Is Krugman Running on Brand Fumes? (TransPacific Partnership Edition)

It may seem a bit de trop to take on a Paul Krugman blog post yet again, but the reason for focusing on his post yesterday on the TransPacific Partnership is less for its substance and more as a political zeitgeist indicator.

The distressing part about the role Krugman has chosen to play is that he too often throws his good name behind dubious Team Dem initiatives and orthodox economic thinking. Lesser figures, as in mere working journalists and commentators who advance various interests among the political and policy elites (think Ezra Klein or Andrew Ross Sorkin) take care to have enough substantive, independent-looking work so as to lend credence to their defenses of an increasingly corrupt status quo.

Krugman, of course, as a Nobel prize winner, operates in a completely different league. His credibility rests on his economics chops. He can thus rely on his established brand more heavily than lesser figures. But even for someone like Krugman, there are limits on how far your authority will take you.

Krugman’s blog post on the TPP was of the “move on, nothing to see here” sort: “… I’ve been having a hard time figuring out why this deal is especially important….I don’t want to be too dismissive. But so far, I haven’t seen anything to justify the hype, positive or negative.”

Now one might charitably assume that Krugman hasn’t chosen (again) to carry water for the Administration, that he really hasn’t bothered checking what Joe Stiglitz, Dean Baker, the Electronic Freedom Foundation have said about the regulations-gutting and egregious intellectual property strengthening elements of this proposed deal, and that he also missed the two sets of Wikileaks releases. In other words, he really does see this as yet another “free trade” deal, and just dialed his response in.

But the intriguing bit is that irrespective of your view on the genesis of the Krugman piece, it landed like a lead balloon with his readers. As a Congressional staffer said by email: “His commenters are eating him alive.” And that’s not an exaggeration. Of 60 comments on the post as of this hour, not a single one supported Krugman’s position. Some examples:


Astonishing, that Prof. Krugman has evidently missed, or simply chooses to ignore, the actual objections to TPP.

Free trade agreements, which do little to promote “free trade”, but which secure investors’ “rights” across national boundaries, supplanting local law, have been denounced by democracy advocates for years .

Where was Prof. Krugman?

Joseph Brenner:

As others have noted, Krugman seems to be assuming that free trade agreements are about free trade, when they tend to be massively complex legal documents with fine print that no one voting on it is actually going to read.

And you know, what if a nation’s “comparative advantage” is in lax labor and environmental laws? Do you still favor “free trade”?

Gabriel Michael:

How can you address whether the TPP is a “big deal” without considering the investor-state dispute settlement – a provision which is currently allowing Philip Morris Asia to sue Australia for their pro-health, evidence-based tobacco packaging regulations? Or the fact that the TPP aims to lock in current intellectual property laws at the same time that Congress is considering copyright reform? Or the fact that no one in the public actually knows all the details, since there has never been any official text released?

Krugman is right about one thing – the “free trade” aspects of the agreement are minimal. But he totally misses that there are about two dozen other chapters in the agreement that are in fact important.

Spring Texan:

Krugman is really missing the ball here. The problem is not with “trade”. The problem is with the attempted undermining of environmental protections, extension of “intellectual property rights” which will increase pharmaceutical drug prices worldwide and even make patents possible on surgical techniques, etc. He seems peculiarly ill-informed. Gosh. Has he looked at what is in the wikileaks notes?

The problems are real and they are massive.

Educate yourself, Mr. Krugman.

Krugman’s readers are a loyal bunch (which makes sense: why would anyone regularly read someone not of their liking?). And they are mainly polite in their disagreement.

But consider what this says:

The Democrat/orthodox propaganda machine may be breaking down. The TransPacific Partnership negotiations have not gotten much coverage in the mainstream media, and to the extent it has, it’s tended to support the Administration party line, witness editorials in the New York Times and Bloomberg supporting its passage, as well as reassuring Washington Post blog overviews. Yet Krugman’s readership overwhelmingly had gotten word about the bad features of the pending pact and are correctly worried. They are also clear that they have a better handle on the stakes than Krugman evidenced in his remarks.

Now one robin does not make a spring, but this reaction suggests that more and more politically engaged media consumers are not merely foraging beyond mainstream outlets but are less and less inclined to regard respected media brands and important validators as reliable, that more people (whether consciously or not) are digesting information from more and more sources and coming to their own point of view.

Another stunning part of the unanimity among the comments on Krugman’s piece: where were the Obots or the free trade defenders? As readers noted on my post yesterday, free trade stalwarts had shown up in comments on an earlier TPP piece and had their ears boxed by the NC commentariat. Was the absence of the usual status quo defenders a sign of battle fatigue, or merely that this was a fight they weren’t bothering to engage?

But if the hypothesis above is correct, it follows that not just for Krugman, but even more so those whose role is running interference for America’s plutocrats and their political lackeys, the tide is starting to turn against them. They must up their game to maintain their former degree of impact. That means they will have to shift the hackery-to-information ratio further in the direction of information. That won’t be easy given how many dubious causes they have to tout these days.

But there is a third possible implication: Krugman and the policy elites may be so isolated that they don’t recognize the rubes are starting to figure out who is really on their side. We’ve remarked off and on about the various signs that the people at the top of the food chain and Beltway power players simply have no idea what is happening to most Americans. Their friends and colleagues are doing well, or at least not badly. Washington has the stink of prosperity and the tonier parts of New York look flush. And too many of them don’t circulate much beyond those two cities.

So I trust that (if the professor deigns to read my work at all), Krugman regards talk of this sort as a wake-up call. It would be nice to see him abandon his misguided fealty to Team Dem and join the reality-based community. Sadly, his personal loyalties appear to be more important.

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  1. ArkansasAngie

    The sheeple are just too dumb to understand that all this is for their benefit. Here’s hoping that their hubris is their downfall.

  2. SteveH

    ‘why would anyone regularly read someone not of their liking?’

    “Ever since I learnt about confirmation bias I’ve started seeing it everywhere”.

    1. SteveH

      “Now one robin does not make a spring, but this reaction suggests that more and more politically engaged media consumers are not merely foraging beyond mainstream outlets but are less and less inclined to regard respected media brands and important validators as reliable, that more people (whether consciously or not) are digesting information from more and more sources and coming to their own point of view.”

      Actually, in the last year I have restricted the number of sites I’m looking at consistently. John Stauber and Cory Morningstar both had a large impact on this decision. I then reviewed the predictive analysis of the rest of the sites; Michael Hudson, for example, did well here. While several presented interesting data (charts from the Fed were not available when I was a kid), the predictions fell flat, so I culled.

      Naked Capitalism is my first site of the morning. Thank you so much for you efforts.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      True, but also there’s the issue of similar values. Even if two people look at the same set of information, they can reach different conclusions based on what they regard as desirable outcomes.

      1. bob goodwin

        It is very important to debate and follow discussions you disagree with. Many of the people I respect the most in this world are also those I disagree with the most. It’s kind of fun holding conflicting thoughts.

        There is fearlessness and truth all over the political spectrum. NC also is smart.

    3. Fred Farkel

      Please use correct spelling, “learnt” is not a word, the correct word is “learned”. A dictionary isn’t that expensive. Thanks,,

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Learnt is spelt correctly here outside the parochial domain of American English. Is anything more cringe worthy than pedantry fail?

        1. diptherio

          I had no idea how many differences there actually were until I took an Odesk test on British English by accident. Spelling differences, punctuation differences…I haven’t learnt them all yet, but I’m labouring to do so.

      2. JerseyJeffersonian

        Well, Fred, actually it is a word, according the Oxford English Dictionary, self-characterized as “The definitive record of the English language”. But what would they know, eh? Vide:

        learn, v.
        View as:

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        Pronunciation: /lɜːn/
        Forms: Pa. tense and pple. learned /lɜːnd/ , learnt /lɜːnt/ . Forms: OE leornian, Northumb. liorniga, ME leornen, lornen, ME leornie-n, ME leornin, leorny, liernin, lerni(e, ME lernen, ME leorne, lerny, l(e)urne, Kent. lierne, lyerne, lyerni, lyerny, ME leerne, ME–15 lern(e, ME, 15, 18 dial. larn, 15 Sc. leyrne, leirne, 15–16 learne, 15– learn. pa. tenseOE leornode, leornade, ME Orm. lerrnde, ME leornede, ME lernid, leernde, lernd, ME–15 lerned, ME leerned, lurned, lurnet, ME–15 lernyd, 15 Sc. lernit, leirned, lernit, 16– learned, learnt. pa. pple.ME ileornet, ME ilerned, ME, 15 ylerned; from 14th c. onwards as in pa. tense(Show Less)
        Etymology: Old English leornian , Northumbrian liorniga = Old Frisian lirna , lerna , Old Saxon lînôn (not found in Dutch), Old High German lirnên , lernên , (Middle High German, modern German lernen ) < West Germanic *liznêjan , *liznôjan , < *lis- , weak-grade of *lais- , root of Germanic *lairâ lore n.1(Show Less)
        I. To acquire knowledge.
        Thesaurus »
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        a. trans. To acquire knowledge of (a subject) or skill in (an art, etc.) as a result of study, experience, or teaching. Const. from, of (arch.), †at (a person). Also, to commit to memory (passages of prose or verse), esp. in phrases to learn by heart, by rote , for which see the ns.
        c900 tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (1890) iii. xvii. [xxiii.] 232 From þæm he þæt gemet geleornade regollices þeodscipes.
        c975 Rushw. Gosp. Mark xiii. 28 From fic-beom ðonne liornige bispell.
        c1050 Byrhtferth's Handboc in Anglia (1885) VIII. 308/26 Þam þe lyste þisne cræft leornian.
        c1175 Lamb. Hom. 55 Gif we leornið godes lare!
        c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 17 Ate biginninge of cristendom elch man leornede pater noster and credo.
        ?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 9309 To leornenn lare att sannt iohan Off þeȝȝre sawle nede.
        a1225 Leg. Kath. 940 Þes is al þe lare þat ich nu leorni.
        ▸a1387 J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1874) V. 167 Þis Julianus in his childehode lerned nygromancie and wicchecraft.
        ▸c1449 R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 58 Al that Cristen men and wommen ouȝten leerne, thei mowe leerne out of the Bible.
        1576 A. Fleming tr. Nucillus in Panoplie Epist. 238, I woulde have you to understand and learne this lesson.
        1667 Milton Paradise Lost xi. 360 To learn True patience, and to temper joy with fear.
        1715 D. Defoe Family Instructor i. i. 21 What shall I learn there of God?
        1845 M. Patterson Ess. (1889) I. 16 The Frank..learned with implicit belief his faith from the mouth of the Roman priest.
        1874 J. R. Green Short Hist. Eng. People iv. §1 162 It was from Earl Simon..that Edward had learned the skill in warfare which distinguished him among the princes of his time.

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        b. with clause as obj.
        c1000 Ælfric Deut. xiv. 23 Leorna þæt þu ondræde Drihten on ælc tid.
        c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 73 Alle þo þe ne wilen listen lorspel and þeron lernen wiche ben sinnen.
        ?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 4970 Lerneþþ att me þatt icc amm wiss. Rihht milde & mec wiþþ herrte.
        1340 Ayenbite (1866) 233 O, þu þet art cristen, lyerne hou þou sselt louie god.
        a1400 Cato's Distichs (Fairf.) l. 62 in R. Morris Cursor Mundi (1878) III. App. iv. 1670 Lerne..quat werk þou folow salle.
        1667 Milton Paradise Lost xii. 561 Henceforth I learne, that to obey is best.
        1884 F. Temple Relations Relig. & Sci. (1885) vii. 220 Scientific men will learn that there are other kinds of knowledge besides scientific knowledge.

        (Hide quotations)

        c. With inf.; also with how and inf.
        c900 tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (1890) iii. xx. [xxviii.] 246 Þa ða he in wreotum leornade to donne.
        c1175 Lamb. Hom. 117 Discite bene facere þet is..leorniað god to wurchenne.
        1297 R. Gloucester's Chron. (Rolls) 675 Betere him adde ibe Abbe bileued þed doune þan ilerned vor to fle.
        1297 R. Gloucester's Chron. (Rolls) 10693 So hii miȝte lerni traitour to be.
        a1400 (▸a1325) Cursor Mundi (Trin. Cambr.) l. 7496 Þou lernedest neuer to fiȝt.
        c1500 Merchant & Son in J. O. Halliwell Nugæ Poeticæ (1844) 23 Y wolde lerne of marchandyse to passe ovyr the see!
        1549 H. Latimer 2nd Serm. before Kynges Maiestie 2nd Serm. sig. Dviv, So your grace must learne howe to do of Salomon.
        1602 2nd Pt. Returne fr. Parnassus v. i. 1999, I was a gamesome boy and learned to sing.
        1729 Bp. J. Butler Serm. in Wks. (1873) II. 47 There are times for silence: when they should learn to hear, and be attentive.
        1838 H. W. Longfellow Psalm of Life ix, Learn to labour and to wait.
        1875 B. Jowett tr. Plato Dialogues (ed. 2) IV. 32 We learn morals, as we learn to talk, instinctively.

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        d. Phr. I am (yet) to learn : I am ignorant or unaware. Now usually I have (yet) to learn .
        1687 G. Miège Great Fr. Dict. ii. s.v., The truth of it we are as yet to learn, nous n'en savons pas encore la Verité.
        1726 G. Leoni tr. L. B. Alberti Archit. I. 82, I am not to learn [It. Ne mi è nascoso] that some..are of opinion that very high Walls are dangerous.
        1789 C. Smith Ethelinde I. 91 Whence he came..Sir Edward was yet to learn.

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        Thesaurus »
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        a. intr. To acquire knowledge of a subject or matter; to receive instruction. Const. as in sense 1.
        971 Blickl. Hom. 13 Leorniað æt me, forðon þe ic eom mildheort.
        c1000 Ælfric Past. Ep. §46 in B. Thorpe Anc. Laws Eng. (1840) II. 384 Lange sceal leornian se ðe læran sceal.
        a1400 (▸a1325) Cursor Mundi (Trin. Cambr.) l. 6819 Lerne not of him þat is lyere.
        a1475 Liber Cocorum (Sloane) (1862) 36 Þus have I lurnet at gentil men.
        1575 Brief Disc. Troubl. Franckford 10 God grant, we maye lerne at their ensamples.
        1608 Shakespeare King Lear vii. 122, I am too old to learne.
        1781 W. Cowper Charity 120 'Tis thus reciprocating, each with each, Alternately the nations learn and teach.
        1863 C. Kingsley Lett. (1878) II. 161 The great use of a public school education to you, is, not so much to teach you things as to teach you how to learn.
        1884 F. M. Crawford Rom. Singer I. 7 He was always willing to learn and to read.

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        †b. Const. on (the matter studied). Obs.
        a1400 (▸a1325) Cursor Mundi (Trin. Cambr.) l. 15614 Folweþ him ȝoure fadir is: to lerne on his lare.
        a1400 Pistill of Susan 135 Wolt þou, ladi, for loue, on vre lay lerne?
        1669 J. Denham Cato Major i. 17, I have heard that Socrates the wise Learn'd on the Lute for his last exercise.

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        Thesaurus »

        a. trans. To acquire knowledge of (a fact); to become acquainted with or informed of (something); to hear of, ascertain. Also with obj. clause.
        ?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 7250 He lerrnde wel þurrh hemm. Whatt daȝȝ & whaere o lande. Þatt ȝunge wennchell borenn wass.
        1559 W. Cuningham Cosmogr. Glasse 151 When you will lerne the time that it shall be full sea.
        1576 A. Fleming tr. Hippocrates in Panoplie Epist. 278 You, whom I had learned by common voice to be a philosopher of great fame.
        1600 Shakespeare Much Ado about Nothing ii. ii. 51, I will presently go learne their day of marriage.
        1638 R. Baker tr. J. L. G. de Balzac New Epist. II. 27 This good newes I have learned by a Letter of yours.
        1798 T. Jefferson Writings (1859) IV. 243, I..have not yet learnt his sentiments on it.
        1836 W. Irving Astoria I. 105 Lest the captain should learn the fate of the schooner.
        1855 T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. IV. xxii. 717 All that he knew about their treachery he had learned at second hand.
        1864 R. Browning Mr. Sludge in Dramatis Personæ 221 He's dead I learn.

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        b. to learn out : to find out, discover. Now dial.
        1629 J. Maxwell tr. Herodian Hist. (1635) 171 Then, secretly torturing them, he [Albinus] learnt out all their treachery.
        1677 A. Yarranton England's Improvem. I. 109, I will tell you how the Trick is: And if I had not been an old Clothier and a Fulling-Boy when I was young I could not have learnt it out.
        1899 W. Raymond Two Men o' Mendip xv. 250 But if he should find out? If any should learn it out an 'tell?

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        c. intr. To be informed, to ascertain, hear (of).
        1756 C. Lucas Ess. Waters iii. 243 It has never, that I can learn, been fully observed.
        1827 J. Barrington Personal Sketches Own Times I. 29 How many rogues 'ill there be at Reuben, as you larn, to-night?
        1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona ii. 18 He'll have to learn of it on the deaf side of his head no later than to-morrow when I call on him.

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        II. To impart knowledge. Now vulgar.
        4. trans. To teach. In various constructions:
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        a. To teach (a person).
        ▸a1382 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Prov. ix. 7 Who lerneth [a1425 L.V. techith] a scornere, doth wrong he to hymself.
        a1400 (1325) Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 19028 In crist lai þat folk to lern.
        c1440 York Myst. x. 20 Þus lernyd he me.
        a1450 Knt. de la Tour (1868) 2 A man aught to lerne his doughters with good ensaumples.
        1535 Bible (Coverdale) Psalms xxiv. 5 Lede me in thy trueth and lerne me.
        c1550 Complaynt Scotl. (1979) Prol. 11 Quhen ane ydiot..presumis to teche or to leyrne ane man that hes baytht speculatione ande experiens.
        1650 T. Fuller Pisgah-sight of Palestine ii. xii. 249 No doubt the chickens crowed as the cocks had learned them.
        1764 S. Foote Mayor of Garret i. 32 [An uneducated speaker] If they would but once submit to be learned by me.
        1974 Times 16 Dec. 12/8 We asked whether he had learned the instrument at school… ‘No. He learned it himself and now he's learning me.’

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        b. To teach (a person) to do or how to do something. (Also in pass.)
        a1400 (▸a1325) Cursor Mundi (Trin. Cambr.) l. 8421 Set him faste to gode teching Til he be lerned him self to lede.
        1480 Caxton Descr. Brit. 34 Gentilmens children ben lerned and taught from their yongth to speke frenssh.
        a1500 (▸?a1400) Sir Torrent of Portyngale (1887) l. 1794 To lerne you ffor to ride.
        a1540 R. Barnes Wks. (1573) 352/1 Doth hee not learne all men to come to Christ.
        1590 Spenser Faerie Queene i. vi. sig. F2v, He would learne The Lyon stoup to him.
        1666 J. Bunyan Grace Abounding ⁋27 That my Father might learn me to speak without this wicked way of swearing.
        1706 G. Farquhar Recruiting Officer iii. i. 32 The Captain learnt me how to take it with an Air.
        1792 M. Wollstonecraft Vindic. Rights Woman v. 181 We should learn them, above all things, to lay a due restraint on themselves.
        1801 J. Strutt Glig-gamena Angel-ðeod iii. i. 115 The frequent practice of this exercise must have learned become excellent horsemen.
        1801 S. T. Coleridge Lett. I. 365 They learn us to associate a keen and deep feeling with all the good old phrases.
        1844 B. Disraeli Coningsby III. viii. iii. 211 Learn to know the house; learn the house to know you.
        1885 G. Allen Babylon I. i. 27 ‘Will you learn me to draw a church?’

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        c. To teach (a person a thing). Also with clause.
        ?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 19613 To lokenn watt itt lerneþ uss. Off [ure] sawle nede.
        1377 Langland Piers Plowman B. x. 171 Logyke I lerned hir and many other lawes, And alle the musouns in musike I made hir to knowe.
        c1420 Lydgate Assembly of Gods 957, I shall lerne hem a new daunce.
        c1460 J. Fortescue Governance of Eng. (1885) xi. 135 Wherby we bith lerned þat it goode to owre prince..that he be well indowed.
        1559 W. Cuningham Cosmogr. Glasse 33, I pray you learne me th' use of this table.
        1606 J. Carpenter Schelomonocham xiv. f. 58, So learneth he all what honor..they should hold those persons.
        a1616 Shakespeare Tempest (1623) i. ii. 367 The red-plague rid you For learning me your language.
        1719 D. Defoe Life Robinson Crusoe 253 Having learn'd him English.
        1741 S. Richardson Pamela III. xxxvii. 353 Her Ladyship asked one of the Children..Who learnt her her Catechism?
        1831 J. J. Strang Diary 31 Dec. in M. M. Quaife Kingdom of St. James (1930) 198, I have succeeded in regulating them and learning them what to do without punishing a single schollar.
        1876 W. Morris Story of Sigurd ii. 86 Thou..hast learned me all my skill.
        1889 ‘R. Boldrewood’ Robbery under Arms xliv, We made up our minds to learn him a lesson.
        1914 Sat. Evening Post 4 Apr. 10/3, I learned him that, yuh see.
        1935 P. G. Wodehouse Luck of Bodkins xv. 181 The English public school system..isn't at all what an educational system should be… If you ask me, they don't learn the little perishers nothing.
        1966 F. Shaw et al. Lern Yerself Scouse (title) Lern yerself Scouse.

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        d. To teach (a thing) to a person. rare.
        1377 Langland Piers Plowman B. x. 374 Many tales ȝe tellen that Theologye lerneth.
        1477 Earl Rivers tr. Dictes or Sayengis Philosophhres (Caxton) (1877) lf. 15v, He..commaunded it shulde not be lerned to eny Straungers.
        1694 J. Collier Misc. v. 64 'Tis the Rod, not the Inclination, which learns the Lesson.
        1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona ii. 21 My father learned it to me.

        Yes, it sure looks as if they don't know shit from Shinola. Perhaps you found the particular usage of the word questionable, but as for the existence of the word, "learnt", you are yourself incorrect.

        Better stick to your Fantastic Family, Fred, 'cause your trolling on fine points of grammar, spelling, and usage are not your strong suit.


    4. HotFlash

      “Ever since I learnt about confirmation bias I’ve started seeing it everywhere”.

      That one is going on a sampler. Oh, to the dictionary guy: Please understand that the dictionary exists to record the linguistic usages of cultivated persons, such as ourselves.

  3. david s

    My sister works for a super hot Fortune 500 internet-based company, and works in NYC for two days a week, CT for the other three days a week.

    She is surrounded by other successful web designers, executives, and Ivy League kids who intern for her company because it looks good on the resume. All very devoted Democrats. My sister goes probably weeks without even seeing a Republican, or someone who questions what the NYT or other Dem establishment outlets tell them.

    For them, the recession barely even happened, and they are all back to the races economically. Everything for them is 100% recovered, and then some.

    I mentioned to her over the Thanksgiving break that wages have fallen since the crisis, and that the labor market is still quite weak, and I got blank stares. I mentioned the 10 million people who still can’t find work. Blank stares.

    I’m sure she thinks it’s all been fixed. For her and her circle, it never really broke. And, we got rid of the evil monkey Bush and replaced him with the smartest and coolest President ever, surely he has fixed everything.

    The NY/DC corridor just doesn’t understand.

    1. Fiver

      David S.,

      And what did she say when you told her about NSA spying courtesy of big Internet firms, or Obama’s Tuesday Drone Lottery picks?

    2. dr2chase

      I think you’re working from stereotypes and caricatures. I work for a Fortune (Global) 500 company near Boston. *I* am doing fine, my team is hiring, but I am well aware that everything is not fixed, and most of my mostly liberal colleagues are also aware of this. I can’t speak for my colleagues, but I regard Obama as (1) a distinct improvement over Bush, (2) second in the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners with blood on their hands (after Kissinger, of course), (3) a pretty good approximation of a Rockefeller Republican.

  4. skippy

    Here’s a reply to a comment I made over at MacroBusiness, after a full broadside of TTP nasty’s I unloaded on top of the old FTA – [For] the U.S., the FTA improved the overall trade deficit situation, creating a trade surplus with Australia which rose 31.7% in the first quarter of 2005, compared to the same timeframe in 2004. U.S. exports to Australia increased 11.7% in the first quarter of 2005 to nearly $3.7 billion for the quarter. Agriculture exports to Australia increased 20%.[citation needed]

    According to Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures the imbalance in trade between the U.S. and Australia increased substantially during 2007. The United States became Australia’s largest import source, with goods and services imported to a value of over A$31 billion. Australia’s exports to the U.S., however, amounted to only $15.8 billion AU.[16] It remains unclear what, if any, real benefits the agreement has produced.- snip

    Retort – alterbrain
    December 13, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I hesitate to write in the same forum as the erudite and amusing Skippy, but back to IP for a moment. Australian SME’s have flourished in a protected little enclave far away from the worst of the IP trolling that has proved so devastating to the US business sector. Many businesses here will also take founder or owner family equity with them when they become subject to a less constrained legal framework. Those jobs when lost are lost for ever.

    Similarly with Entertainment. Many are thinking of just preventing downloads and paying iTunes an extra dollar. Firstly, iTunes (just as an example) will be able to charge Australians 50% extra – or whatever they choose, and it will be illegal to get around that. Again, however, there is a whole ‘industry’ charging people with internet connections and accusing them of downloading files, irrespective of proof or how much data was transferred. The most effective operators suggest including a claim of child pr0n so it is too embarrassing to take to Court. Australia’s legal regime has prevented this form of extortion – first claims to a US family are usually around $1600-2,000 a hit. Devastating to normal folks, but cheaper than fighting – no matter how innocent. It’s an immensely profitable model. Estimates on how much more Australians will pay for all forms of entertainment under TPP seem to omit this ‘industry’.

    IP Trolls and entertainment downloading claims. Perhaps that was one of the reasons our health outcomes were better – less stress? TPP can fix that.

    Skippy – so the best argument proffered was entertainment IP trolls shaking down “normal folks” and TTP equals less stress – better health…….. Bawhahahahahaha…… OMG shaking down “normal folks”…. absurdity abounds endlessly… worthy of a python skit[!!!].

  5. from Mexico

    Yves said:

    “Now one robin does not make a spring, but this reaction suggests that more and more politically engaged media consumers are not merely foraging beyond mainstream outlets but are less and less inclined to regard respected media brands and important validators as reliable, that more people (whether consciously or not) are digesting information from more and more sources and coming to their own point of view.

    I have always questioned the omnipotence of the “manufacturers of consent.” At some point the gulf between the lies and the reality grows too broad, and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

    A great place to observe the limitations of the paid professional liars in the employ of the lords of transnational capital is in Latin America. In places like Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina, for instance, the media was 100% controlled by the most voracious and unscrupulous comprador bourgeoisie one can imagine. The press in these places makes the press in the United States look like a saint.

    And yet, despite it all, populist governments managed to get elected.

    Even Mexico, despite the untold murder and mayhem unleashed on the Mexican people by the U.S. deep state under the guise of the “War on Drugs,” is showing some signs of democratic life.

    1. ScottS

      I’ve heard that to maintain credibility, one must not lie more than 10% of the time. It’s a kind of liar’s Pareto Principle. Interestingly, Yves mentioned something similar in the original post.

      Once credibility is lost, it seems nearly impossible to recover. It will probably be Obama’s legacy — PR and lies. Governor Bush was quite evil, but at least there was evil actions to back up the evil words. Obama confuses PR with action and the credibility gap widens.

    2. Fiver


      “Manufactured consent” has worked for a century in the US. Even something so grotesque as the Vietnam War was deemed “a tragic war ‘we’ both lost” rather than “a profoundly racist, near-genocidal level of violence inflicted on a country and people only a tiny fraction of the size and power of the US”.

      Even today, note the language used to discuss this used by Wikipedia, the so-called “people’s” source for info :

      While I am hopeful for Latin America, I’m not at all sure you can compare the strength and depth of media influence there to the experience in the US. And do not forget that Latin America, after being beaten down for 20 years by the Third World Debt/IMF “Recovery” episode has been (knock on wood) left largely alone as the US turned to its wars on behalf of Israel and oil.

      Twenty years ago, if you wanted to know what had happened, not what was happening, books were the only recourse. For now, we have the Internet – and we already know it’s future as an independent source of news and information is in grave danger.

      Do not mistake the circus character of “politics” in Washington as presented by both mainstream and independent media for the real forces operating behind the scenes. We could for all intents and purposes have our mouths (or fingers) duck-taped within the next 5 years as be even this free.

      Always remember – we’re dealing with the sort of people who’ve exhibited no qualms murdering millions of Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis, Sudanese, Somalis, Libyans, Syrians and on, and on, and on. They didn’t build this monstrous, spy and drone-enabled National Security prison and death machine only to run away in the face of a few well-chosen barbs.

  6. Ramon Creager

    On a more fundamental level it doesn’t matter just how bad (or good) TPP is. The single fact that it has been negotiated in zealously guarded secrecy, in an ostensibly democratic society by a supposedly representative government, is sufficient reason to oppose this plan. To my representatives in Congress, I have a simple proposal. Whenever no one gives you a chance to read, debate & amend legislation before demanding an up-or-down vote, vote down. It should be automatic.

  7. Hugh

    Krugman is a neoliberal Democratic apologist. Normally he intersperses his pro-Establishment propaganda with a few progressive comments or reality-based observations to keep up his progressive cred. But it is hard to keep up the pretense after his recent defenses of Obamacare, bubbles, Larry Summers, and now the TPP. Perhaps this is nothing more than the old free trader Krugman reasserting himself.

    Meanwhile, 20% of the country is doing fine., 1% of it is doing super, and 80% is mired in an undeclared depression. The invitation to these 80% to not believe their lying eyes has worn thin. The propaganda lines of our pundit class have been superseded by reality. This has turned a lot of relations on their head. The opinion leaders are behind the curve and their audiences’ perceptions. The experts have shown repeatedly that they know less than the non-experts. About all they have left is to point to their credentials. They are authorities because their resumes say they are authorities.

    Krugman has had years to get up to speed on any number of subjects. He has chosen not to. We should just accept this and move on. Krugman is a member of the elites, the elites that have so completely failed us. His primary allegiance is to them. His opinions and critical work are never going to challenge them. He will always be about a few ineffectual and unlikely to be acted upon tweaks, and that’s it. And that’s Krugman.

    1. jrs

      That we have to tell our so called “intellectual leaders” to actually read the Wikileaks docs just speaks enough about their intellectual (probably moral actually but that’s harder to prove) bankruptcy. That the average person may not have time to keep up with everything is unfortunate, but they at least they have the excuse of having to earn a living that does not consist of getting paid for policy analysis.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Hugh says a lot of things well, Fiver. Succinct, his words well chosen, and the thoughts behind them insightful.

  8. Thorstein

    Krugman serves up such method and madness mixed, I can only assume he is being subtly told to back TPP or lose his perch. Krugman understands subtlety and likes the perks of his perch too much to become just another Stiglitz.

    1. Alejandro

      “just another Stiglitz.”??? WTF???
      What’s the going rate for a conscience these days? How is the “market value” of the soul assessed?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think its about his audience. Lets be honest, would you read Krugman if not for Yves? I use to read Krugman, but he doubled down on Obama repeatedly ignoring reality. Who is Krugman’s audience? Obots basically, and they want fluff stories about and defenses of Obama, the Magnificent.

      As far as the audience which first promoted Krugman into the “voice of liberalism,” they were tribalists interested in Team Red/Team Blue fights or have since moved on. If Krugman has a “come to Jesus” moment and starts to admit to his complicity over the last five years because he wasn’t this awful in 2007 and 2008, will he find an audience? The answer is no because forgiveness requires contrition, and his current audience wants nothing to do with the perception that Obama is bad.

      The NYT is so connected to Obama and the Democrats that they need to create the perception is doing a good job and need Obama’s approval to be high so people listen to him after he is out of office. Bill Clinton left office with a high approval rating, and he couldn’t get his VP or his wife into the White House. Will the Obots disperse if Obama is perceived as crummy by the population at large or will they stay instead of moving onto the next objection of their devotion? I think the Obots are so shallow they will easily replace Obama with the next shiny object whether its sports, entertainment, book, movie, or whatever.

      Even the NYT has to recognize an element of educated liberals considers the paper to be a pro-war, pro corporate rag. I can buy a book of puzzles. I don’t need the Weekender to get the crossword. If you have canceled the NYT, will you ever go back even if they found Jesus? The answer is no. They don’t provide my local news (Warren Buffet does).. They don’t provide comics or a great sports section (its actually decent). I can read a great foreign paper. The CSM does world class international news. What do I need the NYT for except as a tribal marker? Can they get me back? The answer is not without a purge, and a purge might offend the tribalists who represent the bulk of their audience.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        After the NYT’s serial betrayals of their duties as honest journalists – think the Judith Miller propaganda, and the decision to withhold publication of the surveillance story ’til after the 2004 election – I won’t let it cross my doorstep. There’s your “trust once lost” in a nutshell.

        At this time of year, they’re on about “remembering the neediest”. Too bad they can’t themselves be fucking bothered to do so in any meaningful way the rest of the year.

  9. nick j

    Krugman isn’t making any comment on the politics, he’s saying (rtfa if necessary) that in macroeconomic terms the TPP isn’t a big deal, out of context quotes notwithstanding.

    I agree that the politics of the TPP absolutely stink.

    The whole left wing Krugman bashing thing is merely the narcissism of small differences.

    1. Ben Johannson

      The hell are you talking about? Opposition to the TPP isn’t about the politics, it’s about the horrible legal provisions contained in it. Nice try derailing the thread with irrelevance, but this ain’t Balloon Juice. Either Krugman is poorly informed (which indicates intellectual laziness given his background in trade) or he’s providing cover for Administration chicanery.

      Jesus Christ, man.

      1. susan the other

        For Krugman the TPP is the best path to maintain a US economy. One based on bubbles. As he and larry Summers advocate. I’m hearing more amazing shit than I ever thought existed and this latest Krugman is out in front. It works this way: The TPP opens the flood gates for unregulated capital inflows which will create Larry Bubbles like a hot tub. And bubbles created by uncontrolled capital inflows (aka “investments”) eventually create banking crises when banks can’t shuffle any more of that hot money into a moribund economy and when this happens not even a super central bankster can resusitate it – (Greenspan himself admitted this on Kudlow). And the very rich get obscenely richer and the rest of us die. We all have personal experience with a collapsed bankster bubble; we all knows who loses. It’s not Kruman or Summers.

          1. fresno dan

            I liked the “knows who loses” better. And exactly right.
            Krugman can’t figure out inequality is bad.

    2. Fiver

      Nick J,

      You clearly have no idea whatever what a “left wing” view is if you believe that there’s only a small difference with the Empire-based economic thinking Krugman spews. And equally clearly, as Ben J. so well puts it, for someone with Krugman’s background to either be ignorant, or pretend to be ignorant is inexcusable.

      I’d also suggest you’ve missed the macro significance as well – the US is desperate to maintain the dollar-payment system and this deal (along with the pending EU deal) would bind several of the US’s major trading partners within that system just as real opposition to a US-dominated trade and currency regime is forming amongst the BRICS and others. While this deal is bad for the US, it is a calamity for the other nations whose elites sign on in virtual secrecy (eg., the neocon/corporate Canadian Government refuses to discuss – period). This is the foundation of a supranational, US-based global Corporate State. – hemlock to any “leftie” I’ve ever come across.

  10. dcb

    I call krugman fans, kruggers. They are as rabid and unobjective as people rooting for sports. Perhaps folks are starting to wake up to the nonsense they see from him. After all 5 years of QE, 35 years of dropping wages and the weatlhy getting more wealthy thanks to the federal reserve has to sink in some time. calling for more inflation with 47 million on food stamps, the elderly falling into poverty as they get no interest income, wall stteet at record, people raiding their 401k’s fr spending money.
    76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck – Jun. 24,‎CachedJun 24, 2013 – So why aren’t Americans saving more? … After paying debts and taking care of housing, car and child care-related expenses, the …. 316 6. Reply. Share ›. tumbleweed3078 pwdrhead1711. • 6 months ago …. to transfer files, check and respond to emails on the go, check orders, and basically everything …
    22% have less than $100 in savings. Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all.

    and the dude thinks inflation solves the problems, because people need to spend more to drive demand. they got nothing to spend. the man is driving them into poverty. they don’t even realize it

    1. fresno dan

      Perfectly correct.
      As Orwell said, there are some things only an intellectual could believe, for no common man could be so stupid.
      As you note, wage workers have been slaughtered by …well, inflation? Or DEFLATION in wages? What does it matter what you call it? But I remember when I was stupid enough to believe in free trade – and Krugman was right there with the winners and losers, but there “could” be compensating methods to protect those losing their jobs.
      UH, when was the last time you heard about that???? And the last time you heard about that from the great SUPPOSED liberal Krugtron???? yeah, never…


    2. Binky Bear

      First I have to say that Free Republic is a crackhouse for wingnuts to go get their fix of teh hatredz on and two freek cites are enough to make me reach for the thorazine blowgun in anticipation of a 72 hour publicly funded timeout.
      Second, anyone who thinks Paul Krugman is anything but Paul Krugman, Swedish contest winner, columnist and professor of pretty old school and conservative economics, is self-deluded.
      PK is not Economics Jesus, he is not omnipresent and omniscient and he will not save you.
      He will, however, pursue his research and make some observations that get published in columns in a newspaper that has always been an official organ of the ruling elites, in the hopes that the economics that Reagan administration official thought was useful is now might be perceived as Leninism by the elites and the rubes.

      Just like Obama, just like anyone else in the limited universe of people who might be for some things I/we/good people like does not mean they will always agree, or will even care about the same things we think are urgent. Real life is not Tiger Beat nor is it the mirror of conservative fantasy. PK doesn’t have to die for our sins.

  11. Z

    The fact that krugman is a compromised, intellectually dishonest hack has been obvious for many years now.


  12. TarheelDem

    The word is gettin out through social media. The opposition runs from the United Steelworkers to Eagle Forum and those organizations have been getting tthe word out. The echoes of Ross Perot’s criticism of NAFTA are becoming a grassroots cultural meme. Progressive Democrats, even some who are O-bots on on other issues, are uniformly opposed to this agreement. And the negotiations started in January 2008, which give the White House the freedom at some point to let the effort drop saying they made a good faith effort to push through the deal but it did not come together. And domestic political changes in countries involved in the negotiations have complicated the negotiations.

    There is a substantial effort to activate lots of personal networks to waste a couple minutes calling Senators and Members of the House opposing the TPP and opposing the granting of fast-track “trade promotion authority”. The more personal networks involved through social media in this bit of theater the better. It is not clear how many voices it takes to outshout money but there still seems to be a tradeoff there in the minds of politicians.

    When what little is known about this agreement is presented to my diverse personal network, I am surprised at the near unanymity of opposition to this dangerous and ill-conceived agreement. Tea Party, small-town Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats, progressive Democrats, Greens, socialists, anarchists all are opposed to it when they know some of the provisions that have leaked out. No wonder it is being done in secret.

  13. John

    Indeed, Krugman is a bit sneaky. He comes off as a man speaking with great wisdom, which he certainly has, but when it comes to standing up to awful Dem initiatives, he provides them a high degree of blessing.

    On one hand (brilliant side), he penned an excellent piece on the bill that just passed in the House, highlighting the fact the bill does nothing more than pick the pockets of federal government pensioners and leaves growth to be put off for a future date. On the other, (sneaky side) Krugman came to Team Obama’s rescue by backing ACA, while failing to acknowledge there was significant effort to implement Single Payer which was strongly opposed by Obama&Co. It appeared Krugman had a bit of amnesia. It turns out the amnesia was nothing but a front. Now it is becoming clearer there is a definite pattern by Krugman to back Dem initiatives no matter their destructive outcomes — even when there are volumes of studies that contradict his worldview, like TPP. Sneaky.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      He’s not sneaky. Krugman is merely trying to assuage the worries of Obots who have heard bits and pieces of TPP and are questioning their faith in Dear Leader, and if the Obots can question Dear Leader, they will shortly question the more prominent apologists such as Krugman. Krugman’s credibility extends to the Obots and thats about it. The right hates him. The word “liberal” creates a certain unease among “independent swing voters” or the dumbest people in America.

      He knows Obots will revert to the “Bearded One says and he is a nerd!” to justify their doubts.

  14. DanB

    Yves third possibility in this post is about identity trumping intellectual analysis. This is directly related to a recent post on Steve Keens site, titled, “Don’t Do the Math” However, and this is significant, the fact that Krugman readers don’t follow along the identity path and actually use their heads in assessing TPP is a signal, perhaps, of shifting identity among heretofore loyal democratic voters. And why at long last not? Time to further rev up the Great American Elizabeth Warren Dream Machine Machine to keep them in the fold. Obama’s brand is moldy.

  15. craazyboy

    The Eternal Optimist in me says, “If it’s a secret, it just HAS to be good!”
    Just kidding Dr. PK.

  16. Robert Sadin

    Yves, that was a great column. Simply great.
    A few observations:
    1. It is remarkable that K thought something so casual and uninformed could
    get by his readers.
    2. It was amazing to see the unanimity of response. When do you see comments run 70 to 0?
    And all of the comments substantive and accurate!
    3. That being said….Look how timid Dean Baker is in calling K to task on this:

    If Friedman or one of the Washington Post guys had written the same blog, he would have been blistering.

    1. fresno dan

      I agree. Its like Baker always has to acknowledge in groveling, subservient, mincing manner how brilliant Krugman is before the most milquetoast critique.

    2. Cujo359

      [Shrug of furry shoulders] Baker made a telling point, even if mildly. He said that Krugman was focussed on irrelevance when he wrote that the TPP was not a big deal. He also warned us that Krugman was his friend and colleague, so don’t expect an ass kicking. I’m OK with that. Columnists have lives to lead, and as long as they’re honest about what they write, I can live with that.

      1. Robert Sadin

        Dan….yes it is embarrassing. Especially the end of Baker’s post where he feels constrained to repeat that K was “on the money” about the trade part, but….(add mild critque)

        Cujo 359…. If they are friends, they should be used to vigorous and emphatic discussion, dispute, disagreements. No need for personal insults, but these are life and death questions (unaffordable drugs in 3rd world countries, no anti-smoking regulations). K is an academic to the core, and he dishes it out on a regular basis. He should be able to take unvarnished commentary.

        I hate to say it, but to me it was more, “Krugman is more prestigious and powerful, so I am going to tiptoe around and write a timid correction.”

        Interesting that K is the same way with Obama. He never goes right at him. On the rare times he is forced by the logic of his positions to criticize O, he generally writes that he is “Poorly advised.”

        Based on K’s track record, I would say that his curry favor with Obama is the cause of his willful
        ignoring all the material about TPP.

  17. Ulysses

    I think that it’s true that many folks are “less and less inclined to regard respected media brands and important validators as reliable, that more people (whether consciously or not) are digesting information from more and more sources and coming to their own point of view.”
    This process, however, is erratic. In my own experience I have seen family and friends abandon faith in the NYT, while still clinging to the delusion that NPR presents an accurate view of our times. I think this is emotionally understandable. People don’t want to lose the reassurance of having a polished, intelligent-sounding person with access to the powerful telling them what to think about a confusing world.

    1. Banger

      Great point! People do need some authoritative source and thus both left and right cling to some media maven. I will categorically say that if you are a mainstream journalist you are in the show biz part of the propaganda state. NPR is as thoroughly corrupt as the NYT. Fox, in many ways,,is better–true, that most of the stuff on there is made up of obvious fictions but they offer a greater width of opinion.

      I think RT (though often obnoxious) and AJ offer an alternative to the major cable shows. But for me the best alternative is to read and watch less “news” and talk to more people and read more books.

  18. Dan Kervick

    But there is a third possible implication: Krugman and the policy elites may be so isolated that they don’t recognize the rubes are starting to figure out who is really on their side.

    I don’t know about Krugman, but there definitely is something going on with the Democratic Party insiders and brain trust. They are feverishly re-arranging the deck chairs and checking into the image salons for quickie pig-lipstick makeovers as they try to catch up with a progressive wing that finally seems to have broken out their partially self-imposed prison and is now venturing off on its own.

    They just moved Podesta – one of the chief architects of the failed Obama administration – directly into the White House. And Podesta has created another new inbred, insider spinoff, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, so the Democratic establishment can try to get a belated foothold in the new equality discourse. It’s supposed to be dedicated to free inquiry and research into inequality, but they have brought in Brad DeLong to tell everybody what to think ahead of time. DeLong keeps reiterating the phrase “the conversation we should be having.” so I take it his appointed role is to make sure that no unruly and dangerous innovators start having a dangerous conversation they shouldn’t be having – like a conversation that is actually threatening to the high-rollers on John Podesta’s contact list.

    Someone wrote a new speech for Obama that incorporated some of the new inequality rhetoric. But imagining us to be like the rube who discovered he has been speaking prose all along, Obama tried to get us to discover that his policies since 2008 have been all about equality all along.

    1. Banger

      I think, Dan, these are very good observations. My own sense of things in the WH is that there is a good deal of confusion and factional fighting that has gone on for many months. Podesta is a fixer and a made-man who will try to whip things into shape with some strong-arm tactics and PR magic.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The White House underlings are probably trying to figure out how to salvage their time in the White House on their resumes. Being an Obama confidant isn’t going to lead to a House Seat. Rahm became mayor in a fixed race, and the guy is toxic now. He is even trying to rehabilitate himself by taking shots at ACA.. This year in Virginia, the Obama IT guru couldn’t beat a state senator for the Democratic Lt Gov nod despite the state senator publicly flirting with joining the GOP 3 years ago.
        The Obots may like the brand, but they love Obama and his brand doesn’t rub off well on others.

  19. Jackrabbit

    By advocating for bubbles and dismissing TPP concerns, Krugman has now essentially abandoned any pretense to objectivity.

    From a ‘macro’ point of view, it seems that Obama’s difficulties are forcing regime loyalists to step up their support.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its not just now but for the last five years. Krugman and other “Democratic” voices made a decision to believe Obama would be great, and I think their audience is largely Obama’s fans. They can’t build a reality based audience anymore because they have no credibility, and why would I read Krugman when NC presents a number of voices in one stop shopping including Krugman?

  20. Jackrabbit

    Krugman’s use of economics to support anti-social behavior is so stark that it represents a teachable moment.

    A movement like the Skunk Party should make Krugman a poster child for academic prostitution and societal manipulation.

  21. robert

    Quite amazing…111 comments on TPP to K’s column. By my quick calculation…109 against, 1 for, and 1 undecided.
    The consistency of the themes of the opposition is astonishing.
    I can’t see how he can ignore this….it will be interesting to watch.

    1. Ben Johannson

      I’ve always assumed he avoided reading comments. How else could he avoid contamination from unapproved opinions and ideas? Maybe some unpaid intern will bring it to his attention, assuming she has the right family connections to gain an audience.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I thought he did read them, but then again, he may only respond to obvious Republican non-sense.

  22. Brooklin Bridge

    Krugman is perfectly aware that this deal has been cloaked in secrecy, and in a “democracy”, that says it all. He is perfectly aware that both these so-called “trade” deals represent yet another international betrayal of the little guy to the extraordinary benefit of big business. He is probably also aware that the very term democracy no longer applies in anything but a jingoistic sense. The only thing he may be spotty on is the degree to which he is giving a public delineation of how much of his soul is bought and paid for.

    Unfortunately, as Ulysses has observed up thread, people’s awareness of that, and more particularly of the larger betrayal going on is uneven at best.

    It seems obvious is that while the Washington elites are indeed isolated from the misery (as in, la misère) and death they are creating for millions, they know full well what they are doing is deeply wrong or they would not cloak it in such sweeping secrecy (from trade deals to drones, to massive fraudulent redefinition of ownership, etc.), but it is also clear that the public at large is catching on to this massive betrayal erratically if at all.

  23. The Dork of Cork

    This is how capitalism works – it concentrates power.

    We are making all sorts of noises now because the extreme level of concentration is passing beyond some sort of monetary event horizon but it was always with us.

    I have to say the distributionists were correct but it is too late to stop criticality
    The concentration of such unimaginable power is a mind bending experience.
    What is the purpose of such strange events ???

    Perhaps the message is
    “All of the solar system belongs to you except the earth thingy…….you should have developed a viable launch system with enough escape velocity you dumb f£$ks”

    1. Nathanael

      “This is how capitalism works – it concentrates power.

      We are making all sorts of noises now because the extreme level of concentration is passing beyond some sort of monetary event horizon but it was always with us.”

      The “event horizon” is the end of capitalism; the transition to feudalism/manorialism as the powerful dispense with markets.

  24. John Mc

    I appreciate this article for a variety of reasons. First, it is comforting that Krugman’s neoliberal message is being resisted by those who market themselves as curiously having more information. Two, asking who else has this myopic “specialist’s narrative” is important as Upton Sinclair reminds us it is hard to get a person to understand something when he/she is getting paid to not understand it. Lastly, I think this blog serves a substance platform to bridge coherent discussions between what our leaders know, what they think they know, and what they present to us as fact. In so many cases, these are three different narratives being bundled as one. Deconstructing these whoppers of reality here in Naked Capitalism has actually made my lived experience much richer, as I am more hesitant about what I think I know and cautious about what I present as fact. Thanks Yves.

    1. fresno dan

      I agree entirely. Like I said when I donated to this blog, we need KNOWLEDGEABLE, INDEPENDENT (aka YVES) people who are willing to share their experience and expertize.
      I understand that the MSM may not have the time or space to go into detail on some of these issues. But when Krugman/media say that this is a minor issue, and they don’t understand what all the fuzz is about, they are either too stupid to be in the position they are in, or what I believe the situation really is, is that they don’t want to address the real issues.

  25. Benedict@Large

    I have to believe PK was just caught sleeping on this one. (Baker seems to agree.) Krugman is looking at it as a trade agreement because that’s what it’s being sold as. From that perspective, PK is correct; there really isn’t much there. But Baker goes on to point ot that’s because it really isn’t a trade deal, but in reality a back door attempt to enact some really toxic legislation that if handled through normal channels, wouldn’t stand a chance. PK didn’t do his homework here, and simply got buffaloed, as the agreement is intended to do.

    At least that’s what I have to think until I see otherwise. The idea that PK would go along with these obvious kangaroo courts in the TPP is simply too bizarre for even me to believe of him. Let’s see how he responds to getting called out on this so firmly by even his fans.

    1. Banger

      I don not think you are “wrong” but that “sleep” is deliberate. Krugman is a courtier or he would not have a regular column at the NYT. He is unconsciously aware, as a political animal which direction to jump in. He has never struck me as a deep thinker. I don’t believe he’s a bad man selling neoliberalism to the left as some believe–he’s simply one of many caught up in the political drama.

      1. Fiver

        Disagree. Krugman has more times that I can count over the last 5 years made arguments in support of truly pathetic policy proposals, as well as stood shoulder to shoulder with Bernanke, Geithner and others over the various TARP and other bailouts, but most egregiously, supporting Bernanke/Summers on 5 yrs of QE all the while knowing fully it was if anything detrimental to regular folks, but priceless from the perspective of the banks. And he’s never walked back any of it. He’s what you call a New York turd looking for a big enough toilet to occupy.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      After a time, repeated mistakes have to be called malfeasance. Whether born out of willful ignorance or run of the mill malice, the result is the same.

      TPP is an issue of concern to Paul Krugman’s stated profession. Instead of using his platform to illuminate, he chose to write an article which characterizes the controversy. This is not an off the cuff remarks. He is a professional writer. If he is unaware, there are serious concerns about secret negotiations, he is guilty of malfeasance not just missing one or being mistaken. This is his just stated job.

      I could give Ezra Klein this benefit of the doubt as bad as he is, but Krugman presents himself as the voice of evidence and liberalism in American and clearly chose to dismiss criticism of this bill by focusing on another issue. This does not fall into the category of a “mistake.”

  26. The Dork of Cork

    Jovian snakebite syndrome……(starts 19.30)

    “Its a good story professor , you are not a Irishman for nothing”

    Whats happens if I don’t have it ? ,
    You will have to stay in the freezer forever…………….”

  27. bobh

    Owning a media franchise like Krugman’s column or Josh Marshall’s website very quickly makes you a captive of your audience. Your career, and, in Marshall’s case, your hits, your ad revenues and the continued growth of your business, depend on telling your subset of the population what it wants to hear. When there is a schism in the ranks of your audience, as happened to purveyors of information to liberal, Bush-hating Democrats in 2008-9, when Obama came out as a pro-elite trusty instead of a reformer, you are likely to lose a significant portion of your audience (and power) no matter what you do. Both Krugman and Marshall (and many others faced with this choice) made a calculation that a larger slice of their old audience would stay with them–and their prosperity would be more likely to increase–if they stuck with Obama and avoided criticizing the agenda of the powerful people Obama works for.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is dead on, but it is our moral responsibility and in our personal interest most likely to make sure the Krugmans and Marshalls who made these calculations are labeled for the cretins that they are and are shunned for even having a come to Jesus moment so late in the game if they ever do. Its important for them to face consequences for choosing to be charlatans; although I think Marshall is so in the tank for the Democrats he is incapable of this kind of rationale thought. Short of Obama shitting unicorns, their potential customers/readers will decline and likely disperse when Obama is gone. The next President isn’t going to be able to use white guilt and tribal solidarity to deflect criticism.

      With the unfolding reality of ACA, I’m willing to bet the next Democratic nominee will move heaven and earth to have Obama video-conference in on an off day of the next Convention.

  28. The Dork of Cork

    Whats truly strange is how this site takes Krugmans official musings on these matters seriously.

    Space patrol has much more valuable insights.

    Female Puppet :I wish we knew where the pirates have their hideout
    Male puppet : I am beginning to think they have not gone one.
    Female Puppet : what do you mean ?
    Male puppet : Perhaps they are not Pirates all the time , perhaps they are a business organisation with space rockets ……..
    Female puppet ; you mean they only become pirates when they see something they want to steal…..a interesting conjecture : you must tell Rayburn when you see him

    Puppet A :So you think the pirates might be people we know and trust.
    Puppet B : I do
    Puppet A :That will make it even more difficult to find them , you better patrol Mars & Venus.

    The famous eureka in the spud moment.

    1. diptherio

      It’s not the musings, it’s what the response to them says about the political climate in the US right now. Did you miss the analysis? The quotes are from Krugman’s commenters, who are actual the story, had you been paying attention.

      1. The Dork of Cork

        Why the hell are they giving him the satisfaction ?
        Its all a game……

        Let me tell you something.
        Watching hi – def Irish State TV tonight and I can actually see the f$£king strings.
        Pravda did not even come close to this as at least it was bloody free.

        Early 1960s black and white low contrast childs tele is much more revealing & realistic.

        PS the most revealing moment of 1960s film.
        Fail Safe
        I don’t think its in the remake

        They are about to Nuke New York……..they want the papers…..peoples records ….so that they can tax us….own us.
        A fusion bomb is about to turn people into dust and they want the tax system to work.
        Smoke on that for a while.

  29. NotTimothyGeithner

    “where were the Obots or the free trade defenders? ”

    Trying to find a part time job to pay for ACA? I think many Democratic partisans operated under the assumption that Obama would become super liberal in his second term, and that critics were just lunatics who lacked sufficient faith. When Obama didn’t pivot after his re-election, their faith has been shattered. They may approve of Obama if asked, but I think they are very unsure. Perhaps, the hippies, the racists (not real racists but critics of Obama from the left such as Dr. Cornell West), and the unserious unicorn demanders weren’t so whacky which might mean the Obots’ self image of themselves as wise, cool, technocrats may not be so on the ball.

  30. timotheus

    Krugman should take a moment to read the front page of his own paper today, i.e., the article about how the tobacco industry is using “free-trade” agreements to bully countries out of laws to control smoking addiction, DESPITE the treaty-level FCTC agreement signed years ago. (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control)

  31. Ken Ward

    It is interesting to compare Krugman’s comments on Stanley Fischer in his latest blog post with the critique of Fischer just published by Jeff Madrick in response to stories that he may become No 2 in the Federal Reserve. There’s not a hint of criticism of ‘Stan’ in Krugman’s smarmy comments. With his Krugman-bestowed first-name halo glittering, Stan thus joins ‘Larry’ and other idols of Krugman’s, whom he always treats deferentially whenever they pop up in his clubby little world, no matter what havoc they may wreak outside that world.

  32. Synopticist

    “…less and less inclined to regard respected media brands and important validators as reliable, that more people (whether consciously or not) are digesting information from more and more sources and coming to their own point of view.”

    This is very welcome, and it’s not just these crappy “free trade” treaties where the phenomenon is demonstrated. I’ve been following the progress of the Syrian war quite closely, and it’s overwhelmingly the case that people just are not buying the establishment narrative anymore.

    OTOH, I’m not sure whether people are genuinely becoming better informed and more resistant to MSM blandishments, or whether the policies that the PTB are hoping to foist upon us (allying with al qaeda linked jihadis, destroying national sovereignty in favour of trans-national coprporations in these cases) are much worse than they’ve got away with previously.
    Maybe it’s a bit of both,

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “becoming better informed and more resistant to MSM ”

      I think more resistant, and I thought people were pretty well informed in 2007 and 2008 despite my own lack of affinity for Obama and Clinton. I think I misunderstood tribalism within the Democratic Party and the cultish devotion of both these candidates, but I don’t think Democratic voters are going to anoint a savior in the near future. One, the energy is broken and has been used up. There is bad blood. I and think many other people will never trust partisan types again. Two, young people have every reason to be skeptical of the Democratic Party and I think there is a bust-let coming through, so there won’t be the energy which marked 2006/2008. Three, this links back to the others, but the novelty of Obama is gone. He’s been President for five years, and much of the Democratic strength in recent elections, under 35 year olds, have taken it on the chin. No one is making “Liz Warren is a goddess” you tube videos.

      I think people are as informed, but the energy to spread a lie and hope a nebulous community (OFA) will keep track of things is gone for a while. In this case, the informed citizen can’t be shouted down or can’t be convinced to put his faith in a lie or energy.

      Bush used fear. Obama used vague hope and then fear. What is left but actual policy outcomes? The GOP is going to come out with “are you better off” ads. It will be brutal.

      1. SlimBoom

        Bush used fear. Obama used vague hope and then fear. What is left but actual policy outcomes? The GOP is going to come out with “are you better off” ads. It will be brutal.

        Two Distractions:

        Distraction 1 – There is no way to get anything done in Washington if someone doesn’t make a crap ton of money from it. Healthcare legislation passed, legislation that guarantees huge revenue streams to numerous corporations for decades. And the byline is Dems demanded healthcare reform and Obama delivered. The conclusion is that no actual sane policy can come out of Washington and policy outcomes will always be net neutrals at best. The US is going from one horrendous healthcare system to another and is now going to pay more for it. However more people will be covered by the horrendousness.

        Distraction 2 – Regarding Obama fan boys, the US had just come off one of the worst administrations in history; failed wars, huge deficits, etc.. A great deal of hope was generated just in getting rid of Bush. Obama being of African descent was another big score to rally the base. His youth and lack of political history another great feature. A better candidate to lead us into the brave new world could not have been manufactured. It rallied the nation, for a year nothing was on the news but Obama, and for another year what he will do.

        The people and corporations involved in these crises are not concerned with the economy or how parents will feed their children or what hospice care costs. They are legally and socially obligated to generate wealth and power for themselves. ‘Actual policy outcomes’ only concern them to this aim. The system cannot correct itself, actual policy outcomes in the nations favor will not play out.

        You do not negotiate with a lion, you run from it or kill it.

    2. Fiver

      I note those of us who did not buy into the idea that Assad used chemical weapons on his own people received a solid boost from Seymour Hersh’s reporting. Here are a couple of independent sources:

      The mainstream reaction was uniformly negative to Hersh – doesn’t matter how many times he’s proved right. Events of this type are most useful for sorting out the truth-seeker from those who don’t want to risk losing “insider” status.

  33. chris

    well, since no one else has gone “there” I will, with my tongue only slightly touching my left cheek…
    Krugman will not have been immune to the NSA information gathering, huh?
    His tone sure changed after that first private meeting in Obama’s WH, seems to me…
    and he certainly looks like someone who could have a secret, very kinky sexual fetish.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Krugman like other members of the commetariat made a calculation about their audience which was there were more Obots than sane people in the liberal sphere. For a time, he was right, but now that Obama hasn’t made his pivot to being a liberal in his second term, Krugman and others have a problem with their credibility because they implied over time Obama’s conservatism was born of political reality and promised amazing policy successes to appease the audience.

      Now, they seem unhinged because Krugman and others such as Rachel Maddow (MSNBC in general) need Obama to appear successful because they won’t be able to pivot to liberalism when Obama is gone. Their audience tunes in to hear fluff stories about Obama and to be reassured.

      I’m sure Obama threatened everyone with not receiving campaign commercials, but they made a bet Obama would remain popular much like Clinton. Now that Krugman and others have alligned themselves with ACA and other right wing policies, they have a direct interest in those same policies being perceived as glorious or at least forced upon them by Republicans.

      The “good” Democrats did the same thing, and those same Democrats are trying to focus on the ACA website despite being aware of the problems with ACA because they made a calculation about Obama’s popularity and now don’t want to be held accountable for three year old legislation not working as promised.

  34. Glenn

    Yves, I found your site through reading Paul Krugman’s blog posts. He stated Naked Capitalism is one of his daily reads. I think he wants to know where his readers are coming from. Kind of like push polling.

  35. Veri

    There is a 4th possibility…

    They know the rubes are getting wise and simply are not worried about the rubes. Look at the response to The Financial Crisis, fraudclosure, corporate malfeasance; by Congress and The Administration. Much of it useless or next to useless. Despite protests from the public.

    The public is almost completely ineffectual beyond that of a few bought politicians being voted out, only to be replaced by other bought politicians.

    The goal is to pass the TPP. Once done, the public is neutered.

  36. Fiver

    Krugman is a globalist, and as is so often the case with US globalists, “global” is understood to mean “under US leadership” (nicey talk for direction, orders, etc). Such notable foreign policy disasters as Vietnam, Central & Latin America, the rise of Israel (and its Lobby), the massive push for “liberalized” trade that was always about corporate goals, the entirely evil “war on terror”, the globalization of derivatives bombs, and the global financial explosion detonated by megatons of US fraud – none of these so much as dent Krugman’s steadfast assurances that “there is no “there” there” when any critic puts history onto the weigh-scales vs some favorite economic shamanship like “if we would just pursue negative interest rates..” or “just drive down the dollar”. He never, ever takes the impact on other countries into account. Is it “economics” if only by being the hegemon could one deploy this or that policy response?

    Whatever the “conscience” of a “liberal” once may have meant, Krugman has done nothing to liberate it from the conscious “liberal” pursuit of status, position, influence, money, power and above all “growth” as it is “growth” that pays the taxes for social programs, never a truly equitable distribution starting now that would involve his type of “liberal” taking a substantial, long-term reduction in compensation in order to finally create the just, sustainable, healthy social body every dream of a better world has ever exhibited.

  37. Nathanael

    “…the policy elites may be so isolated that they don’t recognize the rubes are starting to figure out who is really on their side. We’ve remarked off and on about the various signs that the people at the top of the food chain and Beltway power players simply have no idea what is happening to most Americans”

    Versailles syndrome. We’ve been seeing it for a long time now. It’s *very dangerous*.

  38. Timothy Gawne

    But there is a FOURTH possible implication: Krugman and the policy elites may be starting to realize that there control is so total that it no longer matters what the rubes think. They can say anything and get away with it. What’s to stop them?

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