The video below highlights some really bad acting by a Cal player during the Bears loss to the Oregon Ducks on November 17.  Cal used the latest defensive innovation to slow down hurry up offenses like Oregon.  However, while the Bears managed to slow down the quack attack, they still lost.  Video below:

It is not clear how such play acting can be curtailed. You don’t want a repeat of the situation four years ago when University of Houston Basketball coach Tom Penders collapsed on the sideline and was assessed a technical foul by officials who thought he was faking it. So the painfully bad flops will continue for the foreseeable future.

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Posted on 18-11-2010
Filed Under (Sports) by Rashtrakut

From the 2010 Asian Games soccer quarterfinal – Uzbekistan vs Qatar:

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Posted on 17-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Lisa Murkowski appears to have made history.  The incumbent Alaska Senator who was caught napping by tea party challenger Joe Miller in the Republican primary, took advantage of Alaska’s lack of a sore loser law to go ahead and run in the general election.  However, unlike the sore loser senior Senator from Connecticut 4 years ago she had to wage a write-in campaign.

The last Senator to win a write-in campaign was Strom Thurmond in 1954.  Yet Murkowski appears to have pulled it off.  As the votes were counted Joe Miller displayed signs of sore loseritis by challenging all spelling mistakes on write-in ballots based on a strict interpretation of state law.  At the same time he demanded that any write-in votes for him (there were not many) should count as votes for him even though he was not a declared write-in candidate (as required by state law). The state conceded his request under the intent of the voter standard that Miller objected for Murkowski votes. Now that seems to be a moot point since Murlowski has a lead in properly spelled out ballots.

Rather than conceding gracefully, Miller has succumbed to acute sore loseritis, wanting a recount because of Alaska’s allegedly flawed computer counting system.  With the margin more than 0.5%, Miller would have to pay for any such recount.  It is not clear whether his donors are willing to fund this quixotic challenge.  Miller ultimately has only himself to blame.  His campaign imploded after revelations of his ethical misadventures, his willingness to mooch off the public trough and his odd fascination with East German security methods.

Murkowski deserves credit for one of the most impressive voter and spelling education jobs in American political history (after an embarrassing flub by her own campaign).  In recent days as her victory started seeming more certain she has also started taking pot shots at her family bête noire – the half term quitter turned TV personality from Wasilla.  Video below:

Murkowski’s win must be galling for Sarah Palin who helped Miller win the primary only to see him rejected in the election that mattered. Round III in the Palin-Murkowski clan slug fest should be entertaining.

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Posted on 17-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

With the House ethics committee convicting New York Congressman Charlie Rangel of 11 ethics violations, a 40 year career will end in disgrace.  Rangel has so far shown no signs of departing gracefully and the Democratic leadership needs to make it clear that it is time for him to go.

Oliver Cromwell’s speech in dissolving the Rump Parliament comes to mind:

You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

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Posted on 10-11-2010
Filed Under (Sports) by Rashtrakut

Driscoll Middle School runs a trick football play as the other team forgets the cardinal rule of football – once the center snaps the ball clobber the ball carrier.  Video below:

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Posted on 09-11-2010
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Daniel Larison’s column discussing Barack Obama’s endorsement of India’s dreams of permanent security council membership notes the following:

The more interesting question is whether the U.S. is able to acknowledge that major and rising powers do not share its preoccupations and to adjust expectations of their cooperation with U.S. policy accordingly. Washington isn’t likely to abandon its fixation on Iran’s nuclear program, but it should give the administration some pause that it has just publicly endorsed permanent Security Council status for what is, in fact, one of the chief “rogue” nuclear states in the world. This is not a criticism of the administration’s engagement of India. On the contrary, the administration’s correct dealing with India stands as a rebuke to the administration’s Iran policy. Further, the favorable treatment shown to nuclear-armed India confirms that states that never join and flatly ignore the requirements of the NPT and go on to build and test nuclear weapons are not censured or isolated in the least. Instead, they are rewarded with good relations and high status.

The assignment of “rogue” status to India and Iran based on pursuit of nuclear weapons is a false equivalency.  For one major reason – India refused to sign the NPT because of its arbitrary limitation of nuclear powers to the five who got there first.  Iran (and North Korea – which has since withdrawn from the treaty) signed the NPT and by pursuing nuclear weapons violated its treaty obligations.  Larison fails to explain why a country falls into rogue status for not abiding by the requirements of a treaty it never accepted in developing its own nuclear weapons.  I make the distinction because non-signatory Pakistan earned its rogue status not for testing its own nukes, but for selling them to North Korea and Libya.  The stark contrast to Pakistan along with Indian assurances that they would not be the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict (a commitment not offered by the United States which during the Cold War felt itself to be at a conventional weapons disadvantage) is among the factors contributing to India’s special treatment (a booming economy does not hurt).

Left unsaid is the fact that the third non-signatory to the NPT, Israel appears to have been developed its own nuclear arsenal through NPT violations by Western Powers and apartheid South Africa (which renounced the bomb shortly before the transfer of power to Nelson Mandela).

That said Larison has a point in noting an element of hypocrisy in the wailing about Iran’s nuclear program.  However that does not stem from the treatment of India.  It is ultimately rooted in the NPT’s arbitrary designation of permitted nuclear weapon states that has miserably failed to stop the domino effect of countries seeking the bomb.

Larison closes out his column with the following:

More to the point, if the administration had what it wanted and India were on the Security Council as a permanent member with veto powers, how much weaker would U.N. sanctions against Iran have had to be to satisfy India? Put another way, if India is ready to be considered such an acceptable and responsible power, what does Indian indifference to Iran’s nuclear program tell us about the rationality of our government’s obsessive hostility towards the same?

The Indian posture is not very different from that of the Russians and the Chinese.  None of the three shares America’s hostile relationship with Tehran.  While none is eager to see an Iranian nuke they are not hyperventilating about it like the United States or Israel.  It is not clear that India would have diluted the sanctions against Iran even further than the Russians and the Chinese.  Most likely and in the finest traditions of modern Indian diplomacy, it would have abstained  – a posture that will have to gradually change if India wants to be taken seriously as a great power.

It is about time Washington appreciated that countries have different interests and policies – something that was lost in the first George W. Bush term as the Cheney/Rumsfeld duo went out of the way to alienate anybody who did not kowtow to American policy.  If the United States wants a puppet in the Security Council, it already has the United Kingdom.  It is also important to note that while Obama endorsed India’s permanent membership of the Security Council, he did not say anything about the veto power.  Frankly granting another 4 members (Japan, India, Brazil and probably South Africa) the veto power would make the Security Council even more irrelevant than it already is.

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Posted on 09-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

After bloviating all summer that a supposed White House offer to Joe Sestak to drop out from his primary challenge to Arlen Specter was bribery and corruption, Congressman Darrell Issa has decided to drop the matter.  Perhaps not so coincidentally his Republican colleagues in the Senate are offering goodies to Senator elect Joe Manchin to switch parties.

For the record I am not sure either of these overtures are actually illegal.  The job supposedly offered to Sestak was no sinecure and was one he was perfectly qualified for.  Likewise the goodies offered to Manchin seem unsavory but are hardly unusual.  Yet Fox News and Issa used this as a club to spread the meme this summer of the Obama administration’s corrupt shenanigans.  We will not hear a peep from them about the “bribes” to Manchin.

Manchin himself is now fighting off these rumors, after initially flirting with them.  I have never seen a newly elected Senator switch parties before he was sworn in.  Hopefully this is not a harbinger of Manchin turning into another Zell Miller.  If so, the Democrats are better off without the distraction in their caucus.

UPDATE:  While Republicans (not surprisingly) are denying the offer to Manchin, it is interesting to note that it is evidently OK to blow a billion dollars to get a Senator to switch parties but not for other economic stimulus or unemployment benefits.

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Posted on 09-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The last year saw increasing numbers of Republicans embrace the tea party’s cause of repealing “Obamacare.”  Feelings towards the law are mixed.  However, just as many people remain woefully ignorant that Barack Obama actually cut taxes or that almost 40% of the $700 billion dollar stimulus bill was larded with useless tax cuts in a futile attempt to get Republican support, public awareness of what actually constitutes Obamacare is low.  As Ezra Klein notes, when you get to the individual components of the bill most of them enjoy broad public support.  It is a pattern similar to the cause of cutting government expenses, where the devil is in the details and deficit peacocks continue to tie themselves in knots in identifying meaningful cuts.

The most unpopular component of the bill is the individual mandate.  Interestingly enough it was the one major policy disagreement between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.  Clinton wanted one, Obama did not.  However, faced with the free rider problem he changed his mind after assuming office.  With insurance companies forbidden to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions they supported the mandate.  Keeping that restriction in place without a mandate could also lead to an explosion of health care costs.

For a total repeal of Obamacare to happen, Republicans will have to make the pre-existing coverage requirement unpopular.  Not surprisingly windbags like Rush Limbaugh have started equating the rule to welfare.  It will be interesting to see if the dittoheads follow the corpulent pied piper like lemmings to support such a cause near and dear to health insurance companies.  David Frum exiled to conservative Siberia for daring to suggest that the passage of Obamacare was a disaster for Republicans expects a lot of posturing with little action from the Republicans.  Meanwhile Richard Cohen notes that Republicans continue to further the delusion that our bloated and inefficient healthcare system is the best in the world – American exceptionalism run amuck.

Ultimately the likeliest avenue for the repeal of Obamacare will come from the conservative majority on the Supreme Court (needless to say the right wing and the Federalist Society will not treat such an action overruling Congress as “activist”) not the Republicans in Congress.

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Posted on 03-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut
  • Very few surprises yesterday night.  As expected the Republicans took back the House but failed to take the Senate.  Now comes the hard part.  After running on a delightfully vague campaign to cut spending, the Republicans now actually have to identify them.
  • The loss that will sting Democrats for the next decade will be the drubbing that they took in the state and gubernatorial races.  Why?  Because the Republicans get to gerrymander friendly house districts for the next decade.
  • Even in a night of Republican triumph, there has to be a feeling that they let a total victory slip away.  The nominations of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell cost the Republicans  two Senate seats (and Palin has already started peddling the dubious premise that Mike Castle would have lost in Delaware).  Likewise, the nominations of Carly Fiorina and Linda McMahon over Republican candidates more in tune with their states may have cost the Republicans golden chances to pick up California and Connecticut.  While Jim DeMint is crowing about the Republican victory, one has to wonder how much resentment exists against him (and Sarah Palin) in the Republican caucus.
  • Pending the actual counting of the write-in ballots Lisa Murkowski may have become the first Senator since Storm Thurmond to win a write-in campaign.  If this holds up, it is a stunning rebuke to Sarah Palin on her home turf.  That said, this one will not be over anytime soon since the actual counting of the write-in ballots does not commence until November 18.  And there will be legal challenges.
  • A few surprises for the Democrats on a cruddy night.  Joe Sestak came ever so close to knocking of Pat Toomey.  It will be interesting to see if Toomey can avoid the Rick Santorum career trajectory (elected in the Republican 1994 and swept out 6 years later).  Even though the Democratic establishment does not care for him, I don’t think we have seen the last of Joe Sestak.
  • Assuming it holds up, Michael Bennett may have eked out a narrow upset over tea partier Ken Buck in Colorado.
  • Assuming Patty Murray and Michael Bennett hold on to their narrow leads the Democrats will have 53 Senate seats.  That may limit the Republican attempts to woo Ben Nelson and the narcissistic senior Senator from Connecticut.  It will be interesting to observe Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine who will face a primary challenge from the right heading into a presidential election year.
  • The Illinois gubernatorial race was a big surprise to me.  Incumbent Pat Quinn holds on to the narrowest of leads, pending the calculation of absentee ballots.  The Democrats retained the legislature (though they lost their Senate super-majority).  If Quinn holds on the Democrats have absolutely no excuses 4 years from now.  They don’t have Rod Blagojevich to kick around any more.
  • Nevada presents an interesting dichotomy for the Republican Party’s issues with the Latino vote.  At one end they elected a Hispanic governor – Brian Sandoval (who beat Harry Reid’s son).  Yet in the Senate election Sharron Angle ran some extremely racially charged ads that appear to have inspired Latino voters to come out and defeat her.  With the Hispanic population rising in the Southwest, the Republicans need to figure out how to address illegal immigration without seeming to pick on Hispanics.
  • Meg Whitman spent $142 million of her own money in an attempt to buy the California governorship.  Linda McMahon spent $45 million of her own money trying to buy the Senate seat in the much smaller Connecticut.  Both lost.
  • With many blue dogs taking a beating and no more Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln in the Senate, the Democratic caucus is much more ideologically cohesive.  Gridlock here we come.
  • The biggest irony of the night is voters voted out the Democrats in the House who actually passed legislation.  But the Democrats retain the Senate where they struggled to get anything done (and where the stimulus got watered down and the public option was stripped out).  Of course, as noted above retaining control of the Senate was due to a big assist from the tea party.
  • The Democrats will fall back in love with the filibuster in the next two years.  It will also prevent any Republican attempt to repeal health care reform from ever getting to a vote.
  • Questions for the next two years – Will the Republicans fall prey to Gingrichian hubris?  How stiff is Barack Obama’s spine?  The vote to raise the debt ceiling next year will be a key marker.  The Republicans won yesterday, but according to exit polls are still more unpopular than Democrats – particularly moderates.  Turnout will be higher in 2012 – a presidential election year.  Overreach could be costly.  And a lot will depend on what the unemployment rate is in 2012.

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Posted on 02-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Noticed this on Andrew Sullivan. Since Congress is likely headed to the mother of all gridlocks in the next two years,  look at what actually got done the past two years.

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Posted on 02-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

This is stupid even with the low standards of Fox.  President Obama makes an innocuous comment that Republicans drove the car into the ditch and and must now take aback seat while the Democrats fix their mess.  Fox anchors then somehow morph themselves into Rosa Parks.  It is low hanging fruit for Jon Stewart.  Video below with bonus digs at Republican obstructionism, Democratic party denial and nice take down of Bill Clinton:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2010 – Republicans Can Go to the Back of the Car
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

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Posted on 01-11-2010
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

London’s Daily Mail has alleged that China pressured judges to eliminate Miss Norway Mariann Birkedal in the 2010 Miss World contest – which was won by Miss USA Alexandria Mills.  The contest itself was held on China’s Hainan island.  If true, this would be the latest petulant outburst by the corporatist dictatorship that is still steaming over the award of the Nobel Peace Price to Liu Xiaobo.

Out of deference to copyright law I will not post gratuitous bikini shots of the contestants, but you can view them in the first two links above.

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It was a strategy that was started by George W. Bush and came into full bloom for Sarah Palin – try to hide a candidate’s ignorance, extremism etc. by hiding them from the media.  It seems to be maturing in this election cycle where unknown candidates try to cover up their ethical peccadilloes or to avoid backing up their own statements.   Scary thing is that some of these candidates actually have a shot at being elected.  List and videos below:

  • Christine O’Donnell – Evidently it is fair game to criticize Chris Coons for his management of the county budget, but it is off limits to ask her what exactly she would have done in that situation since that is not the position she is running for.  Her campaign then threatens to sue and crush the radio station if they played the interview (and later ate humble pie and apologized).

  • Carl Paladino – At times you have to wonder if this guy is mentally balanced.  After his own love child is disclosed, he accuses the media of ignoring Andrew Cuomo’s affairs.  When asked to provide evidence for his claim he threatens to “take out” the reporter.

All candidates try to blame the media and obfuscate questions.  But this level of hostility and/or disdain for the freedom of the press is breathtaking…and scary. These are also the product of a political movement that labels Barack Obama a tyrant.

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Posted on 01-11-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) prepares the ground for the Democrats to cave on allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire.  A priceless opportunity to actually tackle the deficit will be squandered because of the perceived horrors of a reverting to the Clinton era tax rates.

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Posted on 01-11-2010
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Maybe I should not be surprised that the Washington Post published this blather from David Broder.  The last couple of years it has cheerfully published factually inaccurate or outright propaganda columns from George  Will, Charles Krauthammer and (the torture supporter) Marc Thiessen.  It also published Dinesh D’Souza’s garbage about the roots of Barack Obama’s ideology.

Somehow Broder seems to forget that we already fought two expensive wars in the last decade and primarily managed to blow up the deficit (with a lot of the money wasted abroad it produced almost no stimulative effects back home).  Saber rattling with Iran will also drive up oil prices which could lead to a double dip recession.  Even though Broder does not actually advocate bombing Iran he seems to assume that Iran will remain motionless while we ramp up preparations for war.  It has proxies in Iraq and Lebanon that can be unleashed against the United States and Israel.  The threat of war will also allow Iran’s isolated autocrats to rally support at home.

Since Broder’s column is essentially calling for more government spending to stimulate the economy, maybe he should call for spending on our infrastructure and education instead of fueling an already over-bloated military-industrial complex.

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