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‘The Twilight Zone,’ from A to Z 

J.W. McCormack writes: The planet has been knocked off its elliptical orbit and overheats as it hurtles toward the sun; the night ceases to exist, oil paintings melt, the sidewalks in New York are hot enough to fry an egg on, and the weather forecast is “more of the same, only hotter.” Despite the unbearable day-to-reality of constant sweat, the total collapse of order and decency, and, above all, the scarcity of water, Norma can’t shake the feeling that one day she’ll wake up and find that this has all been a dream. And she’s right. Because the world isn’t drifting toward the sun at all, it’s drifting away from it, and the paralytic cold has put Norma into a fever dream.

[Watch how many times J.W. McCormack packs this discussion of Twilight Zone history with unrelated partisan political whining, pro-FDR, anti-GOP revisionist history, and Paul Krugmanesque drooling, navel gazing, and various unrelated anti-Trump nonsense. Is this really about the Twilight Zone? Or just another Op-Ed column?]

This is “The Midnight Sun,” my favorite episode of The Twilight Zone, and one that has come to seem grimly familiar. I also wake up adrift, in a desperate and unfamiliar reality, wondering if the last year in America has been a dream—I too expect catastrophe, but it’s impossible to know from which direction it will come, whether I am right to trust my senses or if I’m merely sleepwalking while the actual danger becomes ever-more present. One thing I do know is that I’m not alone: since the election of Donald Trump, it’s become commonplace to compare the new normal to living in the Twilight Zone, as Paul Krugman did in a 2017 New York Times op-ed titled “Living in the Trump Zone,” in which he compared the President to the all-powerful child who terrorizes his Ohio hometown in “It’s a Good Life,” policing their thoughts and arbitrarily striking out at the adults. But these comparisons do The Twilight Zone a disservice. The show’s articulate underlying philosophy was never that life is topsy-turvy, things are horribly wrong, and misrule will carry the day—it is instead a belief in a cosmic order, of social justice and a benevolent irony that, in the end, will wake you from your slumber and deliver you unto the truth.

Elizabeth Allen and her mannequin double in “The After Hours,” 1960

The Twilight Zone has dwelt in the public imagination, since its cancellation in 1964, as a synecdoche for the kind of neat-twist ending exemplified by “To Serve Man” (it’s a cookbook), “The After Hours” (surprise, you’re a mannequin), and “The Eye of the Beholder” (everyone has a pig-face but you). It’s probably impossible to feel the original impact of each show-stopping revelation, as the twist ending has long since been institutionalized, clichéd, and abused in everything from the 1995 film The Usual Suspects to Twilight Zone-style anthology series like Black Mirror.Rewatching these episodes with the benefit of Steven Jay Rubin’s new 429-page book, The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia, (a bathroom book if ever I saw one), the punchlines are actually the least of the show’s enduring hold over the imagination; rather its creator Rod Serling’s rejoinders to the prevalent anti-Communist panic that gripped the decade: stories of witch-hunting paranoia tend to end badly for everyone, as in “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” in which the population of a town turns on each other in a panic to ferret out the alien among them, or in “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” which relocates the premise to a diner in which the passengers of a bus are temporarily stranded and subject to interrogation by a pair of state troopers.

Leah Waggner and Barry Atwater in “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street ,” 1960

The show’s most prevalent themes are probably best distilled as “you are not what you took yourself to be,” “you are not where you thought you were,” and “beneath the façade of mundane American society lurks a cavalcade of monsters, clones, and robots.” Serling had served as a paratrooper in the Philippines in 1945 and returned with PTSD; he and his eventual audience were indeed caught between the familiar past and an unknown future.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Review of Books]

They stood dazed in a no-longer-recognizable world, flooded with strange new technologies, vastly expansionist corporate or federal jurisdictions, and once-unfathomable ideologies. The culture was shifting from New Deal egalitarianism to the exclusionary persecution and vigilantism of McCarthyism, the “southern strategy” of Goldwater and Nixon, and the Cold War-era emphasis on mandatory civilian conformity, reinforced across the board in schools and the media. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Where Krugman Has Gone Before 

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Krugman Kyrptonite! Stocks Surge

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[ALSO SEE – Paul Krugman Says Markets Will ‘Never’ Recover From Trump; Dow Hits Record High]

 


Paul Krugman is Wetting the Bed

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Source: New York Times


The Socialist Economics of Italian Fascism

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If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. Sound familiar? 

Lawrence K. Samuels writes: The economics of Italian Fascism is often ignored or trivialized because so much of it is found in today’s world economies. Consider some of the components of fascist economics: central planning, heavy state subsidies, protectionism (high tariffs), steep levels of nationalization, rampant cronyism, large deficits, high government spending, bank and industry bailouts, overlapping bureaucracy, massive social welfare programs, crushing national debt, bouts of inflation and “a highly regulated, multiclass, integrated national economic structure.”1

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“The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State…Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.”

— Benito Mussolini, from “Doctrine of Fascism

On numerous occasions, Benito Mussolini identified his economic policies with “state capitalism”—the exact phrase that Vladimir Lenin used to usher in his New Economic Policy (NEP). Lenin wrote: “State capitalism would be a step forward as compared with the present state of affairs in our liberal-fascismSoviet Republic.”2 After Russia’s economy collapsed in 1921, Lenin allowed privatization and private initiative, and he let the people trade, buy and sell for private profit.3 Lenin was moving towards a mixed economy.

[Order Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”  from Amazon]

He even demanded that state-owned companies operate on profit/loss principles.4Lenin acknowledged that he had to back away from total socialism and allow some capitalism.

 “In his 1928 autobiography, Mussolini made clear his dislike for liberal capitalism: ‘The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.’”

Mussolini followed Lenin’s example and proceeded to establish a state-driven economic model in Italy. In essence, Mussolini’s fascism was simply an imitation of Lenin’s “third way,” which combined market-based mechanisms and socialism—similar to Red China’s “market socialism.” In short, Lenin’s revised Marxism culminated in “socialist-lite” policies that helped inspire Mussolini to craft his own Italian-style fascism with a right-wing socialist twist. Thus, one could argue that Lenin’s politics were the first modern-day version of fascism and state-corporatism.

01 Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during Hitler's 1938 state visit to Italy

“As the effects of the Great Depression lingered, Italy’s government promoted mergers and acquisitions, bailed out failing businesses and ‘seized the stock holdings of banks, which held large equity interests.’ The Italian state took over bankrupt corporations, cartelized business, increased government spending, expanded the money supply, and boosted deficits. The Italian government promoted heavy industry by ‘nationalizing it instead of letting the companies go bankrupt.”

Economist Ludwig von Mises, who fled the Nazi conquest of Europe, contended that the “economic program of Italian Fascism did not differ from the program of British Guild Socialism as propagated by the most eminent British and European socialists.”5,6

mussolini-LIFE

“The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State…Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.”

— Benito Mussolini

In The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Sheldon Richman succinctly states: “As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist 36b25ade-47bd-11e1-9a92-00144feabdc0.imgveneer.”7 He contends that socialism seeks to abolish capitalism outright, while fascism gives the appearance of a market-based economy, even though it relies heavily on the central planning of all economic activities. According to authors Roland Sarti and Rosario Romeo, “[U]nder Fascism the state had more latitude for control of the economy than any other nation at the time except for the Soviet Union.”8

[Read the full text here, at Library of Economic Liberty]

Interestingly, Mussolini found much of John Maynard Keynes’s economic theories consistent with fascism, writing: “Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (1926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”9

After the worldwide Great Depression, Mussolini became more vocal in his claims that fascism explicitly rejected the capitalist elements of economic individualism and laissez-faire liberalism.10 In his “Doctrine of Fascism,” Mussolini wrote: “The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State…Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.” In his 1928 autobiography, Mussolini made clear his dislike for liberal capitalism: “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.”11 Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Frequently-Wrong Meteorologist Arrested While Doing Weather Forecast, Columnist Paul Krugman Fears He’s Next

Newfoundland meteorologist Eddie Sheerr arrested during weathercast. (NTV)

Law enforcement is so fed up with the miserably cold, cloudy, and damp weather in Newfoundland, Canada that it has arrested two local broadcast meteorologists.

CBC News meteorologist Ryan Snoddon was the first to take the fall for the anomalous chill. You can watch his arrest – part of an apparent sting operation – below:

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Next in the hopper was NTV meteorologist Eddie Sheerr, arrested while delivering the forecast on the evening news.

Both Snoddon and Sheer were charged with impersonating a meteorologist, failing to provide the essentials of summer – sunshine, good forecasts and blue skies – and trafficking of rain, drizzle, and fog.

Prior to their arrest, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary had issued a statement to the media noting Snoddon and Sheerr were persons of interest given the following state of affairs:

SUMMER was last seen in early August of 2014. When last seen, SUMMER was described as being between 20-30 degrees Celsius (68-86 degrees Fahrenheit), blue skies with a bright and warm source of light in the sky. There have been sporadic sightings of this bright object, but these sightings have been rare since May 2015.

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Frequently-wrong New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is reportedly afraid to appear on television, due to fears of being arrested. Krugman has never been held accountable for his dishonest statements and failed predictions.

Sheerr – who is from the U.S. – faces possible deportation, the arresting officer said.

Of course, the arrests were just a humorous stunt – the Canadian’s way of coping with conditions that are egregious even by their own standards. Read the rest of this entry »


‘The First Rule of Economic Fight Club is…’ Stephen Moore, Paul Krugman Meet for ‘Economic Fight Club’ at Freedom Fest

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editor-commen-deskI was fortunate to catch the majority of this debate live, via Periscope, watching it live on my phone’s screen (mostly just listening to the audio) and I agree with this description:  “All in all this was a very interesting discussion. Of course I was not convinced by anything Krugman had to say but I did think it was a good-faith conversation on a variety of topics.” I’ve not found the video online yet, but stay tuned, when we find it, we’ll post it. In the meantime, enjoy a sample of this account by PJ Tatler‘s Liz Sheld,

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“I have to give some props to Krugman for showing up, as he had to know this was going to be a tough crowd.  And this panel was one of the best I’ve seen at a conference — it was thoughtful and did not get hostile at all, while both Moore and Krugman addressed each other’s points.”

Liz Sheld writes:

One of the big spectacles at Freedom Fest was the showdown between Stephen Moore and Paul Krugman that took place this morning.  Moore founded the Club for Growth and was formerly on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. The former chief economist at the Heritage Foundation was billed as the “supply-sider.” On the other side of the debate was Krugman – New York Times columnist, professor of economics at Princeton, and Nobel prize winner. He was billed as the “Keynesian.”

The topic was “What happened to the American Dream?” or “How can we best restore the American Dream?”

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“I wish we had more of this and less grandstanding at our center-right conclaves.”

I have to give some props to Krugman for showing up, as he had to know this was going to be a tough crowd.  And this panel was one of the best I’ve seen at a conference — it was thoughtful and did not get hostile at all, while both Moore and Krugman addressed each other’s points. I wish we had more of this and less grandstanding at our center-right conclaves.

[Read the full text here, at PJ Tatler]

Since this was an hour-long debate, I’ll sum up some of the most interesting exchanges between the two economists. It didn’t take long before each was urging the moderator to pull up one of their charts. Charts really add some gravitas to the discussion. As they say on the streets, sh!t got real when the charts started coming out.

Moore pointed out that everything done by the Obama administration has thwarted recovery from the economic disaster of 2007-8. But to be fair, he included Bush along with examples of Obama’s mistakes: cash for clunkers, stimulus, bailouts, and tax increases, for starters.  He said that Reagan also inherited a bad economy but did the right things for a much faster turnaround. Moore said that we have 8 million fewer jobs under Obama than we would have had if Obama had taken Reagan-esque action.
Read the rest of this entry »


James Pethokoukis: How Crony Capitalism is Slowing Global Economic Growth

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 writes: US productivity growth, at least as measured, has been in low gear for a decade. And especially so since the Great Recession, averaging just 0.6% annually from 2010 through 2014. We’re aren’t going to consistently hit 3% GDP growth, much less 4%, like that.

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Then again, productivity growth has slowed in most OECD countries over the past decade. A new OECD research note doesn’t think the problem is a lack of innovation, so much as an inability to spread innovation broadly throughout advanced economies. “A breakdown of the diffusion machine” is what the OECD calls it.

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[Read the full text here, at AEIdeas]

The gap between high productivity firms and low productivity firms is increasing. (Maybe also helping to explain rising inequality.) So why aren’t innovations spreading as fast as they used to? The WSJ’s analysis of the paper sums it up nicely:

One key reason appears to be that the process of “creative destruction” identified by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter as essential to capitalism’s dynamism appears to have lost some of its ferocity. In the OECD’s words, “market selection is weak.” One reason for that is government policy, which the OECD said favors incumbents across a whole range of areas, from regulations designed to protect the environment, to taxation. As a result, older firms that suffer from low productivity growth endure, often “trapping” workers in jobs for which they are over qualified. Read the rest of this entry »


Actual New York Times: ‘Trillions Spent, but Crises Like Greece’s Persist’

DrStrangEyes

This NYT take on Greece’s financial trouble is jaw-dropping


Kurtz: Media Blackout Shields ObamaCare Architect Who Bet on Public Stupidity

censorcop

: I’ve been trying to figure out why the mainstream media has all but decided to ignore one of ObamaCare’s chief architects saying the administration played on the public’s stupidity in passing the law.

The New York Times' editorial page is not exactly beloved by staffers, according to a New York Observer report. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

After all, the press usually loves when hidden video surfaces, as it did this week with MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, and we get unvarnished comments showing what someone really and truly believes.

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And yet there hasn’t been a mention on the network evening newscasts. CNN’s Jake Tapper, to his credit, played the clip twice, asked two senators about it and wrote an online column on the subject, but that was about it for the network. Nothing in the Washington Post but for a couple of online items.

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(Update: The Washington Post finally got around to covering the controversy today, three days after it broke.) Not a word in the New York Times, which in 2012 ran a puffy profile of Gruber (“It is his research that convinced the Obama administration that health care reform could not work without requiring everyone to buy insurance”).

image - businessweek.com

image – businessweek.com

This is utterly inexplicable, except as a matter of bias. No matter what you think of ObamaCare, on what planet is this not news? Maybe on that comet where the spaceship just landed.

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I tried to think of the possible excuses. Too busy covering other stories? Hey, nobody in America has Ebola anymore! The only real competition is a big winter storm and Eminem disgustingly dropping F-bombs at HBO’s Veterans Day concert.

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Was Gruber’s point about health care taxes and mandates too complicated? Then explain it. Besides, it isn’t that this argument never came up before; it’s that Gruber fesses up to the attempt at deception. Read the rest of this entry »


The Inequality Bed-Wetters are Misleading You

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The Gilded Gelded Age

editor-commen-deskI offer this for two reasons. One, because I’ve never read anything by Kevin D. Williamson that I didn’t like and want everyone to read. And two, because there’s this very disturbing photo of Paul Krugman that I’ve been dying to get off my desk. Now you can have nightmares about Krugman’s face, staring scoldingly into the abyss. And I can go back to my usual nightmares about Obama cutting a nuke deal with Iran in order to speed up the coming global apocalypse. Which reminds me. Do you have Williamson’s book yet? I think everyone should read that, too. See the full text of Williamson’s article here.

For National Review OnlineKevin D. Williamson writes: The inequality police are worried that we are living in a new Gilded Age. We should be so lucky: Between 1880 and 1890, the number of employed Americans increased by more than 13 percent, and wages increased by almost 50 percent.kevin-williamson

“…if your assumption here is that this is about redistribution, then you should want the billionaires’ incomes to go up, not down: The more money they make, the more taxes they pay, and the more money you have to give to the people you want to give money to, e.g., overpaid, lazy, porn-addicted bureaucrats…” 

I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the Barack Obama years will not match that record; the number of employed Americans is lower today than it was when he took office, and household income is down. Grover Cleveland is looking like a genius in comparison.

“…poor people are not poor because rich people are rich, nor vice versa. Very poor people are generally poor because they do not have jobs, and taking away Thurston Howell III’s second yacht is not going to secure work for them…”

The inequality-based critique of the American economy is a fundamentally dishonest one, for a half a dozen or so reasons at least. Claims that the (wicked, wicked) “1 percent” saw their incomes go up by such and such an amount over the past decade or two ignore the fact that different people compose the 1 percent every year, and that 75 percent of the super-rich households in 1995 were in a lower income group by 2005.

“The 3 million highest-paying jobs in America paid a lot more in 2005 than did the 3 million highest-paying jobs in 1995” is a very different and considerably less dramatic claim than “The top 1 percent of earners in 1995 saw their household incomes go up radically by 2005.” But the former claim is end-is-neartrue and the latter is not.

[If you haven’t read Kevin D. Williamson’s  “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome”  then your Global Panic checklist is incomplete. Fear not, it’s available at Amazon]

Paul Krugman, who persists in Dickensian poverty, barely making ends meet between six-figure sinecures, is a particularly energetic scourge of the rich, and he is worried about conspicuous consumption: “For many of the rich, flaunting is what it’s all about. Read the rest of this entry »


‘This Video Has Been Removed By User’: Cowardly Washington State Democrat’s Controversial Campaign Ad Angers Critics

Oops! I guess being in the national spotlight made what started as a self-inflicted political blunder turn into a full-scale retreat

Oops! I guess being in the national spotlight made what started as a self-inflicted political blunder turn into a full-scale campaign catastrophe. “My name’s Estakio Beltran, and I approved this message.”

Washington Examiner‘s T. Becket Adams contributes to embarrassing a reckless Washington state congressional candidate. Does he stand by his message? Well, no. He yanked the YouTube link, as illustrated in the screen cap above. The Yakima Herald reports that Beltran pulled the ad on Saturday after Americans for Responsible Solutions, a pro-gun control group, criticized it. Here’s how Beltran‘s (now removed) ad begins:

“They say I can’t win in this district.”

Estakio Beltran might as well have added “so let me take this opportunity to prove them right.”

Read Adam‘s full Examiner article here. Estakio Beltran

“But what happens to an elephant that stands around doing nothing for too long?” he asked, referring to Republican Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington’s 4th District.

The Democratic candidate pulls the trigger and blows away the elephant.

The Seattle Times blog asks, Funny or offensive? and invites readers to opine. Double standard? You bet.

UPDATE: Breitbart‘s  has this item:

According to The Seattle Times, the backlash over the imagery of the “Republican Party Symbol” has been heaviest among conservatives, who say the Democrats “would flip out if a GOP candidate blasted away at a symbol of the [Democrat] Party.”

Understandable, yes, it’d be a Democrats-with-hair-on-fire cuckoo-bananas flip out.

Beltran pulled the ad on Saturday after Americans for Responsible Solutions, a pro-gun control group headed by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, stridently criticized it.

“Mr. Beltran’s ad showing him shooting a stuffed elephant — the longtime symbol of the Republican Party — is irresponsible and offensive. This kind of misguided imagery and rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum just furthers the lack of balance in our nation’s debate about guns,” a statement from Americans for Responsible Solutions read…(read more)

T. Becket Adams continues,

…this is slightly different from shooting a copy of the Affordable Care Act. There’s the Imagery of the party mascot and the suggestion that “this is what happens” to incumbent Republican politicians…

…Remember: Hours after Jared Loughner on Jan. 8, 2011, opened fire on a crowd in Casas Adobes, Ariz., killing six people and injuring 13, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, economist Paul Krugman penned a blog post blaming former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin:

Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing. Read the rest of this entry »


How Liberalism Became an Intolerant Dogma

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Liberals are increasingly religious about their own liberalism, treating it  like a comprehensive view of reality and the human good   

Before we begin, a little housekeeping is in order. Acting on judgement that defies logic, Damon Linker elects to insert “Paul Krugman” as the seventh and eighth words in the following essay–and then, stranger still, leaves them there, thinking it’s a good way to open his article, having bypassed what I assume were multiple chances to change his mind in the editing process. Revealing that he thinks Krugman is relevant, for some reason. Almost killing any chance a non-New-York-Times-reading liberal reader will want to proceed any further.

Or if they do make it to the second paragraph, taking anything in the article seriously. If Linker had buried that digression in the middle of the essay, it might have been easer to charitably overlook.

Funny how that works. By trying to avoid “sounding like Paul Krugman”, Linker succeeds in planting a poisoned seed right at the beginning–and he succeeds in doing what he claimed he wanted to avoidsounding like Paul Krugman. Is this a good thing? I think not!

LouisCK

On the other hand, it might work as a test of his material. It reminds me of a method comedian Louis C.K. described for making sure his material is good. If the audience is in a good mood, giving away laughter too early, too easy, he starts the show by insulting the audience, making them unhappy, right off the bat. Bam. Discomfort. Uncertainty. Then, he knows that if they laugh at his jokes after that, the material must be good. As Louis C.K. concludes, “Okay, now we can get to work”.

So, if you can make it past words seven and eight (or the multitude of times you had to read Krugman’s name in my own annoyingly-long prologue, then you’re medically inoculated!) because the title sounded promising, you’ll find it’s actually a very good article. And it was worth making it past that lapse in judgement, and my unseemly introduction. Read on!

For The Week Damon Linker writes:

At the risk of sounding like Paul Krugman — who returns to a handful of cherished topics over and over again in his New York Times column — I want to revisit one of my hobby horses, which I most recently raised in my discussion of Hobby Lobby.

My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism’s decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.

The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex. For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left.

The result is a dogmatic form of liberalism that threatens to poison American civic life for the foreseeable future. Conservative Reihan Salam describes it, only somewhat hyperbolically, as a form of “weaponized secularism.”

The rise of dogmatic liberalism is the American left-wing expression of the broader trend that Mark Lilla identified in a recent blockbuster essay for The New Republic. The reigning dogma of our time, according to Lilla, is libertarianism — by which he means far more than the anti-tax, anti-regulation ideology that Americans identify with the post-Reagan Republican Party, and that the rest of the world calls “neoliberalism.”

At its deepest level, libertarianism is “a mentality, a mood, a presumption… a prejudice” in favor of the liberation of the autonomous individual from all constraints originating from received habits, traditions, authorities, or institutions. Libertarianism in this sense fuels the American right’s anti-government furies, but it also animates the left’s push for same-sex marriage — and has prepared the way for its stunningly rapid acceptance — in countries throughout the West. Read the rest of this entry »


New Measure of Literary Unpopularity: ‘The Picketty Index’

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“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty 

Yes, it came out just three months ago. But the contest isn’t even close. Mr. Piketty’s book is almost 700 pages long, and the last of the top five popular highlights appears on page 26. Stephen Hawking is off the hook; from now on, this measure should be known as the Piketty Index.

So take it easy on yourself, readers, if you don’t finish whatever edifying tome you picked out for vacation. You’re far from alone…

(read moreWSJ


[VIDEO] The Hammer: If VA Problems Are Systemic, Why Not Privatize?

“If you’re not ideological, and if you brought in some expert and asked how to attack the problem right now, you would decide to give everyone on the list a voucher to go anywhere they want, and they’ll get their care within days.”

 


The VA’s Socialist Paradise

Eric Shinseki

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 15, 2014, before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing to examine the state of Veterans Affairs health care. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

For POLITICO MagazineRich Lowry writes: For the left, the Department of Veterans Affairs is how health care is ideally supposed to work. No insurance companies, no private doctors, no competition — just the government and the patient.

“people die every day.”

—  Socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders

Paul Krugman, The New York Times columnist, has held up the VA as a model for the entire country. The Washington Monthly ran a famous article in 2005 arguing that the VA was leading the way for U.S. health care. The socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is such a reflexive defender that in an instantly notorious interview on CNN he pooh-poohed the burgeoning scandal that may involve fatalities with the undeniable observation that “people die every day.”lincoln-unbound

[Rich Lowry‘s book: Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream–and How We Can Do It Again is available at Amazon.com]

The VA is an island of socialism in American health care. It generally provides adequate care — to a limited universe of people and for only certain conditions — but has been plagued by scandal for decades. It is perhaps the worst bureaucracy in the federal government. As with all such single-payer-type systems, the cost of the notionally free health care is in the rationing, in this case the wait times that have had desperately ill vets hung out to dry for months. Read the rest of this entry »


The “No Obamacare Horror Stories” Fairy Tale

Julie-BoonstraFor many, suffering under Obamacare is all too real.

For The Federalist  writes:  “There are plenty of [Obamacare] horror stories being told.  All of them are untrue,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not long ago on the floor of the Senate.

Four years after the president signed the measure into law, there are, of course, many real stories of hardship under Obamacare. An extensive list of which is included at the end of this article. But when Reid made those remarks, he wasn’t repeating words carelessly dashed off by some 20-something staffer. Rather, he was repeating a meme that has become common among those who economist Thomas Sowell dubs “the Anointed,” intellectuals whose belief in their own superior knowledge and virtue leads to their misperception that they are an anointed elite more qualified to make decisions for the rest of us in order to lead humanity to a better life.

Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Krugman Explains Racism: Why Evidence and Facts Don’t Matter

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Paul Krugman – New York Times

Extra Credit: Ian Haney López hears the pig-whistle signal calling him to join his fellow postmodern backwoods knuckle-dragging academic goons at the Republican-bashing Picnic. (and according to reports, he brought a delicious potato salad) don’t miss Ian’s Paul Ryan-smearing indictment “Is Paul Ryan Racist?

Excellent question. Is Paul Ryan a racist? At the risk of giving away the surprise ending, the answer is yes! How did he reach this conclusion? Like this: Paul Ryan, by “employing rhetoric closely connected to…” (rhetoric used by alleged racists) Ryan demonstrates that he is, in fact, a racist. That, and that Ryan sinks when you dunk him in water.

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‘That’s Our Story and We’re Stickin’ To It’

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The Left’s New Narrative: “Nobody is Hurt by Obamcare”

For NROAlec Torres  writes:  In what is rapidly becoming the latest liberal trope, left-wing news outlets and commentators have begun telling the world that there actually are no victims of Obamacare.

“Conservatives are groping toward a new strategy, one that relies on highlighting examples of the terrible harm Obamacare does. There’s only one problem: they haven’t managed to come up with any real examples.”

 — Paul Krugman, New York Times

Daring to do the impossible (again), the Left is telling America that all the stories of cancellations, lost plans, premium hikes, and other troubles are all just made up by vicious and deceitful right-wingers in order to defame their beautiful Obamacare.

“I’m beginning to think there’s not actually a single person in America who’s been harmed by Obamacare.”

— Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman uses his perch at the New York Times to argue that Obamacare is doing just fine, and conservative doomsday predictions won’t come true.

“Conservative detractors have spent the last several months in a desperate search for ‘Obamacare victims.’ . . . The problem, of course, is that all of these examples, once they’re subjected to even minor scrutiny, have fallen apart — the ‘horror stories’ really aren’t so horrible.”

— Steve Benen, MSNBC

Conservatives, knowing this, Krugman writes, are “groping toward a new strategy, one that relies on highlighting examples of the terrible harm Obamacare does. There’s only one problem: they haven’t managed to come up with any real examples.”

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WASHINGTON POST SHAKEUP: Ezra Klein Out, Eugene Volokh, In: Bezos Era Begins

volokh_eugene-xTo grasp the magnitude of this realignment, imagine if the New York Times declined to renew veteran left-wing crackpot Paul Krugman‘s contract, and replaced him with Instapudit‘s Glenn Reynolds. Or if HBO fired Bill Maher, and offered a prime-time talk show to Greg Gutfeld. Yes, it’s like that.

Could this be a sign of intelligent life in media? What if Maureen Dowd was booted out of her nest at the NYT, replaced by Mona Charen? Imagine if ABC’s Good Morning America dumped its on-air talent and hired Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson, and Michelle Malkin. Or if editorial control of  The Huffington Post was turned over to me, Nick Gillespie, and Jonah Goldberg

Okay that part is wishful thinking. But you get the idea. It’s a big deal.

John Nolte at Breitbart.com has the scoop.

John Nolte reports:  Very interesting day at The Washington Post. Left-wing Ezra Klein is out and the much-respected conservative legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracyis in. Already the Jeff Bezos era is becoming an interesting one. Numerous reports claim that Bezos wasn’t interested in a multi-million dollar proposal Klein pitched, but he was apparently interested in giving Volokh full editorial control:

We will also retain full editorial control over what we write. And this full editorial control will be made easy by the facts that we have (1) day jobs, (2) continued ownership of our trademark and the volokh.com domain, and (3) plenty of happy experience blogging on our own, should the need arise to return to that…

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After all, they approached us because of who we are and what we write. They know our ideologies. They know our blogging style. They know that we sometimes put up quirky non-law posts. They tell us they’re fine with all of that.

Both moves are a huge boost for the Post for a few reasons.

As much as Ezra Klein was worshipped by others in the elite media, he badly damaged the Post’s credibility as an objective news outlet. It was unconscionable of the Post to frame Klein’s hysterical leftism and Obama water-carrying as objective analysis and reporting. Klein is a wild-eyed Statist, and a wildly dishonest one to boot.

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Linda Taylor, welfare queen: Ronald Reagan made her a notorious American villain. Linda Taylor’s other sins were far worse.

Photo of Linda Taylor by Corbis

Photo of Linda Taylor by Corbis

 writes:  Ronald Reagan loved to tell stories. When he ran for president in 1976, many of Reagan’s anecdotes converged on a single point: The welfare state is broken, and I’m the man to fix it. On the trail, the Republican candidate told a tale about a fancy public housing complex with a gym and a swimming pool. There was also someone in California, he’d explain incredulously, who supported herself with food stamps while learning the art of witchcraft. And in stump speech after stump speech, Reagan regaled his supporters with the story of an Illinois woman whose feats of deception were too amazing to be believed.

“In Chicago, they found a woman who holds the record,” the former California governor declared at a campaign rally in January 1976. “She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.” As soon as he quoted that dollar amount, the crowd gasped.

Four decades later, Reagan’s soliloquies on welfare fraud are often remembered as shameless demagoguery. Many accounts report that Reagan coined the term “welfare queen,” and that this woman in Chicago was a fictional character. In 2007,the New York Times’ Paul Krugman wrote that “the bogus story of the Cadillac-driving welfare queen [was] a gross exaggeration of a minor case of welfare fraud.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews says the whole thing is racist malarkey—a coded reference to black indolence and criminality designed to appeal to working-class whites.

Though Reagan was known to stretch the truth, he did not invent that woman in Chicago. Her name was Linda Taylor, and it was the Chicago Tribune, not the GOP politician, who dubbed her the “welfare queen.” It was the Tribune, too, that lavished attention on Taylor’s jewelry, furs, and Cadillac—all of which were real.

As of 1976, Taylor had yet to be convicted of anything. She was facing charges that she’d bilked the government out of $8,000 using four aliases. When the welfare queen stood trial the next year, reporters packed the courtroom. Rather than try to win sympathy, Taylor seemed to enjoy playing the scofflaw. As witnesses described her brazen pilfering from public coffers, she remained impassive, an unrepentant defendant bedecked in expensive clothes and oversize hats.

Linda Taylor, the haughty thief who drove her Cadillac to the public aid office, was the embodiment of a pernicious stereotype. With her story, Reagan marked millions of America’s poorest people as potential scoundrels and fostered the belief that welfare fraud was a nationwide epidemic that needed to be stamped out. This image of grand and rampant welfare fraud allowed Reagan to sell voters on his cuts to public assistance spending. The “welfare queen” became a convenient villain, a woman everyone could hate. She was a lazy black con artist, unashamed of cadging the money that honest folks worked so hard to earn.

Ronald Reagan addressing a senior citizens group, New Hampshire, 1976.
Ronald Reagan addressing a senior citizens group, New Hampshire, 1976.
Photo by Constantine Manos/Magnum Photos

After her welfare fraud trial in 1977, Taylor went to prison, and the newspapers moved on to covering the next outlandish villain. When her sentence was up, she changed her name and left Chicago, and the cops who had pursued her in Illinois lost track of her whereabouts. None of the police officers I talked to knew whether she was still alive.

When I set out in search of Linda Taylor, I hoped to find the real story of the woman who played such an outsize role in American politics—who she was, where she came from, and what her life was like before and after she became the national symbol of unearned prosperity. What I found was a woman who destroyed lives, someone far more depraved than even Ronald Reagan could have imagined. In the 1970s alone, Taylor was investigated for homicide, kidnapping, and baby trafficking. The detective who tried desperately to put her away believes she’s responsible for one of Chicago’s most legendary crimes, one that remains unsolved to this day. Welfare fraud was likely the least of the welfare queen’s offenses.

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Inequality Does Not Matter

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The poor and the middle class are falling behind, and it has nothing to do with the 1 percent

Kevin D. Williamson writes:  President Barack Obama gave a very silly speech in which he affirmed that economic inequality is to be the centerpiece of his remaining time in office. He has made similar suggestions about other issues — global warming and gun control, notably — and, President Obama being President Obama, it is very likely the case that his laser-like focus will consist of a series of speeches and very little else. The politics of the moment will determine which issue actually gets his attention, though he could go with his admirers at Washington Monthly, who contend that some of them are the same issue: Mass shootings, Daniel Luzer argues in a particularly batty piece of connect-the-imaginary-dots, has “everything to do with the distribution of wealth in America.”

It is difficult to take President Obama seriously on these issues, but it is difficult to not take seriously Josh Barro and Paul Krugman, both of whom have offered what seem to me to be inconclusive arguments, Mr. Barro under the headline “Sorry, Libertarians, Inequality Does Matter,” Professor Krugman under “Why Inequality Matters.” Strangely, neither of these erudite gentlemen quite manages to establish that inequality matters.

Mr. Barro writes: “Economic growth is not the same thing as well-being. The point of economic growth is that it leads to improvements in standards of living. If the gains from economic growth are not broadly shared, but instead accrue disproportionately to people already at the top of the income distribution, then a lot of economic growth will only generate a little improvement in living standards for most people. For this reason, rising inequality is a problem even if it does not hold back GDP.” This is true in a sense, but it reverses cause and effect: Incomes among the bottom half of earners are not stagnating because of increasing inequality; inequality is increasing because incomes among the bottom half of earners is stagnating. It could have been the case that incomes among the bottom half of earners were stagnating while incomes for the top half were absolutely crashing, in which case you would have a situation in which there was less inequality but everybody was worse off, or at least no better off. Conversely, we could have an economy in which the poor and the middle class see strong gains in their income and their wealth, but the very well off experience twice those gains, which would mean a society of increasing inequality in which everybody is better off. I have encountered progressives who state their preference for the outcome in which we are all poorer but more equal over the outcome in which we are all richer but less equal, which puzzles me.

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Paul Krugman vs. Paul Krugman

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Paul Krugman, Republican

  • “Here’s the world as many Republicans see it: Unemployment insurance, which generally pays eligible workers between 40 and 50 percent of their previous pay, reduces the incentive to search for a new job. As a result, the story goes, workers stay unemployed longer.”–former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, New York Times, Dec. 9
  • “Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of ‘Eurosclerosis,’ the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.”–Macroeconomics” by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, second edition, 2009

Best of the Web Today-WSJ.com


The Wonkocracy Abandons Evidence: Dispassionate Analysis or Partisan Hackery?

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How A Progressive Regresses

 writes: Ever since President Obama endorsed a federal minimum wage hike in his State of the Union speech, progressives have lined up in lockstep support. Economists, bloggers, tv hosts all have come out saying that a minimum wage hike is clearly the right move. You’d be forgiven if you thought that it’s been a very short while since the very existence of a minimum wage was considered controversial.

In the late 1980s, the New York Times advocated for an abolition of the minimum wage. With 25 more years of research, much of it showing that the minimum wage is an inefficient distortion of labor markets, the New York Times reversed position and advocated for a minimum wage hike to historic highs.

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Fast Food Management and Customers Alike Have Every Reason to Tell Big Labor: ‘Go Pound Sand’

In what is probably the least inspired labor action since the great Detroit Symphony Orchestra Picket Line of 2011, groups such as the Service Employees International Union, Fast Food Forward, and Fight for 15 are calling for nation-wide wage strikestargeting McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s, and other latter-day Dickensian workhouses. On Thursday, protesters in over 100 cities will stand outside of fast-food joints and call for doubling the wages of burger flippers and fry-vat operators from $7.25 an hour (the current federal minimum) to at least $15.

Regardless of how much solidarity or sympathy you might feel about the people who assemble your Triple Steak Stack or your Cheesy Gordita Crunch, this sort of demand is economic fantasy at its most delusional and counterproductive. Doubling the wages of low-skilled workers during a period of prolonged joblessness is a surefire way not just to swell the ranks of the reserve army of the unemployed but to increase automation at your local Taco Bell.

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WAR ON THE POOR: The Welfare State Has Eroded the Culture of Individual Initiative

 

Ladies of the night: Prostitutes also populated the Bowery, plying their trade with johns who wandered in. Here, a man negotiates the price for a prostitute while two others walk past

What’s old is new again: New York in the 1970s, the city’s decay and the welfare state’s failures became film legend

John C. Goodman, Ph.D. writes:  One of the biggest differences in how the left and the right view the world concerns the welfare state. Currently, the federal government spends about $1 trillion a year on 126 means tested welfare programs. That amounts to almost $22,000 for every poor person in America, or $88,000 for a family of four.

What difference does all this spending make?

Among people on the right, there is little doubt. These programs are destroying the culture of the recipient communities. They are replacing a culture of self-reliance and self-help with a culture of dependency. Amazingly, a record 91.5 million people of working age—almost one third of the entire population—are not working and not even looking for a job.

Among conservatives I have met who were once poor (and I have met a surprising number of them), the view that welfare subsidizes and encourages dependency is almost a self-evident truth. I’m not sure I have ever met a liberal who was once poor. But then again, the liberals I encounter are all in the academic and public policy world―far away from the poverty population they so often talk about. I think this is a fascinating sociological phenomenon. If my experience is different from yours, weigh in in the comments section.

[BTW, I am ignoring the shakedown artists―Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the like. We have no idea what these folks really think, since (as Juan Williams has documented) they routinely use liberal causes to line their own pockets.]

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claims that Republicans who want to trim back welfare spending are waging a “war on the poor.” Most people on the right think it’s the other way around: It’s the welfare state and its apologists who are really harming the poor.

Who is right?

How Culture Matters

Let’s be clear about what we are talking about. The Dallas Independent School District recently announced that every student in the school district will now get a free breakfast and a free lunch. The reason? So few students qualified for “full price” or “reduced price” meals that trying to identify them cost more than it was worth. And as I pointed out in a previous post, kids who receive free lunches and breakfasts are increasingly getting a free supper as well. Think about that. We have decided that the parents of every single child attending public school in Dallas are too poor to feed their own kids.

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Analysis: Democrats Can’t Hide from Obamacare’s Middle-Class Pinch

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David Freddoso writes: “Conservatives are operating on the assumption that [Obamacare is] an irredeemable disaster that they can ride all the way to 2016,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote on his blog last week, “but the facts on the ground are getting better by the day.”

He went on: “Obamacare will turn into a Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about.”

The evidence behind Krugman’s optimism is not terribly convincing – he bases it on the Obama administration’s sunny tone (really) and media coverage of the law that he thinks is improving. He could still eventually be proven right, but a miracle will be needed, and it’s not quite clear where that miracle can come from.

Exchange enrollment has been well below projections, even in states not affected by healthcare.gov glitches. That suggests not only technical problems but also a lack of demand. By a wide margin, the stories of sticker shock and lost health plans seem to outnumber the happy endings, and there’s no reason so far to think that 2015 premiums, when they are announced in the spring, won’t be even higher than the 2014 premiums. That’s why, as good a face as the White House puts on it, Democratic insiders are already panicking over losing the Senate.

But where Obamacare defenses are a dime a dozen, Krugman’s is unique for the analogy he chose – Benghazi, the site where four Americans serving their country died in 2012 amid numerous preventable mistakes by government officials. There seems to be no accountability for those failures, and no punishment for anyone but the whistleblowers. Read the rest of this entry »


All Sham, No Wow

The lady on the left passed out before the speech was done. Associated Press

The lady on the left passed out before the speech was done.      Associated Press

Obama Delivers an Infomercial when an Accounting is Due

James Taranto writes: “The Affordable Care Act is not just a website,” President Obama said at the Rose Garden today. “It’s much more.” It’s like a chamois, it’s like a towel, it’s like a sponge.

Another way of putting it is that ObamaCare isn’t just a technical failure. And it isn’t just an economically unsustainable scheme. Now it’s a rhetorical disaster too. Even by the standards of Obama speeches it was terrible. It was so bad, it was the ObamaCare website of political oratory.

Fine, blame us. After all, we called for an Obama speech. But remember that what we called for–it was right there in the subheadline–was an accounting. What he gave us was an infomercial. Read the rest of this entry »


The Left Hates Anything Old

But old white Democratic males are okay

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Dennis Prager writes: The latest left-wing tactic to discredit conservative views is to dismiss the age and race of conservatives. “Old white males” and “old white people” are the Left’s latest favored negative epithets for those holding conservative views.

Chris Matthews of MSNBC, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman of the New York Times, and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (“angry old white men”) are among the many on the left who have used this epithet.

Last week, on her nightly MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow showed a picture of an ad for Washington, D.C., talk-radio station WRC that featured the station’s talk-show hosts. You will notice, she said, that they are all “old white Republican males.” It was brought to my attention because I am one of those talk show hosts. (And, it should be noted, nearly all of my colleagues and I are younger than her colleague, Chris Matthews, an old white Democratic male.)

What is going on here?

The answer is: quite a bit. The Left’s dismissal of old people is much more than another left-wing ad hominem attack. Therefore, to understand it is to understand much of what animates leftism.

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Hot Air LOVES the New York Times

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Loves it. Truly, madly, deeply. Can’t make it through a news cycle without reading every page. Generously linking to NYT articles, daily. Sometimes, multiple articles in a single day.

Image representing Hot Air as depicted in Crun...

Unbeknownst to the rest of us, apparently, It’s a must-read paper! Can’t miss it. While many of us could go several weeks without reading a single word of the increasingly-irrelevant New York Times Editorial page, even several months, and not miss a thing, or even notice, the folks at Hot Air? Unthinkable! Hot Air staff would be in acute withdrawal, if they miss a single day.

Bravo, Times Editors. You’ve got fans in conservative media, some of them depend on you, and hang on every word! A toast to Brooks, Krugman, Friedman, security guards, janitors, everyone. To the whole NYT staff and management. Courageous talents, tastemakers, and trendsetters in Manhattan media, your input is truly needed. Keep up the good work.


Krugman’s Habitual Dishonesty Exposed on ABC’s This Week

“You have mischaracterized and you have lied about every position and every particular of the Ryan plan on Medicare from the efficiency of Medicare administration to calling it a voucher plan, so you’re hardly credible on calling someone else a liar.”

 

–Mary Matalin to Paul Krugman on ABC’s This Week

via >> The Corner