Supplemental: Paul Reiser’s very old joke!

MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2015

Along with Paul Krugman’s new column:
Long ago, we once (or twice) saw Paul Reiser tell a long, complex “joke-joke” about the time Moses was invited to golf with the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

To make a very long joke-joke short, Moses was thrilled to be invited to round out the celestial foursome. But when the group arrived at the first tee, the three members of the trinity took turns authoring increasingly ridiculous holes-in-one. Each produced a supernatural shot which evoked a Bible miracle story.

Finally, it was Moses’ turn to tee off. In sheer frustration, though, he said this:

“Are we here to play golf? Or are we just gonna [blank] around?”

Reiser said you should always know 45 minutes of old jokes for the nights when things aren’t going well. We thought of that very old joke when we read Krugman’s new column.

We just lunched with a couple of liberal friends who thought the column was great. We had had a different reaction. Here’s why:

Krugman’s column bore this headline: “Slavery’s Long Shadow.” After noting that America “is a much less racist nation than it used to be,” Krugman articulated his basic point:
KRUGMAN (6/22/15): Yet racial hatred is still a potent force in our society, as we’ve just been reminded to our horror. And I’m sorry to say this, but the racial divide is still a defining feature of our political economy, the reason America is unique among advanced nations in its harsh treatment of the less fortunate and its willingness to tolerate unnecessary suffering among its citizens.

Of course, saying this brings angry denials from many conservatives, so let me try to be cool and careful here, and cite some of the overwhelming evidence for the continuing centrality of race in our national politics.
Noting that his thesis tends to produce “angry denials,” Krugman said he would “try to be cool and careful here.”

Was Krugman trying to help his message go down? If so, it was probably too late by that point. Once you’ve accused the other side of authoring “harsh treatment of the less fortunate” and tolerating “unnecessary suffering among its citizens,” the other side has probably stopped listening to what you might have to say.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that your thesis is “wrong,” although of course it could be. It may mean that a lot of people may have stopped listening already.

What does Krugman mean when he says that “race” and the “racial divide” explain our country’s harsh treatment of the less fortunate? As he continues, he cites an academic paper which helps explain his claim:
KRUGMAN: The second paper, by the economists Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote, was titled “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-style Welfare State?” Its authors—who are not, by the way, especially liberal—explored a number of hypotheses, but eventually concluded that race is central, because in America programs that help the needy are all too often seen as programs that help Those People: “Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.”
According to Krugman, this nation’s historically troubled race relations “are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state”—more specifically, for the absence of “a European-style welfare state” in this country.

That may well be true. But are we here to play golf? Or are we here to scold all those very bad people?

As Krugman continues, he stresses a certain correlation, the one which drives his headline. It starts as he considers those states which haven’t chosen to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

What kind of state would turn down this program? States which practiced slavery before the Civil War:
KRUGMAN: For those who haven’t been following this issue, in 2012 the Supreme Court gave individual states the option, if they so chose, of blocking the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, a key part of the plan to provide health insurance to lower-income Americans. But why would any state choose to exercise that option? After all, states were being offered a federally-funded program that would provide major benefits to millions of their citizens, pour billions into their economies, and help support their health-care providers. Who would turn down such an offer?

The answer is, 22 states at this point, although some may eventually change their minds. And what do these states have in common? Mainly, a history of slaveholding:
Only one former member of the Confederacy has expanded Medicaid, and while a few Northern states are also part of the movement, more than 80 percent of the population in Medicaid-refusing America lives in states that practiced slavery before the Civil War.
It isn’t just Obamacare, Krugman notes. “A history of slavery is a strong predictor of everything from gun control (or rather its absence), to low minimum wages and hostility to unions, to tax policy.”

We’re not saying that Krugman is “wrong” about those correlations or about that predictor. We’re saying that, from our point of view, this is a shaky way to play golf.

How can liberals persuade other people to institute the various programs of the “welfare state?” Our first suggestion:

In this country, we might start by dropping references to “the welfare state!”

Beyond that, we can think of few approaches that are less likely to bear fruit than the suggestion that other people pursue the policies they pursue because their ancestors were slaveholders. If that’s what we say when we’re being “cool and careful,” what do we say when we let it all hang out?

Krugman is the liberal world’s MVP on matters of policy—has been for many years. In our view, all liberals owe him a giant debt, a debt too large to repay.

At the same time, it seems to us that Krugman’s sense of politics is less strong than his grasp of policy. This returns us to our basic question:

Are we here to play golf?

Increasingly, it seems to us that many liberals primarily want to scold the other team. In the main, we aren’t looking for ways to make better things happen in the world. We’re looking for ways to shame the many millions of people who are less fine than us.

When the flag comes down in South Carolina, we complain that it didn’t happen last year. We complain that the motives for the change weren’t pure. We complain that this doesn’t affect the flag in Mississippi.

Listening to the radio today, we heard these complaints roll down like water from a mighty stream. We learned that we seem to the only liberal who is thrilled by what happened yesterday in South Carolina.

All week, we’ll ask variants of Moses’ age-old question, routed to us through the prophet Reiser:

Are we here to play golf? Or are we just going to [blank] around?

Are we looking for ways to produce societal gains? Or is this really all about us? All about our desire to tell the world that we are the truly good tribe?

Like Moses, of course, we’re just saying...


  1. So first off, you may have chosen the wrong analogy. Moses is losing, due to tactics that are apparently within the rules, and HE chooses to scold the other team for that reason.

    Second - well, I don't pay half as much attention to the news as you do, so I assume you're talking about something real. But my criticism of Nikki Haley is that she doesn't want to believe now what she will believe in the future - she doesn't want to do now what she will predictably believe is right - and this accounts for so much of US conservatism that without it we would be (by our current standards) a left-wing country.

    Now in the case of the governor and the flag, I think we can reasonably attribute this position to selfish motives. Haley benefited from supporting the Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Flag in the past. She may benefit from calling on the legislature to take it down today. Perhaps she has no incentive to support today what she knows she will later hold is right.

    1. Moses is frustrated that the others are not playing the same game as he is, "golf." Supernatural miracles are not part of the game.

      Replace the flag with gay marriage and Haley with Obama, Clinton, and the list goes on and you'll learn that no politician at that level cares to do what is right or has much of an opinion on it, at any point, ever.

    2. Is Bob here to inform or is he here to tell the same "hoary" old joke he has now told more times than Marco Rubio has been caught speeding?

  2. Krugman works hard at being a strunz. His type is the inspiration for James Garner's character Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison:appraisal of Europe in "The Americanization of Emily."

    "You American-haters bore me to tears, Ms. Barham. I've dealt with Europeans all my life. I know all about us parvenus from the States who come over here and race around your old cathedral towns with our cameras and Coca-Cola bottles... Brawl in your pubs, paw at your women, and act like we own the world. We overtip, we talk too loud, we think we can buy anything with a Hershey bar. I've had Germans and Italians tell me how politically ingenuous we are, and perhaps so. But we haven't managed a Hitler or a Mussolini yet. I've had Frenchmen call me a savage because I only took half an hour for lunch. Hell, Ms. Barham, the only reason the French take two hours for lunch is because the service in their restaurants is lousy. The most tedious lot are you British. We crass Americans didn't introduce war into your little island. This war, Ms. Barham to which we Americans are so insensitive, is the result of 2,000 years of European greed, barbarism, superstition, and stupidity. Don't blame it on our Coca-Cola bottles. Europe was a going brothel long before we came to town. "

    1. cicero doesn't have to work hard to be a strunz. He just works had to constantly remind others of the fact.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. @10:13

      Be honest. You didn't know what a strunz was until you looked in the mirror and then looked up the Italian definition.

    4. cicero is doing double strunz duty now.

  3. Krugman would have been on stronger ground if he had simply said racial animosity has helped keep unions weak in this Country. Beyond that, he is not much undone by a bad joke by a mediocre comic that was best forgotten. Another example of Bob's touchy ways on Southern Bigotry that amount to an apology for said.

  4. @Greg

    Racism in the 30's 40's, 50's was 100 times more rampant in the U.S. when union membership was at its zenith. The only people who benefit from unions over the last 30 years is the corrupt union leadership. Example of union perfidy:

    "Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.."

  5. Let us not value style over substance. Focusing on how Krugman makes his point and simply declining to pass judgement on his references is a bit lazy.

    1. It is also dumb and exudes moral squalor. But that is the liberal in Somerby coming out.

  6. This is an interesting reaction to Paul's column. I thought when I read the column, that it was the truth. I don't think it was scolding the other side, who are oblivious to the facts that Krugman has pointed out even though they have been pointed out to the other side many times before. The question is, why does the other side not accept these facts and try to do something about them? I think it's because of innate racism and their own smugness about what they think is right no matter the facts that Krugman has pointed out.

    1. What is this "other side?" POTUS Lincoln was a Republican and then there is this:

      "The House version of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was supported by only 61 percent of that Chamber's Democrats versus 80 percent of the Republicans. More importantly, it was Republicans that ended a Democrat filibuster preventing a vote on this bill in the Senate. 82 percent of Republicans voted for cloture versus 66 percent of Democrats. In the final Senate vote on the Act, 82 percent of Republicans voted "Aye" versus 69 percent of Democrats. Quite contrary to what Sharpton and most liberals think, a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported this Civil Rights Act.

      The same is true for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when 94 percent of Senate Republicans voted in favor of the bill versus 73 percent of Democrats. The final vote on the House's version was even more stark as only one Senate Republican voted against it compared to seventeen Democrats. In the House, 82 percent of Republicans supported the bill versus 78 percent of Democrats."

    2. Thanks for the history lesson. I still laugh when people don't know it was conservative Democrats who fought Civil Rights. Just as it is conservative Republicans who want to restrict minority voting.
      Good point about how it isn't political party but conservatives who are, and have always been bigots.

    3. @ 8:56,

      Are you crying that more conservative Republicans voted for Civil Rights than liberal Democrats?

      Democratic Party Senator Byrd, Exalted Cyclops in KKK. He wasn't a bigot, just a racist, I guess.

      How is having a photo I.D. restricting minority voting when you need it to do the following:

      opening bank account
      apply for food stamps
      apply for welfare
      apply for Medicaid/Social Security
      apply for unemployment/job
      rent/buy house/apply for a mortgage
      drive/buy/rent a car
      travel on airplane
      get married
      purchase a firearm
      adopt a pet
      rent a hotel room
      apply for a hunting license
      apply for a fishing license
      buy a cell phone
      visit a casino
      pick up a prescription
      hold a rally or protest
      donate blood
      buy an "M" rated video game
      purchase nail polish at CVS
      purchase certain cold medicines

    4. Wasn't 1965 fifty years ago?

      (And didn't Lincoln lead a pro- free labor party that was willing to accept war to maintain the Union in spite of the opposition of the Northern business elite which opposed following that course and favored, instead, finding some way to appease King Cotton? Wasn't it utterly ironic then that the Republican Party in the near immediate aftermath of the Civil War underwent its first great ideological shift, becoming the servant of Big Business and the party ever more hostile to the interests of labor all the way up until today? That transition was every bit as absurd of an evolution as what occurred later, in the near immediate aftermath of the passage of Civil Rights legislation in 1964 and 1965, when that same party, the party of Emancipation, developed its "Southern Strategy" and made a Solid South its very own "cornerstone.")

    5. " I'm with the Democrats on Affirmative Action but less likely to stick with them as a voter, "

      Not at all. Just pointing out how it's always conservatives who are the bigots. It's obvious to everyone at this point. Unless, of course, one is a conservative who wants to make believe they aren't a bigot.

    6. Oops. Meant for the quote to be this one: "Are you crying that more conservative Republicans voted for Civil Rights than liberal Democrats?"

    7. cicero,
      That's quite the impressive list of privelges. Voting, OTOH, is a right.

    8. I, for one, don't think cicero is so stupid, he thinks that is what 8:56 PM is "crying about". But I can be persuaded.

    9. You are right 11:02. Strunz is the better word for cicero here.

    10. i never understood what exactly is the issue with requiring ID to vote. to me it is just a check to make sure people are who they say they are when they show up to the voting booth to cut down on fraud...what is the downside to doing that?? in my opinion it actually increases the integrity of our process, no?

    11. People over 70 who no longer drive have trouble getting ID. Some older people have trouble getting a birth certificate necessary for getting ID. This is more true for minorities and poor people. The very low incidence of fraud suggests these barriers are unnecessary. Why create extra hassles when there is no evidence they are needed to prevent fraud?

    12. @ 11:07

      How do these folks manage to get to their designated voting place? How are they cashing their Social Security checks without having a bank account or producing photo ID at a check cashing center?

      How is free too great an expense for these folks stuck in absolute poverty? And why would they vote Democratic Party when they have done nothing to change their fortunes?

      "DMV offers ID cards for those customers who require a photo ID, but do not require a Driver’s License. There is no fee for a Voter ID card, or if a customer qualifies for another no-fee ID. The cost for a standard Non-operator ID card is $10. An ID can be obtained from any Driver License Office, regardless of where you live."

    13. @ 10:09

      Getting married is a privilege not a right? When have libs made that assertion? Voting does have stipulations:

      "federal election voting eligibility include being over eighteen (18) years of age and a U.S. citizen, by either birth or the naturalization process. need to check with your state election board in order to at any point.

      Furthermore, a person must be legally registered to vote in his or her jurisdiction in order to be able to vote in a federal election. To that end, there are a number of other requirements that apply to prospective voters and states as they process voter registration application. Title III of the Help American Vote Act (“HAVA”) outlines identification requirements and procedures for voting in federal elections, including general elections, primary elections, special elections, and run-off elections for any elected federal position. These requirements apply to all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the United States Virgin Islands."

    14. "i never understood what exactly is the issue with requiring ID to vote."

      Also, it costs money for the state to provide a free ID to all voters in the state. Not sure if you've been paying attention for the last few decades, but the states are broke (per conservatives). Do you want them shelling out more money to prevent non-existent voter fraud? What other non-existent problems would you like the states to shell out your hard-earned tax dollars ("theft" a good percent of the morons in this country) to prevent?

    15. ... continuing on with the document quoted by cicero the strunz (which he failed to properly ID as coming from North Carolina)

      "There is no fee charged for a North Carolina ID Card for an individual registered to vote in North Carolina who does not have acceptable photo identification under N.C. General Statute 163-166.13.

      "To obtain a No Fee Voter ID card, you must sign a declaration stating that you do not have an acceptable photo ID. If you already have an acceptable photo ID, you are not eligible to receive a No Fee Voter ID.

      You must also be registered to vote. If you are not a registered voter, DMV will assist you in completing your voter registration application during your visit, and you will still be eligible for your No Fee Voter ID.

      Proof of Age & Identity
      You must provide two documents from this category which provide your full name and date of birth. If you are unable to provide two forms of identification from the approved list of acceptable documents, DMV will review documents that you have in your possession to assist in verifying your identity. Documents that you may present as proof of age and identity, provided they include your full name (including your middle name), are listed in Table (1):

      Acceptable Documents {Coming in another comment}

      Valid Social Security Number

      You must provide a valid Social Security Number (SSN). If DMV is unable to verify your SSN with the Social Security Administration, you may be required to present documentation of your SSN. Documents that you may present as proof of SSN are listed in Table (2):

      Acceptable Documents {Coming in Another Comment}

      Proof of Citizenship & Residency

      To obtain a N.C. Voter ID card, you must be a U.S. citizen and a N.C. resident. Documents that you may present as proof of residency are listed in Table (3):

      Acceptable Documents {Coming in Another Comment}

      For all of the requirements to obtain a Voter ID, please refer to Table (4):

      Acceptable Documents {Coming in Another Comment}

      All ID cards, including driver’s licenses, are mailed to customers, which may take up to 10 days. When your application is accepted, you will be provided with a receipt upon request. Your receipt cannot be used for identification or voting purposes."

    16. @ 10:00

      By your inane rubric these liberals are conservatives since they are bigots:

      "I mean, you’ve got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
      - Joe Biden (referring to Barack Obama)

      “I am a former kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan in Raleigh County and the adjoining counties of the state …. The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia …. It is necessary that the order be promoted immediately and in every state of the Union. Will you please inform me as to the possibilities of rebuilding the Klan in the Realm of W. Va …. I hope that you will find it convenient to answer my letter in regards to future possibilities.”
      - Robert Byrd

      “I’ll have those n------ voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” —Lyndon B. Johnson to two governors on Air Force One -

      “These N------, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”—LBJ

      Ronald Kessler’s “Inside The White House”

    17. Acceptable Document Description from North Carolina....

      It was, quite frankly, too long to reproduce based on the limits of the comment box.

    18. @ 11:53

      So your excuse about the cost of voter photo ID evaporated before your myopic eyes. The DMV flexibility on documents for identity to obtain voter photo ID is problematic for you because they are too flexible?

      “If we embrace Andy’s idea, we help marginalized citizens secure independence from predators and ensure them our nation’s most fundamental right to vote. My father used to talk about ending the silence of good people. I cannot emphasize enough the positive impact a free and easy-to-obtain photo ID will have for those who are marginalized.”
      Martin Luther King III, son of the civil rights leader

      Supreme Court’s 6-3 majority decision in Supreme Court held valid in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board was written by John Paul Stevens, a liberal. The court held that Indiana’s photo ID law was constitutional and did not “qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote, or even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.”

    19. 10:28 AM,
      Well, cicero says he's a conservative, but not a bigot. Wouldn't the better word to call him be CINO (Conservative In Name Only)?

    20. @ 10:28,

      HRC say she is down with fighting racism, at least for now. Odd that during the 2008 campaign HRC campaign was all about race-baiting. When it comes to promoting racist bigotry, liberals take a backseat to nobody.

      "The online grassroots organization, ColorOfChange, today urged its members to begin a phone onslaught of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, in a protest against what it views as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “race-baiting” remarks"

  7. The Confederate flag for some white people (mainly in the south) = the "N" word for some black people. I guess its a bonding thing. The rest of us don't like either but why is it our business? Which is harder to ignore, the Confederate flag or all of the erectile dysfunction ads? I'd say the latter are harder to ignore. Sometimes they're spliced into every TV program that's "On Demand."

    There must be a lot of Confederate flags out there. Walmart used to sell them. Other than that Dylann Roof seems to have had a Confederate flag, what is the link between his Confederate flag and his heinous crimes? Demonizing that flag has been a media obsession for a long time.

    1. Much like the segment of today's blacks who lean on slavery as an excuse for anti-social behavior, members of the younger generations who are still attached to the Confederate flag hold onto its alleged not-slavery, love of ancestors symbolism so that they can excuse their anti-social behavior of needless cruelty.

    2. What the hell are you talking about with boner pills?

      The next time someone takes pictures in a boner pill cemetery holding boner pill ads we can come after them. Let's stick with reality.

  8. Krugman references America's "harsh treatment of the less fortunate and its willingness to tolerate unnecessary suffering among its citizens." However, one's evaluation of unnecessary suffering depends on one's confidence in various approaches.

    E.g., IMHO school vouchers would be terrific for everyone, especially poor blacks. They give a black parent an alternative when a school is disserving her/his child. IMHO high minimum wages hurt the poor, especially poor blacks, because high minimum wages will eventually destroy many entry-level jobs.

    However, I don't think it's fair or helpful to call Democrats "racists", even though they support policies that IMHO hurt poor black people. It's healthier and more useful to debate policies on their merits.

    1. Of course, funding all schoolchildren uniformly would also be terrific for everyone, especially poor blacks, but one would have to want help everyone, including poor blacks to propose such a terrific solution.

    2. White liberals don't want blacks in the private schools their kids attend.

  9. After the murders last Wednesday I wondered what excuses the defenders of the murderer would resort to. These victims were obviously not thugs. What rationale would you guys use?
    A week later it has become clear: He murdered because:
    1) Trayvon Martin & the liberals.
    2) He is nuts.
    3) The confederate battle flag (and the RSA & Rhodesia emblems) are apolitical, non-racial emblems.
    You racist bastards do not even have the guts to admit his and your bigotry.
    Chikenshit bastards.
    Have some guts, 'fess up. You are racist bastards
    I am old. I am black. I have a gun. I have no compuction about killing you and your kind. I hope you come after me.
    Racist bastards.


    1. I see you remain hidden.
      Gutless worm.


    2. @ LG,

      Take it up with his inevitable liberal lawyer who will try to save their client from the death penalty the Conservative Governor Nikki Haley has endorsed as punishment for the creep racist.

    3. wow. cicero is intimating that Haley is a CINO.

    4. @ 12:50

      You will have to explain that nonsensical interpretation of Haley's politics.

  10. Bob, your first suggestion is to run away from the word "welfare"? I assume because conservatives have made it poisonous? That seems like the way liberals - or so I mean progressives, since "liberal" has also been made poisonous? - have been acting since Clinton, and it hasn't exactly worked out well for us.

    1. Democrats have been running from the word "liberal" certainly since the liberal from central casting, Michael Dukasis, ran from it as the Democrat's presidential nominee in 1988. "For the record, we’re big fans of Dukakis," [LINK] Somerby has told us several times. Lately he's been telling us but for Hillary all will be lost. Unlike that pro-labor loon, she does not offend. She blends.

  11. It would also be nice, if when scolding the other tribe, Krugman would use accurate claims, instead of loading the statistics. "More than 80% of the population in medicaid refusing states ..." Well, isn't it handy for that, that former confederate states like Texas and Florida did NOT expand medicaid. Their population is so much bigger than northern states like Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, Kansas, and Alaska which have also not adopted medicaid expansion. Heck, even Georgia has more people than all of those northern states combined. 80% of the population. Yeah, way to cherry pick your statistics professor.

    1. @10:48

      Jeez,little hard to (incorrectly) claim cherry-picking when you're doing it yourself:

      As you failed to point out (conveniently), Kruggers points out at the beginning that 22 States have denied Federal Medicaid expansion (most can figure that the percentage there, given 50 states, is not 80%).

      He brings up the “80 percent of the population in Medicaid-refusing America lives in states that practiced slavery” to drive home the point that those 22 states are not barren flatland states. They are major southern heavy-hitters that are denying federal medical aid relief to millions of Americans.

      While Kruggers implies it is done out of America's undeniable racist past, I personally think it is being doing out of spite: “F*ck you poor, f*ck you Obama”.

      (which, while more cynical, does align with Krugger's main theme).

  12. These are also states not derived from British settlement (French or Spanish), Catholic and thus encompassing church welfare or Irish and Scottish immigrants with a cultural heritage of self-reliance. More rural than urban and less industrialized. There are other correlations being overlooked.

  13. Shorter Bob. Krugman errs by suggesting racist underpinnings for conservative state policies. Maddow erred by not calling Trump's speech
    tricky golf..

  14. "At the same time, it seems to us that Krugman’s sense of politics is less strong than his grasp of policy. This returns us to our basic question:

    Are we here to play golf?"

    Sadly Bob Somerby has never demonstrated a sense of politics.

    All he has is a Johnny-one-note "Blame the Press and the Lazy Liberals that left them get away with it" explanation. He used it to explain in a political campaign unique in its outcome involving a personal friend and now applies it to everything.

    1. Very old joke. Very old blogger. Same old point. Stop me if I've told you this before.

    2. "Increasingly, it seems to us that many liberals primarily want to scold the other team."

      Thank the Holy Trinity liberals have Bob Somerby around to constantly to scold them.

  15. my opinion is that bob is just trying to say that if you really want to win people over to your way of thinking, calling them names is demonizing their behavior is not the best way to do it. I think this is something he has been pretty consistent in saying over the years i have been reading his blog. you can argue whether krugman's article is guilting of name calling or not, but i find it hard to argue with the main point that by calling names and demonizing, you will only polarize the other side against you and will perpetuate the behaviors you don't like. if the goal is really to win hearts and minds and change the status quo you may want to pick a strategy. I am suprised by how many of the commenters just don't seem to get that central point. all they do in their comments is just name call and demonize.

    another one of bob's central themes through the years is that the liberal world has gone off the deep end in the way the conservatives have been for years. all you have to do is read some of these comments and i would say he is 10000000% spot on.

    1. The trolls get these points. They are trying to shut Somerby up.

    2. @ 11:00000000003 your opinion matters so much. bob has spent a great deal of his valuable time trying to knock some sense into a really, really tribal bunch of lazy dumb life forms who don't have the moral sense to see they have become exactly like the sub-humans they demonize, sometimes even through cowardly clownish silence. And then they have such hard hearts and frozen minds their behavior is perpetuated in comments that bite the rough thumbs off the hand trying to feed them.

      Thank you for not sleeping so long in the woods you withheld esteem where it is clearly due. Many, including mid century east coast Irish Catholics, would clearly rather jump off Mt. Everest than mention Bob has told them this over and over and they keep ignoring his lessons and just keep name calling everyone but Donald Trump.

    3. 11:30 just proves my point 110000000003%

      11:10 i don't think they do and that is the scary part. i think they see right past his main points and focus on the innane to perpetuate the sharks vs jets rivalry. it was dumb when the right did it and it is equally dumb when the left does it. hopefully there really is a silent majority out there somewhere.

    4. @ 11:49 by seeming to call trolls stupid you have picked a poor strategy if the goal is to win hearts and minds. but since you know that you must not really want to win them over to your way of thinking.

      by calling them scary you are emulating the New York Times, in the famous 4,400 word "piece of poison" in the New York Times which began with a "scary" Cold War tale
      because it mentioned Russians.

      but thank you for being maria. or are you tony?

    5. nardo

      i didn't call anyone stupid nor did i mean to imply that anyone here is stupid (in fact i didn't use that word at all in my post). if you are refering to where i used the word dumb, its a phrase we use where i am from that essential means "not good" as in it is "not good" to pick some small, insignificant, innane piece of an issue and fight about it while ignoring the larger issue at hand. that's all i meant, there really is no need for snarky comments ("thank you for being maria. or are you tony" wtf does that even mean??).

      As for winning hearts and minds, you are right, i don't want to win any hearts and minds...personally i don't give a rats a** about what anyone else thinks, they are entitled to their opinion, and i respect it, even if i disagree with it. again i was just pointing out what i thought somerby's main point was, and that in reading the comments i felt that a lot of commenters missed his point. in fact, i thought many of the comments kind of proved his point.

      people need to calm down and start talking to each other. there are serious problems out there that are going to take discussion and compromise, and fighting or snarky comments helpful in addressing those issues.

    6. you said trolls didn't get bob's points, which he repeats almost as often as the sun rises in the east. if you don't think that seems to call people stupid it indicates you are possibly as dumb as you imply others are.

      your defense that your did not use the word "stupid" indicates excessive literalism, defined by another regular person who "gets" and defends bob's message as a sign of brain injury or mental illness.

  16. Krugman's article is factual and cites two works of research. How, pray tell, is he not "playing golf"? Krugman does a better job of reporting on facts in his opinion articles than some journalists do in their news articles.

    To put it another way, Krugman's claim, that racism is an obvious factor in the failure of US-Americans to create a healthy social welfare state, has a lot of evidence to support it. Can you show us the evidence that demonstrates that some factor other than racism is greater? I think not.

  17. Excellent commentary.

  18. So Bob.
    Why don't you talk nice to Cicero and turn him around.
    Good luck!

  19. so krugman says that racism is an obvious factor in the failure of the US to create a healthy social welfare state similar to that of european countries. I won't argue that point, let's assume he is right and that is true. what exactly does he mean by healthy social welfare state and why do we want this??

    1. so krugman didn't say it.

    2. Workfare doesn't work when there aren't enough jobs to go around.
      It doesn't work when the available jobs don't pay a living wage.
      It doesn't work when day care costs more than the parent's take home pay.
      You can call Blacks "blue state urban dwellers" if it makes you feel more self-righteous, but it's just unconscious racism.

    3. Day care expenses are manageable where there are two parents. Largely an irrelevant point in this particular discussion.

    4. 7:03 PM,
      If you can't laugh about the well-known fact that business stiffs labor, what can you laugh at?

    5. 12:53

      Considering labor officials exempted their own rank and file from getting the $15 minimum wage after promoting it for everyone else, unions worst enemy is their own leadership.