October 20, 2003

Cyber-Stalking Paul Krugman

These days people like David Warsh, who used to write about how the New York Times's editors needed to hold Paul Krugman to "elementary standards of courtesy and fair play" now write that Krugman "turned out to be absolutely right [on the California electricity mess]. The industry’s conduct was the real story in California— 'looting' behavior every bit as shocking... as that of many bankers in the... American savings and loan crisis... And Krugman played the key role in alerting the rest of the world..."

So it seems like it's time for an update on Paul Krugman's principal cyber-stalker caballeros. How are they doing as it becomes more and more clear that Krugman was right about more and more things? I took a look at the top three, and pickings are slim:

Andrew Sullivan appears to be continuing his cyber-stalk, and attempted trashing, Paul Krugman. But the stalking and trashing is absolutely pitiful--he's clearly just going through the motions. Here are the last four examples:

October 16, 2003: BAD DAY FOR KRUGMAN: More people are getting jobs.

September 30, 2003: FINALLY, DIVERSITY: At the NYT, David Brooks writes about Paul Krugman.

September 30, 2003: And since I'm not part of the Krugmanian Bush-Is-Hitler/Nixon/Saddam crowd, I'll leave the hyper-ventilating to Josh Marshall until we know more.

September 30, 2003: Jeffrey Sachs , formerly sane Columbia University professor, joining the Krugman wing of the Democrats.

Note that Sullivan has absolutely no complaints to make about Paul Krugman's writings--how could he? Does he want to argue that the Bush administration was clear and straight with America on the reasons it went into Iraq? That Bush economic policy would not be better if it had been made by bonobos? That Bush social policy is a light unto the nations?

So he adopts a bizarre rhetorical strategy--that to call someone a "Krugman" is to call them something bad, but that he cannot be bothered to explain or even mention anything Paul Krugman has written that is wrong.


Mickey Kaus appears to have given up his cyber-stalking. He hasn't tried to sink the knife in since June 12. But before he quit the business, his attempts had gotten as lame as Sullivan's--indications that Kaus simply wasn't listening when people patiently told him that extra productivity growth is a good thing when demand is (or can be made to) grow as fast as productive potential, but that extra productivity growth causes disappointingly bad news about employment when demand growth is insufficient:

June 12, 2003: Articles like Dionne's... suggest that... the latest Bush tax cuts will give Democrats--when they get back into power--more room to add necessary health care spending... [But] even Dionne--and Paul Krugman , who also got a column out of Obey's stunt--don't convince me that the second round of Bush tax cuts was a good idea.

May 8, 2003: Paul Krugman's Web-only explanation.... Why not make this a NYT column? [ Not partisan and dumbed-down enough?...

April 20, 2003: Paul Krugman... with high-status people who disagree... tones down his hyperbolic Bushies-are-evil last-angry-man foaming...

March 25, 2003: But wait. Wasn't it only five months ago that Paul Krugman was telling us rapid labor force growth was bad, because "an economy that is growing, but in which employment grows more slowly than the labor force... will feel like it's still in recession.".... [T]he favorable productivity trend, which Krugman describes as a dark lining, becomes more of a silver cloud -- boosting the overall wealth even a smaller labor force can produce?


The last of the Three Krugman cyber-stalking caballeros, however, is still in there trying. Almost all the time National Review (motto: Joe McCarthy was misunderstood)-financed Donald Luskin is in as sad shape as the other two: pushing books with titles like The Bush Boom (I kid you not), trying to forget that he has accused senior members of the White House staff of being members of a conspiracy to commit treason, pretending to wax wroth at being accused of cyber-stalking (if he really does think Krugman has accused him of a felony, he's much stupider than even I thought possible), accusing Paul of anti-semitism, and coming up with insights like his claim that yields on Treasury bonds are not interest rates that sink well below the previous depths of human stupidity.

But he does, very occasionally, come up with an actual attempt at a critique of something Krugman has written.

In his latest, he attacks Paul Krugman for offenses like running a "campaign of lies, exaggerations, and sexed-up intelligence designed to fool the American people into thinking that America's federal budget deficit is a deadly threat."

Well, here's a (significantly overoptimistic) chart using the deficit projections from the Bush administration's last ("Rosy Scenario") budget submission:

Luskin's big problem is that Bush administration projections, using Bush administration forecasts of economic growth, assuming that the laws are what the Bush administration wants them to be--projections tuned to be overoptimistic with the return of "Rosy Scenario"--say that we are exactly where Paul Krugman says we are: the policies of the Bush Administration put the U.S. once more on the path to national bankruptcy in that they direct us to a place a couple of decades hence where the commitments of the government--to defense, administration of justice, the safety net, and the large elderly programs of Medicare and Social Security--will be far beyond the reach of federal revenues.

Because the Bush administration's long-run deficit projections are within shouting distance of everybody else's, Luskin couldn't challenge Krugman on the economics even if he wanted to (and knew how to: think of the economic skill and judgment of a guy who would start a mutual fund in 1999 must be). So he is in as bad shape (if much more voluble shape) as the others.


So I think it is long past time to ask these three guys to simply shut up. And I proceed to do so. Andy: since you agree that Paul has the economics and the social policy right--and that your judgments of the Bushes were completely wrong--can't you just admit you were wrong? Mickey, doesn't the same apply to you? Luskin: can't you just stop taking up useless airspace? Nobody inside or outside the White House save you believes that we are going to grow our way out of the Bush deficits.

Think how much happier all of us would be if these caballeros would just leave the field clear for intellectual adversaries who might be closer to Paul Krugman's caliber...

Posted by DeLong at October 20, 2003 12:59 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Hi, Brad,

How was the long-run budget projection generated?

Do you have a version based on more realistic inputs? The CBPP projection to 2013 (Fig. 1, http://www.cbpp.org/9-29-03bud.pdf) is already quite scary.

Is there a scale problem with the plot? Next year's deficit is $500B, nearly $700B excluding trust fund income. The plot shows an initial minimum of only about 3%.

Regards,
David Finley

Posted by: David Finley on October 20, 2003 10:56 PM

I'd just like to go on record saying that I don't actually like Krugman especially well, but that the enemies he's acquired make him look wonderful.

He's well accessorized, the way Clinton was during the impeachment bullshit.

Posted by: Zizka on October 20, 2003 10:57 PM

What about a comparison version of those two graphs WITHOUT the Bush tax cuts? Obviously there will be an improvement, but the massive downward dip on the right-hand side is due mostly to the coming growth of retirees and the comparable explosion of SocSec and Medicare payments. How much difference does Bush make?

Also, in the Krugman-Stalker category: what about the mysterious Robert Musil? Obviously lerned, but not -- from my scan of him -- particularly honest. Your opinion? (And does anyone know who the hell he is?)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on October 21, 2003 12:17 AM

well... I'm hoping that europe will grow its way out of the Bush deficit. ;)

not quite the time for schadenfreude yet though...

Posted by: bryan on October 21, 2003 02:13 AM

>>Think how much happier all of us would be if these caballeros would just leave the field clear for intellectual adversaries who might be closer to Paul Krugman's caliber>>

Are there any examples of "intellectual adversaries who might be closer to Paul Krugman's caliber"?

Posted by: richard on October 21, 2003 04:23 AM

Luskin's articles have one limited value. I'm trying to teach my staff the art of effective writing and I often like to demonstrate by counter examples. OK, there are lots of example of bad writing - especially writing that never gets to the point. The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes is notorious for this, but nothing compares to taking a Luskin piece. Par away all the long-winded fluff and what do you get? An argument so flawed, it is obvious why the author waits to page 3 to state his main point. Yes, Luskin should keep writing so we can use his horrific writing style to teach our colleagues and students how not to write.

Posted by: Harold McClure on October 21, 2003 06:42 AM

Hey Harold McClure, check out Neil Cavuto's page! It's a treasure trove if you need bad writing!

http://www.foxnews.com/column_archive/0,2976,10,00.html

Or, if you're really desperate for bad writing, just go to the search engine on Brad DeLong's website and type in "Julian Elson," and you'll find plenty of it in the comments sections of various posts around here...

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 21, 2003 07:18 AM

Glad you brought up David Warsh's comment.

Someone, somewhere should dedicate the time to go over all the nonsense that the anti-Krugman bloggers and commenters said about the CA energy crisis, particularly from those that consider themselves with expertise in this matter.

I'm thinking of bloggers/commenters like Robert Musil, Jane Galt, or Patrick Sullivan.

Jane Galt has an online column on economic issues and does not understand the basics. More than a year after the the CA crisis was over she still didn't get what happened and still thought Krugman was wrong.

Posted by: GT on October 21, 2003 08:51 AM

I am curious about the budget projections as well. It looks to be the CBO numbers.

http://www.house.gov/budget_democrats/images/fy04/cbo_aug03/layer_chart.pdf

The blue line return to surplus is in part due to the sunset of tax cuts in 2010. The recent tax cuts must make the long term picture that much worse. Is it due to the dividend tax cuts?

Posted by: bakho on October 21, 2003 09:30 AM

The one and only consistently negative thing I have to say about Krugman is that he does, from time to time, wander off onto topics where his strongest work is unlikely to occur. Krugman's strongest op-ed pieces are those where he can rapdily pare a situation down to an essentially logical argument, and show that his target for the day then did something wacky. If he's writing about an economic issue, he can usually get down to that crisp argument in three ways. First, he can exploit an "obvious" (to an economist) accounting identity to identify the problem with a policy. Second, he can often cite a credible source for information that would invalidate a presmise being made in argument. Third, because he is a well-trained economist, he can often make a very solid back-of-the-envelope calculation that is good enough to cast doubt on an assertion.

Interestingly, Krugman can often do something similar if the topic isn't strictly economics, but if there *are* obviously relevant data out there that can be used to make a similar point. What Krugman does *not* do especially well is to write a column that is not as strictly data- or logic-driven. So his column today ("Listening to Mahathir") isn't horrible, but isn't very strong at all. The argument is something like this:

Mahathir leads a predominantly Muslim country (Malaysia) that might be our fondest realistic wish for Iraq.

IF American policy is X,
THEN Mahathir must say ugly things to stabilize his domestic situation.

IF Mahathir (a potential ally) must say ugly things,
THEN America has greater difficulties in the Islamic world.

American policy is X.

ERGO
Mahathir must say ugly things AND America has greater difficulties in the Islamic world.

The logic is basically fine, but the premises here can be easily debated. So Mahathir might say ugly things because he truly believes them, and might only *restrain* himself from saying them when not saying things gains him something from America or Europe. Or, you could dispute that Malaysia is the appropriate goal of current policy in Iraq, given that it is a dictatorship led by a man who will in fact try to control his domestic situation by spreading hatred for a religious group. Or you could find evidence that Mahathir says ugly things (for the domestic reasons that Krugman asserts) no matter what American policy is. Or Mahathir could have said this particular ugly thing just to balance the criticisms he was making in his speech of the kind of education that Muslims were getting. Also, there's an *implicit* assertion made here that if American policy were not-X, then Mahathir would say fewer ugly things. Alas, that's a logical fallacy from the argument as given.

I could go on and on. The point here is that this is NOT the kind of situation where I think the Krugman technique is likely to work that well, even if we were to give him many more than 700 words to make his point. Interestingly, I think he would stand a much better shot at making his point in this column if were to ignore Mahathir and concentrate on why General Boykin is allowed to remain in his current position. We can replace the general pretty easily; we can'd do much to influence a dictator at this point in time since we have our plate full.

The irony here, of course, is that this is also NOT the kind of Krugman column that somebody like Luskin is going to wave around and say "Liar liar!" Those people are either tilting at the windmills of Econ 101 accounting identities, or hoping against hope that US policy is less confused and wrong-headed than a cold look at it would indicate, or getting mad at him when he (correctly) argues that an administration official is either incompetent or untruthrul (or both).

Posted by: Jonathan King on October 21, 2003 10:03 AM

Shorter Johnathan King:

Krugman's argument about Mahathir's comments is essentially logical, but it would work better if he just concentrated the anti-Islamist American general who is demonstrating that Muslim anti-Americanism isn't paranoia.

Posted by: Patrick (G) on October 21, 2003 10:17 AM

I get the impression that the problem springs from the fact that editors are so desperate for administration-friendly pieces that they can't hold out for coherent administration-friendy pieces, in the same way that anti-Clinton pieces just had to orbit loosely around the fact that he was Bad and the details didn't really matter.

And, too, think about it - if you're going to print a piece defending Bush's economic policies (or foreign policy, or domestic... well, you get the idea) how do you week out the things that don't make sense that are extraneous to the thrust of the piece? There may not be any.

I think a lot of editors don't want to take the risk of editing them at all.

Posted by: julia on October 21, 2003 10:33 AM

weed. ack.

Posted by: julia on October 21, 2003 10:38 AM

Julia and ACK :

''There's glory for you!'

`I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

`But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs: they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole lot of them!''

Posted by: anne on October 21, 2003 11:40 AM

Does any one here have the courage to say that Krugman's latest column was plain bad? That it makes you cringe? That 7000 words would make it an even more preposterous piece? Or has Krugman moved to the realm where the worst reproach is that he is 'not very strong', that his 'premises can be easily debated', that the situation at hand is not suited to his technique?

If not, I may start suspecting that there is a hidden agenda here...

Posted by: maciej on October 21, 2003 12:11 PM

I do think that this Tuesday's is probably the worst Krugman column that I can remember. I mean, Mahathir has a long history of saying outrageous and stupid things, and Bush has only been in office for about 1/8th of Mahathir's administration. Bush, as a president, may have many things, but turning Mahathir into a raving, conspiracy-nut occidentalist when the stars align right isn't one of them.

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 21, 2003 12:30 PM

I thought it was a good column.

Posted by: GT on October 21, 2003 12:51 PM

I thought the colum was excellent! The most appropriate analysis of Mahathir's remarks I have read or heard.

Posted by: lise on October 21, 2003 12:58 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/21/opinion/21KRUG.html

Listening to Mahathir
By PAUL KRUGMAN

The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy: They get others to fight and die for them." So said Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, at an Islamic summit meeting last week. The White House promptly denounced his "hate-filled remarks."

Indeed, those remarks were inexcusable. But they were also calculated — for Mr. Mahathir is a cagey politician, who is neither ignorant nor foolish. And to understand why he made those remarks is to realize how badly things are going for U.S. foreign policy.

The fact is that Mr. Mahathir, though guilty of serious abuses of power, is in many ways about as forward-looking a Muslim leader as we're likely to find. And Malaysia is the kind of success story we wish we saw more of: an impressive record of economic growth, rising education levels and general modernization in a nation with a Muslim majority.

It's worth reading the rest of last week's speech, beyond the offensive 28 words....

Posted by: lise on October 21, 2003 12:59 PM

Patrick (G), your post demonstrates that Muslim anti-Americanism is paranoia. The General demonstrates that it isn't entirely paranoia... :)

Jonathan King, you could have just said that Paul is a better economist than political commentator. Today's article proves the point quite well.

maciej, Krugman's article was awful. As Julian points out correctly, Mahathir has been a raving occidentalist for much longer than W has been inspiring conspiracy theories.

Posted by: Stan on October 21, 2003 02:34 PM

Patrick (G) writes:

> Shorter Jonathan King:
>
> Krugman's argument about Mahathir's comments is
> essentially logical, but it would work better if he just
> concentrated the anti-Islamist American general who is
> demonstrating that Muslim anti-Americanism isn't paranoia.

Not quite. The *form* of the argument is fine, but virtually every premise it uses could be contested. And, yeah, there's a much stronger case against the general since his motives are irrelevant.

Posted by: Jonathan King on October 21, 2003 03:09 PM

maciej writes:
>
> Does any one here have the courage to say that
> Krugman's latest column was plain bad? That it makes
> you cringe? That 7000 words would make it an even
> more preposterous piece? Or has Krugman moved to the
> realm where the worst reproach is that he is 'not very
> strong', that his 'premises can be easily debated', that the
> situation at hand is not suited to his technique?
>
> If not, I may start suspecting that there is a hidden
> agenda here...

Well, I didn't *like* the column. As I said, the argument wasn't very strong. I wouldn't say it was "plain bad" because it was easy to see what he was trying to do, and I did think it was worth noting that opinions of the US and its allies in the Muslim world are not independent of what the US does. Yes, the argument he made is full of holes. Frankly *I* don't know enough about the situation to know how many of them could be plugged. But most op/ed pieces I read say *nothing*, and so there's no real point in arguing with them.

(Sheesh; I spend enough pararaphs back there dismantling the thing to get somebody to do a "shorter version of Jon King" reply, and somebody thinks I liked this?)

Posted by: Jonathan King on October 21, 2003 03:21 PM

"Does any one here have the courage to say that Krugman's latest column was plain bad?"

I do! I do! Can I be a stalker too? If their ranks are thinning as reported they may need a replacement.

Let's see, PK's going to take a lot of (deserved) heat for rationalizing Mahathir's long history of using anti-Semitism in his domestic politics as being the unhappy effect of Bush's foreign policy working backwards through time.

But the thing that just leaped out at me is how Krugman describes Mahathir as lecturing the Muslim people on their failings as per *Bernard Lewis*(!) to "castigate" the theocratic side of Muslim society --- and then goes on to opine how "Osama bin Laden must be enjoying this."

Hello?? Osama is enjoying having the leader of a Muslim state give his people a Bernard Lewis lecture?

And this is all proof of the failure of US foreign policy? Gee, how many Bernard Lewis lectures were given by the leaders of Muslim states during the Albright years?

"The argument is something like this: Mahathir leads a predominantly Muslim country (Malaysia) that might be our fondest realistic wish for Iraq...."

A dictatorship like Mahathir's?? That's a pretty bad whiff right there. What about Turkey's democracy? Or the Kurdish territories that actually *are* a good part of Iraq and have already built a functioning democratic government within it? Could PK think we might hope for that? (A real "stalker" might suggest that PK was needlessly impressed by an unpleasant dictator here.)

"I mean, Mahathir has a long history of saying outrageous and stupid things, and Bush has only been in office for about 1/8th of Mahathir's administration."

Well, put the blame for all the other 7/8th where it belongs -- on the foreign policies of the Clinton and Bush I Administrations!

All that said, as a wannabe stalker I must point out that this column is all sound reason and rigor compared to some of the things PK's been saying on his book tour. E.g. to the New Yorker:
~~

"[Journalists] don’t want to sound like crazy conspiracy theorists. But there’s nothing crazy about ferreting out the real goals of the right wing; on the contrary, it’s unrealistic to pretend that there isn’t a sort of conspiracy here, albeit one whose organization and goals are pretty much out in the open."
~~

I.e,: There's a "conspiracy" here! And we're going to "ferret out" its goals which are pretty much out in the open. But we don't want to sound "crazy" about ferreting out a conspiracy that's out in the open. So we'll just change the meaning of the word and say it really *is* a conspiracy -- albeit one whose organization and goals are pretty much out in the open.

I mean if you enjoy Orwellian redefinitions of language, how's that? ;-) And speaking of things Orwellian there's the sure grasp on history...
~~~

"Is this the same country that we had in 1970? I think we have a much more polarized political system, a much more polarized social climate ... we're probably not the country of Richard Nixon ..."

~~
Well, that was the first time I ever heard a liberal lamenting the lost social cohesion of the Nixon era! Which would be: urban race riots, SDS bombings, drug culture, anti-war marches, campus closings, the National Guard shooting down students...
http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/2556/kent.html
... yes, the good ol' days of social cohesion. Compared to which, today's society is torn asunder by ... a dispute over budget deficits. ;-)

But how could our society not be torn asunder with such *evil* forces at play on *one side* of politics? You know, forces like those there were in ...

"revolutionary France, the France of Robespierre ... Germany in the 30s... that really don’t play by the rules... at a certain point you realize, My God, we’ve given everything away that makes system work. We’ve given away everything we counted on. And that’s basically the story of what’s happened with the Right in the United States."

Robespierre? Germany in the 30s?? On usenet I'd invoke Godwin's Law.

I was listening to him on the radio when he gave this bit and was asked by the interviewer: but who are these people in real life? PK hemmed and hawed a little, and then identified Heritage and Grover Norquist -- they are revolutionaries who want to starve the entitlements created by FDR and LBJ from growing as scheduled through the use of tax cuts.

Well, Milton Friedman for one is at Heritage and he'd say "Yes, sure thing!" to that. Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy recently said just that in the WSJ. Buchanan has said it ... so it seems like our modern day Jacobins and Nazis are ideologically driven by the perverse beliefs of a cadre of Nobel and Clark prize winners...

Does my pointing this out make me a "stalker" yet? Or will I have to attend a book signing too? ;-)

Posted by: Jim Glass on October 21, 2003 03:25 PM

" I thought it was a good column."

Posted by GT at October 21, 2003 12:51 PM

" I thought the colum was excellent! The most appropriate analysis of Mahathir's remarks I have read or heard."

Posted by lise at October 21, 2003 12:58 PM

Oh gee, what a surprise.

Perhaps the Pauldolators could explain why Osama bin Laden should be happy to hear the Muslim leader of Malaysia lecturing his co-religionists to start THINKING and stop with the counterproductive suicide bombings?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 21, 2003 03:48 PM

More seriously about this "stalking" business:
The use of the word really doesn't seem quite right, to me at least, if we are being at all serious instead of trying to be humorous in some way.

The internet if anything is supposed to be the medium of freely expressed opinion -- albeit opinions of extremely variable value. To call someone a "stalker" for no more than regularly posting personal opinions about another's regularly published public opinions, in an open forum of public opinion, seems a bit much.

After all, "stalking" is a felony and a particularly unattractive one at that. To call a critic a "stalker" is likening expression of critical opinion to a crime. It certainly seems to indicate that one feels that oneself and one's friends are entitled to be above criticism. Or at least above unapproved criticism.

On usenet there are kill files for people whose opinions are deemed worthless. A mental one will do, ignoring the fools and worse. It's easy and much better than sinking down to serious use of slurs.

Also, it may be just a tad on the sensitive side to so resent criticism from others while oneself and one's friends are going around crying "Liar" "Liar" near relentlessly in much more prominent forums; calling another man "Evil... evil" in the NY Times, in front of his family and friends, on the basis of a smoking e-mail it turns out we don't have; comparing political foes to Jacobins and Nazis, and so on.

And we certainly seem to be "defining 'stalkerhood' down" as we go along, aren't we?

I mean, now a critic of one who politely attends one's public performance with the open intent of giving a critical review of it is a "stalker".

By that standard Prof. K's compatriot on the op-ed page Frank Rich ought to be doing consecutive life terms as a 1000-time serial offender.

Heck, Prof. Krugman was hired to do a column on business and economics for the Times, according to the press release. Yet 98% of his columns bash Dubya. Does that make him an obsessive "stalker" of Dubya?

There's an old saying that if you are happy to give it you ought to be happy to take it. It's actually a convincing strength to exult in taking it in good humor. But if one doesn't have the personality to do that, and one thinks one is being afflicted by fools and morons, the best thing to do is simply ignore them -- after all, nobody is *forced* to read anything on the Web. And the quality of one's work should speak for itself.

Sinking to seriously calling people "stalkers" and saying they should "shut up" because they aren't qualified to criticize one could come off as both arrogant and petty. I should hope it would be needlessly defensive as well.

Posted by: Jim Glass on October 21, 2003 04:44 PM

Oddly I hadn't read Krugman's collumn until I read the criticisms in Brad's blog (I don't usally let Krugman's op eds go that long unread).

Nonetheless, I began writing a post attacking the critics for various displays of ignorance and clearly invalid dishonest rhetoric. I will mark my (unedited) criticsms below.
I am not tempted to edit them, because my criticisms of ignorance and dishonesty do not depend on anything Krugman wrote but are clear from the posts themselves.

I think Krugman's article is excellent. In particular the criticisms that Mahathir Mohamad is a nut case are considered in the article.
Krugman clearly notes that MM has said extreme and offensive things before. He also notes (and no poster seems to be aware of this) that MM often goes for long
periods of time without saying anything outrageous. This makes the MM outrageous comment index a useful indicator. Krugman claimed nothing more than that.
As far as I can tell, the vigorous criticism of Krugman in the posts do no damage at all. The posters
argue that he ignores facts which he specifically notes. Mainly they show he worked longer on his article
than they did on their posts (no surprise) and seems to know a whole whole lot more about Malaysian politics than they do
(well that's obvious don't all economists know about Malaysian politics)


(by the way folks I think you mean
anti-occidental not occidental).


Some commments on Malaysia (before reading Krugman's article)

Malaysia is about as democratic as Turkey. Both have multi party elections and repeated systematic violations of Human rights (I didn't notice that any poster is aware that there are multi party elections in Malaysia).

Also in Turkey the armed forces regularly intervene in the democratic process and everyone knows that when it comes down to it they are willing and able to overthrow the constitution.
You might recall that Turkey changed prime ministers just after the parliament voted against allowing the US armed forces to cross Turkey on their way to Iraq. The reason is that the head of the largest party was banned from public office for a thought crime so they had to change the law before he could be prime minister.

For a Moslem Democracy it might be better to look to Bangladesh.

Oh and also there is not one Kurdish effective democracy in Northern Iraq but two. They fought a war. one asked Iran for help and the other asked ugh Saddam Hussein.

I'd say the case that Malaysia is a relatively very succesful moslem economy and polity is very strong.

Note Krugman is an economist and impressed by Malaysia's excellent economic results
(based largely on a pro FDI policy of no-global Mahathir).

(after reading Krugman's article)


Try opening a computer. What word have I seen
most ? It is not Intel it is Malaysia (my personal experienc with 3 computers).

I think the reason that people are unimpressed by Krugman's article is, as usual, he knows about 10 times as much as they do.

Jonathan King is not ignorant but the post contains an argument which is obviously invalid. Jonathan King notes a "contradiction" between what Krugman writes and an "*implicit* message".
In other words he notes a contrast between something Krugman said and something that Krugman did not say.
That is not a contradiction.
Johnothan King could have praised Krugman for the the intellectual discipline shown by the fact that he did not say something
which he might have been tempted to say but which contradicted the facts as he had described them.
I think that Jonathan King's argument is the most patently invalid that I have read recently.
I suppose there might be worse arguments whose logical errors are hidden by lies
(that is Jonothan King stresses the word implicit which shows that his criticism is invalid)

I might add that the general message of the post is a platitude. The point seems to be Krugman is more able to prove things if there is decisive solid relevant evidence. This is not a feature of Krugman.

Nor is it good general advice for comentators to stick to cases which can be proven with facts. Sometimes one has to consider important issues
(such as what is going on in the mind of the worlds Moslems) in cases where decisive evidence is hard to come by.

I already had a very high opinion of Krugman before reading the posts and the article. Now he seems almost superhuman. I just started the blog since I hope to have fun arguing in favour of Krugman (easy case to make)
against the Krugman stalkers (who have a high enthusiasm level anyway)

Posted by: Robert on October 21, 2003 08:32 PM

You're all missing the point, which is intellectual courage. Paul may occasionally overdraw an issue or let emotion slip in, but he's the only one with solid intellectual credentials and a bully pulpit who has the courage to point to what will be all too obvious to historians (and indeed to the military and the jobless right now): criminally reckless management of this nation by the administration. Krugman's depth of anger and frustration certainly are justly proportional to the damage being done. There are only two ways to explain what's happening in the White House now: incompetence or intention. Krugman points out that incompetence alone couldn't explain the whole story; Bush certainly is skilless, but Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld and Condi are very shrewd. Hence there is also intention.

Anger is called for, in proportion to the ills being committed, and I salute Krugman as an American hero for stepping up to the plate for the rest of us who can't.

Posted by: John Rogers on October 21, 2003 08:32 PM

Correct criticisms of Krugman by Jim Glass:

(1) "PK's going to take a lot of (deserved) heat for rationalizing Mahathir's long history of using anti-Semitism in his domestic politics as being the unhappy effect of Bush's foreign policy working backwards through time."

Yep -- Mahathir in 1997: "We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally [George] Soros is a Jew. It is also a coincidence that Malaysians are mostly Moslem. Indeed, the Jews are not happy to see Moslems progress. If it were Palestine, the Jews would rob Palestinians. Thus this is what they are doing to our country."

The main problem by far isn't Bush; it's the fact that Islam is still a non-liberalized religion, and therefore the entire Moslem world is a cesspool of religious bigotry and intolerance. Mahathir and almost every other Moslem political leader has to spout this Elders of Zion sewage, whether he believes it or not, or lose power (and maybe his life). Bush may have poured SLIGHTLY more gasoline on the fire by not demanding that Sharon at least construct the coming Israel/Palestine wall close to Israel's original border, but the bonfire was high and roaring long before it appeared on the scene. His main diplomatic blunders have involved the non-Moslem world.

(2) PK's self-contradictory "conspiracy" remarks. (Although he would have made sense if he'd said that the Right's organization and real goals are partially out in the open, but partially concealed.)

(3) His remark on the "lesser social polarization" of 1970. (Although he would have been correct to say the the national income spread, and therefore its class divisions, were less then.)

(4) His comparison of the current GOP Right to Robespierre and Hitler. (It would have been infinitely more accurate to say that Norquist, at least, has declared his desire to shrink government social spending back to pre-Teddy Roosevelt levels -- that is, to return to Social Darwinism. Which is quite repulsive enough. And Norquist is probably the current-day GOP's central political strategist.)

Other comments:

(A) Glass and Patrick Sullivan aside, there's no contradiction between saying that some of Mahathir's speech was reminiscent of Bernard Lewis, and that it would nevertheless have delighted Bin Laden overall. Besides saying that Islam must embrace Western science, he did say: "We also know that not all non-Muslims are against us. Some are well-disposed towards us. Some even see our enemies as their enemies. Even among the Jews there are many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing. We must not antagonise everyone. We must win their hearts and minds. We must win them to our side not by begging for help from them but by the honourable way that we struggle to help ourselves. We must not strengthen the enemy by pushing everyone into their camps through irresponsible and un-Islamic acts...Remember the considerateness of the Prophet to the enemies of Islam. We must do the same. It is winning the struggle that is important, not angry retaliation, not revenge."

Which, in the current environment, is not to be sneezed at -- but he also constantly repeated the aforementioned Elders of Zion muck, and denounced Western-style political and religious freedoms (on the grounds, among other things, that the Jews are Homo superior and will thus inevitably take control of any human society that doesn't seriously repress them).

(B) DeLong DID say that he wanted to "leave the field clear for intellectual adversaries who might be closer to Paul Krugman's caliber." I nominate Glass (although for the reasons mentioned above, I wouldn't call him more than Krugman's intellectual equal). He would certainly do a infinitely better job than the maundering Sullivan and Kaus, or than Luskin -- whose idea of rational criticism is to describe Krugman as "the nervous, stammering, shifty-eyed, twitching, ill-tailored, gray homunculus" and DeLong as "this pudgy dweeb". You don't have to know much about economics to realize that Luskin has a lot more slats missing from his treehouse than Krugman does.



Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on October 21, 2003 10:52 PM

Like I said, I don't especially like Krugman. I didn't read this column, but it was probably not so good.

But Krugman's enemies:

Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej!Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej! Patrick! Jim! Maciej!

Posted by: Zizka on October 21, 2003 11:05 PM

Bruce,

"I think you mean anti-occidental not occidental".

You are correct.

Posted by: Stan on October 22, 2003 06:41 AM

"You're all missing the point, which is intellectual courage." Another topos of the Krugman idolatry: He has the courage. Let's see.

Courage in the traditional sense it ain't. The guy lives in a liberal democracy, has tenure at Princeton, and gets published in one of the most widely read papers in the country, for which he is paid. What are the dangers he is setting his courage against?

Ah, but that's "intellectual courage". Is it? I would guess 70-80% of all acedemics agree with him(probably even before he says anything), including economists; it doesn't look like he's hitting intellectuals and his professional peers where it hurts. Intellectual courage could probably also mean having the guts to publish results that go against your most cherished opinions. Does anyone feel that Krugman is anguished having to write that Bush's policies are a failure?

So I am inexorably led to the conclusion that Krugman's courage consists of having to endure the criticisms of assorted bloggers and press columnists plus the invective of such giants of economic analysis as Andrew Sullivan and Don Luskin.

Heroic.

Posted by: maciej on October 22, 2003 07:34 AM

"You're all missing the point, which is intellectual courage." Another topos of the Krugman idolatry: He has the courage. Let's see.

Courage in the traditional sense it ain't. The guy lives in a liberal democracy, has tenure at Princeton, and gets published in one of the most widely read papers in the country, for which he is paid. What are the dangers he is setting his courage against?

Ah, but that's "intellectual courage". Is it? I would guess 70-80% of all acedemics agree with him(probably even before he says anything), including economists; it doesn't look like he's hitting intellectuals and his professional peers where it hurts. Intellectual courage could probably also mean having the guts to publish results that go against your most cherished opinions. Does anyone feel that Krugman is anguished having to write that Bush's policies are a failure?

So I am inexorably led to the conclusion that Krugman's courage consists of having to endure the criticisms of assorted bloggers and press columnists plus the invective of such giants of economic analysis as Andrew Sullivan and Don Luskin.

Heroic.

Posted by: maciej on October 22, 2003 07:36 AM

Okay Bruce, please explain why Osama bin Laden should be pleased to hear:

----------quote---------
Besides saying that Islam must embrace Western science, he did say: "We also know that not all non-Muslims are against us. Some are well-disposed towards us. Some even see our enemies as their enemies. Even among the Jews there are many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing. We must not antagonise everyone. We must win their hearts and minds. We must win them to our side not by begging for help from them but by the honourable way that we struggle to help ourselves. We must not strengthen the enemy by pushing everyone into their camps through irresponsible and un-Islamic acts...Remember the considerateness of the Prophet to the enemies of Islam. We must do the same. It is winning the struggle that is important, not angry retaliation, not revenge."
----------endquote-----------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 22, 2003 08:05 AM

Add to the list of stalkers, the Anti Defamation League:

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times October 21, 2003

To the Editor:

In his obsession with criticizing U.S. policy, Paul Krugman underestimates the significance of the anti-Semitic diatribe by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before the Organization of the Islamic Conference ("Listening to Mahathir," Oct. 21).

Mahathir's comments cannot be explained away by themes of domestic politics. They come in the context of a surge of anti-Semitism in the Islamic world, and not only on the fringes. Conspiracy theories about blaming Jews for 9/11 are believed by tens of millions. Denial of the Holocaust is rampant in the media. Images of Jews in op-ed pieces, editorials, and cartoons reflect classic anti-Semitic stereotypes – drinking the blood of Muslims, all-powerful, secretive and conspiratorial.

The last time the world saw such a hateful anti-Semitic tirade by a national leader, there was a tendency to play it down as well – as only politics, as buffoonery, as a passing thing. We know how that ended up in Germany. Let's not make that mistake again.

Sincerely,

Glen A. Tobias
National Chairman

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 22, 2003 08:47 AM

Maybe Geo W. should preface his speeches with lunatic anti-Jewish raviings, and he too could escape the charges of crony capitalism:

" Almost surely it's part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act....

" ....his strident rhetoric was actually part of a delicate balancing act aimed at domestic politics. ... Mr. Mahathir...must throw favors, real and rhetorical....

" Part of that balancing act involves reserving good jobs ... and giving special business opportunities .... Mr. Mahathir ... feared that they would disrupt the carefully managed cronyism that holds his system together. "

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 22, 2003 09:00 AM

In an age where saying anything against the administration labels you to the powers-that-be as being "anti-American and with the terrorists", and given the hatred in the radical right-wingers for Krugman (probably a significant proportion of whom have guns and would love to use them on him), given Krugman's accessiblity (showing up daily in public at well-publicized book events, and he's easy to find on campus at Princeton), and given that there's even evidence of these people physically confronting him, and given that he's the only one with the intellect to understand the damage being done, the ability to write about it in a populist way, and the guts to go after these people twice a week in the most public of fora, yeah, I would say that's courage.

And you won't even use your real name on an obscure liberal blog. Far be it from you to criticize -his- courage.

Let's see -you- get up and do something remotely as courageous.

Posted by: John Rogers on October 22, 2003 10:13 AM

Parrick Sullivan: "Okay Bruce, please explain why Osama bin Laden should be pleased to hear:

----------quote---------
Besides saying that Islam must embrace Western science, he did say: "We also know that not all non-Muslims are against us. Some are well-disposed towards us. Some even see our enemies as their enemies. Even among the Jews there are many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing. We must not antagonise everyone. We must win their hearts and minds. We must win them to our side not by begging for help from them but by the honourable way that we struggle to help ourselves. We must not strengthen the enemy by pushing everyone into their camps through irresponsible and un-Islamic acts...Remember the considerateness of the Prophet to the enemies of Islam. We must do the same. It is winning the struggle that is important, not angry retaliation, not revenge."
___________________

Oh. OK. So you're saying that Mahathir's speech was NOT seriously anti-Semitic anyway? (In which case you're considerably more sympathetic with him than Krugman is.)

Jim Glass you ain't, Patrick. Note for the future: if you're going to attack someone, it helps not to ridiculously contradict yourself in the process.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on October 22, 2003 01:05 PM

" Oh. OK. So you're saying that Mahathir's speech was NOT seriously anti-Semitic anyway? (In which case you're considerably more sympathetic with him than Krugman is.)'

Nice head fake, Bruce. Up above you will find my description of his comments as, "lunatic anti-Jewish raviings".

Now, want to answer my question:

Okay Bruce, please explain why Osama bin Laden should be pleased to hear:

----------quote---------
Besides saying that Islam must embrace Western science, he did say: "We also know that not all non-Muslims are against us. Some are well-disposed towards us. Some even see our enemies as their enemies. Even among the Jews there are many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing. We must not antagonise everyone. We must win their hearts and minds. We must win them to our side not by begging for help from them but by the honourable way that we struggle to help ourselves. We must not strengthen the enemy by pushing everyone into their camps through irresponsible and un-Islamic acts...Remember the considerateness of the Prophet to the enemies of Islam. We must do the same. It is winning the struggle that is important, not angry retaliation, not revenge."
----------endquote-----------


Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 22, 2003 04:14 PM

We are going to have to do this the hard way, aren't we, Patrick? The one reference to Bin Laden in Krugman's column is its next-to-last sentence ("Somewhere in Pakistan Osama bin Laden must be enjoying this"), a reference to Mahathir's entire speech and its undeniable, frequent and blatant wallowings in paranoid anti-Semitic rhetoric (which PK quotes in his first paragraph).


So let's limit ourselves to attacking PK for the stupid thing he actually DID do -- namely, blaming Bush for most of Mahathir's anti-Semitic behavior -- rather than concocting fever-dream hallucinations about the things he ISN'T guilty of, hmmm?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on October 22, 2003 06:16 PM

Damme if I haven't just discovered (thanks to Dan Drezner) that I MYSELF have been smearing Krugman by totally overlooking a passage in his Imes column in which he DOES mention Mahathir's 1997 rantings against Soros: "So what's with the anti-Semitism? Almost surely it's part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act, something I learned about the last time he talked like this, during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98."

However, as the World Jewish Congress pointed out in 1997 ( http://www.wjc.org.il/publications/policy_dispatches/pub_dis24.html ), Mahathir has frequently engaged in anti-Semitic ravings for decades before that crisis -- which means either that he really is viciously anti-Semitic, or that he feels he must pander to a Malaysian anti-Semitism so intense that Bush's behavior during the war on terror could only have added to it slightly. As Drezner says, the billion-dollar question is whether Krugman knew about those other rantings of Mahathir's. If he did, he really was dishonestly bashing Bush in that column; if he didn't, he wasn't.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on October 22, 2003 08:37 PM

I can't help but notice that the chart only shows 2003 and 2004. What of the fact that the same forecasting model used to predict next year's estimates also predicts that the deficit will drop every year afterwards, eventually leading to another surplus?

Posted by: Chris Bowyer on October 23, 2003 04:26 PM
Post a comment