Friday, February 20, 2015

Obama's Words (Still) Speak Louder Than Actions

"In the military, as in any organization, giving the order might be the easiest part. Execution is the real game." - Russel Honore.
President Obama's soaring speeches essentially got him into the White House. His DNC 2004 keynote speech first won him national attention.  Then a couple of "Hope and Change" oratories with mix and match phrases were key to his 2008 primary and general election victories. He also has a great sense of humor, which makes his White House Correspondents Dinner addresses and appearances on Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert shows like on Dec. 9, '14 worth watching. His policies haven't appeased most Republicans but they're quite centrist and track majority opinion fairly well. So what's his biggest problem?

His weakness per my March 2013 post is in poor implementation, neglecting routine administration, and not anticipating and addressing problems before they become critical.  When faced squarely with a crisis or challenge Obama marshals his faculties and resources to rise to the occasion. That's how he outplayed Hillary Clinton in 2008, dealt with Hurricane Sandy effectively in 2012 just before his re-election, recovered from the awful start of the HealthCare.gov website, and so on. But the Executive-in-Chief should execute well in general, not just in firefighting mode.

The President cannot do everything, so he needs to pick the right people to work under him, track their performance, press them to improve where needed, and replace them quickly if they don't. Obama here is no worse - and probably better - than "heckuva job, Brownie" G.W. Bush.

But he falls well short of Bill Clinton whose operational excellence was a largely unsung and under appreciated aspect of his presidency. Not only did the cogs of the day to day government machinery run smoothly then, but major programs took off without hiccups. Examples in health care are the Clinton launch of children's health insurance program and the overhaul and immense improvement of the Veteran's Health Administration (VA).

And how is Obama doing now, as compared to his earlier years? Significantly better in some aspects. Examples:
  • In health care he finally dispensed with Kathleen Sebelius and appointed the far more competent Sylvia Burwell as health secretary. The lackluster CMS chief Marilyn Tavenner is also gone. A post 2013 team along with Accenture now running HealthCare.gov has immensely improved operations including enrollments under ACA (Obamacare). 
  • Janet Napolitano is gone as Secretary of Homeland Security, replaced by a much better Jeh Johnson since December 2013. One change I personally noticed is the much quicker processing of international flight passengers at our JFK and Newark airports. The hour plus long lines have now decreased to a wait of 20 minutes or less.
  • U.S. postal services have improved some services, e.g., with insurance and tracking already included in Priority Mail packages.  More outlets like Staples now sell products and accept postal packages. 
There are still visible shortcomings, ranging from the trivial and irritating ones I see in my daily domestic life to those of national importance. Examples:
  • The streams of unwelcome phone calls from marketers, including robo-calls on Do-Not-Call registered land line and mobile phones has become even worse. The FTC seems totally unresponsive to complaints, and this has made marketers more brazen in flouting this one very welcome law passed in the G.W. Bush presidency. Even authentic information about U.S. based scammers and violators contained in complaints seems to disappear into a black hole. Although the FTC is an independent agency, its Bureau of Consumer Protection works closely with the Department of Justice. So the Obama Administration through Eric Holder's Department of Justice can and should get them to go after violators much more vigorously. Let's see if Holder's chosen successor (currently nominee Loretta Lynch awaiting Senate approval) turns out to be better in this regard.
  • U.S. post offices still don't display prices for common services like rates for domestic and international mail and packages. You can ascertain these piecemeal at automated stations, but these should be displayed for quick information and comparison. Why isn't this done on now so inexpensive electronic displays that can be readily updated when rates change? Plus the USPS is still losing money. A competent administrator should be improving efficiency and reversing past giveaways in pensions and benefits instead of trying to curtail services, like Saturday mail delivery.
  • Highly paid West Coast dock workers in a labor dispute are crippling the supply chains for many American businesses and hurting our economy. Yet Obama's administration is dragging its feet on ordering an end to this work stoppage. In contrast, the Canadian government moved to end a rail strike there, prompting the management and the union to quickly resume operations and agree to arbitration. 
In foreign relations there are lapses in policy as well as execution pertaining to the Middle East and Ukraine:
  • An Oct. 9,'14 Reuters report describes Obama's rejection of proposals of his senior advisers to intervene in Syria and Iraq that allowed ISIS to expand. Though liberals may defend his initial restraint, there's little excuse for the poor execution of his subsequent decision to intervene militarily, support forces against ISIS, etc. 
  • Obama's hesitance to help Ukraine militarily in countering Russian backed separatists has contributed to Ukraine's rout and loss of strategic towns in recent battles. He argued against supplying lethal weapons on the grounds that this will further antagonize Russia and kill off peace talks.  I'd have expected an effective administration to at least be feverishly positioning such arms for rapid transfer and deployment if peace fails, and to be covertly training Ukrainians in their use. After all, Russia and the separatists have repeatedly violated prior agreements. Instead, the Middle East problems of US military help coming too little, too late seems to apply to Ukraine as well. 
Some of these outcomes could have been different under a better Secretary of Defense. Obama has at least appointed the well regarded Ashton Carter as the new Secretary who emphasized competence and effectiveness after being sworn in.

In sum, the Obama Administration functions better now than till 2013, though there is still ample room for improvement in his remaining second term.  I also hope that his successor after 2016 is more into good governance from the start.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day - Just How Much To Celebrate?

It's July 4th today, the biggest day of celebration for Americans. What I personally value most about it is the fireworks display and the opportunity to go on a mini-vacation for the long weekend.  Right now Anita and I are enjoying our road trip to Toronto, meeting up with friends and family after stopping to admire Niagara Falls for the nth time.

For U.S. patriots it's unquestionable that the U.S. winning its war of independence was the best thing that could ever have happened, and was the basis for U.S.A. becoming a superpower. We're certainly in a very happy place, and Americans have a lot to be very proud of. 

But what if the war of independence had never been fought, or our founding fathers had lost it and the British continued to rule as a colonial power? It's similar to what happened when the Rebellions of 1837 were successfully put down in Canada. Would Americans today really have been worse off?

An answer may lie in looking at how other colonies set up populated largely by British and other European settlers have evolved to this day.  These are Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  The GDP per capita comparison shows Australia's is higher than U.S.A.'s ($67K Vs. $53K), Canada's is almost the same ($52K) and New Zealand's lags slightly at $41K. All of them have robust democracies and good quality of life for their residents that some may argue is better (because of universal healthcare, lower crime, lower unemployment, etc.) than for the average American.

The British were hardly monsters who mercilessly exploited these colonies made up of their own emigrants.  Over time they loosened their grip so that self-rule evolved anyway.  It is entirely possible that the American States with their larger population, more favorable geography and climate would have done even better.

More importantly, Canada and U.S.A. could have been one country if we had evolved instead of breaking away from British rule. That would mean twice the land mass, all the oil and gas (including shale oil), minerals and other natural resources of Canada added to our own.  More liberal Canadian thinking may have tempered our (new) Tea Party activism and influence.  Heck, Britain also abolished slavery in 1833, so we may never have come to events leading up to the civil war.

It's a good question as to what Canadians would have gained from being part of the U.S.  Should our successful war of independence and 4th of July be celebrated equally by Canadians because it gave them a whole country (with much higher natural resources per inhabitant) to themselves?
 

Friday, October 18, 2013

We're All Fair And Balanced In Our Own Eyes

Non-Republicans laugh at the Fox News Channel's describing itself as "Fair & Balanced" and this slogan is the butt of endless Jon Stewart digs on The Daily Show.  But its hardcore audience laps up  the Fox News fare as gospel truth (an appropriately applicable term for this viewer demographic) and sees no irony.

Most of the world including many Muslims regard the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban as destructive and fanatical operatives that are a blight to civilized society.  Yet these militants think of themselves as soldier-saints of Allah setting out to right society. 

Israeli rightwing nationalists feel it's entirely justified and reasonable for them to expand Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.  And Iranian hardliners feel the same way about denying Israel's right to exist.

We all tend to see our own viewpoint as being right and those deviating from it - even if it's an overwhelming majority - as being wrong.  In her 2008 "Buried Prejudice: the Bigot in Your Brain" in Scientific American, Siri Carpenter describes how reported facts are filtered by our biases that are often shored up by self-interest.  "We are pre-disposed to ascribe superior characteristics to the groups to which we belong, and to exaggerate differences between our own groups and outsiders."  She goes on to quote studies showing that "many of our implicit associations about social groups form before we are old enough to consider them rationally... full fledged implicit racial bias emerges by age six - and never retreats."  This may also apply to religious bias.

This brings me again to my ongoing discussions about Muslims, with relatives and friends in India who are highly intelligent, fair minded and decent, even if we've different perspectives.  Some exchanges have been triggered by blog posts and popular forwarded emails I get from them.  They talk about secular politicians pandering to Indian Muslims, the destructive role of Islam and its meager contributions to humanity (measured by Nobel Prizes awarded to Muslims), etc.  Some others in my circle have been privately reacting to my June 27 post "Treating Our Indian Muslims Right".  Three examples below illustrate my disagreements with them:

a) An email doing the rounds glorifies Nathuram Godse, the Hindu assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, reproducing his supposed speech at his trial where he talks of Gandhi working against Hindus and favoring Muslims.  Those who forward it generally preface it with a disclaimer like "I don't agree with what Godse did or all he says, but he does have a point."  I personally am repelled at the killer of Gandhi, a disgrace to their Hindu community, sought to be partially rehabilitated through half rationalizations in this manner.  You'll find this Godse speech and reenactments all over on Google and on YouTube.  In viewer comments, Hindu zealots hailing Godse's murder of Gandhi outnumber those who deplore this by ten to one or worse.  At least this shows that bigotry abounds in all religions, and "pacifist" and "all-embracing" Hinduism isn't different in this aspect.

b) Some of my friends and relatives proclaim that "secular" in India means being "pro-Muslim" and reverse discriminating against Hindus in order to garner Muslim votes en bloc. A friend in his blog uses the phrase "secular fundamentalists" to describe secular politicians. He says that "secular" in their dictionary means being contemptuous of their own (Hindu) religion and being obsessed with that of another minority, the Muslims.  I pointed out that the Muslim vote bank (14.5% of the population) is much smaller than the Hindu vote bank (80% of population) that would be put off by such a bias.  The friend countered that Hindus are too fragmented and turn out in smaller percentages, so wooing Muslims this way still makes sense to these politicians. 

Well, UP is India's most populous state where the Muzaffarnagar Hindu-Muslim riots recently occurred. I see from UP 2012 election results that the winning Samajwadi Party got 34% of the votes, and secular BSP and Congress got 24% and 12% respectively.  In other words the secular parties combined had about 70% of the vote, and given that Muslims comprise 18% of UP's population, the other 52% of their supporters have to be primarily Hindus. You'd hardly expect such support from Hindus for a party that discriminated against them. In any case it's much easier to cast lots with a dominant majority and stronger side.  While corruption, inefficiency and infighting may justifiably sink them, we should at least credit secular parties with  fair-mindedness and courage for trying to level the field for minorities.

c) An otherwise saintly elder relative in India echoed a sentiment in our circle when he said, "If you see Muslims on TV they are so aggressive (while seeking rights and denouncing oppression).  Can Hindus raise their voice in Pakistan and other Muslim countries?"  I on the contrary expect Muslims to freely express their justified indignation at being targeted in riots on account of their religion.  Moreover, I'd hate to see Muslims in India treated the way less tolerant countries treat their minorities, including Hindus.  That's what makes India's secularism and inclusiveness so much better than the ethos in those other countries.

Of course, being "truly" fair and balanced should be just one of the major factors for voters everywhere, including Indians.  Given the widespread corruption, stifling bureaucracy and ineptness that permeates the present Congress government in India, I'd agree with its detractors that it should be replaced.  The clear frontrunner to lead a new Indian government is Narendra Modi of the BJP, the Hindu-centric opposition party.  Modi has developed a solid record and reputation as an able and incorruptible administrator as Chief Minister of Gujarat State which has made remarkable progress in his 12 year tenure. Widespread accusations of his involvement in the deadly 2002 anti-Muslim riots have never been proved and he has protested his innocence and made numerous overtures and reassurances to Muslims recently.  So I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and cautiously favor his election, especially if other alternatives like the well regarded Nitish Kumar of Bihar are not nationally viable. But unlike Modi's BJP supporters, my choice would be based purely on economic and administrative grounds, and in spite of, not because of his RSS / Hindutva roots.








 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Affirmative Action In Miss America Contest

I have mixed reactions to Nina Davuluri becoming Miss America on Sep. 15.  While someone of Indian origin has won, my first thought on seeing the news footage was "Really? Is this the best that USA (or the Indian community for that matter) can offer?"  I wonder what proportion of Americans and Indians feel this way.  A poll on this would be interesting. In each of the Indian marriages I've recently attended in India and the US there were some female guests I'd regard as having a better presence than Nina.

It looks like the contest has evolved away from what I expect.  Given that it's highly visual, I thought having stunning looks that would turn heads should be table stakes for all contestants.  That means scoring close to a 10 when men rate them in appearance on a 1 to 10 scale for, say, whom they'd like stranded with them on an island.  Sure, the winner should have a lot more - charm, poise, intelligence, talent, etc. But these attributes should complement, not substitute for physical oomph.   I'd score Nina as a 7, may be even an 8, but that still falls short.  We're talking of Miss Totally Outstanding here, not Miss Quite Above Average. 

Beauty of course lies in the eye of the beholder.  You'd then want judges whose choices reflect mass appeal but that isn't happening here.  It may be overly politically correct judges who want to signal some social message with their decision.  That's unfortunate and the reason I have long stopped watching these pageants, national or international.  Fair judging should pick winners regardless of their ethnicity, color or creed, not because of it in a misplaced push to deliberately inject diversity.  By all means choose a Chinese American as Miss America in the next year or two, but only if judges truly assess her to be the best, and not driven by any inclination to represent this group.  And do give those poor statuesque, blond and blue eyed girls a chance even if they don't have any serious disability.

This system can be corrected to reflect mainstream sentiment by replacing the celebrity judges with a large representative group of men who vote by secret ballot. And for the Q&A please, no questions on charged political and socially divisive issues like an attack on Syria or gay marriage where the listeners' prejudices can color how they evaluate answers.  Well, they regrettably did have these types of questions in Miss America for the top five finalists and four of them got through with (about equally) good answers.

What about other parts of the contest?  Nina's Bollywood fusion dance item in the talent show was impressive but I didn't find it exceptional.  I've seen similar standards of performance by non-professionals and semi-professionals at larger Indian festivals.  The ballet number by Miss California and River Dance by "our" Miss Connecticut look at least as good to me.  And Miss Kansas who got the most online votes and wasn't allowed under the rules to display her marksmanship and archery prowess did a good job in her second choice of singing.

Other than reactions in the media, Twitter or blogosphere are there ways to assess if pageant winners are well chosen?  I can think of a hypothetical measure as well as a one based on subsequent history as under:

  • The contest winner should pass a "stand out" test.  That is, if you placed her among a fairly large group of randomly chosen American girls of similar age, onlookers who are told Miss America is among them should be easily able to pick her out.  Most shouldn't be going "Where? Where?" or guess it's someone else as I think would happen with Nina.  Though to be fair to her many of her fellow contestants could also have been lost in a crowd.  This can be due to the criteria of evaluation being skewed so much away from looks at all levels of competition - local, state, national and even international.  That's why there can be similar surprises and unexpected outcomes even in the Miss Universe and Miss World contests.

  • The test of history - what these winners achieve down the line.  By this measure the likes of Vanessa Williams (first African American crowned Miss America 1984), Gretchen Carlson (Miss America 1989), Aishwarya Rai (Miss World 1994), Sushmita Sen (Miss Universe 1994), Priyanka Chopra (Miss World 2000), Lara Dutta (Miss Universe 2002) were great choices. So were also-rans Diane Sawyer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone, Halle Berry and yes, Oprah Winfrey. 
So on the positive side if Nina has notable achievements hereafter, even if it takes decades, I'll eat my words and apologize for any mean things I've said.  And regardless of anything else I'm happy for her and congratulate her - she parlayed all she had to win beyond most Americans' (and my) expectations. 

And while I carp about this de facto affirmative action permeating various aspects of our life it at least speaks to the amazing open mindedness of Americans.  I've been struck by the wide acceptance and appreciation of other cultures by most of them, and the Miss America 2014 results reflect this.



 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Treating Our Indian Muslims Right

I've received an email from a friend implying India should emulate Japan when it comes to keeping Islam in check and the Muslims at a distance.  The email includes a lot of the claims about Japan and the Muslims mentioned in this supposedly Muslim hating website "BNI" that instead refutes them. 

I'd instead like to see our Hindu majority to go out of its way to reassure Indian Muslims that they are a welcome and valuable part of the fabric of our society. This will strengthen our secular values and further distance our Muslim community from extremist elements.  I admired and appreciated Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee's sponsoring in 2002 of prominent scientist Dr. Abdul Kalam (a Muslim) to be President of India.  This significantly reshaped my perceptions about Mr. Vajpayee's BJP party which has Hindu-centric origins and affiliations. 

Our Muslim community braces for silent suspicion and hostility towards them whenever there's a terrorist act in India by Muslim extremists.  This is in spite of most Muslims having no links or sympathies with such radicals.  Ideally, after any such incident our Hindu leaders and community figures should rush to declare that we know our Muslim community condemns these acts as much as anyone else.  And our leaders should follow through by exhorting their followers to make Muslims living among them feel as safe as possible.  Thomas Friedman in his Times columns speaks glowingly of Indian tolerance and minorities largely thriving and safe in our society, and we should remain committed to this ideal.

Then there are my personal experiences.  When I visit Mumbai in India I often happen to use cabs driven by Muslim drivers.  Mumbai residents are often compared to New Yorkers in their disinterested demeanor as both belong to large bustling cities and tend to mind their own business.  I'm sometimes surprised at how these supposedly impersonal Mumbai drivers warm up and become almost sentimental if I (who they think is Hindu) talk to them amiably and respectfully after knowing that they're Muslim. 

In Pune in 2008 we hired attendants for my in-laws (Daddy and Mummy) who were both hospitalized.  It didn't even register with me that one of them named Shabana was a Muslim until another of them referred to her as "woh Musulman" ("that Muslim" in slightly derogatory terms.)  When Daddy and Mummy left the hospital, on advice from our family and friends we asked if they were comfortable having a Muslim like Shabana working for them at home (along with three others who were Hindu).  They said yes.  Shabana turned out to be the most caring and kindest to Mummy, who passed away in Dec. 2010.  After we had to terminate her service Shabana came to visit Daddy three times in the next two years just out of fondness and concern. 

Daddy's favorite doctor in his neighborhood was the reputed Dr. Inamdar, a deeply religious Muslim, who has a very busy practice and sees over a hundred patients a day. He had no time for house calls but made an exception when I appealed to his sentiments and informed that Daddy and Mummy were in no condition to leave home.  From 2008 till they both passed away (Daddy in May 2013) Dr. Inamdar regularly and devotedly attended to them at home.  He would tell me how he was impelled in part by the respect and affection that Daddy and the rest of us accorded to him.

From time to time I get forwarded emails from friends and family in India faulting some political parties for pampering and pandering to Muslims.  Other emails are more vehement about Muslim teachings and customs that make this populace as a whole untrustworthy or prone to militancy. I'd urge more understanding, and regard a more relevant distinction to be between the zealots and bigots who make trouble, and the moderates in any religion.  Hindus comprise over 80% of India's population with Muslims at about 13.5%.  A little magnanimity on the part of our Hindu majority will counter some inevitable feelings of insecurity among our Muslim community and considerably help in their regarding themselves as Indians first.
 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sensible Security Vs. Paranoid Privacy

I've viewed the ACLU as a mixed blessing at best, as some of their laudable defense of civil liberties and social equality has been offset by needlessly obstructive litigation.  In the second category I'd include their lawsuit against the government's "phone spying program" that aims to prevent or detect terrorism.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) collects meta data (place and time of calls, and to whom) and likely records a lot of calls made overseas as well.  It is not clear from news reports if their analysts can mine that data and access recorded conversations without a court order.  Even if they can, I'm fine with it so long as there are stringent penalties for misuse or unauthorized disclosure of such information, e.g., to expose extra-marital affairs or other embarrassing but non-criminal acts.

In a dangerous and uncertain time when there are inevitably those living within the US who'd like to do us harm I'd much rather choose security over some loss of privacy.  That includes measures like widespread video surveillance in public places, a national ID card, a national gun registry, some degree of profiling as I wrote in August 2009, and yes, electronic eavesdropping.  Tom Friedman in his June 11 Times column voices a lot of my thoughts except that I'd not so "reluctantly, very reluctantly, trade off the government using data mining" but strongly endorse it.  In the same spirit I consider Bradley Manning who sent a trove of secret State cables to Wikileaks and NSA leaker Edward Snowden (if the US ever gets him) to be deserving of stiff jail terms. 

Many Americans agree with me, though poll results over the past couple of weeks vary depending on whom you ask and how you frame the questions.  According to USA Today on June 18, most Americans support prosecuting Snowden who is sought by the US and is for now in Russia.  There's an age divide, with the younger generation much more supportive of Snowden's leaks, which I attribute to their naivete.  After all, this is the demographic that helped Obama top a more capable and qualified Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Primary. (Sorry, past and present Obama fans, I couldn't resist this dig.)

Curiously, I see some mainstream media reports referring to Snowden and even Manning as "whistle blowers" which is a term for exposing illegality or wrongdoing.  That is not the case here, as they've instead leaked secret but legal acts or communications, so the the term "whistle blower" shouldn't be debased by applying it to them.

About the other security measures I reeled off above, to my mind privacy for privacy's sake is overrated, especially when it tips the scales heavily in favor of criminals.  Why not introduce a national ID?  Accompanied by biometric markers it would be much harder to fake and could significantly impede identity theft.  It could also make life for the truly innocent and harmless more convenient, as in airport security screening.

Why not have everyone's DNA and fingerprints in a national registry along with criminal information, so long as access to it is graduated and available to the authority only to the extent justified?  For example, police officers making a traffic stop could access if there are any outstanding arrest warrants for anyone they pull over, but not prior convictions that could prejudice them.  This type of comprehensive registry would enormously expedite and ensure detection and apprehending of the guilty if their DNA or fingerprints are found at the crime scene.  For the same reason we should indeed have not just a national gun registry but also to the extent feasible the ballistic records of every weapon to make criminal forensics more effective.

Privacy is another term for concealment, and I can see why we'd want things like our bedroom behavior, non-criminal fetishes or even some misdemeanor offenses to be inaccessible to the public at large.  But that's very different from information we're talking about here, which can seriously impede crime, terrorism and other really bad stuff.  Modern technology makes it possible for us to not just store vast amounts of useful information about people but also to selectively restrict access to it.

Of course, data hacking and cyber security failures can expose secret information but that happens anyway in other settings like email and other records, and lapses can be mitigated with extra care.  After all, our banks, the Pentagon and the CIA do not avoid collecting and storing confidential information in electronic format just 'cause this can possibly be hacked. The same logic should apply to keeping relevant and useful information about all Americans in a common, well secured database.

So while the ACLU and libertarians keep crusading against NSA "excesses" like warehousing electronic communications and centralized databases  I view most of these as sensible measures to make us safer.



Friday, May 31, 2013

Playing Rajat Gupta

 I've followed developments and written earlier about Rajat Gupta in March 2011in May 2012, and in July 2012.  The essence of my views has been:
a) Rajat's alleged insider tip-offs are out of character with the person I had come to know.
b) His heavy contributions to society and humanity far outweigh his alleged transgressions.
c) His insider leaks if true also pale in comparison to the misdeeds of typical hedge fund managers and other Wall Street players who are never caught or whose dishonest acts aren't technically crimes.
d) Even if he revealed secrets they could have been pried or deduced through wily questions by Rajaratnam.  Our Indian culture and ethos can make it seem impolite and difficult to completely clam up when a friend asks a direct question about a confidential matter.

 More light has been shed on the last point in a May 17 article in the New York Times that has pieced together the story of how he was manipulated by hedge fund titan (and crook) Rajaratnam.  This piece is well researched and dispassionate, providing insights into how Rajat could have landed in the mess that he's in.
Even the trial Judge Rakoff at the time of sentencing acknowledged that Rajat is "undoubtedly a good man".  In an interview (Fortune, Jan 24, '13) he stated without going into the specifics that he takes a defendants good deeds into account in his judgements.

[An aside: Though I think highly of judge Rakoff a point where I'd take issue with him as a financial purist is in his characterizing Rajat's tip-offs as “the functional equivalent of stabbing Goldman in the back.”  Actually, insider "buy" trades do not damage the firm whose shares are traded.  They instead discriminate against outside prospective buyers who are preceded by the inside trader and lose some of the fair chance to be "lucky" before share prices rise.  Of course that still makes insider trading wrong and it is rightly outlawed as it affects the integrity of the markets.]

Rajat continues to maintain he's not guilty as he appeals his conviction and sentencing, and  I continue to root for him.  Back to the Times article it speculates that an unfortunate Rajat was played by a "boorish" Rajaratnam and it reads somewhat like a Shakespearean tragedy.  As the future unfolds I'd like Rajat to have a happier ending.