Posted on 23-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

In a Palinesque display of geographic knowledge, Mitt Romney asserted yesterday that Syria provided Iran access to the sea. This overlooks the fact that the two countries do not share a border and that Iran has its own coastline along with a World War I caliber navy conducive to Romneyesque ship counting. This evidently is not the first time Romney has uttered this geographic whopper. Iran can access the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez canal in any case. The argument about Iran getting bases in Syria (allegedly the intent of the quote) can be made without resorting to alternative cartography.

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Posted on 23-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Moderate Mitt resurfaced for yesterday night’s debate. In a shamelessly cynical performance that has been the hallmark of his campaign, Mitt Romney jettisoned six years of foreign policy proposals. The belligerent blowhard embracing the idea of war with Iran morphed into the prince of peace. The man who accused Obama’s foreign policy of falling apart meekly agreed with the president’s policies. The man who along with his party trashes the UN and international courts called for a indictment of Iranian President Ahmadenijad for inciting genocide by these bodies – ignoring of course who holds the real power in Iran. Ultimately he displayed a Cliff’s Notes understanding of foreign policy and seemed more concerned with seeming “Presidential” than showing any substance behind the empty suit.

The President was better prepared for this attack of Romneysia and pummeled a shockingly passive Romney. We will know soon enough if this was enough to prevent the election of a truly cynical prevaricator.

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Posted on 22-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

President Obama delivers a brutal rejoinder to Mitt Romney’s silly nostalgia for a ship count of the dreadnought era.  Video below:

 

 

UPDATE: And yes this is another bullshit Romney/Ryan comparison.

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Posted on 17-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The binder was not prepared by Mitt. While Mitt did hire many women, it appears none of them were in senior positions. As the article notes, what does it say about the circles Mitt worked in and socialized with that he did not know any qualified women without recourse to a third party binder?

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Posted on 16-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The highlight of tonight’s debate, Mitt Romney repeats the right wing alternate reality that it took two weeks for the President to acknowledge that the Libya attack was an act of terror.  He then (to my immense surprise and delight) gets fact checked on live TV by Candy Crowley.  The amount of bullshit Mitt spewed tonight hints at another long list by Steve Benen on Friday.  Obama then sticks the knife in by joking that Crowley should repeat it louder.  Video below:

 

 

Great debate for the President.  The obnoxious Mitt Romney of the primary debates emerged (petulantly calling for debate rules but ignoring them when they applied to him).  He was on the defensive most of the night and was clearly rattled by the Libya exchange – which he should have won.

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Posted on 16-10-2012
Filed Under (Current Affairs, India) by Rashtrakut

Pizza, burgers and other fast food are culprits too. These pearls of wisdom are delivered by a member of a Khap Panchayat, in the Indian state of Haryana.

India has been rocked by a series of publicized sexual assaults and honor killings in the past year. This has cast a bright spotlight on the Khaps, caste based village bodies, who are essentially India’s homegrown version of the Taliban. The Khaps have arrogated themselves judicial power independent of the Indian constitution and often wink at honor killings of eloping couples. They are a reactionary throwback for Indians unreconciled to modernity.

It is time the Indian state suppressed these thugs and Indian polity shunned their political enablers.

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Posted on 16-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

For all the details go to RomneyTaxPlan.com. Hat tip to the Democratic National Committee.

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Posted on 16-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Now that Romney’s tax plan and job plan (not to mention the one page sheet that counts as his housing plan) have been widely debunked as fantasies, cannot help wondering at what point do we equate him to Herman Cain – he of the fantastical 9-9-9 plan. Both are business peddling flim flam, but Romney so far has been granted what increasingly looks like an undeserved stamp of gravitas.

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Posted on 16-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Mitt Romney’s tax plan is widely known to be a joke. His foreign policy is worse. Now the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has demonstrated his job plan is malarkey too.

We asked the Romney campaign and the answer turns out to be: totally different studies … with completely different timelines.

For instance, the claim that 7 million jobs would be created from Romney tax plan is a ten-year number, derived from a study written by John W. Diamond, a professor at Rice University.

This study at least assesses the claimed effect of specific Romney policies. The rest of the numbers are even more squishy.

For instance, the 3-million-job claim for Romney’s energy policies appears largely based on a Citigroup Global Markets study that did not even evaluate Romney’s policies. Instead, the report predicted 2.7 million to 3.6 million jobs would be created over the next eight years, largely because of trends and policies already adopted – including tougher fuel efficiency standards that Romney has criticized and suggested he would reverse.

The 2-million-jobs from cracking down on China is also very suspicious.

There you have it. The man of business is rapidly being exposed as an empty suit devoid of any meaningful policies or core principles and running on shameless mendacity.

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Posted on 15-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

St. Ronald Reagan’s former budget director David Stockman has an absolutely brutal take down of Romney’s self proclaimed strongest qualification for the Presidency – deep insights gleaned in the economy from his career as a LBO specialist.  With only 4 years in public office and a record he ran from until the last debate that part of the resume is thin.

Bain Capital is a product of the Great Deformation. It has garnered fabulous winnings through leveraged speculation in financial markets that have been perverted and deformed by decades of money printing and Wall Street coddling by the Fed. So Bain’s billions of profits were not rewards for capitalist creation; they were mainly windfalls collected from gambling in markets that were rigged to rise.

Nevertheless, Mitt Romney claims that his essential qualification to be president is grounded in his 15 years as head of Bain Capital, from 1984 through early 1999. According to the campaign’s narrative, it was then that he became immersed in the toils of business enterprise, learning along the way the true secrets of how to grow the economy and create jobs. The fact that Bain’s returns reputedly averaged more than 50 percent annually during this period is purportedly proof of the case—real-world validation that Romney not only was a striking business success but also has been uniquely trained and seasoned for the task of restarting the nation’s sputtering engines of capitalism.

Except Mitt Romney was not a businessman; he was a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped, and stripped businesses. He did not build enterprises the old-fashioned way—out of inspiration, perspiration, and a long slog in the free market fostering a new product, service, or process of production. Instead, he spent his 15 years raising debt in prodigious amounts on Wall Street so that Bain could purchase the pots and pans and castoffs of corporate America, leverage them to the hilt, gussy them up as reborn “roll-ups,” and then deliver them back to Wall Street for resale—the faster the better.

That is the modus operandi of the leveraged-buyout business, and in an honest free-market economy, there wouldn’t be much scope for it because it creates little of economic value. But we have a rigged system—a regime of crony capitalism—where the tax code heavily favors debt and capital gains, and the central bank purposefully enables rampant speculation by propping up the price of financial assets and battering down the cost of leveraged finance.

Stockman follows up with specific examples of the financial engineering and tax arbitrage that enabled Bain’s success.

It is an analysis that I tend to agree with.  Mitt Romney keeps preaching (including in the debate two weeks ago) that he was a job creator.  Yet as his business partners have noted, Bain was not in the business of job creation.  They were there to make their investors money.  Most of the jobs Romney claims arise from a minor and short lived investment in Staples, with a lot of the Staples job growth happening after Bain cashed out.

Now Romney obviously was very good at what he did.  But whether a tax arbitrage speculator gets any special insight in the macro economy is an open question.  He is obviously more comfortable talking about economic issues (as opposed to foreign policy), but the policies he has issued (with little detail) are largely supply side nonsense – perhaps because saying anything else will be political suicide in his party.

The other thing that bothers me about Bain, is that they represent some of the worst parasitic forms of capitalism that has infected American industry in the last 30 years.  Many of these acquisitions were accompanied by slashing benefits for workers to make sure the speculators got their dough.  So while compensation at the top has ballooned, middle-class incomes have stagnated or in some cases declined.  To this blogger it is a recipe for a slow decline into stratified oligarchy and likely social unrest in the future.  This country needs a long hard discussion whether the preferential tax treatment for the gamblers of capital is actually justified.

 

 

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Posted on 15-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart unearthed a 1936 clip of FDR that almost seems prophetic.  The Ryan/Romney ticket will not present its math on how they magically balance the budget.  Romney has embraced Ryan’s plan to voucherize medicare and keep costs down by artificially limiting the growth of the vouchers below the expected rise in medical expenses i.e. by not paying the medical bills.  Ryan as a Rand disciple has previously expressed hostility to the premise of Social Security & Medicare.  Heck, in last week’s debate he expressed support to privatize it.  Wouldn’t that have been dandy in 2008?  So basically we are asked to trust a ticket hostile to America’s social contract that they will do it better with no details.  Yeah right!!!  Video below:

 

 

 

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Posted on 15-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The picture below is an advertisement for storage units in Manhattan. Lost in the brouhaha of Mitt’s mendacity, lack of specifics, Obama’s debate posture and Biden’s grins is the fact that Mitt Romney has disclosed only two incomplete years of tax returns. We have no idea what he was up to with his off shore bank accounts or whether he participated in the Swiss bank account amnesty. Tax returns were important enough for Mitt to supply 23 years to John McCain and to collect 10 years from Paul Ryan for Vice Presidential vetting. But evidently we are not entitled to the same data in vetting Mitt Romney for the presidency.

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Posted on 14-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

This blog has alluded to the wink-wink nod-nod that prominent Republicans have given to birthers and subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) racial dog whistles.  The video below is Jason Thompson, the son of former Wisconsin governor and current Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, joking that the election was a chance to send President Obama back to Chicago – or to Kenya.  The response?  Applause, laughter and call by a woman about taking donations for the Kenya trip.

 

 

Sad…and disgusting.

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Posted on 14-10-2012
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

It is hard being an explorer/adventurer nowadays.  The highest peaks have been surmounted.  The continents have been discovered.  The rivers have been traced to their source.  Technology has made the explorers obsolete and many adventurers archaic – circumventing the globe in a balloon gets media attention but not the adulation that accompanied the descent of Charles Lindbergh in Paris (video below):

 

 

That leaves the murky depth of the oceans or the frigid reaches of space.  Space flights have become somewhat routine and unless man ends up on Mars are unlikely to fire up the public imagination.  The oceans have churned up multiple Hollywood flicks about the dangers lurking beneath, but since Jacques Cousteau have not (to my knowledge) dredged up many celebrities.

Enter Felix Baumgartner.  In January 2010, the Austrian skydiver announced a plan to become the first parachutist to break the sound barrier.  The 128,097 ft jump involved breaking the previous record by over 25,000 ft.  Needless to say jumping from a point where the air pressure is 2% of sea level is extremely dangerous.

While he did not break the old record for the longest freefall, Baumgartner appears to have broken the sound barrier.  More important he landed safely.  His path to fame has more practical implications than a daredevil’s stunt.  NASA was interested for information it can glean to make it safer for astronauts attempting re-entry.

Meanwhile Felix Baumgartner gets his name etched in the record and history books.  Congratulations!!

Video of the jump is below:

 

 

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Posted on 14-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Even Faux News thinks it is a bunch of malarkey.  Video below:

 

 

The six “studiesinclude a Romney campaign document, three blog posts and a Wall Street Journal op ed and one short paper by Harvey Rosen at Princeton.   Even with some of the generous assumptions in these papers the numbers still don’t add up.  They also rely on the growth fairy who will allegedly awaken from hibernation after these tax cuts.  Some how she did not put in much of an appearance under George W. Bush.

As Bill Clinton said at the DNC – “The numbers just don’t add up.”  Video Below:

 

 

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Posted on 14-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

It was only a matter of time Mitt Romney got the Gangnam Style makeover.  The K-pop hit mocking the snobs of Seoul’s Gangnam district has gone viral.  So it was only a matter of time the rich man with Cayman and Swiss accounts running for the Presidency and whose cars will soon have their own elevators would be mocked.  Video below:

 

 

Jay Leno previously took a stab at it as month earlier.  Video below:

 

 

The video for the original is below:

 

 

Enjoy….

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Posted on 13-10-2012
Filed Under (Sports) by Rashtrakut

The Cotton Bowl scrubbed free of puke burnt orange after University of Texas fans fled their half of the stadium during yet another ass kicking by the University of Oklahoma in the Red River Blowout Shootout.

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Posted on 13-10-2012
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Until this week, few people outside of Pakistan and the Swat Valley had heard of Malala Yousafzai.  As she now fights for her life, the victim of neanderthal reactionary thugs, the 14 year old has become a global icon.  The Taliban was notorious for turning women into chattel – good for cooking, bearing children and not much else.  Their Pakistani counterpart is no better.  For a while they held the Swat Valley under their sway while the gutless government in Islamabad dithered on confronting their created Frankenstein monster.

Yousafzai began blogging about life under the Taliban in 2009 while the Swat Valley was still under Taliban control and became a vocal advocate for female education.  In May 2009 the Pakistani army finally moved in and flushed out the Taliban from Swat.  By 2011 she was a celebrity in Pakistan, openly appearing on TV shows and was  nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize.  Her blogging identity no longer anonymous she promptly became the target of death threats from Taliban adherents.

So on October 9 came the assassination attempt.  The backlash against the Taliban has been in Pakistan has been severe.  They were trashed on social media and in public rallies.  Yet, even though Pakistan’s foreign minister called this a turning point, all the thunder will not amount to much for now.  This blog has been harsh on Pakistan’s use of Islamic terrorists to further foreign policy goals in Afghanistan (hiding Mullah Omar and co. in Quetta) and India.  Pakistan’s religious parties offered only lip service to Malala’s fate before railing against American drone attacks.  Yet the American drone attacks, troubling as they are, occur only because Pakistan’s army will not move against terrorists perched in own country.

Girls schools and independent women are primary targets of the Taliban.   As a result,  girls like Malala who refuse to be cowed down are an existential threat to these thugs.  The Taliban remains unrepentant and has renewed the threat against her.  And yet, people like Imran Khan want a “political solution” with these assholes.  Nazi comparisons can be a bit overwrought, but I cannot resist noticing similarities to Franz von Papen’s belief that he could box in Hitler after bringing him to power.  The fight against the Taliban will not be won until there are harsh political consequences for their supporters, Pakistan’s educational system is upgraded to bring its teeming underclass out of the sway of the mullahs (whose madrasas are often the only available educational option) and Pakistan’s army gives up the dream that it is possible to support these thugs against its neighbors without being stung by the backwash.

I mocked the Nobel Peace Prize award to the EU yesterday.  I still stand by that.  It should have gone to someone like Malala Yousafzai.  To hear Malala in her own words see the video below. Also see this heartfelt article by Owais Tohid:

 

 

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Posted on 13-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

I had heard about Samuel Jackson’s potty mouthed ad trying fire up Obama supporters.  Finally got around to seeing it.  Safe to say I have never seen a political ad like this.  I doubt it will do much even with 1.5 million views, it can draw a chuckle for embracing the full Jackson persona.  Judge for yourself.  Video below:

 

 

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Posted on 12-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The folks at Daily Kos are getting on a roll. Their first video got over 1.8 million hits – like a typical cable news show. This one has shorter clips and repeats a few, but drives the same message. Mitt Romney will say anything to get elected. A professional ad agency could do wonders with such material. Video below:

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Posted on 12-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

From the always excellent Steve Benen in his weekly chronicles of Mitt’s mendacity. Paul Ryan repeated some of these whoppers yesterday, including the one about the size of the navy. Looks like Mitt got the Onion treatment too.

Would be funny if it were not so depressing.

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Posted on 12-10-2012
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Germany will collect the $1 million award for the Nobel peace prize, and refuse to share it with Greece.

The Nobel Peace prize seems committed to making itself irrelevant. First there was the silly award to Obama three years back. Now the committee is doubling down with the comically mistimed award to the European Union.

The European project has obviously played a huge part in establishing peace in Western Europe in the aftermath of World War II. But the time for this award was 40 years ago. Since then the record has been decidedly mixed. While the fears of German-Polish tensions have receded, the EU failed miserably in the Balkans in the 90s and has struggled to control authoritarian impulses in countries like Hungary. Worse the squabbling in the aftermath of the debt crisis, has triggered questions about the viability of the EU.

I suspect this award is targeted at those questions and to remind people about the EU’s past success. If so, it is spectacularly ham handed interference in a legitimate discussion on whether the EU and the Euro expanded too fast and too soon. Mockery is justified.

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Posted on 12-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Congressman and Senate hopeful Todd Akin – he of the magic female parts that shut down conception during “legitimate” rape – is back at it again. Evidently, according to the congressman, the theory of evolution is theology and not science.

So what is he doing on the House Science, Space and Technology committee? As the link above shows he is not the only creationist on there. Audio below:

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Posted on 12-10-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The video below offers up a vivid display of ODS. The wingnut is confident that Obama is a commie but cannot articulate why. The bit of him being un-American typifies the typical racial dog whistle to this blogger.

It is easy to note that George W. Bush faced some vituperative outrage too. The key difference is that rage of this nature like the 911 truthers did not receive the tacit support from Democrats in office. Mitt Romney’s campaign has trafficked in these themes before, rather than challenge what Chris Christie would call the crazies. Video below:

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Posted on 12-10-2012
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Hugo Chavez was re-elected to another 6 year term this week and his crumbling “Bolivarian revolution” will go on for now.  This was by no means a totally fair election given that Chavez used the full powers of incumbency and his grip on government controlled media against his opponent.  Yet his margin of victory dropped, a combination of a united opposition rallying around a strong candidate and the economic mismanagement of Venezuela by Chavez and the soaring crime rate.  Chavez is the forerunner or recent autocrats who hold on to power by semi-free elections but show no respect for the checks and balances and respect for institutions needed in a democracy.

The future though is murky.  Chavez has suffered from cancer in recent years.  While Chavez earned some deserved plaudits for noting that Venezuela’s oil wealth did not benefit its masses, his populist mismanagement and white elephant projects have dissipated the benefits of that oil wealth.  Hollywood stars like Danny Glover and Sean Penn who bask in the Caudillo’s glow fail to note Chavez’s assault on a free press and independent judiciary and support for narco-terrorists like FARC.

So nothing changes for now.   Chavez will remain a thorn in America’s side, Cuba will get their freebies and Venezuela’s economic malaise will continue.

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