Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #187 - Life in Value-Chunks

When life is hostage to values, you stop flowing with the graceful wave of life. You are hostage to a life lived in value-chunks!

(Photo by Jung Ho Park on Unsplash)

“The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Ch'ang mountains. Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War


Coffins should be made for the dead. Per their measure.

When the dead are ‘made’ for the coffins, constructed beforehand, you are left with vestiges that will stink long after the dead have been buried or cremated.

Our loyalties, our worldview, our interpretations cannot be cookie-cutter, where the world has an obligation to fit. World is way too large to oblige to your whims.

In the politics of today, however, that is how we all have become. We follow party lines. Their talking points become our marching orders. Their narratives our code of ethics.

Our values don’t flow from life anymore. Our life is now a hostage to our pre-constructed values.

Life doesn’t flow anymore, you see. It comes in neat packs of value-chunks.


American electoral process - how ideological divide has obviated needed reforms

Mother Jones is a very liberal magazine and it had shared something in 2019 about something that is at the heart of the break-down of the American Democracy - electoral integrity.

AJ Vicens, the writer of the article had presciently remarked:

A report issued Thursday by some of the country’s leading election security experts found that voting machines used in dozens of state remain vulnerable to hacks and manipulations, warning that that without continued efforts to increase funding, upgrade technology, and adopt voter-marked paper ballot systems, “we fear that the 2020 presidential elections will realize the worst fears only hinted at during the 2016 elections: insecure, attacked, and ultimately distrusted.” (Source)

Irrespective of what the truth of this 2020 election is in terms of who really won, the fact is that half the country believes that the election was stolen. And, the other half doesn’t want to give a damn about it. In fact, wants to characterize any question around the lack of integrity in the vote-counting process to be a “controversy” or a hoax.

It doesn’t matter whether it is or not. The fact is there is no formal investigation into it and the perception gets only strengthened by that.

Bill Clinton had once remarked, which I am paraphrasing - you don’t only have to be good, you also have to seem to be good!

That is critical in any democracy.

mail-in absentee voting - was wrong before it became the greatest tool in history

The other issue is the “mail-in” votes.

This provision was allowed via the passing of the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act of 2007 (H.R. 281). This amended the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and enabled the states to allow eligible voters to “request a mail-in ballot for all federal elections without having to provide a reason.” (Source)

In a detailed report “Building Confidence in US Elections: Report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform” in September 2005, absentee mail-in ballots were a major concern.

If you were to look for anything on mail-in vote security or weakness, you will find articles with analysts who are gung-ho about the mail-in voting and touting it as almost a perfect mechanism. Quite obviously, the searches have a tendency to reflect a certain ideological bias and currently, mail-in ballots being insecure is the central argument of Trump's side. So, the exact opposite, sans any critical argument, has to be forced down the non-discerning researcher. But do yourself a favor and limit the search results via the tools option to until 2008. And, then suddenly you start seeing something different.

A writer at CATO Institute, which is a liberal think-tank, had some misgivings with the mail-in absentee voting way back in 2008.

In a TechKnowledge piece called “Voter ID: A Tempest in a Teapot that Could Burn Us All,” I shared some thoughts that are relevant to this bill:

Increasing voter participation has been a policy fetish for the last decade or two‐​never mind whether more voting for its own sake makes a better democracy.… The growth in absentee balloting has undone some of the protections against voter impersonation and multiple voting that previously existed. People are much more reticent to commit fraud in person — it’s riskier — so in‐​person voting was a natural security against impersonation fraud. Voting in multiple jurisdictions is simply too time‐​consuming to do on any scale when it has to be done in person.

The bill would require states to verify signatures on absentee ballots by cross‐​checking them with voters’ signatures on the official list of registered voters, but this only begins to shore up the security hole opened by mass absentee balloting. (Source)

The US Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), for example, came out with a report in April 2006, where it’s conclusions raised questions on not just the integrity of the votes but also about “voter intimidation”, which should be a major concern in many communities. (Source)

An issue that none of the 2020 experts seem to address. For these experts, signatures matching means it’s Nirvana state! Anyone who has been familiar with the Indian system knows that paper ballots were a major issue mainly because of intimidation. That major frauds have not happened in the past elections in the US, is not an endorsement of the robustness of the American mail-in ballot system, but the honesty of the people. It, however, is no guarantee to the extent to which any unscrupulous system could milk it to their advantage.

The only reason why so many Republicans may not be pushing the investigations on the election issues that the Trump team is raising is that these weaknesses provide them with a hope to exploit them for their own advantage. By keeping quiet now and not raising it as a concern shows that they do not want to disturb a golden goose that can give them enough returns if they can play this game better than the other side.

For, in any sane society, such concerns would have been the most devastating in terms of how electoral victory is perceived.

And, we aren’t talking about a small population. 57% of voters (118 million in 34 states are allowed “Absentee voting for all” (mail-in) without any excuses and ballots are mailed directly to all voters in 9 states + Washington DC for 21% of US voter population! (Source)

Of course, now all these questions or misgivings have evaporated. And everyone who has an ideological beef with Trump is completely gung-ho about absentee mail-in voting and can swear that nothing is amiss in its security format.

Thus shutting the door for any action or reform in this critical and major weakness in the American voting process for all conceivable future.

China and the US - the future

The COVID-19 virus devastation of the world, the war of narratives, the infiltration into the US and other Western democracies, the “Debt Trap Diplomacy” and war preparations against Taiwan and India and bullying of Australia - China has come a long way into creating major geopolitical issues and handling their fall-outs by unleashing the foot-soldiers on the ground in various societies to further their agenda. One can see that US has fallen behind in the last few decades. And the mindset that the new Biden regime is coming in with, the chances are that China’s assertiveness will only increase.

Here is Chinese academic Li Yi who is a sociology researcher with the Renmin University of China. He is talking about the impact of COVID on the world, specifically the US, and how China will be able to beat America ahead of their (China’s) planned timeframe.

China will be ahead of US ahead of (our planned) time.  There is no doubt we can catch up in 2027.  America cannot survive.… it is not that the US is giving a very hard time to China.  It is us who are pushing America out of existence.

Recently, he was kicked out of Taiwan because he was promoting the Chinese narrative of “unification”. (Source)

France and Muslims - fake news and meltdown of Global ‘liberals’

It all happened in a day in Pakistan. November 22. Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari (yes, even Pakistan has a minister for Human Rights, go figure!) tweeted fake news dinging France, which the French embassy promptly tagged as fake news. The HR minister then doubled down on her accusation and pushed.

Later, the publication may have taken the article off and Mazari deleted her tweet.

France also meanwhile took out a note from its consulate in Pakistan.

France, btw, as we shared in the last newsletter, has also started to put screws on Pakistan in their own way.

France has decided against helping Pakistan upgrade its fleet of Mirage fighter jets, air defence system and Agosta 90B class submarines, a direct fallout of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s loud criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of the right to mock religion following the murder of a French schoolteacher, people familiar with the matter said. France has also told Qatar, one of the countries that bought the Rafale fighters, not to allow Pakistan-origin technicians to work with the plane over concerns that they could leak technical information about the fighter to Islamabad as the omni-role jet is the front-line fighter of India. Pakistan is known to share vital defence data with China in the past. (Source)

Globally, the left-liberal writers in major American newspapers have been busy spreading falsehoods about France. For obvious ideological reasons. Let’s just call it the way it is - they were basically doing a “hit job”.

This Karen Attiah is the “Global Opinions” writer for Washington Post (Source). She was even the NABJ Journo of the Year. The French government had to tweet to set the record straight!

All because of how the French President is not backing off from reforming the situation in his country with respect to the political terror-based role that Islamists are playing.

market corner - 10 quick bytes

  1. RBI panel’s 4 four massive proposed changes - banking landscape may change - more

  2. BYJU valued at $12 billion as it raises $1.2 bn in 2020 - more

  3. Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (“DPIIT”) allows 26% FDI under the Government approval route, for ‘uploading/streaming of news and current affairs through digital media’ - more

  4. The top private employer sees jobs in India rising to pre-Covid levels - more

  5. Apple supplier Pegatron board okays initial $150 million investment in India - more

  6. Imran Khan-led Pakistan government new law grants the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) a free hand to “remove or block” digital content - Google, Facebook, Twitter threaten to leave Pakistan - more

  7. New rules to sign up for GST - proposals by the law committee of the GST Council. They aim to tighten compliance measures and target restrictions on firms identified as risky - more

  8. UP Government to start work on the ₹36,410-crore Ganga Expressway from Meerut to Allahabad by next year - more

  9. India likely to have current account surplus this fiscal - Chief Economic Adviser K V Subramanian - more

  10. India's top refiner IOC buys most crude since COVID-19 outbreak - more

nota bene

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday announced that the state government is putting on hold the controversial Kerala Police Amendment ordinance. (Source)

Tire manufacturers are investing money to produce natural rubber in northeast India, following a 40 percent import cap imposed by the government (Source)

Players Unknown Battleground (PUBG) mobile and the news of the battle-royale game making a comeback - Indian ownership, Prizes worth Lakhs and employment for Indians (Source)

India has started sharing the evidence of Pakistan's involvement in the Nagrota terror attack with the international community. (Source)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he is ready to work with any leader in the United States (US) who has the confidence of the American people but is still not ready to recognize the election victory of President-elect Joseph Biden (Source)

recognizing Dali

Once Salvador Dali came on a game show. The game was to recognize him by asking questions. Watch this amazing iconic artist as he answers the questions and people try to recognize him. Fascinating clip to watch.

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