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Thursday, September 04, 2003

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Paul Krugman has posted a preliminary tour schedule to promote his new book, The Great Unraveling (and my many spies have informed me of other dates and venues that he has not chosen to disclose here). Now I know most of you are already committed on these dates to various events involving Al Franken. But just in case you are able to make it, I know you'll want to engage Krugman in debate at a level of quality and rigor that someone of his stature deserves. So below I've developed a set of debate strategies for you to use, optimized for each location.
Date and location Debate strategy
Monday Sept. 8: NY, 8 PM, talk at the 92nd St. Y Boston Cream
Saturday Sept. 13: Del Mar, CA, The Bookworks: 4-6 PM Banana Cream
Wed Sept. 17: DC, World Bank Info Shop, 12-1 PM Chocolate Satin
Thursday Sept. 18: DC, St. Paul Lutheran Church (for Politics and Prose), 7-10 PM Dutch Apple
Friday Sept. 19: Boston/Cambridge, First Parish Church (for Harvard Bookstore), 5:45 PM French Apple
Tuesday Sept. 23: NYC, New School at 6 PM ("Times Talks"), Barnes and Noble Union Square 7:30 PM Blueberry
Wed. Sept. 24: CA, Sonoma Community Center for Readers Books Rhubarb
Thurs Sept. 25: CA, Corte Madera, Book Passage Bookstore, 1-2:30 PM, then World Affairs Council of N. California, 6:30 PM Fresh Peach
Fri Sept. 26: Berkeley, 11-12 with students, 12-1:30 larger audience Cherry
Mon Sept. 29, Philadelphia, World Affairs Council, 5:30 PM Caramel Apple Sour Cream
Tuesday Sept. 30: Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 5:30 PM Fresh Strawberry
Friday, Oct. 3: Manchester VT, Northshire Bookstore, 7 PM Lemon Custard
Monday, Oct. 6: UC San Diego, 7:30 PM Lemon Cream
Thursday Oct. 9: Redmond WA, Microsoft Campus, 1:30 PM, then Seattle Town Hall at 7:30 PM Lemon Meringue

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:34 PM | link  

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

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Is this what you have to do when you're competing for market-share with the likes of Al Franken? Apparently Paul Krugman will now stop at nothing to promote his new book, The Great Unraveling. In this interview on the website Liberal Oasis, Krugman discusses the book's introduction in which he candidly likens the Bush administration to the Third Reich.

Tom Maguire of the Just One Minute blog quoted this earlier today without comment. Perhaps it was Tom's sense of delicacy, or simple disbelief,  that caused him to leave it up to readers to call a spade a spade about the profoundly offensive level of mudslinging to which Krugman has now descended. It's been bad enough for Krugman to call everyone with whom he disagrees a liar. It's quite another matter, now, for him to start calling his ideological opponents Nazis.

"He [Henry Kissinger, in a book] talked in very generic terms about the difficulty of people who have been accustomed to a status quo, diplomatically, coping with what he called a 'revolutionary power.' ...he was clearly intending that people should understand that it related to the failure of diplomacy against Germany in the 30s.

"...confronted with people with some power, domestic or foreign, that really doesnít play by the rules, most people just canít admit to themselves that this is really happening.

"They keep on imagining that, 'Oh, you know, they have limited goals. When they make these radical pronouncements thatís just tactical and we can appease them a little bit by giving them some of what they want. And eventually weíll all be able to sit down like reasonable men and work it out.'

"Then at a certain point you realize, 'My God, weíve given everything away that makes system work. Weíve given away everything we counted on.'

"And thatís basically the story of whatís happened with the Right in the United States. And itís still happening."

Krugman can dress it up all he wants with references to scholarly works by Henry Kissinger. And he can justify it all he wants with statements like "The key thing, in terms of the state of the world right now, is that the United States has gone mad." But the blunt fact here is that a columnist for America's most respected newspaper -- not a has-been comedian like Franken -- has gone way beyond any acceptable bounds of constructive public discourse. Just within the last six months Krugman has escalated from comparing George W. Bush to Captain Queeg and Emperor Caligula to likening his administration to the greatest force for death and suffering in the history of the world. "Gone mad," indeed.

Oh... and a note to W. W. Norton, publisher of Krugman's new book: don't think that your denial of my repeated requests for a review copy of the book is going to keep me from saying what needs to be said.

Update... Tom Maguire has updated his earlier post (same link), and notes that Krugman is hardly the first to make the Nazi analogy. Tom's right -- in fact, it's been made many times, and with many different targets in mind. Indeed, one of the things that's so obnoxious about Krugman's making the analogy is that he goes to so much solemn trouble to be so unoriginal. Yet at the same time, I think it is missing the point to dismiss this on such grounds. It is significant and troubling that this gutter attack would be uttered by someone of such immense putative authority and respectability as a columnist for the New York Times.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 7:52 PM | link  

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Well, he's still little. But almost four years later he's not so cute anymore. Check this out, from the baby album... the October 8, 1999 announcement that Paul Krugman would become a regular New York Times op-ed writer. Was this really just four years ago?

"M.I.T. Economics Professor To Write a Times Column

"The New York Times announced yesterday that Paul Krugman, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an author known for his theories on international trade and economics, would become a columnist on the Op-Ed page. Mr. Krugman's column will appear twice a week, beginning in January, and will be The Times's first regular Op-Ed column devoted to economics, business and finance."

The Royal Tennenbaums -- click here to order now from to believe. Back then Krugman was the bright young thing of economics, "known for his theories on international trade" and his witty if somewhat arcane column for Slate. His mandate was not politics at all, but a "column devoted to economics, business and finance." Remember, then the bull market was in full flower. In fact Krugman's first column ran on January 2, 2000, just 12 days before the Dow Jones Industrial Average logged its never-seen-since all-time high at 11722.98. In those heady days economics was another cultural phenomenon about which Howell Raines wished to provide sophisticated exegesis. What an innocent era.

Shrill partisan politics has been Paul Krugman's bear market parachute strategy. Or to put it another way, some of us are born partisan hacks, and others have partisan hackhood thrust upon us. But the times they are a-changing, even if the Times isn't. With the markets making new highs day by day, and accelerating economic recovery becoming increasingly obvious, what color is Krugman's bull market parachute going to be?

Just to show that I'm not entirely a hack, allow me to tip my hat to an excellent editorial in the lead position on today's Times edit page. It's a rational, enlightened and non-partisan treatment of the US's trade relationship with China, and China's management of its currency. Way to go.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:08 AM | link  

Monday, September 01, 2003

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Paul Krugman, September 2, 2003:
"I admire the virtues of free markets as much as anyone."
Now this could make a great party game. Let's see, where do I begin...? How about, Paul Krugman, June 20, 1999:
"The question of how to keep demand adequate to make use of the capacity has become crucial. Depression economics is back. a world where there is often not enough demand to go around, the case for free markets is a hard case to make."
Now it's your turn...

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:50 PM | link  

Sunday, August 31, 2003

TAKE THAT, MARIO!    "Two-thirds of voters ó including two-thirds of Democrats ó were unable to name any of the Democratic candidates for president, said the CBS News poll out Sunday. "

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:19 PM | link  

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Mario Cuomo admits defeat on behalf of the Democratic Party in today's New York Times Magazine. Here's his idea for Democratic presidential candidates countering President Bush's military successes:

"You say, you won two wars, but you won them with Clinton's armed forces, not your own. When Cheney after the war in 1991 as the secretary of defense, on behalf of President Bush, called President Reagan to say thank you for the armed forces that just defeated Saddam Hussein, that was the proper thing to do. Too bad you didn't call Clinton. Because you should have."

Perhaps the President makes a distinction between former presidents who built up the military versus former president who diminished it. But be that as it may, Miss Manners and Emily Post are both silent on whether etiquette requires incumbent presidents to thank former presidents for their military endowments under any circumstance. And both are also silent on whether an incumbent governor's feelings should be taken into account in a recall election, such as California's. Here's Cuomo:

"It's too much democracy..."

"[Times:] That you could recall an executive is an odd and maybe scary concept.

"Well, depending on how the executive feels about it when he's banished."

On Arnold Schwarzenegger -- whom Cuomo calls "a man I admire" and then dismisses as what Paul Krugman called "the bodybuilder who would be governor":

Dr. Strangelove -- click here to order now from"I've met him. He seems a very nice man, frankly -- certainly intelligent, and active and admirable in many ways. He's an immigrant, which gives him a big edge with me, to be honest. My parents were immigrants. He built himself into a beautiful body, and a winner, and then into an actor. And so he's a man that I admire. I have great reservations about him as a governor, however, especially given the unusual circumstances. And the notion that, as he says, you don't really need experience -- why say that? Well, because you're surrounded by Pete Wilson, and other people with experience. Well, if you don't need experience, why are you surrounded by people with experience? Why don't you get a whole lot of people who are intelligent people like you and can still lift weights?"

"[Times:] What chance do you give him?

"Of what? Lifting weights?"

Cuomo concludes by referring to all this as "these great arguments that no one ever hears." That, indeed, is the Democrats' only hope. The Democratic National Committee might want to drop a note to the Times -- to thank them, of course, but  also to subtly suggest that they not be so helpful in the future.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:26 PM | link