Posts Tagged ‘India’

Donald and Nikki, How Will It End?

Friday, January 26th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Jack and Rose, together in “Titanic.”

Jack and Rose, together in “Titanic.”          

Throughout history, there has been no shortage of famous duos. Most famously perhaps, there was Romeo and Juliet. But also, remember Antony and Cleopatra, Ozzie and Harriet, Napoleon and Josephine, Abbott and Costello, Batman and Robin, Butch and Sundance, Sonny and Cher, Charles and Diana, Franklin and Eleanor, Heckle and Jeckle, Jekyll and Hyde, Bonnie and Clyde

    That seems an appropriate place to stop to consider this year’s dynamic duo: Donald and Nikki. A match made in MAGA heaven.

    Or maybe not.

     As Donald Trump’s would-be challengers for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination have quickly dropped by the wayside, being too honest (Chris Christie) or too boring (Ron DeSantis), the party found itself in January with only Nikki Haley still running against the man facing 91 felony indictments.

      This is all very un-Republican, what with Haley being a woman and an accomplished, outspoken one at that. Where are her traditional family values? Doesn’t she know her place? Did she really question Der Donald’s mental status just because he repeatedly confused her with Nancy Pelosi and said Joe Biden could ignite World War uh Two? Did she really suggest Trump (and Biden) might be too old to be president?

      Yes, she did and Trump reacted in his customary style, with insults and threats, typed in all caps and misspelled on his social media platform. The ultimate threat: Anyone supporting Haley will be cut off from any MAGA connection. Ostracized financially. Out of the cult.

      Still she persists, to borrow a Democratic Party notion. And, having shown some surprising support among Republicans in New Hampshire, she moves on to the primary in South Carolina, where she was a popular governor, offering a more traditional Republican message than Trump’s scorched-earth, I-am-a-victim-of-Biden-oppression-and-will-get-revenge-on-my-enemies-when-I-am-re-elected message.

    Haley presents a dilemma for those Republicans who can’t stand Trump, but are too afraid to say so because they need the votes of the aggrieved, angry whites who make up MAGA, the volatile base of the GOP, but who don’t outnumber the relatively sane voters populating the rest of the electorate.  Haley speaks to some of those people. When she wants to. Sometimes, she bows to the Trump persecution complex strategy. She’ll pardon him if necessary. But now that she seems to be on the verge of being labeled a disloyal, ungrateful (Trump did make her his UN ambassador) umm, woman, she runs the risk of breaking up the Donald/Nikki duo before it becomes official. Before the tango becomes a waltz. As in running mates. With Donald taking the lead, of course.

    Trump’s most avid supporters say that must never happen. Assuming Trump wins the Republican nomination and assuming he is not in prison and assuming the Supreme Court allows him to run anyway (not a given), the MAGAs want no part of Haley as a vice presidential candidate.

    But, if she is left standing and looking legit, she would bring some voters Trump can’t reach. Non-MAGA women. Some sane Republicans. And, as the daughter of parents who came from India, immigrants.

     I don’t see it happening, Trump being Trump. He likes the easy way, predictably obedient foot soldiers willing to take the fall and not complain or testify against him.

     For her part, Haley has tried to play it both ways, sometimes supporting Trump so as not to anger his base, and sometimes speaking the truth, acknowledging other views. Ignoring slavery as a cause of the Civil War, talking about raising the Social Security age and cutting government controls but, unlike Trump, supporting more U.S. support for Ukraine in its war with Russia and for Israel in its war against terrorist groups.

  Who knows, maybe Trump will be convicted of one or more of the 91 felonies before the Republican nominating convention. Maybe some judge will actually lock him up for defying a gag order.

   Liz Cheney, another accomplished, outspoken woman who was, in effect, expelled from the Republican Party for daring to speak the truth about Trump and the January 6 insurrection, has encouraged Haley to stay in the race. To continue the tango. The male chorus remains mute.

     It remains to be seen whether Donald and Nikki become a true couple or wind up like another famous duo, Jack and Rose on the Titanic. A brief flirtation, but only room for one on the raft.




A Week of Wills, Won’ts and Walkouts

Monday, July 17th, 2023

4CA8BB44-4999-4BDA-84BF-9D1F8B35B6F7By Bob Gaydos

Here’s another stream of consciousness report on the news because, well, we seem to be living in a stream of consciousness world:

     The week began in what has become a normal pattern these days with (1.) Donald Trump asking a judge to postpone his trial for stealing and refusing to return classified government documents until the 12th of Never or he gets elected president again, whichever comes first, which was a disturbing development because said judge is believed to have a crush on the twice-impeached former president and might rule in his favor, which isn’t what happened to (2.) some of Aretha Franklin’s offspring, who went to court four years after her death to decide which one of her wills was the real one — the notarized, signed one found in a locked cabinet or the scribbled, unsigned one found stuffed in a couch cushion, which also contained comments about the singer’s ex-boyfriends, which may have convinced the jury in Pontiac, Mich., that it was the legit will because that’s how they decided after only an hour of discussion, a ruling some found as curious as (3.) the World Health Organization’s determination that the artificial sweetener, aspartame could cause cancer while a special panel appointed by the same UN organization simultaneously said the sweetener was still safe for regular use, which is pretty much what (4.) the NRA said about the widespread availability of all types of guns in response to a report that the U.S. in 2023 had experienced the deadliest six months of mass killings since 2006, or 140 killings in 180 days, not that anyone noticed, (5.) what with record numbers of tourists flocking to Death Valley hoping to experience record high temperatures as the thermometer hovered near 130°F, (6.) which wasn’t far from the heat generated on picket lines in Los Angeles by striking actors and writers, led by The Nanny, Fran Drescher, president of the Screen Actors Guild, who roasted film and streaming companies executives for, among other things, wanting to use artificial intelligence- generated images of background actors instead of real people in order to save money, which is the opposite of (7.) what India had in mind when it launched a rocket to the Moon, hoping for a soft landing for a lunar rover to explore the surface of the moon and bolster India’s emerging space program as a major source of revenue, rather than, as some cynics speculated, as an exploration for a future home for some of the nearly 1.5 billion people living in a country whose trains keep running into each other and (8.) whose neighbor, China, is being difficult over some disputed borders between the ancient countries, who have maintained a careful relationship with (9.) Russia as it slogs through a misbegotten war against Ukraine, who has (10.) been promised NATO membership in the future, whether or not (11.) Russian President Vladimir Putin figures out which of his generals knew about the attempted coup before it unraveled almost as quickly as (12.) Twitter when Elon Musk bought it to show us again how smart he is.

    Whew. … Oh yeah, (13.) The New York Times announced it was eliminating its sports desk and pretty much nobody noticed.


Ending the Culture of Rape

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

The web group Anonymous collected and posted information on the accused Steubenville rapists.

By Bob Gaydos

The culture of rape. Yet another disheartening fact of life hammered into our collective consciousness — and perhaps, conscience — through the collective conversation of social media. This week, the messages came from opposite sides of the planet, separated by light years of history as well as thousands of miles of geography.

To wit: Some people — far too many people — think of rape as an inevitable fact of life, almost a rite of passage, something to be tsked-tsked at, but, ultimately, not serious enough to “ruin” the lives of the rapists and certainly something over which the victim has some control.

From India, where the culture of rape is apparently well-known and a tradition of long standing and where many citizens are still angry over efforts to cover up a recent fatal gang rape, comes the story of a Swiss tourist who was the victim of another gang rape. The local police chief said she and her husband should have known better than to camp where they did, seeing as his county is apparently the gang rape capital of India. A couple of days later, a British tourist leaped from the third-floor balcony of her hotel room to escape the hotel manager trying to assault her. She suffered two broken legs and head injuries. It was in a different county.

From Steubenville, Ohio, where high school football is apparently the only game and claim to fame in the town, comes the story of two star high school football players who raped a teen-ages girl, bragged about it in sickening detail on Twitter, and almost got away with it because a football coach and a lot of other local residents apparently valued high school football success over the rights of a female not to have her body violently invaded against her will.

The Steubenville case came to light because of persistent efforts by the web group Anonymous, which gathered information on the attack and posted it on the internet, and the heroic efforts of a local blogger who risked her own life in collecting and posting the Twitter accounts and demanding arrests. The victim was called a “slut” in posts commenting on the local blogger’s reports.

Unfortunately, when the two athletes finally came to trial and were convicted, major electronic media perpetuated the culture of rape by focusing on the way in which the two young men’s lives were “ruined“ by their raping someone and ignoring any possible impact the rape may have had on the victim. Fox News went so far as to name the victim, a departure from traditional news media treatment of rape victims. The attackers were convicted as juveniles and could be free in a couple of years, but they will be listed as sex offenders, which is what they are.

I have no desire to rehash the details of these cases, all well-covered, as I said, on the Internet. Suffice to say, Facebook is awash in posts on the Steubenville case and the Ohio attorney general is talking about an investigation of the attempted coverup of the assault. The world is watching.

In response to widespread disgust and embarrassment across the country, the Indian parliament has passed a law expanding the penalties for repeat rape offenders to life in prison or even death and imposing harsher penalties on stalking. More likely to have an impact, several countries, Britain and Switzerland among them, have issued warnings to citizens about traveling to India — not safe for females because of sexually motivated assaults. With billions in tourism dollars potentially at stake, even the most insensitive, clueless politician has to pay attention.

But as far as I’m concerned Steubenville and India deserve whatever negative effects they suffer from the rape cases for allowing the culture of rape to comfortably exist within their borders. Unfortunately, they are not alone. This attitude of semi-acceptance of men sexually harassing and assaulting women has prevailed on the planet for centuries. Again, the Internet, especially social media, may, slowly, be driving a change in attitude.

Among the reasons for some optimism in this regard is the effort of Breakthrough, an international human rights group, which is seeking to obtain concrete promises from 1 million men to end discrimination and sexual assault against women. The group wants to alter the impression given to boys that it is acceptable to objectify, dehumanize and violate women. As one male supporter of the effort put it: We should raise boys to be men, rather than raising them to not be women or gay.

There’s more. As news of these attacks spread on social media, so did reports of other rapes and the way in which they were being treated by police authorities and news media. Sensing a greater awareness and, more significantly, a willingness to talk about rape, women’s rights groups have begun an effort to change the way the conversation is focused. They want to look at how the attackers are dealt with. What messages are being sent to young boys?

Other positive signs? In Congress, despite the incomprehensible efforts of Republicans to defeat it, the Violence Against Women Act was renewed and signed into law by President Obama. In London, a huge crowd joined the One Billion Rising campaign in front or Parliament to protest violence against women. Even in Egypt, where sexual harassment and sexual attacks against women have been commonplace since its revolution, groups are rising up to protest the culture of rape.

These efforts will gain worldwide support through the Internet, but will inevitably face strong opposition from the existing male power structure, many of whose members look upon it as a matter of superiority — men being the superior ones and women being vessels for invasion and reproduction. Just recall the inane comments made about rape by some male Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate last year. (They all lost, another positive sign.)

Of course, any attempt to change the focus of the discussion of rape from the victim to the attackers will require men and women to agree on changes in arrest and prosecution of sexual assaults so that more women feel free to report the crimes. (Some reports say that only three out of every 100 men accused of rape in this country spend any time behind bars.) It will require a willingness for both sexes to talk honestly about the issue. And it will require a recognition that the existence of a culture of rape within any community — be it Steubenville, Ohio, or India — is an assault on the psyche of the community itself and must be exorcised for the well-being of all.

Let the effort begin.



Malala Was the Clear Person of the Year

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Time's version of a Malala cover.

By Bob Gaydos

I finally got around to checking to see who Time magazine selected as the person of the year for 2012. Turns out the editors, who have been known to like surprise choices, went with the safe, conventional wisdom choice — the leader of the free world, Barack Obama.

To which I say, in all humility, they got it wrong. Yes, Obama had a good year, but he was already president and he beat a chameleon to get re-elected. The clear person of the year, the person who made a profound impact on the world without being the leader of the most powerful nation ever to exist, was Time’s Number 2 choice — Malala Yousafzi. The 15-year-old Pakistani girl became an instant symbol of courage and hope and, I believe, a spokesperson for women’s rights worldwide, simply by refusing to bow to threats from Taliban terrorists and taking a bullet in the head as a result.

Malala, who survived an assassination attempt on a bus in her hometown and has been recovering in a London hospital, had already been an outspoken advocate for access to education for Pakistani girls for several years as a blogger before the Taliban decided that killing her was the only way to stop her, even though they expected public outrage. Instead, their botched attempt made Malala a worldwide heroine and sparked public protests in Pakistan for the very thing the Taliban fear most — educated women.

But something else has also happened, I believe. In neighboring India, traditional enemy of Pakistan, there were also demonstrations to support Malala‘s cause. And most recently, India’s culture of acceptable rape by gangs of men against women has given rise to large protests throughout that country as well as in Pakistan, where violence against women also has not been a major issue. Until now.

There is, I sense, a worldwide stirring for women‘s rights, most notably in countries where they have traditionally been ignored. These range from the widespread outrage in India over the death of a 23-year-old rape victim to the mostly symbolic, yet significant, appointment of 30 women to the previously all-male Shura Council in Sauid Arabia. The council is only advisory to King Abdullah, who made the appointments, but the move stirred protests by some Saudi clerics anyway. Saudi women have male guardians who guide their “decisions,” are not allowed to drive and will vote for the first time next year. Expect more pressure to speed the process of equality.

Back to India, where male children are much favored and abortion of female fetuses is still common, even though against the law. The public outcry over the gang rape forced authorities to reverse initial efforts to let the rapists go and punish the protestors. This is not India’s usual way of dealing with women. I think Malala has had a lot to do with that and with social media efforts to point out similar outrages by men in positions of power.

Even in the “enlightened” United States, political candidates, elected officials and judges have been publicly exposed for views on rape that can only be described as criminally ignorant.

Malala’s unique weapon is apparently an unwavering belief that what she wants — access to education for all girls in Pakistan — is unassailably right and, so, undeniable. She can see no other way. And her age provides certainty to her and, I suspect, a degree of shame to adults who agree with her but did not dare to say so publicly at the risk of their lives. She has no armies, navies, air forces or weapons of mass destruction at her call. She has no great wealth at her disposal. World leaders do not seek her out for favors. She is a teenaged girl with an innate sense of what is right and just, for women and men, and the courage to say so out loud.

As such, she has become the voice of millions of women, and men, around the globe. The person of the year beyond doubt.