Friday, April 19, 2013

Some Sirota, Krugman, & Chait Commentary

A double-flowering Kwanzan cherry tree at 16th and T Streets NW in full bloom at dusk in the glare of a streetlight, Washington, D.C., 8:16PM April 18, 2013.


OK, I wrote this on Wednesday into the wee hours of Thursday, but I simply did not have the appropriate number of pictures to post the entry. I am going to start again and post it in the wee hours of Friday. This is a political-themed entry ...

For starters, read David Sirota's April 17th controversial Salon piece "Let's hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American" linked here. His point is that if the Boston bomber is a right-wing radicalized white American male, then "white privilege" will kick in, and the bomber will be treated as a "lone wolf" and the event divorced of any context.

By contrast, if it is an Arab and/or Muslim -- in keeping with John King's stupid and totally embarrassingly wrong "dark-skinned" man CNN report of an arrest on Wednesday -- then it is an existential threat that upends our politics and policies and creates new opportunities for all-terror-all-the time media hysteria, imperialistic misadventures and neocon war-mongering, and the corporate quasi-fascistic and oligarchical military/surveillance state to continue to metastasize.

OK, he didn't say all that but that's basically the point.

CNN's false arrest story in the Boston Marathon bombing case at 2:25PM EDT April 17, 2013.


And here is his follow up piece -- after the original was picked up by the Razzle-Dazzle Right-Wing Media / Entertainment and Outrage Machine / Alternate Bubbled Reality from Drudge to Rush the-Pigboy.

CNN's corrected arrest story in the Boston Marathon bombing case at 2:43PM EDT April 17, 2013.


Oh, yes, to clarify: while there are leads and a massive investigation underway, and the FBI on Thursday released a video and pictures of two "suspects" in the Boston Marathon bombings that involved two bombs placed in pressure cooker pots near the finish line. The bombs killed 3 and injured about 170 some with very serious injuries and amputations.

FBI released surveillance camera pictures of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing case, April 18, 2013.

NOTE: The FBI has released new pictures at 2AM Friday (see above link).

NOTE 2 (3:18AM 4/19/2013): There is some sort of huge police operation and violent standoff underway tonight in Watertown, Mass., that is probably connected to the Boston Marathon bombings.


I will say that at least CNN is concerned with being accurate. The atavistic animals at The New York Post -- whose behavior in all of this has been nothing short of criminal including in its utterly factually and libelously wrong front page edition on Thursday -- have no such sensibilities or concerns.

Garbage and lie New York Post print edition headline on April 18, 2013 falsely identifying two young men -- at least one of whom was Arab / Middle Eastern -- as likely culprits in the Boston Marathon bombing.

It's time to call on shitty American libertarians everywhere why this kind of garbage "journalism" is the Best of All Possible Free Market Worlds.


Secondly, for starters, read this news article about how a graduate student and two professors at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst showed a seminal 2010 study by two respect Harvard economists -- Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff -- venerated by austerity-loving professional centrist pundits and right-wing politicians everywhere was basically bogus.

"R and R" published a scholarly article in Jan. 2010 entitled "Growth in a Time of Debt" that that concluded that countries with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90 percent or higher historically had negative economic growth. This figure has been endlessly cited as an established "fact" by the Beltway MediaWhore Establishment with deficit obsessions and German-style "austerity" for the poor / unemployed / suffering.

The Amherst group showed that the findings -- which R and R themselves gladly allowed to be flogged in opportunistic manner -- were bullshit because of basic coding errors and strange assumptions such as exclusion of certain high debt countries' post-WWII strong economic performance.

For a good summary of the many problems see this piece by Mike Konzcal.

Here are some of Paul Krugman's blog entries this week on the matter (with links embedded):

#Holy Colding Error, Batman
#Reinhart-Rogoff, Continued
#Further Further Thoughts on Death by Excel
#Blame the Pundits, Too**
#Correlation, Causality, and Casuistry

**This piece notes how the "Very Serious People" embodied in The WaHoPo editorial board used the "R/R" paper as a "fact" to urge austerity in the face of high unemployment and an economy suffering from a big demand side shortage in the deleveraging shock following the housing / financial bubble burst in 2007 - 2008).

As Atrios might say, Fred Hiatt is a wanker's wanker, but he's just doing his master's. Idiot.

In short, it was basically the "smoking gun" argument used by the same feckless media pundit jackasses who helped to sell Bush's Iraq War catastrophe to claim imminent apocalypse if we didn't destroy Social Security and Medicare -- and just as bogus.

I hope Krugman writes about this in his Friday NYT op-ed.

UPDATED: Paul Krugman indeed wrote about this quite eloquently in his Friday April 19th, 2013 op-ed.

Despite all this, though, and as Alex Pareene correctly observed, this revelation is unlikely to change anybody's mind.

This is because belief in austerity is just that -- a Calvinist sensibility divorced from actual real world economics.


Lastly, Jonathan Chait had a good piece on why the gun bill being considered by the Senate never had a chance as relates to America's dysfunctional and broken legislative branch.

Three amendments including the background checks one were defeated on Thursday by the now-familiar abuse of the filibuster with idiot Harry Reid enabled by not changing the Senate's rules this session (otherwise they would have passed, regardless of their fate in the right-wing loony bin that is the House of Representatives). Chait hits on themes I've discussed on this blog before -- when I've cited Michael Lind's writings on the subject of America's severely broken Federal legislative branch.

That branch will be "fixed" at some point in the future -- maybe 10 to 20 years from now -- but (again to cite Michael Lind) it is likely to be under a hard-right Republican president who simply starts ruling by decree.

For his part, President No Drama Obama stamped his foot and made angry noises, but those were just empty words. He still thinks he can get people to his side with the force of his empty and disdainful personality.

Yellow flowers blooming in the small yard of the Fund for American Studies at 1706 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 7:24PM April 18, 2013.


OK, that's all for now. I will try to post a Friday night musical interlude, but it may not be until Saturday evening. Oh, yes, I had a good three-part gym workout tonight including treadmill, a half-hour intense session with Tony (my first in 6 weeks with him), and swimming pool. My weight tonight was 156.5 pounds. Thereafter, I met Kristof at Larry's Lounge.


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