Friday, May 15, 2015

High Times At The Times

I mentioned in this blog's comments thread this past week that I've been trying to cut back on my Krugman habit. I've realized that smoking the Conscience of a Liberal brand was starting to make me feel a little peaked. Beating the rush to be among the first to publish a reader response to his columns was no longer giving me the mellow rush it once had. Because with his constant  defense of Obamacare, his constant railing against right wing ideological ignorance and stupidity instead of against the real menace of neoliberal corruption and greed, his willful ignorance of the wars and torture which he had once so valiantly condemned, PK was seriously beginning to harsh my mellow.

The man has been seriously phoning it in for a long time now. And yet, I can't quit him. It used to be that only David Brooks had the capacity to make me scream inwardly in silent, helpless rage as I tried to formulate a cogent response. I finally got over him. But now PK is making me nuts too.

I keep saying I'm going to give him up, but I am obviously hooked. Today I actually wrote two responses to his highly unoriginal but much-clicked piece lambasting Jeb Bush for being the asshole that he is.

 Krugman joined the vast liberal chorus expressing shock, shock I tell you, that Jeb flip-flopped on Iraq and not only that, he hid behind the Sacred Troops to do so! He is the only slimy politician who has ever cravenly hidden behind the troops in the whole history of slime. As a result, there has been an epidemic of columns and blog-posts expressing Jeb-Shock in just the past couple of days alone. You can find the echo chamber here, here, here, and here among the 75,000 Google search results on the Great Jeb Bush Iraq Flip-Flop of 2015.The shock schlock has surpassed even that on the Senate vote giving President Obama carte blanche to fast-track democracy to oblivion. When you have Jebbie to kick around, the global corporate coup takes a back seat, pronto. 

Here's today's Krugman sampler:
Given how badly these (Bush-era) predictions turned out — we had the biggest housing bust in history, inflation paranoia has been wrong for six years and counting, and 2014 delivered the best job growth since 1999 — you might think that there would be some room in the G.O.P. for economists who didn’t get everything wrong. But there isn’t. Having been completely wrong about the economy, like having been completely wrong about Iraq, seems to be a required credential.
What’s going on here? My best explanation is that we’re witnessing the effects of extreme tribalism.
Yes, how about that awesome growth last year in service sector jobs with the lousiest pay in years and the most extreme wealth inequality ever and the plummeting of Obama's America to near rock-bottom in every measure of social and economic well-being. Tribalism? What tribalism?

No matter that all the "wrongs" have been extended and perpetuated in a Democratic administration. The blanket surveillance continues. The wars continue. The government secrecy continues. The political bribery continues. Mass incarceration continues. Coddling of the wealthy continues. The war on whistle-blowers has surged. CIA torturers are not only shielded from prosecution, they're promoted.

As the late great Molly Ivins warned in Bill of Wrongs: "Pay attention, America! Your ass is on the line!"

My first response to Krugman's Democratic Party-absolved "Fraternity of Failure":
Jeb should take a tip from his rival and limit his utterances to scripted videos and Tweets. Hillary Clinton hasn't taken a question from the press in nearly a month and just look at her -- she is sitting pretty and inevitable, while Jeb is the deserving winner in this week's edition of the Scorn Sweepstakes.

If nothing else, Neoliberal Death Match will be fodder for a revival of the best-selling "Bushisms" series. His candidacy is a tragicomedy about how the inbred psychopathy and ill-gotten wealth of just one family manages, against all odds, to continue infecting a whole party, a whole country, an entire planet.

So let's take W's advice of "bring it on" and apply it lavishly to Jeb. If the scorn is lathered on early, often and copiously, who knows? He might even decide to drop out to spend more time with his money. After all, he did once tell the Miami News Times his ultimate goal in life: "I want to be very wealthy."

Stranger things have happened. Mistakes can sometimes be unmade, even if you're a Bush.

 Then again, pathological stubbornness is also a pesky Bush trait. W's "Is our children learning yet?" apparently doesn't apply to Jeb. The charter school he founded in a poor black Florida neighborhood received a grade of D and was ultimately shut down. But he still thinks he's a successful education reformer, and so do a lot of other enabling and mistaken rich people.

Mistakes were made. And then one day we woke up, and found that we lived under an oligarchy.
Due to my un-PC inclusion of the plutocratic Democratic candidate in an anti-Bush screed, I didn't get as many thumbs-up as I usually do from The Tribe, or even remotely as many as the thoughtful commenter who gushed,  "Wahoo!! Kicking it, PK!! Good job!! I'll forgive the reduction in blogs of late!! Two of your last three have been two of my favorites."

(You can tell that Campaign Season has now revved up into high gear. Wahoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But as I depressively scanned other reader comments, I came across this blazing ray of sanity from Paul Cohen of Hartford, CT:
To Commenters and off topic,

I’ve written PRK and asked why he won’t you speak out against our perpetual wars in the Muslim World- all wars of aggression? He cannot say well, I write about issues affecting economic policy.

He wrote an op-ed in 2009 urging an investigation into torture- part of the broader issue of holding those in government accountable to the rule of law- that was purely political and no economic issues mentioned:

Op-Ed Columnist
Forgive and Forget?
By PAUL KRUGMAN on investigating Torture
January 15, 2009

Krugman is the very visible face and outspoken voice of Liberal politics. I cannot imagine Krugman is in favor of our open-ended, pre-emptive wars of aggression.

Am I the only that feels this way?
To which I replied, 
No. you are not the only one who feels that way. PK functions as the "left" voice in New York Times Pundit World, meaning contained. for the most part, within the safe confines of the Democratic Party. While he occasionally expresses disappointment with Obama's inadequate stimulus and his pivot to deficit reduction/austerity in the first term, he largely confines his columns to defending Obama (mainly Obamacare) against the vile depredations of the Republicans, or just shooting Republican fish in a barrel. PK's strong anti-war stance during the Bush era is now MIA, despite the fact that Obama is largely continuing Bush's aggressive policies.

Obama's record on civil liberties is even worse than Bush's: more drone strikes, more whistle-blower prosecutions of government employees, accelerated wars and ruthless defense of the surveillance state.

Don't even get me started on PK's recent radio silence (except for one short blog-post) on the TPP, which besides being a scam to protect wealthy investors and corporations from the sovereign regulations of mere countries, is also an act of aggression against China (the euphemized "pivot to Asia.")
I miss Bob Herbert and Frank Rich.
(I will get to the Great Obama vs Fox News Poor People Troll-orama soon, I promise.)

In other breaking viral news, Bill and Melinda Gates have announced that "Autopsies Can Save Countless Lives." Wahoo!!!!!!!!  But will Obamacare cover your post-mortem out of network? Is death a pre-existing condition? Stay tuned.


Jay–Ottawa said...

That's it? Just the headline? Reminds me of the time when American and Soviet negotiators, long bored in their endless and fruitless talks over nuclear disarmament, finally got to the point where they memorized each others' moves and countermoves and labelled them with numbers. Instead of spieling out the whole nine yards again and again, the negotiators on both sides reduced their arguments and ploys to numbers.

Session opens:

Soviet Negotiator: 24

Yank Negotiator: 16

Soviet Negotiator: 8

Yank Negotiator: 37

Etc., etc. In this way they made more time for long lunches in between sessions.

And now, Karen: "Getting High at the New York Times"

Sardonickists Readers: Guess that means it's another day of same-old, same-old. She's sparing us the details.

Karen Garcia said...

Sorry, Jay, I musta pushed "Publish" prematurely. Although on second thought it was probably more meaningful as a great big ironic blank of whiteness.

Ste-vo said...

Karen, Thank you for your eloquent comment to Timothy Egan'Op-Ed. It should be the top reader pick.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, Ste-vo, my comment to Egan was in large part a rehash of what I wrote here yesterday. But here it is anyway, and I am also including a response to another reader who disagreed with me:

This may come as a surprise to so-called "militant atheists," but religion and science are not mutually exclusive. The National Religious Partnership for the Environment, for example, draws from across the denominational spectrum to educate people on climate change and the continuing man-made global warming crisis.

Environmental justice, economic justice and social justice are inextricably intertwined and so it is so surprise that Pope Francis's upcoming encyclical and US visit will center around these three pillars which are essential to our survival. Despite what the gas and oil cartel-funded right wing theocrats would have you believe, evangelicals can love clean water and hate methane emissions as much as secular humanists do.

Climate denialism is a billion-dollar industry funded by the Kochs, among other lovelies. The Heartland Institute, which sent its paid-for scientists to the Vatican to school the Pope, is also funding the hilarious presidential campaign of college drop-out Scott Walker of Wisconsin. They're calling it "Operation Angry Badger," which is pretty funny coming from a group of wretched weasels.

I can't wait to see the Pope school a joint session of Congress this fall. I can't wait to watch Boehner turn a brighter shade of orange as he is forced to take a public back seat to Pope Francis as he preaches loving one's neighbor and respecting where they live. Maybe he can drive the dark money from their temple of doom while he's at it, too.

My response to reader "David L, Jr" who seems to think evangelicals are incapable of rational thought and also something about not liking Marxism, so I guess that would make him a Wall Street Dem, but who knows:

The definition of evangelism is preaching the gospel/ "good news." Pope Francis's first encyclical is called Evangelii Gaudium (joy of the gospel). It spreads the good news that extreme wealth disparity and hyper-capitalism are neither necessary nor desirable. The good news is that we don't have to accept things the way they are. There is a better way.

Evangelism like the Pope's is not to be confused with the for-profit fear-mongering of glitzy televangelists or the perverted cult politics practiced by Palin and Huckabee. And yes, they are enriched by the oil and gas cartel, which heavily advertises on the Fox Hate Channel and other corporate cable outlets. Sarah's Drill Baby Drill litany is all of a piece with her phony baloney "religious" proclivities.

Here's a statement from some religious groups, including evangelicals, reacting to President Obama's announcement of cutting carbon emissions:

Another reason that right-wingers hate the pope's campaign for human justice is because it jibes with the United Nations' agenda. The American reactionary right hates the U.N. It, too, points to inconvenient truths, such as the shamefully low ranking of the US in nearly every measurement of health, social mobility, mortality and quality of life.

The right wing hates it when religion is used for something other than fear and bigotry. Because fear and bigotry are all they've got.

P.S. One of my biggest pet peeves are self-described "liberals" like Bill Maher who are rabidly intolerant of religion and consider all people of faith to be deluded. These "militant atheists" are every bit as bigoted and hateful as any rabid right-winger, in my opinion. So I am glad there's beginning to be a backlash against them.

m said...

Karen, you gave Krugman his due, after yet another easy column, like as you say ‘shooting fish in a barrel’. Is the Times proud of their prestigious Nobel?

Of course how far will candidates ever go in contradicting their party’s previous policies? But with relatives it’s a worse problem. Our candidate choice range is vastly constricted.

My Krugman comment.....

But this is what we get when the brother or wife of a previous president is running. Is this unique in democracies? Not unique in monarchies. To what extent will they overhaul their relatives’ previous policies? How will they spin it?

The wife of the Democratic president who signed the Republican sponsored repeal of bank regulations, with disastrous results in 08, is running now. Since then, inequality has worsened and affected more millions of citizens.
How will she address this?

Her husband signed Nafta, and job offshoring has meant lower living standards, loss of livelihoods for millions. This has also had bad effects on our racial divide. College costs have soared, and many have been cheated by vocational schools, with big debt and no jobs. Medical costs soared with millions bankrupted. What will be Hillary’s response? Now will she support TPP? Restructure ACA?

Her husband started the trend to the greatest % of population incarcerated in US history and in the world today. It has ruined lives and families, so that even the Gop disapproves of it. Bill Clinton just said criminal justice went too far in this. She seems to agree with that, with a strong tone of voice anyway. What will she do?

How far will Hillary go in changing direction from her husband’s Republican type policies? Maybe it’s not war, but life and death are still the issues.

Meredith NYC said...

I just posted under M in error, but that was me. Meredith

Meredith NYC said...

What Krugman’s columns are showing is conformity in a politics with only 2 parties, and media with a few owners. This undermines the same 1st amendment the Court used to rationalize Citizens United. And he's so proud of himself.

This is a mark of a strange type of mild quasi- dictatorship, even under a constitution. Krugman challenges the rw radicals only. Challenging the real, more subtle orthodoxy is called an enemy of our freedoms. Excommunicate and purge.

Krugman should be discussing Sanders and Warrens’ policies, not just piling on Bush with the rest of the media. Waste of op ed space.

Our big money donor system entrenches this even worse. Even if not directly. Krugman, most media and politicians keep their discussion within certain limits.

Krugman has to someday refer to how we pay for campaigns, uniquely expensive in the world, which helps keep the US in its unreality cocoon. Has he done any basic research on the many contrasting systems of paying for elections in all his world travels?

This does not arouse the curiosity of our Nobel economist who stays in his own cocoon. His fans aren’t too interested.

Pearl said...

P.S. One of my biggest pet peeves are self-described "liberals" like Bill Maher who are rabidly intolerant of religion and consider all people of faith to be deluded. These "militant atheists" are every bit as bigoted and hateful as any rabid right-winger, in my opinion. So I am glad there's beginning to be a backlash against them.

This last comment of yours, Karen, troubles me. I do not have the channel that Maher is on so have never listened to him make comments on this issue. So it is not clear what militant atheism describes. Just someone mentioning his or her beliefs, or someone attacking someone else or all the meanings in between which can be interpreted in different ways by others. My objection to religious believers is their judgment of non believers as not worthy of existing, just as in reverse. Using religious belief to instigate hatred on either side does not work but if someone explains their agnostic or atheistic beliefs how is that viewed or judged regarding the person's character. I happen to believe that religion has done more harm to the advancement of human understanding than anything else on earth and am I therefore a militant atheist or are people advertising their religion a militant Christian,Jew, Islamist or whatever, equally condemned. This is a very complicated issue just as free speech becomes when agitation develops.
Add political involvement and judgment on this issue and it becomes even more intense.

Karen Garcia said...


If you get a chance, read Krugman's 2009 column on torture, which Paul Cohen linked to in his comment. It gives you a good idea of how far PK has been dragged to the right during the Obama administration. Used to be that Krugman was the rare standout who actually criticized Obama. I wonder what happened.

Karen Garcia said...


Google "Bill Maher Bigot" and you can see his quotes and clips. His schtick is using "liberalism" in order to spread Islamophobia from the alleged Left. He has basically plagiarized Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great") who took issue with all religions, or more accurately, how evil people misuse religion for their own nefarious ends. Maher singles out only one religion for his wrath.

A militant atheist is someone who goes out of his way to insult the belief systems of others. Not a good way to make friends. A regular atheist is a nonbeliever who lives and lets live, or will only critique religious hypocrisy.

I am not religious at all myself, but I wouldn' presume to deny anyone their right to believe whatever they wish. A book I read recently really opened my eyes on this subject -- "Fields of Blood" by Karen Armstrong. What came first, religion, or man's innate propensity for violence with religion as the excuse?

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....yes Krugman was much different years ago. What happened? I was a fan. We need to criticize him when called for.

As you say, UN statistics show the US is behind other nations in every measurement of health, social mobility, mortality and quality of life. How these countries achieve their better status is exactly what he ignores, while he daily finds new insults for the rw Gop.

I was in the Village Wed, and stopped by Cooper Union to see Zephyr Teachout give an interesting speech---the law prof who ran against Cuomo & wrote a book on political corruption history. She stood in the same spot where Lincoln spoke. She pushes C. finance reform and said corporate monopolies economically lead to dominance politically. The business news pages can't be separated from the political pages. And the too-big monopolies can influence speech and thought through pressure and fear, without explicit action.

I said to her we need discussion of public financing of elections in other democracies, as contrast. And that their govts negotiate and regulate medical prices, for example. Here this can’t be proposed.

Will said...

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful." - Seneca (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD)

Karen Garcia said...


Zephyr Teachout won 70% of the vote in the Democratic primary against Cuomo in my county, Ulster. This is after the Working Families Party caved and endorsed Cuomo over her, once he promised to be more progressive. And now he is at it again, shilling for charter schools for plutocrats, giving them tax deals in exchange for phony job creation, and ad infinitum.

I still say a winning political platform would be an anti-corruption one. It's why Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are also appealing to independents in the South and in "the Heartland."

voice-in-wilderness said...

For the year ahead I've decided to use my own nomenclature,which is just plain "Jebediah" - not Jeb Bush, not John Ellis Bush, just Jebediah.

I'm not expecting this usage to show an uptick on Google's Ngram Viewer! (grin)

Pearl said...

The Liberal Apologies for Obama’s Ugly Reign » CounterPunch: Tells the
Facts, Names the Names

Lengthy but excellent exposure of the Obama administration and its supporters.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....why did upstate counties go for Teachout in primary at such high percentages? The hydrofracking issue, or more? And I read that racial minorities and UNIONS went for Cuomo. Why?

Teachout was likely quixotic to run for Gov, and maybe could do more in another political office that she could win. Or maybe she wants to try to influence things from outside, not inside. Don’t know. But she gave a brilliant speech,on trusts and monopolies, though a bit over my head.
I'd love her to run for some office again. It's not only her views, but she's a refreshing personality.