By Samir Shukla
Evolution is such a magically slow and incremental thing. Human lifetimes are too short to notice this magic. In order to alleviate this unfathomable unknown, we have created mystical gods and goddesses, prophets, swamis and messiahs, and myriad creation myths.
We live in an age where incremental evolution, or slow changes made by or imposed upon humans in social, political, and historical realms, seem like anathema. Everyone has an opinion or solution that will solve problems instantly. Everyone wants everything instantly. Put a “Stop Racism" bumper sticker on your car and presto racism is gone. Build a wall on the border and illegal migration will go away.
The reality is that social change is very slow, it is generational. Revolutions generally burn out in wisps of choking smoke. There's no pixie dust to wipe out racism, inequality, sexism…poof a pinch of the magic stuff and it's gone. It doesn't work that way. It takes a community of humans and change agents making sacrifices to infuse justice into the systems. It is slow, but effective.
Youngsters looking for revolution are a feisty bunch. But real change occurs slowly, incrementally. Human behavior doesn't swing on a dime. Deeply held beliefs, perceptions, and prejudices are not easily changed. But they can be softened a bit via soft power and subtle persuasion. Not by telling them to do something, but by showing them something positive. Creating options and choices are the way to sway others. Don't try to change someone, engage someone. Engagement creates a positivity swap, if you will, which even in small doses pulls people forward.
Revolution lies in the wings of a butterfly, not in the fires of torches or metals of bullets. Everyone complains about the divisiveness that is plaguing the country and the world. We must step back and assess what has worked, what needs to be reworked, and work on needed changes. That's always been the way forward.
The rapid march of technology will render vast amounts of current jobs and occupations unnecessary. Automation will reign. Artificial Intelligence will reign. We will need fewer humans to run the planet precisely when the human population keeps expanding. It will mean realigning our aspirations, needs and economic systems. What matters is what we do to ameliorate the inevitable forces and work out solutions.
Remove an essential brick from a rickety wall and the whole thing tumbles down. Learn how to make bricks and you build foundations.
By Samir Shukla
A Solution to Political Pollution
It's a lovely number, this incoming fresh year. 2020. This number gives a sense of perfect vision, calm and order. Of course contemporary politics are not exactly ordered or calm. They are disjointed, emotionally charged, physically draining and full of twists and turns. There is a concept, a word, where we can approach some sort of orderly calmness. That concept, a simple tool to tap into in times of conflict and dissonance, is called reason. The quiet voices of reason can douse the fires of political partisanship and tribalism, and help get things done. Of course, by reason I mean in the sense where logic and facts matter. Well, that's common sense, you may say. What I mean is the ability to put aside biases in heated moments and put your adult hat on.
It requires concerted effort.
In the madness of this presidential election year, the strong middle, the backbone of America has to come to the rescue. Join the reasoned masses and help put the fake news, fake memes, and fake righteousness and bravado of liars and noisemakers back into their holes.
The loudmouths on the right and the left are in the minority. They are like the proverbial barking dogs that lack real bite and can be subdued, but only when the reasoned folks insert truthfulness into chaos.
It's funny how we are becoming more tribal, but at times, especially during sporting events and music concerts, we untangle our usual tribalism and weave a different tone. Sports fans high-fiving each other every time their team scores, everyone dancing and singing along to a popular song during concerts, these folks maybe politically opposite, but in that moment, after a slam dunk, or a soaring guitar solo, the tribes intermingle. They become one. This is the real human community, instilled with a natural sense of camaraderie. A shared joy. This similar convergence happens in moments of national tragedy. A shared pain.
Political ideologies vanish when peoples merge in celebration. They may again become bitter partisans as soon as they walk out, but in that moment of communal gathering, differences melt away. This is worth replicating in daily lives.
Fellow travelers on the ship called reason take a deep breath and welcome the fresh year. There will be maddeningly distorted political ads everywhere as we inch toward Election Day, incessant robocalls, and social media fisticuffs galore. The adults in the room will have to sprinkle the cooling drops of truth and facts to keep those partisan fires from getting out of control, which can consume individuals, destroy long term friendships and unhinge families. It is just politics folks; we still share our joys and our pains.
Let's create invisible parties of logicians, Reasoncrats or Reasonpublicans, if you will, and yes, we still have our personal ideologies, but we can be the moderation sorely needed for the sake of our neighborhoods, towns, and country.
By Samir Shukla
Words matter. They have long lasting effects when spoken or delivered in a persuasive manner. A few unfortunate words spoken during the heat of an argument can fester for years in someone's mind, sometimes rearing their ugly heads years later as stored anger.
I've often wondered about misunderstandings that may have occurred through the centuries via language barriers and miscommunications. Here's a possible scenario going back, say a few centuries. A couple of travelers stop by to ask for directions in a strange land, unknowingly offend the natives and wind up starting a feud, or worse, a war. Slangs and unfamiliar cultural terms make the matters worse as their subtleties get lost in translation.
Rewording something also makes it politically or socially viable. Global warming has become climate change. Estate taxes have become death taxes. An infant cow is veal. No one wants to buy “death" insurance; hence “life" insurance is the palatable moniker.
Our current president is not exactly a man of fluid words. He is not well read, by his own account, and loves communicating in short, simple blurbs and catchphrases. It works for him. He has found a way to connect with his supporters in a manner that make them even more supportive. He denied being a politician when he made his run for president and touted himself as an outsider, but has turned out to be a formidable politician. Words on Twitter are his communication modus operandi.
Words and the power of language can change the world, sometimes in a despicable manner, other times for the collective good. They can inspire, disturb, amaze or teach.
A picture tells a thousand tales, ah, but words can inspire countless readers or listeners. No one quotes a picture. Just think of folk tales passed down through generations. They create images of places and people that are left to the imagination of the listener. Think about all the notable humans of the past, evil or good. They understood the power of persuasion via language. Think about all the social media imagery that is floated daily, but it is still the words spoken that lead to inspiration or impeachment inquiries.
The current impeachment inquiry rests on a few words spoken by President Trump during a phone call. Their interpretation guides this inquiry and further divides the nation into political camps. That is the power of words.
I offer some personal wisdom, with due respect to Teddy Roosevelt, “Speak persuasively and carry a big dictionary."
By Samir Shukla
Whaaaaaaat? You mean there are more Democrats entering the race? Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick has tossed his hat into the ring for the Democratic presidential nomination. Former NYC mayor and big money businessman Michael Bloomberg will likely do so soon. There are whispers in the air that Hillary Clinton still hasn’t totally ruled out a last-minute run. Say it ain’t so.
Some of the candidates are dropping out. Beto was the latest high-profile candidate to call it quits. Of course, no one else wants to drop out this close to the early caucuses and primaries (see below for upcoming dates). The impeachment inquiry rolls on while the Democratic hopefuls debate, campaign and try to persuade early voters. The debates are becoming a way in which hard left candidates and moderate candidates can delineate themselves.
One more debate is scheduled this year in December. A few more are planned for the first few months of 2020 and during the primary season. My feeling is that after Super Tuesday on March 3, 2020, when a bunch of states hold primaries, including North Carolina, a clear frontrunner, possibly even the presumptive nominee, will emerge.
In the meantime what is the end goal of impeachment? Removal? That’s not going to happen. Even if some magical pixie dust descends on the Senate, and they vote to remove Trump, what’s the next phase? Pence will become president. All of Trump’s noise and chaos will descend in the background. Pence will pick a like-minded running mate and reset the election. Trump’s hardcore supporters, in the meantime, will go on war footing. The cleanest way to end the Trump presidency for those who wish it, even some Republicans and conservatives I know would like to see this happen, is to beat him cleanly and by a wide margin in November. Democrats need a center left candidate to do this. Plain and simple. Democrats’ mantra should be to win the White House, pick off three or four senate seats, and then strategically plan systemic changes.
I can hear the howls of left-wing Democrats giving me an evil eye. Let me put it this way, all the talk of reparations, Medicare for all, new Green Deal, they all rhyme with one line…”Donald Trump has been reelected…”
Underestimating Trump is a fool’s gamble.
About 40 percent of Americans will vote Democratic and about 40 percent of Americans will vote Republican, no matter who the candidate is. The thin layer in the middle, along with partisan turnout, will decide the final outcome.
The road rage continues.
Notable 2020 Dates:
February 3: Iowa Caucuses
February 11: New Hampshire Primaries
February 22: Nevada Democratic Caucuses
February 29: South Carolina Democratic Primary (The SC Republican party has cancelled its primaries)
March 3: Super Tuesday. Thirteen states, including North Carolina, hold primaries.
By Samir Shukla
The place is same.
The scene is different.
I have mentally marked a spot at my house, just under the deck on a patch of paved area snuggled against the backyard. This is where I stand several times a year specifically to observe nature's changing drama.
In spring the grass is a soft green, wildflowers bloom, perennials return. On a hot summer day, the grass is darker and stiffer, the trees are fully loaded with foliage while darting birds and jumpy squirrels are busy going about their business. The fall can be a drama of red, yellow and orange. If the fall is especially dry, like this year, the ground cover turns a sadder brown, colored by the fallen leaves. The stark emptiness and lack of foliage in winter evokes an entirely different mood and when it snows, well, that's a whole different palate of winter colors.
As the seasons rotate, nature fused by its emotional ups and downs, realigns the palette, updates the foliage; the colors mingle and emerge with new hues, unfolding like a magic trick, a slight of hand that updates the illusion. This magic trick, though, is not lightning fast, but slow and deliberate. An artist creates a new painting, a singer croons a new song, and a dancer changes her footwork. Nature is a combination of all three and more, refreshing the senses with each episode.
For years I have thought of photographing the view from my designated spot at different times of year, but till now I have resisted this particular digital documentation. We take hundreds, even thousands of images in our content-saturated contemporary times. Smart phones with large memories along with cloud servers keep the endless images easily stored. Everything is photographed.
In this self-imposed non-photographed setting, I memorize the image of each season and compare it with what the trees, the grass, the sky, the air itself, looked, felt and smelled like a few months earlier. I close my eyes and test my memory. It's a still dream, a meditative exercise testing memory cells, with the resolution set at its highest.
I resist the urge to whip out my phone and take a photo. On this spot, about five to six times a year, I record the image in the memory recesses of the mind. It's an image only I will remember.
I like to compare it to a batch of written words, whether they are part of a novel or short story. The description of a particular setting is frozen in the words describing it. Readers can close their eyes and imagine the setting. In this instance, I use the image saved in my mind instead of words.
We are a part and parcel of nature, yet the workings of nature never cease to amaze me. There's art in nature, music as well. The cool, steady breeze of fall drones like a sitar, the winds, thunder and sudden rains of summer are like a rock concert. A cold desolate winter day can be a somber violin solo. Springtime is the most joyous of all, where the music is an orchestral feast.
These musical flourishes can be added to that still image in my mind for enhanced effect.
Here in the South we are fortunate to have defined seasons that make this effort of recording images in the mind a revelatory exercise.
Find your own spot. I recommend somewhere near your home. Return to the same exact spot, standing or sitting in the same position, gazing at the same area, at different times of year. Just observe. The change of moods, colors and sounds are revealing. Set aside the urge to take a photo with your phone. Just this one spot, every few months, take a few moments to simply observe and mentally document.
These images will only be stored in your mind. It's pretty amazing to see and remember specific natural surroundings, the colors, shades, feel of the air, shapes of shrubs, that low hanging branch on an oak tree, and bunches of wild berries, things that maybe taken for granted with a quick photograph.
This is your world, this little spot. The images will not be captured and endlessly shared on social media or other ways. These are your secret images, yours to keep and cherish. When a moment of stillness and calm are needed during times of chaos and noise, close your eyes and return to one of these stored images of that special spot you have chosen.
So, here I stand at my spot, looking at nature's painting as it stands today, and now close my eyes and mentally change the colors, add leaves, remove leaves, imagine birds and fireflies, a dusting of light snow, all taken from different images in my mind.
These are my own personal images, taken only for my mind, backed up and saved in the best storage device.
By Samir Shukla
Modi and Trump in Houston
The Texas India Forum organized the “Howdy Modi!" event for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to connect with Indian-Americans while he was in the country for the annual United Nations General Assembly and the UN Climate Summit. Modi invited President Trump a few weeks before the event to also speak to the crowd, estimated to be around 50,000, on September 22, 2019.
There's no way Trump would not have attended this event when asked. It was a chance to speak to a huge crowd in a state that is slowly turning blue.
Trump didn't seem to veer far from his prepared speech, checking off things he's done, while giving some red meat (or maybe in this case, red chili pepper) bits to the crowd.
Modi gave a long speech that gave the crowd what they came to see. The audience was there for Modi, the venue was sold out before Trump was in the picture. Trump, of course, is never one to pass on a rally.
Both Trump and Modi love to talk in front of huge crowds. Both are famous teetotalers who get a huge buzz not from booze, but from adoring crowds. Call them polarizing, but both are savvy with talking points that will get a friendly audience cheering.
Modi knows that India's economy is slowing and he is going to have to make changes. Hence he is out to make more deals with the US.
Trump is the rich kid born into a life of ease, self-loving and politically astute. Modi is a self-made man from a poor family, measured and politically astute. His political savvy helped him win his second term as Prime Minister earlier this year with a large margin. Trump is now ratcheting up his reelection campaign, which he may yet win, but it won't be by a large margin. In fact, Trump can lose the popular vote by an even larger margin in 2020 then he did in 2016, and can still win reelection, thanks to the Electoral College. Of course, a strong Democratic candidate able to unite the Democrats while convincing independents and even some Republicans to vote blue could seal Trump's fate as a one-term president.
Modi likes to talk and watching Trump sitting there for an extended period while someone else is in the limelight was interesting, to say the least.
Indian-Americans are becoming very active in politics. Trump and the Republicans also know that Indian-Americans lean Democratic by a plurality. Nearly 70 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It is a politically involved community that is growing and both political parties recognize this.
Whatever the political leanings of Americans, Indian-Americans, and Indians, the United States and India are natural long-term economic partners. No other country, or trade wars, can hold China at bay as when Western democracies create economic and political alliances with India.
The United States and India should be natural partners, fully engaged with each other economically, socially, and on the security front. This will remain a key partnership through next year and beyond, whether Trump wins reelection like Modi or is sent packing.
Democrats Keep Debating, Chapter Three, Houston
The third Democratic debate was held in Houston on September 12, 2019, ten days prior to the Modi event. There were 10 candidates this time, as all the others didn't make the cut due to stricter DNC eligibility guidelines. The candidates, if they want to beat Trump, will have to start inspiring people with simple passion and, yup, I'll say it again, move more to the center. Moving to the center is anathema for contemporary progressives who want to make massive institutional changes. Sorry guys, things don't work that way. Don't scare people away. First things first. You have to win elections before you can enact any change, let alone sweeping changes that you wish to see.
The debates are showing increasing friction where the moderate and hard progressive wings of the Democratic Party are trying to get a foothold. The scales are tipping to the left in the primaries while the moderates try to hold the hard progressives at bay. Of course this is very early in the game and the modus operandi right now is to try to please the hard-progressive base. Just like the Republican candidates tilted hard right in the 2015-2016 primaries and debates.
The requirements for Democrats have now gotten tougher and several candidates have already dropped out, while some of the more flexible ones may survive until the caucuses and primaries begin early next year.
In my estimation, the presumed Democratic nominee or a clear frontrunner will emerge after Super Tuesday in early March of 2020. North Carolina is among the states that will vote in the Democratic primary on March 3.
The Democratic National Committee has announced the next debate in Ohio on October 15, 2019. Currently 11 candidates have qualified, one more than the third debate, which means a second debate may be held October 16. If this number holds, it would be smart for the DNC to hold just one debate. An extra candidate won't make much difference and the debates are already grinding on many folks.
By Samir Shukla
Human migrations follow opportunity, safety and survival, among myriad other reasons. The world population is growing and environmental degradation, warfare, climate change, lack of employment, all will set ever more humans on migration routes crisscrossing the globe.
Cataclysmic and historic events can redirect the future as much as the simple decision of shifting to a different part of a country or the world, whether those choices are in your hands or not.
Migration is in the human DNA. We have been shuffling about and resettling different areas of the planet for eons. A person can make thoughtful choices, with a calm stillness of the heart, to make a move to another part of the world. There are others who have no such choice, and, often with hearts throbbing, leave all behind in the cover of night to escape brutality and violence. There are many people around the world for whom the choice is whether to stay where they are and wither into slow starvation, succumb to unending cycles of violence, or try to leave, for somewhere better.
Opportunity migrants pack their bags, hug the family and leave for a new land. Many others face a more stark choice, leave now or fall prey to a murderous mob or gang. And for many women around the world the sad reality to leave, often with small children clinging to them, is due to a violent husband. They make such a choice when nothing else can make their lives safer than to flee.
Nearly 75 years ago my maternal grandfather migrated from Karachi (now in Pakistan) to Amdavad in Gujarat, India. It was a forced migration. India was split into three countries upon independence along bogus “religious" borders and millions of families were forced to leave their ancestral homelands and shift back and forth between India and the newly created Pakistan. He arrived in Amdavad with minimal belongings and rebuilt his life and family from nothing to everything.
Forty five years ago, in September of 1974, a mother and four young children landed in New York City. I was the oldest of the children and we reconnected with my father, who had arrived a few months earlier and set up roots. The humble and disorienting beginning bloomed into perseverance and we have thrived. It was a choice migration, seeking opportunity. The United States was reeling from Vietnam and the Watergate scandal while my family began to mingle with this most fertile land of opportunity. We built everything from very little, creating bonds of two cultures and nations.
Most immigrants make something out of nothing, thrive and benefit the places to where they migrate.
Every year between mid-August and mid-September I pause and think of “what if" scenarios. What if Mohammed Ali Jinnah and others' efforts to divide India had failed and somehow the country had avoided partition, which happened on a sad mid-August midnight in 1947. My maternal grandfather and his side of family would likely have stayed in Karachi, resulting in different timeline and family evolution.
What if we had stayed in India instead of making the leap on that promising September midnight 45 years ago? I'm sure we would have built different lives and thrived in India. One small sad outcome if that had happened; you wouldn't be reading this wonderful magazine my brother and I started over two decades ago.
India is an unfathomable feast of diversities and possible futures stolen by invaders and infighting. The ancient land perseveres, albeit battered and divided. The United States is a well of opportunities fueled by diversity. Migration and immigration are and can be the continual foundations for this well to remain full.
Legal and Illegal
Yes, I get the legal and illegal immigration debate, and there has to be a knock on the door for those wanting to come here and go through the proper channels, as my family did, rather than crawl through an open window or a crack in the fence.
We need solid security on land and sea borders as well as ports and airports where people and goods arrive. A nation of immigrants thrives on traditions that built the country while working to erase the dark pasts. Only when the American people want to solidify our values on immigration, keeping a door available for the downtrodden of the planet while smoothing the process for those going through the proper channels, will we resolve immigration dilemmas and divisions for the long term. People will always look for greener pastures and opportunity. Our southern city of Charlotte is rapidly growing and one of the reasons is snowbirds and folks from the economically depressed areas of once-vital industrial states in the north are shifting here to the south. They are economic migrants. A global understanding, equitable economic systems, and a thoughtful movement will help mitigate the inevitable and growing global migrations to come.
By Samir Shukla
Among my personal joys of summer? Long drives. Ones where you cross a few states on your way to a destination. It could be a sun-blasted drive, while odd knots of clouds paint the sky above. Sometimes clouds blot out the sun, and then there maybe rain, a gentle sprinkle or torrential downpour. You pass quaint farms and sad small towns clinging to country roads, exits for connecting roads, towns and cities, humanity going with you in one direction while others are going where you just left, passing by in flashes of cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles. Certain vehicles become a part of your journey, like that blue truck hauling some kind of pipes you passed a while back and catches up with you again down the road because you took a pee break at a rest area. You spot it again somewhere down the road, it is as if it came along to give you company.
All this becomes a soundtrack of the drive. All the sights and sounds of American highways and byways, yes, the whole journey is enhanced by this music of the road. You insert favorite songs into this soundtrack of the drive and make it your own. Conversations make the long miles seem shorter, while music adds a different element. On solo drives, music is indispensable. Tapping into songs with lyrics specific to the geography you are currently passing lends a sense of place. Songs about towns, states or specific locations add markers along the drive, bringing the places to life even if you are just passing through.
You can't drive through Alabama and not listen to “Sweet Home Alabama." Right? Or not hum a few lines of one of myriad songs about the city that never sleeps while driving or strolling around New York City Streets. “I'm in a New York state of mind…" croons Billy Joel somewhere in those streets at any given moment.
So, the summer drive at hand. We headed out of Charlotte while James Taylor mellowed the early part of the journey with “Carolina in My Mind." We were now on the road with about 700 miles beckoning. The hell with the GPS telling me exactly the miles and the anticipated drive time. I like my mind's maps, especially on a summer drive where you have allotted some extra time for counting the trees along the way, if you will.
It's also unplanned stops along the way at the oft missed and forgotten places that add stories to summertime drives. That waterfront scenic spot, mountaintop lookout, a curio shop on a rural road, a historic marker, boiled peanuts, well, you know what I mean.
The Rolling Stones' “Sweet Virginia" kept us company for a few minutes along the sliver of Virginia we drove through on this trek to our destination on a jaunt headed northwest. It was the 4th of July, adding a patriotic flair especially driving through Virginia while listening to Springsteen's philosophical lyrics about this wonderful country.
The car rolled along and popped out of a mountain tunnel and West Virginia appeared on a welcome sign. Ok, so you know one of the songs played while driving through the state. “Country roads, take me home, to the place…"
The mountains now conquered and the entire breadth of Ohio remained, where along the way Neil Young told a bit of the story of Kent State in his song “Ohio."
No long drive is complete without Kishore Kumar's “Musafir Hun Yaaron (I'm a traveler my friends)."
There's no reason that Kishore Kumar can't mingle with Coldplay or Arijit Singh handing over the mic to Bruce Springsteen on this drive's soundtrack or any other for that matter. The added advantage of streaming services now means any song that pops in your head can be commissioned to play via the cell phone.
On this drive, through the states and American byways, the wildly varied clouds, the blazing July sun, the sameness of the highway, oft broken by sections like an old bridge over a lonely river, at the end of this long drive, we pulled into the outskirts of Motor City. Detroit. We were just outside the city, in the burbs to absorb talks of the philosopher Guru Morari Bapu for a couple of days. Our intention was also to explore a bit of Detroit.
One drizzly afternoon we entered the city limits of this once industrial powerhouse while rockers Kiss blasted out “Detroit Rock City" on the speakers.
The next moment The Temptations began to sing “I got sunshine on a cloudy day..." We were in Motown. If New York City has inspired a hundred songs, Motown has shaped generations of American music. Born and bred in Detroit, the “Motown sound" (born as Tamla Records in 1959 and soon renamed Motown Records) redirected American music. It was black music, loved by one and all. Sixty years have passed and the classics of Motown never fade.
We stopped off to feel the aura of the place and the sounds in the air at the Motown Museum, which is really the small house where Motown began, with its offices and a recording studio. Hitsville USA as it became known. This little corner of Detroit serves as a spiritual gathering and reminder of the power of music to bind generations, in this case the “Motown sound." Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross are among the icons of this timeless sound.
This drive is now rounded out with a return trip to Charlotte, which of course had its own musical accompaniments. Summer is not over yet. The next road trip awaits its own soundtrack.
By Samir Shukla
I have always preferred the influencing power of words over the preciseness of numbers. Two plus two will always equal four, but have two people sit on a park bench, look straight ahead and quickly write down what they observe and you will get two variations. Numbers and their wizardry came easy to me in school years. Today words inform my life, give me comfort, and light the much worn as well as newer paths.
In my thoughts, in June, I stroll on such a path, awaiting the sizzle of July, scouting the spot where I will jump to the other half of my fifth decade on this globe. Every year the month begins with the bombast of fireworks and ends with the soft blinking of fireflies.
I'm sitting on the upper wooden deck behind my house on a breezy June night. A thin moon dimly lights the clouds, nocturnal insects break the quiet with occasional chirping. The night is deepening while smooth bourbon mingles with the ice in a thick glass sitting atop a small table to the right of me. The sips help navigate the jumble of thoughts disturbing the night, or does it jumble the thoughts navigating the night? The bourbon will have the last word.
I left work earlier in the day and drove home and landed in my driveway but couldn't remember any landmarks or turns I made. Don't remember accelerating or braking. I simply made it back home as if I had transported from one location to the next. It's a drive I've done countless times. The only thing I remember is shifting from the NPR radio station to a classic rock station somewhere along the route. Damn if I could remember the drive, but I recount flipping from a chatty segment on immigration and nodding my head to an Aerosmith power ballad. This is among the thoughts this night as I take another sip.
A brick wall about the height of an average basketball player separates my backyard from the street. I sit facing the wall, looking down at it and the dark backyard while the night mellows. A car passes by, its usual noise softened by the bank of trees on the either side of the wall and the wall itself.
The engine noise sounds like a heavy cardboard box dragged across sand, approaching, amplifying and then fading. The single headlight does double duty for the other broken headlight while evoking a low flying UFO hovering just above the street. The bourbon enhances its spectrum.
I tap the nearly empty glass and sniff out the last drop which whispers to me to call it a day. The numbers 11:58pm light up the phone that's been set aside. Two plus two sure equals four, and now two more minutes and the thin moon will cough up another day that the sun will embellish in its own manner in a few hours and backslap it on its way.
The words and thoughts swirling around my brain now fade while the numbers win the night once again, ticktocking along while I quietly open the back door and tip toe through the kitchen and up the stairs into the awaiting midnight slumber.
By Samir Shukla
The Republic of Modi's 2019 election is over. India once again became its prime minister. Yes, sure, I've purposely mixed up the words here, but make no mistake. Narendra Modi was reelected India's Prime Minister by a large margin and a bigger mandate. He has infused himself into India's ethos unlike any former Prime Minister. He is now larger and will be an even bigger self-proclaimed charger; further sprinkling his vision and policies into the country, which some will hail and others will curse.
It takes two terms, whether for Presidents or Prime Ministers, to fully flex the vision and policies for long-term effect. Those are fighting words for Modi detractors, albeit too late now, and, even more so for Trump detractors, who would love to deny him a second term in 2020.
It will be up to a man or woman with the word Democrat attached to their name to accomplish that task. The democrats vying for the party's nomination are becoming louder, as they must. Someone has to get ahead of the pack and stay ahead. Their policies are, for the most part, in line with progressive ideology. There is no “out of nowhere" outlier like Trump was during the Republican primaries in 2016. Each candidate will have to work hard.
Joe Biden remains the frontrunner, but there are four or five other candidates chomping at the bits that have a chance at the nomination. I can't imagine most of them will get too far, but they may be already angling for a cabinet position, if a democrat wins the White House.
The first debates have taken place in late June (after we went to press for the July issue). More debates are coming up in July. Much convincing and fundraising await the candidates.
In politics, as in much of life, it's all about persuading. My modus operandi has always been, if I can go see it, I will, if I can touch it I will. If I can hear it, smell it and taste it, I will. That is a prime way to inform myself. Now the nearly two dozen folks running for the Democratic nomination must inform the voters and persuade people to vote for them when the primaries crank up early next year. The long slog continues.
Upcoming Democratic Debates:
July 30 & July 31, 2019: CNN (9-11pm), Detroit
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