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Krugman vs. The Strawman, Part Infinity: The Tea Parties



April 13, 2009 – Comments (5)

Followers of the Austrian School are quite familiar with Krugman's constant strawman debates. They follow a predictable pattern. Find an argument that is easily refutable. Assign it to an economist or scholar whose work you have never read or studied and then defeat that argument. Triumphantly you stand before your baying liberal followers as the champion of Socialist Economics! The world is right again.

Today, I came across his latest blithering nonsense at the NY Times Op-Ed pages. Let's take this apart line by line, in the tradition of Henry Hazlitt, to reveal how far the standards for Nobel Prizes have fallen these days.

This is a column about Republicans — and I’m not sure I should even be writing it.

Today’s G.O.P. is, after all, very much a minority party. It retains some limited ability to obstruct the Democrats, but has no ability to make or even significantly shape policy.

Beyond that, Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn’t feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

Hey, good start. The Republican Party has indeed lost its way. Ron Paul pointed that out during the debates. In fact, he predicted the economic downfall that the Republicans were presiding over, and assisting in, back in 1974!  But wait, Mr. Krugman, are you really going to stand here with a straight face and tell me that Democrats discuss real policies. ROFL LMAO.  Maybe you missed the Democratic debates.  Let me refresh your memory: Clinton is a racist. The media is sexist. Change is good. What change? Whatever is not George Bush. 

Yep, dem some real policy issues right there!  Don't believe me?  Here's the actual transcript from a Democratic debate between Hillary and Barack.

But here’s the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn’t stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. And they could return to power if the Democrats stumble. So it behooves us to look closely at the state of what is, after all, one of our nation’s two great political parties.

I like the twist here. The G.O.P. is crazy but they took control. Democrats are voted in, but Republicans take power.  Krugman won't go so far as to imply that half of the voting public is crazy for voting for them. That would take courage. Krugman is a coward.

One way to get a good sense of the current state of the G.O.P., and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the “tea parties” that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties — antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so.

But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.

Here's the Strawman part. The G.O.P. didn't start the Tea Parties. Maybe Professor Planner can't imagine a world where people act spontaneously, without the direction of their political overlords. The Tea Parties were started by the Campaign for Liberty, a grassroots Libertarian organization founded by G.O.P. outcast and pariah Ron Paul.  The Tea Parties were organized by meetup groups associated with C4L.  G.O.P. party leadership, as clueless as they've always been, had nothing to do with it.  In fact, logic dictates that the G.O.P. wants nothing to do with the Tea Parties, except to tap into the anger of the protestors in hopes of securing their vote. Think about it. Do you really believe that the Banker's Party wants to abolish the Federal Reserve or the Income Tax?  Krugman, of course, knows that the Republican Party will never support the Tea Party platform.

Thus, President Obama is being called a “socialist” who seeks to destroy capitalism. Why? Because he wants to raise the tax rate on the highest-income Americans back to, um, about 10 percentage points less than it was for most of the Reagan administration. Bizarre.

You're right Paul. I never claimed that Obama is a Socialist. He is a Fascist, just like George Bush.

But the charge of socialism is being thrown around only because “liberal” doesn’t seem to carry the punch it used to. And if you go back just a few years, you find top Republican figures making equally bizarre claims about what liberals were up to. Remember when Karl Rove declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to the 9/11 terrorists?

Again, what does Karl Rove have to do with Tea Parties?  Oh yeah, nothing. The original Tea Party founders also oppose the Patriot Act. You know who doesn't?  Ummm, you're President, Krugman. That's right. Barack Obama supports the Patriot Act.  How about FISA?  The evil Republican bill that gave immunity to telecoms that helped the goverment spy on Americans?  Barack the Fascist supported that, too.  Change, you can believe in!

Then there are the claims made at some recent tea-party events that Mr. Obama wasn’t born in America, which follow on earlier claims that he is a secret Muslim. Crazy stuff — but nowhere near as crazy as the claims, during the last Democratic administration, that the Clintons were murderers, claims that were supported by a campaign of innuendo on the part of big-league conservative media outlets and figures, especially Rush Limbaugh.

Speaking of Mr. Limbaugh: the most impressive thing about his role right now is the fealty he is able to demand from the rest of the right. The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials. But while it’s new to have a talk-radio host in that role, ferocious party discipline has been the norm since the 1990s, when Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, became known as “The Hammer” in part because of the way he took political retribution on opponents.

This what is so great about Krugman, especially for those of us that have followed his work for a while.  These two paragraphs sound pretty intelligent and he puts forward a decent argument.  The only problem is, once again, it's reductio ad absurdum.  Since when did Limbaugh have anything to do with the Tea Parties?  For those keeping score at home, that's the second time Krugman has demonstrated the attention span of one of the girls on Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.  If you don't remember Ron Paul being mocked, derided, or ignored by Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity, Beck, and Coulter then shout at me in the comments.  I'll direct you to the hundreds of videos on You Tube.

Going back to those tea parties, Mr. DeLay, a fierce opponent of the theory of evolution — he famously suggested that the teaching of evolution led to the Columbine school massacre — also foreshadowed the denunciations of evolution that have emerged at some of the parties.

Look, I think Tom DeLay is worthless too, but what does the theory of evolution have to do with Central Banking?  Here's a list of fallacies courtesy of Wiki. Flip through them and see which grade school level debate tactic a Nobel Prize winner just engaged in.  Disgraceful.

Last but not least: it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.

Again, not true.  But whatever, we're not going to get anywhere with this.  Wait one second, however!  I thought Dr. Krugman wanted to talk about policies!   Didn't he proudly proclaim at the outset that his beloved Democrats are the only ones that ever talk policy?  Well, Professor... You've haven't engaged any of them except to point out Reagan's tax breaks.  Again, the Strawman.  What about the Federal Reserve?  Monetary policy?  Foreign policy?  The Welfare/Warfare State?  Anything?

But that’s nothing new, and AstroTurf has worked well for Republicans in the past. The most notable example was the “spontaneous” riot back in 2000 — actually orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists — that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.

Probably true. Just like the Democratic Appartchik, the Republican Appartchik is full of scumbags. What other types of people go into politics?  Productive people enter the workforce.  Oh, I forgot. Except your party, which I'm sure is full of angels. Not gonna talk about policies, Professor?

So what’s the implication of the fact that Republicans are refusing to grow up, the fact that they are still behaving the same way they did when history seemed to be on their side? I’d say that it’s good for Democrats, at least in the short run — but it’s bad for the country.

For now, the Obama administration gains a substantial advantage from the fact that it has no credible opposition, especially on economic policy, where the Republicans seem particularly clueless.

But as I said, the G.O.P. remains one of America’s great parties, and events could still put that party back in power. We can only hope that Republicans have moved on by the time that happens.

Krugman the Baby Sitter is back!  The Republicans are children that need to be cared for by the protective State planners, like say... oh I don't know.... Paul Krugman! 

So much for the policies.  The only man I remember that wanted to talk about policy during this election was Ron Paul, the driving force behind the Campaign for Liberty and the inspiration for the Tea Parties.  Everyone else is just on the bandwagon.  Do you think Krugman doesn't know this?  Please. This is a man that has gone out of his way to attack the Austrian School of Economics that Ron Paul follows for at least a decade. In each instance he used Strawman attacks and occasionally has resorted to downright dishonesty. 

If you hate the Republican Party, you are my friend. But if you listen to this windbag, you are no better than the followers of Savage and Limbaugh. 

Nobel Prizes ain't what they used to be.

Google Paul Krugman

David in Qatar 

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 13, 2009 at 1:55 PM, devoish (65.60) wrote:

Probably true. Just like the Democratic Appartchik, the Republican Appartchik is full of scumbags. What other types of people go into politics?  Productive people enter the workforce.  Oh, I forgot. Except your party, The Libertarians, which I'm sure is full of angels.

Sounds like the same crap from yet another storyteller to me, Dave. Tell me how your "Small Gov't Utopia" is any different than the one the Conservatives promised the Republicans would deliver?

Sounds like "rebranding" to me.

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#2) On April 13, 2009 at 2:05 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


I support No Government Utopia, but that's not the point here.  I have debated anarcho-capitalism at length on this board.

Krugman is attacking Paul supporters by lumping them into the same group as Conservatives, which is the same thing you just did.

If you really want to know what he's about check out the Ron Paul Library. You'll find that he and the Conservative movement have nothing in common. That's why George Bush campaigned against him during the Congressional Primary in 2004 in Texas.

David in Qatar


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#3) On April 13, 2009 at 3:11 PM, motleyanimal (35.73) wrote:

True enough, the Libertarian wing of the Republican party has been ignored and/or targeted by the coalition of religious conservatives and neoconservatives for many years.

Do note that a fair number of neoconservatives are jumping to Obama's camp, as their international agenda is being served.

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#4) On April 13, 2009 at 3:52 PM, eldemonio (97.53) wrote:



You're angry, I like that about you.

Ron Paul is a smart, principled politician.  More and more disenfranchised conservatives and liberals are leaning toward libertarianism.  

Unfortunately, our political system is controlled by twisted, screw you over, what's in it for me, corruption junkies.  How can Ron compete with that? 

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#5) On April 14, 2009 at 5:44 AM, DaretothREdux (46.61) wrote:

I can't believe they gave this guy a Nobel Prize...his arguement that WWII was the "massive stimulous package" which brought us out of the Great Depression is not only an outright lie, but also the most dangerous idea you could possibly teach children with maybe one exception: all morality is relative.

War is Great everyone! It brings about economic growth! Just ignore the massive loss of life, removal of the most productive members of the work force, property destruction, health destruction, environmental destruction...seriously how can claim war is good, but the most evil intentioned of people?

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