Tag: Paul Krugman

Holy Shit – David Brooks makes a good point!

I never thought I’d see the day, but David Brooks just made a point that made me slap my head and wonder why it didn’t occur to me before.  I dunno how he did it.


And Americans are not going to want to see this stopped. When an African-American man is leading a juggernaut to the White House, do you want to be the one to stand up and say No?

I don’t see that many will.  I don’t see how they can.  I thought the story from here was going to be “How will Obama blow it?”  But what I see coming is different, after reading those words.  The good story, and the only one nearly anyone can get away with, is the coronation of an American legend-to-be.  And if that is true, then the Obama campaign we’ve all maligned is actually a work of brilliance.  Because he hasn’t said anything that can really offend anyone.  Who wants to speak out against hope, against unity, against healing divides, much less to do so against a candidate whose very candidacy is a testament to the kind of progress this nation has made?

Indeed, is this displayed in any way better than by the pathetic nature of Paul Krugman’s swipe at Obama in his column today?  (As an aside, I am taking great satisfaction in watching Krugman’s unraveling as a columnist, which is clearly a result of the loss of his dispassionate eye for the truth as an economist which got him the gig in the first place.)  How, after today, can you possibly see anyone truly getting away with going after Barack Obama as “shallow”?  If he is shallow, then the entire American mythos is shallow (which may well be true, but not something anyone in politics can sell).

It is a dirty game, and I have no doubt that Sen. Clinton can play it as well as anyone.  But I’m having a hard time seeing how she can take Obama down.

(With the caveat that while all of this is somewhat interesting, I still don’t believe it particularly matters.)

Don’t give him my regards . . . Give him my respect.

(cross-posted on Kos)

In the 1950’s, my Dad was the head counselor at a summer camp in in Pennsylvania. About 10 years ago, I ran into a friend who had gone to the camp.  After reminiscing for a few minutes, I asked him if he would like me to give his regards to my father.  His answer:

“Don’t give him my regards.”  He paused.  “Give him my respect.”

The comment captured his larger-than-life presence for generations of kids at summer camps and at the schools where he was a teacher and principal.

My Dad died on October 24 at the age of 91.  He was a quintessential member of the “Greatest Generation.” Born in 1916 to immigrant parents, he made it through the Depression, went to City College, served in W.W. II, took advantage of the G.I. Bill, raised a war baby (my big brother) and a boomer (me), moved to an “urban suburb” (Rockaway Beach, NY), worked two jobs — teacher and principal; and camp counselor and director.

Also, between 1973 and last month, he tenaciously and courageously fought his way through several heart attacks, a couple of “mini-strokes,” two multiple bypass surgeries, carotid artery surgery, gall bladder surgery (with complications), knee surgery and loss of most of his sight and hearing.  But another heart attack on January 1, 2007 began a series of events that even he could not withstand.  

In the Emergency Room that night, the doctor asked a series of questions to test his cognitive functions:  He aced “What’s your name?” and  “What’s your wife’s name?”  Then the doctor asked “Who’s the President?”  

His reply: “We have a President?”

We knew then that his mental functioning was fine.  

Globalization, Trade And NAFTA: A Defense of Trade Agreements

Free trade is good. Does anyone disagree? Even “fair traders” agree today. We do not hear about nakedly protectionist domestic content legislation anymore. The “fair traders” argue instead for the need for a “fair playing field” on issues like environmental and labor standards.

But is this new emphasis on equal labor and environmental standards really about anything but protectionism? Is there really an expectation of that countries like Peru, Mexico and the Central American countries (not to mention China and India) will meet US labor and environmental standards? the irony is of course that this would be a form of erstwhile globalization – an attempt to impost US standards on the Thrid World – if it were sincere. It is not. It is just a new way of defending an old idea – protectionism.

I think the evidence of this is obvious – in no other context do we see a drive for higher labor and environmental standards in the Third World. Consider the issue of climate change:

. . . George Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto treaty, which requires 36 industrial nations to cut greenhouse emissions by at least 5 per cent from 1990 levels by 2012. The US president says Kyoto unfairly burdens rich countries while exempting developing ones such as China and India.

Developing nations say rich states built up their economies without emissions restraints and argue that less-developed countries should have the same opportunity to establish their economies now.

But as emissions from places such as China and India grow, environmentalists say action by the developed world alone will not be enough to stop the warming trend.

Does anyone think George Bush shares the concern of environmentalists on this? Or is it an excuse? And does anyone really think Mexico, Peru and the Central American countries are comparable to China and India on this? Of course not. This is pretext for protextionism.


Wishful thinking would be the kindest way to characterize it

Today Bob Herbert takes his whack at the “Ronald Reagan didn’t use racist tactics” piƱata. He scores a  direct hit:

To see Reagan’s appearance at the Neshoba County Fair in its proper context, it has to be placed between the murders of the civil rights workers that preceded it and the acknowledgment by the Republican strategist Lee Atwater that the use of code words like “states’ rights” in place of blatantly bigoted rhetoric was crucial to the success of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy. That acknowledgment came in the very first year of the Reagan presidency.

Ronald Reagan was an absolute master at the use of symbolism. It was one of the primary keys to his political success.

The suggestion that the Gipper didn’t know exactly what message he was telegraphing in Neshoba County in 1980 is woefully wrong-headed. Wishful thinking would be the kindest way to characterize it.

Thank you Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman. Shame on you David Brooks.

Paul Krugman: David Brooks is a liar

So we all know that David Brooks is an idiot. We also know that he’s a liar. But it’s unusual to hear about it from “serious” figures in the SCLM. Paul Krugman is actually a serious person–in that his brain hasn’t decomposed into lima bean paste. He’s been in a back-and-forth with the the adjacent liar, Brooks, over the question of whether or not Ronald Reagan used racist campaign tactics. Krugman’s smack down response? It was all just an innocent mistake:

Factual Challenges

The New York Times Book Review assigned Stanford history professor David Kennedy to review Paul Krugman's new book, “The Conscience of a Liberal.” It is an extremely negative review. I have not read the book so can not comment on it but I did read the review. And I found it inconsistent to say the least. For example, after chiding Krugman for being, in Kennedy's words, “factually shaky,”  he then writes:

For this dismal state of affairs the Democratic Party is held to be blameless. Never mind the Democrats’ embrace of inherently divisive identity politics, or Democratic condescension toward the ungrammatical yokels who consider their spiritual and moral commitments no less important than the minimum wage or the Endangered Species Act, nor even the Democrats’ vulnerable post-Vietnam record on national security.

Ummm, that all sounds factually shaky to me. What is the basis of Kennedy's statement? A fact or 2 to support this sweeping claim, especially from someone throwing stones, might have been in order. Kennedy continues:

As Krugman sees it, the modern Republican Party has been taken over by radicals. “There hasn’t been any corresponding radicalization of the Democratic Party, so the right-wing takeover of the G.O.P. is the underlying cause of today’s bitter partisanship.” No two to tango for him. The ascendancy of modern conservatism is “an almost embarrassingly simple story,” he says, and race is the key. “Much of the whole phenomenon can be summed up in just five words: Southern whites started voting Republican. … End of story.”

A fuller and more nuanced story might at least gesture toward the role that environmental and natural-resource issues have played in making red-state country out of the interior West, not to mention the unsettling effects of the “value issues” on voters well beyond Dixie. . . .

Again, this seems factually shaky to me. A few facts to support his view on this. As far I can see, Kennedy replaces his opinions for Krugman's. Fair enough. But not fair enough when a reviewer is decrying factual shakiness.

Now this part just seems plain dumb to me:

For all that he inveighs against the evils of partisanship, Krugman astonishingly concludes by repudiating the chimera of “bipartisan compromise” and declaring that “to be a progressive, then, means being a partisan — at least for now.”

What is astonishing about that? Krugman's point is that faced with a Republican Party that will not engage in bipartisanship or even nod a progressive goals, there is little choice for anyone looking to advance a progressive agenda. Krugman has made the commonsense, almost obvious, observation that when the Republican Party has definitively eschewed “bipartisanship,” it is impossible to embrace it. Indeed, in Kennedy's words, it takes two to tango.

Kennedy's misunderstanding of this simple and obvious insight leads him to write silliness like this:


Indeed, at times he seems more intent on settling his neocon adversaries’ hash than on advancing solutions to vexed policy issues. “Yes, Virginia, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy,” he writes, a sentence that both stylistically and substantively says much about the shortcomings of this book.

But this is the whole point. You can not “advance solutions to vexed policy issues” without settling partisan hash, thanks to the takeover of the Republican Party by the most extreme movements in our country. And here's the funny thing – Kennedy AGREES:

That assorted wing nuts have pretty much managed to hijack the Republican Party in recent years is scarcely in doubt.

But Kennedy fails to address Krugman's thesis that to “advance solutions to vexed policy issues,” today's extremist Republican Party must be defeated and the Republican Party must be remade in order to allow for the much desired “bipartisnship” that Kennedy, following the High Broderism, desires against all odds.

In short, the review is pretty lousy.

Krugman: Gore Derangement Syndrome

Paul Krugman is still reading Armando’s mind:

Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration.

And now that Mr. Bush has proved himself utterly the wrong man for the job – to be, in fact, the best president Al Qaeda’s recruiters could have hoped for – the symptoms of Gore derangement syndrome have grown even more extreme.

The worst thing about Mr. Gore, from the conservative point of view, is that he keeps being right. In 1992, George H. W. Bush mocked him as the “ozone man,” but three years later the scientists who discovered the threat to the ozone layer won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2002 he warned that if we invaded Iraq, “the resulting chaos could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.” And so it has proved.

Krugman: “My God, what have we done?”

Crossposed from the orange place

No, not a question for us, but Conservatives for themselves, at least, according to Paul Krugman.

Krugman’s provocative conclusion:

Mr. Bush is movement conservatism’s true, loyal heir.

This has been my opinion for some time, and today’s column gives every indication that Krugman’s next book will be a must read.


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