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The Greatest US Presidents of All Time

by Dr. Gary Scott Smith 

The 2021 Super Bowl fueled conversations and debate about the legacy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Tom Brady. When he finally hangs up his cleats, will he be widely recognized as the GOAT—greatest of all time? Or does the title belong to San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice or Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton? After his impressive performance in winning his seventh Super Bowl, Brady is even being called the best ever in all sports and a living legend.

Similar debates erupt when we evaluate the performance of U.S. presidents. As we celebrate Presidents’ Day, which president is the GOAT? Is one of them a clear favorite?

For the last four decades, the Siena College Research Institute (SCRI) has led the way in ranking American presidents. The institute asks historians, political scientists, and presidential scholars to rank the presidents in 20 areas including their integrity, intelligence, willingness to take risks, court and executive appointments, domestic and foreign policy accomplishments, handling the economy, party leadership, relationship with Congress, ability to compromise and leadership skills. The SCRI has done assessments in 1982, 1990, 1994, 2002, 2010, and 2018. The SCRI does not list who its evaluators are or specify how many scholars participate.

In all six Siena polls, the four Mt. Rushmore presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt—along with Franklin Roosevelt, who occupied the office after the memorial was commissioned in 1925, have constituted the top five.

Franklin D. Roosevelt or FDR (1933-45) ranked first in the first five polls and second (to Washington) in 2018. Evaluators admire his policies that helped lift the nation out of the Great Depression and provided assistance and security to workers and the elderly. His communication skills and adroit guiding of the United States during the perilous years of World War II have also been lauded. Academicians have consistently ranked Roosevelt the most effective president in leading his party and handling foreign relations.

After FDR, the cumulative rankings of the six Siena polls put Washington at number 2, Lincoln at 3, Theodore Roosevelt at 4, and Jefferson at 5.

George Washington (1789-97) has constantly been ranked above all his successors in moral authority, management of the economy, and overall performance given the fragility of the fledging republic and the dangers it confronted. Washington sought to prevent political division and avoid foreign entanglements and set many positive precedents, including serving only two terms.

Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) has usually been ranked second in leadership ability and third overall in the Siena survey. He is praised for preserving the Union, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, and delivering memorable, insightful speeches, most notably the Gettysburg Address in 1863 and his Second Inaugural Address in 1865.

Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) has been ranked very highly for his willingness to take risks. The youngest president in American history had the enthusiasm and energy to convince Congress to pass numerous progressive reforms and conducted an effective foreign policy. The avid outdoorsman also greatly expanded our national parks.

Evaluators have always ranked Thomas Jefferson (1801-09) highest in intelligence and vision. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence acquired the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of the country and reduced the national debt by one third.

C-SPAN’s polls conducted in 2000, 2009, and 2017 produce different results. Its 92 participants, primarily college professors, span the political ideological spectrum. In each C-SPAN survey, Lincoln was ranked first. Washington was third, second, and second; FDR was second, third and third. Theodore Roosevelt was fourth each time, while Jefferson was seventh each time.

So, which U.S. president is the GOAT? Based on these two highly respected polls, it is a toss-up among Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln.

How do other presidents, especially more recent ones, rank? Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61) is a composite sixth place in the Siena polls and ranks ninth, eight, and fifth in the three C-SPAN surveys. Ronald Reagan (1981-89) ranked 13th overall in the SCIR polls, scoring highly for his public persuasion skills and for setting the national agenda. He ranked 11th, 10th, and ninth in the three C-SPAN surveys. Barack Obama (2009-17) ranked 17th in the 2010 SCIR poll, receiving high marks for Obamacare and guiding the country through the Great Recession of 2008-9.

As we consider these rankings and debate which chief executive is the GOAT, let’s pay tribute to them all this Presidents’ Day. Their job is grueling, the pressures they face are immense, and the potential consequences of their actions are enormous. And heeding biblical admonitions, let’s pray for our presidents to make wise decisions and pursue just policies that benefit all Americans.

–Gary Scott Smith is Professor of History Emeritus at Grove City College and is a fellow with the Institute for Faith and Freedom.

 

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3 Presidents wish Biden success in joint video

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a video together to send their good wishes to President Joe Biden for a smooth transition to power. The video was aired on Wednesday night hours after Biden took oath as the 46th President of the United States.

It begins with Obama’s remarks. “Obviously there is a personal element to see my former Vice-President become the 46th President and to see Kamala Harris as our first woman Vice-President. But more broadly, inaugurations signal a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old,” he says.

Bush says, “The fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country. America is a generous country, people of great hearts. All three of us were lucky to be the president of this country.”

Clinton says, “This is an unusual thing. We are both trying to come back to normalcy, deal with totally abnormal challenges and do what we do best, which is try to make a more perfect union. It’s an exciting time.”

“We have got to not just listen to folks we agree with but folks we don’t. One of my fondest memories of the inauguration was the grace and generosity that President Bush showed me, and Laura Bush showed Michelle. It was a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity and that as Americans we have more in common than what separates us,” Obama said.

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US rejoins Paris climate pact, WHO under Biden

New York: Getting to work soon after the inauguration festivities, President Joe Biden has signed orders for the US to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization (WHO) in the first set of actions to undo the policies of his predecessor Donald Trump.

He signed 17 executive orders covering also immigration and the fight against Covid-19 on Wednesday afternoon after he was sworn-in as president and Kamala Harris as Vice President.

Biden said that he is fulfilling “a commitment I made that we’re going to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord as of today”.

Trump had pulled out of the Paris agreement asserting that it placed an unfair economic burden on American compared to countries like India and China.

He also quit the WHO because it was being deferential to China, especially during the Covid-19 crisis.

Rejoining the WHO “will strengthen our efforts in strengthening global health, ” his Spokesperson Jan Psaki said.

Biden also ended oil and gas exploration on federal lands and the laying of a pipeline to transport oil from Canada.

The first order Biden signed was for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. It mandated the wearing of masks and observance of social distancing on federal government politics and on planes, trains and buses travelling between states.

Taking up immigration issues, Biden gave protection and work permits to those who came in as children and are in the country illegally. It would not help those who came in legally and stayed legal like the children of those on H1-B visas who can be deported when they become adults.

He issued another order ending the construction of the wall on the Mexican border that Trump had ordered to deter illegal immigration.

He was also sending to Congress an immigration bill that would give legal status to about 11 million people who are in the country legally and eventually citizenship. According to one of Biden’s election manifestos, 500, 000 Indians would be covered by it.

The bill would not cover those legally in the country on non-immigrant visas like H1-B and can wait several decades for getting Green Cards or immigrant status.

Psaki said the immigration bill “provides for people who have enriched our communities and lived here for decades and offers (them) citizenship, keeping families together”.

“It would also “ensure America can remain a refuge for those feeling persecution.”

Biden also ended the so-called “Muslim ban” on visas for people from certain countries.

Although the media and the Democrats labelled the Trump action “Muslim ban”, it does not apply to all Muslim countries and was narrowly focused on countries that did not have a system to vet the background of visa applicants and also applied to North Korea.

Most countries with Muslim majorities or significant number of Muslims did not come under the ban.

Biden’s immigration measures are shaping up as caravans of several hundred people from Central America have formed and are trying to reach the US and several thousand people who tried to get asylum in the US have been made by the Trump administration orders to wait in Mexico while their claims are examined.

Biden will have to contend with them if they try to reach the US.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to whom the papers to rejoin the Paris Agreement were sent, welcomed Biden’s efforts.

He said: “We look forward to the leadership of the United States in accelerating global efforts towards net zero.”

His spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that Guterres also welcomed the announcement of the re-engagement with WHO.

“Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences, ” he said.

On the immigration actions taken by Biden, Dujarric said Guterres found them “positive steps.”

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Dr Murthy to play ‘America’s Doctor’ again

Washington: President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Dr Vivek Murthy as his Surgeon General, exuding confidence that the renowned Indian-American physician will be a key voice on his response to the coronavirus pandemic to restore public trust and faith in science and medicine.

Murthy, 43, served as Surgeon General during the Obama administration and had to leave abruptly when Donald Trump became the US President.

“Dr. Murthy will be one of my most trusted public health and medical advisors, and I’m grateful for his continued public service,” Biden said on Tuesday as he announced Murthy’s nomination.

“A renowned physician and research scientist. A trusted national leader on health care, and for me, a trusted advisor during this campaign and transition. This will be his second time serving as America’s Doctor, having served in this role under President Obama. During his tenure, he took on some of the most pressing public health issues we face — from the opioid crisis to threats to America’s mental health,” Biden said.

Biden said he had asked Murthy to serve again as Surgeon General, but with expanded responsibilities.

“He will be a key public voice on our COVID-19 response, to restore public trust and faith in science and medicine. But he will also be a key advisor to me and help lead an all-government approach to broader public health issues — mental health, addiction and substance use disorders, social and environmental determinants of health, and so much more,” he said.

In his remarks, Murthy said that he will dedicate himself to caring for every American, will be driven always by science and facts, by head and heart — and be endlessly grateful to serve one of the few countries in the world where the grandson of a poor farmer in India can be asked by the president-elect to look out for the health of the entire nation.

“That is a testament to the promise of America — one that I will work to fulfil every day as Surgeon General,” he said.

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READING OBAMA

By Neera Kuckreja Sohoni

The much awaited 701 page tome, or one could dare to say the not-so-memorable memoir by former Barack Obama, reflects nothing more than his carefully framed grading of his presidency, and equally, the unsurprising obsequious gushing response to it by an adulating media ever ready to hail the charm of ex-President. Here is the lead line from a review of ‘A Promised Land’ (Peter Conrad, The Guardian, November 22): “America’s former commander-in-chief shares his character flaws and fears for the presidency in this poetic, introspective account of his childhood and first term in the White House.” The reviewer goes on to say, “Like the best autobiographers, Barack Obama writes about himself in the hope of discovering who or even what he is. It’s a paradoxical project for a man who is universally known and idolised, but this uncertainty or insecurity is his motivating force and his most endearing quality”.

Even to an erstwhile admirer and a two time voter for Obama, the above summation appears an overkill. The reviewer’s comment about a poetic introspective account is so far from what some other readers would detect in their reading of Obama’s story. He is anything but poetic. He is a cerebral man, whose life was not short of challenges (whose life isn’t?). While those challenges caused him pain and confusion and did and do make him sympathetic, they also make him less than comfortable with who he is, making him overly cautious about how he projects himself.  His persona is pleasant but introverted and dry. And the sober responsibility of writing about his presidency reinforced by the analytical rigor and pomposity attributed to a Harvard Law Degree makes his speech and writing professorial, and more guarded than spontaneous. In a rare candid moment, Obama confesses (p.83), “By nature I am a deliberate speaker”, which he claims, “kept his gaffe quotient low”, but raised another problem. “I was just plain wordy.” He could well have added, “And boring”. Obama recalls how the professorial style made him give a “ten-minute explanation of the nuances of a policy.” No wonder at the end of one of his media appearances, his advisor David Axelrod aptly opined that Obama “got A on the question but no votes!”

Brevity is unusual in academia as much as fluency and frankness are rare in politics. The lecturing style combined with the politics of presidential speak dominate the book making his narrative dry and wry.  Obama’s mindset and persona are intrinsically defensive, which permits introspection only of the kind that scratches the surface. He is protective of his inner reality, as most men are after they become great. In this book, therefore, he rarely chooses candor over caution, though the underlying resentments, however subtly covered, do come across as seen in his references to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, and some others. The only time he drops his guard is when he refers to President Trump whom he freely disparages, with a relish and venom that traditionally one would least expect of a seemingly pleasant, likeable, and measured  Obama, and what he and his fans (mistakenly) believe he is. By keeping the embers underlying his presidency burning – like silent rage – beneath his guarded exterior and careful writing, his narrative becomes stilted and his diagnoses of events suspiciously subjective. The desire to appear to be measured cannot remedy autobiographer Obama’s inevitable obsession to present his actions as accomplishments and others’ actions as failings or disruptions calculated to harm or undermine his presidency. Frankly, one senses more paranoia than pathos or poetry in this voluminous part one of Obama’s memoir of his presidency.

There is something challenging about anyone – least of all a public figure of Obama’s recognition – having the ability and wherewithal firstly to be bumped into an extraordinary job and life, and secondly – once seated on the high pedestal as the Leader of the Free World – to not begin to unshakably believe in the myth of his own mythical greatness. Mythology – whether Greek or Indian – is filled with men whose narrators or whose self-telling of their stories made them seem much larger than what they may have been to start with. The curse of autobiography is the difficulty of the narrator to present himself from the perspective of how he feels about or sees his self, yet balance that with how others see, perceive or ‘feel’ him. That is precisely why biographies are infinitely less taxing to write and more gripping to read. The painstaking collection of facts and steadfast objectivity necessary to build a faithful recounting of what occurred during a presidency is likely better handled by one who looks in from the outside. The inside view presented by the insider himself invariably clouds both the iteration and commemoration of events, even as the autobiographer’s take on events becomes skewed, stilted, and stuffy.

Obama’s middle of the road approach to his presidency as to his life seeks neutrality and modesty that invariably remain illusions, at least in this volume of his presidential story. Much of Obama’s success lies in his meteoric rise to the top American post without underpinnings of a solid and lengthy political (or military) experience traditionally expected and associated with securing that post. Contrast him with Joe Biden who has over 45 years of political life behind him when he gets to be President. In that way, one could dare to suggest that Obama has greater similarity with and therefore less reason to look down upon Donald Trump who similarly shot his way into the White House albeit in his case, with zero political grounding and worse, a much resented and envied tinsel life entirely unlike Obama’s. That Trump is considered an imposter and Obama the genuine prince is the irony of these two Presidents and their presidential tenures.

The aura of a Harvard law degree and the wonder of rising above the challenges of biracial ethnicity catapulted Obama to early fame, which understandably left him in his pre-presidential campaign years feeling somewhat uncomfortable, as though he was an imposter. In a real moment of truth when he realizes he did not do much but was about to be crowned his party’s nominee and later the nation’s president, he surmises what his opponents such as Hillary and Biden would have felt about him. As he says on Page 104, “A man 14 years younger than HRC, who hadn’t had to pay the same dues, didn’t carry the same battle scars, and seemed to be getting every break and every benefit of doubt.”

But reverting to his life story, what gripped the nation in his premier storytelling venture – ‘Dreams From My Father’ (1995) is that part of his life which is neither relevant nor elevating to this autobiographical account of his presidential years. Yet, reviewers tend to harp on the poignancy of his early dreams and wrongly apply that lens to critique both his presidency and his current volume. When you come prepared to love a man and his writing, you are likely to find not just poetry in his writing, but poetic justice in whatever he does and valor in whatever he fails to do. Like the sycophantic media has always done, the reviewers today are happy to serenade Obama for just being him, while covering up his deficiency in sufficiently credible political and leadership experience or the real worth of his ability and reliability as author of his presidency. By contrast, they have spared no pain to deride Trump’s total absence of congressional experience and the suspect accomplishments of his tinsel life. United against Trump as one, they have sought always to make his candidacy laughable, and his presidency at once unworthy and illegitimate. That the scepter of legitimacy fell only on Obama but was denied to or snatched away from Trump reflects more the failure of our aristocratic democracy to pass the baton to a despised and despicable outsider, as it does the arrogance and closed-mindedness of elitist academia and the politico-social class to open their respectable picketed minds to an uncouth maverick. Working together, this Mafiosi muscled the power to patronizingly enthrone one and criminalize the other’s occupation of the White House.

To adulate Obama for his success against all odds is to demean America’s history. Immigrants of all kinds of racial and national origins have made it big whether in politics, business, science, academia or performing arts in this Land of Opportunity. From Hamilton,  an orphaned first generation immigrant, to Representative Ilhan Omar, also a first generation refugee immigrant, is an unbroken chain of tales of individual grit to advance and a systemic support to those who wish to advance. Elon Musk (Tesla), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Jerry Yang (Yahoo), all first generation immigrants respectively from South Africa, France and Taiwan, have broken barriers in space, speed and wealth that have sensed how a fertile receptive and embracing environment can allow genius to bloom. To single out Obama for the incredibility of his achievement is to overstate the case for him.

(Book cover courtesy the publisher)

If Obama manages to win the Nobel Prize for Literature for this memoir, it will be no surprise considering the eagerness with which the Swedish Committee awarded him the Peace Prize, an honor that justly should have been gone instead to American Democracy and the Americans for putting their might behind a minority candidate and breaking the white monopoly over power. This time around, if the same hasty mistake were to be made by the Swedes, no one will be more bewildered than Winston Churchill who was given the Nobel for Literature for his mastery of biographical (not autobiographical!) description as well as for his brilliant oratory.

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Biden’s Foreign Policy: Internal Evidence and External Criteria

By Shivaji Sengupta

Benjamin Bloom, an American educator, influenced teachers across the country for over five decades. He used to say that for an objective evaluation of any phenomenon we need to take into consideration both its logical consistency, and how it measures up according to external criteria. That, according to Bloom, was judgment.

So, to a judgment of Joe Biden’s foreign policy by internal evidence and external criteria. When the president-elect laid out his foreign policy vision for America, he, like Bloom, seemed to be aware of the internal/external balance: restore dignified leadership at home and regain respect on the world stage. Biden says that our policies at home and abroad are deeply connected. As president, he will advance the security, prosperity, and values of the United States by taking immediate steps to renew our own democracy (internal) and alliances (external). The United States, he announced, needs to protect its economic future, and once more place America at the head of international affairs, leading the world to address the most urgent global challenges.

In an address to the Graduate Center in the City University of New York, Joe Biden had reemphasized the concept of no man is an island. The very antithesis of Donald Trump. Biden believes that although America will return to its leadership role in the world, the world cannot return to a pre-Trump environment on the shoulders of any one country, however powerful. “In a Biden administration, America will lead by example and rally the world to meet our common challenges that no one nation can face on its own, from climate change to nuclear proliferation, from great power aggression to transnational terrorism, from cyberwarfare to mass migration.”

As much as I agree with the President-elect, I want to caution against the summary dismissal of Trump’s policies. Yes, they are erratic, and they severely undermine our Democratic principles. (Witness, having lost to Joe Biden, the way he is casting terrible aspersions against our most democratic institution – the elections). However, rather than dismiss Trump, we ought to take a careful look at Trumpism. Because, for all his crudeness and exorbitant egotism, this man, like Evil itself, has been able to infiltrate the minds of nearly 75 million Americans who have voted for him. They still think he is right, they want him back, and have bought wholesale, his appeal that the 2020 election was a fraud. And deep in this fraudulent apparatchik, are his cohorts, like Rudy Giuliani, who have created the illusion of fraud. They have infested deep into Trump’s bosom fermenting the evil, the causes of which have yet to be deciphered. As scholars and journalists, we have an obligation of not simply dismissing Trump. He will eventually go away. But Trumpism won’t. It is embedded in almost half of America’s voting population.

 

So, when Trump takes egregious steps to yank the USA out of the international community, Biden has the obligation to restore us back to the world. He is taking the right steps to ensure that, as he explained to Americans the connection between America’s foreign policy and its internal affairs.

(Montage courtesy Financial Times)

President-elect Joe Biden believes that although America will return to its leadership role in the world, the world cannot return to a pre-Trump environment on the shoulders of any one country, however powerful.

However, at least in the beginning the US’s return to the international community should be as an active participant, not as one of its leaders. We should not be a marshal with a banner leading the world community. We need to lead by example, and not try to be an exemplary leader, showering dollars to the world when our own economy is sagging under the weight of the Coronavirus.

To this extent, Biden’s foreign policy team should be extremely cautious about relieving the more powerful nations of NATO of the financial obligations they have been shirking historically, like Germany, France and Britain.

Biden should also tread the Middle East carefully. President Obama was not all right with his approach to the Israeli-Palestine problem. He, along with other American Presidents, coddled Palestine far too much. Donald Trump’s approach of completely ignoring Palestine, leaving them as mere bystanders in the Middle East process, has merits. Joe Biden should carefully readjust this approach: encourage Israel to continue its Middle East rapprochement, yet entice Palestine to reenter the Middle Eastern theater and shed some of its rigidity.

Trump’s Iran policy is wrong-headed because it was forged out of jealousy and hatred – hatred of Muslims, and jealousy against Barack Obama. The perverse withdrawal of the Iran nuclear deal has apparently resulted in Iran manufacturing enough enriched uranium to build several nuclear bombs. It won’t be easy for Biden to lead the international community again to coax and cajole Iran back to the negotiating table. Biden might think of offering President Obama a lead role in it. Biden cannot abandon Israel in this process either.

Finally, India. There are enough readers of this newspaper who, having voted for Biden and Kamala Harris, are now anticipating keenly America’s continued favoritism of India over Pakistan.

That won’t happen. Democratic presidents have traditionally leaned toward Pakistan rather than India, up until President Bill Clinton. While American foreign policy has tilted more in favor of India since then, we must remember it is not because the Americans suddenly realized that Kashmir belongs to India and not to Pakistan. Remember, the Clinton presidency coincided with India’s opening its doors to foreign markets. Almost overnight, the Indian middle class, comprising more than three hundred million – almost as large as the American population – became one of the most lucrative markets to Americans. Since Pakistan has significantly lagged behind Indian economy, America, true to its mettle, has switched favors from Pakistan to India.

Donald Trump is defined by his love for money and business (in that order). Furthermore, his executive actions betray his massive bias against Muslims. Biden and Harris, while they will look favorably at India’s rising status in the world-market, will nevertheless be concerned about India’s very poor record in protecting human rights, most recently in Kashmir. Modi cries foul whenever Kashmir is mentioned, aggressively referring to it as an internal matter. He, along with many other Indians, do not acknowledge that human rights is a human concern, not just Indian. While Trump has famously said that the US does not pretend to lecture about human rights to the world (he said this in Saudi Arabia, one of richest countries of the world), Biden will not abide by the same dictum.

Kamala Harris will lecture to the country of her ancestors: beware ignoring human rights.

Indeed, she should.

thesatime | The Southasian times


Shivaji Sengupta

Shivaji Sengupta is a retired

Professor of English at Boricua

College, New York City. He has a

Ph.D. in English and Comparative

Literature from Columbia

University, New York. He has been

a regular contributor to The South

Asian Times and to other newspa

pers. He is a member of the

Brookhaven Town Democratic

Committee.

 

 

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Ajay Bhutoria played key role in garnering Indian American votes for Biden-Harris

By The SATimes Team

Ajay Bhutoria, based out of Fremont, CA, is a highly influential Indian American community leader, political activist, author, and tech entrepreneur. For over a decade, he has served as a prominent leader in the Democratic Party’s National Finance Committee. He has served as a national AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) leader on the Biden 2020 campaign, working closely in the Biden National Finance Committee, the AAPI Leadership Council, and the Biden South Asian Foreign Relations Policy Committee.

Ajay had worked closely with President Obama after cutting his activist teeth in the 2008 campaign. (Photos: Bhutoria family)

Ajay was born in Rajasthan, India, and raised in Guwahati, Assam. Growing up, his father taught him to chase his dreams, “no matter how big.” Inspired, Ajay came to the US, like many immigrants, with a single suitcase and a bare bank account, searching for limitless opportunities.

 

Having lived in the Bay Area as an entrepreneur for the past two decades, Ajay successfully reached that dream and has been working hard to make sure it’s available for others as well.

Ajay with Vice President Elect Kamala Harris, who represented California in the US Senate. (Photos: Bhutoria family)

He began his career of activism by getting involved with the 2008 Obama for America Presidential campaign. Elevated to the DNC and its National Finance Committee, he had the opportunity subsequently to work closely with both President Obama and Vice President Biden. Drawing inspiration from President Obama, Bhutoria became closely involved in boosting civic engagement and political participation of the Indian Americans nationally.

 

In 2016, Ajay hosted former President Bill Clinton at his home and was a co host for Hillary Clinton fundraisers over 20 times in various events, which included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, eBay CEO John Donahue, and LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman. Ajay ended up raising a substantial amount and co-led the AAPI leadership council for Hillary for President.

 

Ajay has worked closely with Vice President Joe Biden and Dr.Jill Biden to support their Free Community College Initiative, which has helped numerous young students and immigrants get an affordable education and start their careers. On Day 1 of the Biden campaign, he became a founding member of the Biden 2020 National Finance Committee and National AAPI leadership Council, BFP 2020.

 

In addition to raising funds at the grassroots level for the Biden-Harris campaign, Ajay focused on ensuring that 1.3 million votes of Indian Americans in swing states were delivered for Biden.

 

Ajay helped strengthen and build the AAPI for the Biden Leadership and grassroots team. He brought in various community leaders to join the AAPI faith leadership council to solidify AAPI for Biden. He was elected National Delegate for Biden for California’s 17th district, on the edge of Silicon Valley and home to the largest Indian Americans in the nation.

Ajay coordinated the South Asian media outreach for the campaign. He got published over 100 positive stories in as many news outlets. He spoke extensively as a public figure on prime time Indian news channels about the Biden-Harris campaign and dispelled the myths and lies spread by Trump supporters.

Ajay launched several viral digital outreach campaigns in 14+ Indian languages to attract the Indians across the USA the South Asian media outreach for the campaign: “America Ka Neta Kaisa Ho Jo Biden Jaisa Ho”, “Trump Hatao America Bachao” and “Biden-Harris ko Jitao, America ko aage badao”, “Jaago America Jaago – Biden Harris ko Vote do”.

Besides raising funds at the grassroots level for the Biden-Harris campaign, Ajay focused on ensuring that 1.3 million votes of Indian Americans in swing states were delivered for Biden. This he managed through South Asian media outreach,  producing viral videos with catchy lines in 14 Indian languages, and by allaying the impression that Biden-Harris were anti-India.

Ajay and his wife Vinita Bhutoria released the super-viral popular musical video, “Chale Chalo, Chale Chalo, Biden Harris ko Vote do” (Let’s go vote for Biden Harris). It was a hit with the Indo-American community. This was a first-ever South Asian musical video for a  presidential campaign in America. Ajay said that “people connect with music, food, language, and culture.”

Bhutoria family gifted a small statue of Ganesha to Dr Jill Biden. (Photos: Bhutoria family)

It used to be taken as an axiom that Indian Americans don’t vote in good numbers. Ajay countered, “Have you ever reached out to them in their language? When a campaign volunteer speaks to a voter in their language, they are more likely to listen.”  Ajay designed this campaign with the idea that Indian Americans will feel more connected with Biden when volunteers can reach out to them in their language, “Not necessary all the Indians speak English,” he said. People get connected when someone talks to them in their language.

“There was lots of excitement,” he said, adding that “the vast majority had never experienced such campaign outreach previously.”

“We present the diversity of people in our community, inspired by Vice President Biden’s vision of hope and change,” reads the video’s description. “We come from all ages, places, and professions, but we are united in our passion for a candidate who represents our common values.”

Ajay directed efforts to deliver over 1.3M AAPI/South Asian votes in key battleground states. He coordinated thousands of Phone Banking and Text Banking contacts in the battleground States.

Ajay listened to community concerns around Kashmir, Article 370, and coordinated with the Biden campaign to share those concerns and coordinated to get the India Fact Sheet, Biden Harris Vision for Indian Americans, and India reach the Community.

Fremont, CA based Ajay Bhutoria with President Elect Joe Biden (Photos: Bhutoria family)

He listened to concerns of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Muslim, and Christian Americans of South Asian heritage and directed efforts to unite the community.

He has also worked closely with the leadership on the Biden 2020 campaign to co-organize several national events. During the  Indian Independence Day celebrations this August, he helped organize a widely viewed virtual program and celebration that included prominent Indian Americans across the country. There he introduced VP Biden’s video message and invited senior campaign officials to share VP Biden’s vision for Indian Americans and building stronger India-US relationship.

 

Ajay played an influential role in spreading the message about VP Biden and Senator Kamala Harris being the best friend of India and Indian Americans through his articles, news stories, TV appearances, and community speaking events. His efforts helped strengthen community trust in the Biden-Harris ticket and build trust between India and the US. This he accomplished through various South Asian outreach groups.

 

The pandemic caused thousands of small businesses to shut down. Several thousands of Indian American businesses too were either closed or on the verge of closing. Ajay discussed the situation  with Indian American small business owners to understand their issues and highlighted their plight to Biden campaign’s Small Business Council, and provided a voice to South Asian business owners’ call for a revitalization policy.

 

Ajay has created a strong message in the Indian American community across the nation of civic engagement and political participation. In the recent election cycle, he influenced the community to believe in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Backed by an astute understanding of the community helped him turn out South Asian voters in large numbers to vote for and elect Joe Biden as our President and Kamala Harris as our Vice President.

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Books Latest News

Millions of young men in Pakistan ‘stunted’ by religious fundamentalism: Obama memoir

By Aarti Tikoo Singh/IANS
New Delhi: Former US President Barack Obama does not have a single positive view on Pakistan in his latest memoir ‘A Promised Land’. Instead, he has lumped Pakistan with countries like Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq where millions of young men are “stunted” by religious fundamentalism.
Published by a division of Penguin Random House, ‘A Promised Land’ is the first part of the two planned volumes of his memoir. The book hit the stores worldwide on Tuesday.
While reminiscing about some of the major decisions of his Presidency in the book, Obama has described in detail what he felt as he gave orders to take out terrorists from their safe havens like Pakistan.
In places like Yemen and Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, Obama wrote, “The lives of millions of young men” had been “warped and stunted by desperation, ignorance, dreams of religious glory, the violence of their surroundings, or the schemes of older men.”
Arguing that these young men were “dangerous” and “often deliberately and casually cruel”, Obama wrote empathetically that he still wanted “somehow to save them-send them to school, give them a trade, drain them of the hate that had been filling their heads.” But immediately added, “And yet the world they were a part of, and the machinery I commanded, more often had me killing them instead.”
Throughout his account, Obama has slammed his predecessors for their ham-handed approach towards Pakistan’s behavior to create and provide safe havens to terrorists inside their country. “That the US government had long tolerated such behavior from a purported ally-supporting it with billions of dollars in military and economic aid despite its complicity with violent extremists and its record as a significant and irresponsible proliferator of nuclear weapons technology in the world – said something about the pretzel-like logic of U.S. foreign policy.”
Providing a detailed insight into how he, as the US President, gave the go-ahead to take out al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden inside Pakistani territory, in Abbottabad, Obama wrote that Laden was buried at sea to avoid “the creation of a pilgrimage site for jihadists.”
He has revealed that his administration did not take the Pakistani establishment into confidence because “it was an open secret that certain elements inside the country’s military, and especially its intelligence services, maintained links to the Taliban and perhaps even al-Qaeda, sometimes using them as strategic assets to ensure that the Afghan government remained weak and unable to align itself with Pakistan’s number one rival, India.”
“The fact that the Abbottabad compound was just a few miles from the Pakistan military’s equivalent of West Point only heightened the possibility that anything we told the Pakistanis could end up tipping off our target,” Obama wrote.
With all the references to Pakistan in the context of terrorism and religious fundamentalism, Obama however has credited former President Asif Ali Zardari who congratulated him over the success of his bin Laden mission.

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Latest News US Election Special

Trump or Biden, who should be our President?

By Nagendra Rao

There is a tale arising out of Mahabharata’s many versions.

Both Yudhistra and Duryodhana go around the world searching for the perfect unblemished man. Duryodhana could not find one person who is perfectly good, and Yudhistra could not find one who is totally bad. This tale, authentic or not, is emblematic of the situation today. We have two American presidential candidates who are among the most flawed and unprepossessing in American electoral history, for one reason or another.

Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have their good points and weak points.

President Trump has egregiously mismanaged the Covid crisis. With his populist blue collar, science ignorant and science contempt, he has shown himself and the White House to be superspreaders of the disease. Trump has also stacked the Supreme Court with uber right wing, Christian/Catholic judges who (despite much denying) could be on a self-fooling mission to force their illiberal, parochial, Christian views on everyone. Trump has also been egregiously anti-environmental protection and rejects climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence.

Yet, Trump has also stood up to the Xi Jinping’s aggressive hegemonic China in no uncertain way. This has been long overdue. China over the last 20+ years has brazenly stolen the US blind on intellectual property worth hundreds of billions of dollars in numerous scientific and technological fields. Trump has also bluntly and correctly called out the great threat from global Islamic terrorism. In particular, he has explicitly called out the perfidy and institutionalized state Islamic terrorism of Pakistan.

As Indian emigres to America with dual socio-cultural-emotional identification, we should take particular note of the importance of Trump’s principled and firm stand on militant, genocidal, global Islam flowing out of the Arab Middle East and Pakistan. President Barack Hussein Obama with his closet Islamic sympathies (he grew up in Muslim Indonesia) never called out Islamic terrorism. Instead he lectured Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ‘protect your minorities’ (read Muslims — and Christians) despite Indian laws and constitution being conspicuously stacked in their favor thanks to Gandhian-Nehruvianism for 65+ years.

Considering Joe Biden, it is more his explicit promises of what he will do to which we should look. He has never been in a position of real national executive authority to do anything. He promises to fix the healthcare system, focus on a more centrist Supreme Court rather than unacceptably right wing, anti-minority, and pro-rich, which is the Trump focus. Biden also promises to be more professional and merit oriented (with less sleaze) than Trump in his cabinet and executive appointments.

The flip side is, Biden definitely looks and behaves like an old man lacking energy and verve. He will be the oldest American President by far, if elected. He will be 82 when he finishes his first term. Biden also is completely sold out to the anti-law and order, rabidly socialist, left wing of the Democratic Party. Even more so than Hillary Clinton. From an Indian emigre’s standpoint Biden has gone out of his way to pander to extreme left wing, religiously exclusivist Islam by needlessly lecturing PM Modi on how he should run India. So too his pick for Vice President Kamala Harris, who is of Indian origin. She tried to get her hands on Silicon Valley Indian money by peddling her so-called TamBram roots and origin. Kamala has miserably fallen flat on her pseudo TamBram (yet Baptist Christian convert) face. The Indian American community, the best educated, and wealthiest by far émigré community to the US, is quite secular yet deeply conservative. It is just not buying Kamala, or for that matter her dear fellow traveler, uber left-wing, virulently anti-Hindu, Malayali / Tamilian Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Seattle.

Neither Trump nor Biden can be considered a sterling intellect, head or shoulders above the herd in probity, or showing a record of landmark accomplishments. Both lack refinement and breeding though Trump was born a multi-millionaire and Biden was born poor and the first in his family to go to college. Trump has been documented by fact checkers during his last four years as POTUS to have uttered the most untruths and half-truths of any politician in American history. Several thousand of them, as a matter of fact, some of them blatant.

Trump’s public observation that he could grab women’s p*****s anytime, anywhere ‘for women allow that if you are rich, powerful and famous you know’ must surely rank amongst the most offensive, tasteless, male chauvinist public observations of all time, by anyone, anywhere.

Biden was in the US Senate for decades including as Chairman of the hallowed Senate Judiciary Committee. He is notorious for putting his foot in his mouth many times. During a White House St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Biden of Irish Catholic origin, mourned the death of the Irish Prime Minister’s mother, even though she was very much alive. Joe Biden also said at the health care bill signing ceremony barely off the microphone, “this is a big f*****g deal”. This is the ultimate blue collar acknowledgement of a job well done, not what you would expect at an august public ceremony for President Obama, the leader of the free world.

In summary, neither presidential candidate shows the dignity, gravitas or statesmanlike qualities expected of the president of the most powerful democratic country on earth.

Yet, at a time of grave public crisis due to the Covid pandemic, America is confronted with the saddening task of choosing the best of two very bad choices for President. The entire world needs to be concerned as well, for the incoming American President’s choices will gravely impact the rest of the world. Whether we like it or not America is today the most powerful country in the world, though the latest IMF results this week seem to show that China is already the world’s mightiest economy in purchasing power parity terms. America will gradually and inexorably decline in influence and power as China steadily accumulates it. The global dynamic will not change for another 25 years or so, though America will grow steadily weaker in economic and military strength. Look at the 5th rate power, hugely impoverished Great Britain today (without India the Crown Jewel of the Empire from which to silently and vampirishly suck economic resources and wealth).

Trump is likely to do more to shore up America’s position. His Make America Great Again has a sonorousness and emotive appeal to it, even if it really has strong self-aggrandizement as its base. Biden is just too weak and lacks energy. Besides, Biden’s recent utterance of Inshallah! in the last presidential debate was deeply upsetting to hundreds of thousands of Hindu Indian emigres. It was a deliberately fabricated act of abject pandering for Islamic votes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, California, Illinois and elsewhere. Deeply Catholic Joe Biden has never said Jai Sri Ram, or Om Namah Shivaya.

So, who should one pick to be the next POTUS?

From the standpoint of the future prosperity of America here and into the future, inclusive socio-cultural harmony and equity for all Americans, conservative and liberal, rich or poor, perhaps Joe Biden warts and all should be president. But the edge is really tiny.

From the parochial standpoint as an India émigré with understandable first generation dual emotional loyalty perhaps one should vote Donald Trump. Trump has evinced unapologetic strong pro India, pro Modi, unapologetic anti-terrorist, genocidal Islam sentiments. This whether by nation state Pakistan or ‘non state actors’ as Imran Khan likes to put it. The trouble with Trump is that he is not reliable. He is willful as the wind, and he ever looks out for Number 1. If it looks expedient, Trump will drop India as a lead balloon, as he has with so many others of his vaunted positions. Trump has shown this time after time.

Joe Biden is steady, predictable, left wing, anti-India, anti-Hindu, as all Democratic presidents and administrations have always been, c.f. Obama, Clinton, Carter. Biden won’t be virulently anti-India as Senator Sanders or Senator Warren would have been as President.

So, friends take your pick of the best of two bad choices.

Many are likely to just sit this one out. Others with a short-term pro-India emotional focus will pick Trump. If Trump wins, at least for the next four years a strong pro-India, anti-terrorist Islam, standing up to China will be assured. If the House stays Democratic and the Senate flips, this will serve to balance out Trump’s stacked right wing Supreme Court and excessive anti-scientific, anti-climate change, pro-business stance. It may not be so bad after all for America and for Spaceship Earth.

Vaya con Dios. Ye will still be my friends, irrespective of how ye vote, when the political dust dies down.

thesatime | The Southasian times

Nagendra Rao

Retired Global Strategy Consultant for e-business, office of the Chairman IBM

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