The Paul Krugman Bernie Sanders Giving Game

Paul KrugmanYou have no idea! Right now, you’re thinking, “Not another article where Frank complains about Paul Krugman complaining about Bernie Sanders!” But really: this is nonsense. There was a time in 2008 when I looked forward every morning to checking out Krugman’s blog. Friday’s were a special day because I knew he would have a column out. And I still greatly admire him. But when I clicked over to him on Monday I saw, Bernie, Hillary, Barack, and Change. That’s where he argues that Obama thinks Clinton is his true heir — as though that’s a compelling argument to the leftists in the party. “Hooray! Clinton will bring eight more years of us not knowing if we’ll get Medicare turned into a block grant!” It does not help that Krugman has spent the last eight years complaining about the same things.

But then I scrolled down and found, How to Make Donald Trump President. Let’s see how that goes, “Step 1: Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders.” Of course, as I discussed in The Complete ‘Bernie Sanders Can’t Win’ Liberal Pundit Article Kit, no one like Krugman will ever make a straight attack on Sanders. Krugman doesn’t “think Sanders is unelectable.” He just takes it as a given that electing Bernie Sanders would give the election to Trump. But that’s not quite fair — to Bernie Sanders supporters.

Krugman really should be worried about the economy going to hell and about how the Federal Reserve is doing exactly the opposite of what it should be doing. But instead, every day is a day to claim that Bernie Sanders is going to put a Republican in the White House.

Krugman’s cunning plan to get Trump elected involves a second part: Michael Bloomberg enters the race and takes votes away from the Democrats, but somehow he takes none away from Republicans because “two-thirds of them currently support Trump, Cruz, or Carson.” Okay, but data — Remember data, Krugman?! — indicates that even among Republican supporters of Carson and Cruz, Trump is not popular. Among Republicans, Cruz has a 51% net approval rating. Carson has a 47% net approval. And Trump: 27%. So Trump still isn’t that popular even among the craziest of the Republican. But only Sanders would lose with a Bloomberg run.

And we know why that is: because it is the only way that Krugman can make his argument sound at all reasonable. Because otherwise, his post would have been six words long, “Step 1: Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders.” Because that’s all Krugman is saying. It amazes me that Krugman can be so smart, and yet write post after post where he shows himself to be stupid — or at least completely out of his depth. Under ordinary circumstances, I know that Krugman would mention the fact that the economy trumps all other aspects in an election. If Krugman weren’t so emotionally attached to Clinton, he could have come up with the actually reasonable — fact and researched based — description of How To Make Donald Trump President:

  1. Republicans nominate Donald Trump.
  2. The economy goes into recession.
  3. “Trump wins a yuuuuge victory.”

Krugman really should be worried about the economy going to hell and about how the Federal Reserve is doing exactly the opposite of what it should be doing. But instead, every day is a day to claim that Bernie Sanders is going to put a Republican in the White House. As long as Krugman is suffering from this brain fever, I think we can make a game of it. It’s called The Paul Krugman Bernie Sanders Giving Game. The rules are simple:

Every time Krugman writes something stupid about Bernie Sanders, you contribute to the Sanders campaign.

You can set your own level of giving. You’ve got to be careful, though. Because I suspect that Krugman is going to say a lot more stupid things about Bernie Sanders. And if Sanders wins in Iowa, you might be required to donate to Sanders several times a day.

Of course, it really shouldn’t work this way. It’s Krugman who should have to provide the money. After all, he’s the one saying stupid things that show none of the depth of thought that have made him a respected pundit. But I’m afraid, we aren’t going to get that. So we’ll just have to pay ourselves.

Afterword: If Paul Krugman Is Ill

In case Paul Krugman is suffering from undiagnosed early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, then I am sorry. But for his benefit and that of the nation, he should not be writing in public. This doesn’t seem to be the case however. His articles about economics are still as good as ever.

The Case Against the Case Against Bernie Sanders

Bernie SandersOver the last few days, I’ve written two articles about liberal attacks on Bernie Sanders. First, there was, Erik Loomis Is Wrong About Sanders and Politics. And then there was my not so serious, The Complete ‘Bernie Sanders Can’t Win’ Liberal Pundit Article Kit. My point has not been that liberals are attacking Sanders. That’s a given. There are perfectly acceptable reasons that one might not want to support Sanders. But the arguments have been bad — from Loomis’ “liberals will be disappointed like they were with Obama” to Krugman’s argument that Sanders is campaigning too much like Obama.

I was pleased to see Monday morning that Brian Beutler is thinking the same things I am, Is Nominating Bernie Sanders a Worthwhile Gamble? Because that’s the question. Back in September, I wrote an article with an almost identical title, What Risk Is Bernie Sanders Worth? My point was that Sanders was worth some risk but not a lot of risk. But those were the days when the liberal establishment wasn’t afraid of Sanders. So they didn’t care. But now that it looks like Sanders is an actual threat, the liberal establishment’s answer is not only that Sanders is worth absolutely no risk, but also that Clinton represents no risk whatsoever.

Beutler’s argument is summed up in his subtitle, “Hillary Clinton’s supporters have yet to make a persuasive case that Sanders is too great a risk.” And that is quite right. In all the writing about the subject, the unstated assumption is that Clinton — the ultimate Wall Street insider — will easily destroy Donald Trump — the ultimate populist demagogue. On that one issue, I think that Sanders has a distinct advantage. But you would never know that from the garbage that is coming out of the “practical” wing of the party.

The Case For Bernie Sanders

Beutler made one of the stronger practical cases for Sanders. It goes back to something that I was complaining about for years under Obama. And it is, interestingly, something that Obama learned. But Clinton has regressed on it:

But if we’re imagining both of their agendas as opening bids in negotiations with Congress, why fault Sanders for not negotiating with himself? Ask a future Democratic Congress for single payer and a $15 minimum wage and you might get laughed at… but you also might get the public option and a bump to $12. Ask it for the public option and a $12 minimum wage, as Clinton might do, and you’ll get a fair hearing from the outset, but you might end up with advancements barely worth fighting for. President Obama, as Sanders is fond of noting, negotiated with himself, and progressives paid an unknowable price as a result.

He went on to note that although the Clinton camp wants to paint Sanders as a pie-in-the-sky idealist, “He’s been a relatively effective and pragmatic legislator.” What’s more, “This is Sanders’s strongest non-idealized appeal to progressives: he would appoint tougher regulators and conduct a more cautious, dovish foreign policy than Clinton.” It may be true that Clinton knows everyone, but what does it matter if she turns to Goldman Sachs to help regulate Wall Street? And finally, “But in a party that has become increasingly dovish and alarmed by increasing concentrations of income and wealth, he would have a strong claim to being a safer bet than Clinton — if he were to ever push the point.”

The Case Against Bernie Sanders

I think there is a strong case against Sanders. And it is a practical one. Sadly, it is not the practical case that Clinton supporters suppose. It is the case that Glenn Greenwald touched on in a recent article, The Seven Stages of Establishment Backlash: Corbyn/Sanders Edition. I have been amazed that so many Labour Party leaders seem to think that it is better to destroy their party than to support Jeremy Corbyn. And given the increasingly hysterical claims that we’ve heard from Clinton surrogates, I fear we would see the same thing here if Sanders won the nomination.

This makes me angry and not at all inclined to switch to the Clinton camp. If a Sander nomination destroys the party, it won’t be because people like me voted for him, but because party elites just couldn’t deal with our preferences. But apart from that, I think Clinton is a marginally stronger general election candidate than Sanders. The question is how big that margin is. Thus far, I’m not hearing much in terms of arguments about that — probably because it is really hard to say.

Moring Music: White Light/White Heat

White Light/White HeatI certainly could have spent the whole week on Velvet Underground & Nico. I do think it is the most fulfilling of their studio albums. Loaded has some of my favorite material and I really like the production. But I think it’s uneven. I’ll probably come back to that later. But today we are going to start on White Light/White Heat.

The album has a bit too much rock jam to it. And I’ll admit, Velvet Underground jams tend to be more interesting than other jams of that period. But still, “The Gift” is a bit much and “Sister Ray” (which I rather like) is too long. I do know this: after the first album (which was the first that I bought), White Light/White Heat was a disappointment. I do think there’s a tendency to see certain bands like the Velvet Underground (And good God: The Beatles!) as constantly brilliant and perfect. None of them are, as great as they may be.

The song “White Light/White Heat” is a gem. For one thing, I like that it doesn’t much make me think of speed, which it most clearly is about. The background vocals are simultaneously sweet and hilarious. It’s another song that Reed was never able to properly sing during his solo career. I might just have to spend another day on this album. We’ll see. Not a lot of time.

Anniversary Post: 2004 Exploding Whale

Exploding WhaleOn this day in 2004, an exploding whale event took place on its way to the Sutsao Wild Life Reservation Area in Taiwan where scientists were going to perform an autopsy on it. This was not an intentional explosion. When organic material decays, without the presence of oxygen, it creates hydrocarbons — most notably methane. This is what happened inside the whale. The methane built up and eventually: boom!

Although many people were present to watch the transport, no one was harmed. They did get covered with blubber and blood, however. The whale was eventually transported to its destination. And the autopsy was performed. It seems that the whale was hit by a ship, crushing part of its spine, and subsequently killing it. It’s very sad. I always find it hard to believe that ships can do this kind of damage. But they are moving very fast, and there is a great deal of inertia in the water.

Dead whales explode reasonably often. But when most people think of an exploding whale, they are thinking of something rather different. Back in 1970, a dead sperm whale had washed up on the cost of Florence, Oregon. As humorist Dave Barry noted at the time, “The responsibility for getting rid of the carcass was placed upon the Oregon State Highway Division, apparently on the theory that highways and whales are very similar in the sense of being large objects.” But things didn’t go that well. The officers loaded the whale with a half ton of dynamite, which blew large pieces of blubber very far away. One car over a quarter mile away was crushed. But luckily, no one was injured.

Clearly, care must be taken when dealing with dead whales. Although in the case of Taiwan, I give them credit for being interested in what had happened to this poor creature.