Posted on 19-11-2020
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Podcast, Politics) by Rashtrakut

Count your blessings Trump is a lazy imbecile.

 

 

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After Donald Trump brazenly claimed victory on election night the Irish Daily Mirror ran a headline that pithily summed up his character. Sadly the GOP is full of enablers and cowards and his assault on our democracy continues.

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It did not have to be like this. Unfortunately, the United States is currently governed by a Confederacy of imbeciles, sociopaths and cowards resulting in the worst response to Covid in the world. And it all starts with the moron in Chief who assumes no responsibility for this disaster Donald Trump.

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Posted on 01-11-2020
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Podcast, Politics) by Rashtrakut

Faced with a shrinking aging demographic base and unpopular policies, the GOP has decided voter suppression is the way for it to hold on to power.

 

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Posted on 01-11-2020
Filed Under (Foreign Policy, Podcast) by Rashtrakut

In March, Donald Trump announced a “peace deal” with the Taliban.  More recently he announced he wants to pull out by Christmas.  There are no great answers in Afghanistan, but there is a risk these moves are accompanied by the lack of planning that is the hallmark of the Donald Trump presidency.

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Posted on 04-03-2020
Filed Under (Podcast, Politics) by Rashtrakut

Three weeks ago, Joe Biden’s campaign was dead in the water.  Last night he pulled off an incredible comeback that left the political world stunned.

 

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Posted on 04-03-2020
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Podcast) by Rashtrakut

In which we discuss the bear of little brain and the President of thin skin.

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Posted on 05-02-2020
Filed Under (Podcast, Politics) by Rashtrakut

I have never really been a big fan of Mitt Romney, but today he stepped up when none of his fellow Republican Senators did in voting to convict Donald Trump in his impeachment trial.  It did not affect the ultimate result, but Mitt Romney still deserves praise for being willing to take the abuse the Trump cult will now direct his way.

 

 

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Posted on 05-02-2020
Filed Under (Podcast, Politics) by Rashtrakut

On paper Tulsi Gabbard would be an ideal candidate. Young, attractive, charismatic and a veteran you would think she would be marked for bigger things in the Democratic Party. Unfortunately her presidential run is going nowhere, her Congressional career is almost over and her future job prospects are likely a talking gig on Faux News.  Why did it come to this?

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Posted on 17-10-2019
Filed Under (Podcast, Politics) by Rashtrakut

No written constitution can cover all acceptable modes of behavior.  Unwritten governing norms are critical in helping government function.  Unfortunately the lust for power often results in governments abusing constitutional provisions that lead to a slide downhill and often have unintended consequences.  The United States is a a critical juncture as norms are being abused with no concern on the long term harm to the Republic.

 

 

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Posted on 03-10-2019
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Podcast, Politics) by Rashtrakut

The drama in Washington forces a detour from the planned series of episodes as we take a quick look at the Ukraine imbroglio, the impeachment train picking up steam and a beleaguered President melting down in an un-presidential manner.


 

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After a long time away I decided it was time to resume..except this time I decided to try my hand at podcasting.  I am pleased to announce a new podcast – Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité & all that! – A podcast about current affairs, foreign policy, politics and governments behaving badly.

The podcast is currently available on Spotify, Google Podcast, Breaker and Pocket Casts and hopefully will be available on Apple Podcasts soon.

You can also listen to it below:

 

 

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Posted on 13-03-2018
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Conor Lamb leads Republican Rick Saccone by 0.3 percentage points or 579 votes in a Pennsylvania congressional District Donald Trump won by 20 points and where the Democrats did not even bother fielding a candidate in the last two elections.  Absentee votes remained to be counted, but most commentators do not believe Saccone has enough votes to make up the difference.  Absent a major tabulation error, Conor Lamb has won.  With Pennsylvania’s gerrymandered districts being redrawn, both candidates will run in other districts in November.

Lamb appears to have been an unusually charismatic candidate, but this was a race that should not even have been close.  Rick Saccone had the standard Republican resume that wins these heavily gerrymandered districts easily.  The Republican Party invested 10 million dollars in this race.  Donald Trump visited the district twice.  The Republicans tried playing the Nancy Pelosi bogeywoman and touting their tax cut scam, but both strategies fell flat.  Trump’s recent tariffs should have resonated with steelworkers in this district but did not.  A desperate Saccone was reduced to pathetically alleging his opponents hated Trump, America and even God.

Even had Saccone won, the 20 point swing should have set alarm bells ringing.  It now appears that the Democrats may have finally won a heavily Republican congressional seat. The difference appears to have been voter enthusiasm, the Democrats had more of it and it made a difference.

Do not look for Donald Trump to engage in any introspection.  Behind closed doors, Trump evidently has already cast the blame on Saccone.  However, there are more than a 100 Republican held congressional seats that Trump won with a smaller margin than PA-18 (including the seat held by Paul Ryan).  Tonight many of those incumbents have cause to be nervous and in November Pennsylvania will not have a Congressional map rigged in favor of Republicans.  The Democrats will obviously not win all of those seats.  However, they need only 24 to win back the house.

Tonight that target seems even more attainable.

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Posted on 13-03-2018
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

The President of the United States quoted today:

“As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.”

It could be a sign that an administration which goes out of its way to avoid criticizing Russia and just fired a Secretary of State who had the temerity to do so will not be constrained by facts in it its actions. After all they can always make up alternative facts.

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Posted on 13-03-2018
Filed Under (Foreign Policy, Politics) by Rashtrakut

It was a departure long expected, but the timing still took everyone by surprise.  Donald Trump finally canned his feckless Secretary of State.  In vintage cowardly Donald Trump fashion he could not do it face to face.  Rex Tillerson evidently found out about his departure on Twitter.  In the chaos that defines the Trump administration, they could not even get their story about the timing right.  A Tillerson aide who contradicted the story that he had been told about this on Friday also got the boot.

This of course is a boon for conspiracy theorists.  Just yesterday this blog noted that the administration seemed unwilling to criticize Tsar Vlad.  Tillerson deviated from the script by openly blaming the Russians, and a few hours later he was gone.

This ends the tenure of one of the worst Secretaries of State in living memory, if not American history.  Tillerson clearly did not have influence with Donald Trump leading to other countries ignoring him.  On his watch 60% of the State Department’s top ranking career diplomats resigned and new applications fell by half.  Key positions remained unfilled.  Treating the state department like the corporate bean counter he was his budget cuts slashed morale, staff and eviscerated American soft power.  He will not be missed.

And yet the remedy may be worse than the cure.  He is replaced by Trump sycophant, CIA director and foreign policy hawk Mike Pompeo.  Mike Pompeo will be replaced at the CIA with a career agent tainted by torture.  Increasingly the few people willing to stand up to Donald Trump’s worst impulses are being replaced by people who will encourage them.  Secretary of State Mattis remains one of the few checks on precipitate action, something that The Onion (which is on fire today) noted in its own fashion.

Look for a lot more hawkish stupidity in this administration’s actions against Iran, Syria and North Korea.

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Posted on 12-03-2018
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

One has to wonder what Putin has on Trump.  Trump generally is fond of dictators, but he has never whispered any criticism of Tsar Vlad.  He has even made excuses for Putin killing troublesome journalists.  The administration has refused to enforce sanctions that overwhelmingly passed Congress or to spend funds appropriated to combat Russian meddling in our political processes.

So it should come as no surprise that the administration will not directly criticize the Tsar for the latest outrage.  Last week, a former Russian spy and his daughter were attacked in the United Kingdom with a nerve agent.  This brought back memories of the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

Today the British Prime Minister openly accused the Russians of orchestrating the attack and gave them 48 hours to make the case that the attack was not a state sponsored plot.

Unsurprisingly, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodged questions about Moscow’s involvement in the attack and treated us to generic pablum about standing with America’s closest ally.

If the United Kingdom does take action (and as a common investment destination for Russian oligarchs, it has some leverage), it will likely have to do so alone.  The administration of the Muscovite Candidate will not take on Tsar Vlad.

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Posted on 09-03-2018
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

As noted in the previous post Trump shocked the world by agreeing to meet with Kim Jong Un.  Less then 24 hours later, the usual walkbacks have started.  Misstating the North Korean promise for talks regarding denuclearization the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that North Korea has agreed to denuclearize and progress on this would be needed before the summit takes place.

It appears that in an attempt to shut down criticism of Trump meeting Kim Jong Un unconditionally, the White House has added a poison pill to the whole mess.  Denuclearization as a precondition to talks is preposterous.  Outside the loony tunes world of Trumplandia, nobody expects North Korea to do this.  Trump’s “Nixon goes to China” moment could be over before it started and the incoherence of this administration is on display once again.

 

 

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Posted on 09-03-2018
Filed Under (Foreign Policy, Politics) by Rashtrakut

In his typical seat of the pants way of managing things, Donald Trump surprised the world by announcing (actually having the South Koreans announce) an impending summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in May.  Taken by surprise were the Pentagon and the State Department.  Just a few hours before the feckless Secretary of State had been announcing that talks were not on the horizon.

Given that the administration’s incoherent policy to date included Mike Pence glaring at North Korea, making a fool of himself at the Winter Olympics and making silly demands like requiring the abandonment of the North Korean nuclear weapons program as a pre-condition of talks, it is not surprising that talks were not going anywhere.  The stage was set for Kim Jong Un to make his offer of an in person meeting and Donald Trump’s ego promptly bit at the bait.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a President meeting a rival face to face.  Under a competent administration it is possible that there could be some progress made towards reducing North Korean paranoia and reckless behavior.  Unfortunately there are a lot of perils with THIS president meeting Kim Jong Un.  Lazy, uninformed, uninterested and incurious about the details of policy matters, Donald Trump still functions as a reality show host and only cares for the spectacle of the photo-op.  On at least two occasions he has publicly met with Democratic members of Congress only to have Baghdad Sarah clarify that he did not mean what he said.

The autocrats of Russia, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines have played Donald Trump (who seems to have a soft spot for autocrats) like a fiddle with flattery designed to boost his insecure ego.  This is something that the North Korean despot has likely noticed between large bites of emmental cheese.

Finally, there is the hollowing out the State Department under the incompetent Rex Tillerson.  Even had he been willing/able to read a policy briefing, there is no American ambassador to South Korea and the Senate has not confirmed the top diplomat to South Korea.  It is hard to see Donald Trump making the effort between rounds of golf to bring himself up to speed on the issues to be discussed here.

There will be some who will credit Trump’s reckless brinkmanship in the past few months and loose talk by the warmongers in his administration of a bloody nose strike for bringing this meeting about.  However, given the likely policy gains of such a summit it is hard to see why the bellicose talk was needed.

When Barack Obama received shrill cries from the foreign policy establishment that he was willing to meet with America’s enemies, he clarified that obviously there would have to be ground work before such a meeting.  Such ground work took place before his trip to Cuba.  There has been no such ground work here.

After watching the fate of Saddam Hussein (who had not yet obtained them) and Muammar Gaddafi (who voluntarily dismantled his WMD program) it is hard to see Kim Jong Un ever handing over his nukes (even though his artillery trained on Seoul is probably sufficient to make any offensive war a non-starter).  So at best we will get some unverifiable commitment of the sort that North Korea has repeatedly reneged upon.  We will likely get some easing of sanctions for good behavior i.e. the same dog and pony show that we have seen over the past few decades.  And then there is the risk of Trump blurting out something dumb as is his wont.

In exchange Kim Jong Un achieves a North Korean foreign policy goal for at least the past 20 years – a summit with the American President.  He gets the propaganda value of broadcasting his acceptance as a world leader to his people.  He also gets the opportunity to deal with a naive self proclaimed deal maker and will likely walk away with his nuclear program intact.

We still do not have the details of the location and exact timing of the summit.  However, at this point it is hard to see this as anything other than a win for Kim Jong Un.

 

 

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Posted on 09-01-2015
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

World news was understandably distracted by the events in France the last few days.  It overshadowed a surprise election upset in Sri Lanka last night.  Its been a few years since this blog discussed the authoritarian President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka who has spent the years following the end of the civil war suppressing dissent and trying to create a political dynasty.  In the triumphalism that followed the destruction of the LTTE, Rajapaksa spent almost no time in healing the divided nation and chose to ignore the reasons the war started in the first place.  The last few years Sri Lanka has been approaching pariah status, with Rajapaksa unwanted at international summits.

Yet even with his corrupt nepotistic despotism he remained very popular with the Sinhalese majority and called early elections in November expecting to win.  It seemed the plan would work until his former health minister entered the race, challenged the despot and won.  Rajapaksa has gracefully admitted defeat, ceding the stage to the new President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sirisena appears to have cannily capitalized on resentment among Sri Lanka’s minority groups and people turned off by the Rajapaksa clan taking control of all parts of government.  Yet, it is not clear whether he will bring any relief to Sri Lanka’s struggling minority groups.  Ethnic tension on the divided island could flare up allowing for a return of Rajapaka back to power, like Daniel Ortega did in Nicaragua.  Hopefully Sirisena bridges the gap that proved to be a chasm to far for Rajapaksa to leap – from politician to statesman.

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Posted on 01-10-2014
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

The Month Python star explains how stupid people are too stupid to realize they are stupid.  Video below:

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Posted on 26-09-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Cable news continues to be unwatchable.  At a time when we face an Ebola epidemic in Africa, the threat of ISIS in the Middle East, a do-nothing Congress that will do nothing till the mid terms are done (and then thanks to the Republicans precious little after that).  However, cable news was fixated by the faux scandal of the President stepping off a plane with a coffee cup in his hand.  It gave the usual suspects an opportunity to vent their outrage on Barack Obama.  It also gave Jon Stewart the opportunity for an epic rant.  Video below:

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Posted on 22-09-2014
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

Many people are dumb (note the other idiot in the video who does not pull his hand out after seeing what happens to his neighbor)

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Posted on 22-09-2014
Filed Under (Science) by Rashtrakut

Indian mythology is full of folk tales of mongooses taking on and killing cobras.  None of the stories has them taking on a pride of lions and living to tell the tale. Enjoy the video below. (Hat tip to iflscience)

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Posted on 16-09-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

If there is a picture that sums up the bullshit Faux News spews on a daily basis, this is it (hat tip to to Daily Kos).

image

The editor who typed up the script to the right is correct.  But, why let facts come in the way of a good Obama bashing rant?

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Posted on 27-08-2014
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

The capture of Russian paratroopers 20 miles inside Ukrainian territory is the latest expose of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine.  Russia laughably claimed that the soldiers happened to get lost and just happened to stumble across the border.

However, reports indicate the Russian military has started military operations in Ukraine attacking Ukrainian forces closing in on Donetsk in the rear.  The downing of Flight MH-17 by his thugs had briefly backed the Russian despot into a corner, but with domestic pressure rising and Ukrainian forces on the brink of victory Putin appears to have decided to send direct military aid.  The half empty aid convoy last week appears to have been a distraction for the real invasion.

This happens as the Putin met the president of Ukraine in Minsk to discuss peace, even while he engages in bald faced lies about his invasion.

The problem for Ukraine is that Putin cares more about Ukraine than either the United States or Europe.  The other problem is that the economic tools at America’s disposal are limited since Russia is a minor trading partner.  Europe stuck in a long recession exacerbated by German demands for austerity is unwilling to risk further harm to its economy.

The result is Tsar Vlad is merrily annexing land from a neighbor with impunity.

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