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 15-08-2013
Filed Under (Technology) by Rashtrakut

The video below explains why.  Enjoy:

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Posted on 15-08-2013
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Last year I commented that the Egyptian alliance appeared to have run its course.  Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood have since been toppled in the coup that we dare not call a coup, but the same sentiment holds true.  Once again in the Middle East we are faced with the ugly reality that elections do not constitute democracy.

Morsi was popularly elected and the Muslim Brotherhood in large part because of Pharoah Mubarak’s policies was the largest political grouping in Egypt.  But he was a thin skinned leader who was intolerant of dissent and like other majoritarian ballot box despots like Hugo Chavez had little regard for the minority groupings.  Worse he mismanaged Egypt’s economy (though conspiracy theories about the role of Mubarak supporters abound).  By the time he was toppled the public mood had changed.

Yet the coup in all but its name left America in a precarious situation.  Having belatedly supported the Democratic transition from Mubarak, the Obama administration twisted itself in loops trying to support an elected if authoritarian and incompetent government but trying not to trigger the ban on American aid required by law after a coup.  The result satisfied nobody on the Egyptian street.  The anti-Brotherhood supporters were outraged that Obama appeared to support Morsi.  The Brotherhood who did not believe in democracy to begin with was outraged that the rules of electoral legitimacy don’t apply to them and took to the street.

The result has been violence and distressing signs of early 1990s Algeria (where the army voided an Islamist election victory resulting in years of turmoil and violence).  The Egyptian army which never cared for the Brotherhood to begin with has been extremely hamfisted and brutal in clearing the street.  Hundreds were killed in yesterday’s assault on the protestors camps.  Nobel Laureate and Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigned in protest after the crackdown.

The army’s actions highlight once again just how little leverage the United States has in the region and how absurd it is for the United States to twist itself into knots over trying to preserve an aid package it appears the Egyptian establishment does not care about.  Trying to have it both ways once again leaves America exposed to charges of hypocrisy – i.e. we don’t care about bloodshed as long as it is our guys doing the shooting.

At this point it is time to stop the ridiculous tap dance about the coup and acknowledge it as such.  Egypt’s army may have a point that the Brotherhood is not willing for talks, but that is no justification for the bloodbath it unleashed.  The Arab Spring continues its bloody turn and once again highlights the importance in institutions and respect for the rule of law (even by the rulers) in keeping a democracy functional.  Just as important is time and patience to get these established.  On all these points, Egypt has failed.  And so Egypt bleeds.

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Posted on 17-07-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

Titled “Share… Care… Joy…” this is a a beautiful video put out by the Naik Foundation.  No Hindi skills required to get the message.  Enjoy…..

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Posted on 07-07-2013
Filed Under (Sports) by Rashtrakut

A year after his emotional runners up speech at Wimbledon, Andy Murray finally did it.  He is a Scot not English, but why quibble.  He is the first British player to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.  Murray has played very well since his Wimbledon loss – winning the Olympic Gold (at Wimbledon), the US Open and being the runner up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.  It was a gutty win with Murry  coming back from 4-1 in the second set and 4-2 in the third.  Then up 40-0 in the third set and with three championship points nerves caught up with him and Djokovic got to deuce and had multiple chances to break.  But Murray ultimately prevailed on his fourth championship point closing out the straight set win 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.

With Roger Federer clearly in decline and Rafael Nadal continuing to battle injuries, Murray-Djokovic may be the tennis rivalry of the next few years.

Another highlight of the Murray win was the wild excitement shown by his coach Ivan Lendl.  Lendl a two time Wimbledon runner-up once famously quipped “grass is for the cows” when skipping Wimbledon in 1982 to go holidaying. Lendl may be the greatest grass court player to never win Wimbledon (other than the junior title in 1978).  His measured applause and hit of a smile was a rare display of emotion from the 8 time grandslam winner (clip below):

Congratulations Andy Murray.  Now let the US Open circuit begin. For the second year in a row there is a possibility of a different champion at each of the grandslam events.

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Posted on 02-07-2013
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

A year after the fall of Pharaoh Mubarak, the mobs are back on the street in Egypt in what appears greater numbers.  The target is Mubarak’s successor and Egypt’s first freely elected President Mohammed Morsi.

The Muslim Brotherhood joined the anti-Mubarak protests late.  While they were suppressed by his regime, they were allowed greater freedom of action than his secular rivals.  The intent was to highlight the Islamist threat and keep the aid dollars flowing.  The perverse effect of this strategy was to leave the Muslim Brotherhood as the best organized opposition movement in Egypt, allowing its member Mohammed Morsi to win the Presidency and the Brotherhood to dominate parliamentary elections.

Unfortunately, once in power Morsi has done his best to confirm the fears that he would be a sectional leader.  A controversial constitution was rammed through.  Journalists, bloggers and comedians have been persecuted for lese majeste.  The government has looked the other way as minorities have been attacked.  The economy has been mismanaged.  Most recently Morsi appointed a member of a former terrorist group (that killed 58 tourists in 1997) as governor of Luxor province – which relies on tourism.

So when the mobs emerged on the street in the last few days the scale of the protests caught everyone (including Morsi) by surprised.  Egypt’s police are in open mutiny and stood by as the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo were torched.  And now the army, for some reason respected by the protesters, seems to be peddling a soft coup by giving Morsi a 48 hour ultimatum.

I have no sympathy for Morsi.  Given the opportunity to be a statesman he chose to be a leader of narrow vision like Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq.  Unlike the Islamists in Turkey who provided a decade of good governance before gradually commencing dropping the veil, the Egyptian Brotherhood was too impatient.

Yet, I cannot but help feel that the path Egypt is heading down is extremely dangerous.  The army, which has conducted its share of abuses in the past year is walking out of this scot free.  A elected even if flawed President is being toppled a year into his term by extra constitutional means.  Egypt’s civil society is showing a dangerous lack of communication among its stake holders.  There remains the risk that the Brotherhood will feel cheated of power like the Algerian Islamists in the early 1990s setting off a cycle of instability.  Egypt’s secular opposition is largely united by its dislike of Morsi and the Brotherhood.  Yet unless they agree on a political and economic program they face another defeat in the ballot box.  Worse, a blue print is now being set on how to topple an elected regime…create a ruckus and beg the army to intervene.

It is hard to see how Morsi survives the current crisis.  It is also hard to see anything but turmoil in Egypt for the foreseeable future.

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Posted on 02-06-2013
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

This blog has railed against the crude religious stereotyping that Faux News and certain Republican politicians have engaged in this country since 9/11.  The problem with that bile is that they liberally apply it to every single Muslim in this country, even though American Muslims are generally well integrated (though losers like the Tsarnaevs do exist) into this country – inspite of the efforts by Islamists and nativist xenophobes to change that.

It has been a different story in Europe.  Europe is not an immigrant society and historically has not gone out of its way to assimilate immigrants.  Immigrants in Europe complain of open discrimination in housing and employment that essentially forces them into ghettos and unemployment.  But it is increasingly clear that the blame cannot be solely on the host country.

If a country accepting immigrants has an obligation to alleviate discrimination and help integrate immigrants into society, immigrants have an obligation too.  This cautionary tale from Antwerp shows how hard it can be for liberal societies to protect their liberal values and the rights of less liberal minorities. You cannot expect to move abroad and expect that your hosts will start living life as you want it to be in some idealized dream of your home country.  Immigrants also have an obligation to respect the law of the nation they move to.

The United Kingdom has long been a breeding ground for Islamic extremism stemming from the latter two points.  For the last 30 years and more it has welcomed Muslim immigrants from Pakistan who stubbornly refuse to integrate.  Worse time and again many of these jihadist preachers demand that Britain adopt sharia law to satisfy them.  The caricatures that Faux News and the Pamela Gellers rely on are very evident there.

The video below from a young British woman who visited her hometown on hearing it had become a hotbed for Islamic radicalism is really something.

A brave British woman shows why Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka is right when he calls England a ‘cesspit’ breeding Islamists from Tarek Fatah on Vimeo.

At about 3:19 in the video is a truly amazing exchange.  The jihadist rally protested the temerity of the British police in arresting a Muslim woman.  So the woman raises the obvious point that nobody should be above the law.  Pat comes this amazing response:

If the law of the land is Islamic, we will respect the law of the land….If [the law] is not Islamic, then those that make it can go to hell.

Now it is not clear the speaker is an immigrant, but immigrants who believe this need their ass shipped out so they can rot in their old country.

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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 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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As a sea of Orange descended on Amsterdam, the Kingdom of the Netherlands got its first King since 1890 – King Willem-Alexander upon the abdication of Queen Beatrix.  After the death of Willem III in 1890, the Dutch have had 3 queens in a row – Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix – all of whom abdicated in old age in favor of their successor.

William III of the Netherlands

William III of the Netherlands

 

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Beatrix and Queen Maxima

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Beatrix and Queen Maxima

The Dutch have had a somewhat tortured history with monarchy.  William of Nassau led the Dutch Revolt against Spain and his title as the independent Prince of Orange (in Southern France) gave him some protection as a sovereign prince.  Yet he was never a King and merely the Stadtholder of  most of the 7 provinces, his brother being the Stadtholder of the rest.  Yet it was the title of Statdtholder of Holland and Zeeland that was key and gave William his title of Captain-General of the Dutch armies and essentially military dictator.  It was also here where the Republican movement was strongest and the resistance to the quasi-monarchial aspects of the Stadtholderate was strongest.

 The Netherlands went through two “Stadtholderless” periods in 5 out of the 7 provinces.  The first from 1650 – 72 after the death of William II until the French invasion.  The second from 1702-1747 after the death of William III (also King of England, Scotland and Ireland) until military failures in another war with France.  The Stadtholders were packed off into exile during the French revolution but the son of the last Stadtholder was restored as King of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (including Belgium and Luxembourg broke away in the 1830s.  Luxembourg went to a male relative after the death of Willem III in 1890.  In the Dutch remnant of the Netherlands, the House of Orange-Nassau has prospered.

Like most of the European monarchies the monarchy is largely ceremonial.  Thanks to the business acumen of Wilhemina, the Dutch Royal House is one of the wealthiest.

The new Queen Maxima also becomes the second Latin American Queen in Europe – after Queen Sylvia of Sweden.  The new King Willem-Alexander will only briefly break the chain of female rule in what should probably be referred to as a Queendom.  He has only daughters and the new heiress to the throne and new Princess of Orange is his daughter Catharina-Amalia.

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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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