Posted on 07-12-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

What a difference from the Musharraf years, when the former Pakistani dictator peddled his b.s. and nobody in Washington bothered to check him.  However, by the end even the Bush administration lost patience with him starting covert drone attacks and looking the other way when street protests forced him into exile.  After years of ignoring the problem the Obama administration is essentially throwing down the gauntlet.  One of the concerns with the Afghanistan surge was that the Taliban could execute a strategic retreat to its Pakistani hideouts.  Now Pakistan evidently faces the choice of dealing with insurgents in its territory of having American drones do the job.

Neither option is particularly palatable to Pakistan.  Reeling from a wave of terrorist attacks, a move against the Afghan Taliban could make the situation worse.  On the other hand, its bruised national pride will find it hard to bear expanded American strikes inside its territory.  Another concern is that the civilian government already weakened by a pending court challenge to its legitimacy may not survive.  However, the real power in Pakistan belongs to the Army-ISI nexus.  While presenting them with stark choices, the administration has tried hard not to alienate them.

President Obama’s Afghanistan speech did not spend too much attention on Pakistan.  However, Pakistan is the key to resolving the military portion of the Afghanistan problem.  The Taliban’s safe havens that have existed with relative impunity over the past decade and beyond have to go if the Afghan surge is to have any success.

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Posted on 07-12-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Sports) by Rashtrakut
  • Just how bad are the Chicago Bulls?  Opposing player with the ball ties his shoes in live play and no Bulls player even tries to take the ball.  See link (includes video).
  • Not a shocker.  Vladimir Putin hints that he may run for President and take back his previous office in 2012.  Meanwhile legal institutions and the rule of law in his country atrophy.
  • Nicolas Sarkozy shoots off his mouth, ticks off the United Kingdom.
  • Former Pakistani dictator’s graft amnesty challenged in court.  It could affect the ability of President Zardari formerly known as Mr. Ten Percent to stay in power.
  • Iraq may have finally got a deal to hold its elections.  Previous blogs here and here.  The electoral deal staves off a potential civil war over sharing power and oil revenues.  Here’s hoping it holds.  Maybe we can finally start satisfying some of the other benchmarks George Bush talked about.

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    Posted on 07-12-2009
    Filed Under (Sports) by Rashtrakut

    Its that time of the year again.  When the traditional American meritocratic process falls sway to the blind appeal of tradition.  When the BCS Cartel starts spinning reasons why the atrocity of a post season is justified behind pointless slogans like “Its all for the student athlete” “In the current system every game is a playoff”  “The tradition of the bowls are essential to college football” “There is no way to devise a playoff that will satisfy everybody”  Concerned with fan unrest that shows over 80% of the fan base disliking the current system, the cartel hired former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer to peddle the increasingly laughable talking points for the current system.

    After the last three seasons it is laughable to suggest that the virtue of the current system is that every game is a playoff.  Two years ago the national title game consisted of a 1 loss Ohio State team and a 2 loss LSU team (somehow more deserving than all the other 2 loss teams) both of which lost their last home game.  Last year’s title game was a match up of one loss teams (magically deemed superior to the other one loss).  Oklahoma made the title game primarily because of a 3 way tie-break that relegated a team from Austin with a castrated bovine mascot to a lot of teeth gnashing.  This year the title game participants were chosen out of FIVE unbeaten teams.  The team from Austin that whined last year got to the title game largely based on pedigree, not having beaten any team of substance this year.  Yet the argument persists and will be repeated each year.  Just tell TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State this year how every game is a playoff.

    College football’s ruling chiefs made it clear how much they cared about the welfare of the student-athlete (at most of the football factories the student appellation is a bit of a joke) when they raised the regular season to 12 games.  The change allowed the larger schools to rake in more revenue with an additional home game.  Somehow college basketball and baseball seasons survive across two semesters, but a playoff induced extension of the season into early January would be unbearable to the football player ( a ridiculous argument made worse by the scheduling of the so called national title game in the second week of January).

    Other than the fans of the schools participating, most fans don’t care about the proliferation of bowls featuring teams with 6-6 records.  The college basketball playoff shows just how popular a football playoff could be.  Unfortunately, it will not happen in the near future.  The real reason is one which everybody knows but will never be uttered by the BCS honchos.  Money.

    A playoff would require money to be shared equally among conferences.  The current system keeps the premier bowls and as result the lions share of the bowl money with the major conferences.  Under congressional pressure, the BCS reluctantly modified its rules a few years ago to make it easier to accommodate small conference schools.  This year with Oklahoma State’s belly flop against Oklahoma, Pittsburgh’s failure to knock off Cincinnati and Nebraska’s failure to shut the door on that school in Austin they reluctantly feature two small conference schools – TCU and Boise State.

    And so the cycle continues.  This rant will return next year as a meaningless venting exercise.  Half of college football will start the season knowing that even perfection will not give them a share of the national title (Utah last year and TCU/Boise State/Cincinnati this year).  Even though every other sport and every other division of football somehow manages a playoff this will somehow be impossible to structure in the top tier of college football.  So the “championship” will remain decided by generally clueless media voters and not on the field.  Cartels of the world rejoice…you have college football shackled in chains.

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