Paul Krugman predicts the Apocalypse

I have a lot of respect for Paul Krugman; in fact, he’s my favorite New York Times columnist. He not only makes me think, but he’s usually right, and I’ve almost never seen him make a fallacious or dubious argument. His latest op-ed in the Times, “When the fire comes“, takes up an issue that many of us have thought about, but few of us have thought through: what will happen if we have a 9/11 style terrorist attack during the Trump administration? Krugman begins by stating the palpable truth:

We’re only three weeks into the Trump administration, but it’s already clear that any hopes that Mr. Trump and those around him would be even slightly ennobled by the responsibilities of office were foolish. Every day brings further evidence that this is a man who completely conflates the national interest with his personal self-interest, and who has surrounded himself with people who see it the same way. And each day also brings further evidence of his lack of respect for democratic values.

He then argues that Trump will not only mishandle such an attack, which is likely given his bellicose nature and kneejerk style, but that he also welcomes such an attack as a way to show his power. (This is the “come at me, bro” style of politics.) His example is this tweet by Trump, which, says Krugman, shows Trump’s “palpable eagerness to see an attack on America, which would show everyone the folly of constraining his power.”

Krugman adds:

Never mind the utter falsity of the claim that bad people are “pouring in,” or for that matter of the whole premise behind the ban. What we see here is the most powerful man in the world blatantly telegraphing his intention to use national misfortune to grab even more power. And the question becomes, who will stop him?

Krugman argues that we can’t count on the legislators—unless some Republicans manage to grow a spine—and the judiciary isn’t all that reliable, either. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on Trump’s side, and although the courts have reined in Trump’s immigration order, Krugman says that Trump is busy “de-legitimizing” them. Well, I do have more hopes for the courts (but not the Republican Congress) than does Krugman, if for no other reason than federal judges don’t have to run for re-election and have more freedom to vote their conscience.

But in the end, Krugman makes a dire prediction when pondering how to stop Trump:

In the end, I fear, it’s going to rest on the people — on whether enough Americans are willing to take a public stand. We can’t handle another post-9/11-style suspension of doubt about the man in charge [he’s referring here to our misplaced trust in the Bush administration after 9/11]; if that happens, America as we know it will soon be gone.

He’s right, I think, and I believe I said something similar on Election Day. It’s up to us, and maybe even that won’t be enough. But we may get some help from the courts.

106 Comments

  1. BobTerrace
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I am encouraged by all the protests that keep popping up and multiplying. I think there is even a small possibility that the sad-excuse-for-a human-being-in-chief will be neutralized by the people even without a crisis. If the protests continue to expand, the legislators will eventually take note and abandon the sociopathic narcissist.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      I agree.

      The fly in the ointment is that Trump’s delegitimizing tactics have spread to the protesters. The conspiracy theory started by nutters like Alex Jones that the protestors are being paid by George Soros et al has moved into the GOP mainstream. I’ve heard several Fox News commentators repeat it as if it’s an accepted truth.

      • BobTerrace
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        We all know that Faux Noise is 75% lies.

        • jwthomas
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          But its millions of viewers don’t know it and will never believe it.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

          We do, but most of their viewers don’t unfortunately. Many are not even able to tell the difference between news and opinion let alone informed and uninformed opinion.

          • somer
            Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:11 am | Permalink

            yes, unfortunately

      • GBJames
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        Obvious falsehoods on Fox News is not news. That has been standard for them for two decades.

        • Mike
          Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

          I await a Reichstag Event that can be laid at the door of the Muslims et al , resulting in emergency powers and martial law,History has a nasty habit of repeating itself.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I feel the same about Krugman. When he talks, I listen. He is a force for common sense and proper economic thinking.

    Far as this Trump issue goes, I kind of think the people already had their chance and they blew it. Putting this guy in there was going to be a disaster and any thinking person knows it. But I also do not see much hope in the congress and that is where it should come from if anything is going to save us from this mess. The congress, from the very beginning, was given the power by our founders in the Constitution. Just look at it – who gets Top billing, who gets nearly half of the space. However, for many years now, the congress has been giving it away to the executive branch and today it is a joke of it’s former self. Does the media cover this, hell no. They just follow the shinny ball and babble.

  3. TJR
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Even worse, this will be obvious to AQ/ISIS et al as well.

    The whole point of terrorism is to provoke an over-reaction, and Trump is giving them an open goal.

  4. GBJames
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I’m a bit less hopeful about the courts. The Supremes gave us the George Bush presidency. And they undermined voting rights in a serious way. Still, they aren’t as scary as the Republican Congress and Executive.

    • Sastra
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      One possible blessing-in-disguise is the nasty way Trump has treated specific judges, and the contempt he has shown for the judicial system in general. It’s pretty safe to say that The Court takes a very dim view of anyone challenging their authority, a very dim view indeed. Methinks even the hypothetical perfectly conservative Republican judge is likely to be more determined to defend their status and the rule of law than capitulate to an overstepping President in order to feel smug satisfaction over whatever they might otherwise feel smugly satisfied about.

      At least, I hope so.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        I hope so, too. And to some extent I’m sure you are right. But I fear that over the long haul we’ll see more judges appointed through the current Republican regime who will push the nation further to the totalitarian right. Trump himself is the product of the Republican Party not something altogether novel. (Though he is pretty damn novel, too!)

      • veroxitatis
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        He is still doing so per one of his apparatchiks, Stephen Miller who, although not a lawyer, was much involved in the drafting of the Executive Order which has proved to be such a failure.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

          Stephen Miller made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows this weekend. I’ve never seen a spokesperson quite like him before for any American officeholder.

          He’s got the creepy vibe of Trump’s old evil-incarnate lawyer, Roy Cohn — hell, even bears a vague resemblance to Cohn, especially as to the dead reptilian eyes.

          • veroxitatis
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            Truly scary in his unabashed (but ignorant) attack on the federal judges.
            Wasn’t Cohn Joe McCarthy’s Counsel at the Army hearings in the mid 50s?

            • Derek Freyberg
              Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

              He was.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

              Cohn shot to national prominence in the early 1950s both as the McCarthy committee counsel and as the prosecutor of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. (Cohn later bragged about the unethical ex parte communications he had with the trial judge, Irving Kaufman, resulting in both defendants receiving the death penalty.)

              Total piece of shit, Roy Cohn was.

              • somer
                Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:14 am | Permalink

                sort of thing Trump admires

          • Posted February 13, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

            Trump’s orders “will not be questioned”.

            Oh, yeah. That’s the attitude you want your government to have.

          • Mark R.
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            There is a revealing article in the L.A. Times about Stephen Miller (he’s from Santa Monica). Rich kid bigot pretty much sums it up. His first job when he went to D.C. was to work for Sessions. Just another swamp dweller.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted February 13, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

              Yeah, Miller worked for crazy Michele Bachmann, too. He was also college buddies at Duke with neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.

  5. Bernardo
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Donald Trump is the world’s most powerful person. Now say that out loud and try not to feel you live in a dystopian nightmare.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      I just threw up a little bit.

  6. Greg Geisler
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’m also a fan of Krugman. Remind me again why we can’t have sensible and intelligent people like him running our country? And I also agree that the next page in the totalitarian playbook is a show of force. It could be an international incident as Krugman describes or it could be a domestic one. You can be certain that Bannon is anxiously awaiting an opportunity to flex some muscle.

    • sensorrhea
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Because of conservative anti-intellectualism. William F. Buckley was a pretty intellectual guy, but even he famously stated he’d rather have the 1st thousand names in the Boston phone book running the country than the faculty of Harvard.

      Jeffrey Hart, an intellectual co-founder of the National Review with Buckley, had a major change of heart late in life. He became an enthusiastic supporter of Obama and bemoaned the total victory of the know-nothings in the Republican party.

    • Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      “Remind me again why we can’t have sensible and intelligent people like him running our country?” Because ignorant, Jesus fearing rednecks’ votes count more than educated, secular, city dwellers, thanks to the electoral college. Don’t forget Clinton won the popular vote.

      • somer
        Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:19 am | Permalink

        +1

  7. Historian
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    There is no doubt that the worst thing that could come out of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil is that Trump will make a grab for dictatorial powers, which would mean the end of any semblance of democracy in this country. The question is whether in a time of panic and anxiety will this institutions of this country (the courts, Congress) be able to resist him. I have my doubts.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      That is precisely what keeps Krugman up nights. The courts seems an unlikely helping hand because anything they might do is usually after the fact. Only the Congress is equipped, or I should say, was equipped to deal with an executive run amok. They hold the purse strings to stop almost anything. But look what they have done with this for many years…nothing. They are, as he says – spinless. The only actions they have used is really, inaction.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Correction…spineless, not spinless. No politician is without spin.

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      If this happens it will clearly show how brittle democracy is in the capitalist system.

      • Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        “Capitalist?” That seems to be an odd non-sequitur. What do you mean by that? What sort of non-capitalist democracy is less brittle? A kleptocratic “democracy” like Russia’s? A theocratic “democracy” like Iran’s? A sort of Communist “democracy” like Venezuela’s? I can’t think of any strong non-capitalist democracies. Which one(s) did you have in mind?

  8. veroxitatis
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    My personal nightmare would be a repetition of circumstances akin to October 1962. From what we know now there were various hotheads in the Administration then who would have acted differently from Jack and Bobby Kennedy: most notably the VP, LBJ. Who knows what a President Johnson’s response to Kruschev might have been. But we surely can well imagine what Trump’s response would have been.

    • Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      One can hope that then there would be the equivalent of that courageous Soviet submarine commander who refused to start WWIII.

    • eric
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Well, evidently Putin wants to expand or carry on with START treaty work while Trump didn’t even know what it was. So in terms of US-Russian nuclear politics, I’d say the Russians are actually the more predictable of the pair right now. It doesn’t mean they aren’t bellicose, it just means that they want the *nuclear* status quo to continue.

  9. jknath1
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I am sure this will be considered outrageous and unfounded by some but I fear that he not only would welcome something like this but may be trying to instigate or worse is in collusion with Putin to plan it.

    • Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      I do think it is unfounded. Of course, exactly this will be said so if a new attack happens. Every single time civilized people are attacked by their sworn enemies, many say that (1) the victims have brought this on themselves by being bad, and (2) they have actually done it themselves as a false flag operation.

  10. Kevin
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Charlie Stross’s take is also worth a look:

    Worst-case Scenario

    Krugman and Stross know each other. Krugman is, of course, a fan of science fiction.

    Energy security is and will be everything in the future.

    • Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Kevin – I believe that water security will become more important than energy.

  11. Rick Graham
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Krugman is a partisan hack.

    Krugman on election night:

    “Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.”

    Dow: Election Day 18300. Today 20400. Up 11.4%

    NYT Opinion “Time to Borrow” Aug 8, 2016

    NYT Opinion “Deficits Matter Again” Jan 8, 2017

    What changed between Aug 8 and Jan 8? Hmmm.

    • Rick Graham
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      What has happened to the left?

      • Rick Graham
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Sorry. Don’t mean to embed.

        But seriously. What has pushed the left so far left?

      • Martin X
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        I think you seriously misunderstand the position of Democrats, if you consider them “the left”.

        No one advocates unrestrained immigration. What is debated is to what extremes we should go as a country in order to restrain it.

        To reduce illegal immigration down to zero would require levels of cruelty and civil rights violation that are unconscionable to Democrats and most Republicans.

        • Rick Graham
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          No one is saying reduce immigration to zero permanently. Most Americans see the immigration mistakes in Europe and want to be cautious. i.e. Allowing people that don’t assimilate.

          The hyperbole and hypocrisy on the left is how you get more Trump.

          Name another country that has 11 million illegal immigrants. That’s a low estimate.

    • Robert Neely
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      You might like the guest appearance of Paul Krugman around the 8 minute mark in Grant Williams presentation https://www.you tube.com/watch?v=GEwuGHFF7qE
      (Space inserted to prevent embedding)

    • Martin X
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      “What changed between Aug 8 and Jan 8? Hmmm.”

      Some people only read Krugman in order to find something to criticize. If you read him daily, then he’s very consistent on the economic front. He’s always argued that deficits don’t matter when the economy is far away from full-employment. Now, we’re pretty close to full-employment, so that’s what’s changed between Aug 8 and Jan 8.

      His political predictions, however, are definitely influenced by his partisan leanings.

      • Posted February 13, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Statistics, please? We were just as near full employment in August as we are today. There has been no statistically significant “Trump boom”.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    We should all disabuse ourselves of the notion that Trump is some kind of tough guy. He isn’t; he’s a snotty private school kid’s imaginary version of what New York Street tough should be. Trump himself is just a bully, and like all bullies he’s got no heart for real fight.

    That was apparent this weekend in the video of him standing on the steps of Mar-a-Lago with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and their wives. Trump answered a few questions shouted at him from the press gallery, mainly about what a swell time the couples were having dining and golfing. But when when a reporter inquired about the recent North Korean missile test, Trump — who had tweeted out criticisms of Obama for his lack of a bellicose response to Kim Jong-un’s earlier provocations — all of a sudden acted as deaf and blind as Helen Keller. He stood there trapped in the headlights unable to say a word, looking for all the world as clueless as W reading My Pet Goat.

    This whole presidential thing is gonna blow up on Trump — sooner rather than later, I think. And when it does, it’ll be like a stick of dynamite dropped down the outhouse crapper. The stank is gonna land all over everyone close to him, including the weak-kneed congressional Republicans who think they can play footsie with him while keeping his crazy at bay.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      He didn’t even condemn the missile test. His only comment was that he stood by Japan 100% using his usual cadence and gesticulations.

      He doesn’t know what to do. I think he’s running scared, terrified that he might have to back up his tough talk.

      Iran was “put on notice” but that’s easy. Whatever you think of Iran, they’re basically a rational actor in international politics. Trump was too scared to put North Korea on notice because they’re irrational enough to call his bluff, or should I say bluster.

      • veroxitatis
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        I think Tillerson and Mathis have begun to rein him in. But they haven’t quite got control over the nighttime twitteries.

        • veroxitatis
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          apologies. Mattis.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          I’ve got time for Mattis. I haven’t decided about Tillerson yet though he seems okay so far.

          The trouble is, on an everyday basis it’s people like Bannon and Miller who have his ear and feed his ego. Imo they’re dangerous.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

            I imagine some of the military types have discussed, or at least thought about, what they, as gun toting machismo encrusted patriots, would do if Trump went way too far – say ordered a nuclear strike on Russia. Something tells me there is an upper bound on Trump’s capacity if he starts to go in that direction.
            But, as I’ve said, my expectation is he’ll simply annoy too many people and in the end the republicans with give him the ax.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            I think Gen. Mattis is fine (as is Gen. Kelly at Homeland Security); the jury’s out on Tillerson, since he has no government track record.

            The problem is, in making his cabinet picks, Trump may have been merely typecasting his new reality tv show: Apprentice: Oval Office.

            The people who actually have Trump’s ear are his White House advisors — Kellyanne and the two Steves, Bannon and Miller, none of whom have any government (as opposed to electoral) experience to speak of. We’ll see how much say-so over policy Trump cedes to his competent cabinet members — and how long they stick around if he doesn’t.

            Right about now, given the overall incompetence of the Trump White House, cabinet members like Mattis and Kelly must be feeling like the established major-leaguers in the twilight of their careers who got drafted to play for the expansion 1962 New York Mets (widely regarded as the worst baseball team ever fielded). As manager Casey Stengel used to say about that club, “can’t anybody here play this game?”

    • Rick Graham
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Maybe he should draw a red line.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        Trump said during the campaign that he would stop N. Korea before it develops a missile capable of reaching the continental US.

        And his Russophile national security advisor has “officially put[] Iran on notice” not to pursue its missile program.

        So let’s see how those “red lines” work out for the Donald.

  13. rickflick
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    It’s clear as well that ISIS would like nothing better than to provoke Trump into an overreaction. They’ve talked about an apocalyptic battle between Islam and the West. When Obama was in office his caution probably disappointed ISIS. How the hell you gonna get that dude mad a yu?
    But, this would be their big chance wouldn’t it. They may redouble their efforts to make sure what we fear will happen.

  14. Martin X
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Krugman is one of the best writers around today, always clear and direct like a punch in the nose. His political analysis is very insightful.

    However, everybody’s political forecasts suck, and Krugman is no exception. He interpreted every uptick of Clinton’s polling as the beginning of a landslide, and later viewed a stock market slide as evidence that investors were terrified of a Trump win. These were wishful-thinking interpretations of reality, which he admitted quickly on the latter.

    But I think he works hard to make sure his economic analysis is free of partisanship.

  15. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    America as we know it will soon be gone

    That reminded me of, for what it is worth in its index-by-experts scheme of measure, The Economist “Intelligence Unit” assessment of democracy 2016 and why America s we knew it is already gone. US evaluates as a “flawed democracy”, and the ratio of people under full democracies dropped from something like 8 % to something like 4 % [ http://www.eiu.com ].

    The reason that US no longer makes a full democracy would be the drop in trust in the government. It is by the way a long process that they claim, based on a 2015 Pew report, included the civil rights movement, and is the first likely explanation for why Trump came to power I have seen [p 17 in the “Democracy Index 2016” White Paper].

    “According to Pew, the erosion of public trust in government began in the 1960s after peaking at an all-time high of 77% in 1964. Within ten years—a period that included the Vietnam war, the civil rights movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert F Kennedy, civil unrest and the Watergate scandal—trust in government had fallen by more than half, to 36%, after which it oscillated around this relatively low level. Since the early 2000s confidence in government has fallen further, in the wake of disastrous wars in the Middle East, a deep recession after the 2008-09 financial crash, and gridlock and dysfunction on Capitol Hill.”

    Globally the democratization process may have a lost year, but at least South America has ‘tired of populists’ and Brexit – ill advised as it was – may have strengthened UK’s democracy.

    • Martin X
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      The book “It’s Even Worse than it Looks” argues that the present situation is the result of a trend begun by New Gingrich in the 90s. His goal was to enable the GOP to take over the House, at the time dominated by the Dems for 40 years. His strategy for doing that was to undermine the credibility of government in general, thinking that those controlling government (Dems) would be held responsible. It worked.

  16. Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    By now, everybody knows that a sizable fraction of the country is convinced that Herr Dreumpfenfurher has aspirations of autocracy. Even T-Party diehards know it, because Breitbart, Infowars, and Fox have told them that this is what the Librul Leet Lamestream Lyin’ Left is panicking about.

    And we all know how it’s expected to play out: some crisis inevitably comes to a boil and Señor Smallinpants declares a state of emergency that never ends. The nature of the crisis doesn’t matter; it could be foreign or domestic terrorism, armed conflict with Iran or China, a Sandy- or Fukushima-style natural disaster, even something he himself manufactures if he’s really that stupid. The particulars don’t matter; we just know that he’s going to use it as an excuse to gather all power unto himself and never let go.

    So, the big question becomes: then what?

    We all know it’s coming. Just on natural unfolding of events, the world can’t go more than a year or two without something like that happening — and Mr. Tinyhands’s drunken hand at the wheel of the ship of state is sure to tip the scales sooner rather than later, if nothing else.

    How will the public react? How will government institutions react? How will the world react?

    How will you react?

    I’ll again urge everybody: do whatever it already is you do to make the world a better place. For most of us, that means getting up in the morning, making the bed, and so on. But for judges, for example, it means calmly and rationally deciding on the merits of cases presented. For members of Congress, it means representing the constituency. And for members of the military, it means obeying an oath made, not to a man, but to a law, the highest in the land, and to defend that law against all enemies, foreign as well as domestic.

    Also: never forget the humanity of those on the other side. We all bleed red.

    It might also help to remember that Drumpf himself really is sincere. He really does believe the bullshit he spouts, really does see himself as the good guy and the country’s best-and-only chance at greatness, really doesn’t recognize himself as the villain. And his supporters, too; the ones who voted for him are of a like mind and really do believe that they’re working to make the world a better place. Even those doing so cynically, such as more than one Congressional Republican, might recognize that they’re playing with fire but are confident that this is a fire that they can tame and control, that the rewards far outweigh the risks.

    We built this hole in no small part through failure to communicate, failure to accept the humanity and sincerity of the others — whichever others that might be. If, as a society, we’re to heal our wounds, it will come through compassion and forgiveness, even in cases where it is undeserved and unwarranted.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Ben – speaking of autocracy, it seems clear to me that we are now living in a kakistocracy. Because so many of the Trumpites are immune to facts, sadly it may take some horrendous event to break their zombie-like allegiance to the alternative facts based administration.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Sounds dire and it might happen. My hope is he oversteps a couple of times in such a way as to convince even the repubs he must go to save the nation.

      • Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        His campaign, and now his Residency, has been an extreme over-the-top non-stop constant flood of boundaries not merely being overstepped by utterly destroyed. And yet Republicans remain steadfastly united in their support of him, both in word and in vote.

        If that’s not enough to convince you of their unshakable loyalty to their Fearmonger, what is?

        Hell, these’re the same Republicans who impeached Clinton for a consensual extramarital affair — and who merely parroted Drumpf’s nonsense about “locker room banter” bragging of sexual assault.

        He also bragged that he could shoot somebody in Times Square and still have the support of his followers. His followers are the Republican party, and he was absolutely correct in his assessment.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • rickflick
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          Republican’s constituents are going ape shit over loss of ACA, failure to hold hearing on Trump’s escapades, etc. My guess is these guys will not last through the next election cycle unless they adapt to reality. Give them another month.

  17. Jacob
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, Krugman isn’t checked on his predictions as much as you seem to have confidence in him. To wit, here’s what he predicted after the election: “…[M]arkets are plunging. When might we expect them to recover?
    … a first-pass answer is never.” (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/election-night-2016/paul-krugman-the-economic-fallout)

    How did that work out? Dow Jones broke 20,000, S&P, Nasdaq all have hit record highs: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/21/s-and-p-500-hits-first-all-time-high-since-august-joins-dow-nasdaq-small-and-mid-caps.html

    Stock markets of course aren’t all that matter, and I myself worry about a Trump presidency, but Krugman often makes bold claims (such as the one above) and is proven flatly wrong.

    • Jacob
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Here is another discussion on things Krugman, despite his confidence, has been very wrong about: https://www.quora.com/What-things-has-Paul-Krugman-been-very-wrong-about

    • Martin X
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Krugman’s prediction was silly…even I knew that at the time. People tend to see what they want to see in the stock market’s movement. Economists are no better than the average Joe at making predictions.

      Still, he retracted his prediction a few days later.

      • Jacob
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Yes, but many economists don’t make such follies, and avoid silly predictions. I’d pay more attention to them rather than Krugman-types.

        • Martin X
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          “many economists don’t make such follies”

          Economists that have columns twice per week do. 🙂

          • FiveGreenLeafs
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            Ah, the ‘newspaper’ made me do it defense…

    • rickflick
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Krugman is only human. He’s under assignment to write a column so, even if he’d rather not make predictions, he’s probably pressed into it.

      • FiveGreenLeafs
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        The question is not (to my mind) whether Paul Krugman is human, but whether it is justifiable to trust him, and his predictions.

        And whether it is the newspaper that forces him to do it, or if it is all himself, matters little in that regard.

        And as far as I have seen, he is as liberal in his forecast in interviews and lectures as he is on his bl*g.

        • Jacob
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

          Yes, very good points.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          It’d take a fool to bet on Krugman’s predictions. An eve bigger fool, to ignore his analysis.

          • FiveGreenLeafs
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

            That might be the case, but, what we are discussing here is Paul Krugman’s predictions, and not his factual expertise and competence in this, or any other domain.

            And, that, are two very different things…

            • Posted February 13, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

              After weatherman, economist is the best job – one never has to be right.

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      That is my take as well, but the instances I came in contact with his writing, were in connection with the European debt crisis and in particular Greece, and he (for example) repeatedly (and dogmatically) claimed Greece would leave within the next twelve months, and certainly within the next 24.

      Interview with economist Paul Krugman: ‘Greece will leave eurozone within 12 months’

      He was wrong, and that is not something to be overly surprised about in my opinion.

      Philip Tetlock has repeatedly shown that such forecasts, even by the foremost experts in the field, are in the majority of cases worthless, and not significant better than chance.

      The problem is rather that most people, often both the forecaster and the listeners don’t realize this, but believe that it is.

      Much of this (as far as I understand) springs out of the work by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, and the failure to take into consideration such things such as baseline rates, availability bias and representativeness.

      The major reason people don’t (seem to) learn, is that they seldom go back and check, that public punters and forecasters, like Paul Krugman, are not held publicly to account for their failures, and, that we have a wonderful cognitive ability to (unconsciously) alter our beliefs after the fact, called hindsight bias.

      • Jacob
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. I don’t know the mechanism, but having more accountability would lead to (i) less emphasis on those who make wrong prediction, and (ii) more thoughtful predictions from those who make them.

        • FiveGreenLeafs
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          Yes, it would be very interesting to run such an experiment over an extended time period, say 5-10y, on for example all political, economic punters and forecasters appearing in big media channels like CNN, NBC, Washington Post, New York Times etc.

          And, every time they write an article or appear on TV, a tagg had to be attached, stating their current ratio of correct predictions.

          What bothers me is that talk (and forecasts) are so cheap today, and (as you say) that the more careful, thoughtful and responsible scientist or thinker never gets heard, because all these people are shouting so high over in the other corner…

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      “… Krugman often makes bold claims (such as the one above) and is proven flatly wrong.”

      At least, with Krugman, these are predictions about future events. Trump constantly makes statements about past events that are flat false.

      His people call these “altervative facts”; the rest of us call them “lies.”

      • Jacob
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        My comment was not justifying Trump or Trump’s lies in any way.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          Good to know; this would be no time to start justifying Trump’s crazy lies.

    • Dick Veldkamp
      Posted February 14, 2017 at 2:56 am | Permalink

      Paul Krugman retracted that prediction within a week (if I remember correctly), admitting that he had been wrong.

      • Jacob
        Posted February 14, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Right, so he was wrong. Which was my point: he often makes bold claims very confidently that are proven to be flat out wrong. This is not an isolated incident. (see link above in my second comment)

  18. Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Krugman is generally a bit too arrogant for my tastes, and this is no exception. Who,exactly, is the “we” he’s presuming to speak for? He’d do better, I think, to speak for himself:

    “I can’t handle another post-9/11-style suspension of doubt about the man in charge; if that happens, America as I know it will soon be gone.”

    On that score he’s probably right, but I can’t bring myself to get too upset about it.

  19. rickflick
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I’ve been paying attention to Robert Reich lately. He’s was secretary of labor under Clinton. His economic analysis is quite detailed and his predictions are also very dire. Now he’s a part of MoveOn.

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      My local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, has a column by Reich every Sunday – well worth reading, though I don’t know if it is syndicated.

  20. Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    He wants his Reichstag fire. I just hope he doesn’t get it before he’s impeached.

  21. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I will just put out there that I am not sure we can easily predict when or how or even if Trump will run his presidential term into a wall and explode. He has been consistently underestimated for over a year, against the face of evidence and reason. We thought he could not rise in the primaries, and he sure did. We thought that surely he would not be elected, and he was.

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I share that sentiment.

      What intrigues me, is why so many people continue to make new predictions along the very same line again and again, and thinking that now, now, they will surely be correct.

      What evidence to they build that confidence on, and, without seeming to stop up and consider the reasons for their previous failures.

      They seem to have turned off their learning algorithm, and that at least, frightens me.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      I look at that somewhat differently. I don’t think Trump was underestimated. I think what people were consistently underestimating was the reaction of voters to Trump. Trump didn’t change, improve, or rise to the challenge. He just kept on doing Trump like he always has.

      I do also wonder if the people that are confident that Trump is going to be removed or will resign sometime soon are underestimating the Republicans. I’m pretty sure they aren’t underestimating Trump in this context. I think it is a very low order of probability that Trump is going to learn and adapt to the job of POTUS well enough to not to a near complete shit job of it.

      But I do think it is possible that those people are underestimating how selfish, unethical and stupid the Republicans can be in there quest to achieve and maintain power over all branches of government. Mitch McConnell just recently proclaimed that they are just fine with Trump. Lindsey Graham is lifting anti-left crybaby memes right out of the twitterverse and proclaiming them to the press. And so far virtually all of the smaller Republican cogs are still following their orders faithfully.

      The Republicans lost a fair chunk of their base to Trump, and then some more when they ultimately supported Trump. If they remove Trump they lose face and a large chunk of their former supporters will be gone and pissed off at them. Both are a serious danger to their current hold on government. Though they’ve shown themselves to be masters of getting a certain percentage of the populace to consistently vote against their own best interests I think overcoming what they would face if they removed Trump would be their tallest order yet. I’d guess the party would break into several pieces and the traditional core of the party wouldn’t be the one with the most supporters.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Good summary, IMO.

        • darrelle
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Thanks.

      • FiveGreenLeafs
        Posted February 14, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        I look at that somewhat differently. I don’t think Trump was underestimated. I think what people were consistently underestimating was the reaction of voters to Trump.

        Two things, first, when people talk about underestimating Trump in this context, they don’t (I think) differentiate between the two. And, further, I think it is very difficult to tease apart, because the reaction of the voters effect the actions of the politician, and, the behavior and actions of the politician effects the voters.

        Just think about a live performance for an artist: the reaction of the crowd will influence the performer and, the actions of the performer will influence the crowd. The same psychological and fundamental mechanisms in play.

        The voter and the politician, are not (to my mind) separate isolated identities or systems, they interact.

        Second, if you personally dislike Trump, you almost certainly underestimate him, because that is (if I understand correctly) how our human psychology work, the same way, that if you ask a hundred thousand people to rank themselves in regard to how good they are as organizers, how funny they are, how good drivers etc, 95 000 will claim that they are above average, and 80 000, that they and in the top 5%. (The number are not exact data, just meant to visualize the general pattern.)

        Another thing we humans are masterful at, besides overestimate ourselves, is creating stories. Amos Tversky, the brother in arms of Daniel Kahneman, held a series of now famous lectures at State University of New York, At Buffalo in 1972…

        “In the course of our personal and professional lives, we often run into situations that appear puzzling at first blush. We cannot see for the life of us why Mr. X acted in a particular way, we cannot understand how the experimental results came out the way they did, etc.

        Typically, however, within a very short we come up with an explanation, a hypothesis, or an interpretation of he facts that renders them understandable, coherent, or natural. The same phenomenon is observed in perception. People are very good at detecting patterns and trends even in random data.

        In contrast to our skill in inventing scenarios, explanations, and interpretations, our ability to assess their likelihood, or evaluate them critically, is grossly inadequate. Once We have adopted a particular hypothesis or interpretation, we grossly exaggerate the likelihood of that hypothesis, and find it very difficult to see things any other way.”

  22. eric
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t read all the posts, but I’m personally more concerned that Trump will act belligerently first and terrorism will happen in response, rather than terrorism happening and then we go to war. I can easily see him and Bannon cooking up some crazy CIA and illicit attacks on Iran, only to have the Iranians catch us, publicize it, and decide not to sit back and take it.

    • somer
      Posted February 14, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      Yes I fear he’ll start hostilities or “intervention” never mind the reason or despite the likely consequences

  23. Posted February 13, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I’m convinced. Cue Ride of the Valkyries.

  24. Larry
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Krugman: “In the end, I fear, it’s going to rest on the people — on whether enough Americans are willing to take a public stand.”

    The problem is that there is not just one public stance, nor are some of them mutually compatible. It’s not just left vs. right. There are anarchists, survivalists, white supremacists, ranchers, posse comitatus, anti-social types,and just plain violent knuckleheads.

    To use the phrase “public stand” oversimplifies a multidimensional problem. Again, there is no ONE stand that all the good people are going to stand up for. That is, unless they are united “enough” on one thing despite their mutual hatred. If it’s going to take “enough Americans…willing to take a public stand”, we may have a long wait, or violent encounters are upcoming, or we plod through to the next election.

  25. somer
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    I have to confess Im more worried his rashness will sleepwalk the US into another war- and will then escalate tensions with other powers including Iran. He has recently required the security agencies to come up with a plan to more quickly win the war in Mosul (there aren’t options there without many more big risks than opportunities)and he wants the plan in 30 days
    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/sundayextra/the-battle-for-mosul/8260522

  26. Tom
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    Speaking as an obsever on the other side of the pond are you all sure that “America” does not want a war?

    • Helen Hollis
      Posted February 14, 2017 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      As an observer on the other side of the pond of yours, I am not sure what America wants as most of us that voted did not vote for what we have in office. I say it is taxation without representation.

      • Tom
        Posted February 14, 2017 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        I was rather thinking of the saying “cometh the hour cometh the man”

  27. peepuk
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    Economics is mostly a historical science. Useful predictions are not the strong point of Economists.


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