Chronicle of the Conspiracy
Saturday, March 27, 2004MEET THE KERRY ECONOMICS TEAM Here they are. All Clinton re-treads -- and a couple of them about as dangerous as they come: Roger Altman and Gene Sperling. These guys never met a tax or a regulation they didn't like. Run screaming... Thanks to Bruce Bartlett for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:17 PM | link
I'll have a full comment on this later. As a quick-take, it seems like a cautious but sensible stance for Okrent. He suggests, correctly, that it's all in Gail Collins's hands now. That doesn't inspire confidence, unfortunately -- Collins is shameless in the way she covers up for her columnists, and in the arrogance and insularity of her response to readers.
All in all, I take Okrent's piece as a big victory for all of us who have fought so long and so hard to show that the emperors of the op-ed page are buck naked. More later.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:47 PM | link
DOES "SOCIOLOGICAL JOURNALISM" HAVE TO BE ACCURATE? This critic of David Brooks' many "boo-boos in paradise" thinks so. Thanks to Bruce Bartlett for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 7:55 PM | link
So let us hope that the rowback in yesterday's Times editorial will be the last.
The editorial states, "...Condoleezza Rice felt obliged to correct Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that Mr. Clarke had never been 'in the loop."
Ironic, because the correction the Times should be talking about is its own correction of statements by columnist Paul Krugman on Tuesday and reporter Elizabeth Bumiller on Thursday that what Cheney said was that Clarke was "out of the loop." Check out the transcript of Dick Cheney's remarks to Rush Limbaugh. He never used the expression "out of the loop," yet it appeared that way, in quotation marks, in the Times -- twice. What Cheney said was:
"Well, he wasn't -- he wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff. And I saw part of his interview last night, and he wasn't -- ..."The editorial making the rowback is, at the same time, introducing a whole new error that needs to be corrected. What justifies the editorial's attribution of the word "never" to Cheney?
The issue here isn't about the Times making stupid little mistakes. It's about watching the "newspaper of record" trash its own reputation one day at a time by refusing to admit its mistakes and correct them.
Thanks to reader Carol Vitucci for turning me on to this.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 2:37 PM | link
Friday, March 26, 2004
That's not entirely correct. Clarke was one top official, working
under National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. But his job was more or less
duplicated by other top officials at the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, and
the Pentagon. In fact, one of the reorganization efforts Bush championed after
9/11 was a restructuring of the FBI and CIA's counterterrorism efforts to
prevent duplication and missed communication between the two agencies.
She continues, saying,
It seems that Dick Clarke is suffering from delusions of grandeur, just as
Paul O'Neill did. It was O'Neill who claimed that Bush did not tolerate
discussion in the Cabinet meetings but then turned around and said that the Bush
team went back and forth on Iraq immediately upon taking office. As Treasury
Secretary, O'Neill had little business discussing Iraq or even foreign policy.
Similarly, Dick Clarke had little business attending regular meetings with the
President, especially if his primary emphasis was cyber security, the briefing
topic he chose in the midst of increased chatter about overseas terrorist
attacks, and the realm where he was demoted to in October 2001.
Krugman got his pre-9/11 "reduction in counterterrorism funds" reference from the liberal Center's website here:
This, of course, is hogwash. If you look at the document, you'll see that
every item mentioned related to terrorism was either absorbed by another agency,
covered by other funding, or running a surplus from years previous.
Here is a link to the Budget Request.
Unfortunately, it seems that Watson's realization escaped Richard Clarke. As
spokesman put it, "Richard Clarke is missing the context. It's not clear he
understands what the global war on terrorism was about."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 7:40 PM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY Conservative secret weapon?
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:16 AM | link
Thursday, March 25, 2004LYING IN PONDS ON KRUGMAN, PART 4 Ken Waight's piece on "Substance and Accuracy." Nothing new to readers of this blog.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:58 PM | link
"Sometimes there's no magic in the free market — in fact, it can be a hindrance."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:56 PM | link
THE SIDE OF THE ANGELL Hopefully you were able to plow through all the economics jargon in Wayne Angell's Wall Street Journal op-ed to get to the money quote at the end:
"Only hysteria, an outburst of emotion and fear, could produce the irrational response of the Congress and the public to the supposed danger of federal debt left to our children and grandchildren. Save your outbursts for reining in the growth rate of government spending. Then we will be able to keep tax rates conducive to faster increases in output and thereby add to both the well-being of our people and to future tax receipts available to the Congress."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:46 PM | link
RAINES BLAMES A sick body rejected a sick organ when Howell Raines was expelled from the New York Times. Now Raines writes for The Atlantic, blaming a "calcified front page" and a "change-resistant newsroom" for his manifest failures. Thanks to Jill Olson for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:01 PM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:15 AM | link
Wednesday, March 24, 2004LYING IN PONDS ON KRUGMAN, PART 3 More of the same (the same good stuff). Tomorrow Ken Waight says he'll write on "But What About Substance and Accuracy?" Should be interesting -- but Gentle Ken is always loathe to criticize on this level, and may well be out of his sphere of expertise here. We'll see.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:04 PM | link
We've seen this before, where Krugman is not required to admit error or to run a correction, but rather the Times runs a letter from someone who was wronged by misquotation or mis-statement of fact. This is not a correction at all. No fault is admitted. It simply stands as a battle between two "opinions" of what really happened -- Krugman's, and Fleishcher's. As a columnist corrections policy, this is not acceptable.
In the past, we've seen Krugman make snarky responses to such letters on his personal website. He hasn't posted there for a long time -- having learned, apparently, that he only makes things worse by fussing and fuming when he's been caught out. Let's see what he does this time.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 7:21 AM | link
Tuesday, March 23, 2004"LYING IN PONDS" ON KRUGMAN, PART 2 Here's part 2 of Ken Waight's five-part series on Paul Krugman. Writing on "cross-over" columns, those in which the columnist criticizes members of his own party, he notes,
Of course Mr. Krugman has occasionally criticized Democrats in his columns, but it's usually done tactically in the context of much sharper criticism of Republicans. An example of an almost-crossover was a September 2000 column with the promising title "Gore's Tax Problems". The column does contain substantive criticism of the Gore-Lieberman economic plan, but in the end, Mr. Krugman judged the plan as "merely uninspiring" when compared to George W. Bush's "grossly irresponsible" tax plan. Relative to the rest of Mr. Krugman's NYT canon, that column qualifies as harsh treatment of Democrats. The point is not whether his views on that subject were valid, but rather that Mr. Krugman has simply been utterly unwilling to offer undiluted criticism of any Democrat, on any subject, for a span of 400 columns.Waight is being too hard on Krugman. He's forgotten two columns -- here and here -- in which Krugman criticizes Democrats for the act of criticizing Democrats!
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:26 PM | link
"LYING IN PONDS" KRUGMAN SERIES Here's the first of five, from Ken Waight -- always worth reading.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:09 PM | link
"The White House begun airing their TV commercials to re-elect the president, and the John Kerry campaign is condemning his use of 9/11 in the ads. He said, it is unconscionable to use the tragic memory of a war in order to get elected, unless of course, it's the Vietnam War." - Jay Leno
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:05 PM | link
WOULD PAUL KRUGMAN PUBLISH A LETTER LIKE THIS? From a reader:
Hi! In today's column ["Krugman: Winning by Intimidation" and on NRO "The Intimidators"] paragraph 2, you write that Clarke "blam[es] everybody in the administration but himself." Actually, in the 60 Minutes interview, Clarke at least once, possibly twice, acknowledged that he probably shared blame for anti-terror failures. Click here to see his quote: "There's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:01 PM | link
INSIGNIFICANCE BY ASSOCIATION From today's Wall Street Journal: "Howard Dean's 'interesting theory' that President Bush could have averted the 9/11 attacks has generated a catalogue of equally interesting theories -- not merely on the Internet, or from the likes of Tim Robbins and Paul Krugman, but on the 2004 campaign trail. The theorists run the gamut from the obscure and insane..." Thanks to Caroline Baum for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:46 AM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY Dumb, but funny.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:55 AM | link
Krugman acts shocked that the Bush administration has anything less than a kind word to say about the counterterrorism czar on duty on September 11, who's now saying "I told you so" and blaming everybody in the administration but himself. Krugman quotes Vice President Dick Cheney saying Clarke was "out of the loop," and White House spokesman Scott McClellan saying it's "more about politics and a book promotion than about policy." Krugman calls those gentle chides "character assassination."
Okay, then. If that's character assassination, then what do you call what Krugman does to former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer in this column? In the column's first paragraph, Krugman writes:
Fleischer said this in response to two questions from reporters at a White House press briefing fifteen days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The first was about disparaging remarks about Sikh-Americans made by Republican congressman John Cooksey, and the second about remarks by comedian Bill Maher that American soldiers are cowards while the 9/11 terrorists were not. Fleischer said,
The remark simply wasn't about accepting "the administration's version of events" or about not asking "awkward questions." It was about not making racist remarks in what could be a potential lynch-mob environment -- and about not calling American soldiers cowards.
Does Krugman's vicious distortion of Fleischer's statement flatly runs afoul of the New York Time's ethics guidelines? Well, yes and no. They state: "In every case, writer and editor must both be satisfied that the intent of the subject has been preserved." What a wonderfully Timesian rule! How beautifully inward-looking! There's no requirement that the intent actually has to be preserved -- it's that people who work for the Times have to be satisfied. I have no doubt that Krugman and his editor Gail Collins are mightily satisfied.
What would Times "public editor" Daniel Okrent say? Here's a clue. He wrote about the ethics of quotations on January 4, after a Times story caused a furor by eliminating a few key words from a Bush statement on gay marriage. He said:
That means it's only a matter of time (and we hear it will be a very short time indeed) until Okrent comes out with his long-anticipated commentary on the matter of fairness, accuracy and corrections on the Times editorial page.
What, we may wonder, has taken Okrent so long? Maybe it's because the Times plays as rough with anyone who criticizes its sacred cow columnists as Krugman says the Bush administration does with its enemies.
Times executive editor Bill Keller publicly called Okrent's January 4 column "an ill-informed swipe." By Krugman's standards, that's character assassination.
And how about what Krugman himself said about me on national television -- that I "stalked" him "personally"? That's character assassination by anyone's standards.
And how about the Times sending an FBI agent to intimidate a harmless female limo driver in Cincinnati who sent Krugman an email criticizing him, which she described to me as "a 'nasty' letter with, however, ZERO threats."
And how about the Times using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to shut down a web page put up by Krugman Truth Squad member Robert Cox of the National Debate blog? The page was a perfect trompe l'oeil replica of the Times web site's corrections page -- but listing all the corrections of errors by columnists that the Times is afraid to publish (including a number of Krugman howlers that you read here first). The page is back, now bearing text that declares it is a parody.
Does it seem that a corporate policy of fear and intimidation aimed at critics is emerging here?
It's like Paul Krugman said in a recent interview on the "Lateline" show on Australian television. He was asked to react to my trademark characterization of him as "America's most dangerous liberal pundit." He said, "Well, look this is good...let them hate as long as they fear."
Sound familiar? It should. It's a quote from Emperor Caligula. And it was the title of Krugman's March 7, 2003 Times column. Krugman's called it the "perfect description of George Bush's attitude toward the world." His reaction? "...what I feel, above all, is shame."
But now? When the fear is on the other foot? "Well, look this is good..."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:50 AM | link
Monday, March 22, 2004THE KERRY ENDORSEMENTS KEEP POURING IN FROM AROUND THE WORLD... Thanks to Dave Duval for this link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:11 PM | link
IF IT'S NOT ONE GORY MOVIE, IT'S ANOTHER "Dead" dethrones "Passion" at the top of the charts. Thanks to Irwin Chusid for the link.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:29 AM | link
JOKE OF THE DAY
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:09 AM | link
CLARKE COUNTERPOINT Thanks to reader Dan Good for pointing out this oustanding piece from Powerline refuting the latest bit of coordinated Bush-bashing in the media -- charges by Clinton administration security officials that "we told you so" on Al Qaeda.
"Where to begin: the mind boggles at such shamelessness. To state the obvious, in late 2000 the Clinton administration was STILL IN OFFICE. If there were steps that needed to be taken immediately to counter the al Qaeda threat, as they 'bluntly' told President Bush's transition team, why didn't they take those steps themselves?
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:05 AM | link
Sunday, March 21, 2004DEPT. OF KNOWING WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT... Another letter from one of the many soldiers who have been reading this blog from Iraq, this one a lieutenant colonel who is just returning stateside.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 6:27 PM | link