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Saturday, September 26, 2020

    The death  of SSR and the Quest For TRP  

Neal Postman said long back, in his book Amusing Ourselves To Death , ‘television is …… most dangerous when its aspirations are high,'. One may add that when it proclaims nobility of motive, it is absolute disaster. TV set out to secure justice for SSR, a very noble aim no doubt. But that justice seems nowhere on the horizon and with every passing day, like images in a hall of mirror, it is receding further away.

The malign, if unintended, consequence of its crusade has left the memory of the man disfigured , a legion of his admirers dismayed ,the lives of those around him, whom he may have loved ,at one time or the other, in tatters , the hitherto unknown details of his private life, his financial dealing , the bitter factitious quarrels of his loved ones at Patna and those at Mumbai are now the subject matter of salacious gossip, prurient scrutiny and idle speculation. A full retrospective on his life, is being played out, 24/7, not as an act of homage to the departed soul , but as successive fixes of ‘pudiya’ for the voyeuristic clientele.The general presumption is that the investigative agencies buckled under prime time pillory, under the plebiscitarian pressure to do something , anything to keep the lynch mob, primed up for revenge by the braying media beast, peaceful and pacified.
Whether SSR was bi polar or not is still being investigated but India itself has been split into a world of bi polar opinion . Even while the official investigation is on rival channels are holding a referendum on whether Rhea is at fault . Half-truths, facts torn out of context to fit particular narratives , half truths that further reinforce partisan beliefs, are driving viewers deeper into fanatically shared opinions. People seem to be living in different worlds of facts and judgments and no dialogue seems to be possible.
Meanwhile Chinese soldiers are breathing fire down our borders, and in their viral avatar as Covid 19 they are raging inland , the economy is tanking , distress and discontent are rising like a tide threatening to engulf the social order but we are busy marshalling arguments and support behind another war being fought on the side lines, between Ms Kangna Ranawat and Ms Rhea Chakraborty. Could George Louis Borges have scripted it better ?

Friday, September 25, 2020


Sushant Singh Rajput - The Revenant Guest During Election Season In Bihar
BJP's Poster Campaign on Sushant Singh Rajput


The cultural cell of the BJP has taken out a poster of a winsome  Sushant Singh Rajput, “Na Bhoole Hain Na Bhoolne Denge”( Neither we have forgotten , nor will we let  others forget)His death, bemoaned as a huge loss is, in fact, a huge gain for the party, both in Bihar and in Maharashtra. While in Bihar the issue is expected to help them exploit Bihari sentiment, in Maharashtra it may rock the boat of its bete noir, the Shiv Sena, a bit. 

From the day a political agitation for investigating SSR’s death originated  in Bihar, one could foresee that Sushant  will be  forced to be a revenant guest,  to  help  the NDA come back to power in the forthcoming assembly  elections in Bihar. Therefore, it is only natural that the twice useful ghost of SSR should be granted, what Jacque Derrida  says , “the right. .to... a hospitable memory...out of a concern for justice.” 

What is a ghost?’ Stephen Dedalus asks in Ulysses, and promptly answers his own question. ‘One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners.’ Not a figure who is entirely unreal, just one who has become a little faint, lacking in physical immediacy.     SSR was not quite as demonstrative about  his Bihari roots, as in the manner of say,  Shatrughan Sinha. He  was certainly not the most recognizable  Bihari   when alive.        But thanks to the never ending campaign(engineered?) of a section of the mainstream media  and  many groups on social network platforms  SSR  has  come to be viewed as the quintessential Bihari genius, cut short in the prime of his career by metropolitan jealousy or the machinations of a deeply entrenched mole acting on behalf of some shadowy mafia. 

The assembly elections in Bihar are  a few weeks away.     When it comes to voting ,  appeal to  the reason of the voters in Bihar  is  pointless.  Illusion is  the key, drama is  the essential  requirement ,  catchy  identarian phrases, startling images, uncompromising and simple, that should occupy his entire  mental space and nullify  the capacity of the mind to think.  The “art of impressing the imagination of crowds is to know at the same time the art of governing them, ”   and governing elites have read  Le Bon with care and with great profit. 

For fifteen years,“social justice,” a fetish under which all sorts of political fantasies and personal ambitions of the supreme RJD leader  were lumped together, but never made explicit, stoked and  sustained  the subaltern enthusiasm . It  helped create some sort  of a generic loyalty of a military kind to the supreme  leader,  ready for the moment when direct action could be taken. Primed by occasional war cries like  Bhura Bal Saf Karo(Eliminate Bhumihars,Rajputs,Brahmans, Lalas,(Kayasths ) ). But the illusion wore off when it was realized that under the garb of ‘social justice’ there marched the more dogged  political morality  of power as a means to self-aggrandizement  and  dynastic ambition. A competitive offer needed to be put in place to outwit the earlier charmer and the deeply alienated  forward caste, still a force to be reckoned with was ready to be charmed , beguiled, enchanted . 

 The successor  NDA government  promised to inaugurate the millennium which  would take care of present miseries  and future problems . It dedicated itself to the task with gusto and Bihar  seemed  to be well on course  to a glorious future but in the absence of a credible opposition and a fawning  media  it gradually  lost steam.  The illusion was  however sustained by means of  emotional stimuli of Bihari pride , and tremendous media  out reach. Together with the accompanying spectre of a return to the nightmare and undifferentiated chaos of the Jungle Raj kept the people interested in the  idea of  Sushahsan.  

The  images of  of the migrant workers,  “the invisible” Biharis , who contribute heavily to the domestic economy by their remittances, undertaking  impossibly long journeys  back home on foot shocked the global imagination. Many of these stragglers were reduced to being  mendicants on  charity of strangers  and it  blew  away even the fig leaf form the already  frayed  vestment of Bihari pride. 

 In this stark setting  the most visible achievements of the government , monuments , museums , mediation centers,  forced the realization that Bihar was so heavily invested in the “past” that our present concerns , woefully inadequate  medical centres and no prospect of getting absorbed in gainful activities at home  seemed to have been neglected . In an atmosphere like this the illusion of  Sushasan  as a  march to  ever more promising future  would  have been  difficult to sustain. “Justice for  SSR”  appears to  have just the right proportion of   sentimentality, generalized grievance and unfocussed resentment  to  anesthetize  the questioning mind.

Whatever the final outcome of the case the pot can at   be  kept boiling till the elections.  After the elections getting rid of a ghost which has served its purpose, would be that much easier, because ghosts leave behind  no  dead bodies, no evidence , set in motion  no official  enquiry . The Biharis would be depended upon to disperse to the four corners of the country in search of jobs, education, health care after having performed their most sacred civic duty.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

देश में व्यक्ति-पूजन का जो दौर चल पड़ा है इस सन्दर्भ में यह तथ्य ओझल हो गया है कि वह व्यक्ति वस्तुततः क्यों पूजित हुआ? हम भारतीयों की तो बस एक ही आराध्या हैँ - भारत माता। जो भारत की अखण्डता की रक्षा करेगा वह हमारी नज़रों में सर्वश्रेष्ठ होगा। जो निजी राजनैतिक स्वार्थ या अपनी छवि धूमिल होने के डर से राष्ट्र के हितों के विरुद्ध कोई निर्णय लेगा , वह चाहे जो भी हो , उसके प्रति हमारी कोई निष्ठां नहीं होगी. यदि देश किसी व्यक्ति में अपनी संपूर्ण आस्था व्यक्त करता है तो वह भी अपने समर्थकों पर विश्वास करे, उन्हें राज़दार बनाये. मैं मान सकता हूँ की समसामयिक परिस्थितियों में भारत चीन से युद्ध नहीं लड़ सकता , इसके लिए अनेक सामरिक एवंअन्य कारण हो सकते हैं परन्तु उसके लिए ऐतिहासिक तथ्यों की बलि चढ़ दी जाय , हमारे जवानों के बलिदान की परिस्थितयों को विवादित कर दी जाय , यह अस्वीकार्य है। यह कहना कि चीन ने अतिक्रमण किया ही नहीं यह अपनी नाकामियों पर पर्दा डालने से विलग आने वाली पीढ़ियों के साथ अन्याय होगा. वीरगर्भा भारत कभी तो निस्स्वार्थ भाव से मातृभूमि पर उत्सर्ग होने वाले नेता पैदा करेगी,कभी तो एक दूसरा मानेकशॉ पैदा होगा। लेकिन जब हम खुद अपना दवा खारिज कर देंगे तो क्या बचा? कल मैंने अपने वाल पर अपनी पीड़ा व्यक्त की थी। १० वर्ष की उम्र में ही ६२ के ज़िल्लत और भयंकर अपमान का दंश झेलने वाली पीढ़ी यह आस लगाए बैठी थी कि शायद हम लोगों के जीवन काल में ही उस अपमान का बदला ले सकें। साथ ही मन के कोने में यह भी आशंका थी की कही और दुर्दिन न देखना पड़े। वह भी देख ही लिया।I

Friday, June 19, 2020

Meditations In The Time Of War

I was a ten-year-old, but the memories of the ‘62 debacle are eidetically etched in my mind ; that feeling of helplessness of the elders, their sense of shame, the silent imprecations, the muted curses in private but dignified poise in public, were a temporal marker in the growth of my consciousness as an Indian. The short war, while it lasted, was an unending season of solemnity and sadness. My father tried to explain to me the enormity of the loss, the depth of our humiliation. I don’t know how much of it sank in me cognitively, but the emotional equivalent seeped through me, as if by a process of osmosis. That moment forever lodged itself like an iron in the soul. My young mind, perhaps in a compensatory behaviour, supported a belief that someday, we will be able to pay back the debt of history.
As I grew up and became wiser in the ways of the world - especially when I became aware of the contretemps of political power play and the metrics of military confrontations - I modified my unstated wish into a more moderate plea: Oh,God, please don’t let us face the same humiliation, at least not in my lifetime.
The recent traumatic events of our soldiers fighting, unarmed, under some weird protocol, against a devious and barbaric enemy, soldiers being clubbed , being pushed off cliffs and dying of hypothermia, though not in same category of misfortunes, are rooted in reasons quite similar. I was reminded of Brigadier Dalwi's lament in The Himalayan Blunder, “This is a record of the destruction of a Brigade without a formal declaration of war”. This time round, at least twenty Indian soldiers died, and many more were injured, in an ‘absurd’ engagement, without so much as a chance for our men to fire a shot - something straight out of an Italo Calvino or Kurt Kusenburg story.
In 1962 we had a Prime Minister who felt more at home strutting on the international stage, peddling his peculiar nostrums of non-alignment and Panchsheel to enhance his personal standing in the world. Getting China - which was perceived to be an enemy by everyone else except him - its due place under the sun was his seminal concern. Despite repeatedly being warned of the bellicosity of the Chinese by those who knew, he refused to square up to the reality, because how could he - a man of peace - countenance the thought of war? It seems he was prepared to lose territory rather than lose his face. His paranoia about the military eyeing his ouster led him to deliberately starve it of resources and stunt its growth. Finally, when the moment of reckoning came, he entrusted the conduct of war to those who had no other credential than that they enjoyed his trust: Krishna Menon & General Kaul. But talent for intrigue and currying favour does not come in handy in fighting a war. The rest, as they say, is history.
We have now a high profile PM who is also a global player, bonding on equal personal terms with POTUS. At the same time, in a seemingly deft act of diplomacy, he sleeps with America’s and our own arch enemy - China. Reportedly, he has established a personal equation with President Xi Jinping. But other than diplomacy, he has also let himself be known as a decisive man of war, and has tried to live by this image. All the spectacular military feats against Pakistan, our idée fixe - are supposed to flow from his iron will.
General Kauls seem to be an undying tribe in the army, and even now, reportedly, an unhealthy proximity between the military and political leadership has grown. And it has consequences. History bears witness that China strikes at an opportune moment (in '62 the world attention was riveted on the Cuban missile crisis, today the world is snowed under the Wuhan Virus avalanche originating from China) and in such a manner that the ‘friend’ feels obliged to cover up for the enemy and go into denial for fear of losing face. 2020 is not 1962, and such matters are independently verifiable. Hence his government has been in denial, and has felt obliged to prevaricate, obfuscate, and tell downright lies to domestic audience. Now that the truth is out the government finds itself hard-pressed to admit and explain the killing of soldiers. From denial, the government has come down to the familiar mournful tune of 'stabbing in the back.' When a war seems to be the only course of action, policy planners seem to have discovered that the national interest is best served by diplomacy, peaceful negotiations and avoidance of war. And China loves, as always, has plotted the mortification of its ambitious neighbour just as it did in '62 ; it is China's way to tell the world who is the hegemon The situation is still live, and one can’t look into the seeds of the time, but there does not seem to be much cause for joy.
But what about the simulated war being fought with greater seriousness within the borders of the country? Going by the social media posts, one would think that a large number of Indians take the reality of the disputed “Modi jee’s 56 inches” quite seriously. The mobilization on both sides is impressive; a sizeable population is attacking their bête noire with all they have : invective, satire, mockery and moralism, and an equal number defending their bête noire with all they have - lies, chicanery, and recourse to the history of Congress. Of course, Mr. Modi’s jugular is quite a prised trophy for his detractors, but it is way too insignificant compared to the Chinese jugular. Of course, political scores need to be settled but not when we are in the process of a debt that the nation owes to history. Admittedly it is a lying, self-obsessed government, but unfortunately this is the only government that we have at the present time, and the conduct of war is in the hands of this government. Persistent questioning is all right, the right to be told the truth is spot on, but this rubbing brings in defenders, the battalion of Bhakts, and the discourse becomes divisive when the call of the hour is to put everything in abeyance. Similarly, the Bhakts who try to hang their “56-inch” on any peg that is available, are sure to bring, in retaliation, the demolition squads in droves.
On Twitter there was a bare as bone tweet - “twenty soldiers killed in Ladakh.” Pat came a retweet form a journalist of repute, a leading light of the left liberal brigade, with the following comment: “Knock, knock, Modi jee, are you there?”
Social media is overflowing with callous and crass remarks and this is just an emblematic example. But little do they realise that they are trivialising the tragic death of our soldiers fighting under impossible constraints. To offset it, there is another example of a paid, commissioned anchor of a Hindi TV channel trying to salvage the image of the government by shifting the blame on to the Army. Whose war are those brave men fighting anyway?
I remember the emotional climate of ’62, and I can definitely say that a feeling pulse in our national heart has atrophied, gone dry. The difference in the public mood between ‘62 and now is dramatic. In ‘62, Indian women - for whom gold means a part of their lives - came forward to freely donate it to the national defence fund without demur. (When boycott of Chinese goods is mentioned today, figures and fine economic calculations roll out . This gestures of solidarity against the enemy is not economically feasible, we are told!) The unlettered, untutored masses knew that it was matter of life and death and the nation spoke in a chorus of approval for the nation , for the army. I exclude the communists, because they are a class apart, a different species.
If ever there was a case of not learning the lessons of history, this is the one . Or is it that in a globalised world profit is placed above patriotism? May be some favourable economic deal with the Chinese will act as a healing balm and we will again be dining with the Dragon till such times it makes a decent dinner of us.
Tonight I will tell my God that He should consider my unstated prayer as withdrawn.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Two Short Of Three Score And Ten

When I was young, I crossed my rivers,
sprinting down bridges,
though bridges there were none.

Now, I hesitate on banks of rivers.
They drag me across, saying the rivers are in my mind.
Under my steps there are none.
Years have come and years gone by.
Never cared once, as to whence they came, whence did they fly.

In the evening of my life, I thought it was time to consider.
“Where are my years,” I asked fellow traveller, Time,
“I could account for none.”

He just fixed me with a mirror. “Your silver hair”, he said,
“it takes some doing, it takes all of days and all of nights,
all your yesterdays and all your yesteryears to paint them white,
something that was jet black.

And that frown? No amateur’s act is that.
Pencilling each single line, folding every individual wrinkle,
then laying them in layers, nicely papered,
it is them that account for your days, months and years.

I am a tidy record keeper.
No cuts, no erasures, no crossing out nor clerical errors”,
he said, laying down the mirror.
“The small gifts that I bore you, from year to year,
Though you flung them into the cellar, they add up my friend, they add up to a lot ,
and turn up when you have the time to consider.”

“You stole in on your tiptoe, you sneaked in like a thief.
“I didn’t, weary traveller, you were busy with your affairs,
I walked by your side but you watched your shadow
Shrink or grow in size or just take fright
And collapse at the approach of night.
You were carefree, you were blithely unworried ,
you were not taken for a ride.”

“Now, what?”
“Now nothing. Now is no time to consider,
Now is no time to defer or to dither.
It is no part of living to go search for lost years.
Live your life as you’ve done all these years.
Just let them glide by.”

Sunday, May 31, 2020


Disclaimer : It is meant to be light hearted but some people can make heavy weather of it.

There was a time when time was money, and one never had enough of either. But now in the lockdown times, money has become inconsequential and time as valueless as trash. Quite consistent with the global problem of disposal of waste ,time at my disposal poses a similar dilemma : what to do with it? You cannot do what you want to do. But there are occasions you simply have no idea of what you want to do, you have become so alienated from yourself. Boredom! Books do alleviate to a great extent- even in their digital form- but boredom has a habit of seeping in. If the doors and windows are closed, it blows in through the crevices and crannies . Yesterday, I decided to take this bull of boredom by its horns. Encouraged by George Wittgenstein ‘s assurance , “ The way of philosophy lies in showing the fly the way out of the fly bottle”, I picked up 'A Philosophy of Boredom' by Lars Svendsen (it has been with me for quite some time, unread) looking for it to show me the way out of my ennui and high angst, anomie and situational boredom. Was I expecting deliverance at the end of the thin book?(178 pages in its digital form) I was!
The very first line enticed me , “My reason for writing this book was this: I was deeply bored for a while.” I knew I had got my man who was going to lift me straight out of my unhappy situation. “It is usually a blank label applied to everything that fails to grasp one’s interest.” Precisely. As I proceeded further I was able to recognise in other people’s symptoms my own malady, only described better: “ like some sort of dust. One comes and goes without seeing it, one breathes it in, one eats it, one drinks it, and it is so fine that it doesn’t even scrunch between one’s teeth. But if one stops up for a moment, it settles like a blanket over the face and hands. One has to constantly shake this ash-rain off one.”
Pages after pages I discovered more and more people with whom I shared this community of affliction. Byron summed up the situation for the lockdown generation, “There is little left but to be bored or bore.”
The authority of Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard , with whom I had considerable familiarity on my own, was enlisted. Then I was hauled over the coals- familiar turf again from Pascal to Nietzsche, from Lovell to Beckett . Next followed the categories of boredom. I was beginning to feel that my malady was becoming worse with every page. Mistrust mounted to dismay when I faced the spectre of wading through 'Ontology : The hermeneutics of boredom. ' It shattered my resolution completely. I was fearing for my life now, afraid to catch contagion of these great minds, seriously considering that I should retire to my condition of primitive and native boredom. But as they say, you can only choose your doctor, you cannot choose your medicine. So I soldiered along, ignoring symptoms of allergy and reaction. Like a bitter but promising medicine I kept ingesting until I arrived at the end:
“…. human life is boring? Well, life often is boring. Different people are afflicted by boredom to differing degrees, but it is practically impossible not to be affected by boredom sooner or later. If boredom strikes hard, one is inevitably brought to an existential borderline situation where one has to question the nature of one’s entire existence.” If it is inescapable human condition, it was pointless , the pursuit of this philosophy! I shut the book .I felt as if I had escaped a psychiatrist who tells you that being mad is condition of normalcy and congratulates you on your achieving this blessed sate. For good measure he advises you never to attempt to get out of this situation.
My mind had gone in a state of hum, so I reached for my chest of medicines, looking for antidotes to boredom and allergic reactions to an overdose of wisdom. Thurber is my first physician of choice and I surrendered to him , till sleep overtook me. You have suffered vicariously my fate and deserve a bit of his soothing balm. Or as a night cap
The weary scientist, tramping through the mountains of northern Europe in the winter weather dropped his knapsack and prepared to sit on a rock. "Careful, brother," said a voice.
"Sorry," murmured the scientist, noting with some surprise that a lemming which he had been about to sit on had addressed him. "It is a source of considerable astonishment to me," said the scientist, sitting down beside the lemming, "that you are capable of speech."
"You human beings are always astonished," said the lemming, "when any other animal can do anything you can. Yet there are many things animals can do that you cannot, such as stridulate, (of an insect, especially a male cricket or grasshopper) make a shrill sound by rubbing the legs, wings, or other parts of the body together.)
or chirr, (of an insect) make a prolonged low trilling sound.) to name just one. To stridulate, or chirr, one of the minor achievements of the cricket, your species is dependent on the intestines of sheep and the hair of the horse."
"We are a dependent animal," admitted the scientist. "You are an amazing animal," said the lemming.
"We have always considered you rather amazing, too," said the scientist. "You are perhaps the most mysterious of creatures."
"If we are going to indulge in adjectives beginning with 'm,' said the lemming sharply, "let me apply a few to your species--murderous, maladjusted, maleficent and muffle-headed."
"You find our behavior as difficult to understand as we do yours?"
"You, as you would say, said it," said the lemming. "You kill, you mangle, you torture, you imprison, you starve each other. You cover the nurturing earth with cement, you cut down elm trees to put up institutions for people driven insane by the cutting down of elm trees, you--"
"You could go on all night like that," said the scientist, "listing our sins and shames."
"I could go on all night and up to four o'clock tomorrow afternoon," said the lemming. "It just happens that I have made a lifelong study of the self-styled higher animal. Except for one thing, I know all there is to know about you, and a singularly dreary, dolorous and distasteful store of information it is, too, to use only adjectives that begin with 'd.'"
"You say you have made a lifelong study of my species--" began the scientist.
"Indeed I have," broke in the lemming. "I know that you are cruel, cunning and carnivorous, sly, sensual and selfish, greedy, gullible and guileful--"
"Pray don't wear yourself out," said the scientist, quietly. "It may interest you to know that I have made a lifelong study of lemmings, just as you have made a lifelong study of people. Like you I have found but one thing about my subject which I don't understand."
"And what is that?" asked the lemming.
"I don't understand," said the scientist, "why you lemmings all rush down to the sea and drown yourselves."
"How curious," said the lemming. "The one thing I don't understand is why you human beings don't."

Sunday, May 24, 2020


 If anyone ever had any doubt, handling of Covid19, all over the world has left scope for none. There was a time when politics occupied a corner of the turf and looked up to the larger society for its value system. But now politics has grown like weeds to occupy the entire turf and the values of politics are now the moral lodestar of the society. Conduct which society would have been aghast at is the new normal for politics and is accorded partisan approval.
Covid19 attacks the human race. Therefore, one should have thought the entire human race would put up a united front against the common enemy. At least that has been the common sense on warfare. If Donald Trump were to be believed, the ‘enemy’ of the entire human race , Covid19 , is a spiteful creation of China. His sabre rattling against China and his domestic strategy, were clearly politically driven, and aimed more at his rivals in the forthcoming elections .It has left America shattered and its people dying like flies. But even if we discount his hyperbole , the rest of world also believes that China has certainly struck some kind of a deal with the ‘enemy’, bought some favourable terms for itself , in lieu of ensuring its conquest of the rest of the world. Covid19 has spared its vast territory from contagion. The Chinese lives lost in Wuhan are being viewed as a sacrifice that will help it immensely in its trade wars with its enemies. Surely, there is some fifth column activity on the side of human race, going on in its war against Covid19.
Let us consider the situation at home . In the past we have given a great account of ourselves when China or Pakistan attacked India. They found every Indian, to a man ,ready to shed his blood in its fight against the enemy. We are faced with a situation far graver than that, it is an enemy that does not claim territory, it threatens life itself . Our present fight is with anti-life, a threat of universal reach that even the concerted effort of the greatest and most resourceful governments could barely cope with it. Covid19 attacks our human vulnerability, at the cellular level , and cells are not known to express themselves in political or religious terms. In so far as we are humans, we should be fighting the common enemy to save our cells not our political affiliations or religious identities, but are we? It looks like every party , every stake holder has raised its own army, claiming to fight the enemy. There is bound to be a squabble for positional advantage, much to the advantage of the enemy.
I put my query before those who know: how can an incumbent government and how can a party which has been for seventy years in government, fail to iron out a wart, like the bus issue? The media, birds of the same feather, are having a field day speculating, awarding marks to this or that party, but never holding them to account together. I have no preference, so I simply put it to their cussedness, because at the end of the day, there are going to be political victors and political losers, and they are playing for that . Meanwhile the migrants are lined up, ant like, trudging their way on their journey to nowhere. More than four hundred have already fallen by the wayside. Some of these also may also end up as more meat . Indians will debate, till cows come home , from the position of their respective political parties, as to who was to blame. But unless one makes an astral projection, and view the activity form a point above, one can’t beat the mirage. Viewed from that perch , the vocation of politics looks like a feast of vultures.