Jan. 22nd, 2003

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Kurtz (and Sullivan) on Krugman:

Online columnist Andrew Sullivan, a frequent Krugman antagonist, derides "the extreme partisanship, the self-righteousness and the moral condescension toward his opponents, who are obviously evil to him."

Yet Sullivan, who published Krugman when he ran the New Republic, hastens to add: "I think he's insufferable, but that doesn't make him a bad columnist..."
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from Neal Pollack, in Slate (so punk rock)

...One last word on the posters. Ben spent $100 from the So New Media kitty to hire a really good poster artist. The artist, according to Ben, gave $20 to a "homeless guy" and asked him for a scary illustration. The homeless guy drew a teacup, a fork, and a banana. "Not scary enough," the artist said. So then came the illustration we actually used, which deploys a skull, a crow, and a book, to sufficiently scary effect...

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In the field of fisheries science, where a researcher can spend an entire career with one scaly school in one small stretch of sea, provincial rather than global perspectives have long been considered the most useful.

But as marine stocks collapse around the globe, from the anchovies of Peru to the North Atlantic cod, local detail sheds little light on what is happening to the world's fisheries.

Dr. Daniel Pauly has stepped into this void.

He is an iconoclastic fisheries scientist at the University of British Columbia who is so decidedly global in his life and outlook that he is nearly a man without a country.

"Looking at the big picture has not been the mandate of anybody," Dr. Pauly said, with an accent that simultaneously hints at many languages, but not necessarily his native French or his acquired tongues, German or Spanish or the Swahili or Indonesian that he once spoke.

Most fisheries scientists work for regulatory agencies charged with managing a particular stock in a particular port, he said. But he and his colleagues "have given ourselves the mandate to look at the whole world."

"Nobody has been asking these questions before," Dr. Pauly said.

In the process, he and his fellow researchers are making a splash with paper after paper in the most prestigious scientific journals. Their news is uniformly bad. So Dr. Pauly has become a man on a mission to spread the word that fish stocks are plummeting around the world.

"In some places in the world," he said, "you can see people chasing the last fish. In the Java Sea in Indonesia, I have seen fishers going out in the morning, six of them going out and coming back with five pounds of fish. That is the end point, a pound of fish per person per day to sell for rice. That's where fisheries go if you let it happen. That's where it stabilizes. These people cannot feed their families."

Unchecked, he says, the same will be seen around the world, and the fishing industry will leave little in the seas but harvests of what he calls "bait and worse," the bottom levels of the marine food web like sea cucumbers, jellyfish and, eventually, plankton for future generations to eat.

The problem, he and colleagues say, can be remedied only with a huge reduction in global fishing and the radical step of creating large "no take" zones, where fish can grow large, breed and replenish. But that will only happen, he said, if the true owner of the ocean resources, the public, demands it, which has yet to happen. The public should demand it, he said, once people know the truth about what overfishing really means.

"No, you don't need to worry about these problems," he said, "as long as your children like plankton stew..."
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Mister Kurtz on the Rice Contretemps

Condi and Colin may be off the reservation.

Or is it somehow unfair to raise that question when it comes to affirmative action?

There was an interesting twist over the weekend as newspapers put together their tick-tocks on how Bush decided to have his Justice Department oppose the University of Michigan's affirmative action plan.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Condoleezza Rice had taken a "rare central role" on a domestic issue as the president decided to intervene in the Supreme Court case. She is, after all, not just the national security adviser, not just very close to the Bush family, not just a former provost of Stanford University, but black.

Who wouldn't want to know what she thinks about affirmative action? If Bush is proclaiming his support for college "diversity" — even as he insists that only "race-neutral" remedies are acceptable for achieving that diversity — then surely it's news whether or not his closest African-American aide thinks it's a bunch of jive.

The next day, though, Rice put out a statement saying that while she supports Bush's decision, she believes race can be used as a factor in college admissions.

The earlier story, The Post said, "had the effect of associating a respected African American adviser to Bush with a decision that has been criticized by many black leaders. Rice reportedly was angry about the article in part because she believed it had been written only because she is black."

That may be true, to a point, but the fact that Rice felt strongly enough to lobby her boss on an issue having nothing to do with Afghanistan or Iraq was also newsworthy.

(Colin Powell, meanwhile, said during the 2000 campaign that he thinks affirmative action "is still necessary" and that he hoped the University of Michigan would win this case.)

Rice, who has said she benefited from Stanford's effort to recruit minorities, seemed to be engaging in a bit of damage control, telling American Urban Radio Networks that she agrees with affirmative action "if it does not lead to quotas and if people work hard at it to look at the total individual."



Stylistic points to consider:

*Off the reservation?

*Provost (a job title) is lower case, African-American is upper?

*She's black, then she's African-American a paragraph later?

*We assume the rest of the story was accurate, and she really did take time off from foreign policy to lobby Bush to stand up against something she actually believes in?

*If we all ostensibly really really want to know what she thinks about this (who wouldn't, right?) why is she pandering when she tells us, while her source was being admirably forthcoming by lying about it?

*A member of the Bush administration is publicly disagreeing (oh, of course she is) with her Great and Good Friend the president to pander to - ahem - "urban" people?

*Show of hands - who thinks Dr. Rice has ever been closer to the word "jive" than a matinee of Grease?

The rest of the article is, of course, completely wrong about the facts of the Michigan policy, but I think it's worth reading for the really respectful and color-blind way Mr. Kurtz treats both Dr. Rice and General Powell, on whose words he usually thinks we're supposed go to war. Apparently they can be trusted with the fate of the world but not with the issue of race.

Well, you know how emotional

Well, you know.
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One thing that struck our eye was this quote from National Review's Lawrence Kudlow:

To some, this makes Krugman, 49, an ideologue, a Democratic partisan whose predictability is exceeded only by his shrillness. "He's gotten very personal and vitriolic," says CNBC commentator Lawrence Kudlow, a conservative economist who has tangled with Krugman. "He doesn't really do any analysis and never lets on that the other side might have a point. His economic credentials have kind of evaporated, and he's become a left-wing political spear carrier."

It seems to Tapped that, while Krugman is often vitriolic, he's only personal in the sense that policy deceptions in the end come down to the people responsible for them. When he accuses the administration of lying, he's accusing them of lying about their public statements on matters of budget and policy. A truly personal atttack wouldn't be about budget and policy -- it would be about something, well, personal (such as, say, "Disgraced former cokehead Lawrence Kudlow has no business commenting on tax cuts.")

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