Wednesday, 9 November 2016

President Donald J. Trump - the lessons learnt from the 2016 election

Trump delivering his speech post victory

The entire campaign was dismissed as a joke Donald Trump announced his intention to run for the office of President of The United States in mid-2015 as, back then, the establishment favourites for rebublican nomination was still Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. 

However, he started appealing to the far-right of the public announcing certain populist yet unrealistic plans, such as building a wall across the US-Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it for the latter is sending US 'drugs and rapists', his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States (and then strangely announced an exception for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan); his plans to defeat ISIS, bring back torture and waterboarding and of course, his master plan of bringing 'jobs back to the country' even though he never announced how he is going to do it.

While he has announced no concrete plan for any of them, he managed to appeal to the far right fascist elements that the country was once great and today everyone is looting the once great nation and he'd help them regain their lost glory and picked on a suitable jingoistic slogan - Make America Great Again. Whether these plans materialise or not, what it has shown us today is that it is definitely effective to win public support, akin to what happened during Britain's EU referendum. However, despite Mr. Brexit Nigel Farage sharing a stage with Trump and the latter continually drawing inspiration from Brexit, going on to announce November 8th 2016 as independence day for the United States, very similar to what Farage did, which could perhaps be construed as an insult to the founding fathers of The United States; I shall not compare Brexit and the US Presidential election because: 

Trump denied climate change, promised to violate nuclear non-proliferation treaty, break an alliance with Japan, disband NATO, reduce taxes for wealthy (backed up by a baseless trickle down argument) but then, while I can find these ideas stupid, the people knew that a Trump presidency means whatever I have already stated and they felt it was still worth it and he has very broad plans whereas in case of Brexit, the  politicians who campaigned for it have no clue how to go about it, till date, nearly five months on. Moreover, if Trump really fails to deliver on his promises, he could be voted out in four years whereas, reversal of Brexit is not really possible. 

At the end of the day, Democrats would have to wonder what went wrong for them, considering they had an experienced candidate with some controversies around her which even Trump does, I felt the underlying assumption that all of Sanders' votes were transferrable to Clinton turned out to be a mistake, especially considering the loss in Michigan which was last won by a Republican in 1988, by George Bush Sr. The loss in Wisconsin too, is perhaps a surprise for the Clinton campaign followed by the loss in nearly every swing state, maybe Clinton could have campaigned more, maybe Sanders could have campaigned more aggressively to avoid a Trump presidency, maybe the super delegates shouldn't have given an overwhelming support to the Clinton campaign during the primaries but in the end, the Democrats are losing some of their core voters and something needs to be done to prevent a repeat of Trump Presidency. 

The debate that took place in 2000 would start again, where George W. Bush had more electoral college votes whereas Al Gore had the higher popular vote and with the ongoing trend, it seems like this election is going to end up the same way and the silver lining is the fact that Trump can't claim that a majority are behind him for, he is president only because of the system he claims to be rigged. This is the second time in five elections that this is happening and perhaps, it indicates a serious rethink is required to reform and revamp the current system. 

On a side note, I also found the Liberals unusually silent throughout the campaign, while the internet was filled with far-right pro-Trump banners (comments section), nobody from the public bothered to speak for the liberals except the liberal leaning mainstream media (Fox News excluded). The same thing happened for Brexit and I believe, that as liberals, we must increase our voice on social media and show that we too have the numbers and the voice. I wrote an article earlier in this blog titled Noise or Voice? following the failure of UKIP in 2015 general election in UK but then, I take those words back and I shall do my best to keep liberalism alive and I could only hope that Le Pen doesn't end up as President of France in 2017, for, whatever she has wanted has been happening so far, be it Brexit or Trump winning the election; the liberal voice is needed to stop Le Pen to become the President of France. In a world that is coming ever closer through technology, we cannot let it stop by opportunistic politicians. 

Perhaps what every politician in the world has learnt is that to win an election, you don't need sound plans or experience, all you need is to make populist statements backed up by jingoistic remarks and the latter cannot be contested because if you do, you are immediately deemed unpatriotic and of course, is also very unpopular with the electorate and on the other side, such slogans are very popular with the voters.  

Another critical personal lesson I have learned today is, tactical voting is very important, all along I voted on principles, even if I knew that my favourite candidate had nil chances of winning but then, now I realise that I should change my ways considering what has happened in this case, I am sure a majority of Gary Johnson or Jill Stein voters (a number over five million) would not have preferred a Trump presidency, especially the 1 million people who voted Jill Stein and had they voted tactically, the results could have been different.

I could only hope that Trump doesn't ignore climate change in its entirety, and upholds the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, realises that the strength of the United States is its diversity and not go on a witch hunt against every non-white. I also hope he stops admiring authoritarians such as Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-Un and uphold the values that US brought to the world. I really am not bothered about what he did or said in the past, but I hope he does better in the future and manages to maintain the respect that President Obama brought to the office and it is a great start that he has tried to strike a conciliatory note in his victory speech (unlike his Brexit counterparts) and I hope this carried on.

He need not make America great again, merely needs to retain its greatness. 

Have a nice day,

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Donald Trump's Idea to Make America Great Again!

Commander in chief? Quite seriously?

Note: I am more of a political commentator than an artist; I know that a good cartoon needs no explanation, but mine can't reach those standards. For your general information, both the persons in the cartoon is Donald Trump.

I have written a lot of political articles in this blog but I couldn't keep quiet about Donald Trump for too long. It was long time since I last drew a cartoon and hence I decided that this was a good time to draw a cartoon on Trump before he becomes outdated (a lot of my ideas for a satire was lost because I procrastinated). 

Khizr Khan, the father of the slain US soldier Humayun Khan made a claim in the Democratic National convention that Donald Trump has probably never read the constitution; while he would definitely deny that; one thing is for sure, he knows very little about his country's history and the treaties that his country signed, which is the focus of this cartoon. 

On the left side, you have Donald Trump, dressed up as a security guard representing the United States Security Service (USSS); standing in the Sea of Japan, warning Kim Jong Un that Japan and South Korea have paid their current month dues and if he were to attack, US would defend. Trump recently stated that if Japan needed US support, they have to pay for the service. 

Does he have any idea about the post Second World War situation in Japan? In case if he is reading, which I am sure he wouldn't be, I would say it anyway, nonetheless, US forces occupied Japan till 1952 after their surrender and demilitarised the country. In the mean time, they also set up their own military bases. In 1951, the two countries entered into a Security Agreement to allow the US to use land, air space and military bases in Japan 'for the purpose of contributing to the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East'. Secondly, in the year 2016, The United States is said to have spent around $ 5.3 billion in Japan (in a total budget of $ 580 billion); added to that, Japan is said to reimburse a lot of costs such as internal relocation, wages of Japanese staff all of which amount to roughly 48% of the total amount spent in Japan. So effectively, US gets a trustworthy ally in the Asian side of the pacific for a cost less than 1% of their budget and here is a Presidential nominee who is willing to throw it all away in his bid to become president. 

On the right side, I have Trump setting up a stall, selling 'Nuclear Weapons' and the paper that is in the bin is of course, the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which the United States has been leading for the last four decades. Reports have also consistently shown that the US led effort has significantly brought down the total number of nuclear warheads over the years. But yet again, there comes the Potential POTUS who wants to change all that in a matter of four years, claiming the US would be better off letting Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia have their own nuclear weapons programme and is perhaps, even willing to sell it to them, setting up that 'stall'. 

Effectively, his plan to 'MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN' is by turning America into a Security Service contractor also running a nuclear warhead stall.

Personally, one might argue that I am a foreigner who need not be bothered about what is happening in some other continent and that is perhaps why I ignored him for so long but then, I can't stay too quiet when he plans to make our world more weaponised, more hateful and ultimately, more dangerous. It is good news that his support has been dwindling; Clinton is not the best candidate (I wanted Sanders to clinch the nomination) but is certainly a better option than Trump. 

My plea; if you are reading this and you have a vote; DON'T VOTE FOR HIM.

Thank you.

Have a nice day,

Thursday, 30 June 2016

From Serial Liar to Escapist

I read this, today, ideally I should have been happy that the Former Mayor of London whose only claim to fame was successful conduct of Olympics with an exorbitant budget and overseeing the housing in London skyrocket, increasing transport fares after promising to decrease; I should have been glad that this liar decided to not become the Prime Minister of a G-8 nation.

A picture speaks a thousand words

But then, now  that we think of it, when Cameron announced the referendum in February, 2016, Johnson was yet to pick a side even though he had Eurosceptic leanings. At least, with regard to Farage or Gove, whatever my disagreements are with them, I knew where they stood with regard to issues but with regard to Johnson, he has been pro immigration, pro single single market and at the same time, decided to campaign against the membership. Yet, after announcing that he was going to campaign for leaving the EU, he made strong statements about taking measures to curtail immigration, such as introducing points system; even though evidences have suggested that such measures have in fact increased immigration; like in the case of Australia, where in Victoria, a majority of them have at least one parent born outside the country. He spread further lies about how he would save 350 million pounds a week and spend it on NHS instead, a figure which was confirmed as misleading and now, after the vote, Farage confirmed that it can't be guaranteed.

It was evident that Boris Johnson had no plan as to what to do after leaving the Union, not that he ever had plans about anything, his absence at the House of Commons since the 'no vote' has not gone unnoticed, considering he might be asked to express a plan if he goes to Westminster, if not at the house, by the media when he walks out. So, when his close ally, Michael Gove decided to run leadership himself, our lad Boris pulls out saying; 'I am not that person who could give the country that direction'; I fail to understand how he believed he was the person to lead a campaign but not after the campaign.

Boris Johnson was the face of the campaign that spread the lies, now has created the mess, the 350 million that he promised has perhaps already been lost with the pound plunging and the markets crashing and after creating this mess, he has decided to chicken out and let someone else handle the mess that he has created. For once, I genuinely wished he had become Prime Minister, own up for his false campaign and accept responsibility for the mess that he has created. Boris Johnson steered the ship to unknown waters and now that the ship is too deep into it, he has ended up becoming the first person to run away from it, leaving the ship directionless.

Michael Gove, the likely alternative, is no commendable person either, while Boris promised more spending on the NHS, the Lord Chancellor has been sceptical not just about the EU, but also about the NHS. Moreover, he also had similarities with the other members of his campaign, when it came to spreading lies, when he claimed support of the former England football player John Barnes, only for Barnes to deny and pledge support for the Remain campaign.

It is unfortunate that UK are being placed under such uncertainty, owing to the petty politics and ego of the Tories where a serial liar manipulated the people into voting for a particular choice and now that it has gone disastrous, he has turned into an escapist. One can only hope that things become better with time.

Have a nice day,

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

David's Delusion

As Britain is set to be in limbo for the next three months, the man currently at the helm chooses to do nothing.
I was watching the House of Commons session live, yesterday, the first session since the vote to leave the European Union, the Union that had given the continent peace and stability for seven decades. With that said, I was observing David Cameron answer questions posed to him by the various MPs. While I appreciate the gracefulness with which he has accepted the defeat of his campaign to remain in the EU, I couldn't help but observe three things:

1. A Labour MP (not a very commendable one, a geriatric Eurosceptic himself) had addressed Cameron as 'Dodgy Dave' in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal which led to the MPs suspension from the house. However, David Cameron, yesterday, was in every way, being dodgy, evaded every difficult question saying that it was for the next government to decide, which won't be in place for another three months and yes, the only thing about changes in the UK, the best answer he had was that at present, UK is still a member of the Union and there would be no change till then and the negotiations have to be carried on by the new government. 

2. Nobody but Cameron could make as many contradictory promises totally incompatible with each other; the last time the Brits did such a thing, I recall was with regard to Palestine, with a plan to capture it for themselves in an agreement with the French, a promise to the Arabs provided they revolt against the ruling Ottomans (which they did) and also to the Zionists. Alas, such contradictory promises led to disastrous results. Some such promises made yesterday included the following:

  • A particular MP had stated that there were a lot of EU citizens in his constituency and they are worried about their future for which the PM assured a retention of the status quo. 
  • However, another MP, a Eurosceptic, who cited the same thing and said now that the country voted to leave, steps must be taken by the Prime Minister to contain the number of immigrants in his constituencies to which also, he agreed. 
  • While the Leave camp was largely sceptical about the so called regulations imposed by the Single Market, Cameron asserted that he'd actively try to ensure that Britain has its place in the single market. 
  • Agrees that no contribution would be made to the EU budget but still wants to be part of single market while agreeing that no country exists as of today, which does not contribute to the EU budget but has access to the single market. 
I can go on but I would stop here with regards this aspect. 

3. Cameron, promised that there would be no consequences to Brits living in other parts of the EU, UK would still have access to the single market, and no tariffs would be imposed on British goods despite staying out of EU membership. Imagine if Cameron says he is leaving No. 10 this September but still would do everything to retain all his powers and privileges as Prime Minister; the above promise is as absurd as that, I mean, why would the EU agree to all the demands of a non-member Britain? As such, the EU has made it absolutely clear that Britain got the best deal that they could offer and if they opt to vote out, they would not be treated with kid gloves. 

What I also understood from yesterday's discussion that the Leave campaign has no plan as of now, as to how to take the country forward, and in fact a Leave campaigner is known to have said that they had plan and it was No. 10, who was supposed to have had one. Moreover, the 350 million more towards the NHS, the nonsense which was being publicised by the Leave Campaign; the poster boy of the campaign, Nigel Farage, has already distanced himself from the claim that he can't guarantee that. Be that as it may, regarding the Leave campaign's lack of planning; Cabinet Minister Priti Patel, when she was asked about how she'd use the excess money, she said 100 million towards the NHS and had no clue as to how she'd use the rest. Well, this 350 million number (false) was probably the one that probably put the Leave campaign 4% ahead in the referendum and after everything is over, Farage is callous enough to admit that they lied and the people aren't even given a second chance or a second thought. 

Britain has succumbed to the opportunism of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage and from what I can anticipate, France would do their best to make Brexit terrible for Britain so that they would be able to keep the far right movement in their own country at bay. The French were probably dreaming of the days when the British would be at their mercy and it is ironic that finally, the British have given it themselves, without any effort from the French (Le Pen's insignificant voice is not considered). 

While it is senseless to expect Britain to go back on this stupid referendum, and even worse, the future of Britain is uncertain for the next three months as Cameron promises to do nothing till the next government takes over and of course, the to be new government, as of today, have no clue what they are going to do anyway while the Pound is on the run and the FTSE is on a free fall. 

All I would say is, I hope that Europe doesn't return to its dark ages yet again.

Have a nice day,

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sentiments over sense

Traffic signals are a menace and we all know it. We hate waiting those few seconds and feel that the entire system is programmed against you to make you stop everywhere. You find that a lot of them are there at an unnecessarily short distance and find the system in place has some flaws and frustrated over them, you gather a band of people who agree with you and start a movement. The movement would obviously grow in size, because, naturally, a lot of us hate it though none of us know what would happen with the lack of it. So yes, the movement grows in size, politically becomes a menace, and finally, a referendum is agreed, that depending on people's vote, they would abolish the system altogether.

So, the campaign starts, and those in favour of retaining them talk about the problems that one would face in the absence of it and the people from the movement immediately shun in saying that those in favour are running a fear campaign, their thoughts are filled with hate, while we are having a positive approach to the whole thing. When such an argument is used, those in favour are stumped and someone who has not made up her / his mind might think that it is a valid point but just to go a little deeper into it, there is no other way to campaign for status quo except for explaining the consequences over the lack of it; for, the benefits of its existence are being experienced by people any way. If somebody is being swayed by this 'negative' campaigning accusation for a referendum is downright stupid.

So, with that said, the vote comes, and with this negativity assumption, the movement manages to sway the undecided voters and finally, by a narrow margin, get the law to abolish all traffic signals. Fine, it is a revolution but is that a right way ahead? We all know the mess it would create without them, with gridlocked traffic, increased accidents and a lot of other problems. Yes, a majority of the people wanted to get them out of the way but then, just because a majority voted; is that the way forward? That is when a sensible government should issue a statement as to why they reject the narrowly passed popular vote and do what is best for the people. After all, a successful organisation in business is the one that delivers its customers what they want even though they might not know that they want them.

With that said, enough of allegories, think of it with the recently concluded referendum over Britain's membership with the EU. The European Union is a body that has achieved something; an idea which somebody would have laughed at even last century - six decades without war. Yes, Europe, after the second world war, saw extreme stability, thanks to the Union that brought it in. I fail to understand as to how, the older electorate, those who had their childhood ruined by the war could actually vote to leave the Union that has given their grandchildren a peaceful childhood.

The EU definitely has its flaws, but the hate campaign that Leave carried out with regards immigration, I fail to understand why all blame has been placed on the EU when immigration was happening all across Europe even in the 19th and 20th (pre EU era) centuries and in fact, the UK has benefited more from the free movement of labour and capital from other European nations. But still, people had certain sentimental opposition that Brussels holds a lot of power, a judgement by the Crown Court being potentially overturned at Luxembourg which they had problems with, these are all purely sentimental reasons and when you choose sentiment over sense, things don't go very well.

Worse things beckon for the UK, with Cameron set to resign (who wasn't a great PM himself),  Boris Johnson is likely to take the post; a politician from whom I have never heard a single original idea or implement any great reforms as the mayor of London and in fact, during his tenure, the housing markets skyrocketed for which he barely took any steps to control other than blind rhetoric. Johnson, in fact, unlike Gove or Farage, had not even picked a side till the date of the referendum was announced and merely saw this as his quickest route to Number 10, after all, he doesn't hold any ideas or views other than opportunism. He holds traits similar to Trump wherein, throughout the campaign, he has contradicted himself multiple times and with such ultra nationalism on the rise, I shall not be surprised if Trump actually becomes the president of US. After all, if Boris Johnson can become Prime Minister in October, Trump may very well become President in November.

Farage said that if Remain went through, they'd push for another referendum in the future; would he agree to concede a membership referendum in the near future? I doubt it, which shows the extreme hypocrisy of this campaign.

A majority voted for an exit, yes, a slender majority of 4%; but is that the right decision? Even if a majority of people are misled to believe and vote for something, it doesn't necessarily that it is right, sometimes it might be downright ignorance and miscommunication leading people to believe otherwise and the saddest part of the whole affair is, a majority of the young people voted to stay in, but thing have gone against them and they would be the ones facing the consequences of not being in EU.

The larger consequence I fear is the collapse of UK as a political union with yet another referendum in Scotland, where, every local council voted to remain in the Union but are being forced out. In fact, one of the issues for discussion during the earlier Scottish independence referendum was, in fact, EU membership where the Better Together swayed voters to their side with the argument that an independent Scotland would have to go through the process of applying for EU membership and won't be granted automatically. But now that they are out of it and circumstances have changed, the vote might yield a very different result now.

Frankly, a lot of issues spoken about during the referendum (the consequences - the negative campaign!) had a lot of financial aspects involved which I couldn't have appreciated much if I didn't have a finance background.

With that said, I have a great respect for the democratic process and believe in democracy, and choosing the right leader and government to provide direction but not on all technical matters because, there shouldn't be a case where sentiment prevails sense and thereby, going against the interests of the people; which is ultimately against the very foundation of democracy.

Have a nice day,

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Erdogan's (Mis)judgement

TLDR: Erdogan barely sees ISIL as a threat since he finds it an effective counter against Kurdish nationalism. At the same time, he cracks down on trivial stuff like social media, having banned Twitter and Youtube multiple times (I am able to recall; immediately after the Istanbul protests and the Ankara blasts) and sometimes, even Facebook. Everything went out of hand when he called for the prosecution of a German poet Jan Boehmermann when he read out a poem criticising Erdogan. 

Hence, the focus in Erdogan's total lack of judgements regarding the threats to the country; going soft on ISIL despite the L expanding to Levant which includes Turkey's own Hatay province. 

With that said, I have great respect for Turkey and their secular values but not their current president.

'Art is a blast!' - Deidara (Naruto)

Not the best quote to start a series of new posts but it was apposite to the current series. Since my artistic skills aren't up to the mark, I also have to give commentary on the same and here you go! Whether art is a blast or not is not what I want to talk about but then, I decided to talk about art about blasts.

Despite living in a country so far away from Turkey, I can't help but notice the antics of their current president and former prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While I always admired Turkey for being a model state built by Kemal Ataturk for the rest of the countries in the neighbourhood (being a secular democracy), in came Erdogan with a landslide victory for his Justice Party (AKP) in 2003 and has held the top office since then and step by step, undoing the work of his predecessors by becoming intolerant to dissent (which was seen during the recent sacking of Prime Minister Davutoglu), sucking up to extremists among other things; a state that had once been a model state for its eastern neighbours is now moving towards the models adopted by their eastern neighbours, thanks to the man at the helm. 

This cartoon primarily tries to focus on his judgemental capabilities, considering the mess he is creating in the Syrian Civil War, at present, reports have often suggested that Erdogan doesn't consider ISIL as their primary threat and in fact, largely ignore their expansion seeing them as an effective force to combat the Kurdish militia in Syria; owing to the fear of a possible pan-Kurdish movement with the success of the Peshmerga in Iraq and the political success of Selahattin Demirtas' HDP in the recent elections. 

Anyway, I fail to understand why Turkey goes soft on ISIL; despite their expansionist goals throughout Levant and by that, it means Turkey's own Hatay province is very much included under Levant and still sees Kurdish militia as a bigger threat than ISIL; despite all the recent attacks in Ankara and Istanbul; what was once an exotic tourist destination, people are now afraid of a potential attack. 

The first part of the cartoon's entire focus is on Turkey's soft corner towards ISIL and the latter is on Erdogan's misplaced priorities and his extreme sensitivity towards any dissent is sometimes bordering on being hilarious. For instance, he has banned Twitter multiple times, once during the Istanbul protests and then again, after the Ankara blasts, this time, even Facebook and Youtube (and I hear Youtube has faced a ban multiple times); totally unbecoming of a free democracy. 

The next instance where he took it a little too far was when he demanded the arrest of a German poet; Jan Boehmermann, for merely reading out a poem on TV criticising Erdogan; where the latter even ended up finding some obscure 19th century German law that deemed mocking leaders of other sovereign states a criminal offence and Germany ended up sucking to Erdogan's stupid demand since EU needed his help in handling the refugee crisis and agreed for his prosecution. 

It is sad to see Turkey in this shape, and Erdogan is turning more and more autocratic, trying to consolidate more power into his hands by transforming the country into a presidential republic to end up being president for life, similar to the models of the other Turkic nations (Azerbaijan - Ilham Aliyev, Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbayeev, Uzbekistan - Islam Karimov) and I hope, before things turn too bad, Turkey manages to come out of this menace caused by the current president. 

With all this said, I wish to clarify that I have great respect for Turkey but not for their current President. 

Have a nice day,