Krugman, 9/11 and Absolutes: "What if I am wrong?" UPDATED

Yesterday, someone sent me a link to Paul Krugman’s already-infamous 9/11 Vomit O’ Venom, launched at all of his favorite boogeymen, and I duly posted it to facebook but didn’t think much beyond what I wrote back to my friend: “the man seems a wreck. A small fellow feeling impotent; so much of what he is sure of, he is not sure of, at all. This says so much more about him than it does anyone else.”

And because I was busy, I put it out of my mind.

This morning, though, Glenn Reynolds has a fascinating post of reactions (linked and emailed) about Krugman’s terrified little bleat — and that is ultimately what it seemed like to me. I read his post and immediately got an image of a small guy, hugging a pillow and cowering in his closet. That is similar to the image I have harbored of Maureen Dowd, since immediately after 9/11 — on her bed in a fetal position, with a gasmask on her bedpost and a bottle of cipro between her knees. More than anything, Krugman and Dowd have, since 9/11, seemed utterly terrified by an event that didn’t fit their worldview and which forced them to depend upon people they hated for their safety and security.

Rather like teenagers who hate that they actually need their stupid, out-of-touch parents, and must constantly howl about it to their friends, who join in because they realize they’re supposed to hate their parents, too.

Considered thusly, it is difficult to dislike them. I admit, I have an odd affection for both Krugman and Dowd; I rarely bother to read them, anymore, but when I do, I always feel like the universe is unfolding as it should, and I am therefore at peace.

I’m not trying to be mean. I have no animus toward either of them, and wish they could be happy; neither of them have seemed happy for at least a decade, perhaps longer. They are established people ensconced in their materially-very-comfortable lives, and they seem like terrified human beings freeze-framed in a perpetual scream whose source is known only to them, in the secret recesses of their hearts, where truth must be faced.

Getting back briefly, to Instapundit’s post, the email Glenn reprints, from an un-named professor struck me, because it reminded me of something I’d almost forgotten — a 9/12 phone call from an out-of-state friend, who said, “I wanted to call and see if you guys were alright,” — which was lovely and thoughtful — immediately followed with, “I guess this is what we get for electing Bush.”

Yes, the “we were all united, until Bush squandered it” narrative is pure fantasy. Let’s not forget, the rubble was still smoking when one writer was fretting over whether she should allow her daughter to buy a flag — with her own money — to put in their apartment window. What would the neighbors think?

All of that said, after reading an enormous amount of material yesterday, from perspectives “left” and “right,” blogs and magazines, secular and religious I ended the evening with C.S. Lewis, and the opening line to A Grief Observed:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

I am torn over our mourning; on one hand we need to mourn. On the other, are we still processing our loss with great shaking sobs — and in some cases with so much anger, much of it misdirected — because we have acknowledged loss, and addressed loss in myriad ways, but we have not as thoroughly processed our sense of fear?

We’re all so pugnacious in punditry — the venue demands that its voices are clear in their positions — that we all quickly staked out our spots post-9/11, and it ended up collecting us on either side of the ruins, shaking our fists of certainty at each other when the reality is, we are shaking them at ourselves.

And as long as we can focus on that fist-shaking, we don’t have to look at our fears or enumerate them: that our kids will never have the blissful personal or civic freedoms we grew up with, when a summer’s day was unencumbered by fears of strangers; that lakes could be jumped into without fears of brain-eating amoebas; that lemonade stands could be established without fear of citations and fines.

Well, we needn’t fear for those things anymore; they are mostly already lost. We already know it. But we don’t know what it means. Our fear is that it means America’s days are numbered; that they’re already over — that the future holds nothing save a jackboot — Orwell’s “boot, stamping on a human face, forever.”

Our fear is not physical: think of all the huge gatherings yesterday and full stadiums — we know they’re targets, but we packed them anyway, as we have since mere weeks after the 9/11 attack.

What we fear is our vulnerability to what we do not know, from our neighbor’s secret sins, to the next madman with means; our future is scaring the hell out of us, and because we are afraid, we cling to what we are sure of — those things about which we are absolutely sure we have gotten right.

Krugman is sure of what he knows — so sure, in fact, that he cannot imagine that anyone else does not know it, as well, “even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not,” he writes in his screed, “in its heart, the nation knows…”

It must know it, because Krugman couldn’t possibly be wrong.

It strikes me that Krugman is, in his own way, taking an ironic stand against the dictatorship of relativism that our pope so frequently decries. After a lifetime of suggesting that there are many kinds of truth,** Krugman is now asserting that there is only ONE truth, and it is absolute. And it is his.

Pretty amusing. Of course, he is confusing truth with opinion, which often has nothing to do with reality. But then most of us do that, because we are uncomfortable with what reality means; it is an unwelcome concept.

Julie at Happy Catholic linked recently to a thoughtful and important presentation from “wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz. I thought after the emotion of yesterday, and all of the “rightness” and “wrongness” and the wrecked wretchedness, this might be give pause, and encourage some reflection, which is never a bad thing for any of us.

We may know what we know, but we do not know tomorrow; perhaps we might be able to make some progress toward ending the unproductive stalemate of the past ten years, if we — all of us — were able to unclench just a little from the drapes of wrath we’ve been clinging to (and hiding behind, in fear) to take one scary, vulnerable step away from our absolute certainties, and toward the stark realities, which we either deal with, or perish.

**Written on one cup of coffee; I would amend that to read, “after a lifetime’s affiliation with a relativistic philosophy…”**

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Jim Geraghty
at The Campaign Spot looks back further than 9/11 and everything we thought we knew, back then:

Think back to about fourteen or fifteen years ago, and everything you thought you knew at that moment.

You knew no president would be so reckless that he would get caught having sex with an intern in the Oval Office.

You may have worried about your kid’s safety at school, but you knew two alienated teenagers couldn’t turn their rage into a massacre.
The past fifteen years have been one rude awakening after another, where one unspoken assumption after another kept getting smacked around by a bipolar furious reality.

It is a tour-de-force and too long to justly exerpt. Go read the whole thing, because I think he is saying everything you feel!

UPDATE II: Tim Dalrymple writes poignantly and well, wondering Can Morning in America Dawn Anew? Don’t miss it!

UPDATE III: Lisa Graas makes a good point and a humbling one. I must learn to do better.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Being right is not a virtue

    Loved that video. I may be wrong but, I think I needed to hear that.

  • SteveM

    Re: “What we fear is our vulnerability”

    Let me see if I can condense this down. I have little respect for Paul Krugman, but consider this.

    The National Security State has stoked American Fear since 9/11. Fear is the oxygen that feeds the Beast.

    And 9/11 has been warped into a quasi-theological event by the Power Elites to justify the American Empire Project and also by the Media, because maudlin “Remembrances” are good for business.

    Note too that the Beast is serviced by Crony Capitalists who exploit the exaggerated opportunity. They too bang the Fear drum incessantly on the talk shows.

    And because Barack Obama as Leftist President has surrendered to the paradigm, the seduction of perpetual Fear is nearly universal across the political landscape

    The Cult of 9/11 is inextricably coupled to that Fear and the its politically exploitative implications.

    For a more elaborate read on why 9/11 should be put to bed see these essays at the American Conservative.

    9/11 was then – this is now…

  • ahem

    “…Krugman is now asserting that there is only ONE truth, and it is absolute. And it is his.”

    That has been the liberal position since Rousseau.

  • Dan Kennedy

    For Dowd, Krugman and many others, 9/11 did shatter their distorted worldview. When one lives life subordinating reality to ideology, reality bites back – internally and externally…

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Yes, Dan, it shattered their worldview, and they’re desperately trying to make it work again, but it’s no good.

    As “Bones” McCoy, from the first Star Trek series would have said, “It’s dead, Maureen and Mr. Krugman!”

  • Katherine

    I want to gather my thoughts before I comment, but I wanted to give you extra points for “drapes of wrath”.

  • Kevin

    Couldn’t everything you just said about Krugman and his faith in his own “rightness” just as easily be applied, well, to you?

    [Uh-huh. Did you not notice my inclusive language? Did you think I only included the video for Krugman and not for myself? Was I too discreet when I wrote: ". . .perhaps we might be able to make some progress toward ending the unproductive stalemate of the past ten years, if we — all of us — were able to unclench just a little from the drapes of wrath we’ve been clinging to (and hiding behind, in fear) to take one scary, vulnerable step away from our absolute certainties, and toward the stark realities, which we either deal with, or perish. - admin]

  • Tuck

    I stopped reading @; “I admit, I have an odd affection for both Krugman and Dowd”

    [Then you really have nothing to comment about, do you? -admin]

  • Troy Peterson

    Excellent posting and vid-link, its just a shame that Krugman actually gets publicity though for simply posting mindless hate-speech.

    Makes me wonder if its not so much a cry-for-help as an exploitative attempt to get people to reference his rambling rants.

  • Dan

    Bill Keller’s non-apology for his unthoughtful advocacy of war after 9-11 is of the same fabric. Unable to say, “I was wrong,” he never knows change, responding to the internal voice of a Big Brother that acknowledges no error and rewrites history as it suits him.

  • Dan

    In short, belief in this free market system requires an assurance to the market of “stability.”

    In far more highly-taxed environments, again like the more successful Canada and Australia, the economy is far outpacing rivals. Some of this may be due to expectations that are predictable in these countries, if even higher taxes are the price of this stability.

    Right now, the US is caught between those for whom such things as government-assured health care for all is demanded and those for whom having the lowest tax rate of Western nations is still “socialistic, immoral, and oppressive.” It is caught between, essentially, those of us living in highly populated areas and those living in highly unpopulated areas. As such, the market has no predictions on a future. Who will win?

    The culture war and its chronic resentment, and its now well-fortified unapologetic media and mouth pieces have assured that there are hard battle lines. That battle’s outcome is uncertainty (and the culture battle really is now all about money and power-Grover Norquist vs. The New Republic, Cheney Doctrine warriors vs. Andrew Bacevich). That battle has done little for our communities and our faith (who would want to be a priest with every parishioner as a mysterious, anonymous critic in the pews, judging “orthodox vs. heterodox” with an authority to make the Inquistors jealous).

    The market instability is a late consequence of this culture war that rages on.

  • piddlesworth

    Perhaps this piece is written to intentionally address a very narrow audience, and thus leaves much unsaid (also leaving me outside of those who it is targetting), but if not, it strikes me that very little of what Krugman was actually saying is addressed here and instead it focuses on psychoanalysis and insults of him. (When has Krugman ever admitted to this fear that you ascribe to him? When has he admitted that his worldview was shattered by the events of 9/11 and that he suffered unmanageable psychic damage as a result? He doesn’t appear to me to have, making it look as though you’ve just made that up to dismiss him rather than address him.)

    Where you actually do address him is even more perplexing in my opinion: “It strikes me that Krugman is, in his own way, taking an ironic stand against the dictatorship of relativism that our pope so frequently decries. After a lifetime of suggesting that there are many kinds of truth, Krugman is now asserting that there is only ONE truth, and it is absolute. And it is his.”

    The reason I find this so perplexing is that Krugman has never suggested that there are many kinds of truth, but further, the entire foundation of modern thought is that there is only “one truth”, that it is “absolute”. It endlessly confuses me that conservative pundits in the US rail against moral relativism rhetorically, but then turn around and insist that there are different realities than those we find through science (and if your epistemology is relativistic, I don’t see how your morals could be otherwise), that laws *should* be able to vary arbitrarily from state-to-state even though they are our clearest expression of morality, etc.

    I guess that rather than turning your own trick back on you and accusing you of merely projecting your own fear onto Krugman, I’ll ask you: What specifically makes you so sure that Krugman is writing out of fear? What specifically makes you so sure that his world view was shattered by the events of 9/11?

    Also, do you not feel shame for our country having tried to exchange liberty for security? Do you not feel shame for the atrocities carried out in your name by your military in Iraq? Do you not feel shame for killing over 100,000 Iraqis and calling it their “liberation”? Do you not feel shame about the dictators elsewhere that we continued to prop up after we became self-righteous about no longer liking Saddam Hussein? Do you not feel shame in the trillions of dollars spent toward these ends, which now has (conservatives insist) left our country so in debt that we cannot even provide services for our citizens (including social security and medicare) that we successfully provided for decades and that numerous other countries will have no trouble providing indefinitely. All of that is “what happened after 9/11″, specifically as a response to it, and if all of that still leaves you feeling completely unashamed, then Krugman is wrong, but that’s the least of our problems.

  • Janet

    I’ve seen Paul Krugman lately on some talking head shows looking increasingly incredulous that no one is following his advice, i.e., the government must spend more money to get us out of debt, etc. I heard him say recently, his advice is something people should be agreeing with but they’re not.

    Maybe this is how he thought he could get some of the spotlight again but I think he erred greviously.

  • Gail F

    I find Krugman and his ilk incredibly offensive. I got it in spades yesterday, from someone I know personally, on Facebook — the sneers, the “I am better than those poor idiots who fly the flag,” the holier-than-thou politics. It makes me sick.

    But on the other hand… I have found the Ground Zero 9/11 memorial services to be empty from the very first. I could live very well without them. They seem strangely vain and shallow — except for ringing the bell when the different crashes took place, which I find moving. Reading the names of the dead may be meaningful to their families, I don’t know. But it’s hardly something that can be done forever. That will mean nothing after a couple of decades — it already means nothing to the vast majority of people, which is why the announcers talk over it while it’s televised. The great memorials and memorial events are not like that. Even when they include the names of the dead (as many do) they are memorials to the dead as a group. We are each ephemeral.

    And the whole turning it into a day of services strikes me as cynical and wrong-headed as well. Service is supposed to be something you do all the time, and anyway how does service fit the tragic death of thousands of people and the heroic self-sacrifice of hundreds of others? I think these memorials and things are designed for one subset of Americans, who view heroism and dedication and tragedy and innocence much differently than I do.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    With columnists as nasty, insulting, derogatory and callous as Dowd, Krugman, and Keller -why does anyone buy the NY Times?????? It is living on its heritage and legacy. If the rest of the media would stop kissing the Times’ ring by letting the Times virtually set the media’s news agenda our country would be better off and maybe so much of the news wouldn’t seem to be nothing but echoes of the same old same old.(Except sometimes Fox)

  • Gail F

    This is what my acquaintance posted on Facebook for 9/11 — also from the New York Times:

    She said she wanted to provide balance for a “very complex human event” and that we needed to keep in mind, not only our loss, but the loss of (a very high number I think is wrong, so I won’t post it) of Iraquis who have died since. Funny, but it seems to me that when all those “peace is patriotic” yard signs were out and she and her friends were calling Bush a warmonger, electing Obama and friends was supposed to end the wars! Now we are in more wars, including the inexplicable Libyan conflict that they never bothered to give us reasons for, but the war protestors have gone home and apparently some of them, like this lady, are still protesting war but sort of unrelated to the actual government waging it.

  • John M

    Would anyone care to point out where Paul Krugman was wrong in that post? Wrong as in inaccurate. Not wrong as in, “He should never have written the post.”

    What he wrote was completely accurate as far as it went.

  • John

    Ms. Scalia–This sort of mean, ad hominem prattle is what Catholics are up to these days? Ohh-kay.

    You know what Paul Krugman reminds me of? A Nobel Prize winner. Also, the columnist whose record on both analysis and prediction on any number of Bush era–and Obama era–economic and political follies is second to none. (Oh, and Maureen Dowd scored well too.)

    As for you? This is my first time to your site, but–if you’re going to go after a pundit of Krugman’s earned stature, you’re going to have to do a lot better than this embarrassing 14-year-olds-whispering- in-the-back-of-the-classroom drivel.

  • john kenney

    “Of course, he is confusing truth with opinion, which often has nothing to do with reality.”

    I totally agree with this – Krugman and many liberals routinely confuse ‘truth’ and ‘opinion’.

    Probably everyone already knew this, but this has only become clear to me recently through some comments on my blog where a ‘progressive’ who kept asserting this conservative or that one were ‘lying’ while liberals, including coincidentally Krugman, were speaking ‘truth’.

    Eventually, it became clear that for him truth isn’t really about actual facts or otherwise demonstrably provable things, but includes ‘interpretation’ – i.e., ‘opinion’. When a person interprets things in a way this fellow agrees with, then that is ‘truth’. A person who interprets things in a way he doesn’t, is ‘lying’.

    I’ve watched the rise of the ever reliable charge of ‘liar’ in recent years by Dems and never understood why until now.

  • Beatrix

    John – your point seems to be that because Paul Krugman is sort of* a Nobel Prize winner, for long-ago work in a very specialized branch of micro-economics, therefore Mrs. Scalia should know her place and never dare criticize him, on her own blog no less, for any pronouncements he’s made on any subject at all or for any horrible lapses in taste, judgement or common decency he may have committed. That about right?

    *From the comments today at Watt’s Up With That: JC says:
    September 12, 2011 at 11:07 am
    “There is no Nobel prize for economics. The prize is administered by the Nobel foundation but was established by the central bank of Sweden. It is known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel. It really pisses me off when people insist on calling this moron a Nobel prize winner.”

  • SteveM

    Krugman may be the wrong messenger, but it’s the inquiry embedded in his ill timed and clumsy message that is a valid topic of conversation.

    I.e., Has America degraded into an economically sclerotic Warfare State that uses melodramatic events to sustain itself? E.g. commercialized 9/11 remembrance excesses, SEALS killing Bin Laden.

    It’s not the movement Democrats who are raising those questions, because they march lockstep with the fecklessly reactive Barack Obama.

    Just like movement Republicans marched in lockstep with the fecklessly reactive Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    It’s the outsiders apart from the Party ideologue opportunists who we should start paying attention to.

  • John

    Really, Beatrix? “That about right?” No, it’s of course entirely cococted by you.

    Ms. Scalia’s post contains no substantive criticism. “The man is a wreck. A small fellow feeling impotent. So much of what he is sure of, he is not sure of at all.” Sheesh. Just typing that stuff makes me feel tainted.

    Y’know what this is? This is a mumbo-jumbo worshipper reveling in the licence she embraces from her mumbo-jumbo to throw meaningless mud at, yes, one of her betters, because she ain’t got the wit or the chops to take on Krugman on substance. Isn’t that some kind of sin?

    Yeah, it matters that Krugman has the Nobel, and even more that he can put together cogent, learning- (and math-!) based arguments for his assertions. And that he’s so often on the money.

    Krugman constantly takes on, and takes down, clowns playing for your team. He does it with facts, with solid argument, with charts and graphs. I have yet, once, to see him resort–to stoop–to the sort of empty ad hominem claptrap strewn mindlessly all over this page, in both the post and many comments.


  • Dan

    He is as much a Nobel winner as Milton Friedman-architect of the economic disaster we are now facing.

  • Beatrix

    John – many people felt pretty “tainted” reading what Krugman wrote. The Anchoress was describing an “image” she “got” of what kind of a man would write something like that.

    Now say he really is a big smartenheimer with platinum credentials – that means he can’t be called a jerk? A callous person? A petty, opportunistic person with poor judgement and unfortunate priorities?

    “This is a mumbo-jumbo worshipper…” Is this about Catholicism, or are you trying to express something else? I’m not quite clear.

    Personally, I don’t respect ENRON Paul or think he’s “often on the money”. He’s a water-carrier for the leftiest of the leftist dems. He’s a hack. There’s a Bertolt Brecht vibe to the man. That’s just my opinion of course.

    No ad hominem? I guess you didn’t read the very blog post that’s irritated everyone so much. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.”

    That’s pretty nasty, personal stuff, John.

    And you’re making assumptions about “my team”, aren’t you? Totally correct ones as it turns out, but from a mind and a moral character as elevated and precise as yours…. I feel a little let down.

    BTW, what with your appeals to credentialism and your insistance on Krugman’s brilliance and smartiness with numbers, I think these two posts from Iowahawk are just perfect for you. I hope you’ll give them a glance:

    Dan – yeah, Milton Friedman caused the housing crash. Milton Friedman advocated the massive snowballing in government spending and government size that have been plaguing us since the ’30s. Well, it’s off topic and and I’m not wasting Mrs. Scalia’s bandwidth on pointlessly going over this, but you just couldn’t be dafter.

  • Dan

    I read Jim Geraghty’s piece.

    He is without any bearings- he is a culture warrior.

    1. I never had any question about the potential for a Columbine- I hung out and knew plenty of over-armed pipe-bomb-making rural youths who had plenty of shoot-’em up/blow ‘em up fantasies in the 1980′s.

    2. FDR and Kennedy had well known affairs. It just wasn’t made into a political weapon. The consequences of making political antagonistic attacks qbout has swung both ways, impacting celebrities, high-profile clergy, and politicians of all stripes and orientation.

    There were no good ole days.

    The difference was in civility.

  • Manny

    If the NY Times had any respect for decency, they would fire Krugman now. This was a new low. Liberalism at its repulsive, vile self. Fake heros? Divided country? No, look at the polls for at least two years after 9/11. It wasn’t until the Iraq war fell into disrepair that public opinion shifted. Frankly the job that President Bush did was magnificent, even the Iraq war. Today, Al Quaida has been decimated, not a single terrorist attack on US soil, Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven and women have been allowed self expression, Iraq poses no threat to the region any longer, freedom has taken root in the Middle East and it’s spreading. It’s no-nothings like Krugman and fellow ilk Liberals that can’t see two inches in front of their hatred. I cancelled my NY Times subscription about a decade ago. I was using it to pick up my dog’s poop and thought I could find a cheaper option.

  • T

    So John (#17),

    Since you seem to be a devotee of Krugman and his prescient economic accuracy, tell me, how’s his former employer doing lately? (That would be Enron)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Keep insulting the Anchoress, John, and accuse her of throwing out ad hominems, while tossing them around yourself.

    Maybe that will make her be quiet, and stop saying mean things about Krugman. Because bullying people is the best way to get them to agree with you.

    /Sarc. off.

    (Yassir Arafat was a Nobel Prize winner too, which tells you all you need to know about that award.)

  • newdome411

    In response to a post link to Glen Reynolds you wrote “I read his post and immediately got an image of a small guy, hugging a pillow and cowering in his closet…” Really? This is the image of Paul Krugman that you got from ready that link to InstantPundit? A link to a blogger who does not seem to be familiar with anything Krugman has been writing for the past 2 years or so, hence his idiot claim that Krugman is disappointed because “his messiah has feet of clay, ” in what one can see is as a clear allusion to the head of the current administartion. You are not a very serious person are you?

    [No, I'm real dumb. But I've never claimed to be an intellectual. Did you take anything out of this piece besides a criticism of Krugman? Because it's really about all of us. A serious reader might catch that. -admin]

  • Stephanie

    I love your last paragraph. And I agree :-)

  • Llarry

    Krugman is wild about the Red Chinese while living in a house the size of a shopping mall. There’s nothing more repulsive than capitalist millionaires who pretend to be a socialists. Krugman, Michael Moore, Matt Damon, Lawrence O’Donnell and all the rest are like little kids putting lampshades on their heads and shouting, “I’m Buzz Lightyear! To infinity and beyond!” Come to think of it, Obama’s in that crowd, too.

    Anyone who claims to support collectivism ought to be forced by law to live the way the average Cuban or Chinese lives. This shallow, guilt-assuaging lip service paid to socialism is truly obscene.

  • Jon Erickson

    An excellent complement to the discussion by Kathryn Schulz on wrongness, and a rethinking of what civility in democracy really means, this is an excellent little talk by Yale Law professor Stephen Carter:

  • piddlesworth

    I see that you’ve chosen to not only completely ignore my comment on this piece but have even refused to allow it to post. I wonder what your peers would think of you pretending to have a blog that is open to comments but not actually allowing any that make significant arguments against your claims, especially given that they’ve spent the past day chiding Krugman for openly admitting that he wouldn’t allow comments on one post of his.

    I suspect the reason that you’ve failed to specifically cite any of Krugman’s writings from immediately after 9/11 to bolster your assertions that he was deeply afraid and suffering from a shattered worldview (discounting the possibility that you are merely projecting your own fear onto him) is that, upon reviewing his writing from that time, you find a man who is so unafraid that he immediately gets back to doing what he did before, which was using his worldview to make political and economic predictions.

    Here’s the very first thing Krugman published after 9/11:

    In it you’ll find that his worldview was so intact that he not only used it to accurately predict the next year of economic developments, but also used it to predict roughly the political arc our country would take over roughly the next five years, which is an astonishing feat when you consider that he isn’t trained as a political scientist, meaning that all he had to fall back on was his worldview that you claim was shattered.

    [I see that you've chosen to not only completely ignore my comment on this piece but have even refused to allow it to post. I wonder what your peers would think of you pretending to have a blog that is open to comments but not actually allowing any that make significant arguments against your claims, especially given that they've spent the past day chiding Krugman for openly admitting that he wouldn't allow comments on one post of his.

    Well, "Mr. Piddlesworth," as you can plainly see this combox is full of people presenting opposing viewpoints, and I haven't banned, censored or in any way not allowed their comments. I do not see a previous comment from you awaiting moderation -- everything that was in moderation has been released. Now, it is possible that your comment went into the spam filter for some reason -- our friend Dry Valleys, who is a profoundly "leftist" individual but a friendly English chap that we like and respect in these parts -- would tell you that his stuff frequently, and for no good reason that I can ascertain, gets thrown into spam. He politely drops me a line when he suspects that's happened, and I am always happy to go look for it and fish it out. I'd be happy to go wade through that filth for your comment, too. Would you like me to? Just say the pleasant word. -admin]

  • Muggins

    That’s correct about 9/11 not being about Bush. 9/11 was planned during the Clinton Administration, and it wasn’t about any particular President. It was about the U.S. doing things like defending Saudi Arabia from attack from Saddam Hussein’s army poised on their border after invading Kuwait. In the terrorist’s eyes, Hussein was a Muslim, so he can murder and invade and destroy the environment, while it’s unforgivable for the U.S. to push him out of Kuwait. And it was about the No Fly Zone, where the U.S. was preventing Hussein from attacking Iraqis with his air force. No problem that a dictator can mow down civilian Muslims, but it’s an insult to them that the U.S. should try to stop him. The 9/11 attack was just one episode in a patient effort by radical Muslims to expand Islamic dominance, and Krugman, as smart as he is, has yet to understand this.

    [Well, I don't think any president ought to be blamed for 9/11; the terrorists are to blame for 9/11. But I do sometimes wonder if a more forceful response to the Al Qaeda assaults upon our interests and naval vessels overseas throughout the '90's might have prevented the attacks. Honestly, I don't think they would have -admin]

  • Michael Pedersen

    I found your piece well-written and cogent. I find Krugman right on point, as always, and hope life is not wearing him down. I love your response to Mr. Piddlesworth, and applaud anyone’s attempt at rational and civil discourse. I cherish the Kathryn Schulz video and enjoyed seeing it again, thank you. We can all take a breath and revel in the joy of being wrong occasionally.
    In regards to your response to Muggins, I feel compelled to point out that the Bush Cheney Administration received no less than 60 warnings about 911 from our own intelligence sources and from our allies around the world.

  • Muggins

    No doubt that there might have been a level of response that could have impaired al Qaeda in the 90′s, but there was no political backing for invading their stronghold in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. Democracies require a 9/11 or a Pearl Harbor or an invasion of another country to spark the necessary political support. But the shocking thing is, is the asymmetrical warfare tactics that 9/11 demonstrated, where suicide squads can hijack public transportation and use them as weapons, or to deliver weapons. And these weapons could be WMD, the use of which would ratchet up this cold war, we now wage, into a hot one.

  • Michael Sheehan

    ‘All this for a flag?’ – Michelle Obama 2011-09-11

    Yesterday during the 9/11 ceremonies in New York the director of the C-SPAN telecast took a shot of Obama and his wife while the World Trade Center American flag that survived the attack was being folded by local police and fire fighters. Watch the video until the folding of the flag is almost finished. At that point read Michelle’s lips as she leans over to Obama and says “ALL THIS FOR A FLAG” and then shakes her head side to side in disapproval while Obama nods his approval of her statement.
    here is the shortened version that just shows you the flag folding and Michelle’s mouthed comments along with O’s agreement.

    Source: (Comment #25)

    [Not a lip reader; not sure it's what she said. -admin]

  • Kris, in New England

    For those who believe that 9/11 is “over, so last year”, I would suggest you go back 70 years and substitute 12/7/41 with 9/11/01 – and say the same things. I’d wager the responses then would be very similar to the responses now that you get from people who are offended that someone like Krugman draws breath.

    For those of us who lost people we loved – 9/11 is the annual reminder that a life was stolen in the most violent and barbaric way. Of course there are reminders everyday of a life gone far too early and yet there is also a national day of remembrance that brings the names to the forefront once again.

    Imagine having your loved ones name associated – for all time – with the worst peace-time atrocity on American soil. Their name will be engraved in memorials and written about in history books.

    It is – uncomfortable. And for others outside of the tragedy to claim it’s time to just forget about it, to move on, to stop milking it – because they are uncomfortable – is inhuman to say the least.

    If you can’t share in the public grief, then keep your opinions to yourself Mr. Krugman (and others like him) – at least have some respect for the dead on remembrance of the day they died.

    Is that too much to ask?

    Heather Lee Smith, Flight 11, age 30 – beautiful and loving daughter of dear friends

  • Doc

    Wow, this piece sure brought out the trolls.

    Deacon John, some people feed that beast simply because they are a sucker for a good crossword puzzle.

  • Darrell

    > I stopped reading @; “I admit, I have an odd affection for both Krugman and Dowd”

    Then you are no less of a mindless, partisan ideologue than they.

  • Progressive Libertarian

    Methinks thou doest project too much! Just taking your own actions and beliefs and accusing others (e.g., Krugman and Dowd) of them doesn’t make it so. But, if you are in a group of enablers, then it can sound true.

    Krugman and liberals tied to Rousseau? Robespierre works on the right today (if you think about it).

  • teapartydoc

    The trolls are being paid to monitor blogs where links are made to other sites where they can post and try to disrupt conservative web-sites. This is similar to their activities of attending meetings where consensus or voting decisions are made, but they aren’t as successful, because all they can do is mouth off. They don’t convince anyone of anything and end up offending the people they are attempting to turn, so it’s hard to see why they persist. I guess it’s a way to make a few bucks as long as someone is willing to pay.

  • West

    I think every generation learns some if not all of these lessons. Ours is handling the experience with its characteristic grace.


  • Joseph Somsel

    What I think has driven Krugman and most of the Left since 9/11 is the knowledge that Bush has done a credible job but is not one of theirs. The values that have been on display by most Americans have not been values of the Left.

    The Left’s response has been to tear down the Bush Administration using any fear or emotion they could generate. In America’s wars, the opposition has almost always played on the discontent and fears of the voters to a greater or lesser extent. Even Republicans in WWII had some criticisms of FDR.

    At a certain level, that can oposition be constructive as in presenting an alternative viewpoint or preventing big-headedness from those in power.

    Yet the opposition’s behavior since 9/11, including Krugman’s, has been destructive for all Americans.

    Krugman is soul-sick because 9/11 meant he could contribute little or nothing to the country and the country has largely refused his council.

  • piddlesworth

    I appologize for assuming that you were preventing my first comment from posting for editorial reasons, but I read your “comment policy” section after seeing it not be posted for several hours while others’ comments were and I saw no description of filters there despite it being very detailed so I figured that there was no explanation other than censorship.

    I genuinely am curious about the things I asked in my first comment, though, so I would appreciate if you could at least email me a response even if you don’t allow it to post. If it makes it easier to find, my first comment was submitted about eleven and a half hours before my second one (probably close to the time of the current 17th comment). It still shows as awaiting moderation when I access this page from the computer I posted it from, but I’m posting this comment from another computer hoping to lessen my chances of hitting the filter.

    [I appreciate your note, and when I have a chance I will go wade through the filter and see if I can find your piece. Whether I will find time to respond to it is extremely doubtful as 1) I am slammed with a 2-page list of paying work that really must come first, 2) I have a breaking-news story re my church that I'm covering (and doing so is further screwing with the rest of my deadlines) 3) I've already moved on from this story. The internet moves fast! :-) best, Admin]

  • Progressive Libertarian

    Unfortunate that disagreement is seen as simply trolling for hire. Maybe you are projecting since the concept has nothing to do with me. I was directed here from another site for sure. But, having read the Krugman post, I was curious to read the critique. The critique doesn’t seem to address what Krugman said (that the 9/11 attack was used to justify divisive and costly public policies) and seems more ad hominem but with a healthy dose of condescension. Whether you like Krugman or not it’s often useful to link the critique to the original premise. Not doing so only seems to make sense within a group of right thinking folks.

    With that, I’ll go back to my lucrative trolling work (“earn big cash from home!”)

  • piddlesworth

    Alright, I definitely understand being busy and all that. If you really want to understand what progressives feel with regard to the call for unity after 9/11 being fraudulent, I highly recommend this piece by Glenn Greenwald (or at least the second-to-last paragraph if you’re extremely pressed for time):

    Basically, what has been called a call for unity by the conservatives felt, from our prespective, to be nothing more than a call for progressives and liberals to shut up and adopt conservative positions with regard to militarism, the erosion of liberties, etc. There never was a big swell of fear or disillusionment among us, but there definitely was a resentment for being called “unamerican” or even “with the terrorists” for simply not caving in to conservative policies and narratives, and though we don’t expect conservatives to ever take responsibility and apologize for that (after all they never took responsibility and apologized for slavery, allowing unsafe working conditions, shielding the tobacco industry, etc.), we do expect to be allowed to educate the rest of the public on the issue and have our claims and arguments themselves be addressed, not have solely ourselves be attacked anew, merely replacing “unamerican” and “with the terrorists” with “fearful” and “suffering a shattered worldview”.

  • TNC

    “Basically, what has been called a call for unity by the conservatives felt, from our prespective, to be nothing more than a call for progressives and liberals to shut up and adopt conservative positions with regard to militarism, the erosion of liberties, etc.”

    Don’t you see liberals, Obama in particular, doing something similar today? All these calls for unity and “working together” to pass policies that conservatives are against? Do you not see that?

  • Bob J.

    It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    …And I don’t mean Krugman. I mean these lengthy tortured screeds that attempt to appear High Philosophy but actually are a Low Sophism. The author may pretend to equal Krugman’s intellect, but she has quite some way to go to match his parsimony and elegance getting to the point. Without knowing the secret code, this meander was hard to read for meaning.

  • Patrick Fahey

    Some very passionate responses of some thoughtful opinion, across the limited domestic concept of “political spectrum”. Missing from all of this is the factual public record: the deepest insiders, from Richard Clarke (National Security adviser to 4 presidents prior to Cheney/Bush) to code name “Ironman” from the Defense Intelligence Group have stated that Cheney/Bush allowed 9/11 to happen, citing “the need for a triggering event” in their well-documented game plan Progress For The New American Century (PNAC) and the subsequent and well documented behavior of the Cheney/Bush to 1) disallow any follow-up on Al Qaeda from local FBI reports, 2) disallow any pursuit of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan for two months after 9/11, 3) the effort to quash any investigation into the lead-up to 9/11, and 4) to disallow Richard Clarke into the inner sanctum to contradict the Iraq distraction from pursuit of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and 5) to betray the identity of a CIA agent as retribution for contradicting deliberately misleading intel justifying the invasion of Iraq.

    History will reiterate what is now a matter of public record, that the Bush Administration deliberately allowed our country to become vulnerable to a terrorist attack that was NOT inevitable, for the sole purpose of pursuing the goals of PNAC, the center piece of which was the invasion of Iraq.

    Everything else is the subsequent reaction. Both liberals like Krugman and righties like Elizabeth Scalia prove their literary skills, but also their their complete irrelevance. Everyone across the political spectrum in this country, regardless of political conviction, must response to this objective fact: Bush, Cheney and his entire cabinet are traitors by U.S. Constitutional and Legal definition, and must, by Constitutional law, be executed for their treachery.