Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Why does NRO hate Coingate/BWC fact checking and Paul Krugman?

Not that we think Paul Krugman is losing sleep over it, but no one else has apparently picked up on today's bumbling attack on his Coingate/BWC column launched by the National Review's Donald Luskin and the NRO's battlin' Krugman Truth Squad.

What first really riles Luskin, apparently, is his belief that Krugman and the NYT didn't fact-check the column:
[A]pparently there’s no limit to the New York Times’s willingness to embarrass itself by printing yet another hilarious error-filled column by America’s most dangerous liberal pundit.
According to Luskin, Krugman's error is that he reported that $225 million had been invested in the MDL fund.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, BWC’s loss was actually $215 million — leave it to economist Krugman to get the number wrong and err on the side of partisan melodrama.
Sorry, Don. Sadly, no. Krugman is right. The initial investment was indeed $225 million, of which all but over $9 million was lost. He and the Dispatch were right, leaving you looking like a major douche bag.

Everything else in Luskin's piece is a departure from the discussion of facts to a harangue that accuses Krugman of downplaying the role of Democrats in the the various BWC scandals at the expense of Republicans.

Now, any sane, honest and thinking resident of Ohio (that leaves Luskin 0-for-3) clearly knows that the current mess Coingate-MDL-American Express-illegal campaign contributions schemes were seeded, nurtured and eventually covered up by Republican politicians, functionaries or power brokers. Yes, George Forbes may have been a willing player, and, yes, Bill Burga may have been asleep at the wheel. But they are only bit-actors in this "melodrama" as Luskin likes to call this felony.

But, even the Republicans know they were the ones that squatted down and left this stinking shitpile in an agency whose intended purpose is to protect and help injured Ohio workers. We would remind Luskin that it was the Ohio GOP's own chairman, Bob Bennett, who was embarassed into quickly organizing and demanding that his pols take ethics training shortly after the scandals started to surface.

But, there is an even bigger lie and distortion underlying Luskin's garbage. Despite Luskin's claims, Krugman - to his credit - resisted writing the column as a story of "When Republicans Go Wild!"

Now, it's worth noting that it's just a plain simple fact that there is one-party rule in Ohio. The Republicans have had a lock on the Ohio House, the Ohio Senate, the Governor's office, the Secretary of State's Office, the Attorney General, the Auditor and the Supreme Court. Those are just the facts.

So, it's amazing to us that anyone could exercise much restraint in attacking the GOP for creating a culture of corruption in the state. But Krugman was restrained. Instead of a one-sided attack on Republican rule, Krugman wrote his column as a lesson about what the dangers are when power goes to the head of any group in politics:
Now, politicians and businessmen are always in a position to do each other lucrative favors. Government is relatively clean when politicians are sufficiently afraid of scandal to resist temptation. But when a political machine controls all branches of government, and those officials charged with oversight are also reliably partisan, politicians feel safe from investigation. Their inhibitions dissolve, and they take full advantage of their position, until the scandals become too big to hide.

[. . .]

These efforts have already created an environment in which politicians from the right party and businessmen with the right connections believe, with good reason, that they have immunity.

And politicians who feel that they can exploit their position tend to do just that. It's a likely bet that the scandals we already know about, from Coingate to Tom DeLay's dealings with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, are just the tip of the iceberg.
Not much GOP bashing there. But, as seems to be the standard reaction on the radical right when they get desparate, Luskin sound the "shrillness" alarm over these very words from Krugman:
Even for Krugman, the sheer virulence of this condemnation of the GOP surely must be a first.
Like the Bard's observations, "The lady doth protest too much," Luskin's protests at this point are an obvious and defensive lie.

It is impossible to read his column without understanding that Krugman's warnings about dominating political power apply across the board. Old timers in Ohio remember that many of the shenanigans during the Celeste administration were nothing to be proud of, either. (We still remember the stories of ODOT employees in the late 1970who were barely making a living wage being shaken down several times a year to buy $50 or $100 tickets for an ODP fundraiser.)

Krugman still has the final - and best words:
The message from Ohio is that long-term dominance by a political machine leads to corruption, regardless of the policies that machine follows or the ideology it claims to represent.
Any disagreements with that, Donny boy?

If Luskin represent's the national conservative movement's best thinking about how to slow the crumbling of Republican power in Ohio - i.e., to blame it on the Democrats - then bring it on. They'll be laughed right out of the state.


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