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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Paul Krugman, "The Comeback Skid": Political Progressivism "Bleeds Through the Fabric of The Times"

Arthur Brisbane, the public editor of The New York Times, is departing, and this past weekend he published his final column (see: in which he stated:

"When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times."

"Political progressivism," i.e. bias, "bleeds through the fabric of The Times"? Who would have ever imagined?

Today, in his New York Times op-ed entitled "The Comeback Skid" (, Paul Krugman again takes aim at Paul Ryan ("Mr. Ryan, as people finally seem to be realizing, is at heart a fiscal fraud"), but most of his rancor is reserved for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:

"Also, while much of his [Christie's] program involves spending cuts, he has effectively raised taxes on low-income workers and homeowners by slashing tax credits. But he vetoed a temporary surcharge on millionaires while refusing to raise the state’s gasoline tax, which is the third-lowest in America and far below tax rates in neighboring states. Only some people, it seems, are expected to make sacrifices."

So Christie refused to raise New Jersey's gasoline tax. Are we to understand that the price of gasoline has no impact upon commerce in the Garden State and that only millionaires drive cars?

Krugman continues:

"Strikingly, New Jersey’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate is now significantly higher than the unemployment rate in long-suffering Michigan, which has had a true comeback thanks to the G.O.P.-opposed auto bailout."

Although Michigan's current unemployment rate of 9 percent is better than a year ago, Krugman doesn't tell you that in July 2012, Michigan's unemployment rate rose for the third consecutive month after nine months of improvement (see:

In fact, economic recovery throughout the US has hit the skids, yet there is no reference in Krugman's opinion piece to Obama's responsibility for this disaster.

Recall how Obama stated exactly one year ago in August 2011 (

"I expect to be judged a year from now on whether or not things have continued to get better."

Krugman, however, prefers to ignore the president's pledge, overlooks the absence of an Obama plan to remedy America's unsustainable fiscal deficits, and instead accuses Paul Ryan of "fiscal fraud." Sure, it is possible to intelligently challenge Ryan's proposals (see, for example, Peter Orszag's reasoned response, which is made without name-calling:, but where is Obama's alternative solution?

Which takes us back to Arthur Brisbane's parting remarks. Indeed, "political progressivism," i.e. bias, sadly "bleeds through the fabric of The Times."


  1. Yeah, Brisbane and his paper are soooo progressive. I contacted once this "public editor." I did it when I noticed then the guy who advertised his blog as "all the NEWS all the time - local, national and international" (Robert Mackey) in reality set up an antisemitic outpost (yes, it is antisemitic when a blog with such advertisement produces 4 blogs in a row without ANY News, but firmly anti-Israeli (forget about locals, nations and the world)
    Brisbane's response was as idiotic as dishonest. Clearly he's confusing "progressiveness" with "Nazism."
    The NYT is as progressive as the Der Stuermer was.
    I am a progressive, Arthur, and I know you're not.

  2. I would just point out that progressivism, with all its flaws--and there are certainly flaws enough--produced the one distinctive feature of the American experiment: the middle class. The middle class provided the huge tax base that funded the emerging American institutions that made this country what it became: the envy of the rest of the world. Now the middle is retracting due to a constellation of factors: the disintegration of organized labor, globalization, off-shoring, and first and foremost, the financialization of the U.S. economy. To wit, Wall Street has become the Casino Royale of the pin-striped set. So what do you have in the long run when Wall Street ceases to be an efficient allocator of capital to the real economy? I guess we'll see. And that's fine. But when we put the middle class to bed, we put the American dream to bed with it. So let's wait and see at the ballot box how much a restive U.S. population will put up with.

  3. I think I don't understand you, Jhhankins.
    I think I don't need your lecture on progressiveness - I am a progressive. I wouldn't babble in your style - "the middle class is retracting due to ... ," but state that overfed, overprivileged and overprimitive boomers have killed the New Deal, instead of strengthening and expanding it and the NYT has played a significant role in this death.
    Did you ever see Friedman, Rich, Dowd, etc. discussing unions, the barbarity of American workplace, the need for affordable child care, etc. No, Friedman, sitting in his mansion, welcomed outsourcing and others were babbling about dogs and cats or whatever.
    From time to time they did what was required, namely, barked at ... Israel and went back to their "liberal," distracting and manipulative babbling.
    Once again, what are you talking about (OK, I can be nice)?

  4. Well, first let me say that I agree with JG on his assessment of the Obama administration's failure to present a plan to address a relatively distant but imminent financial crisis. However, I don't share his assessment of "Obama's responsibility for this disaster." This fiscal train wreck has been in the making for decades and is due to a constellation of social, political and economic factors, the blame for which can be spread around to both political parties and a handful of administrations--and certainly, to a degree, to an indulgent and entitled public (as you point out). But to suddenly dump on this administration strikes me as short-sighted and a bit disingenuous. But I digress. JG's post was addressing something entirely different: the Times' departing public editor's assertion that a tenor of progressiveness runs through the NYTimes. Oh, shock and amazement! Everyone who understands the terms conservative and progressive know that the NYTimes is a paper with a slightly (in my opinion) progressive slant. This is news? But the tenor of the times (no pun intended) is such that the mutual regard between conservatives and progressives is so acrimonious that the admission of an ideological bias one way or the other is an almost automatic disqualifier from each's perspective of the other speaking in public, let alone publishing something. Ergo, my riff--being mostly progressive in my views--on what I think progressivism has contributed to the world. Honorable men may disagree, but my views are largely based on economic history, going back to the Gilded Age and the eventual formation of a nascent labor movement that began the long journey to putting common working people on somewhat equal footing with ownership and management (this is the genesis of the hatred by the mercantile class, i.e., conservatives, for progressives, and the resentment for government intervention that robbed them of their monopoly status rages still). But without the journey, you have no middle class--the distinctive feature, as I said before, of the American experiment. Now to your other point: your inability to see a connection between the style and substance expressed on the Op-ed page of the Times and the traditional and mundane concerns of the middle class and the poor. As I'm sure JG would be quick to tell you, that comes down to questions of social philosophy and economics and how the academy became the breeding ground for "progressive" ideas about equality and social justice, and an intellectual elite which promoted them. In a sense, the opinion pieces of Brooks, Kristoff, Krugman, et. al., are largely just a contemporary and interminable rehash of the same fairly abstract, academic debates that originated so long ago and that have raged for generations. Conservatives and progressives just see the world a little differently, and that's just how it is.

  5. By the way, Anonymous, Thomas Friedman is not a progressive. I'm not really sure what he is, but i think he fancies himself as a futurist, a seminal thinker and an icon of some sort. Considering the size of that mansion he lives in, apparently many others agree LOL! I consider him a opportunist, and I no longer read his column. When he touts India of all places, with its open sewers, fetid slums, dearth of potable water, and crumbling power grid as the model for a future anything, I cringe and head the other way;

  6. Several things:
    I am a Social Democrat and I don't see the NYT as "progressive."
    Actually, it increasingly reminds of yet another "progressive" paper - Der Stuermer.
    I view American "liberals" with their agenda "my precious body, my precious mansion/bank account .... and the Palestinians"
    as weird/selfish/hypocritical creatures - anything but progressive.
    Yesterday, I listened on Leonard Lopate (NPR) to an interesting journalist (Anderson) who talked competently and intelligently about Syria. The program was great, the comment section --- you guess it -- empty (yes, not a single comment). Try to mention Israel and all the "liberals" crawl out from their mansions on Lond Island, in Weschester, their condos on Manhattan to condemn ... Israel, Netanyahu. Yeah, they are progressive and they ... Absolute and perfect bastards.
    BTW, did Krugman at any moment express any concern about slavery (an economic issue too) in Muslim countries, about child labor in countless places, etc.? (the list is long of possibilities, his evil choice is known)

  7. Yes, American problems are deep, but Obama haven't done anything to try to deal with them.
    Why don't you mention his killing of single payer, an absolutely central issue? Instead, he/Michelle have been promoting absolutely evil wellness program.

  8. BTW, JHHankins, why don't you check who promoted Obama
    The chairman of his committee is now a Republican. Actually, I had no doubt that Obama was elected by the Republican politicians who realized that a Republican didn't have a chance to win in 2008, but someone in a Democratic dress .....
    I will always remember the day when I witnessed an orchestrated campaign. Countless posters on NYT forums were repeating: "I am a Republican, but I'll vote for Obama."
    It was clear to me that a domestic and international disaster was in the making.

  9. Dear anonymous: It is clear that you have many axes to grind and many conspiracy theories to occupy you. I am sympathetic to your observations that most self-involved Americans don't pay much attention to foreign affairs--in Syria or elsewhere-- that don't appear to impact them directly. It is one of our failings as a people. You however don't seem to have too firm a grasp of our domestic politics and how our government works or you would realize that "single payer" was a political impossibility that had no chance of becoming law. Plus, Paul Krugman is an economist whose expertise is in domestic and international economic issues. If you're more focused on humanitarian issues, you would probably find Nicholas Kristoff's column more interesting.

  10. JH, Kristof (one "f") is a foreign policy imbecile (I am being kind) with myopic humanitarian concerns. See:

  11. "It is clear that you have many axes to grind and many conspiracy theories to occupy you."
    Well, why am I not surprised? Well, if you have in mind that conspiracy theories are of certain interest to me, well you are right to a degree.
    One of my degrees in Jewish history (focus on antisemitism) and yes, I am familiar with the "Protocols" (and its present popularity in Muslim countries and among all variations of neo-Nazis everywhere, including the US).
    Yes, I am talking about facts.
    Actually, I was trained to be an academic and my first occupation was exactly that - academic.
    I can assure you that changes in my circumstances didn't make me suddenly dumb and unable to understand a new society, particularly that all my training has been in the humanities and social sciences. I am pretty sure that this training (and quite an impressive analytical mind) allow me judge people like Obama, Krugman and Kristof probably correctly enough. And yes, I 've living in the US for some 25 years and I am interested in the society and politics.
    I didn't vote for Obama. I would never vote for "Hope, unity, change" and someone who checks the weather (political) each time before opening his mouth. Don't we expect from LEADERS a different attitude?
    Well, Krugman clearly has ignored slavery in Muslim countries (FACT), does is mean that slavery in Muslim countries doesn't exist?
    I agree with JG's view of Kristof. I would just slightly modify his analysis. I find Kristof both bigoted and idiotic.
    Well, speaking of humanitarian concerns ... " Somehow, all these wonderful "humanitarians" didn't notice the charming regimes of Ahmadinejad, Qaddafi, Assad, and countless others.
    Shouldn't one expect "humaritarians" to be concerned about horror in countries like Iran, Lybia, Assad and countless countries in Africa, in Uzbekistan, etc.. You have a strange understanding of "humanitarian" issues.