Two American columnists on the Greek elections: one who is hopelessly wrong, and one who is painfully correct

The_Parthenon_Acropolis_Athens_Greece_1440x1080When Greek voters elected a hard-Left politician who promised to reverse austerity, Paul Krugman celebrated wildly.  In a column filled with economic cant, he explained that it was always a disaster for Greece to turn to austerity when its economy collapsed, instead of spending its way out of its financial woes:

To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions.

You see, the economic projections that accompanied the standby arrangement assumed that Greece could impose harsh austerity with little effect on growth and employment. Greece was already in recession when the deal was reached, but the projections assumed that this downturn would end soon — that there would be only a small contraction in 2011, and that by 2012 Greece would be recovering. Unemployment, the projections conceded, would rise substantially, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to almost 15 percent in 2012, but would then begin coming down fairly quickly.

What actually transpired was an economic and human nightmare. Far from ending in 2011, the Greek recession gathered momentum. Greece didn’t hit the bottom until 2014, and by that point it had experienced a full-fledged depression, with overall unemployment rising to 28 percent and youth unemployment rising to almost 60 percent. And the recovery now underway, such as it is, is barely visible, offering no prospect of returning to precrisis living standards for the foreseeable future.

Boiled down, Krugman said that the big bad banks closed the spigot on Greece’s socialized spending spree and Greeks suffered horribly. Krugman then went on to write several mind-numbing paragraphs about GDP and debt and the total failure of austerity.  The remedy, said Krugman, is to return to a centralized economy with massive government spending:

[Read more...]

Progressives truly don’t understand the difference between wealth and money

Paul Krugman, looking smug

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist.  He’s also remarkably ignorant (or stupid or, maybe, both).  Only someone lacking in brains and understanding would think that the U.S. could get out of its debt problem, not by printing paper money, but by minting a platinum coin and then denominating it a “$1 trillion coin.”  Nevertheless, that’s exactly what Krugman proposes.  He thinks (probably wrongly, as it turns out) that there’s a Constitutional loophole that allows the president to “print” a trillion-dollar coin:

Enter the platinum coin. There’s a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector’s items — but that’s not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling — while doing no economic harm at all.

Did you get that last little bit?  Magically creating a trillion dollars will do “no economic harm at all.”  It’s worth exploring Krugman’s reasoning, to which he helpfully links (since he is, after all, judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to all thinks economic).  I’ll quote him at length, because only then can one fully appreciate his reasoning:

In reality, to pursue the thought further, the coin really would be as much a Federal debt as the T-bills the Fed owns, since eventually Treasury would want to buy it back. So this is all a gimmick — but since the debt ceiling itself is crazy, allowing Congress to tell the president to spend money then tell him that he can’t raise the money he’s supposed to spend, there’s a pretty good case for using whatever gimmicks come to hand.

But leaving the debt ceiling on one side, isn’t it true that since spending can currently be financed by Fed money printing, we shouldn’t care at all about the notional debt owed to the Fed? Alas, no.

It’s true that printing money isn’t at all inflationary under current conditions — that is, with the economy depressed and interest rates up against the zero lower bound. But eventually these conditions will end. At that point, to prevent a sharp rise in inflation the Fed will want to pull back much of the monetary base it created in response to the crisis, which means selling off the Federal debt it bought. So even though right now that debt is just a claim by one more or less governmental agency on another governmental agency, it will eventually turn into debt held by the public.

What those three paragraphs circle around is the magic word: inflation. Krugman believes that magically pulling a trillion dollars out of the air won’t produce inflation but that, at some magical point in the future, President Obama will have borrowed so much money that he will be able to pay back the trillion dollars before inflation occurs.  One suspects that Krugman is envisioning a scheme along the lines of check kiting, with Obama borrowing a trillion from the feds, so he can borrow a trillion from someone else, and then use that second trillion to pay back the first.

Dunce cap

The fundamental flaw with Krugman’s whole theory, of course (which even he acknowledges is a “gimmick”), is that it ignores the difference between money, which merely a symbol of varying value, and wealth, which is the real measure of a healthy, rich economy.  Apparently I need to give Krugman my “Economics 101″ lecture, the same I used when my kids were nine to help explain to them the difference between money and wealth, and the concept of inflation.  Here goes:

In the old days  – the really old days  – there was no money. Instead, there were goods. For example, you might have had wheat to spare, but you needed a cow. I, on the other hand, had a cow and but was short of wheat. The two of us were a match made in heaven, trading our goods to fulfill our desires.


Problems arose, of course, when I wanted the wheat, which you had, but you wanted a chicken, not a cow. Or perhaps you had wheat, but only a little, and certainly not worth enough to trade for an entire cow.

This old system also had a problem with mobility. It’s simply not feasible to carry bushels of wheat with you wherever you go, unless you have a really big purse. And cows are hard to lead into the pub in exchange for a nice pint o’ beer. Not to mention the fact that you’d need a lot of pints to equal one cow.

Something better needed to come along. And it did: Gold.

Very heavy gold

Gold’s a great substance. It’s beautiful; infinitely malleable; it blends well with other metals; it doesn’t degrade; and it can be replenished, although the effort needed to replenish it ensures the rarity that’s necessary to its value as a commodity.

The only downside to gold is that it’s heavy. Very, very heavy. Get enough gold together, and you’ve suddenly got the weight of that cow to carry around  – and, once again, your purse isn’t big enough.

In all societies, some people, whether through trade, warfare, or outright theft, proved more adept at amassing wealth (whether wheat, cows, or gold) than others did, and they assumed leadership positions. Once in those positions, they tended to demand that their subordinates pay them protection money. These funds protected the hapless payor both from harassment by that same leader and from attacks launched by enemies outside the kingdom.


Eventually, this protection racket got formalized as taxes. Leaders also discovered that, in addition to providing protection for their subjects, there was a virtue in paying for basic services within the kingdom, such as roads, minimal care for the very poor, etc. A well-run kingdom increased everyone’s wealth.

But back to those grand clumps of heavy, heavy gold. Someone eventually got the idea that, rather than schlepping around gold, it would be a good idea to have currency made from lighter weight metals or even paper. These could be used to purchase myriad things that were worth less than a single gold coin and were easier to transport.


Because you couldn’t have random sheets of paper or chunks of silver or copper roaming around in the guise of currency, these money substitutes were useful only to the extent people believed them to be backed by the genuine gold article — and the only way to ensure that people could trust these substitutes was to delegate to a single entity the task of guarding the real gold and issuing the substitute coinage or paper. The entity that ended up responsible for holding the gold and backing the substitutes is government.

There are two important things to remember at this point: First, the substitute money’s worth is always relative to the gold. If the gold is finite, but you mint more coins or print more paper, each coin or note is worth less as it becomes a smaller fraction of the available gold. Put another way, imagine that over a six month period the government keeps printing notes until it has six times as many notes as it has gold. Milk that cost one piece of paper in January will cost six pieces of paper in June. The milk’s value in gold is the same; it’s the paper that became less valuable. (This, I helpfully explained to my kids, is inflation.)

Second, and this is the really important thing, one must remember that, nowadays, unlike the feudal lord of old who went and out ravaged another country to get gold, today’s governments doesn’t go out and amass gold; they just generate the coins and paper. To the extent the government has wealth, it’s because it uses its police power to demand that its citizens give it their wealth in the form of taxes. The government hasn’t created anything. In today’s America, as in all modern economies, only the people create wealth.

Platinum coin

For Obama to mint a platinum coin does nothing to increase the country’s wealth.  It’s just generating a piece of metal to which the Leftist government assigns an arbitrary value to justify taking on more debt that America cannot afford and cannot repay.  For Paul Krugman to advocate this course of action isn’t just ignorant and stupid, it’s reckless to the point of national economic homicide.  Too bad Krugman is incapable of feeling ashamed of himself.

This and that, from here and there — the good and the evil from today’s news

There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing someone slice and dice Paul Krugman’s latest idiocies.  Randall Hoven does a magnificent job.  The only sad thing about it is that he’s preaching to the choir.  The ones who really should read his article — namely, the ones who think Krugman is actually smart and honest — will resolutely turn their eyes away from anything that doesn’t bear the liberal media’s imprimatur.


I’ve been feeling smug because, next month, I’m going into San Francisco to hear Stephen Moore speak about his new book, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?: The Truth about Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America. I’m feeling even more smug now, because the inestimable Thomas Sowell gives it the highest possible praise:

If everyone in America had read Stephen Moore’s new book, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?: The Truth about Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America, Barack Obama would have lost the election in a landslide.

Now I’ve added excitement to my previously existing smugness.


There’s something wrong with America when it’s Germany that leads the way in announcing that it will not back the formation of a Palestinian state at the UN.  Germany’s absolutely right, of course.  The Palestinians, despite getting Gaza to themselves, have done nothing to create even a semblance of a state.  They have no civil structure, no law, and no economy other than handouts from other nations.  All they’ve got is a thriving genocide-centered terrorism industry.  I wonder when Susan Rice, who currently does occupy the position of the U.S.’s ambassador to the UN, will get on board with this one.


Speaking of Rice, Republicans on Capitol Hill, and those few RINOs to whom the media grants access, are again allowing themselves to be silenced by the strident Progressive/Democrat bleat that they are “racist” for opposing Susan Rice’s possible nomination to be Secretary of State.  As for me, I hadn’t realized Rice was black.  I’ve seen her pictures, but I just assumed she was darker of complexion than I am.

Frankly, everyone is darker of complexion than I am.  When I was a baby in my stroller, my mom stepped onto an elevator that already held a woman and her young child.  The woman took one look at me, and then pulled her child towards herself, saying “Say away from that baby, Amanda.  She’s a very sick baby.”  I was not sick.  That was me in the pink of health.  I just assumed that Rice was really healthy.  That she self-identifies as black actually surprised me.

But back to the topic at hand, which is the real reasons Rice is unqualified for the post of Secretary of State.  (Although I will say that anyone who takes on the job from Hillary Clinton is in the fortunate position of having  very little shoes to fill.)  For those who lose their brain power every time the word “racist” comes from the Democrat party, Joel Pollak has assembled a list of the top ten substantive reasons to oppose her nomination.  Because I wasn’t really paying attention in the 90s, I didn’t realize that her habit of lying to protect the Democrats is an old habit:

9. Refused to call Rwanda genocide a “genocide,” for political reasons. According to Obama advisor Samantha Power, Rice urged the Clinton administration not to call the Rwandan genocide what it was, for fear of the political impact on U.S. congressional elections in 1994. She and others worked to sanitize references to the genocide, scrubbing government memos to remove words such as “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.”

The other facts in the top ten list are equally damning.  It’s not Rice’s dark skin that means she’s not fit to serve.  It’s her absence of any sort of moral compass.


And finally, while we’re on the topic of people lacking a moral compass, here’s a short primer on all of the photo and video fraud that Hamas and its media enablers were able to propagate during a conflict that lasted a mere seven days:


Consider this an Open Thread, and feel free to add your own interesting comments and links.

Something enjoyable for those among us who think Andrew Sullivan is an intellectual fraud and tyrant

There are two thinkers on the Left whom I credit with helping me become more conservative:  Paul Krugman and Andrew Sullivan.  Both of them wrote (and still write) incredible horse pucky in publications I routinely read as a yuppie liberal.  I eventually realized that, if these two were lauded as the shining intellectual lights of my political ideology, than I was in the wrong ideology.  (And yes, I know Sullivan used to advertise himself as “conservative,” but that was a skin deep pose as far as I’m concerned.  His writing always pushed Progressive boundaries.)

Both men are not only ideological dead ends, they’re also unpleasant human beings, given to hurling personal insults and hiding behind their own hyper-inflated reputations.  Andrew Sullivan, though, adds to this a measure of spite and monomania — something that became apparent with his obsession about Trig Palin’s birth — that makes him the kind of person one just loves to see knocked down, and then kicked around a bit.  I don’t mean physically, of course, I mean intellectually.

If you enjoy the sight of having Andrew Sullivan get the intellectual stuffing kicked out of him, please take a few minutes to read Jesse Bering’s Scientific American post detailing the “debate” he’s had with Sullivan over male circumcision:  Hey, Andrew Sullivan, Stop Calling My Penis “Mutilated”.  Debate really isn’t an accurate word, though.  Sullivan’s contribution is a single shrill, vicious, emotion-laden, fact-free, strawman-filled, heterophobic screed.  Even by Sullivan’s own standards, it’s bad.  Bering’s part of the debate is humor and lots and lots of scientific fact.

By the way, as you read it, please keep in mind that Sullivan is a darling of all the science-worshiping Progressives.  He perfectly illustrates the fact that science is to be worshiped only when it marches in lockstep with the agenda.  When it doesn’t, as the Climategate scam demonstrated, Progressives will bend the science rather than change the agenda.

Obama’s true home town: the Leftist thought bubble *UPDATED*

My purpose in writing this post is to reveal and challenge the Leftist thought bubble in which Barack Obama lives.  Before I get to that point, however, I want to give you a little look at the on-the-ground effects that bubble has on those who are exposed only to Leftist thought.

At American Thinker, John Kenneth Press shares with readers a letter he received from someone who was with him throughout the PhD program at NYU.  He thought she was a friend.  He was wrong.  As she explains, he was not worthy of friendship because he had committed thought-crimes, which meant that she was sullying her “global citizen” soul by consorting with him.  Please note that this gal wasn’t accusing Press of serious things such as advocating genocide, or pedophilia, or racial superiority, or any of the other big no-nos.  Instead, he had the temerity to say, both in person and in his book, that multiculturalism isn’t a good idea.  She responded this way:

In the process of becoming a doctoral candidate my bubble was burst and I began to realize that the relational framework in which I lived in was not enough and I have begun to take responsibility for the political consequences and social implications of my own thoughts and actions.  This shedding of my more provincial self, therefore, lead to a more nuanced look at my associations and actions. I could no longer approve-by-association your public work to rally against building a mosque downtown, your concept of Americanization, your tea-party work, blog postings, etc.  I had to begin to consider our relationship not fraternally but as colleagues.

So frankly I cannot approve of your politics and maintain my own personal integrity as a global citizen.  I apologize if this sounds hurtful as I do have a tender spot for you.  I feel as if we grew up together in a certain sense – bumping into the sharp edges within this rabbit hole called NYU.  I fondly remember the steps we traveled together; I am grateful for the company at the time; and I wish you well in the future.

What will leap out at most-people is the narrow, angry, provincialism that this woman expresses, neatly wrapped up in high moral sentiment.  When struck me, though, was what an execrable writer she is.  It’s hard to imagine more awkward, pompous, bombastic, disorganized writing.  She is, in other words, the perfect PhD product of modern academia.  What should strike fear into your heart is the thought that, if computers take over grading standardized tests, all our young people will be taught to aspire to this type of writing.  Computers like long words and long sentences, and have little regard for logic, intelligibility, or simple human decency.

That gal’s condescending, pious, hate-filled screen reinforces what I’ve said before regarding the muddled, turgid opinions that liberal judges write:  the only way to fight common sense, law, and logic is to write badly.  Bad writing can have a superficial lucidity, but it will invariably collapse under the weight of logical scrutiny.

All of which gets me to Barack Obama’s reading material, revealed when he gave an “in-depth” interview to Rolling Stone magazine.  Daniel Halper has already called Obama out for his Alinsky-esque attack on Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist in that same interview.  Before 2008, no president would ever have done that.  Even Richard Nixon was careful to keep his enemies list private.  This viciousness, though, is vintage Obama, so it irritates, but doesn’t surprise.

What also shouldn’t surprise is Obama’s description of his reading and viewing material, a list that puts him in sync with 100% of America’s college educated Progressives.  Nevertheless, it’s worth noting, since it’s a laundry list of writers and performers who are distinguished by their fealty to the liberal canon, even if that puts them at odds with facts and logic.

What do you read regularly to keep you informed or provide you with perspectives beyond the inner circle of your advisers?
[Laughs] Other than Rolling Stone?

That goes without saying.
I don’t watch a lot of TV news. I don’t watch cable at all. I like The Daily Show, so sometimes if I’m home late at night, I’ll catch snippets of that. I think Jon Stewart’s brilliant. It’s amazing to me the degree to which he’s able to cut through a bunch of the nonsense – for young people in particular, where I think he ends up having more credibility than a lot of more conventional news programs do.

I spend a lot of time just reading reports, studies, briefing books, intelligence assessments.

I’ll thumb through all the major papers in the morning. I’ll read the Times and Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, just to catch up.

Do you read Paul Krugman?
I read all of the New York Times columnists. Krugman’s obviously one of the smartest economic reporters out there, but I also read some of the conservative columnists, just to get a sense of where those arguments are going. There are a handful of blogs, Andrew Sullivan’s on the Daily Beast being an example, that combine thoughtful analysis with a sampling of lots of essays that are out there. The New Yorker and The Atlantic still do terrific work. Every once in a while, I sneak in a novel or a nonfiction book.

Talk about a bubble.  As a reformed liberal, and one who lives with a committed liberal, I’m familiar with every one of Obama’s intellectual and ideal influences.  Jon Stewart is an obscene clown, who titillates his liberal audience with f-bomb laden riffs lauding Progressives and attacking conservatives.

The New York Times and the Washington Post are Democrat Party mouthpieces.

I suspect that Obama threw in the WSJ reference to burnish his intellectual chops.  Nothing he’s ever said or done is consistent with an understand of even the most basic market principles.  Of course, he could read the WSJ to figure out what will improve the market, so that he can do the opposite.  That might explain a lot….

Paul Krugman?  I actually owe Paul Krugman big time.  It was the increasing incoherence of his columns that helped me discover the conservative blogosphere.  I used to be a Krugman faithful.  As the Bush presidency progressed, though, I found it harder and harder to make sense of his columns.  The words made sense, and sometimes so did the sentences.  Nevertheless, the logical progression I expect from any argument (“if A and B, then C”) was lacking in Krugman’s posts.  Either the facts were wrong, or the A+B=C part was missing.  I went searching for more coherent, realistic material, and found it at temperate, thoughtful sites such as Power Line, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and IBD.

Andrew Sullivan?  I became familiar with his work when he wrote for The New Republic.  I stopped reading that magazine about a year after he took over.  His shrillness permeated what had once been a thoughtful liberal magazine.  Sullivan is now distinguished for his obsession with Sarah Palin, something that borders on an insane monomania; and for his relentless hostility to Israel.  It’s telling that he is one of Obama’s favorite writers.

The New Yorker?  Tina Brown destroyed it.  It used to be a magazine that veered between sophisticated frivolity and eclectic seriousness, all with a light liberal gloss.  It’s now a hardcore Leftist magazine that savaged George Bush, and that now provides a happy home for the execrable Seymour Hersh and the AGW obsessed Elizabeth Kolbert.  No wonder, then, that the magazine, which once wrote charmingly about eccentric art collectors, and mad scientists, uses ignorance to try to take down gun rights in America.

The Atlantic still has its moments.  Few and far between, but they’re there, so Obama gets a pass for that one.

To the extent that Obama reads “conservative columnists,” I’m sure they rejoice in the names of David Brooks, David Frum, and Kathleen Parker.

All of the people Obama mentions have the gloss of good writing.  Unlike the PhD gal whose letter opened this post, they keep pomposity to a minimum, understand basic grammatical principles, and have good editors.  However, all of them fall down when it comes to logic.  In a collision between theory and reality, theory always wins.  The result is that their writing is consistently distinguished by factual misstatements or by logical contortions and fallacies, since those are the only way in which they can force their conclusions.

Everyone likes to live in a bubble.  Everyone likes to read materials that confirm their own world views.  Conservatives, however, work to understand the opposition by ready opposition materials.  Obama demonstrates that, like the young woman who opened this essay, he is incapable of any sort of interaction with people whose views challenge his own.  And here’s the scary thing:  She’ll go on to teach the next generation and he, unless we rally like crazy behind Romney, will be president for another four years.

If you’re having problems with Romney (and I’m not, since I believe in yielding with good grace to a decent inevitable), John Hinderaker lavishes praise on Romney’s speech last night, and then has this to say about Romney himself:

As I watch Mitt Romney, this thought also occurs to me: Romney is sometimes criticized as “inauthentic,” but this is radically incorrect. As a politician, he has had to tack with the winds from time to time, like anyone else. But as a person, Romney is hugely authentic. His persona is no mystery: he is a Dad. We have all known men like Mitt Romney. We may think they are square and out of date; we may roll our eyes if they are occasionally goofy. But when times are tough, in moments of crisis, everyone knows where to turn: we look to leaders of character, competence and decency, like Mitt Romney. I am increasingly confident that in November, Americans will see Mitt Romney as just what we need after four years of Barack Obama’s incompetence.

UPDATE: And here’s more on Obama’s life in the bubble, as well as its deleterious effects on his already sour and arrogant personality.

Is this the weasel way of saying “you smell bad and you scare me?”

Paul Krugman, who has been cheering the occupying army within a short walk of his own office, somehow hasn’t managed to show up and support them in person.  A couple of days ago (and I don’t know how I could have missed this!) he explained why.  I’ve offered translations in square brackets, to help you understand the subtext.  For ease of reading, I’ve also broken the original single paragraph up into four separate paragraphs composed of one sentence each:

I’ve been granted the enormous privilege of expounding my own views twice a week in the world’s greatest newspaper.  [Unlike you losers, I have a cushy, well-paid job.]

I try to make the best use of that privilege [I therefore would never dream of p*ssing off my employer], doing all I can to get the truth across and also advocating for what I believe to be the right policies [because where else am I going to get this kind of bully pulpit from which to disseminate my special brand of Left-wing economic propaganda?].

There are, however, some restrictions that come with the privilege [mostly, not soiling my lily-white apparatchik hands]; one of them is not crossing the line between advocate and activist [by which I mean not crossing the line in person.  In fact, I routinely act as an activist on television and in print].

And there are good reasons for drawing that line [namely, that showing up in person would mean that I would have to leave my well-paid ivory tower, and mingle with very smelly, antisemitic, greedy, and not too bright people who are hungry for violent confrontation].

It’s all a matter of reading between the lines, folks.



Addressing Paul Krugman’s failures

The increasing disconnect between reality and Paul Krugman’s New York Times opinion articles was one of the things that led me to examine conservativism more closely.  In addition to disliking Krugman’s ideas, I’ve come to dislike Krugman himself, as his anger, embittered, accusatory, demonizing style is the antithesis of reasoned thinking and argument.  Peter Foster seems to agree with me.

Paul Krugman: a lazy ideologue

Paul Krugman has a bully pulpit in the New York Times.  Its numbers may be declining under Pinch’s overlordship, but it still remains “the paper of record” to a lot of people with their hands in or near the power trough.  Paul Krugman’s readers respect him because (a) he holds their elitist Left outlook and (b) he has Nobel Prize.  The latter assures them that he is a reliable source.

The problem for Krugman’s readers is that they’ve missed out on one essential feature of Krugman’s writing and analysis — he is profoundly lazy.  Comfortably encased in his ideology, he trolls the internet for facts that support his argument, without ever bothering to determine whether those facts are honest, credible or valid.  Worse, he has completely abandoned his own analytical abilities, and makes no effort to determine whether the facts he cites are relevant to his argument.  Conservative commentators have repeatedly caught him making outrageous misstatements that arise because of his appalling laziness.

The latest to catch him is Iowahawk, who has abandoned scathing humor for straightforward reporting.  This is a really important one, because it shows that Krugman’s wrongness is 180 degrees.  He gets things exactly bass ackward, and is using his bully pulpit to spread gross untruths about public sector unions and collective bargaining.

Paul Krugman, hypocrite

Paul Krugman is shocked! shocked! (albeit not surprised) that Republicans are exhibiting a certain amount of Schadenfreude when it comes to the rebuff the IOC delivered to Barack Obama:

So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.

But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.

To be sure, while celebrating America’s rebuff by the Olympic Committee was puerile, it didn’t do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences — in particular, in the debate over health care reform.

Mr. Bookworm thinks Krugman is right.  Principled Americans, he says, would never insult the president or wish him ill, nor would they turn their back on a policy simply because they don’t like the president advancing the policy.  (This from the man whose political argument for four years was alternately “Bush is an idiot” or “Bush is the worst president ever.”)

I might give actually give Mr. Krugman’s spiteful, partisan insults some credence if, during the eight years of Bush’s presidency, we had ever seen him side with the president on policies or even speak nicely of the President, his administration and his allies.  Indeed, we might give him credence if he’d just spoken of those on the opposite side of the aisle with some minimal level of civility and respect.

As it is, hearing preaching about politeness from Krugman is like having Homer Simpson giving you diet advice — it doesn’t sit well, considering the source.  During the past administration, when Krugman might have put his personal prejudices aside to advance his country’s interests his whole focus was on denigrating the president, personally and politically, often in the crudest, most insulting terms.  In just one year alone, we got things like this:

March 6, 2006:

Why doesn’t Mr. Bush get any economic respect? I think it’s because most Americans sense, correctly, that he doesn’t care about people like them. We’re living in a time when many Americans are feeling economically insecure, but a tiny elite has been growing incredibly rich. And Mr. Bush’s problem is that he identifies so totally with the lucky, wealthy few that in unscripted settings he can’t manage even a few sentences of empathy with ordinary Americans. He doesn’t feel your pain, and it shows.

May 8, 2006:

A conspiracy theory, says Wikipedia, “attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance.” Claims that global warming is a hoax and that the liberal media are suppressing the good news from Iraq meet that definition. In each case, to accept the claim you have to believe that people working for many different organizations — scientists at universities and research facilities around the world, reporters for dozens of different news organizations — are secretly coordinating their actions.

But the administration officials who told us that Saddam had an active nuclear program and insinuated that he was responsible for 9/11 weren’t part of a covert alliance; they all worked for President Bush. The claim that these officials hyped the case for war isn’t a conspiracy theory; it’s simply an assertion that people in a position of power abused that position. And that assertion only seems wildly implausible if you take it as axiomatic that Mr. Bush and those around him wouldn’t do such a thing.

May 29, 2006:

[Regarding James Hansen, the NASA climatologist who was discredited] And it’s a warning for Mr. Gore and others who hope to turn global warming into a real political issue: you’re going to have to get tougher, because the other side [that would be us] doesn’t play by any known rules.


John Kerry, a genuine war hero, didn’t realize that he could successfully be portrayed as a coward. And it seems to me that Dr. Hansen, whose predictions about global warming have proved remarkably accurate, didn’t believe that he could successfully be portrayed as an unreliable exaggerator. His first response to Dr. Michaels, in January 1999, was astonishingly diffident. He pointed out that Dr. Michaels misrepresented his work, but rather than denouncing the fraud involved, he offered a rather plaintive appeal for better behavior.

July 21, 2006:

Today we call them neoconservatives, but when the first George Bush was president, those who believed that America could remake the world to its liking with a series of splendid little wars — people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — were known within the administration as “the crazies.” Grown-ups in both parties rejected their vision as a dangerous fantasy.

But in 2000 the Supreme Court delivered the White House to a man who, although he may be 60, doesn’t act like a grown-up. The second President Bush obviously confuses swagger with strength, and prefers tough talkers like the crazies to people who actually think things through. He got the chance to implement the crazies’ vision after 9/11, which created a climate in which few people in Congress or the news media dared to ask hard questions. And the result is the bloody mess we’re now in.

August 11, 2006

After Ned Lamont’s victory in Connecticut, I saw a number of commentaries describing Joe Lieberman not just as a “centrist” — a word that has come to mean “someone who makes excuses for the Bush administration” — but as “sensible.” But on what planet would Mr. Lieberman be considered sensible?


The question now is how deep into the gutter Mr. Lieberman’s ego will drag him.

There’s an overwhelming consensus among national security experts that the war in Iraq has undermined, not strengthened, the fight against terrorism. Yet yesterday Mr. Lieberman, sounding just like Dick Cheney — and acting as a propaganda tool for Republicans trying to Swift-boat the party of which he still claims to be a member — suggested that the changes in Iraq policy that Mr. Lamont wants would be “taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England.”

In other words, not only isn’t Mr. Lieberman sensible, he may be beyond redemption. [This is polite political rhetoric?]

August 14, 2006:

We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration’s fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever. [Never mind that, on this same administration's watch, we were spared another attack on American soil.]

September 18, 2006:

So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?

To show that it can.

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

So this is how Krugman’s game is played:  to insult Bush at every level is not impolite, destructive political discourse, because Bush deserved it.  Anyone who would challenge such liberal shibboleths as global warming, John Kerry’s heroism, the need to extend Constitutional and Geneva protections to un-uniformed Islamist terrorists, America’s base nature, etc., is evil, so its okay to pick on them.

To insult Obama at any level or to disagree with his policies, however, is tantamount to treason and corrupts political discourse, because every Obama initiative is, by its very nature and source, good for America.   This is so because Obama stands for truth, justice and the American way, provided that the American way is to destroy the American economy to prevent the increasingly chimerical global warming, to grovel to dictators and tyrants, to be extraordinarily boastful and infused with hubris, to offend America’s long-standing allies, and to have a government takeover of the American health care system.

Krugman’s standard for political discourse is “free speech for me, but not for thee.”  He should be laughed at, not lauded.  Krugman shows, once again, that he is an intelletual joke, whose partisanship is so overwhelming it blinds him to his gross hypocrisy.