Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's not war against Islam

To claim that any religion as a whole is violent, evil is tantamount to ignoring the lessons of history.

Every major religion has had its dark periods - Christianity with the crusades and inquisitions, Hinduism - with its cast system and other dogmas, Islam - with terrorism and fundamentalism. Some extremist activities still happen in Christianity & Hinduism but they are relatively on the fringe and have thankfully not taken over the mainstream discussion.

The common theme to these dark episodes is almost always the so-called "religious leaders" and their interpretation of their religion's scripture(s) and holy texts.

What they fail to understand is the context in which these were scribed. The Bible, The Koran and The Vedas were written for a different era and a different kind of society. To expect their authors to be able to see thousands of years into the future and moderate their writing is naive.

The onus to evolve the religion and keep it sane and moderate falls upon subsequent leaders of that religion. Christianity and Hinduism have been through these "growing pains". Islam IMHO is going through these pains today. For the sake of humanity and all that we believe to be good, Islam has to find its moderate voice and make that its loudest. To just claim or state in a Washingtonpost.com comment that the Koran preaches peace is not sufficient. Those that truly love Islam and see it as a just and peaceful religion should make a concerted effort within their mosques to "re-"define their religion and what it stands for. They have to come out strongly against the fundamentalist forces such as the Taliban and LeT. They have to unite and collectively put out the fire that is now raging in their house. And they need to start by looking inwards.

Blaming the West or India for all their problems has become an all too easy excuse for Pakistan. Pakistani leaders for many years have been doing that AND have fooled their population into similar thinking, while conveniently ignoring(hiding) their own failures at economic and social progress.

Pakistanis need to look into the mirror and find answers to their pressing social & economic issues. They need to invest their legendary courage, strength and will into educating their people, building their infrastructure, reforming their justice system and modernizing their economy. That would be the true measure of their culture and society. Today, they are notorious/infamous for all the wrong reasons (Taliban, extremism, terrorism, suicide-bombers). No amount of US aid or funding can help them if they don't face up (own up) to their problems. The change that Pakistan seeks has to come from within. Can they do it? Sphere: Related Content

Friday, December 5, 2008

Where's the moderate voice?

The recent terror attacks in Mumbai led me to ponder (yet again) on the connection between Terrorism and Islam.

A cursory glance at the World's Terror HotSpots will reveal that a majority (>90%) of the terrorism is being perpetrated by fundamental Muslim extremists. Whether it is the Hamas in Palestine, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Al Qaeda in Pakistan (let's stop kidding ourselves as to where the Al Qaeda are really based in), the so-called "Al Qaeda in Iraq" OR the Laskhar-E-Toiba in Kashmir, they all have a common thread connecting them and that is an extremely distorted view of the world through their lens of fundamentalist Islam principles.

In spite of all of the aforementioned groups, I still believe that Islam is a peaceful religion and that it's not the religion itself but its messengers & leaders that are to blame. Shame upon the mainstream moderate Muslims for letting their religion being defined by these terrorists. Shame on them for not standing up against terrorism and for not condemning these radicals.

Most people in the West believe that Islam is an evil religion and they are wrong but you cannot fault them. When images of AK-47s and Rocket Propelled Grenades flood your mind upon hearing the word Islam, how else would one be expected to perceive Islam?

There are supposedly moderate voices in Islam, as there are in every religion. But, these seem to be either not speaking up in a strong voice OR are being drowned out by the terrorist elements. It's a pity that I can name 10 Muslim terrorists but NOT ONE SINGLE PACIFIST.

So, instead of blaming the other religions for "persecuting" Islam/Muslims OR for having negative views of Islam, it is time that real Muslims (the ones that have actually read the Quran and understand its real meaning) stand up for their religion and repair its tarnished image.
Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grading the Pollsters: Part 2 - Battleground States

In this part, we rank the pollsters based upon their performance in the "battleground" states. Following the same methodology that we did in Part 1 of this post (sourcing data from realclearpolitics.com), we come up with the following ranking:

  1. SurveyUSA
  2. Tied between Mason-Dixon and ARG
The worst in Florida were FOX News/Rasmussen who had it for McCain by 1 point. Condolences to Hannity, O'Reilly and Van Susteren.

North Carolina
  1. Tied between FOX News/Rassmussen and Reuters/Zogby (that's a surprise!)
  2. SurveyUSA
Zogby is the worst amongst pollsters. Polling insiders avoid Zogby numbers like the plague. So it's a surprise that they did so well in NC.

  1. Tied between FOX News/Rassmussen and Reuters/Zogby (hmmmm...)
  2. SurveyUSA
I might have to rethink my opinion of Zogby.

  1. Indy Star/Selzer - Incidentally, this was the only pollster that called Indiana correctly for Obama.
  2. Tied between ARG and Downs Center/SurveyUSA (they called it a tie)
Zogby was the worst here. They called it for McCain by 5 points. Not even close. Whew! Just when I thought I was going to have to rethink my opinion of them, they come through and stay true to form.

  1. Univ of Cincinnati/Ohio Poll
  2. Tied between Reuters/Zogby (these guys again) and SurveyUSA
The worst in Ohio were Mason-Dixon who were the only ones that had it for McCain (by 2 points).

  1. Reuters/Zogby (Wow!!)
  2. SurveyUSA
The worst in Virginia was Mason-Dixon who had it for Obama only by 3 points (vs. the final margin of 6.3 points).

So it would seem that while Zogby performed really poorly in the National polls, they were pretty decent in the battleground states. Given that we elect our president through the electoral college, it augurs well for them in future Presidential Elections.

Mason-Dixon performed shockingly poorly in the battleground polls and that should concern them a bit, especially because they performed really well in the National polls.

And with that, we close the lid on the 2008 United States Presidential Elections. Congratulations to Barack Obama and Joe Biden! Hope they can turn this ship around. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grading the Pollsters - Part 1: Popular Vote

Hello World! Say Hi to a New America! Hearty Congratulations to President Elect Barack Obama. As you may have realized from my earlier posts, I am very excited that my candidate won and won quite handily, contrary to what some of the polls were indicating towards the end.

Speaking of which, I decided to put my limited Excel skills to use and try to come up with a Report Card for the 12341521 pollsters (seemingly) tha
t covered this election. In this post, I have compiled a list of all the final National Polls (courtesy realclearpolitics.com) and have tried to rank the pollsters based upon the proximity of their numbers to the actual results.

First, here's the table that I use (Click on the picture for a larger view). The tan row is the RCP average. The green row is the actuals. The yellow highlights indicate the numbers/pollsters who are closest to the actuals.

(Click on the Picture for a larger view).

As you can see, when it came to estimating Obama's support, the top 3 were CNN/Opinion Research, Ipsos/McClatchy and ABC News/Washington Post. They were all only 0.17 percentage points off the actual number (53.17%).

When it ccame to estimating Sen. McCain's support, the top spot goes to Battleground (Lake) who were off by 0.17 percentage points and the second spot is shared by 4 pollsters - Rasmussen Reports, Ipsos/McClatchy, CNN/Opinion Research and Pew Research, who were all off by 0.83 percentage points.

Finally, when it came to estimating the spread, the top spot is shared by Rasmussen Reports and Pew Research who were off just by 0.34 percentage points and the third place is tied between Fox News, Ipsos/McClatchy and CNN/Opinion Research, who were all off by 0.66 percentage points.

So, if we were to grade these pollsters using some basic ranking logic, here's how it would look like:

First Place: Tied between CNN/Opinion Research AND Ipsos/McClatchy
Third Place: Tied between Rasmussen Reports AND Pew Research

Occupying the bottom rungs would be Battleground (Tarrance), Reuters/C-Span/Zogby (no surprise here, Zogby is a really bad pollster by any measure), Diageo/Hotline and Gallup (that's a surprise!).

Some additional thoughts:
1. The narrow margins by which these polls were off tells us how far along election polling has come in this country.
2. None of the polls were incorrect when it came to predicting the winner.
3. We can officially put the Bradley Effect to rest.

In Part 2, I'll look into how the pollsters did in the so-called "battleground" states (mental video of Sen. McCain drawing air-quotes).
Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Palin accuses Obama of palin' around with Left-Wing Radical in Kindergarten

GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska hurled yet another accusation at Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama today. Palin said that Obama was friends with Richard Graystone, the noted Nobel laureate and eminent economist of our times, when they both went to Kindergarten in Hawaii in 1966.

Palin portrays Mr. Graystone as a communist because he and Paul Krugman, another Nobel winning economist were at the same day-care in New York, a year prior to Graystone moving to Hawaii. Mr. Krugman is considered to be a liberal economist who often write for the New York Times. Although Mr. Graystone was awarded the Nobel for his ground-breaking work on free market economy and positive effects of deregulation, Gov. Palin contends that he is a communist by virtue of having been in pre-school with Mr. Krugman.

The accusation was the main piece of primetime news even on the always fair and balanced, Fox News Network. Even one of their most unbiased and neutral analysts, Sean Hannity, expressed shock that Sen. Obama would pal around with Graystone. The reader may recall that Hannity was extremely reluctant to bring up Mr. Obama's association with known domestic terrorist and another Chicago professor, William Ayers, because Obama was only 8 when Ayers indulged in his anti-govt activties. Hannity told his viewers that Obama ought to have known that Graystone was in pre-school with Krugman and that Krugman would turn out to be a communist. Hannity said that this shows Obama's poor judgment in choosing his company.

A snap poll of Fox showed that his viewers agreed with him. 70% of the respondents said that Obama should have known about Graystone and 30% said, 'F*&k Yeah!'.

In an unrelated poll conducted on Fox News, 99.99% of their viewers said that they believe the Earth is flat and that's one of the reasons why they don't visit Alaska (because they're afraid that they would fall off the edge of the Earth if they went too far West). A mysterious lone voter made up the remaining 0.01% and rumors about the lone vote being cast from the Governor's mansion in Alaska are running wild on the internet. Experts suspect that the lone voter may indeed be Gov. Sarah Palin who has repeatedly said that she could see Russia to the West of her house in Wasilla.

Other news media such as NBC, CBS & CNN were criticized by the McCain campaign for not taking this story seriously. McCain complained of blatant bias in the coverage of new events. NBC's Tom Brokaw responded by saying that there was no bias against McCain/Palin and that the only known bias that NBC had was against stupidity. He also said that NBC was working hard at removing the anti-stupidity bias by running shows such as Lipstick Jungle and Kathy & Kim. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Joe the Plumber to go Shopping at Neiman Marcus

Irked by the fact that Sarah Palin got to go shopping and drop $150K on a wardrobe reset, media darling and Republican star, Joe the Plumber has decided to do some shopping of his own.

In addition to Saks and Neiman Marcus, Mr. Plumber plans on shopping at Mark Shale and Armani. Mr. Plumber is reportedly looking for suits more expensive than Obama's Hartmarxs and shoes more expensive than McCain's Ferrangamos. When asked about his shopping budget, he replied, "Considering the fact that I am doing more interviews daily than Mrs. Palin has done since the beginning of this campaign, my budget will be at least twice that of her's". Reporters pointed out that while Mr. Obama's suits were purchased out his own money (proceeds from the sale of his two books) and that Mr. McCain's suits were purchased using his wife's beer money, Ms. Palin's clothes were charged to McCain's campaign which has accepted federal funding (taxpayer money). An irritated Mr. Plumber fumed and said, "So it's taxpayer money. Big deal. Aren't taxes supposed to be a redistribution of wealth? How about distributing some of that to me?".

Upon hearing those comments from Mr. Plumber, McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt quickly annointed Steve the Electrician as the official campaign spokesman, saying that Mr. Plumber was becoming increasingly erratic. Backing up Mr. Schmidt's claim are statements from Mr. Plumber such as "You shall refer to me as the 'Maverick formerly known as Joe the Plumber' " and "I'm suspending all my interviews with Fox News and going to Washington to solve the economic crisis".

In other news, Ms. Palin has reportedly setup a 'Presidential Exploratory Committee' named 'Palin 2012'. When asked about her initial thoughts on a running mate, she replied, "I already have a mate, Todd Palin, and Boy, can he run! He's got more executive experience than me, since he's the one really running the governor's office in Alaska now anyway!" Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tom Brokaw to interview 'Joe the Plumber'

In what seems to be a desperate attempt at one-upping CBS and Katie Couric, NBC today announced that Tom Brokaw would be interviewing Joe the Plumber. The 3hr interview will be aired in 11 parts starting next Monday. When asked why there were 11 parts, NBC said that they were trying to do 1 part for every day that was left until Election Day. The dramatic move comes after the second Presidential debate hosted by Brokaw is being credited as a permanent cure for insomnia.

Meanwhile, it has been learnt that Joe the Plumber is not really a plumber and is just some rich guy trying to buy a plumbing company. He apparently does not even have a plumbing license. When asked about this, he said, "I don't need no stinkin' license from no government. I just have to charge $300 for replacin' the faucet and I'll do just fine, thank you! And Oh! If the IRS comes knocking at my door to get the back-taxes that I owe, I'll shoot 'em silly, ya hear me?".

Mr. Plumber has changed his last name to Plumber and his middle initial to T. (for The). His old last name of Wurzelbacher was too long for folks to remember and sounded more like a hot-dog than an plumber. On Thursday morning, his house was besieged by an army of reporters trying to get their own angle on him and the state of the election in Ohio.

By Thursday night, Mr. Plumber was refusing to do any more interviews, claiming exhaustion from all those questions and from the mike being stuck in his face. When pressed with more questions, he said, "Why don't you go ask Gov. Palin? Heck, I've done more interviews in 12hrs than she's done in 12 weeks!".

In other news, Barack Obama is seriously considering conceding the race to John McCain after a meeting that he had with President Bush in which he is said to have learned about the 'real budget deficit'. An ashen-faced Obama reportedly came out of the meeting with the President and said, "I can't believe the s**t-house that this guy's leaving behind!". Sphere: Related Content