commercial activity and when community centers like churches and temples rise up they would like it to blend into the neighborhood and not tower over it. It reduces property values. When temples present ambitious expansion plans they run into local opposition. Of course, without fail, Indians will cry 'racism'. As if one could construct a church or mosque in a Hindu neighborhood like Mylapore in Chennai. Sure there will be some racist element but by and large both civic officials and judiciaries have been firmly on the side of law. More often than not civic officials engage in dialogues. Nobody dare say smugly "this is America and the law is this go fly a kite".

Jamaica Bay in Queens is a protected site for bio-diversity and it is also the favorite dumping ground for Hindu ritual offerings. Park rangers have been repeatedly frustrated with the pollution of the bay by Hindus who make sacrificial offerings there and sometimes even float dead bodies as they do in Ganges. The bay is indeed referred to 'Ganges'. A New York Times articles notes that that park officials opened, yet again, dialogues with the community to impress upon them the idea that protected water cannot be messed with. A park official told NYT that he appealed to the Hindu spirituality of respecting the environment. Poor guy he does not know that Indians, Hindu or not, have no respect for the environment.
Empire State Building in Indian Tri-Color.
A Hindutva fanatic, from India, claimed that Christian and Muslim heritage in India amounts to only 'interactions' with Hindu heritage and in that too it only amounts to collisions. An American Hindutva fanatic eagerly clicked 'like' for that. I'll save the demerits of that argument for another blog. The American fanatic had learned nothing from America. Indians came to US by the thousands only during the dot com boom and thereafter. A very recent arrival. Yet America celebrates the new kid on the block. American mayors grace Indian association meetings and pay tributes to Indian communities. Carnatic exponent Chitraveena Ravikiran organizes a unique blend of Carnatic and Western classical music called 'Melharmony' with active participation from Wisconsin based musicians. Wisonsin has now declared a 'Melharmony day'. I've, as usual, my own carping about that but the point is how America is eager to embrace new cultures and how somebody living in America has failed to imbibe that trait.

The Smithsonian recently organized an exhibition on the most popular cultural export of India, yoga. In that occasion historian William Dalrymple, author of best seller 'Last Mughal', reviewed four books connected with yoga in New York Review of Books. He points out that Muslim scholar Alberuni had translated the yoga sutras of Patanjali. It was under the aegis of Jahangir, then Salim, that Hindus wrote and painted the asanas. Chief among them was, Dalrymple says, Govardhan. The Smithsonian exhibition was based on those paintings. Dalrymple also reviews two other books which pokes a hole through this myth of yogis being docile and peace personified. 'Sinister yogis' by David Gordon White and 'Warrior ascetics' by William Pinch speak of very little known violent side of Hinduism beyond the well known violence of casteism that is. Whether it is the inability to appreciate Gandhi or the achievements and failures of Nehru or the complex histories of religion and conquests I'd blame, squarely, the pathetic Indian education that not only fails to prepare the student's mind for subtleties but instead teaches dumb truisms. I am livid with rage and feel like puking at the illiteracy of my fellow Indian-Americans about how cultures overlap, influence each other and contribute, even if unwittingly or unwillingly, to each.

Indian languages are a recent entry to US and yet, thanks to efforts of community enthusiasts, American schools now accept proficiency in parents mother tongue by children as 'proficiency' in a foreign language and give educational credits. I disagree with that as policy but its a common 'trick' by many ethnic communities. Again, the point is how America embraces diversity.

Many Brahmins in UK and USA eagerly shared on Facebook the news that a British school was teaching Sanskrit to its pupils. I saw nothing for Indians to be proud about. How many Brahmin run educational institutions would teach Urdu, a language of enviable richness for poetry, a language with hundreds of years of history in India itself? Indians love to beat their chests when somebody else adopts theirs ideas or culture but rarely do they feel they too need to not just return the favor but enlarge their own narrowness.

One American argued with a Tamil writer that Jesus Christ was a 'myth' and not 'history'. I just wish that he held his beloved BJP to the same standards and asked why bother about a temple for a mythical character. Hindutva brigade in California raised a ruckus over how India and Hinduism is portrayed in California textbooks. Of course, historical accuracy or the lack thereof is an inconvenient irritant when it comes to ones own cherished beliefs. Thankfully American educational system, which is adept in beating back Christian fundamentalists denying evolution, with support from Hindus with better sense beat back such an attempt. These are the same people who look at Muslims smugly for seeking to ban unflattering texts in India. These bigots tried to make an India out of America.

Oh, by the way these bigots might smirk at the attempts of some Christians to subvert the teaching of science but completely forget that a totally spurious subject called 'Vedic Mathematics' is peddled across Hindu neighborhoods in America.

Another pet peeve of Hindutva bigots is screaming about how Indian Muslims would cheer for Pakistan in a cricket match. It does happen and as much as I dislike it I'd not condemn it altogether because that is not as simple an issue as it is often presented. But how do Indian-Americans acquit themselves on the issue of loyalty to America? In other words shall we subject Indian-Americans to the same litmus test that the bigots want for minorities?

Whether it is 9/11 or the Devyani Khobragade issue I've heard and read Indian-Americans nonchalantly mouth anti-American idiocies. Most Indian-Americans still look at America through the prism of its foreign policy as they would judge a foreign country.

The India Day Parade held in observance of August 15th is the most faction ridden, we are Indians after all, and mostly Hindu flavored. Christians and Muslims have little or no presence in these parades which are dominated by Gujarathi Patels. In New Jersey two factions went to court seeking injunction against the other party from taking out a rally. The court informed the factions that it is un-American to prohibit anyone from taking out a rally. How little those Indians had understood America is evident in that lawsuit. This applies to the various Sangams too. I've not heard of Tamil sangams celebrating Christmas or Ramadan. In fact non-Hindu memberships in Tamil sangams is abysmally low. It does not even strike the organizers that this needs to be addressed. Diversity is still an alien idea to Indians as a concept to strive. Indians enjoy the fruits of the American idea of diversity without imbibing it as an idea in their own lives.

Macaulay had more appreciation of the richness of Indian heritage, Hindu and Islamic, than what any of the Hindutva bigots have, in 21st century, for other cultures, both foreign and domestic. Indians prattle endlessly about the racist tendencies of the colonizers but gladly indulge today what some, not all, dim witted Europeans showed towards others.

If one perused the headlines of New York Times and Washington Post over the last 5 years one would find articles that worry about growing income inequality, need for all kinds of diversity (gender, racial and ethnic) in books and movies, diversity at workplaces. An Indian-American heads Microsoft, women head IBM and GM and are now breaching combat operations in the army.

One of the articles in Washington Post dealt with whether women should be integrated into combat units of the army and addressed if women can do the same physical exercise benchmarks as men. An army commissioned report said that many of the physical exercises in the army tradition are practically designed with men in mind and bare little relevance to real military situations hence could easily be altered to accommodate women. This is how diversity is practiced in America. If glass ceilings should be broken then we need to question paradigms. Hate mongers live life in rearview mirror hashing out how to frame policies today remembering what Ghazni and Aurangazeb did 500 years ago. On that score a few myths need to be laid bare and some selective outrage need to be questioned. All that in coming blogs.

In deep red-neck Texas a University hosts a Muslim fraternity complete with prayer halls. America's universities were once headed by christian theologians and hosted chapels. Princeton University Chapel is a gothic grandeur. Today, Yale, Princeton, North Western and Georgetown universities have Muslim chaplains. JP Morgan Chase offers investments that adhere to Sharia guidelines. A New York Times article highlighted how Muslims are entering Wall Street now and 'shaking up' the old boys network.

Couple of years ago I spoke to the fake ID guy and broke up saying "I can say that if Muslims happen to work under you they will not be treated fair". I was reminded of that remark when I recently saw his Facebook posts and patted myself for my prescience. This guy who huffs and puffs hatred in every post about every imagined danger to Hinduism has not posted a single news article or comment about the inhuman treatments meted out to Dalit Hindus even today across India. That clearly show that selective outrage is targeted only at his imagined enemies.

Challenges remain and any country or any society can always do better and so should America. Amidst these changes these Hindutva bigots are a blot on a great religion and a great country (I mean America).


1. "Hindus find a Ganges in Queens, to Park Rangers Dismay" - New York Times -

2. Subramanian Swamy at 'Hindu Unity Day' in NJ

3. My blog on Subramanian Swamy

4. 'Fraternity life, Islamic style' - New York Times -

5. 'Muslims on Wall Street, Bridging Two Traditions' - New York Times -

6. Book Reviews by William Dalrymple - 'Under the spell of yoga' - New York Review of Books -

Monday, March 24, 2014

Terror at Godhra and What Secularism is NOT

L.K. Advani gifted political discourse a poisonous word, 'pseudo-secularism'. 'Pseudo-secularism', Hindutva ideologues tell us, is the specious perversion of secularism whereby the minority community gets a carte blanche and worse an insulation from criticism whereas the majority community is game for criticisms and judgments ranging from the valid to the ludicrous. This criticism of secularism in practice is done solely with a view to discrediting the very idea of secularism and never for calling out hypocrisies. 

Political columnist and staunch anti-Hindutva ideologue Gnani Sankaran in a recent TV interview played into the Hindutva lobby by whitewashing the grotesque terrorist act of burning a railway coach full of Hindu pilgrims by a Muslim mob at Godhra which in turn set off the deadly Gujarat riots that left hundreds of Muslims and Hindus dead. 

From Guardian News Paper.
Asked why there was a failure to condemn Godhra Gnani tried to rationalize that those who died in the 'accident' were 'Kar Sevaks' (those who lend a hand for the construction of the controversial Ram temple in the place of the destroyed Babri Mosque). He further piled on that as a human being he feels sorry for the dead but just as one does not condemn the death of Hitler so too he cannot condemn this act. This is shameful, to say the least. Helpless women and children were killed in a cold-blooded and carefully planned act of terrorism. 

Ward Churchill, a University of Colorado professor, to cite a parallel, famously referred to the 9/11 victims as 'little Eichmanns' to suggest that the victims were not innocent and therefore it was ok to kill them. 

Even as George W Bush was being hated around the world he was loved warmly in Hindu India. Bush was a true friend of India but one reason why Hindu India loved him was because he unflinchingly labeled 9/11 as an act of Islamic terror. He bluntly said that he wanted Osama Bin Laden 'dead or alive'. To Indians who have been subject to acts of terrorism which its leaders would refuse to call it by its name this was welcome news. 

Identifying itself as 'progressive and liberal' many media outlets and intellectuals, usually on the Left, would be too eager to call out Hindu fundamentalism while imploring all India to be 'understanding' of acts of terror when the perpetrators were Muslims. If those who perished in Godhra were Kar Sevaks and therefore did not need anything more than customary sympathy what would Mr Gnani say of the poor patients in an intensive care unit at a Government Hospital in Coimbatore where members of Al-Ummah had planted bombs? Stop this hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is injuring the cause of secularism much more than what Modi and Advani can instigate. 

Secularism is not denial of any religion but that principle by which each person gets to practice his or her own religion and the state steers clear of favoritism. Karunanidhi, supposedly a self identified atheist, would never lose an opportunity to poke fun of Hindus or their cherished beliefs but would meekly submit himself to adorning a Muslim skull cap or accept blessings from Christian priests. When Narendra Modi refused to adorn a Muslim cap offered by a Muslim priest there was furore. Secularism is not where one gets to impose his religion on another. As constitutional functionary Modi should not be showing any favoritism and that is all we can ask of him. And Modi, though a chief minister, is an individual too who is free to worship or not worship as he deems fit. My issue with Modi is not that he is Hindu or worships at a temple. 

Congress party is a master of playing vulgar politics wherein, while lecturing on secularism, they would seek the diktats of the high priest of Jumma Masjid. Asked if his party is encouraging dynasty politics by promoting his son M.Karunanidhi gruffly replied 'my party is not the Sankara Mutt'. Hindu outfit leader Rama.Gopalan shot back "it is only in Jumma Masjid that the inheritor is a son". 

Even in movies it is Hindus or a section of Hindus, especially Brahmins, that come in for liberal ridicule. I'd support it as free speech and also self-depractory irreverent humor towards gods is a very Hindu trait too. But when such liberty is exercised only towards one religion it smacks of hypocrisy. 

Not even Muslim theocratic states spend on their citizens for undertaking Haj. It is absolute hypocrisy for a secular state to be paying for religious pilgrimage by one community. The cost to the exchequer in 2009 was a whopping Rs 800 Million ($140 Million) approximately Rs 70,000 per person. The Indian government spends Rs 200 per Hindu pilgrim on a pilgrimage to Mansarovar in Tibet. Ironically several Muslim leaders themselves have said, as it is factual, that this is against Islamic law. A Muslim is supposed to undertake Haj on money saved by him. 

All that said it is also often true that Hindus wield considerable power as voting blocs and that power is time and again used to cover up for crimes of the high and mighty.

The Mumbai blasts of 1993 were a direct consequence of the total impunity with which Bal Thackeray was able to carry out a riot killing hundreds of Muslims in Mumbai. The Sri Krishna committee said that Thackeray operating like an army general. Thackeray did not spend even an hour in jail. 

It is not uncommon to see Hindu sadhus wield enormous political power and even in the face of overwhelming evidence of illegalities they are seldom arrested. Whether it is Bangaru Adigalar or Baba Ramdev the much feared Indian Income Tax department is toothless. 

Gnani is at his gadfly best when he called out the hypocrisy of India's TV channels ranting over the siege of Taj Hotel in Mumbai, during the attack of November 2008, where the rich and powerful were holed up. He wrote a column decrying the selective outrage of TV channels that almost totally ignored victims at the train station who were poor unlike the Taj patrons. I wish Gnani apologized for that thoughtless remark and strengthened the idea of secularism. 

The myths of pseudo-secularism are aplenty and deserve a debunking separately which will follow soon. I wrote this column today so I could do that debunking without anyone asking about this. Pseudo-secularism is a bogey of hypocrisy with a sinister agenda and I shall deconstruct it brick by brick.


3. Modi refusing Muslim cap

6. Frontline (sister publication of Hindu) whitewashes Godhra .

8. Column by Gnani on Hotel Taj siege - 'Hotel Taj: Whose icon is it' -

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How Obama Became Bush (and Worse)

Barack Obama came to his history making inauguration in 2008 like a Caesar. His entourage rolled into Washington DC like a Roman triumph. Millions flocked to see the nation's first black President take oath and turn their back on George W Bush who departed for Texas with an approval rating that was the worst for any departing president since Nixon. Bill Clinton won in landslides and became the first democrat to win two terms after FDR and yet he never won 50% of the popular vote. If seen in terms of popular vote it is a fact that a majority of the country voted against Bill Clinton. Clinton's approval ratings, even today, is something that Obama can only yearn for. Bush scraped by the 50% in 2004 after the humiliating controversial win of 2000. In 16 years no candidate had so comfortably won the plurality of the popular vote as Obama did in 2008 and then repeated in 2012. Today, Obama's approval rating matches that of what Bush had at his 5th year. If predictions come true Obama would've led Democrats to a defeat in the coming midterms the same as Bush did in 2006.

Gone are the soaring dreams. Gone are the lusty cheers of 'yes we can'. To cap it all, this week fellow liberal and Democratic Senator, from California, Dianne Fienstein has accused CIA of spying on computers used by Congressional staff. The man who rode to office promising America that he is the opposite of Bush now looks not just like Bush but, alas, like Nixon.

Edward Snowden, I now agree, is a hero. He laid bare an Orwellian state at great personal cost. Whatever his motivations maybe what he did was a signal service. The tentacles of Obama's state apparatus has shocked a nation beyond compare. New York Times called it 'data hoover' (referring to a popular vacuum cleaning brand name).

The unravelling of the Obamacare rollout was an embarrassment for a candidate who sought to prove that 'smart' government will disprove the critics of 'big' government. Big government is not to be feared, the candidate reasoned, if it was smart. After spending $300 million the government rolled out a website that was unmitigated showpiece of shame. Time magazine cover story ripped into what a botched rudderless rollout it was. Obama sailed to his unexpected re-election on a much a written and admired data operation. When it was his money he engaged the best. When it was the tax payer money he was disconnected and did not care what was happening.

President Bush, much to his own detriment, refused to fire Donald Rumsfeld even as Iraq slid into chaos and Abhu Ghraib became notorious. He was pilloried for sticking by loyalty. Presidents don't like to fire senior staff because it shows they erred in picking them up in the first place and accepting that something went wrong seriously. Obama has steadfastly refused to fire his Secretary of Health Kathleen Sibelius for the Obamacare rollout debacle.

Bush came to office pledging 'nation building at home not abroad'. Candidate Bush said America will no longer be the world's 911 and that America must be a humbler power. Then 9/11 happened and the rest, as they say, is history. Obama came to office vowing to end wars. He succeeded in ending the Iraq war but drags on in Afghanistan. He stunned his voters by retaining Bush's Secretary of defense Robert Gates and then proceeded to infuriate his voters by adopting Bush's Iraq surge model in Afghanistan.

When Romney said that Russia is America's enemy number one the media, the Obama campaign and finally Obama himself mocked him for that. Obama delivered a punch line at a Presidential debate on foreign policy telling Romney that "the 80's called and they want their foreign policy back". America laughed and Romney was defeated. Today Romney has the last laugh while Putin shows Obama who is America's enemy. Now a majority of Americans also agree with Romney.

Obama, who thinks his gifts of oratory are unmatched powers for persuading anybody to 'follow' his lead told the Russian Prime Minister Medvedev that after the 2012 election he'll have more 'room' to negotiate. The remark, which Obama thought was said privately, was broadcast to the world courtesy an open mic. War weary America shrugged it off saying "well thats ok. He is right in a way" and re-elected Obama.

'America is declining' is a theory floated by anyone who wants to write a bestseller. Its a cottage industry. Obama believes that he is midwifing America's transition from a super power to a 'first among equals' nation. American exceptionalism is now a dirty idea. Unable to tame spending Obama is goading the Pentagon to downsize the American military to levels before World War II. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor America was less prepared for war than Netherlands. The new idea that's gaining currency is that no longer America needs to have an army of this size to fight two ground wars. The new wars are won with drones and cyber hacking we are told.

When Bush left office many predicted that Obama will America lovable again. After all candidate Obama was cheered by thousands of Germans even without any significant foreign policy ideology. Apparently Germans forgot that once upon a time they cheered Reagan's bluntness in telling "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall". Today America is hated no less than it was under Bush. In parts of Pakistan, Eastern Europe and other places there is nothing but hatred and disdain for Obama's listless leadership theory of 'leading from behind'. 'Leading from behind'? What's that? France wanted to invade Libya with America leading from behind. They ran out of ammunition, literally, in one week. So much for a world that can carry on without America.

Liberals who chafed at Bush's legislation for secrecy and torture are now squirming in shame seeing Obama draw up lists of who should be killed in the Oval office. When Obama administration frames guidelines in such a way as to undercount civilians killed in drone attacks the preening pompous liberals squirm in silence.

Trying to discredit Hillary and Bill Clinton Obama often decried 'the politics of divisiveness'. Bill Clinton retorted that he fought the fights that needed to be fought. Obama's voters swooned at the promise of a new era of civility and comity in that most fractious blood littered battlefield in all of earth, Washington D.C. Today Obama announces in his state of the union speech that going forward he will working without Congress with a 'pen and a phone'. What a fall from the lofty arrogance of a silver tongued orator who thought he could remake the world with words.

Ah, words. Who would've thought that Obama will be the least persuasive salesman on every key policy initiative that he sought to roll out. His admirers blather that he talks 'professorially' that many fail to understand and therefore fail to support his policies. I guess in their idea a professor is one who is inarticulate and confuses his pupils. Obama went to Bill Clinton, that famed triangulator, to help sell his dreams.

During the heated primaries of 2008 the most heated debate was at South Carolina. Seeing her dreams of a coronation slip away Hillary turned pugnacious before the South Carolina primaries. Obama, in a back handed compliment, told a radio interviewer that Ronald Reagan was a transformative president. Hillary pilloried him for calling Reagan as transformational. Then Obama qualified that what he meant was not a compliment.

I watched Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg gate in which he flung the gauntlet to Gorbachev and clearly spelled out the contrast between the free world and communist totalitarianism. He did not mince words. He underlined the vast destruction that communism inflicted on half the world and the sickening poverty it brought upon continents. Its a clarity of version and boldness in articulation that Obama can only dream of.

America is not a country in decline. America is ready for turning the 21st century too like the previous as an American century. What America needs is a President, a leader, who sees that America is that fabled city on a shining hill.

Today Washington Post reports that NSA has the ability to record 100% all the telephone calls made in a certain country (identity unknown) and also replay calls made 30 days prior. What a denouement for a man who declared in his first inaugural speech, an unremarkable speech, that America need not choose between values and security and that such choices are false choices indeed.

Obama has earned his place in history as America's first black President. Nothing more.