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Saturday, October 25, 2003

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ALTERMAN'S "GENUINE PROBLEM" WITH ANTI-SEMITISM   
Does Eric Alterman really wish to stand by by this sentence, offered to defend Paul Krugman against my charges that Krugman has, for years, been complicit in the anti-Semitism of Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad?

"One problem with anti-Semitism - the genuine problem - is anti-Semitism is the easy, anti-intellectual smear."

Let's ask the six million victims of the Holocaust what they believe is "the genuine problem" with anti-Semitism. If they had not been slaughtered, I am certain they would take a view on the subject that is both more pragmatic and less amoral than Alterman's. The Anti-Defamation League feels the same way.

For Paul Krugman, it's tantamount to a guilty plea that he would link to Alterman's amoral and bigoted statement in the very first word of his self-defense yesterday. More on that later.

Oh, and a personal note to Alterman: Please stop speculating on whether or not I am Jewish. It's none of your goddam business. You may not care about the reality of anti-Semitism, but I do.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:00 PM | link  


Thursday, October 23, 2003

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RANDOM MOODSWINGS  

CSPAN DROPS "MODERATE" KRUGMAN AS TOO PARTISAN  "Bobby" -- the sycophantic keeper of the Paul Krugman online shrine -- is incensed that CSPAN refuses to archive a lecture by Krugman on its website. "Bobby" claims that in a letter to him, a CSPAN employee told him,

 "After being told I would be allowed to post Paul Krugman's speech online, and then passing the news onto you, it came down that we needed to hold off on such an action in order to maintain the balance of partisan voices featured on booktv.org."

"Bobby's" reaction? You guessed it:

"This sounds an awful lot to me like C-Span Online is censoring Krugman for his (very moderate) political views..."

DWEEB WATCH  With apologists like this, who needs figurative stalkers? Brad Delong defends Paul Krugman's rationalizing of the blatant anti-Semitism of Malaysia's prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

"Paul has been to Malaysia, has studied Malaysia a lot more than I have, and I believe has spoken more than my three words ('Good evening, sir') to Mahathir Muhammed."

Almost surely (as Krugman would say), an erudite economist like DeLong is aware that Krugman's "more than my three words" consisted of advising the Mahathir regime in the development of the "Krugman-Mahathir strategy," Krugman's sharing a stage with the anti-Semite in an official ceremony, and Krugman's agreeing with Mahathir's anti-Semitic paranoia about Jewish speculators like George Soros in the pages of the New York Times Magazine in 1998?

So collaboration with the anti-Semite Mahathir in the past is now a credential that DeLong gives Krugman the authority to defend Mahathir's anti-Semitism today. And writing about it is an opportunity to brag that DeLong, too, has traveled the world (at whose expense?) and mingled with the rich and powerful (does he address all rich and powerful anti-Semitic paranoid despots as sir?).

Oh -- and as Robert Musil told me via email, DeLong calls people "dweebs" too.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 6:29 PM | link  

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IRONIC HOMAGE   
Dallas Fed president McTeer pays homage to libertarian economist Milton Friedman in this Wall Street Journal op-ed, celebrating his contributions to capitalism and freedom. It was polite of this particular author to not mention the disastrous failure of Friedman's monetarist policy prescriptions in the 1970s for how to run the Fed. Friedman's experience goes to show that great economists and great friends of freedom can screw up as badly as anyone else when they use the power of the state to shove their ideas down the world's throat.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:43 AM | link  

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INSTA DWEEB FISKING   
Here's the pudgy dweeb at his usual sloppy level of opportunistic and shallow gotcha games -- and a chance to spread Paul Krugman's smear of me around a little bit. Brad DeLong posted yesterday

"I don't know how much Glenn Reynolds reads of the stuff he links to. I suspect the answer is 'most'--that he has turned into a guy who never lets the facts get in the way of a bad slur.

"But it is clear...that Reynolds doesn't remember his own archives:

"Instapundit, May 7, 2003:

"'Donald Luskin is stalking Paul Krugman...'

"Instapundit, Yesterday:

"PAUL KRUGMAN'S UNRAVELLING: He's accusing Donald Luskin of being a stalker, in the literal, not figurative sense.

"I believe the actual term is 'critic.'

"It is remarkable--the shift from 'Oh Great! Someone is stalking Paul Krugman!' to 'Paul Krugman has lost his mind--he thinks somebody is stalking him... "

It is remarkable, indeed. It's DeLong who's not reading the stuff he links to. Here's Glenn's response on Instapundit yesterday, where he reveals where his use of the expression "stalking" in that May 7 post really came from.

"BRAD DELONG DEMONSTRATES that he doesn't understand the meaning of the word 'figurative.'

"Here's a helpful illustration of the difference:

"'Literal: Joan didn't want to put her silk blanket in her automatic dryer. Although it was January, she risked putting it on the clothesline. The winter wind gently tossed the lacy blanket.

"'Figurative: Joan looked out into her yard with great excitement. Overnight, a layer of snow had covered the ground. The winter wind gently tossed the lacy blanket.'

"In the second example, you see, there's not an actual lacy blanket, just a bunch of snow. But we use the term because it's evocative and adds color.

"As my comment noted, Paul Krugman is now accusing Donald Luskin of stalking him in the literal, not figurative sense. I, on the other hand, was using the term in a figurative, not literal sense.

"Tune in tomorrow for another episode of 'English 101 for Economics Professors.'

"UPDATE: Justin Katz emails:

"'I propose these examples:

"'Figurative: Glenn Reynolds tore the heart out of Brad DeLong's argument.

"'Literal: Head thuggee Mola Ram tore the heart out of his human sacrifices in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"'Context makes it clear that you used "stalking" figuratively, having drawn the term from Luskin's column, which drew it from Krugman's then-figurative slur of "stalker-in-chief." In contrast, Krugman has, as you suggest, now shifted to the literal sense, actually specifying "stalked me personally" in his television appearance.'

"Yes, 'actually stalked me personally' doesn't seem at all figurative to me. But I promise not to 'personally' tear Brad DeLong's heart out in any literal sense.

And really, Temple of Doom? Can't we get an example from one of the good Indiana Jones movies?

Thanks again, Glenn.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:53 AM | link  


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

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KRUGMAN: A SERIOUS ANTI-SEMITISM QUESTION   

"Anti-Semitism with a purpose."

Sounds like some sick satire of Madison Avenue advertising slogans, but it's no joke. It's the sub-headline of Paul Krugman's New York Times column yesterday, in which he rationalizes violently anti-Semitic remarks by Malaysia's prime minister Mahathir Mohamad as symptoms of the failure of the Bush administration's foreign policy.

The column has already generated a storm of protest on the Times' letters page, on the web site of the Anti-Defamation League, and on the web (when you're done here, click for great commentaries by new and old friends Musil, Hogberg, Taranto, Antler, Hinderaker, Henke, DiBenedetto, Wrightson and Sullivan).

But the storm is just getting started. So far nobody has revealed the past ties between Krugman and Mahathir, or pointed out how Krugman appears to have been personally complicit in Mahathir's anti-Semitism. 

First, a quick recap of the column in question. Krugman began by quoting Mahathir's statement last week that "The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." Krugman immediately acknowledged the White House's denouncement of Mahathir's statement, and agreed that "Indeed, those remarks were inexcusable."

Inexcusable? Apparently not -- Krugman spends the rest of the column excusing them. Krugman says Mahathir's anti-Semitic statement was

"...calculated — for Mr. Mahathir is a cagey politician, who is neither ignorant nor foolish. ...[Mahathir] is in many ways about as forward-looking a Muslim leader as we're likely to find....So what's with the anti-Semitism? Almost surely it's part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act, something I learned about the last time he talked like this, during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. ...When times are tough, Mr. Mahathir...throws the Muslim majority rhetorical red meat. ...Mr. Mahathir thinks that to cover his domestic flank, he must insert hateful words into a speech..."

Krugman ignores the reality that Mahathir has, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a "long record of anti-Semitism and belief in a Jewish conspiracy to bring about the downfall of Malaysia." And he never cites one word of Mahathir's that would suggest he is even cognizant of US policy. Yet he concludes that Mahathir's statement is motivated by America's "war in Iraq and its unconditional support for Ariel Sharon."

Now let's dig a little deeper. Krugman says that Mahathir's anti-Semitism was "something I learned about the last time he talked like this, during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98." He elaborates that "At that time...he loudly blamed machinations by Western speculators, and imposed temporary controls on the outflow of capital — a step denounced by all but a handful of Western economists. As it turned out, his economic strategy was right..."

There is a small deception here that will prove to be very significant. As Musil points out, Krugman fails to disclose that he himself was first and foremost among that "handful of Western economists." Remarkable, considering that Krugman normally misses no opportunity to pat himself on the back.

Why isn't Krugman taking credit for the splash he made in September 1998, when he was still the enfant terrible of international trade theory, calling for emergency currency controls in his September 1998 Fortune article called "Saving Asia: It's Time to Get Radical"? Shortly after its publication, Mahathir implemented Krugman's "radical" recommendations. In a Slate article a year later, Krugman bragged that this had become known as the "Krugman-Mahathir strategy." So why the silence now?

Perhaps because Krugman is ashamed of some of things he did and said then. As, it appears, he should be.

In a November 8, 1998 article for, yes, the New York Times Magazine, Krugman wrote an article that dealt with, among other things, the impact of currency speculators in precipitating economic crises of the type that rocked Malaysia in 1997-1998. Once again he writes of Mahathir's anti-Semitism -- but this time, he doesn't say it's "inexcusable." He agrees with it:

"When the occasional accusation of financial conspiracy is heard - when, for example, Malaysia's Prime Minster blames his country's problems on the machinations of Jewish speculators - the reaction of most observers is skepticism, even ridicule.

"But even the paranoid have people out to get them. Little by little, over the past few years, the figure of the evil speculator has reemerged."

And who's the example of the "evil speculator" given in the very next sentence? That's right, George Soros -- a Jew.

My reaction to this is a little stronger than "skepticism, even ridicule." It flat-out makes me sick. And then it gets worse.

According to Krugman's Slate article, he publicly met with Mahathir in Malaysia a year later, and lent his prestige as a prominent international economist to support a leader whom he knew to be anti-Semitic.

"I agreed to spend a day--including a 90-minute 'dialogue' with the prime minister--at the Palace of the Golden Horses, a vaguely Las Vegas-style resort outside Kuala Lumpur. ...In our staged 'dialogue' -- which was played out in semi-public, in front of a disturbingly obsequious audience of a hundred or so businessmen--Mahathir continued to sound a minor-key version of the conspiracy theme, insisting that capital controls were necessary to protect small countries against the evil designs of big speculators."

Krugman admits in the Slate article that he expected the Mahathir government "would try to use me politically--to provide a veneer of respectability to a regime that has lately developed the habit of putting inconvenient people in jail."  The closest thing to an excuse that he offers for agreeing to attend the meeting -- and by so doing, apparently participate in and endorse anti-Semitism and tyranny -- is "I didn't want to go to Malaysia. ...But sometimes an economist has to do what an economist has to do."

Perhaps especially when it involves an opportunity for him to say "I told you so." Back then, Krugman didn't conceal his involvement, and speak of a "handful" of economists calling for currency controls -- he was putting himself right out in front. According to the Slate article, he was "the only high-profile economist to advocate the economic heresy that Malaysia had put into practice." Being adulated by Mahathir before an obsequious audience must have been too big an ego-trip to turn down.

And who paid for Krugman's airfare? His hotel? His meals? Were there perks involved? Was there an honorarium? Was he on Mahathir's "advisory board"? And according to the local press, Krugman was also "speaking at a business conference" at the same time. Was it sponsored wholly or in part by the Malaysian government? Was there an honorarium for that? If the answer is "yes" to any of those questions, it should have been disclosed in yesterday's column.

But that's the least of it. The real issue here is Krugman's apparent acquiescence and participation in anti-Semitism. Will this finally be the issue that forces the New York Times to rein in America's most dangerous liberal pundit?

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 2:47 AM | link  


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

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INSTA-THANKS   
Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for his support today. Glenn's a lawyer... he understands the issue here...

"PAUL KRUGMAN'S UNRAVELLING: He's accusing Donald Luskin of being a stalker, in the literal, not figurative sense.

"I believe the actual term is 'critic.'"


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:51 PM | link  

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ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE BLASTS KRUGMAN   
The Anti-Defamation League has just published this open letter to the New York Times concerning Paul Krugman's column today. The Times is not running it today, though they do run several other critical letters

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
October 21, 2003

To the Editor:

In his obsession with criticizing U.S. policy, Paul Krugman underestimates the significance of the anti-Semitic diatribe by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before the Organization of the Islamic Conference ("Listening to Mahathir," Oct. 21).

Mahathir's comments cannot be explained away by themes of domestic politics. They come in the context of a surge of anti-Semitism in the Islamic world, and not only on the fringes. Conspiracy theories about blaming Jews for 9/11 are believed by tens of millions. Denial of the Holocaust is rampant in the media. Images of Jews in op-ed pieces, editorials, and cartoons reflect classic anti-Semitic stereotypes – drinking the blood of Muslims, all-powerful, secretive and conspiratorial.

The last time the world saw such a hateful anti-Semitic tirade by a national leader, there was a tendency to play it down as well – as only politics, as buffoonery, as a passing thing. We know how that ended up in Germany. Let's not make that mistake again.

Sincerely,

Glen A. Tobias
National Chairman

Thanks to reader David Burt for the link.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:41 PM | link  

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EASTERKRUG?   
Can America's most dangerous liberal pundit just not resist playing with the fire of antisemitism, now that pundit Gregg Easterbrook has interrupted Paul Krugman's 15 minutes of fame with it? Krugman's Times column today quotes one of the Malaysian prime minister's antisemitic rants, and (of course) blames it on George Bush. But take a look beneath the surface of Krugman's comments. I can hardly outdo these great posts from Robert Musil and David Hogberg -- both are must reading.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:52 AM | link  


Sunday, October 19, 2003

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KRUGMAN ACCUSES LUSKIN OF "STALKING" HIM "PERSONALLY"   
A month on the New York Times best-seller list with his book The Great Unraveling, flitting from lecture to lecture, from talk-show to talk-show, must be going to Paul Krugman's head. He's getting sloppy -- perhaps even unraveling, as it were. He's saying things he shouldn't say -- some of them very dirty and very damaging.

He's gotten away with comparing the Bush administration to "totalitarian regimes of the 1930s" in his book. Now he's accusing a fellow journalist -- me -- of being a stalker.

That's right. On nationwide television Friday night, Paul Krugman falsely accused me of committing the felony of stalking him. On the "Hannity & Colmes" show on Fox News, Krugman said of me,

"That's a guy, that's a guy who actually stalks me on the web, and once stalked me personally."

Krugman's rhetorical strategy for some time now has been to assert that to disagree with his opinion is to lie, to advocate policies which conflict with his is to be "political,"  and to have a different vision of America's future is to be part a "radical regime." But this is a new twist. Now, to criticize Paul Krugman is a crime. 

I demand from Krugman a full, immediate and public retraction and apology. And I demand from Fox News the opportunity to appear on "Hannity & Colmes" and set the record straight. I am not now nor have I ever been a stalker.

What I am is Krugman's most persistent critic -- through my "Krugman Truth Squad" column for National Review Online and through the blog of my forthcoming book, The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid. Is that "stalking him on the web"?

As to "stalking him personally," the one and only time I've ever even seen him in person was on October 6, when I attended a lecture he gave at the University of California at San Diego as part of his tour to promote his book. I listened to the lecture. I videotaped parts of the lecture with a personal camcorder. Like many other members of the audience, I submitted a written question to Krugman. And like many other members of the audience, I stood in line to have him sign a copy of his book. I asked him to inscribe it to me, in the process of which (naturally) he realized my identity. He made the inscription, and I said to him, "Now you keep up the good work, Paul," and walked away. Krugman continued to sign autographs.

Having written so much about Krugman, I had long been curious to see him with my own eyes and take his measure. It's the reporter in me. Maybe, if given the chance, I could throw him a tough question (as it turned out, I had to submit my tough question in writing; and he chose to answer it). I thought a signed copy of his book would make a fun souvenir. But it turned out to be a saddening and disturbing experience to witness Krugman and his ultra-leftist conspiracy fantasies adulated by a packed house. All in all, I wish I hadn't gone.

But it sure as hell wasn't stalking. Stalking is a felony under California Penal Code section 646.9. Attending a public lecture, taping it, submitting a written question, asking to have a book inscribed, and uttering one sarcastic sentence are not acts that fall within the scope of that law. And neither is the act of disagreeing with Paul Krugman.

Here's the context of Krugman's statement about me. It's in an exchange with Mike Gallagher, a guest-host standing in for Sean Hannity. Having confronted Krugman with one of the more trivial matters I've raised in my many critiques, Krugman challenged Gallagher on his source:

PAUL KRUGMAN: I don't know where you are getting that from…

MIKE GALLAGHER: Well…

KRUGMAN: …but I never said that.

GALLAGHER: PoorAndStupid.com, uh…

KRUGMAN: Well, call him…

GALLAGHER: You know, certainly is that, is that…

KRUGMAN: PoorAndStupid.com, that's a, that's a stalker.

GALLAGHER: Well no…

KRUGMAN: That's a guy, that's a guy who actually stalks me on the web, and once stalked me personally.

GALLAGHER: No, it's, it was…

KRUGMAN: Come on guys.

GALLAGHER: …through National Review Online, but I think it's accurate in terms of...

KRUGMAN: I know, but that doesn't change it.

This lends new meaning to something Krugman said is his October 3 New York Times column. Having spoken of "The right-wing media slime machine, which tries to assassinate the character of anyone who opposes the right's goals," he added, "hey, I know all about it."

He certainly does. I've just been slimed big-time by the Krugman media machine. And I've seen enough to know that lies can do a lot more personal damage than truths. "America's most dangerous liberal pundit?" Yes, indeed.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:35 PM | link  

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THE TIMES EMBRACES THE TAX CUTS? NOT QUITE   
Don't think that the New York Times has had a conversion on the road to Crawford when you read the headline in today's business section, "Spotted: Evidence That Tax Cut Worked." Don't get excited even when you see that the article quotes Goldman Sachs' economist Edward McKelvey -- one of the tax-cut's most strident and politicized critics, whom the article excuses by noting simply that he was "extremely dubious" -- saying "They definitely had a stronger impact on spending than we anticipated."

"Spending" -- that's the key here. The article focuses with utter exclusivity on the idea that the tax cuts were designed to increase "disposable income and, through the $400-per-child checks, put a tangible amount of money straight into people's pockets."  So, of course, now that the checks had come and gone, critics like McKelvey and the Times can just wave it all away by saying,

"The impact of the tax cuts is already fading, most economists believe. Even though the lower tax rates will continue, the economic jolt comes from the initial cut. After that, the economy simply grows in line with the overall rise in wealth. There are already signs that the kick from this year's tax cuts may be fading."

There's not one single iota of discussion in the article about the effects of the tax cut on investment. The word "dividend" and the expression "capital gains" are deemed unworthy to be even mentioned in the analysis. It is the effect of the tax cuts on long term investment that was at the heart of the Bush administration's advocacy of them to begin with. By removing barriers to investment and entrepreneurial risk-taking, the tax cuts spur the formation of new financial, physical and human capital. That's a macroeconomic gift that keeps on giving.

And as Steve Antler and Dave Hogberg point out, don't get excited just because Paul Krugman's column Friday finally admits that someone other than "the rich" got a substantial tax cut this year.

And wait till you get a load of the two letters in today's New York Times Magazine lauding Paul Krugman's September 14 article "The Tax-Cut Con." Gone are the carefully balanced pro-and-con letters. Here, instead, are two absurd defenses of the tax-fueled welfare state, proving that even a straw man can have a bleeding heart. One is from a paraplegic dialysis patient born with spina bifida, who says, paradoxically, that "when further illness prevented my continued gainful employment, social services kept me living independently." The other letter posits the role of government as being to assure that people "will not starve in the streets if they are laid low by natural disaster, financial calamity or catastrophic illness or injury. We know from bitter experience that individuals and corporations cannot or will not perform these and many other essential functions."

Those of us who argue for smaller government -- and are happy to cut taxes to put a pinch into the fuel-line of the modern welfare state -- needn't even bother to respond to outlier cases such as that of the paraplegic. The welfare state is so vast and elaborate today that, even if huge portions of were indiscriminately hacked, it would be a very long time before such people would be affected. As to the second letter, advocates of smaller government must not accept the burden of proof implied by such claims of the "essential functions" of government. It seems that there are more of those claimed every day, and yet in a free country, the burden of proof must cut the other way. The burden must be upon anyone who would claim that there are any reasons to confiscate one person's property for another person's sake. "Essential"? To whom? Who decides? The letter treats those momentous questions as having already been answered, as though simply by the exertion of the letter-writer's personal whim.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:41 PM | link