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The Conspiracy Letters
Join the fray! Email us at We reserve the right to publish all letters with authors' names, unless specified as not for publication or for publication anonymously. Letters may be edited for clarity and brevity.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

JUST LET HIM UNRAVEL    I have been reading your blog for several months now and I have to say Poor and Stupid is my favorite. Not so much because I hate Paul Krugman (which I do -- in fact, I call myself a Krugmaniac), but more because your attacks on him embody the fight between re-enlightened classical American political and economic thought and the dangerous new liberalism that attempts to undermine our economy, our culture, and our freedom to live the way we want.

What I hate about him and the rest of his hysterical co-conspirators the most is the sanctimonious attitude that only they, the blessed elite intellectuals, know the right formula for every policy of our country and whoever doesn't hop in lock-step and believe every bit of garbage they spew from their holes 100% then we are labeled stupid, racist, insensitive cretins. Krugman and the rest of the new liberal activists take it a step further and, as you point out repeatedly on your blog, labels us as "liars." And because they invoke "humanity" as the foundation of their bogus ideas they have instead undermined the very progress toward improving humanity that we know is steadily achieved by policies prescribed by classical liberal ideals of justice, free markets, private property rights, and security.

Despite Krugman's dead off-center statements about you being a stalker and despite the fact that this may very well constitute slander, I hope you don't sue him. The value in what you do on Poor and Stupid is to show, with great insight and analysis, why Krugman is wrong intellectually. This is a very valueable thing for us classical liberals and I believe it is also a very good thing for the unclassical sort -- their propensity to allow their panties to get all knotted up must be defeated with sound and reasonable intellectual thought. I don't see how suing him is going to accomplish the same thing and it might even allow him a pulpit to make you, and therefore the ideas you stand for, look petty and wrong, like Al Franken successfully did with Fox News. Threaten to sue. Demand an apology. But don't sue. Instead, you should do some grandstanding and have some fun with his slanderous remarks. Something like an official "Slander Counter" on your web page that tracks the number of days Krugman slandered you and hasn't retracted or apologized would certainly contribute to his own personal unraveling -- look what happened when you revealed his simple math error when estimating the cost of a job under Bush's tax cut -- was it 13 attempts to correct/clarify/confuse? Now that is gold! Wouldn't it be so much sweeter to see Krugman unravel mentally a la Gray Davis than be beaten into submission by the hand of the law?

The way I see it, we need Krugman for a while because he establishes the leftward marker that defines the complete unraveling through which contemporary liberal ideology is traveling with great and increasing velocity. The fact that we have such a high-falootin' fancy-pants economist in the pilot seat makes our jobs more potent (and fun).

Doug Parent

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 6:10 PM | link  

JUST PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL    A few weeks back, I had called a New York Times national security reporter who was one of four contributors to a front-page Iraq news story that ran on 10/24/03. I left him a garrulous Saturday afternoon voicemail after having a few beers while reading the Times. I was objecting to some vague sourcing in this article and the leftish slant conveyed by that vague sourcing. It may have taken almost two weeks, but sure enough this reporter was kind enough to call back, admitted that though he had contributed to the article, he hadn't truly vetted it. And he admitted that he himself didn't like the direction of the particular story either, and that there were staffers at the Times who also felt uncomfortable about the nature of ongoing Times reporting. To his credit, the reporter did not make any excuses, was appreciative of the initial call, and invited ongoing conversation.

The lesson is: though not every reporter may take your calls seriously or even listen to them, some will. By staying on top of these reporters, Times readers send a message that they can see through the insidious bias that finds its way into straight "news reporting." The Times number is 212-556-1234. You will get a recording asking if you know the extension or name. Never mind the extension. Press 2 and you will be asked to state the first or last name of the party you're trying to reach, at which point you'll be switched to that party's extension. Likely you'll get a voice mail, where you can feel free to vent, keeping in mind that the more decorous your call, the more likely it will be taken seriously or even returned. So don't have too many beers before phoning!!

Dickie Sheppard

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:39 PM | link  

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

A DOUBLE STANDARD    I'm a little confused about the outrage over the way Paul Krugman quoted Nethercutt ["Which, Which Heaven Forbid, Would be Awful" 11/5/2003]. Cropping out the beginning or end of a quote has been an accepted tactic for years. That's why the GOP takes Bill Clinton's admission that, "I did try marijuana" to "I never inhaled." By removing the first few words of the Clinton quote, the GOP has effectively changed the nature of Clinton's response to sound completely slippery and evasive.

Another tactic that is now okey-dokey is changing a few words around, such as changing, "I sponsored legislation that created the internet" to "I invented the internet." If it's okay to do that, why is what Krugman did so bad? Listen to AM talk radio for a couple of hours and you'll likely encounter an even more egregious offense -- attributing a direct quote to a political opponent because "that's what they said in other words," "that's what they meant to say" or "that's what they really think." An example of this is the often repeated claim that Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying that she's the smartest woman in the world.

So the GOP can falsely convey that Clinton gave a weasel response to the reefer question by leaving out the "I did try marijuana" portion of the quote, they can say that Al Gore claims to have invented the internet, and add for good measure that Hillary Clinton gave a speech in which she declared herslef the smartest woman in the world. But now you want to talk about journalistic standards when it comes to attributing quotes? It seems that conservatives want one very loose standard for assigning embarrassing quotes to Dems and another, much more rigorous standard by which they should be quoted.

Joseph Colwell

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:25 AM | link  

THE BLOGGING TEST    Excellent reporting on Paul Krugman's selective memory, a la Nethercutt's abbreviated quote ["Which, Which Heaven Forbid, Would be Awful" 11/5/2003]. Either Krugman has a non-objective agenda, or he doesn't keep up with news. Time will tell whether Daniel Okrent's real job is identifying which of the two is the lesser evil for the New York Times to defend, or if he will actually motivate the Times to institute a minimum standard on which Krugman (and Dowd) would simply fail.

The truth will be known if the Times were to eventually let go of the pair. After all, these two leopards aren't going to change their spots, even if the Times were to do so. And the truth about Krugman and Dowd will be known if, after being let go, they continue blogging: Free of the newly-raised Times standards, each would be able to Bush-bash to their heart's content. Would their unrestrained blogging look any different than their current columns?

Reginald Thornton

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:50 AM | link  

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