Should We Stop Caring When the Bombs Stop Dropping?

The mainstream media would have us believe that the barometer of success in Gaza is dependent on how many Qassam rockets are fired into southern Israel. After 1,300 Palestinians were killed in twenty-two days, a tenuous ceasefire took effect. Yet, a number of political analysts assert that even many in the progressive media have gone silent on Palestinian human rights.

This week, the Israeli defense establishment promised more "pinpoint strikes" in Gaza (reminiscent of "targeted assassinations" that have killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians). While President Obama appointed George Mitchell as Middle East envoy and gave Arab news outlet Al Arabiya his first interview, his policy positions have been vague at best. But is it too soon to be asking for the President’s Middle East blueprint?

Last Monday, Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of the Nation, Mark Green, the President of Air America Radio and the author of Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President, Andrea Batista Schlesinger, the Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute, and Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of the Electronic Intifada and the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse discussed Obama’s first week in office and engaged in a lively debate on the issue of Palestine.

BART cop's defense: I thought my gun was a Taser

Oh really? This is going to be the defense of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART officer who executed a handcuffed, down-on-the-ground, 22-year-old Oscar Grant on a transit platform.  (Raw Story):

According to files released Friday, Johannes Mehserle, the Bay Area Rapid Transit officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day, told a fellow officer he planned to shock Grant with his Taser, not shoot him.

…The court documents, which contain statements from fellow BART officers present during the shooting, indicate that Mehserle had intended to use a Taser on Grant.

“I’m going to taze him, I’m going to taze him,” Mehserle said, according to Officer Tony Pirone. “I can’t get his arms. He won’t give me his arms. His hands are going for his waistband.”

…”The judge said Mehserle’s statements ‘seem to be inconsistent’ because if Mehserle truly believed that Grant had a gun then Mehserle would have been justified to pull out his gun and use deadly force and wouldn’t have needed to use his Taser,” said KTVU.

Stupidly, the BART police chief compromised the investigation to the point that an outside agency has to take it over. Why? Look at this:

Also on Friday, it was announced that an outside agency would take over the shooting investigation, displacing BART Police Chief Gary Gee after he circulated a memo describing how BART employees might go about sending money and material comforts to Mehserle.

“It is unacceptable for the police chief, who ostensibly is investigating Mehserle and other officers … To encourage officers to visit and make financial contributions to Mehserle,” said John Burris, who represents Oscar Grant’s family.

Let’s go to that videotape again:


Career Opportunities


This is probably a little bit inside baseball  but what the hell, all I pretty much do is blog about bloggers anyway.

Memeorandum is kind of a one-stop shopping area for bloggers to check out what the hot stories are and who else is blogging about them. Usually the top stories are not blogs blogging about blogs, but today was different. And if your name happened to be Roger Simon, the above is what you had to look at most of the afternoon.

Sucks to be Roger who just went from being themanwhocreatedmoseswine to themanwhomadewingnutbloggerswhine.

Over at the newly renamed Pull My Finger Media™, Roger decides to rub a little salt in the wound:

Actually that part of our business has been losing money from the beginning, so the people getting their quarterly checks from PJM were getting a form of stipend from us in the hopes that advertisers would start to cotton to blogs and we could possibly make a profit. Didn’t happen. No wonder those people are kicking and screaming now that they are off the dole. I might too.

"Off the dole"?

Nice touch. Nothing like first insulting and then making the PJM network bloggers have to tell their tens of readers that they are being thrust from the PJM nest and will probably plummet to the ground, landing with a sickening thud only to lie there twisted, broken and writhing in excruciating pain until the ants come and begin to feast on their still living flesh, their silent cries unheard..

On a lighter note, Roger has a book coming out next week:


Either the timing of this was a weird coincidence or possibly the most brilliant and twisted marketing campaign ever.

Oh, sweet mama. And I thought the Obama years were going to be no fun.

Franken-Coleman Update, 01/30-31/09: Lies, Danged Lies, and Statistics

franken-coleman-court.thumbnail.jpgHello, folks!  Sorry about the lack of updates for yesterday.  The problem is that there was a stunning lack of action, as the Election Contest Court adjourned after only half a day’s work yesterday; the most notable thing was that the Coleman people managed not to screw anything up and may have actually scored a point — though whether that winds up actually helping them in the end is up for debate.  Much of the real action, in fact, happened during the ECC’s afternoon hearing on various motions, including a key summary judgment motion — and even then there were no rulings made yesterday.

The morning belonged to Joe Mansky, the elections manager for Ramsey County, Minnesota’s second-most-populous county and where the city of Saint Paul is located.  Eric Kleefeld notes that the Coleman camp quizzed him and scored what on the surface sounds like a coup:

While examining Ramsey County (St. Paul) elections director Joe Mansky this morning, Coleman attorney John Rock was able to secure an expert opinion that the most likely reason for some of the voting discrepancies that Coleman has complained about is that a number of absentee ballots were accidentally counted twice, thanks to a duplication process for damaged ballots and a failure to label them properly.

Franken’s attorneys will be cross-examining Mansky on Monday; it will be interesting to see how they counter this.   A hint may have been provided by their getting a deposition from local conservative blogger and St. Cloud State University economics professor King Banaian, who the Coleman people apparently wanted to testify on their behalf —  but don’t be surprised if they change their minds, as you’ll soon see.  

As local non-conservative blogger Spotty of The Cucking Stool notes, Team Coleman wants Banaian to testify about what they want to spin as a nasty and partisan difference in the rejection rate among various counties in Minnesota, presumably to push their ‘equal protection’ gambit. (This, as I mentioned earlier this week, is why the Coleman people are now arguing that absentee voting is a right, whereas up until a couple of weeks ago they’d argued that it was a privilege; if it’s a privilege, then equal protection doesn’t apply.)  Spotty then relates how David J. Burman, the deposing lawyer, handled the deposition: He got Banaian to admit that he got his data from the Coleman campaign, and also that all of the fancy statistical footwork the good professor brings to bear does nothing to show that any of the alleged excess rejections were illegal or incorrect in any way, or that elections officials were a cause, much less the sole cause as the Coleman camp wants to imply.

 As a commenter of Spotty’s said:   "The testimony probably won’t make it to court, because the results only indicate that they’re anomalous in an over-simplified binomial model, but KB would get destroyed on cross based on a flawed and statistically incorrect analysis.  C’mon, their expert statistical analysis is provided by a partisan Econ prof who does stats with obscurely-labeled Excel spreadsheets and doesn’t know what SAS or SPSS stands for?"

Ben & Jerry (probably not) Solicits Bush-inspired Ice Cream Flavors

So the following email just arrived in my mailbox. Enjoy!

Ben & Jerry have created "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama. For George W. they they asked for suggestions from the public. Here are some of their favorite responses:

– Grape Depression – The Housing Crunch – Abu Grape – Cluster Fudge – Nut’n Accomplished – Iraqi Road – Chock ‘n Awe – WireTapioca – Impeach Cobbler – Guantanmallow – imPeachmint – Heck of a Job, Brownie! – Neocon Politan – RockyRoad to Fascism – The Reese’s-cession – Cookie D’oh! – Nougalar Proliferation – Death by Chocolate… and Torture – Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream – Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder – Credit Crunch – Mission Pecanplished – Country Pumpkin – Chunky Monkey in Chief – WMDelicious – Chocolate Chimp – Bloody Sundae – Caramel Preemptive Stripe – I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands . . . with nuts

Pretty clever. I’d vote for the last one. It makes up in a catchy honesty for what it lacks in conciseness! Any fave or suggestion?

Washington’s Most Exclusive Club

People who have Barack Obama’s email address:

In just the first few weeks, I’ve had to engage in some of the toughest diplomacy of my life. And that was just to keep my Blackberry. I finally agreed to limit the number of people who could email me. It’s a very exclusive list. How exclusive?

Everyone look at the person sitting on your left. Now look at the person sitting on your right. None of you have my email address.

BREAKING: In Shocking Development, Free Market, Conservatism Discovered Incompatible

The demise of Jammies Media is of course hilarious, but it’s also instructive, in a very hilarious way. Jane the Boss of the Blog suggested why earlier tonight:

The online right exhausted itself during the Bush years because there was no limit to the propaganda they would push to defend indefensible kleptocrats who wrapped themselves in the flag. They shot their credibility. If it wasn’t for wingnut welfare operations like Pajamas Media (R.I.P.), Heritage and other right-wing think tanks like Claremont (who subsidize the Power Tools), it’s hard to imagine that public enthusiasm for the "Big Lie" would have seen traffic levels sufficient to keep them afloat.

Forsooth and forshizzle! But the rot goes even deeper. I’ve said it often enough before: the problem with "conservatism" as it is currently evangelized is that it is really, really stupid. The Jammies Media mess is the "conservative" mess in microcosm.

The whole PJ’s thing was preposterous on its face, as any number of people pointed out at the time, often quite scabrously. There were a lot of reasons to think this, not the least of which was the obvious fact that the people running it were, and remain, morons. But the biggest problem facing the Jammies enterprise was always ideological.

Pajamas Media was based on the grandiose premise that it could provide some sort of counter to the dreaded MSM with its wicked liberal bias and its out-and-out plumping for the Democratic Party. It wasn’t started, it would seem, with the intent of making money, as the spectacularly incompetent rollout indicated, except perhaps as an afterthought. No, it was, essentially, a halfassed or quarterassed… jihad, really. The Jammies crowd was supposed to Lead a New Media Revolution against the Legacy Media and lift the curtain on certain Truths that had been Vouchsafed to the Enlightened. Namely, that the media is Liberal, that global warming is a hoax, that the Bush approach to the Middle East was Wise, that Harry Reid is a Stalinist, that the Republican Party was Pure and the Democrat Party Corrupt, that Social Security was in imminent crisis, that Hollywood is about communist indoctrination and not about dollars — and so on, and so forth, world with out end, Amen!

But all of this was, and remains, from an empirical perspective, absolute horseshit. You would have had to be a complete and total mental patient to have ever believed a word of it: Exhibit A.

All the Twittering and messaging in the world can’t change the fact that in business as in politics, you can use bullshit to blow up a bubble, but that’s pretty much it. "Conservatives" might under certain foreseeable scenarios someday return to power, but as things stand, without a thoroughgoing attempt to grapple with consensus reality, there is no prospect of them ever again becoming remotely capable of governing. And this sort of shit just won’t cut it:

Speakers at the gathering included such familiar faces as Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, Club for Growth founder and Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Stephen Moore, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, pollsters Rich Thau and David Winston, and return-of-the-Republican message guru Frank Luntz. They skewed conservative, and they offered plenty of Reagan references.

I bet they did. The failed and the insane: how cutting edge.

CBO Cost Report and Testimony on Stimulus Bill

I found these links at the econbrowser blog:

I notice in the comments to the econbrowser post that there is considerable skepticism regardign the source of the multiplier estimates, and very notion that any kind of government expenditure is not a complete waste (at least, any above that required for a nightwatchman state needed to keep gangs of thugs from invading your house and taking your stuff).

That view is seems very respectable in the media clips that I have seen.

I am disappointed in the lack of reference to historical and empirical evidence in the debate so far. I am going to dive into the internets and try to collect some reviews, or summaries, or something or other, and will let you know what I find over the next few days. I am not a specialist in macroeconomics, and these macro types are rather mysterious people with mysterious ways (regardless of ideology) so wish me luck.

My only comment from what I have read so far, is that one reason for the tax cuts seems to be to get some very quick stimulus, and that might happen if the cuts are targeted towards lower and lower middle income groups. I don’t see how that use would make some of the business tax cuts a good idea (even ones that might be good on their own, such as cuts for new business investment).

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf’s testimony
The State of the Economy and Issues in Developing an Effective Policy Response

found via econbrowser blog post:

Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate
H.R. 1: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

found via econbroswer bog post

You can keep yourself posted at:

First Diary and Cruise Report

Well it’s been a week since we got back and so I guess it’s time I wrote this before the memory fades any more. This is going to be “stream of consciousness,” to some extent.

Yes, one last time, it was THE Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches Cruise. I can hardly express what it means to me to go on it – it’s like a pilgrim going to the Wailing Wall, the Al-Masjid al-?ar?m, the Vatican or some other sacred shrine.

For unlike some, this ol’ secular codger’s religion is music…and yes, the music that touches MY soul. Might not touch yours but this is MY tale. Delbert has inspired me for most of my adult life. He’s also, through his collaborations, made me aware of others who’ve lit my nose hairs on fire.

Day one. Man, last night I played the last gig with a band that ultimately didn’t suit me. Got home around 12 and spent time finishing up the packing, which included two guitars, capos, slides, extra strings, picks, floor tuner, dvds for the video camera, battery charger for the video batteries, batteries for the still camera. Whew, god DAYAM, glad that’s done. OH SHIT, can’t forget CDs, some folks (more…)