Chronicle of the Conspiracy
Saturday, November 08, 2003
PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL On our letters page, reader Dickie Sheppard reports on his very positive experience giving feedback by phone to New York Times reporters. And he's got tips on how to make successful calls yourself.
SOROS STRIKES AGAIN Ken Wheaton's "As I Please" blog talks about an article by George Soros in the upcoming Atlantic Monthly (no link available yet). Famous for selling the bottom the morning after the stock market crash of 1987, and more recently cited by Paul Krugman as one of Mahathir Mohammed's "Jewish speculators" out to destroy the world, Soros writes about how George Bush's economic policies are out to destroy the world. I can hardly wait for his upcoming book.
MANKIW VERY MUCH Our friend Bruce Bartlett on the "TrendMacro Talking Points" blog points out a terrific speech by Council of Economic Advisors head Greg Mankiw, arguing for repeal of the estate tax. This has never been a hot-button pro-growth issue for me, and it's something that's very easily demagogued by the left as being "just for the rich." But after reading Mankiw's speech, I "get it." This tax has gotta go.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:59 PM | link
Friday, November 07, 2003
Anyway, it's still fun to see Kaus getting back in the Krugman game. I'm still working on my entry to his contest. But in the meantime, I have something even better. In the course of my "stalking" Paul Krugman "personally," I have managed to recover the very last photo ever taken by Krugman's now-destroyed digital camera.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:20 AM | link
Then, without quoting anyone at all, Krugman asserts: "...the reliance of modern Republican political strategy on coded appeals to racism is no secret." What, I wonder, is the racist message in the Republican code of appointing African-Americans to the positions of secretary of state and national security advisor? Is hiring them a devious reverse-cipher for "blacks should not be hired"? Is trusting them with the gravest responsibilities in government a public-key encryption of the message that "blacks are shiftless"? Is flying with them in Air Force One a private semaphore signaling "blacks should sit at the back of the bus"?
Here's the Krugman code. Whatever Republicans say or do is racist, because they are Republicans. Whatever Democrats do or say is anti-racist, because they are Democrats. Got that? Good.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:46 AM | link
Thursday, November 06, 2003
The subject of Alterman's defense is Krugman's apologetics for the anti-Semitism of Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in his October 21 New York Times column. Speaking of the firestorm of criticisms engendered by this column, Alterman writes,
This last sentence is, to put it plainly, a flat-out lie. Is Alterman just hoping that no one will catch him out by reading my "nutty" National Review Online column of October 22? That column consists almost entirely of finding objectionable things in Krugman's writings about Jews or anti-Semitism. I defy Alterman to justify his lie in light of passages like these:
And how about the parts where I reveal how Krugman appeared in public with Mahathir to celebrate the success of what was then called the "Krugman-Mahathir strategy" of capital controls? I wrote that Krugman
But the best part of Alterman's column is the socko finish, where he comes up with yet another "Bush lied" story. And whose version of events does he uncritically accept as the benchmark of truth against which to determine that "Bush lied"? None other than the anti-Semite himself. Alterman writes,
Did it ever occur to Alterman that the reason "The image of the President holding hands with Mahathir has yet to inspire much outrage" is because nobody but Alterman believes it? And let's even say it's true: wasn't the whole point of Krugman's column that Bush out to be reaching out to improve relationships with the Islamic world, anti-Semitism or no anti-Semitism? As always with these Bush-haters, it's damned if you don't and damned if you do.
And one more thing. For some reason Alterman forgot to mention in The Nation that regrettable little something that he himself wrote on his blog shortly after my "nutty" column came out. He wrote, "One problem with anti-Semitism - the genuine problem - is anti-Semitism is the easy, anti-intellectual smear." Gas chambers? Terrorism? Pogroms? Discrimination? Nah -- none of those are "the genuine problem." For a guy like Alterman, the only reality is his unprincipled world of political gamesmanship. And if charges of anti-Semitism get in the way of the way his side is playing the game at the moment, then for him, that's "the genuine problem."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:14 AM | link
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
As to those "various wordings," let's see what Herbert Stein himself says. I was surprised to see that Stein wrote about it in 1997 in Slate, at the same time as Krugman himself was writing a column for the same online magazine. Stein wrote,
In other words, Stein is cautioning against the fallacy that just because something is not permanently sustainable it is necessarily bad. There are many things that people and governments do that are perfectly reasonable for short periods of time -- but are not sustainable (and which nobody actually intends to sustain). When a runner sprints, he is doing something unsustainable; should a runner never sprint? When the US fought in World War II, we could not have done so forever; should we not have done it at all?
And so it is with deficits. No one in the Bush administration has argued that permanently sustaining large deficits is a good idea. So saying that deficits are unsustainable is to argue against a position that no one has ever taken. And Krugman uses Stein's Law to do it -- even though Stein invented his "law" precisely to argue against precisely that.
>> EXTRA: Robert Musil on his Man Without Qualities blog yesterday related Krugman's particular use of Stein's Law to that famous saying of Krugman's economics guru John Maynard Keynes: "In the long run, we'll all be dead."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:27 AM | link
Paul Krugman, America's most dangerous liberal pundit, continues to publish columns brimming with lies, errors, distortions, misquotations and invented quotations -- all without any pre-publication fact-checking or subsequent corrections by his editors at the Times. It's true: New York Times Company VP of Corporate Communications Catherine Mathis confirmed to me that op-ed columns are not fact-checked, and that corrections are at the discretion of the author.
Now, suddenly, there is hope that this policy of deliberate unaccountability could be changed. More on that in a moment -- but first, a case in point.
A shameful misquotation in Krugman's column yesterday shows the kind of evil mischief that can happen when a columnist is virtually unsupervised. And if the past is any guide, there will be no correction of the misquotation. There have been only three Krugman corrections in as many years (here, here and here). Why? Because Krugman is in charge of his corrections. So, Mr. Fox: how's the view from inside that hen-house?
On October 14, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported remarks of Representative George Nethercutt (R-Washington) that made it appear that he was trivializing the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq:
Two days later, Maureen Dowd repeated the quote verbatim in a New York Times op-ed. In her typically chirpy style, she said that Nethercutt had "chimed in to help the White House" and joked that "The congressman puts the casual back in casualty."
Shortly afterward, Nethercutt protested aggressively that he had been misquoted, claiming in paid advertisements in the Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times that the misquotation amounted to "the equivalent of a negative political commercial against me." Based on an audio file of Nethercutt's remarks available on the Post-Intelligencer's website, here's what he actually said:
The Post-Intelligencer's elimination of Nethercutt's characterization of the story as "bigger" -- without so much as an ellipsis to indicate the edit -- substantially changes the tone of the quotation. And cutting Nethercutt's concluding phrase "which, which heaven forbid, is awful" and substituting for it the paraphrased "He added that he did not want any more soldiers to be killed" transforms the statement from heartfelt to callous. On October 28, the Post-Intelligencer ran a story revealing the entire quotation, and posting the audio file.
Now -- fast forward to Krugman's column yesterday:
We can't blame Dowd -- she wrote her op-ed twelve days before the Post-Intelligencer ran the entire correct quotation. But Krugman's another matter: his column ran seven days after. Maguire asks the right question about Krugman: "Lazy, or dishonest? And does he need an editor, or a polygraph?"
Both. Krugman's done this before. Loyal readers will remember that the very same thing happened just a couple months ago. Recall Krugman's June 6 column, in which he picked up a seemingly damning quote by Grover Norquist from another newspaper. But well before Krugman's version of it appeared in the Times, it had already been corrected in the Washington Post.
Of course the Norquist misquotation was never corrected in the Times, and the Nethercutt misquotation probably won't be either. But maybe that's all about to change.
According to Robert Cox at The National Debate, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is supporting review of the policy of permitting columnists to manage their own corrections. It's the result of the well-known Maureen Dowd ellipsis-gate scandal -- which Cox first broke -- in which Dowd substantially altered the meaning of a quotation from President Bush, and then stealth-corrected it weeks later by including the correct quotation, unremarked, in the body of a future column.
Cox is reporting that Mobile Register editor Mike Marshall -- whose newspaper picks up Times columns in syndication, has been pressing Sulzberger on the issue. Cox refers to a letter from Sulzberger to Marshall:
The "public editor" he's talking about is Daniel Okrent, hired to act as the first-ever ombudsman at the Times in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal. Okrent will start work on December 1, and some Times-watchers think he may just be willing and able to shake things up a bit on West 43rd Street. If Okrent manages to change the Times' policy on op-ed corrections, it would put an important new discipline on Krugman, Dowd, and the other make-it-up-as-you-go-along liberals on the op-ed page.
And it could start to undo an important element of the corruption set in motion by Howell Raines. Just as Raines tainted the news pages of the Times with opinion masquerading as fact, he transformed the op-ed page into a place where facts -- and often false ones -- masquerade as opinions. Because what is asserted on the op-ed page as fact by the likes of Krugman can always be rationalized as "just opinion," it's not subject to rigorous editorial review nor an objective correction process.
But now Okrent could potentially change all that. And what would Paul Krugman think? I suspect he'd find that level of accountability to be something "which, which heaven forbid, is awful."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:52 AM | link
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:13 PM | link
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:00 PM | link
I will add that this is precisely the same thing that Krugman did in his June 6 column with a quote from Grover Norquist -- before Krugman's version of it appeared, it had already been corrected in the Washington Post (here are the details on that one). Of course it was never corrected in the Times, and this one probably won't be either.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:00 PM | link
Monday, November 03, 2003
"...he described the Sulzberger letter as defending the paper's reaction to the Dowd controversy because 'the NY Times has a policy of leaving corrections up to their columnists' but opening the door for the first time to addressing Maureen Dowd's well-documented accuracy issues. ...Sulzberger went on to add that 'this policy will be reviewed by their soon-to-be hired public editor' and that the 'editor will be asked: Does it make sense that columnists are held to a different standard than reporters?'"Readers know our answer to that question. If they don't, click here and here.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:54 PM | link
Sunday, November 02, 2003
That's the suggestion of reader John Davidson. It's the perfect word for what America's most dangerous liberal pundit, Paul Krugman -- and the whole Democratic party, for that matter -- must be feeling right now as they face the reality of Thursday's announcement that gross domestic product grew at a stunning 7.2% annual rate in the third quarter. That's the fastest rate in almost 20 years -- since the last time a tax-cutting Republican was in the White House.
Remember, over and over, Krugman has used every possible form of hyperbole to damn President Bush's economic policies: "train wreck," "banana republic irresponsibility," "obviously...heading us in the direction of fiscal catastrophe," and so on. So this great economic news really is a world of Krugmanfreude, and Krugman isn't taking it at all well. Consider this horrifying news story quoted by Robert Musil on his Man Without Qualities blog (and be sure to click on the "KCI" link):
Still, Krugman managed to churn out his regular New York Times column Friday, and he did the best he could with it. As reader Lindsay Osbon put it, "The hard part about eating crow is making it look like it tastes good." Here's Krugman smiling while he chews:
NRO contributor Jerry Bowyer (author of the new book The Bush Boom), told me by email, "My favorite part is when he said that it’s easy to get a short term stimulus. This from the crowd that said the Bush stimulus plan had no short term stimulus effect." And Matthew Hoy, on his blog HoyStory.com, nails Krugman's attempt to snatch defeat for President Bush from the jaws of prosperity:
Krugman wraps it up his column with the best shot he can take at Bush at this point:
Not bad, under the circumstances. I'm sure will hear all of that repeated endlessly in the media echo chamber by Democratic politicos and apparatchiks. But there's not a single idea in it those 47 words that isn't based on economic trickery. Let's take it apart, concept by concept.
First, are we running "the biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet"? Tom Maguire has the answer for that in a post on his Just One Minute blog. Maguire says,
Indeed. As a percentage of GDP, even using the worst-case "on-budget" budget deficit to make things look as bad as possible, the Office of Management and Budget's 2004 estimate at 4.3% is smaller than in 16 other years (and not much larger than it was in the comparable year of Bill Clinton's first term in office). If we use the "total" budget deficit, then even in dollar terms -- when adjusted for inflation -- there have been larger deficits in 7 of the last 20 years. And the planet endures.
Let's move on, and talk about whether Bush will "end a presidential term with fewer jobs than when you started." As Musil points out, it's all a matter of which jobs statistics you look at. And naturally, Krugman chooses to look at the worst. Krugman always focuses on the "payroll" survey produced by the Department of Labor, which show 2.6 million jobs lost since Bush took office. But the DOL's alternate jobs statistics -- the "household" survey that is used to compute the unemployment rate -- shows that the economy is only down 273 thousand jobs. That small job deficit can be cured with even the most modest recovery over the next year.
But even if we use the tougher "payroll" statistics that Krugman insists upon (as though they were the only statistics), it turns out that it may be a lot easier than Krugman wants to admit for the economy to add enough jobs for Bush to end his first job with a net jobs gain. On what theoretical or empirical grounds does Princeton economist Krugman say it's "likely" that the economy won't -- and I note that he's pulling back from what he told MSNBC's "Buchanan & Press" last month -- that "it's a near lock now unless there’s a miracle."
The only grounds I can see is Krugman's anti-scientific partisan conviction that everything Bush does is wrong. But if you step away from partisan prejudice and look at the simple facts, and pull the statistics from the DOL's website, you can see for yourself that what Krugman calls a "miracle" is, in fact, quite typical. In fact, in 57% of the 12-month periods starting after 1948, jobs grew at a rate equivalent to the economy adding 2.6 million jobs today.
If it were pure luck, history would suggest that Bush has better than a 50/50 chance over the next 12 months-- and Bush actually has 15 months to pull it off. A "lock"? Pure Krugmanfreude.
What are other more serious and less politicized economists than Krugman saying about the prospects for jobs? What do the world-class econometric models say -- the ones that look at dozens of real-world factors, and are not straightjacketed by Krugman's political orthodoxy? Steve Antler -- an economics professor at Roosevelt University notes on his EconoPundit blog that the well-respected econometric model of Ray C. Fair, fellow at the International Center for Finance at Yale, is showing that
When it happens, Krugman will be in a world of Krugmanfreude beyond anything he can imagine today, even with that cat-shaped hole gaping in his roof. But he'll probably still be calling it a "miracle." After all, that's what people always call things they don't understand.
But at least Krugman will have one consolation. He'll have four more years of his favorite subject matter.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:00 PM | link