Posted on 26-09-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Cable news continues to be unwatchable.  At a time when we face an Ebola epidemic in Africa, the threat of ISIS in the Middle East, a do-nothing Congress that will do nothing till the mid terms are done (and then thanks to the Republicans precious little after that).  However, cable news was fixated by the faux scandal of the President stepping off a plane with a coffee cup in his hand.  It gave the usual suspects an opportunity to vent their outrage on Barack Obama.  It also gave Jon Stewart the opportunity for an epic rant.  Video below:

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Posted on 16-09-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

If there is a picture that sums up the bullshit Faux News spews on a daily basis, this is it (hat tip to to Daily Kos).

image

The editor who typed up the script to the right is correct.  But, why let facts come in the way of a good Obama bashing rant?

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Posted on 21-05-2014
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Rousseau’s Confessions refers to a “great princess” who when told that the peasants had no bread responded: “Let them eat brioche.”  The contempt for the modern iteration of the Republican party for the poor is ill concealed – from their last Presidential standard bearer tagging 47% of the country as moochers to Congressmen waxing nostalgically of property requirements to vote.

The brazen cynicism seems to know no limits.  The last few years Congressional Republicans have tried hard to cut food assistance to the poorest Americans.  Yesterday Talking Points Memo flagged a recent House Republican Bill that pared back a modest food assistance bill to exclude urban areas and limit it to rural areas only.  Rural areas of course tend to vote Republican.

Meanwhile in New Jersey alleged fiscal Chris Christie, having blown up his state budget to fund tax cuts for the rich is now trying to pay for the shortfall by raiding public employee pension funds thereby jeopardizing his own plan to fix public pensions.  Christie is not the only Republican governor seduced by the tax cut fairy to believe that tax cuts magically boost growth enough to make up for revenue shortfalls (which has not happened under Reagan or Bush or anywhere else since).

Kansas, home of the oligarchs Koch, adopted their tax cut wet dreams.  The result has been a state starved of revenue that lags the national growth rate whose schools and public services are being slashed.

Then there are all the Republican governors who will cut off the nose of their poor to spite their face.  Obamacare derangement syndrome means that their states are rejecting federal money that for now covers 100% of expenses to expand Medicaid.  Instead of following the Arizona model where the state accepts the funds only so long as the federal government pays for it, they would rather have their poor clog medical emergency rooms instead of getting health care.

They truly have no shame.

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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 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 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 (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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Posted on 20-08-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Back in 2009 Senator Jim DeMint encouraged opposition to the passage of Obamacare by stating its defeat would be “Obama’s Waterloo.”  The bill passed and was upheld by the Supreme Court.   Obama was reelected.

Now out of the Senate and heading the Heritage Foundation into hackish irrelevance DeMint has been urging the pointless attempts to defund Obamacare by holding the economy hostage.

A couple of weeks back Heritage pushed a poll purportedly showing wide support to repealing Obamacare that was so bad that even partisan hacks like Jennifer Rubin mocked it.  Today DeMint suggested that Obama would plausibly sign a bill defunding his greatest domestic policy victory.

The belief in the utter stupidity of his supporters that this would happen is breathtakingly cynical.  Maybe he is counting on the geniuses who wanted to “keep government out of their Medicare” to fall for this fund raising con job.  It is a sad commentary on the degeneration of the intellectual right.

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Posted on 20-08-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The birther rage against Barack Obama was stupid.  Even more so because even if Obama was born in Kenya, he was still a natural born citizen automatically acquiring citizenship thru his American mother.

Now comes along the demagogic wannabe McCarthy Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).  It has been common knowledge that Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother.  Cruz confirmed that yesterday by releasing his Canadian birth certificate. 

Of course this also means Cruz was a Canadian citizen at birth and since he never took the requisite steps to abandon said Citizenship is still a dual citizen.  After denying the obvious Cruz grudgingly said he would take the steps to surrender Canadian citizenship.

Gets even better.  Thru his Cuban father Cruz may also be a natural born citizen of Cuba.  Such a provision likely ensnares the American born Senator Marco Rubio too. 

Birthers let your heads explode.

Note: Cuba does not have dual citizenship so the natural born citizenship clause probably does not apply….but the humor is too good to pass up….particularly given the asshole involved.

Seems appropriate to note the (briefly) Swiss Frau who ran for president last year.

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Posted on 18-08-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The right-wing was outraged a few years back when Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos penned a book referring to them as the American Taliban.  Since then the tea party seems commited to proving him right.  Reality does not intrude into their fantasies and the last few years their definition of compromise has been for the other side to accept their policies without any compromises on their part.  The result has been a legislative logjam and veteran Republicans (Bob Bennett, Dick Lugar etc.) who had the temerity to work with Democrats were primaried out of office.

Now to be fair and balanced, there are many on the left unhappy with the tendencies of certain centrist democrats.  The key difference has been a lot of the ire against the Max Baucuses and Blanche Lincolns was for sabotaging their own party prior to negotiating with Republicans as opposed to the concept of compromise.  In the tea party world any compromise or legislative deal making is a sin.

Witness the gem included in letter sent to Senator Lamar Alexander this week urging him to retire:

Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous. America faces serious challenges and needs policymakers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values.

How exactly do these nihilists expect any legislation to be passed without compromise and bi-partisanship when the Democrats control the Senate and the Presidency leaving the Republicans with only the House (and the Supreme Court)?  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Republican Party at present does not appear interested in governing.  The House Republicans made fools of themselves two weeks ago when they discovered that Paul Ryan’s budget fantasy left it to them to identify budget cuts – and there are cuts unpalatable to even Republicans (particularly when the Military-Industrial Complex is untouchable).  And now for the third time in as many years the tea party and conservative nut jobs are threatening a default on American debt if they don’t get what they want (the target right now is Obamacare – an originally conservative proposal that has somehow morphed into a socialistic attack on our freedoms).

The tendency of the establishment stenographers to lump both parties together and blame President Obama for not having a magic wand to overcome Republican obstruction has allowed the American Taliban to avoid the consequences of their irresponsibility.  This does not bode well for the fall.

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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 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 (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 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, 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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Posted on 21-03-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

And they are back. Barely a week after the orange hued one said that he would not hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to repeal Obamacare, Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell both promised to require a dollar of cuts for a dollar increase in the debt ceiling.

The United Kingdom is heading to a triple dip recession from austerity insanity. Republican congressmen are squealing anytime their sequester cuts show up in their backyard. Yet the Congressional Republican leadership unable to control the extremists in their base has decided to hold the economy hostage for a third time to get unspecified spending cuts.

Don’t look for these deficit warriors to actually identify any cuts. Like Paul Ryan, erstwhile fiscal savant for the establishment media stenographers, they will not identify any unpopular cuts themselves. They will prefer Democrats to do the dirty work to attack them in the next election.

After the Republican capitulation a couple of months ago one had hoped that the Republicans would desist in their attempts to weaken a recovering economy. But a party swept by tax cutting hysteria seems oblivious to the fact that the fiscal deficit has actually been dropping, health care cost increases have slowed and it is essential to continue the task of reducing unemployment to complete this recovery.

But the madness continues. Paul Ryan’s nonsensical budget did not find as welcoming an audience in its second go around. One hopes that a third debt ceiling hostage crisis attracts the derision it deserves.

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Posted on 23-01-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Terry Lee of Cedar City, Utah who claims to have chosen two employees for layoff because they voted for Barack Obama.
Lee justified his decision on the alleged expenses his digital forensics business would incur because of “Obongocare”. Of course he could not identify these costs and his 9 employee business is well short of the 50 employees required for a business to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

So in addition to being an asshole Terry Lee appears to be an ignorant twit. Draw your own conclusions as to what his choice of phrase for Obamacare reveals about the rest of his character.

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Posted on 21-01-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Well it is official. Barack Obama’s second term has commenced. After an informal swearing in yesterday (to match the constitutional requirement of January 20), the President delivered his formal inaugural address today (along with retaking the oath of office in public).  It appears Chief Justice Roberts did not botch the oath this time.

The tenor of the address is different.  The fiscal crisis has abated.  Even with the best efforts of the tea party wing of the Republican party to sabotage the economy, the recovery should continue.  As a result this address set out a progressive vision of the President’s goals in the second term.  Climate change, immigration, voting reform, gay rights, same-sex marriage and a slap down of Paul Ryan’s “nation of takers” by defending the vision of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security highlighted the speech.

This is a different President.  The hopey-changey stuff has been tempered by the reality of knee jerk Republican opposition to anything the President proposes.  The beltway media hacks will bemoan the lack of bipartisanship without the courage to assign the blame where it belongs.

So the term begins.  Hopefully something can be achieved before lame duck status kicks in and the 2016 campaign commences.

Video of the innaugural address is below:

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Posted on 03-01-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

“Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.” – Abraham Lincoln February 27, 1860

Lincoln could have been talking about the current members of the so called Party of Lincoln.

The fiscal cliff has been averted for now. But in two months the Republicans in Congress will hold the world economy hostage when it is time to raise the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling itself has nothing to do with government spending. It is a product of spending decisions made when Congress passes the budget and apportions money. For years it has provided an opportunity for Congressmen to pontificate on the deficit by symbolically voting to oppose raising the ceiling.

Things changed dramatically in the last two years when the nihilists controlling the Republican Party threatened to make a symbolic vote a reality. The result was the first ever downgrade of America’s credit rating.

Now smarting after losing yet another election and having to concede the tax issue to President Obama, the Republicans are threatening to blow up the economy if they don’t have their way. It is one thing to have a showdown when the budget is passed. However, the Republican posturing over the debt ceiling is akin to playing Russian roulette with the economy.  Every serious economist, including Republican policymakers and economists not held hostage to the tea party wing for electoral or financial reasons, acknowledge that the debt ceiling must be raised. The Republican politicians promising a hostage crisis have themselves done so in the past.

For now President Obama has indicated that he will not negotiate on this issue. Hopefully he will deviate from his past practice and hold to that pledge. After all America supposedly does not negotiate with terrorists. And make no mistake this is a terrorist threat by a bunch of irresponsible petulant politicians.

And yet the Republicans while proclaiming their desire for a dollar for dollar spending reduction for the debt ceiling increase have not actually identified these spending cuts. The Paul Ryan budget last year had a similar oversight. In the fiscal cliff negotiations the Republicans tried to put the onus on Democrats to come up with the specific spending cuts to satisfy the Republican desire for recession inducing austerity. Why? Because the entitlement cuts Republicans want are deeply unpopular. While Republicans want to shred the social safety net they also want to attack the Democrats for making the cuts, i.e. have their cake and eat it too.

America sorely needs a responsible opposition party. Instead it has a party that abandons its positions the moment the Democrats embrace them – e.g. cap & trade, health care reform. The Republicans are focused on protecting the wealthy while suggesting cruel and foolish “solutions” to cut entitlement spending like raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare which do little to reduce the deficit and may actually increase health care costs.

If the Republicans continue in their intransigence it is time to consider the constitutional option or the coin minting option to raise the debt ceiling. America and the world economy cannot continue to be held hostage every time when the debt ceiling needs to be raised. This is not a legitimate political bargaining chip and the Republican Party should not be allowed to pretend that agreeing not to damage the economy constitutes some sort of sacrifice on their part. That is the conduct of terrorists. It is time to end this hostage crisis.

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Posted on 03-01-2013
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut
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Posted on 21-11-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

It is an irony too delicious to pass up.  America’s lousy electoral system is still counting votes two weeks past election day.  With votes still to come in from Democratic states like California, it seems almost certain that the most despised plutocrat in America will end up with 47% of the vote.  Mitt Romney has become a Republican un-person since doubling down on his 47% remarks after the election.  It is fitting that 47% will be the final post script on a political career mostly spent losing elections.

Goodbye Mr. 47%, and good riddance.

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Posted on 20-11-2012
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

He was originally a cartoonist by trade.  He never held political office.  He was reviled, hated and feared by millions.  Yet the death of Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray brought India’s commercial capital Mumbai to a standstill.  Two million people (including many of India’s film, commercial and political elite) attended his funeral which included state honors and a 21 gun salute.  The state of Maharashtra was shut down, partly from respect and more so from fear of his thuggish followers.

Thackeray’s claim to fame and power was his political party the Shiv Sena which he founded in 1966.  His virulently anti-communist party was originally encouraged by the state’s ruling Congress Party as a rival to Mumbai’s dominant communist trade unions. It was also a nativist regional party that tapped into the resentment of native Maharashtrians who felt displaced by immigrants from the rest of India (particularly South Indian Tamils, Marwaris and Gujaratis).  It also aggressively embraced Hindu causes and engaged in Muslim baiting.

The Sena’s rise to power was steady, winning control of the Bombay municipal corporation in the 1980s and the Maharashtra state government (in alliance with the BJP) in the 1990s.  However, the Sena could not stay at top of the peak.  Power brought factional infighting and later a split as Thackeray designated his surviving son Uddhav as his successor instead of his thuggish but more charismatic nephew Raj.  Raj Thackeray founded his own political party which split the Sena vote and prevented a return to power at the state level.

Thackeray attained national notoriety in the 1990s when his party was accused of causing the anti-Muslim Bombay riots in 1993.  Over the years he shocked the intelligentsia by professing admiration for Hitler and engaging in crude Muslim bashing.  He was even briefly stripped of his right to vote for soliciting votes with inflammatory statements.  Yet Thackeray had a strong base of support from blue collar Maharashtrians who benefited from social services from local Shiv Sena branches and appreciated a son of the soil party that vocally supported their interests.

Many educated Maharashtrians, like this blogger, had little use for the Shiv Sena.  The Sena displayed little tolerance for dissent and was notorious for using brute force and thuggery for perceived slights.  As an example, in 2001 after the death of Sena leader Anand Dighe in an accident its thugs ransacked and burnt down the state of the art hospital where he died.  The hospital has never been rebuilt and its shell still stands as a mute reminder of Sena thuggery.  When Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses was banned in India, Thackeray told Muslims to learn how to take their lumps.  Yet when a later Rushdie book “The Moor’s Last Sigh” contained a caricature of Thackeray, it was banned in Mumbai to protect his sensitive feelings.

However as a cousin noted a few days ago, Thackeray was not that different than the chauvinistic regional chieftains in other Indian states.  The primary difference was the openness with which he uttered his prejudice and sent his thugs to suppress dissent.  He was the first man to give a legitimate alternative to the over-powerful Congress party in Maharashtra.  Yet in the grand scheme of things the influence of Thackeray and his ilk is largely negative to the Indian political fabric.  A country as diverse as India with political parties looking primarily and often solely to protect their parochial interest runs the risk of turning the country into the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In his last years, Thackeray was a bit of a defanged tiger.  His nephew Raj Thackeray had stolen much of the nativist thunder from the ailing old man.  He and not the designated heir Uddhav is likely to be the ultimate heir of Thackeray.  And so Balsaheb Thackeray’s legacy will live on.  How India manages to contain it will decide whether the Union of India survives or slowly splinters.

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