We keep waiting for Krugman to turn the corner!


Joan Walsh aping the right: We keep waiting for Krugman to turn the corner about who and what we are.

In a new blog post, he starts with a “bonkers op-ed” column by Liz Cheney. As he proceeds, he notes the lunacy of an argument which has long been made on the right.

The claim in question makes no sense, but conservatives just keep making it. We will shorten his argument a tad:
KRUGMAN (4/2/13): The stirring quote from Ronald Reagan [in Cheney’s column] comes from the recording he made for Operation Coffee Cup, a 1961 project organized by the AMA to mobilize doctors’ wives and their friends against the looming horror of Medicare, which would clearly turn American into a totalitarian state.

However, neither Chait nor Carroll mention what seems to me to be an obvious parallel, which is with the whole Hayekian notion that the welfare state sets us on the slippery slope to Stalinism...

And with Hayek, as with Reagan, the truly amazing thing is that we have people citing as a source of wisdom someone who has been as thoroughly refuted by history as anyone can be. Three generations into the modern welfare state, and western democracies look less Stalinist than ever.
In short, Reagan once made a prediction which has turned out to be crazily wrong. But so what? Conservatives have never stopped citing his prediction as if it still makes perfect sense.

In his ongoing work, Krugman keeps describing a fact he won’t articulate—we the people are basically stuck with a crazy public discourse. Our public discourse is littered with claims which make absolutely no sense—and it isn’t part of mainstream press culture to push back against this state of affairs.

Mainstream journalists have no inclination to do such a thing. Beyond that, they wouldn’t know how to refute crazy claims even if they wanted to try. Crazy claims are thus the lingua franca of our failing discourse.

Many liberals will assume that this is only true of claims which are made on the right. So it may seem when we read this new observation by Dave Weigel:
WEIGEL (4/2/13): In a pinch, some conservatives deploy a rhetorical trick that makes a lot of sense to them and no one else. If a black conservative/Republican is criticized, they assume that the left is revealing its deep-seated hatred of black people. The left laughs this off—yes, obviously, 90 percent of black people vote Democratic because they're dupes intent to stay "on the plantation." Keep telling them that, it'll win 'em over!

But it's a safety blanket of an argument, and it's been getting cuddled ever since aspiring political thinker/activist Dr. Ben Carson said that marriage shouldn't be redefined by gays nor by "NAMBLA" or "people who believe in bestiality."
Weigel is certainly right on one point. Major conservatives do deploy that (brainless) rhetorical trick.

But does that trick "make a lot of sense" to conservatives and to nobody else? Isn’t that the same rhetorical trick Joan Walsh deployed at Salon last week?

According to Walsh's angry post, one conservative had revealed the location of the Obama daughters’ spring vacation. Earlier, other conservatives had made an inaccurate statement about security practices at their school.

To Joan, these behaviors somehow revealed the racism of the right. (Headline: How not to seem like a racist.) She seemed to feel no need to explain her fractured logic. Borrowing from Weigel:

If a black liberal/Democrat is criticized, Walsh assumes that the right is revealing its deep-seated hatred of black people.

Walsh has been getting tribally crazy, and more dishonest, in recent years. But that is true of others on the emergent pseudo-left in the age of The One True Channel.

For many years, we had a silent left and a crazy right. Now, the silent left has emerged from its long, disgraceful nap in the woods.

As we emerge, so do a pair of sad facts—we aren’t much sharper than those on the right, and our gatekeepers no longer exist. Increasingly, we find ourselves with a pair of crazy groups making bogus claims.

Krugman keeps describing the lunacy of the national and international discourse. We keep waiting for him to turn the corner:

We wish he’d describe the depth of the hole we all find ourselves in. We live in a primally crazy world.

We wish Paul Krugman would say it.


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  2. The vacation location story by "one conservative" was picked up and headlined by the Drudge Report and The Weekly Standard. Both of these are prominent right wing publications which would not carry such stories unless they knew they would appeal to their readers. The false Sidwell Friends report spread everywhere, more than a little beyond "another conservative." Honesty apparently has become unnecessary, it appears, when TDH is attacking Joan Walsh, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, Ed Schultz, Lawrence O'Brian, Chris Matthews. . . .

    1. The often expressed TDH desire to see rational, reasoned, "non-tribal" political discourse in the media is a fine sentiment. But it seems to curdle into rants that amount to "a pox on both your houses."

      Krugman will not "turn the corner" because he, apparently, doesn't see an equivalence between the failings of each side. In fact, Krugman often emphasizes just the opposite when he criticizes media for reporting that "opinions of the Earth's shape differ."

    2. Nice catch, Bob be trippin.

  3. Can we talk? Bob gave away the game when he said something snide about Hayes saying something nice about his wife in his book's acknowledgements. This is what the lizard brain does. It mocks a spouse being kind to a spouse.

    For ourselves, we're not claroyant, but it's not hard to guess what motivates Bob's animus toward Chris, Ezra, and Josh.

    Can we talk? Maybe Bob, who went to Harvard, just feels superior to everyone else, and contemptuous toward people who don't think, feel, and express themselves exactly as thinks they should. For ourselves, we're not clarvoyant. And we didn't go to Harvard.

    1. Once you're on his bad side, there's no going back. If you're liberal, you'll trip up on some report sometime, and that's it. The purity-police antenna are perpetually activated

    2. "Once you're on his bad side, there's no going back."

      Correct. See also: Dean, Howard. Somerby despised Dean, without ever explaining exactly why, from the get-go.

      By the way, I haven't been following TDH much since well before he decided to go to Blogger, so things may have changed in the wake of the Gores' divorce, but it used to be that Al Gore (Somerby's college buddy) could do no wrong, ever. That was the First Law of Somerby. The Second Law was that neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton could do any wrong, unless they were for some reason pitted against Al Gore (such as when people reasonably asked, in the wake of the 2000 elections, why Gore a) chose to distance himself from the highly popular Clintons and b) picked Joe Lieberman, the opportunistic moral scold of a DINO and William F. Buckley's tool to punish Lowell Weicker for doing the right thing with regard to Watergate, to be his electoral boat anchor).

    3. What a bullshit artist you are.

      There has never been any evidence of a "Gore can do no wrong" Law at TDH. But falsely saying so has been a familiar saw of your useless comments for ages now.

      Get a new schtick or keep your old promises to forever leave, we beg you!

    4. "There has never been any evidence of a 'Gore can do no wrong' Law at TDH."

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah ahah ah ha ha ha.

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  5. I think you're going to have to wait a long time, Bob. Krugman is of course a brilliant economist, but as a political commentator, he is tribal and often contemptuous of people with whom he disagrees. Not sure why you hold him in such regard and grant him MVP status. By your standards, he's everything you rail against. And I say this as someone who agrees with Krugman politically.

    1. What I see is Krugman going on these terrible shows over and over, basically getting ambushed by right wingers whose foolish, rude retorts are sanctioned by the hosts who generally load the panels against him. BUT, if I understand you, you are one of those people who feel Krugman displays crude partisanship in advancing correct positions. Yours is a strange tribe indeed....

    2. You don't even know what you mean by "tribal." Having opinions based on evidence makes you "tribal"? That's become Somerby's script. He really doesn't know what he means by it, either, but it rolls off the tongue easily certainly lets him (and his sycophants) adopt a narrative of superiority.

    3. Greg, I should have framed my comment better: I meant, "By TDH standards and judgment...."

    4. When we forgive only our side of shoddy journalism, misstating facts, poor logic, and character assassination, just because the point they are trying to make is one that our side believes in, we are being tribal.

      When we mock the other side when they do something that many of us do, but do not see that failing in us, we are being tribal.

      When we assign complete personas to individuals in the other group based upon mean-spirited examples (along with condescending names), we are being tribal.

      Do we do this? No way!

      We have long gotten a good laugh at all those on the other side for being so stupid as to vote against their own economic interests. Unless you are part of the one percent, Democrats, look into the mirror and laugh at how stupid you are.

      No, we won't. Why not? Here's the punch line: 'cause we're better than the Republicans!

      And, Urban, I, too, have these all-too-human traits. I do not think it is acting superior to recognize that they are not our better ones.

      Also, when we understand our own tribal actions, it humanizes the other side, which creates a better and much more constructive dialog. Which, I think, most people would agree is something sorely needed in present-day politics.

    5. These are all fair points, Anon 10:08, but it would be helpful if somehow Bob weren't so hectoring about it, and so inclined himself to call people dumb or lizards or whatever. The essence of what Bob says is right in many cases, but one has difficulty getting past the badgering, hectoring, lecturing, name-calling, and grudge-bearing. I'm all for the grinding of axes, but it seems relentless here, and distracts too often from the point.

      Perhaps Bob could exhibit some of the John Lewis/Rabbi Schacter/MLK compassion he so admires.

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  7. Though called out on the "one conservative" point, I generally agree with this post. Yes, the discourse is bad and Walsh's work is often lame. The Daily Howler just doesn't do anything to prove his points here, and the reverse racism card doesn't show tell us much when it's played this lazily.

  8. Off topic, but I wanted Bob to know about this. Since you have devoted a lot of thought and writing to the topic of bloated healthcare costs in the U.S. and how the media never discusses either it or its causes, I am surprised you have not mentioned three recent discussions of it. One was the Time magazine cover story for the March 4 issue ("Bitter Pill"). The second was an hour-long discussion of it on the Diane Rehm Show featuring the author of the Time article. And then there was a superb, lower-profile article in the March/April issue of The Washington Monthly entitled "The Republican Case for Waste in Health Care," which features an equally superb pie chart showing exactly how much waste is attributable to various factors (unnecessary procedures, over-charging, fraud, etc.). Here is the link: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/march_april_2013/features/the_republican_case_for_waste043314.php#

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  11. A conservative relative sent me a depression era political cartoon demonstrating that FDR was crazy for deficit spending, and leading the nation inevitably to socialism and communism.

    His point was that with Obama's policies, history was repeating itself.

    The point he missed was that we DID get out of the recession by huge deficit spending. (Does it matter fiscally whether it was Series E bonds or Victory bonds? Or building tanks and liberty ships instead of bridges and dams? )

    He also missed that we didn't go communist from Social Security or Medicare way back then and we are not going communist now.

    But, hey, why let facts get in the way of solid right wing ideology?

    I guess I'm tribal for thing this person is a moron.

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