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Friday, October 31, 2003

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Paul Krugman watchers across the web have wondered how he'd respond to yesterday's announcement of blow-out GDP growth in the third quarter at a 7.2% rate, the best in almost 20 years (which was the last time really big tax cuts took effect). And Krugman's New York Times column this morning doesn't disappoint. It's all there, according to the playbook. Grudging acknowledgment of the good news and skepticism about whether it can last. And of course an utter refusal to give President Bush's economic policies any credit for the good news, but blaming Bush in advance for all the reasons why it won't last. This Krugman column will no doubt be blogged to death over the weekend, and I'll keep you posted. But in the meantime, just one note...

Here's what Krugman wrote less than three months ago:

"Over the last few weeks two numbers have led to a spate of optimistic pronouncements. One is the preliminary estimate of second-quarter growth, which came in at a 2.4 percent annual rate — about one point higher than expected. The other is the rate of new applications for unemployment insurance, which has fallen slightly below 400,000 per week. But while the growth and new claims numbers were good news, they didn't tell us that the economy is improving. All they said is that things are getting worse more slowly. This should be obvious when it comes to growth."

Yes. It should be obvious when it comes to growth.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:52 AM | link  

Thursday, October 30, 2003

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This made my evening. Thanks to reader Aaron Dickey, who spotted this in the New York Post:

"ED Koch says New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman is 'lamebrained.' The former mayor is irked by Krugman's Oct. 21 column explaining why Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attacked Jews before a Muslim leadership conference, when he said, 'The Jews rule the world by proxy: They get others to fight and die for them.' Krugman wrote, 'So what's with the anti-Semitism? Almost surely it's part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act.' Koch told us: 'There is a French expression, "To understand everything is to forgive everything." Using Krugman's logic, we should understand Hitler's needs and forgive him as well. He needed to blame Germany's defeat in World War I on the Jews. Krugman's defenses are lame and his column is lame-brained.'"

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:57 AM | link  

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

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How do they think of stuff like this? Check out the Krugman Cat Altitude Index, by Jeremy Yoder. (TOTH to Dave Hogberg.)

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:29 PM | link  

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Reader Patrick Sullivan has unearthed this astonishing quote from an April 1999 Slate feature by Paul Krugman. In the context of a discussion of Kosovo, Krugman wrote:

"...I do not think of myself as an all-purpose pundit. I remember once (during the air phase of the Gulf War) seeing John Kenneth Galbraith making pronouncements on TV about the military situation, and telling friends that if I ever start pontificating in public about a technical subject I don't understand, they should gag me."

Well, Paul, that's exactly what I'm trying to do.

Sullivan points out some other astonishing quotations from the same feature. Can you believe that these words -- endorsing unilateral military action in Kosovo without Europe's blessing -- are from the same Paul Krugman who has so urgently insisted on multilateralism in Iraq? But then again, a Democrat was in the White House in 1999.

" can't be a great power unless you are prepared to risk your own citizens' lives. If we discover the strength of character to do the right thing, there is still the question of whether European nations will also be prepared to join in...

"I've also noticed the surprising willingness of the British to take on this cause, in contrast to the rest of Europe; but if you've spent any time in Britain you know that World War II has a special meaning there, as it does in the United States to a lesser extent. I hate to sound like an old-fashioned nationalist, but nations really are always forged from struggle, and that struggle usually involves war. ...Suppose, just suppose, that NATO really does rise to the challenge--that its European members, in particular, manage to find the willpower to really reclaim Kosovo and bring the war criminals to justice. That could be the kind of thing that makes Europe a spiritual reality, not just a source of agricultural subsidies."

Perhaps my perspicacious friend Sullivan can find a juicy quote showing how Krugman felt about Clinton's cutting capital gains taxes in 1997 -- but I doubt it. My guess is that while Krugman may give Clinton a pass on a unilateral military adventure or just about anything else, I'll bet he'd draw the line at tax cuts. That's something Krugman would never forgive any president for.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:00 AM | link  

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

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In case you missed James Taranto's hilarious piece today on Wall Street Journal Interactive's "Best of the Web Today," all I can say is... "enjoy." And thanks, Jim.

"Paul Bawls

"'Hello, New York Times subscription department? Yes, I'm calling to report a wet paper. That's right, I got my paper this morning but it was soaking wet. OK. Yeah, so you'll credit my account? Great, thanks a lot.

"'Hey, just out of curiosity, do you have any idea why my paper was wet? It wasn't raining this morning; there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was who? Klugman? The guy from 'The Odd Couple'? Oh, Krugman, Paul Krugman--the former Enron adviser. What do you mean, Donald Luskin started it? What happened?

"'Yes . . . uh-huh . . . I see . . .

"'OK, so let me see if I have this straight: Donald said Paul likes Mohamad, but Paul said he doesn't like Mohamad, he just hates George. Then Paul said Donald is a mean old stalker and his country sucks, and Paul started bawling like a baby, drenching the op-ed page in tears. And that's why the paper was wet.

"'Oh dear, children can be so cruel, can't they? And Paul is such a sensitive boy. Well, you give Paul a nice soothing glass of milk and comfort him by telling him he's a very bright young man who'll grow up to do great things, and crying is nothing to be ashamed of.

"'Hopefully that'll put him in a better mood, so Friday's paper will be dry.'"

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:19 PM | link  

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A veritable efflorescence of Krugman crit! Here's a studiously anonymous blogger on a "throwdown" with Brad DeLong over Paul Krugman's smear tactics. Here's Dave Hogberg trying to be polite with a Krugnoid as he reaches into his letter bag at the American Spectator -- and not so polite with Eric Alterman (we haven't heard much from him lately, since that horrendous gaffe last Friday). Here's Robert Musil being patient but forceful with an errant Tom Maguire's Krugman revisionism. And here's James DiBenedetto asking Krugman, "so what's your answer to Islamic anti-Semitism?"

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:07 PM | link  

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Hey folks! -- as "Bobby" would say. Here's one transcript that's not likely to show up on the Paul Krugman shrine-site. It's me on Fox News' "HANNITY & COLMES" last night, answering Krugman's false accusation that I "stalked" him "personally."

ALAN COLMES: A couple weeks ago on Hannity and Colmes we interviewed Paul Krugman about his book, The Great Unraveling. During that interview, Mike Gallagher, who was filling in for Sean, questioned Krugman about information attributed to him on a website called Let's take a look…


MIKE GALLAGHER: …you called President Bush a recovering alcoholic who has fallen off the wagon. Of course you

PAUL KRUGMAN: I never said that.


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


KRUGMAN: …but I never said that.


KRUGMAN: Well, call him…

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

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


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 was accurate…

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

GALLAGHER: …in terms of talking about…

KRUGMAN: I never said that.

GALLAGHER: OK. Well, then, I apologize if the website misattributed that. Let's ask you about the assertion at this which does track all the things you say and…


GALLAGHER: …and researches them, and re… and, and checks them and…

KRUGMAN: And gets them wrong all the time.


KRUGMAN: Is this the best you can do?

GALLAGHER: How about, how about, your lecture…

KRUGMAN: Go after…go after some crazy internet person?

[End tape]

COLMES: Here with us now is the man behind the website, Donald Luskin. He's a contributing editor to the National Review Online. Don, I want to give you a chance to respond.

DONALD LUSKIN: Well, what can one say to that? I'm a critic of Paul Krugman, not a stalker of Paul Krugman. And I'm a critic because he uses his position as a New York Times op-ed columnist and as a Princeton economist to say the most unconscionably irresponsible things about people, like you just heard him say about me. He calls George Bush a "looter," and on the same day he goes on your show and calls me a "stalker." The only time I've ever even laid eyes on Paul Krugman is when I attended a lecture he gave three weeks ago as part of his media tour to promote his book. Stalking is a felony in the state of California. Attending a lecture is not a felony. He owes me a big-time apology.

COLMES: Now as I understand it, you went to that lecture with a camcorder and recorded it. Was that permitted? Did they ask you not to have the camcorder there?

LUSKIN: No, of course not. If they'd asked me to I wouldn't have done it.

COLMES: And you website is devoted -- I went to your website today, it's -- a lot of it's devoted to Paul Krugman. Why do you give him so much of your attention?

LUSKIN: Well, I'm writing a book about the way economics is abused to mislead people. I call it "The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid." And Krugman is the prime example of that. He masquerades as an economic scientist, so when he gives his opinion on the op-ed page of America's "newspaper of record," if you disagree with him, he can call you a liar. And that's not fair.

SEAN HANNITY: Don, you gonna sue him?

LUSKIN: Well, you know, my counsel told me to respond to a question like that by saying that I can't respond to a question like that.

HANNITY: [Laughs] Okay, that's fair, I understand. Did he say that comment that Mike was asking about, about the alcoholic? Did he say it? Do you have proof of it?

LUSKIN: Just pay your $2.50 and go the New York Times archive and look at his January 17th column. Judge for yourself. It's black and white.

HANNITY: So he did say it. I mean…

LUSKIN: Of course he did.

HANNITY: …but yet he did say on this program specifically that he did not say it.

LUSKIN: Well, he also denied on your program that, at that lecture I attended, he urged his audience to vote for the Democratic party. He denied that. I have it on tape.

HANNITY: Yeah. Yeah, no, I understand, I mean, do you feel -- is there where you want to go, in terms of… if things become a legal matter, you know… you're doing great work, you have other interests you're involved in, do you really want to pursue it to that extent? You know what I'm saying? Because you give up a portion of your life every time you're involved in a law suit. I've been involved in a few.

LUSKIN: What I want is justice. I want Paul Krugman to give me a public apology with the same degree of exposure and conviction with which he smeared me.

COLMES: All right Donald, thank you very much for your…

HANNITY: If he wants to come back on this program, we'll invite him back to do that.

COLMES: Thank you very much…

LUSKIN: Let's have a debate. Bring him on. I'm ready.

HANNITY: Absolutely. Okay.

Thanks to Fox and "Hannity & Colmes" for really being "fair and balanced." Now let's get that debate scheduled (yeah, right...).

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:18 AM | link  

Monday, October 27, 2003

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Now why do you suppose that the New York Times ran this letter from the American Jewish Committee today, protesting Paul Krugman's October 21 column excusing Mahathir Mohamad's anti-Semitism -- but didn't run the letter sent by the Anti-Defamation League? It could be because the ADL published their letter on their own website first, so the Times' couldn't have defanged it without getting caught cheating. Or maybe it's because the AJC ran a paid ad in the Times Sunday, and the ADL didn't.

"Paul Krugman's Oct. 21 column contextualized and rationalized the hateful anti-Semitic remarks of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia at the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

"The unmistakable message Mr. Mahathir sent to his own citizens, as well as to Muslims worldwide, is that hatred of Jews is essential to addressing the social, economic and political challenges facing Muslims in their own countries. Mr. Mahathir has held this view for years, long before the Bush administration, seen by Mr. Krugman as contributing to the problem, came to power...

"The Malaysian prime minister's propagation of classic anti-Semitism is crystal-clear. There should be no doubt or equivocation about the implications of his words.

Executive Director, American Jewish Committee"

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:30 AM | link  

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I'll be on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" tonight defending myself against a Paul Krugman smear, one he made on that show on October 17 when he said I "stalked" him "personally." And having falsely accused me of a felony, Krugman now has the gall to accuse me of smearing him in a new posting on his personal website.

Why? Because last week on National Review Online and on this blog I quoted Krugman's own words to demonstrate his apparent long-time complicity in the anti-Semitism of Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. I caught him dead-to-rights. So what else can he do but try to blame the whistle-blower?

So Krugman's full of delicious righteous outrage, comparing himself to Joseph Wilson IV (some role model!) and fulminating about "the sleaziness of these people" (that would be me) who dare to hold him accountable for his own words. He thinks that just because he's a vocal critic of the president, he's being singled out for being "soft on anti-Semitism" when "[m]any people have written about the political motives that induce Moslem leaders to promote anti-Semitism; they aren’t accused of condoning that anti-Semitism."

But I'm not talking about being "soft." I'm not talking about "condoning." And I'm not talking about anything that "many people" have done. I'm talking about Paul Krugman actively lending his name, his reputation, and his presence to a 1998 political event in Malaysia where he appeared on-stage with Mahathir. I'm talking about Krugman writing an article for the New York Times Magazine in 1998 publicly supporting Mahathir's claims that "Jewish speculators" were responsible for the currency crisis.

How could Krugman -- who says in Friday's post that he is a Jew whose relatives died at Treblinka -- ever even consider doing such things?

Obviously it was Krugman's hatred of George W. Bush that made him write last Tuesday's Times column. At least in that column he had the good sense to call Mahathir's anti-Semitism "inexcusable," before he went on to excuse it as being the result of Bush's foreign policy.

But how about Krugman's scandalous behavior in 1998? Was it vanity that drove him to it? It must have been quite a thrill for Krugman to have an approach he recommended for solving Malaysia's 1997-1998 currency crisis dubbed "the Krugman-Mahathir strategy," and be invited by Mahathir to come to Malaysia for a victory lap after is apparently worked. Now, with the frisson of rubbing elbows with the rich and despotic in exotic climes having worn off,  Krugman is now dismissing that trip "an unpleasant professional duty." Or as he said in Slate a year after the trip, "But sometimes an economist has to do what an economist has to do."

Indeed, perhaps an economist "has to" recommend solutions for economic crises threatening nations -- indeed, whole regions -- as was the case in 1997 and 1998. That some of these nations are ruled by anti-Semitic totalitarian regimes can be overlooked in the name of preventing further suffering by the nations' people. But that doesn't mean that, after the crisis has passed, an economist "has to" prop up the anti-Semitic totalitarian regime by being its guest for "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 front of a disturbingly obsequious audience of a hundred or so businessmen."

I have publicly demanded that Krugman disclose how this trip was paid for. Krugman wrote in his web posting, "I have never received any money from Mahathir or the Malaysian government." But that's hardly sufficient. Does that mean that Krugman received no fee for the day at the Palace of the Golden Horses. Was he reimbursed for the expense of traveling halfway around the world for an "unpleasant professional duty"? Krugman was speaking at a conference at the same time -- who paid for that? Possibly an investment bank? Maybe one that gets fees for managing securities offerings for the Malaysian government? Professor Krugman, you are an expert on international finance, so you tell me: how many hands does dirty money have to pass through before it seems clean to you?

In Krugman's web posting he has cagily chosen to be silent about something even more vile than his stage show with Mahathir. In a 1998 article in the New York Times Magazine, this expert on international finance publicly supported Mahathir's scandalous claims that "Jewish speculators" were responsible for Malaysia's currency crisis. Here's what Krugman wrote:

"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."

The first example of an evil speculator? George Soros -- a Jew. Why the silence now, I wonder? Probably because there's just nothing to say at this point. There's no possible explanation or excuse (and Krugman's certainly not about to apologize). And why raise the issue of "the machinations of Jewish speculators" now that George Soros has suddenly become such a major source of funds to the Democratic party?

Krugman began that New York Times Magazine article by referring to the 1921 German silent film, Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler -- about an evil criminal mastermind and currency speculator. He didn't mention that the film's director, Fritz Lang, was offered the job of being in charge of all Nazi cinema production. The offer came from none other than Joseph Goebbels. Lang fled Germany that very day, leaving behind his wife, his property, his fortune and his career.

That's the right role model -- not Joseph Wilson. And Krugman wouldn't have even had to flee his country or leave anything behind. Except his unreasoning hatred of George W. Bush and his own colossal vanity.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:48 AM | link