Posted on 14-04-2014
Filed Under (Entertainment) by Rashtrakut

The last few weeks my Facebook feed has been filled with parents complaining about their Frozen obsessed kids (generally daughters) driving them batty with repeated renditions of the songs.  The good folk at HISHE have an alternative ending…which would of course have meant a much shorter movie.  Enjoy the video below:

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Posted on 21-03-2014
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

This should not be funny, but for some reason it is.  [Hat tip to Chicagoist via Gizmodo.]  The group dynamics of the penguins trying to navigate their way across the rope are fascinating.  Video below:

 

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Posted on 19-03-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The last week has been a fascinating exercise to watch the Republican Party demonstrate its compassion for the poor and discriminated.  It started with alleged policy wonk Paul Ryan misquoting a story to advance his opposition to free school lunches because the kid at the other end would rather have a home made lunch in a brown paper bag.  This in typical Paul Ryan style ignored the possibility that the brown paper lunch bag from home could be empty.

Ryan then followed it up by following the vintage GOP racial dog whistle on urban poverty, ignoring rural poverty.  As Jamelle Blue notes that after decades of pandering to racial resentment the GOP should not be surprised at such a backlash.  However to give Ryan credit he did backtrack on his comments in a fashion few in his party would do. 

Then over last week the GOP has trotted out female representatives to explain why we don’t need statutes to mandate equal pay for women.  Now the extent of the gender pay gap can be debated, but there have been many cases like WalMart where women were paid less for the same work.

However according to Cari Christman, executive director of the Red State Women PAC, a Texas based group that is backing Greg Abbott, the current state Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor women are “too busy” for equal pay laws.  Watch below:

 

Beth Cubriel, the executive director of the Texas Republican Party, followed that up by recommending that “instead of pursuing the courts for action, [women should] become better negotiators.”

According to Minnesota state Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R) legislation to address equal pay and sick leave does not actually help women in the workplace, but makes them look like “whiners.”   Listen below:

 

In an ideal fantasy world like the one State Sen. Phil Jensen (R-S.D.) inhabits, we would not need discrimination statutes.  The ugly reality is that we are correcting centuries of gender and race discrimination and these attitudes still persist.  Laws that mandate equal treatment based on gender or race are not “special rights.”. But the GOP seems to think it is still 1964.  So much for the vaunted Republican outreach to women and minorities.

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Posted on 18-03-2014
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

For the last few weeks Vladimir Putin has been mocking the intelligence of the world by denying the Russian invasion of the Crimea.  Even if the laughable interpretation that the soldiers taking over the peninsula were “local self-defense units,” the Russians had no explanation for the Russian tanks patrolling the streets.  Then this weekend came the mockery of a referendum on the fate of Crimea.  The status quo was not an option on the ballot.  Resentful Crimean Tatars boycotted the referendum.  Support for unifying with Russia which measured in the 40s somehow manifested in a Soviet style 97% majority (aided by voting miracles like the votes cast in Sevastopol exceeding the voting population).  Fresh off this mockery, Putin then proclaimed that Crimea had “always” been a part of Russia (even though it did not become a part of any Russian state till the late 18th century and the current Russian majority is the product of Stalin’s ethnic cleansing).  The mask is off and Putin has now openly annexed the Crimea.

What happens next is where the danger lies.  Russia is now pushing for the Finlandization of Ukraine – demanding it remain non-aligned and drastically federalize its constitution to meet Russian diktats.  In the last few weeks Putin has asserted the right to intervene on behalf of ethnic Russians beyond his borders – a statement that probably sends a chill down the spines of his neighbors.

Yet in the long run Putin’s embrace of the Chinese model of making friends and influencing people belies a deep weakness – the KGB thug has been unable to steer his most valuable neighbor into his embrace with carrots and now tries the stick.  This model has not worked well for China, which counts on rogue states like Pakistan and North Korea as its ally.  Burma’s junta scared by a future as a Chinese colony choose to release Aung San Suu Kyi and cautiously democratized.  ASEAN countries and Japan scared by Chinese saber rattling have run back to Uncle Sam’s embrace.

This is the future for Russia.  Even if Putin detaches parts of Eastern Ukraine, he now has an extremely resentful neighbor on his western front.  And the reward for this is Crimea – a province that relies on Ukraine for its water and electricity and is currently unreachable from Russian territory by road.  He has ensured Russian expulsion from the G8 (not that Russia belonged there to begin with) and has sent alarm bells ringing in Russia’s former Warsaw Pact prisoners and the Baltic States.  All this because for the second time in a decade Ukraine would not be ruled by Russia’s anointed leader.

Russia has the ability to cause mischief (notably in Iran and Syria) but barring miscalculations that lead to war in Ukraine, not much more.

The reaction in the United States has been typical.  The Republicans agree with President Obama’s plans in substance (other than the silly desire to put missiles in the Czech Republic) but want more effective posturing.  Mitt Romney not realizing his 15 minutes are up showed up to predictably bash the President but had no real substance to add in terms of solutions.  The Obama administration’s hands are tied by the reality that its sanctions can have limited effect on Russia.  The substance has to come from Europe, where the United Kingdom has been cheerfully accepting the wealth of Russian oligarchs and Germany is worried about the economic fallout.  The next week will be critical to see if the Russians spend their time digesting the Crimea of proceed with the dismemberment of Ukraine.

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Posted on 10-03-2014
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

This blog discussed the desperate attempts to gin up support for Obamacare last week.  The oligarchs Koch have been running a series of mendacious sob stories about sympathetic victims losing health coverage.  Cancer patient Julie Boonstra starred in one of the first commercials.  As soon as the advertisement aired people smelled a rat and asked the Koch front group for supporting material for their assertions.

The group ran ads with Boonstra claiming that identifying factual inaccuracies was an attempt to “silence here.”  However, when confronted with information from her insurer that she would actually save money, Boonstra retorted she did not believe it was true.  Such is the legacy of Republican misinformation of the act.  It must also be noted that Boonstra is the ex-wife of former country Republican party chairman.  But of course that is just a “coincidence.” The mendacity will continue

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Posted on 09-03-2014
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Asif Mandvi dismantles another tedious right wing talking point about Obamacare – that it will destroy “the best healthcare system in the world.”  Of course the WHO has ranked our system 37th- but why should facts interfere with a talking point.  The reality also is that many people cannot afford our health care.  The speechless look on Fox Business commentator Todd Wilemon who cheerfully opined that the solution for poverty was that the poor should “just stop being poor” is priceless.  Video below:

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Posted on 09-03-2014
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

The Russian invasion of the Crimea is grist of the Obama derangement syndrome mill.  It is truly impressive how the right can fit their view of President Obama for any point of view.  He is the tyrant, the dictator, the man taking away all of your freedoms.  But now he is weak, feckless and wears mommy jeans.  Coupled with their contempt for the President is the odd fascination with former KGB agent Vladimir Putin (whose stock rose in certain circles after Russia passed statutes restricting the rights of homosexuals.

Putin of course is not the strongman of their wet dreams.  He heads a corrupt oligarchy funded by Russian oil and natural gas.  Russia is a decaying country facing demographic disaster and Putin’s long tenure has not even begun to stem the rot.  Even the invasion of Ukraine occurred from a position of weakness.  Putin’s patsy in Kiev was abruptly toppled and the demonstrators in the Western part of the country indicated that their future is in Europe not in Putin’s corrupt oligarchic embrace.

Jon Stewart has a nice rundown of the derangement infecting the right.  Video below:

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Posted on 05-03-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The Republican party was often tagged as the party of the rich.  The last few years they have barely concealed their contempt for the poor.  The poor in this world view are the “takers”… leeches who live off the bounty graciously provided by the 1%.  Poverty is always due to some inherent character failing… rather than due to unfortunate circumstances.

Such a world view sees no need for a social safety net and any such net must be eviscerated to give tax breaks to the worthy.  It does not matter if you once benefited from the safety net… A dynamic that surfaced last week in Arkansas where a Republican state legislator alive today because of Medicaid was opposed to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare to cover the mooches (he of course was not one).

Alleged policy wonk Paul Ryan resurfaced this week with a policy paper claiming the war on poverty was a failure… though in typical fraudulent fashion the studies he cited did not support his assertions. 

Jon Stewart lit into some of the babblers on Faux News and their ilk for the nonsense they spouted on food stamps.  Video below:

Yes there is some fraud in any entitlement or social service program and it must be stopped.  But the contempt these people have for the poor and disadvantaged is truly despicable.

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Posted on 04-03-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Republicans appear to have convinced themselves that Obamacare is a disaster.  Horror stories are repeatedly trotted out only to wither in the gaze of scrutiny.  In most of these cases the alleged victim ends up getting better coverage for less money or was not aware of better coverage options (often due to deliberate  misinformation spread by the Republican party).  If Obamacare was such a disaster surely there would be more victims available. 

This brings back memories of the desperate Republican attempts a decade ago to identify the hallowed family farm that would be lost due to estate taxes.  They failed to find one… Probably because American agriculture is dominated by corporate farms and the yeoman farmer is increasingly a relic of history.

The video below shows Stephen Colbert mocking the desperate Republican attempts (now funded by the oligarchs Koch) to identify Obamacare horror stories.

Colbert followed that up with a hilarious satire with Patrick Stewart playing an Obamacare hating Louisiana workman on a fake anti-Obamacare ad. Video below:

Paul Krugman postulated recently that part of the problem is that the few losers are likely to be people in the 1% paying more taxes or healthy young men forced off minimalist policies.  These obviously are not likely to draw much sympathy.

This brings up another point.  Almost 4 years since Obamacare became law the Republicans have yet to unveil their oft promised viable replacement.  Part of the problem always has been the fact that Obamacare was a Republican idea that somehow got tainted because President Obama embraced it.  The other problem is that almost every Republican alternative diminishes consumer protections and would be far more disruptive to the healthcare industry.

As a result it is just easier to peddle faux Obamacare horror stories.  The mendacity (like attacking Democrats for Medicare “cuts”that were part of the Paul Ryan budget) will continue.

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Posted on 03-03-2014
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations read a purported letter today from the impeached  ex-President of the Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych where the corrupt oligarch calls for the use of Russian troops  “to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defending the people of Ukraine.” If genuine it constitutes a major departure from Yanukovych’s press conference last week where he stated the use of military force was unacceptable.

It also indicates Putin is relying on his quisling to find a justification for the invasion of Crimea.  Yanukovych’s letter also claims there have been acts of terror requiring foreign intervention.  Even though parts of the Maidan movement are xenophobic and fascistic, the Crimea is ruled by an autonomous republic dominated by ethnic Russians.  No actual cases of these atrocities in the Crimea have yet come to light.

Putin’s government at present is reduced to talking out of both sides of its mouth, claiming that their quisling is the legitimate president of Ukraine bit acknowledging that restoring his kleptocratic regime to power is not possible.

The concern now is preventing the escalation to a shooting war.  Russia denies that it gave ships of the Ukrainian navy an ultimatum to surrender.  We will find out tomorrow.

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Posted on 03-03-2014
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

This blog obviously is not a fan of Tsar Vlad and his invasion of the Crimea.  However it does feel that the cheerleaders and supporters of the Bush administrations Iraq war in the media and in office (a list that includes Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Grumpy and Senator Lumpy) should desist from pontificating that such invasions are unacceptable.  Russia has long held that American policy has been hypocritical and here we continue to bear the brunt of the Bush administration’s frittering away American credibility abroad.

On a related note Peter Beinart has a column worth reading about the Russian sense of an ever expanding America after the United States reneged on its agreements not to expand NATO east after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Libya exposed the European components of NATO as paper tigers.  However, some level of Putin’s paranoia does stem from an alliance that was conceived as a bulwark against Russia expanding to Russia’s borders.  The United States has been hostile to similar expansions in its backyard (Cuba, Grenada, Nicaragua etc.).  Russia has also previously justified its recognition of the separatist Georgian republics based on the Western recognition of Kosovo.

America’s questionable behavior is still no justification for Russia’s invasion of the Crimea under the spurious guise of protecting its compatriots.  However, the pontificators in the United States would be wise to exercise self awareness and avoid easy charges of hypocrisy.

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Posted on 03-03-2014
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

It has become an article of faith among American conservatives that Vladimir Putin is a Machiavellian maestro running circles around the United States.  The reality is the Russian despot rules over a petrostate with nukes that is gradually morphing into the stereotypical “Oriental” despotism.  Putin earned plaudits at home by improving on the inebriated Boris Yeltsin and “pacifying” Chechnya in a manner that brings to mind the famous quote attributed by Tacitus to the Caledonian chieftain Calgacus regarding Pax Romana:

Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.

The Russian Federation may not be in a state of anarchy of the Yeltsin years but it is a profoundly diseased state.  Putin has grasped on the sinews of power but has fundamentally failed to regenerate the institutions of the state that create great leaders.  Wealth is concentrated with the oligarchs so long as they remain loyal to the Kremlin.  Public dissent is not tolerated and public protests require permits.  Journalists have been killed and opposition leaders have been locked up on spurious charges.  The last round of elections in Russia and the blatant rigging of the results underscored a deep dissatisfaction with the path Putin’s Russia has taken.  Yet with no rivals visible and with any threats snuffed out, Tsar Vlad continues to rule.  Oil, nukes and size ensure that for now Russia will not be a basket case like the next door (Russian subsidized) despotism in Belarus.

Yet Tsar Vlad is deeply paranoid.  The color revolutions over the past decade (Green in Iran, Rose in Georgia and Orange in Ukraine in 2004), even if they were not all successful, have evidently create a determination that Putin’s creaky aristocracy will not be next.  The fall of his patsy Viktor Yanukovych, even though he distrusted him, was an unwelcome slap in the face that eliminated the buzz from the Sochi Olympics.

The trigger for the protests that brought down Yanukovych was his backtracking on an agreement with the European Union in favor of a Russian led customs union.  Over the course of the crisis Putin dangled the bait for the 15 billion dollar loan Ukraine desperately needed and at times withheld funds when Yanukovych showed signs of wobbling to the protesters in the Maidan.  All of this was to no avail.  His fellow kelptocrat fled Kiev and the despised opposition took over in Kiev.

Ukraine is a divided country with a large Russian speaking population.  It desperately needs Russian natural gas and financial help.  Putin could have disavowed Yanukovych as a corrupt incompetent and made the desperate Ukrainian regime the type of offer that wins friends.  That would have been the act of a statesman.

But Tsar Putin has never been confused with a statesman.  The man who felt the fall of the Soviet Union was a tragedy has over the years been obsessed with restoring Russian prestige in the near abroad.  So the wounded Tsar chose to flex his muscles by invading the Crimea under the shield of a laughable subterfuge.

In the finest Russian tradition of acting to protect its compatriots – who never were really in any danger – Russia sent soldiers in camouflage into the Crimea in violation of a 1994 agreement to respect Ukraine’s borders.  The Crimea has always been a sore sport for Russia since Nikita Khrushchev arbitrarily gifted to Ukraine in the 1950s.  With a majority Russian population it has long seethed at ties to Kiev.  Yet for the last 20 years it has internationally been recognized as a part of Ukraine and has had its own autonomous sub-republic.   More worryingly Tsar Vlad declared a right to interfere on behalf of Russian minorities anywhere which sent chills down the spines of Russia’s neighbors.

The intervention leaves the United States with few options.  Military intervention is unthinkable and Ukraine is not a NATO member.  The United States needs Russian cooperation in Syria and Iran.  Yet the usual suspects have gone to the TV shows bleating about this being due to American “weakness.”  Senator Grumpy already proclaimed that “we [were] all Ukrainians,” a reminder of his similar dumb comment during the 2008 Russian war with Georgia.  Senator Lumpy excoriated President Obama’s weaknesses for encouraging the Russians.  Senator Rubio desperate to regain his conservative bonafides in time for the 2016 Presidential primaries proclaimed that “Russia has a government of liars.”

None of this is immediately helpful for solutions on what the United States should do with Tsar Vlad’s petulant invasion.  Senator Grumpy in his continuing efforts to get us into another war wants the United States to bring Georgia into NATO. The immediate aftermath will be a cancellation of the impending G-8 meeting in Sochi.  Russia which never really belonged in the group will likely be suspended from the organization.  The primary weapon will likely be some type of targeted economic retaliation – even though sanctions have had limited effects on countries in the past.  Hopefully the solution includes a generous economic assistance package to the wobbly Ukrainian government (hopefully without the German depression inducing austerity prescriptions).

But for now we watch and wait…and hope that Putin’s miscalculations and bluster do not trigger a civil war in Ukraine.

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Posted on 24-02-2014
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Over the last year it has become an article of faith among opponents of President Obama that Vladimir Putin has taken command over the world stage.  The event of the last week confirm how ridiculous that view is.  Putin’s corporatist state is essentially a oil producing state with nuclear weapons that struggles to keep control of its “near abroad.”

Since late last year the Ukrainian capital of Kiev has been subject to series of mass protests that would not die.  The trigger appears to have been the sudden decision of President Yanukovych to abruptly abandon a deal with the European Union in favor of one with Putin’s Russia.  The thought of being folded into Tsar Vladimir’s embrace was not a pleasant one for many in the western part of the country and they took to the streets.

Ukraine is a deeply divided country religiously, linguistically and politically.  The western part tends to be Catholic, speak Ukrainian and wants closer ties to Europe.  The East (and the Crimea) where Yanukovych drew his support tends to be Orthodox, speak Russian and favors closer ties to Russia.  These are divisions Russia has eagerly played on over the last decade.

An attempt to rig the presidential elections in favor of Yanukovych in 2004 led to the so called Orange Revolution.  Unfortunately the gains of the Orange Revolution were squandered by incompetence and squabbling allowing Yanukovych to gain power in the 2010 elections.  However, once in power Yanukovych too squandered his victory.  He tossed his election opponent Yulia Tymoshenko into prison on what appears to have been a trumped up charge.  Along with his own coterie of oligarchs he spent his time enriching himself and mismanaging the Ukranian economy.  By late last year Ukraine desperately needed foreign aid and the 15 billion dollars offered by Putin seemed tempting.

Late last year Yanukovych attempted to clear the protesters in the Maidan by force, a move that backfired.  As time dragged on the protests became radicalized with many protesters engaging in violence against the police and starting to seize local city halls.  Then last week Yanukovych appears to have unleashed snipers on the crowd leading to the specter of civil war.

The problem for Yanukovych was that his support base was brittle.  His oligarch supporters appear to have wanted no part of a pariah state and when a final negotiated solution to share power fell through he abruptly fled.

Jubilant protesters stormed parliament and Yanukovych’s mansion outside the city and parliament promptly voted to impeach Yanukovych and revert to the 2004 constitution that weakened presidential powers.  An arrest warrant has now been issued for Yanukovych’s arrest.

The pictures from his estate (complete with a private zoo with peacocks) display just how far Yanukovych went in feathering his nest.


 

Yanukovych has so far refused to accept his deposition and there are rumors that he may have fled to the Crimea, the most intensely pro-Russian portion of Ukraine.  Peeved at the deposition of his patsy and the abrupt pro-EU turn Ukraine has taken, Russia has withdrawn its ambassador from Kiev.  The next step from Moscow is unclear.  Russia has in the past cheerfully splintered some of the former Soviet Republics, a strategy that predates Putin – See Transnistria.  The temptations to play such games in the East and particularly in the Crimea (home of Russia’s black sea fleet) will be strong.  However, so far nobody in Ukraine seems to be discussing such an eventuality.

The challenges for Ukraine are grave.  The country is an economic mess.  Sections of the opposition are notoriously anti-Semitic and fascistic.  Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison a martyr to Yanukovych’s regime but carries with her the baggage of unsavory business dealings from the 1990s and the squabbling in the aftermath of the Orange revolution.  Yanukovych is gone but the core problems remain…added with the worries of a neighbor who controls the switch to Ukraine’s natural gas supply and has been known to use it for leverage.

Once the adrenaline rush from the dramatic fall of Viktor Yanukovych fades the bleak reality of digging out of the rubble lies ahead.

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Posted on 18-10-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Eric Stern has a great article where he easily demolishes the lates round of bullshit from Sean Hannity on Faux News (what Jon Stewart refers to as bullshit mountain).  Starting with the small business owners whose blame Obamacare for “increased costs” even though their 4 person business is not subject to any Obamacare coverage rules to the others who are likely to get better policies for less if they got off their rumps and shopped at the exchanges, the article demonstrates why so many people are clueless about the law.

The Obama administration’s messaging has been outright awful.  However, they have also been dealing with an alleged news corporation spreading outright falsehoods and lazy establishment stenographers who cheerfully parrot the misleading statements issued by Republican politicians about the law.

This however is par for the course for Sean Hannity and his network, who were outraged when the President called them out on it a few weeks ago.

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Posted on 17-10-2013
Filed Under (Science) by Rashtrakut

The video below is truly breathtaking.  Hat tip to all-that-is-interesting.com.  In 1996 scientists pointed the Hubble Space Telescope into a dark patch in the sky and discovered it was not so dark after all.  It is humbling to realize that our self-important species is a insignificant speck of the universe.  Enjoy:

Also worth seeing are these images captured by Hubble.  Truly spectacular.

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Posted on 17-10-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The video below pretty much sums up the negotiating strategy of the Tea Party dominated Republican party.  Compromise has been redefined to capitulation of the other side.  A reasonable centrist proposal is met by shifting goal posts.  The establishment stenographers desperate to appear as if they are not taking sides have enabled this behavior.  Another example is when a Republican flibustered bill is presented as being “defeated” Senate, rather than being blocked by a nihilist minority.  Hat tip for the video to Andrew Sullivan.  Enjoy….

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Posted on 16-10-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

After two weeks of grandstanding, it ended with a whimper.  To the rising outrage of Americans not in thrall to the right-wing media bubble and the bewildered consternation of the rest of the world, tea party extremists shut down the government and threatened to blow up the world economy by triggering the first US debt default since the War of 1812 (not including a short technical default in the 1970s).

Their quixotic goal was an attempt to defund Obamacare – on the delusion that a recently re-elected President Obama and Democratic Senate would give up their biggest domestic policy win in the last 4 years.  After years of infuriating his base by being overeager to deal with Republican extremists, the President finally channeled his inner Michael Corleone (video below) and told the teabaggers to go jump in the Potomac.

The Democrats remained united in their opposition to repeated one sided Republican ransom notes that the weeping orange occupying the Speaker’s chair delivered at the behest of the extremist loons and their puppet handler – first term Senator Ted Cruz.  The last few days the oligarchs who fund these nuts looked on in alarm as tea party nutjobs engaged in default denialism – that a default would not harm the economy.  Ted Cruz bloviated about the American people supporting his cause, even as opinion polls showed the Republican brand taking a beating and conservative hacks like Jennifer Rubin started questioning the worthiness of Republicans holding on to the House.

As usual sections of the establishment stenographers made fools of themselves by being unwilling to call a ransom a ransom. Michael Kinsley published possibly the stupidest thing written in the last two weeks (and there were many worthy contenders) by asking the President to surrender to terrorists.

Meanwhile, the tea party was horrified to discover that a shut down meant that national parks would shut down.  One buffoon congressman went on to berate a hapless (unpaid) park ranger about the World War II memorial being closed.  I had a Republican friend earnestly try to argue that not all Republicans were tea party whack jobs.  Yet these so called moderate/reasonable/intelligent Republicans (other than a handful like Rep. Peter King) saved their grumbling for the shadows as the tea party hijacked control of the House.  Two days ago it was clear that Speaker Boehner had lost control of his caucus and the adults in the Senate started a compromise.  A modified ransom note masquerading as a compromise from Senator Collins was shot down and Senators Reid and McConnell (who is facing a tea party extremist in a primary) worked out a deal.  Yesterday the brakes were hit again as Speaker Boehner wanted one last ransom note.  Yet his deranged caucus could not muster up the votes for even that.  Finally today the avoidable crisis ended.  At the cost of about 24 billion to the economy and a decline in job growth, the Republicans got what they deserved – NOTHING!.

The can has been kicked down the road where flim-flam man Paul Ryan will try to get his pixie dust budget through and Republicans are still dead set against any new revenues.  But one hopes that the Republican leadership and the cowardly moderates will not have the appetite for another struggle.

The irony in all this is that the Democrats had already conceded the point of funding the government at Republican levels.  A sane political party would treat that as a victory, particularly since the deficits have been declining dramatically.  But today’s Republican Party does not reside in our space-time continuum.

Here’s hoping the Republican Party goes the way of the Whigs so that the sane party of Lincoln can re-emerge.

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Posted on 26-09-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

They are baack.  With the debt ceiling hike due in a matter of weeks, the Republican caucus is not firmly in the sway of the most batshit crazy component of their base.  With Obamacare exchanges going to go online next week, they have been desperately trying to defund the law.  Of course, other than high risk pools (which are chronically underfunded and have proved meaningless so far) and (you guessed) tax cuts it the Republicans have not yet delivered any meaningful healthcare plan.

Now with the Obamacare strategy in tatters, the weeping orange sitting in the Speaker’s chair has capitulated to his base to prepare a ransom note in exchange for not destroying the economy.  Steve Benen diagrams just how insane it is:

Basically the Republicans want President Obama to implement the economic plan of Mitt Romney, the man he beat handily last November in an election that saw the Democrats hold on to the Senate and win the popular vote in elections to the House of Representatives.

This of course is in the backdrop of a reality where the deficit has significantly dropped and where the country needs to get unemployment lower instead of triggering another recession.

The biggest mistake President Obama made was negotiating with these fanatics in 2011 to begin with.  Back then he was delusionally pursuing his asinine grand bargain with a party whose idea of compromise is for the other party to capitulate.

Alex Seitz-Wald on twitter came up with the ideal Democratic counter-proposal for this lunacy.  See below:

Of course if the Democrats do this they would be rightly pilloried as insane.  Yet establishment hacks like Candy Crowley still wonder why the Democrats will not negotiate with terrorists.

The debt ceiling does not increase spending.  It is a mechanism to pay for bills already incurred.  If push comes to shove, I hope the President declares that the 14th amendment gives him the authority to prevent a default of the national debt or just mints a trillion dollar platinum coin giving these wingnuts the middle finger.  The Republican party is playing Russian Roulette with the economy.  When will they finally be held accountable for their reckless insanity?

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:32

Final takeaway from the game…Saban has still not figured out how to stop the hurry up Offense. Ole Piss, Aubie take heart.  A&M had 630 yards of offense, 464 thru the air.  And this offense is still not playing all the blue chips heading into College Station.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:23

Two big differences from last year.  First, last year A&M had veterans Spencer Nealy, DeMontre Moore and Sean Porter and they did very well against the Bama run game.  Also last year A&M had no turnovers and won the turnover battle.  Here they had two costly ones.  One in the red zone and one returned for a TD.  Bama is too good a team to lose the turnover battle against.  That was basically the ball game.  Bama leaves College Station with a 49-42 win.

I can live with a close loss…A blowout would have been costly.  But A&M’s offense cannot be counted out as Ole Miss found out last year.  Still 9 more games to go…and this Bama team has shown some vulnerabilities.  Oregon is likely looking forward to a chance at Bama. Oregon fans were calling for Bama when they blew out Tennessee earlier today.

All for today…signing out.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:18

42 points allowed the most allowed by a Saban Alabama team.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:17

Bama recovers the onside kick…that will be the ball game.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:15

That is 3 TDs for Kennedy.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:14

TD Aggies..onside kick coming up

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:13

Wow…Manziel avoids a sack for a deep ball down inside the five. 22 seconds left.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:13

A&M dinking and dunking down the field but game is essentially over.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:04

Oh well TD Bama….should be the ball game

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:01

Bama at the 10 under 3 minutes..clock a factor

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:58

Crap…deep pass over the middle.  Bama in scoring position.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:56

Bama trying to pound the ball…A&M defense needs to show up.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:53

Pleas just give Mike Evans the Biletnikoff Award

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:51

We may lose today, but this game may get Johnny Manziel the heisman again.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:50

WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Manziel to Evans for a 95 yard TD 7 point game

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:45

WOW!!! Yeldon fumbled the ball AGAIN this year.  Do I dare believe…A&M forces a turnover on the goal line

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:42

Bama gets a free 15 yards from a bull shit rule about a defensive player having to stop after losing his helmet.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:40

Dammit A&M…if you crowd the line you have to stop the run.  Yeldon runs for a 1st down.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:39

Bama driving again…looking for the TD

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:34

TD A&M…not going away just yet

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:31

A&M starts on offense…and a horsecollar by Bama gives them free 15 yards.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:29

Fourth quarter coming up….Here is the gif of the Eli Manning like play by Manziel before he threw his first pick
manzielmagic

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:15

And TD Bama…the wretched crew of the last few years is back in full force

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:09

Could the commentators please stop calling a QB who plays A&M defense “clutch”

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:04

TD A&M Manziel to Kennedy..35-21.  Defense still has to show up.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 17:04

Well…A&M is back in the redzone…lets see f they capitalize.  They seem to have remembered they have running backs.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:50

Now should I be a masochist and continue blogging or say f*** it?

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:48

Double crap…tipped ball returned for a TD.  Game over

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:46

A&M offense back on the field…has to score.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:46

Maybe not…McCarron misses an open WR and three and out.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:44

Third and long coming up…Bama has A&M right where it wants it.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:44

Bama back on offense..another TD drive coming up.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:37

That game started perfectly…but A&M has not come close to stopping the Bammers since the first drive.  Now the floodgates are open and my worst fears are opening up.  Could be a long half.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:20

Should be 35-14 Bammers soon unless A&M locates a defense at half time.  Brenham is only 30 minutes away…surely Blinn’s defense will not be this bad.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:12

The questionable Bama OL is dominating the A&M DL..Bama gets the ball back after the half so this could be a 3 TD hole before A&M gets on the field on offense.  TD Bama

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:09

And there it is.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:09

Third down coming up..not that it has mattered since the first drive.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:05

Bama now running the ball down the throat…Snyder needs to adjust.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 16:02

Bama has started to close off the A&M passing game…have a chance to flip the script and go two TDs up.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:58

Targeting call overturned, but A&M still gets a free 15 yards.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:56

Wow…another bullshit targeting call for they year.  Even if it is on a bammer, that should not be targeting.  The defender was going for the ball rather than the targeting.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:52

BAS (Battered Aggie Syndrome) kicking in

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:50

Honeycutt continues his season of sucking misses a tackle and A&M is torched fore a long TD 21-14 Bama

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:44

Crap…that was an awful throw…INT in endzone

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:43

A&M in red zone..need a TD

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:40

Oh my goodness what the frack was that…Wow!!  Manziel gets away from a sure sack…then gets a jumpball down the field for a 45 yard pass to get a 12 yard gain

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:35

Aggies need to answer. Start with a run to Malena and a pass to former walk-on Labhart…flag on Bama should get another first down.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:31

DeShazor Everett is being torched by Bama this game

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:30

The A&M blitz packages are simply not working.  A&M gets torched on a flea flicker 14-14 Bammers.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:25

End of first quarter

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:23

Wide open..and you guessed it on the right..First down

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:22

Two bad passes by McCarron, though A&M has no pressure on him so far.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:20

First A&M punt of the game from midfield…Bammers start at the 20.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:19

Damn..3rd and 31….false start

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:19

A pass interference call on Evans has A&M backed up at 3rd and 26..

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:14

Great play by Evans to come back on 3rd and 2 big play by A&M to get to mid field

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:12

Gah..Brandon Williams bobbles it out at the two on the kickoff.  Manziel starts backed up.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:10

Bama had some thing going on the right side of the field…Will be interesting to see if A&M adjusts

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:08

TD Bama..14-7 on the right sideline…Satan back in business

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:07

Bammers have something going here…4 straight first downs…in FG range

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:07

Gah…gashing 16 yard run

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:06

Bama slowly passing the ball down the sidelines…trying to calm the offense down

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:03

So far there has been no Ricky Seal Jones in the game..that will be a deadly mismatch

 

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:03

Bama was oddly conservative in the last drive…I expect they will throw downfield more this time.  Last year they had an INT on the second drive.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:01

Malena for a TD  Aggies strike again…WHOOOP!!!!  Bertolet gets another XP 14-0 Aggies

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:59

A&M starts with good field position.two quick runs by Johnny and another quick pass to Evans…A&M at the goal line

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:54

Bama goes 3 and out like last year…very oddly conservative set of playcalls

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:53

The Bama OL with two false starts in a row…Kyle Field is rocking

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:51

Now moment of truth for the Aggie defense.  Good special teams tackle to bring down Christian Jones.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:48

A&M starts with a Johnny run and a deep pass to Evans…..and back with another jumball to Evans..Aggies exploiting height advantage…and Johnny with a TD to Cam Clear in the first Aggie reception for the Juco TE…WHOOOOPPPPP!!!  Aggies 7-0

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:43

And we are off…Johnny Football on the field.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:39

A&M wins the toss….and to receive…butterflys rising fast.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:36

Aha…a live feed on the internet.  We may be in business.

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:35

Dammit…CBS in Baltimore still showing Pitt-NMSU….Grrrrr….

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Sat, 14 Sep 2013 14:27

The A&M-Bama rematch is finally here…nervous butterflies are setting in.  Nick Satan has an impressive record in revenge matches.  Texas A&M in the last 20 years has a painful record of wilting in the spotlight.  Time will tell whether Coach Sumlin and Johnny Football have changed the legacy of underachievement in College Station.  A&M’s defense is finally at full strength with all the suspended players back.  Bama’s offense was lousy against Virginia Tech’s stout defense.

CBS is still showing the Pitt blowout, hopefully they will move the game over when it is time.

Time for some football.

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Posted on 05-09-2013
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart returned from his sabbatical and gave his unique take on Syria.  Helps that I agree with him, but his take on the discredited neo-con warmongerers starting around 4:20 was hilarious.  Enjoy the clip below:

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Posted on 01-09-2013
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Barack Obama surprised observers yesterday by electing to get Congressional approval for Syria.  He also appeared to go out of his way to assure the American people that this would not be an open ended military involvement.  The climbdown was clearly in response to the growing opposition to war in yet another Middle East quagmire, punctuated by the shocking rebuff to British Prime Minister David Cameron by the House of Commons this week.

Fans of constitutional governance should rejoice.  The decision also forces Congress to declare where they stand on the issue, instead of waiting to see what they could criticize the President for.  Of cours fans of the imperial Presidency are not delighted at the decision.  Warmongerers are unhappy that Obama is not going all in on regime change – still no suggestions from them on what the new regime would look like.

Senator Grumpy lashed out at the thought of the limited war.  His war loving amigo Senator Lumpy agreed.  Former Senator (and still war loving mega douche) Droopy was horrified that the President thought he had to go to Congress before bombing someone in the Middle East.

Left unsaid in all of this is what happens if the initial bombing does not change Assad’s behavior (which is likely).  What happens then?

Barack Obama backed himself into this conflict by drawing his imaginary red lines.  He has wisely toned down the rhetoric after gauging the opposition, but this was a stupid red line that should never have been drawn.  Once again I cannot help but wonder what happens when these lines are crossed by the other Middle East country Grumpy, Lumpy and Droopy want to bomb – Iran.

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Saw this in my twitter feed earlier today and could not resist a chuckle when I read it.  Enjoy…

Millenium Falcom vs. USS Enterprise
by Maciver.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 

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