Posted on 22-05-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The Republican Party facing demographic disaster has been desperate to present a more diverse face.  In recent years it has run a number of prominent minority candidates.  Unfortunately the same policies being stated by a minority mouthpiece do not do much to sell those policies to minority voters.  Like the occasional forays of Republican Presidential wannabees to NAACP conferences they at best help a bit in white suburbia.  The problems are real.  Lost in the desperate attempts to pin something..anything on Barack Obama was the recent resignation of the GOP’s Florida Hispanic Outreach Director who registered as a Democrat citing a “culture of intolerance.”  This is in Florida where the Cuban population already tends Hispanic.

But this time the Party of Akin and Angle has surpassed itself in Virginia.  They have actually managed to find an African American candidate for Lt. Governor who among other things opposed desegregation of public housing and believes that the three-fifths clause of the Constitution (the one that allowed slave holders greater political power by counting non-voting slaves as three-fifths of a person for apportioning Congressional seats and Presidential electoral votes) was an anti-slavery clause.  This is nuttiness far beyond even the currently right wing core of the Republican Party.

For good measure the Virginia GOP nominated a candidate for Attorney General who wants women to report miscarriages to the police or face jail time.  Their gubernatorial candidate is trying to make voters forget his recent quixotic attempt to criminalize oral sex or comments where he called the principles that led to the passage of Medicare “despicable, dishonest, and worthy of condemnation.”

These are the Party’s nominees in a purple state won by Obama twice and with two Democratic Senators.  Just imagine what the GOP puts out in bright red states.

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Posted on 15-05-2013
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

The Great Recession exploded the budget deficit generated by the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war and the unfunded Medicare expansion.  The last few years have seen constant alarming cries that America faced a debt crisis that would turn it to the next Greece.  This was always a silly meme, particularly since the Greek crisis was exacerbated by its participation in the quasi gold-standard of the Euro.

The alarmism has resulted in a howling frenzy for policies that would have turned the recession into a depression (like the United Kingdom about to enter into a triple dip recession) rather than addressing the  job losses that killed government revenue and blew up the deficit.  The predicted hyperinflation has not occurred.  The academics whose paper was cited by deficit peacocks as gospel were discredited by a basic Excel error.  Now comes the CBO, which projects that the medium-term national debt has stabilized and the United States is not going bankrupt anytime soon.  After a spike in 2009 from the stimulus, the budget has actually been dropping throughout the Obama presidency (contrary to Faux News reality).  The CBO now projects that the 2013 deficit will be $200 billion lower than the projection 3 months ago.

In a rational political environment in a country with essentially negative borrowing costs the government would be implementing policies to accelerate the recovery, address infrastructure, fix (rather than shred) Medicare.  But the Republican party and the establishment stenographers live in their alternate reality where we are still on a path to Greece.

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Posted on 14-05-2013
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

As Washington gets subsumed by faux scandals and a desperate Republican attempt to convert Barack Obama to Richard Nixon the entire political class has pretty much let Wall Street off the hook.  Not a single banking executive has been prosecuted even with ample evidence of fraud.  The fines inflicted on the for misconduct still leave financial institutions with a healthy profit from their illegal activities.

Elizabeth Warren has been one of the only legislators who has been highlighting this ridiculous state of affairs.  She sent a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White questioning the culture of a slap on the wrist for offenders.  The whole letter is worth a read, but a key paragraph is quoted below:

I believe strongly that if a regulator reveals itself to be unwilling to take large financial institutions all the way to trial — either because it is too timid or because it lacks resources — the regulator has a lot less leverage in settlement negotiations and will be forced to settle on terms that are much more favorable to the wrongdoer. The consequence can be insufficient compensation to those who are harmed by illegal activity and inadequate deterrence of future violations. If large financial institutions can break the law and accumulate millions in profits and, if they get caught, settle by paying out of those profits, they do not have much incentive to follow the law.

This is not a difficult point to grasp. But in our corrupt bastardized capitalism our regulators don’t seem to get it.  Elizabeth Warren does.

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

As days go by it is becoming depressingly clear that the Republican Party has no interest in a functioning government.  While they are not trying to crash the economy with nonsensical economic proposals or obsessing on manufacturing a scandal out of Benghazi, the pattern of obstruction of the last five years continues unabated.  No judges have been approved for the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals.  The Republicans have refused to let the NLRB acquire a quorum by not approving the required Republican members to the agency. In an unprecedented hissy fit the Republicans have filibustered the appointment of ANY head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless the agency is eviscerted. Since the Republican policies of late are unhindered by data or reality, they are now trying to prevent the Census bureau from collecting economic data. After all why would the government want to use data before deciding how to allocate its spending.

Today come two more examples. The Republicans boycotted the committee hearing to confirm the new head of the EPA, preventing a quorum. In their latest effort to prevent the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Republican leadership has refused to recommend members to to Independent Payment Advisory Board which is supposed to make recommendations to reduce Medicare Spending and may filibuster any appointee. I wonder what it will take for Harry Reid to scrap the filibuster and get a functioning Senate.

Yet according to our establishment media stenographers things would be different if Obama sang Kumbaya and gave the Republicans a hug. The Republican Party is deadly unserious about governing and hostage to economically harmful policies….and they benefit from a natural desire of voters to shrug and call for a pox on both parties.

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

After all the hype, the Republican whistleblowers simply did not deliver. The testimony was riveting and it showed the sense of urgency as the consulate was attacked. But after all that, Gregory Hicks did not challenge the Pentagon’s assessments that the F-16s would not have been helpful and the ballyhooed special ops team in Tripoli may not have saved lives either.

These decisions made in the heat of the moment may have been erroneous, but that does not a scandal make. While the Republicans have been desperately trying to “get” President Obama and Hillary Clinton they have been unwilling to consider whether their budget cuts to embassy security opposed by the State department may have been a factor (and to be fair it is not clear that it would have saved lives in Benghazi). It is still clear what exactly was covered up and the motive for doing so.

The administration really had no motive to hide Al Queda involvement, since their claims of success have been primarily against Al Queda Central. There are many regional groups claiming affiliation with Al Queda and they operate independently of the leadership hiding in Pakistan. If Benghazi was triggered by one such group it would still not undercut the administration’s claims of success in Af-Pak.

Jon Stewart continues to get under the skin of Faux News by pointing out how unhinged their coverage has been. Videos below:

Video 1

Video 2

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The news from Syria has been uniformly awful.  While this blog is still firmly opposed to American military involvement in a civil war likely to end in an ethnic bloodbath, it still hopes for a solution that stops the human suffering and displacement.  The photo below was posted on Reditt and Facebook over the weekend and shows a Jordanian soldier warming up the hands of Syrian refugee baby after making it to the border safely.

Yes, I am a sucker for cute baby pictures.

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

I questioned earlier how Harvard University granted Jason Richwine a PhD for his racist thesis.  Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution discovered another clip from 2008 with his racial IQ meanderings:

The argument that immigrants themselves are no different from the ones that came 100 years ago I think is quite wrong, and I think that the major difference here is ethnicity — or race, if you will. …. There are real differences between groups, not just trivial ones that we happen to notice more than we should. Races differ in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ. Decades of psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by east Asians and then you have non-Jewish whites,  and Hispanics and then blacks. These are real differences. They aren’t going to go away tomorrow, and we have to address them in our immigration discussions and debates.”

Absent anywhere in these comments is any mention of whether socio-economic, environmental and other cultural factors affecting the immigrant experience may affect the results of his sacrosanct IQ tests.

The  remainder of the video contains a discussion about the assimilation of races on the intellectual level of Rand Paul telling a largely African American audience at Howard University that the Republicans were the good guys on race because of the Civil War but omitting the cynical Southern Strategy in the aftermath of the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  Richwine dismisses the assimilation of Irish and Sicilians as being relevant to the assimilation of Hispanics and African immigrants.  Of course there is no mention of the fact that non-white immigrants (including Asians who were forbidden to naturalize as citizens under the Chinese Exclusion Act) were subject to many statutory restrictions that made assimilation difficult until the 1960s.  Naturally the assimilation rate was slower for these minorities, but the rate has picked up significantly since then – even among the big bugbear of the far right Spanish speaking Hispanics.

Richwine’s biggest sin may have been to say explicitly in print stuff that the right has learned to express in allusions where all but the dense know what they are talking about.  As Charles Blow indicates it is almost an art form.  Once he masters it he has a lucrative future ahead of him on Faux News, Glenn Beck and other votaries of racial resentment.

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Posted on 08-05-2013
Filed Under (Science) by Rashtrakut

In April the “Science” Test below from an unnamed South Carolina school hit the web.

Science Test Page 1

Science Test Page 1

 

Science Test Page 2

Science Test Page 2

The school was unverified, and there was some hope it was a hoax.  It appears that the test was legit and the school was the Blue Ridge Christian Academy.  Sadly, even league educated governors with science degrees peddle bullshit like adding creationism to science education curricula to “teach the controversy.”   This nonsense is not going away anytime soon.

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Posted on 08-05-2013
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

The Heritage Foundation is already under fire for a questionable study asserting that immigration reform will cost trillions of dollars.  Now it is trying to distance itself from the 2009 PhD dissertation from one of the co-authors of the study arguing for lower immigration because Hispanics allegedly have a genetic predisposition to lower IQ.

Jason Richwine’s dissertation abstract asserts:

The statistical construct known as IQ can reliably estimate general mental ability, or intelligence. The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market. Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.

Dylan Mathews of the Washington Post who dug up Richwine’s thesis notes that Richwine believes intelligence is liked to race.

Richwine’s dissertation asserts that there are deep-set differentials in intelligence between races. While it’s clear he thinks it is partly due to genetics — “the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ” — he argues the most important thing is that the differences in group IQs are persistent, for whatever reason. He writes, “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”

This reeks of the racist screeds that passed as academic analysis 100 years ago and appears to be the intellectual heir of Charles Murrays “The Bell Curve” from 20 years back.

The Heritage foundation has supported “high skilled” immigration arguing that this will be of greater benefit to the economy.  Mathews notes that Richwine tries to use that policy as a cover to support his racist IQ-based selection.

How in the world did Harvard endorse this crap by issuing Richwine a PhD for this dissertation?

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Posted on 08-05-2013
Filed Under (Economics) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart yesterday tackled the mortgage lenders who created the mortgage clusterfuck.  They took an archaic but effective system where mortgages were recorded on paper with local county recorders of deed and came up with their own private online mechanism – MERS.  There was no paper trail, the laws of mortgage assignment were not followed (good luck if you as a debtor who did the same) and they ended up with a situation where the people foreclosing on mortgages cannot prove they have the right to do so.  Video below:

None of these assholes have gone to jail and the fines that the feckless regulators have assessed are a drop in the bucket for the amount of money they made.  And having demonstrated the perils of unregulated banking and derivatives trading these pricks have been whining at the limited regulations that have been implemented since then.  The people in charge of MERS may have been merely incompetent.  But other cases of fraud like manipulating the LIBOR rate have seen almost no individuals go to jail.  That is a real scandal. Preet Bharara where are you?

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Posted on 07-05-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut
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Posted on 07-05-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Over the last few years the Republicans have made a mockery of parliamentary procedure and the notions of bipartisanship.  Compromise means the Democrats accept all of the Republican positions while the Republicans change none of their own.  If the Democrats actually do embrace a Republican position, the bill becomes an attack on our freedoms.  The silly season has been on display for the budget.

The last few years the Republicans abused the filibuster process to make it impossible to pass a budget.  Then they repeatedly passed the nonsensical Paul Ryan budget laden with pixie dust and calling for unidentified budget cuts (which of course must be identified by Democrats so Republicans can beat them on the head repeatedly).  After blocking the Senate from doing its jobs they whined to the establishment stenographers that the Democrats were not following process and setting up a conference committee.

This year the plan went off the rails.  The Democratic Senate actually passed a budget.  Even worse the arithmetic in the budget (unlike the Ryan fantasies actually adds up…or at least comes much much closer to doing so).  At this point the Republicans lost their appetite for a budget conference which would highlight just how nonsensical their plans are.  It is much easier to hold the nation hostage over the debt ceiling.

On Monday, Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to get the ball rolling on appointing Senate commissioners for the Conference. At the end of the day freshman Republican bomb-thrower Ted Cruz rose to object calling for the Democrats to essentially concede defeat before the conference by agreeing to not raise the debt ceiling or taxes.  The result to this ridiculous proposal (identified by Reid as such in the video below) was a smack down by the Majority Leader who noted Cruz was like a schoolyard bully who on losing and now wants to take his ball and go home and change the rules as well.

Cruz who is winning few friends in the Senate tried to whine afterwards in contravention of Senate rules and got smacked down again.  The video above is worth a watch.

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Posted on 06-05-2013
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

So said Florida Rep. Matt Hudson proudly announcing the state rejecting the federally funded Medicaid expansion.  He gave some lip service at the end of the video about taking care of Florida’s uninsured and promised some state based alternative to Medicaid expansion.

Almost 4 years since the Obamacare war started and the President ended up passing a Republican bill to cries of socialism, there still is no credible alternative proposed by Republicans to America’s health care crisis.

One cannot help but conclude Congressman Alan Grayson was right when he identified the Republican health care plan (video below):

1.  Don’t get sick.

2.  And if you do get sick, die quickly.

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Posted on 06-05-2013
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Politics) by Rashtrakut

The Republicans spent most of the first Obama term trying to find mythical Obama scandals – fast and furious, Solyndra, the Obama phone etc. all withered away once sunlight shone on breathless Faux News exposes.  Then came the attack on Benghazi at the height of the Presidential campaign and the death of Ambassador Stevens.

Obviously things went horribly wrong in Benghazi.  But eager to give Mitt Romney a silver bullet for the campaign, Senator Graham desperately burnishing his conservative credentials to head off a primary challenge and seeing the opportunity to hang a millstone around Hillary Clinton’s neck Republicans have been desperately flogging the Benghazi faux scandal.

So Senator McCain accuses the administration of a cover-up but cannot identify what was covered up.  Witnesses were allegedly intimidated, but none can be identified.  Even in front of the three stooges on Faux & Friends Republican Congressman Jassen Chaffetz struggled to identify what was covered up, why was there a need for a cover up and why would respected military officials stick their necks out to cover a lie.  Video below:

Now the Republicans are producing two “whistleblowers” whose credibility is on the line by their choice of partisan brawlers as counsel.  The problem for the Republicans is that they have so obviously played politics with their :investigation” and have repeatedly fallen for every right wing conspiracy theory on the subject that outside of their Faux News audience few are likely to take them seriously.

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