Category Archives: Politics

Register to Vote, Its for the Kittehs

Protect Your Kitties, Vote Hillary

By two_kittehs

False Equivalence, New York Times edition

New York Times has failed as a newspaper this election season. The big scoops about Trump are coming from Washington Post and Newsweek, while the  hometown newspaper is asleep at the switch.  Even today, NYT is on the both-sides-do-it wagon soft pedaling of Trump’s hate and bigotry. It happened after the immigration speech and it happened again this morning. Their headline this morning reads:

Bitter, Personal Tone Marks 2nd Trump Clinton Debate

 

Sounds like a bickering match of he said, she said with both parties equally to blame doesn’t it? That’s not what I saw, this is what I saw when I made myself watch yesterday’s debate.

* Trump stalked Hillary Clinton throughout the debate

* Said bragging about sexual assault is OK because ISIS

* He had no clue about what he was talking about be it Syria or healthcare or Russia.

* He admitted as much in so many words about Russia

* He wants give Putin a complete free rein in Syria and elsewhere

* He promised to jail Hillary Clinton like his idol Putin does to his political opponents

* Tried to relitigate Bill Clinton’s infidelities as a negative against Hillary

*Repeated what do black people have to lose by voting for him, line

*Demonized ordinary Muslim citizens and Syrian refugees fleeing war

*Called Hillary Clinton, the devil

*Did not answer a single question, just repeated his fact-free bilious stump speech replete with conspiracy theories

Compared to the toddler tantrum that Trump threw on the debate stage for an hour and half, Hillary Clinton was a model of restraint and civility. She has nerves of steel, I was sputtering with rage at Trump’s indecent and ignorant behavior in my living room. No matter how low Trump goes, New York Times normalizes his behavior and enables him. Paper of record, indeed.

 

Don't turn around!

By chech1965

* Thanks to chech 1965 for letting me use his lol.

From Russia, With Love

Congratulations GOP, you  have just installed Putin’s puppet as your nominee. Isn’t it curious how Trump’s foreign policy objectives align so completely with what Putin wants. The mainstream media has just woken up to Trump’s soft corner for Russia.  While they were obsessing about Hillary Clinton’s email servers, Adam Silverman over at Balloon Juice was on to it even during the primaries.

In the Republican nominee’s  New York Times interview he is signaling the end of NATO and that the United States will renege on its treaty obligations. He is willing to throw everything successive administrations since WW II have built,down the toilet, just so that he appears tough.

Mr. Trump  wants the United States to run  NATO like an extortion racket.    His proposals resemble dinner rants of your drunk uncle who everyone in the family goes out of their way to avoid. He wants to destroy the post war world order. He seems to be unaware of his own ignorance and is proud of it. He is evil and stupid, a dangerous combination. The Republican party has placed him on the path to power, to destroy the world as we know it. Hillary Clinton is all that stands between us and  Trump induced mayhem.

She Is the Champion, My Friends

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton, became the first woman to clinch the nomination of a major party for the President of the United States. I was an Obot in 2008 and was not completely taken in by Hillary Clinton when the primary season started even this time around. I was hoping that some one else would emerge on the scene like Barack Obama had 8 years earlier. However, as the primary season went on I slowly drifted into Hillary’s corner, mainly because her competition was pathetic. Maryland governor O’Malley looked good on paper but failed to make any impression, Jim Webb seemed like he had wandered into the wrong primary contest, I just could not see the  appeal of his Scots-Irish shtick to the Democratic electorate.  I was always skeptical of Bernie Sanders because his record in office did not match his soaring rhetoric. When it came to issues like immigration and gun control Bernie Sanders positions as a Congressman and then a Senator had not been particularly progressive.

As the contest went on it became increasingly obvious that Sanders policy expertise was tissue thin and besides rhetoric he had little to offer. At this stage of the campaign he has proved himself no better than a toddler throwing a tantrum because he did not get his way.

Hillary Clinton is a survivor and a champion fighter. She has had more brickbats than bouquets thrown at her  and she still soldiers on. I salute her resilience and spirit. I envy the energy she brings to the fight day in and day out, no matter what.

So to celebrate her  historic win after a hard fought and a long battle I offer you, We are the Champions, by Queen for the Queen. The lyrics could have been written by Hillary  herself!

I’ve paid my dues
Time after time
I’ve done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand
Kicked in my face
But I’ve come through

 

Trump, the Republican Nominee

I never thought I would type these words but Trump, the insult comic with a distinctive hairstyle, is the Republican nominee after his win in yesterday’s Indiana primary. We all knew this moment was coming but were hoping against hope that sanity would prevail among the insane. No such luck for us. We are stuck with the bastard child of the GOP and the so-called liberal media, at least until November. I believe congratulations are in order to the proud parents.

First of all congratulations to the Republican party. Your party’s descent into hell is now complete. You are  now the party of Trump. No longer can you hide behind the fig leaf of plausible deniability. Your eight years of relentless Obama hate has reached its logical conclusion. You built it and now there is no running away from it. He embodies your demonization of the Obama coalition in flesh. Good job!

Also congratulations are in order to the brave defenders of truth in the press, especially the  both-sides-do-it Pundit class. After grading Bush II on a curve and giving him a pass on all his fuck-ups till a major American city drowned on his watch, you descended like a pack of hyenas on President Obama,  5 minutes after he was sworn in. You gave Trump a platform for his noxious birther nonsense against the President. You aired his every noxious combustible utterance. You must be as proud as Prof. Frankenstein of your creation, now that he has gone on to win the nomination of the Republican party.

Party of Lincoln now the Party of Trump

By two_kittehs

A New Low For the News Hour

Just one week after giving a woman sporting white power tattoos a forum, PBS News Hour gave a platform to the known credentialed bigot and author of the Bell Curve, Charles Murray in its weekly segment on economics, Making Sense. This segment usually makes little sense since it  is hosted by the economic illiterate and sneering doofus Paul Solman. Solman introduced Murray, as an economist. Murray’s training is in political science not economics.

The topic at hand was the rise of Trump. According to Murray, people support Trump because elites are mean to them. Examples of elites were people in the media, a conservative boogeyman. The grievances of people who support Trump may be legitimate but supporting Trump is going to do zero to alleviate them. Murray’s analysis is plain wrong, Hollywood  or the “liberal” media did not create their problems but the 1% favoring policies of tax cutting, deregulation and union busting favored by most Republicans are the cause of their woes, which Murray was mum about.

By the way where can I find this mythical beast of the liberal media? What passes for liberal media on TV these days  is nothing more than conventional wisdom soaked, Republican friendly claptrap and PBS (Pure Bull Shit) News Hour is no exception to this trend.

So tired of the both-sides-do-it BS

By two_kittehs

Bihar gives India a Diwali Gift: An In-Depth Analysis of the Assembly Elections

The results of the Bihar Assembly elections are in, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has received quite a drubbing. BJP led alliance has won less than one third (58) of the total seats (243).  Mr. Modi and his handpicked party chief Mr. Amit Shah in their infinite wisdom had made the election all about Mr. Modi. BJP had no  candidate for the chief minister’s post and they had also benched popular Bihari politicians from the BJP from active campaigning while BJP’s opposition coalesced into one group.

Fresh elections became necessary because the incumbent chief minister Mr. Nitish Kumar’s decided to withdraw from the coalition with BJP — he could not stomach Mr Modi as the candidate for PM. Nitish Kumar knew that he could not win the fight alone so he formed an alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress. Lalu as Mr. Prasad is affectionately known took the fight to Modi and his chamchas (rough translation: cronies). Yes, Lalu is  no saint and has a checkered past and few fans in the Indian English language media but he is a fighter and gave as good as he got. His Twitter feed is a hoot. He also had a home field advantage and rhetorically he can run rings around Mr. Modi in Hindi, which is not Mr. Modi’s first language.

Another inexplicable BJP campaign strategy was to berate Biharis and Bihar. If there is  one thing Indians can’t stand is a person from another state coming and giving them lectures and telling them to their face that they are stupid. The Bihari vs. Bahari (outsider) issue got lots of traction. This is BJP’s second loss in the Hindi heartland. BJP stalwarts from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet like Mr. Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha have been among the biggest critics of these tactics.

Mr. Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India just last year. His party won an outright majority to the lower House of the Indian Parliament. This was the first time in almost thirty years that any party had managed this feat. Mr. Modi ran on an agenda of economic reform and job growth.  BJP also won state assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana shortly after. So why did it all go south for Mr. Modi in such a short time?

The Backdrop to the Recent Elections

Was this drubbing inevitable and how does one explain this in light of the Modi wave of 2014? The answer is simple, the mandate was for economic development, more jobs better infrastructure etc not to enact Sangh hobby horses like banning beef consumption. However, instead of focusing on an agenda of economic development, BJP governments at the state level started enacting bans against consumption and sale of beef. These bans have given a license to bullies to harass those whose livelihood depends on beef. The lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh is the result same phenomena carried to its logical horrific end.

Then there was the assassination of Prof. M. M. Kalburgi in Karnataka, latest in the string of politically motivated assassinations of the outspoken critics of the version of Hinduism the Sangh champions. The modus operandi of the so called protectors of Hinduism is pretty simple. They try to silence the people who criticize them by calling them names and kill those who won’t be silenced. What do Modi and the BJP have to do with all this?

I blame them for enabling the ugliness and the prejudices that already exists to come to fore and be expressed without fear of any repercussions in  the public square. Just last week BJP spokesperson said this about the beloved and the most popular Indian actor of his generation, Shahrukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan may live in India but his heart belongs to Pakistan. Although, his films make millions here but he dares call India intolerant.

He then went on to call him a traitor.  All this abuse because Shahrukh Khan added his voice to the chorus of other creative professionals who had expressed concern about the growing intolerance to opposing view points in Modi’s India. However, none else got called a traitor other than Shahrukh.

Amit Shah the head of the BJP had this to say at an election rally in Bihar, said that if his party lost in Bihar,

crackers will be burst in Pakistan.

The toxic ideology of Hindutva and divisive tactics give cover to the reactionaries who perpetrate acts like the assassinating Prof. Kalburgi and give rise to a chilling atmosphere meant to silence the critics of their radical agenda. Many eminent writers were dismayed by this trend that they started returning their Sahitya Akademi (Indian Academy of Arts and Letters) awards to register their protest against what they saw as a climate of rising intolerance. Prof. Kalburgi was a recipient of the prestigious award and the academy was silent about his death for weeks. Many other artists and scientists have also followed suit. So far 36 writers and poets have returned their awards.

The Long View

The only way a country as diverse as India can survive and thrive, is to live and let live.  India is not a monolith and never has been. India has tremendous linguistic (more than 20 major languages spoken) diversity and it has been home to almost every religion practiced in the world. Not just Hinduism and Islam but also Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, not to mention Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Also,  there is a lot of regional variation as to how Hinduism is practiced in India. It bears little resemblance to the Hindutva preached by the Sanghis (denizens of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh or the National Volunteer Corps). Narendra Modi has deep roots in the RSS, he was an RSS pracharak (pracharak: propagandist/evangelist).

The roots of the Hindutva can be traced to back to the days of the British rule. India’s diversity was seen by many as the one of the main reasons why a handful of British could rule a vast subcontinent.  According to this school of thought, the British gained a foothold in India exploiting the differences that already existed.

Indian nationalists in the British era could be broadly divided into two groups,  one that celebrated the diversity as a strength not a weakness, while the other that thought of it as a weakness to be overcome. This group blamed all of India’s erst while troubles on the other and idolized a distant past when their community held the sway. The Congress and India took the first route while the Muslim League took the second, as their respective paths to independence. The ideology of Hindutva which the Sangh subscribes to, is a mirror image of the Muslim League’s ideology.

The Hindutva movement has  more in common with the fascist movements of the early 20th century in Europe rather than ancient India. Starting with their uniform of brown pants, right down to their salute. If you don’t believe me you can read the Sangh’s founding fathers and make up your own mind. The Sangh may don the mantle of the protector of all Hindus, but it is little more than a fascist cult where indoctrination begins early. These self appointed soldiers of Hinduism who presume to speak for all Hindus, take basic tenets that most (but not all) Hindus abide by and then use them as a wedge issue to create division and hatred. Take the issue in the news, consumption of beef. While it is true that many  Hindus don’t eat beef, most don’t care if someone else does. The Sangh’s vision for India is narrow and poorly imagined. They want homogeneity  and have little appreciation of the mosaic that is India. There is more to India than the Sangh’s mantra of, Hindu good and Muslim bad. India’s rich legacy belongs to all Indians, not just these self proclaimed and self righteous appropriators.

So when BJP got its first outright majority at the center it was not surprising that Modi did not rein in the crazies in the party.  In Sangh circles their thinking is not crazy at all but  mainstream. That’s why the election in Bihar was so important because it is going to be extremely difficult for the BJP and RSS brass to dismiss all of Bihar as liberals, pseudo-secularists, Marxists or Pakistan lovers or whatever epithet du jour the Sangh uses to bully those who don’t agree with their outlook.

The Finale

The voters in Bihar have rejected the demagoguery  and for that I am thankful. It’s also a reminder to the Gujarati combine of Modi and Shah that rest of India is not as receptive as their home state of Gujarat to the cause of militant vegetarianism and the paranoid, Muslim baiting version of Hinduism. The mandate Mr. Modi received last year was for economic change, not a green signal to make India a Hindu theocracy based on the tenets cooked up by the Sangh.

This tale has a happy ending. The Modi-Shah combine lost Bihar and the voters of one of India’s poorest states took on the Narakasura* of religious bigotry and won.

Happy Diwali!

*Yesterday was the first day of Diwali, also known as Naraka Chaturdashi, which celebrates Krishna’s victory over the rakshas (demon) Narakasura.

David Brooks Pimps Rubio and Ryan

After his brief foray into the land of intellectual honesty, David Brooks, is back to pimping toxic Republican policies and politicians who espouse them.

Voters don’t have to know the details of their nominee’s agenda, but they have to know that the candidate is capable of having an agenda.

Don’t worry your pretty little head about Marco’s agenda just know that he has one and chose him, just like I have, says Brooks. He is pretty for a politician and has R after his what more can a columnist/ Republican shill want? Then he says this about Jeb:

He would probably be a very effective president. And he would have been a very effective candidate — but in 1956.

Is Brooks calling Jeb, Eisenhower? What is the evidence for this hyperbole. Apart from fixing the election in Florida in his brother’s favor what exactly are Jeb Bush’s accomplishments.

Ted Cruz looks likely to emerge as the candidate of the disaffected white working class — the noncollege-educated voters who are now registering their alienation and distrust with Trump.

A Harvard and Princeton alumnus is now the tribune for the disaffected according to Brooks. His own newspaper however says otherwise, far from being the voice of the working class, Cruz is the darling of hedge fund managers, who have donated generously to his campaign.

Coming back to Rubio, who has been hailed as the fresh face to look out for by the Beltway types for over year, has nothing to offer but stale ideas where policy is concerned.

His policy on taxes is the same as other Republicans.

He would simplify the tax code, reduce rates and move us toward a consumption-based system by reducing taxes on investment.

His bold new initiative according to Brooks

He adds a big $2,500 child tax credit that is controversial among conservative economists, but that would make life easier for working families.

In what world is $2500 tax credit, a big credit? That’s probably less than what Brooks gets paid per column. Also what if you don’t have any children?

Rubio is also trying to sell other warmed over stale Republican ideas like wage subsidies i.e. paying employers to hire people and flex funds that the states would administer instead of the Federal government. Giving power to the states may sound good on paper, but in reality, it has meant giving power to the states to screw over their most vulnerable members, usually minorities and women.  A look at the map of uninsured Americans is a telling example of what happens when the administration of social welfare policies are left up to the states

According Brooks, Rubio is an apostle of the new so called reform conservatism, which is nothing but old snake oil in new bottle. Reform conservative nostrums for the ailing economy are like telling a person who is a bleeding from a head wound, that it would be good if they also lost some weight. Yes, losing weight would be good in the long term, but you need to stanch the bleeding right now.

In economic terms, job losses and rising inequality are mainly the result of the demand shock following the financial crash, not some structural weakness In the economy. While fixing the structural problems is a good idea, a patient suffering from heavy blood loss needs a transfusion not lectures on how to improve his overall health by healthy eating and exercise. When the economy needed a stimulus, the equivalent of a blood transfusion, to make up for the private sector entrenchment, most Republican legislators voted against it.

If Ryan and Rubio do emerge as the party’s two leaders, it will be the wonkiest leadership team in our lifetime. That’s a good thing.

Rubio and Ryan are not wonks, they are smooth snake oil salesmen, of whom the beltway media approves, since they are easy on the eyes and better at peddling the economics that favors the media types and their friends than your average Republican legislator.

Election in Bihar

The third phase of voting in the  Bihar, the thirteenth largest state in India and a part of the Hindi heartland, is coming to a close.  Although, right nowit is known for its intractable corruption and sleaze, even by Indian political standards, it  was once the heart of the Indian civilization. Buddha preached here and Patliputra, now Patna, was the seat of  the  Maurya empire which reached its zenith in Ashoka’s time.

This race hasn’t received much coverage in the major media outlets over here but is being followed with bated breath in India. The incumbent chief minister is Nitish Kumar from Janata Dal, one of the many socialist parties of India.  Many see this as a referendum on the Modi government. Last year Narendra Modi ‘s Bharatiya Janata Party won the national elections decisively and was able to form a government without the help of any other parties.  This was the  first time ever, that  a party other than the Congress had been able to do so at the Center*. Another important figure in Bihar politics is Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal. Laloo was the chief minister of Bihar in the nineties and more recently India’s railway minister.

After a year the shine has worn off Modi and his government. Despite all the talk of economic development, wherever BJP was elected at the state level they pushed through their hobby horse of banning beef and other such reactionary measures, which most voters could care less about.  The polls indicate a tight race. Stay tuned for an update.

Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav (from left to right)

* Janata Party  defeated the Congress at the hustings in 1977. Technically it was a single party, in reality it was an uneasy coming together of various socialist parties and BJP’s precursor, Jan Sangh.  The party broke-up under the weight of its own contradictions before completing an entire term in office.

Next Speaker?

By two_kittehs

What do you think? I am leaning towards a no.