Firdausi wrote Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran. He revived not only the Persian language, but also emphasized Iran’s pre-Islamic history. In his story about Alexander’s conquest of Persia, he mentions a story about some gymnosophists (naked wise men) telling Alexander that the world is a mirage (maya and mithya) and greed for money, power, fame and sex almost invariably end in disaster. Apparently one of these Digambara Jains falls ill and tiring of the “dukha” of life asks the Greeks to build him a funeral pyre and light it. He then calmly walks into the fire and perishes in utter silence. (See Sackler Gallery in Washington DC). Isn’t it ironic that the self immolation of Vietnamese Buddhist monks led to the fall of the US imposed puppet government of Diem and his assassination order by JFK and the ultimate debacle of the war in Vietnam. A similar self immolation led to the fall of the Tunisian government, which led to the fall of the Egyptian Mubarak government.
By the time Firdausi finished the Shahnameh over 30 years, the Iranian dynasty changed, and Mahmoud of Ghazni ruled the part of Iran where the poet was. He was a follower of American bank robber Sutton, who when asked why he robbed banks, replied “that is where the money is”. Mahmoud did the same with Hindu temples and Sonia Gandhi and the Congress are probably interested in the Kerala temple for the same reason, because the foolish Hindus and Jains are retarded ineducable, and still waste their money and wealth on building and decorating stone and metal statues, while real human beings starve to death or are ill nourished. No wonder Islam has flourished in the world for its mandatory charity, license to loot and kill unbelievers and catering to living male libidos by four wives and dead male libidos by an endless supply of young virgins.
The Indian chronicler of kings’ lives (like Shakespeare in English) was Kalidasa and his Raghuvamsha. Since I am bipolar between being a sentimental slob and sarcastic cynic, the section of Raghuvamsha titled Aja Vilaapa had the greatest appeal to me. In it the good king Aja was flying in his plane with his wife Indumati, whose charm and beauty were so great that the gods in heaven showered some flower petals on her. This reminded me of Tennyson’s lines in the Lotos Eaters –
There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tir'd eyelids upon tir'd eyes;
Indumati was even more delicate and her “nazaakat” was like
Farsh-e-makhmal se paon me chhiley padtey hai
Aur Kelay khaane se mere daant girtey hai
And Indumati died on the spot due to the impact of the petals and the lament of Aja is the tragic poem.
This is how I got the idea to write a “vilaapa” (lament) of my own for Obama’s total capitulation to the Republicans, merely because of a raised voice and his disastrous tenure and policies. But like Firdausi, I chronicle below, the various presidents after FDR and how they have collectively and systematically destroyed America’s primacy, merely out of a perverse combination of hubris and pandering for a second term.
He is the only president without a college degree in the last 115 years. He went bankrupt in a business he started. That can happen to anyone, but he managed to settle his debt for a thousand dollars because of the favor of a banker named Kemper and with his political and financial support ran for the senate. He was vying to be a senator. He was so beholden to a wheeler dealer named Pendergast whose fourth choice for the post he was, that he was known as a “senator from Pendergast” rather than a senator from Missouri. Patronage favors to the Pendergast empire were his basic policy, though he claimed he saved the country and state a lot by his favors.
He was selected to be FDR’s vice president in his last campaign and succeeded to the presidency on his death. Apart from his questionable decision to atom bomb Japan, his general ignorance and lack of intellect, made him an ideal puppet of hawks, who set the US on a path of belligerence and containment of the Soviet Union and birthed the military industrial complex by scaring the paranoid and gullible American public.
Stalin was a malignant psychopath, but the Soviet Union was a weak military power with high patriotism and at no point had superiority over the US except for a short while after Sputnik. At the end of his term, Truman was highly unpopular because of his industrial policy and the Korean War.
Much of his presidency was spent in playing golf and recovering from heart attacks. With the characteristic lack of knowledge, intellect and education seen in those who are incarcerated in the Pentagon for long periods, he let the two Dulles brothers and hawks guide him and run the US foreign policy, which involved overthrowing unfriendly governments and paranoia about communist takeover of the world. His CIA engineered coups in Iran, Guatemala, Belgian Congo and planned the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and military occupation of Lebanon. He sort of began the Vietnam War by helping the French in their attempt to reoccupy it and sent military advisers there. In his farewell address he criticized the military, industry and Congress nexus, while doing nothing about it or anything else substantial, during his eight years as president except for the US highway system.
His tenure consisted of philandering, mouthing platitudes by great speech writers, prescription drug abuse, embroiling the US in Vietnam, failed invasion of Cuba, Cuban missile crisis which almost led to nuclear Armageddon with the Soviet Union, coup in Iraq, and was assassinated, possibly in a reciprocity policy by a left wing nut.
A smooth operator who won elections by ballot tampering and used his senatorial position to enrich himself with broadcast licenses. His ego led him to prosecute the Vietnam War, causing serious damage to the US finances, as at the same time he pursued great society programs. His passage of the civil rights act, medicare, medicaid and reforming racist immigration laws showed a strong streak of decency, but it was overshadowed by his hubris and bad economic policy.
A paranoid prevaricator with a genius for lying, misguiding and pathological lust for power, without any principles. He officially and permanently devalued the dollar and decimated Indo-China with napalm, promoted genocide in Cambodia and Laos, mass murder in Central America and Chile. He began the foolish policy of courting China to extricate America from Vietnam and started the US on a road to bankruptcy. Resigned during his second term to avoid impeachment and felony charges and did his usual dirty operations by bribing the dunderhead Ford (who played football without a helmet) with the presidency, to obtain a pardon.
Unfortunate victim of traumatic brain injury from football, whose idea of freedom was Poland under the Soviet Union. No accomplishment whatsoever.
A religious man without management or political skills, who managed to alienate Iran, condone massacres in South Korea, birthed Islamic radicals by advice from experts. He gave away the Panama Canal, brokered a peace between Egypt and Israel by bribes and has been trying to atone for his presidency like a good Christian.
A brainwashed ideologue with very limited knowledge, intelligence or interest in anything serious, important or profound. Made it a point to invade small weak countries like Granada, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Libya, while in a prolonged demented fugue, which lasted throughout his presidency and the rest of his life. Set the US cascading down a slippery steep slope of bankruptcy by greatly enlarging budget and trade deficits and by military Keynesianism for loony projects.
G. H. W. Bush
Generally sensible president, won the war with Iraq and made a profit on it from Europe, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait financing. First supported and then militarily overthrew Noriega in Panama. His claim to fame - Presided over the demise of the Soviet Union and puked on the Japanese prime minister.
Only president to have received a blow job in the Oval office. While camouflaged as a liberal democrat, he gutted welfare, de-industrialized the US by NAFTA and got us involved in Kosovo, Somalia. Chief architect of the 2008 US meltdown by repealing the Glass Steagall Act.
Only anencephalic to become president. Started ruinous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq. Successfully managed to ruin school education in America and gut the environment protection agency and Federal Emergency MA, but failed to destroy social security, so he sent Medicare rolling down to bankruptcy by enacting Part D as a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry. Saved the bankers and his rich contributors by privatizing their profits and dumping their losses on the public treasury. Officially made pre-emptive and preventive wars and torture, US policy.
A closet republican wearing a liberal democrat costume while playing trick or treat in the White House. A neoliberal imperialist in a liberal mask Halloween costume or the tragedy by Honore de Balzac –La Peau de Chagrin (The Skin of Sorrow or The Magic Skin or The Wild Ass’s Skin).
So for Americans, as in Aja Vilaapa or the ghazal by Sudarshan Faakir
Ik do roz kaa sadmaa ho to ro leytey Faakir
Hum ko har roz ke roney ney roney naa diyaa.
Translation - If the shocks occur on occasional days (occasional bad presidents and precedents), I would have cried, but the daily crying has exhausted my tears, so I can't even cry.