First off, I'm not going to defend...

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on December 9, 2002

Sen. Trent Lott's widely-reported remark at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party.

But Paul Krugman's latest column does contain some whoppers.

[A] man from Mars -- or from Europe -- might expect Mississippi voters to favor progressive taxation and generous social programs. After all, the state benefits immensely from the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson: it doesn't pay a lot of federal taxes because it has the lowest per-capita income in the nation, and it does receive a lot of aid. Unlike, say, New Jersey, which pays far more into the U.S. Treasury than it gets in return, Mississippi is a major net recipient of federal funds.

But Mississippi is, in fact, the home of Trent Lott -- a leader of a party determined to roll back as much as it can of the Great Society, perhaps even the New Deal. Why do Mississippi and its neighbors support politicians whose economic policies seemingly run counter to their interests?

Well, geez, if you set it up that way...the only conclusion I can draw is that Mississippi voters are stupid. Apparently, so is everyone outside of the top 1 percent of income earners who vote Republican.

They want to roll back the Great Society? Good. Memo to Krugman: the Great Society didn't work. That was part of the welfare reform act passed a few years ago and signed by a Democratic president.

Fifty years ago the politics of race in America weren't at all disguised. Jim Crow laws both impoverished and disenfranchised Southern blacks; Southern whites voted for politicians who promised to keep things that way. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act ended overt discrimination. Yet race remains a major factor in our politics.

Indeed, this year efforts to suppress nonwhite votes were remarkably blatant. There were those leaflets distributed in black areas of Maryland, telling people they couldn't vote unless they paid back rent; there was the fuss over alleged ballot fraud in South Dakota, clearly aimed at suppressing Native American votes. Topping it off was last Saturday's election in Louisiana, in which the Republican Party hired black youths to hold signs urging their neighbors not to vote for Mary Landrieu.

The leaflets in Maryland -- yeah, it was news at the time -- they found a total of .... Four? Besides, if some lame leaflet like that scares you away from voting, then maybe you shouldn't be voting in the first place.

I hate to sound elitist, but it's really an issue of caring enough to be informed about basic civics. Krugman's new saying seems to be: "Democratic voters -- only slightly less stupid than Republicans."

The ballot fraud in South Dakota, to Krugman, is nothing more than a "fuss" that was designed in hopes of "suppressing Native American votes."

Notice how Krugman manages to turn the fact that a Democratic party worker filled out several hundred bogus voter registration cards into the Republicans fault.

According to the "right-wing" Fox News report way back in October:

According to officials, the FBI has uncovered the registration of minors, dead people, and people who do not exist. Many of the registrations have included bogus names and invalid addresses.

Investigators said in one case a woman was registered to vote a week after her death.

They have also found multiple absentee ballots distributed to the same registered voter but returned with different signatures, the officials said.

The case was brought to the attention of the South Dakota attorney general's office when county auditors began discovering problems with absentee ballot requests and votes. State Attorney General Mark Barnett said the investigation has been ongoing for two weeks.

Barnett said that he hoped invalid absentee ballots haven't been filed. Absentee voting began Sept. 24 and the registration deadline is Oct. 21.

"I don't even want to think about it," Barnett said. "A lot of absentee ballots are going to get looked at."

Would Krugman be so nonchalant about this if Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) had lost by 500 votes to a Republican?

A friend of mine recently told me that Krugman's dishonest, incredibly partisan columns are only hurting his chances at winning the Nobel Prize in Economics that a substantial portion of the left believes he deserves.

Personally, I'm not so sure -- I'd kinda like to have my own tagline -- just like James Taranto.

Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics in ....


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December 2002



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