May 31, 2008

Dmitry Orlov's "Reinventing Collapse"

It's certainly worth reading, this new book by Peak Oil theorist and "collapse" thinker (he pointedly disavows the titles "expert" or "activist") Dmitry Orlov, a native-born Russian who witnessed first-hand the economic collapse of the Soviet Union in the late eighties and early nineties. The précis might be stated this way: the Soviet situation at the end of the USSR and the current American situation are strikingly similar. Overextended, bloated militaries; foreign wars gone wrong (Soviet: Afghanistan; American: Iraq, Afghanistan); crushing foreign debt; a declining currency; an unresponsive, incompetent central bureaucracy, etc. Add to these preconditions the looming crisis of Peak Oil, and you have an American economy set up for disaster.

Orlov's background is scientific, in engineering and computers, and he writes in a droll, frequently hilarious deadpan style about modern America. There is nothing malicious in the sometimes unfavorable comparisons he draws between the old Soviet Union and the USA, but he makes clear that there were definitely superior aspects to Soviet life which Americans, for ideological reasons, are incapable of seeing. Nevertheless, I don't think he wrote the book to settle any old scores or out of resentment, not at all. He seems like a man incapable of envy or even of much caring who has the upper hand.

The precipitating event for America's collapse (and he means this literally) is Peak Oil and its consequences. He sees the USA returning to an agrarian, atavistic society intent mainly on sheer physical survival. Orlov contends that in some ways the USA is less prepared for such a fall than the old USSR. For one main reason, the USSR was far less dependent on the private auto as a means of transportation, whereas the United States is practically helpless without it. Soviet housing and medical care were provided by the government, so that when hyperinflation hit, and the ruble became worthless, the residents were not turned out into the street or denied health care. Obviously, neither of these situations obtains in the USA. Those who do not own their own "shelter" and some modicum of arable land (at least 1,000 square feet) when disaster hits are likely to become homeless nomads.

Orlov, in common with other Peak Oil theorists I've read (such as James Kunstler), denies that "technological" fixes can save us from this future. No combination of renewable energy or conservation will rescue us. Sometimes their insistence upon disaster suggests to me that Peak Oil is cultist, in some ways, a kind of End Times dystopia, and their revulsion with the look and feel of modern America lies at the base of a destructive fantasy.

But Peak Oil is not like Y2K or waiting for the Hale-Bopp comet. If you go over to and noodle around, you'll discover there's an awful lot to what Orlov is saying. For instance, the depletion rate for oil worldwide exceeds the rate of new discoveries coming on line by a factor of four. The depletion rate is defined as the downward trend of production of existing fields (as pressure is lost over time and water intrudes, the rate of extraction from a field goes downhill) plus the growth in demand. Currently, the world's oil fields are producing about 85 million barrels per day, and everyone except Saudi Arabia is pumping full-out. Some of the exporters we depend on are going to start hoarding their own supply because their fields are playing out (Mexico, e.g.). Demand at least equals supply. We're in an unstable equilibrium, and the U.S. takes a way disproportionate 20 million barrels a day, 14 million imported. The United States hit its own peak in 1970, and the Peakies say the world hit one in mid-2005. There are new fields which could be drilled, in Iraq, off the coasts of the USA and Brazil, in Alaska. The problem is that new fields are no match for the depletion rate even under best case scenarios. We're going to steadily lose ground. All that new discoveries can do is retard the onset of shortages.

None of this sounds much like Y2K, much as we would like it to. Neither does the realization that oil costs 5 times as much per barrel now as it did when Bush took office.

You know, I have to confess something here. Dmitry Orlov, while I was reading his book? He didn't seem hysterical at all. Thing is, he seemed really, really smart. He's given up the idea of motivating people to do anything, if he ever entertained the notion, because he can't see it happening. Anything which might work is politically impossible. One of those paradoxes, like the slow-as-molasses response to global warming. How can things which are crucial to survival be politically impossible?

Ken Deffeyes, the Princeton geologist and author of Hubbert's Peak - The Impending Oil Shortage Crisis, does something which Orlov does not do; he places the problem on some sort of time line. At oil's current price, fluctuating at about $130 per barrel, about 6-1/2% of the world's total domestic product is being consumed in buying petroleum. His estimate is that at $300 per barrel and about 15%, the world's economies will go into shutdown. Extrapolating from recent price rises, this might happen in 6 to 24 months. $300 per barrel oil translates to about $12 per gallon gasoline. A car with a 15 gallon tank would cost $180 for a fill-up. If you're driving a Lincoln Navigator or an Escalade and getting 15 mpg, it will cost you $12 to drive 15 miles, or 80 cents a mile. A 45 mpg Prius will allow you to drive 15 miles for four bucks. Those prices do sound crippling, and it's important to remember that if you consider the myriad applications of petroleum in agriculture and manufacturing, the cost increases are incorporated nearly everywhere you look.

The question forming in my mind is not how could this happen here, but the more ominous: why won't it? Probably what gives Peak Oil and the idea of impending disaster its air of unreality is the official silence and the lack of concern in the popular media. No blockbuster movies (okay, Road Warrior), no documentaries, no speeches by President Bush other than the occasional reference to our "addiction." How could something this dire be potentially this close with a "gas tax holiday" for the summer as the only official reaction? Dmitry would have a droll response; personally, I think mine will be to find a nice level lot with a high water table.

Obama beats McCain: then what?

It appears that the Democratic elders have seen enough of the Obama/Clinton road show and are about to ring down the curtain. Fun while it lasted; if the superdelegates definitively side with the majority of the chosen delegates, then Barack will be the nominee. If Hillary persists in her "campaign" past that point in the hope that Obama implodes or dies or something, she will be seen as someone who simply went around the bend, and as a crazy person who needs restraining more than anything else. Maybe that will become Obama's strongest selling point; he is now the only viable candidate from the two major parties who is not clinically insane.

I notice that the latest California poll shows Obama leading Clinton by a vote of 51-38%, despite Hillary's 9% victory in February's primary. This appears to be a reliable marker of her depreciation in the public eye, given the variegated nature of the California electorate. McCain barely registers in the poll; Obama demolishes him. To this hopeful sign must be appended the caveat that California's 55 electoral votes will go to Obama no matter what, so the size of his margin doesn't really matter. But I think Obama will defeat McCain in the general election. For one thing, McCain is a terrible campaigner. He's boring and uninspiring. He doesn't look or sound like anyone who can lead the country out of serious problems that most thinking people see all around them. When people are spooked, they want a leader who seems resourceful and innovative, who can lead them out of the box canyon. George W. Bush in 2000 was helped along by the good years Clinton left behind, by the relative peace and quiet. And Bush was a much more talented campaigner than McCain, using his narcissistic, phony personality to convince Americans he was a good ol' boy, and not a prep school cheerleader with serious intellectual inadequacies. The irony being, as Americans have learned, that Bush's obnoxious personality has become one of the major sources of national insecurity for the country. I'm convinced that many national leaders work against our interests not out of an animus against the USA generally, but because they just can't stand him. That could be yet another singular distinction of the Bush presidency.

So Obama gets elected. This is where my predictive limits are certainly reached. I think the major, immediate difficulty he will encounter is the energy crisis, reflected in the "structural" high price of imported oil. He will succeed to the leadership of a country wholly consecrated and dedicated to the private automobile, where the living arrangements of suburban sprawl far from urban work centers are now a serious problem. Where the viability of commercial airlines is uncertain, and where the public transportation system is mostly haphazard and dilapidated. I've read his website and it's certainly progressive on energy efficiency, carbon abatement (cap& trade, e.g.), higher CAFE standards (which are now beginning to take care of themselves as many Americans have to choose between filling the tank and eating) and renewable energy, such as cellulosic ethanol, which shows a hip familiarity with work being done at the University of California at British Petroleum (UCB-P). But his ideas are almost too little, too late before he starts, and he will have to deal with an intractable Congress protecting the corn-for-ethanol-growing Midwest and other irrationalities.

And the affordability of food, which is related. Maybe Barack will urge, as a matter of government transparency, reinstatement of the CPI standards which existed during the Reagan years, instead of all this Greenspan malarkey about "hedonic enhancement" and substitution of Spam when ground beef becomes too pricey. If so, Americans will see in print what they already feel, that inflation is currently running at 11% or so.

Not to mention the solvency of the entitlement programs. As the turnaround date for Social Security, 2017, nears (and that's if there is no serious recession), surely it's impossible to keep talking about using the Social Security "surplus" as general tax revenue and replacing it with a fictitious "trust fund." The bill has come due, and there is no money to pay it with. And the health care system is simply DOA at this point.

If Barack Obama is honest in his first State of the Union, there will be very little talk about national security in terms of foreign "wars" (in Iraq, on terror), other than the recognition they have to end immediately. His speech should sound like a FDR radio address in the depths of the Great Depression. An honest call to serious action before it is entirely too late.

May 29, 2008

Puffy Parachutes To Left Bank of the Potomac

Rudolf Hess, who worked as Hitler's Assistant Dictator in Nazi Germany, veered off from a German airplane formation over the North Sea in May, 1941, and bailed out over Scotland. He was captured and held by the British as a probable spy, although the Germans disavowed him as any sort of agent. "Ganz verrückt," is how they summed up their feelings about Rudolf. Crazy. Hess's own story is that he wanted to meet with a member of the British royalty whose acquaintance he had made at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin to arrange an alliance to fight the Soviet Union. None of this saved Hess from trial as a war criminal at Nuremberg. He was convicted and sentenced to a life term at Spandau Prison in Berlin, where he spent the rest of his long life as its only prisoner, dying at 93.

In other words, in more serious times decent people knew how to deal with political criminals who decided they might be on the losing side of history and fled to the opposition. What's done is done, the Allies said. Once a Hitler henchman, always a Hitler henchman. But thanks for dropping in on us.

Among the various terms of derision for Scott McClellan, my favorite was Puffy McMoonface, since it seemed to capture his essential ridiculousness. I recall him best as Bush's stonewaller during the Plame matter. Day after day, he stood at his podium and informed a nation curious about treason in high places that he could not talk about anything to do with Plame because "of the the ongoing investigation." Part of the ongoing investigation had been his personal conversations with Scooter Libby and Karl Rove, who assured him that they had had no involvement in leaks concerning Valerie Plame's CIA identity. This he dutifully reported to the press corps, since it seemed favorable to George W. Bush. When facts developed in the Libby case proved that Libby and Rove had lied to him (so Puffy says), he could not comment because of the ongoing...whatever. Investigation, trial, sentencing, exoneration by Bush, and eventually because of Puffy's own resignation and intention to write a tell-all book for big bucks. He couldn't detract from his own punch lines.

While McClellan's book is treated as a "bombshell" by the inbred culture in Washington, D.C., it is obviously nothing of the kind. Fortunately, the narcissistic reporters in the D.C. press corps have already read the book for us, looking for references to themselves, and so have divulged all of the parts worth mentioning. No one needs to read this thing now. Puffy does not say anything we did not know, as far as I can tell from the available hearsay. We all know that Bush lacks curiosity; that he's not "intellectual" in his approach; that he sold the war as a defensive measure against WMD's, but that the messianic purpose Bush "concealed" was to remake the Middle East (as the Neocons said at the time, in fact). We know that Bush is insecure and won't admit mistakes. We know, first and foremost, that he deludes himself, because he actually thinks he has what it takes to be President.

The one place where McMoonface might have helped the course of justice was in describing Bush's true state of knowledge about the Valerie Plame disclosures. He persists in the Official Story that Bush remained in the dark even though Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby, all direct assistants to the President, were not only fully informed but were the principal sources of the leak. This is highly doubtful, and I suspect McClellan knows it. The net effect of Puffy's book, therefore, is to give Bush a pass on a critical matter, one where serious legal jeopardy once threatened him. The rest is carping, a lot of adjectives thrown around for the purpose of impressing us that Puffy is an insider. Bush, as usual, will lose no sleep over this book. In fact, I feel reasonably confident that the "firestorm" of criticism aimed Puffy's way by the High Command was choreographed. It's part of the marketing strategy and a quid-pro-quo. Go ahead, Scott, and say bitchy things about Bush's complacency and susceptibility to manipulation. That's your opinion, and anyway, who doesn't know that? Just don't say anything that really matters. We'll attack you to help you sell your book and make you look like a "traitor" to us and a hero to them.

Scott's still playing the same game, in other words. Pretending to redemption, whereas his experience is redeemable only down at the bank.

May 28, 2008

And Up On Rocinante, Don Bugliosi

Here comes Vincent Bugliosi again, this time with a book called The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. One thing I have to give the guy, he does not mince words.

Part of the self-promo for his new opus have been a couple of teaser posts on The Huffington where he hyperventilates about the bad habit of the mainstream press in laying out the fundamentals of a criminal case against Bush and then "turning the page" or "going on to the next paragraph," unlike Vince, who will stay with the subject. He will not simply go on to the next paragraph, not this dogged, relentless, maniacally thorough former L.A. District Attorney. No, he'll go on to the next ten or fifteen or 15,000 paragraphs and write a whole book about a hypothetical murder case which will never happen, which makes him, what? More authentic? Serious where other people are just screwing around?

If I hadn't read all the predicates for such a case a thousand times already, I would probably read the book. I know that George W. Bush misled the country into war. I know that he knew the evidence for WMD in Iraq was pretty sketchy at the point he ordered the invasion. I know that Bush suddenly and surprisingly gave Saddam & Sons 48 hours to clear out of Baghdad in order to bring the invasion under another covering rationale of the Congressional AUMF and the "regime change" mandate of an earlier resolution passed when Bill Clinton was President. I know these things indicate "consciousness of guilt," and that Bush was already nervously looking down the line to see if he had his ass covered against a war crimes charge.

But Bugliosi's book is still dumb. I say that without actually reading very much of it, so take the opinion for what it's worth. Bugliosi's basic premise is that Bush lied the nation into war and therefore the deaths of over 4,000 American soldiers and 100,000 Iraqis (his number) are murders which can be charged against the President of the United States. I don't know how Bugliosi handles little details like the doctrine of "sovereign immunity," which essentially shields public officials from liability for acts performed in an "administrative capacity," you know, like being President and Commander in Chief and ordering an invasion based on something called an Authorization for Use of Military Force which a compliant, 9/11-spooked Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, were only too glad to give Bush.

Since he's calling it "murder," I assume that Bugliosi is talking about a statute such as California's Penal Code Sec. 187, " (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus..." which requires "intent" as an element of the crime. So Vince would have to persuade his jury that Bush intended to kill the 4,000+ American soldiers. Now, there are different ways to do that, as anyone who has been to law school becomes aware from all the hypotheticals that law profs use to pass the time during their Socratic exchanges with bored students. Suppose an anarchist is walking down the street with a bomb, the fuse lit (in the diagram, the "bomb" is always round and black, about the size of a bowling ball), and he tosses it into an open window. The anarchist doesn't know whether anyone is in the building, and "can't see into the building." (That last part is always thrown in.) Three people are blown up. Is the anarchist guilty of murder? The defense will say, well, he didn't "intend" to kill any specific person, that he could see, anyway; he just intended to throw a bomb with a lighted fuse through a window, not knowing whether anyone was home or not.

Let's just go to the answer: yes, he can be prosecuted for intentional homicide. It's common sense, isn't it? If you go around throwing bombs, it's completely foreseeable that you're going to kill someone, and that's good enough for intent. The state is not going to let you off because of some argument based on philosophical, semantic baloney. So my guess is that Bugliosi would use similar reasoning to satisfy the "intent" requirement for Bush's hypothetical murders. If you lie the country into a pointless war, it's completely foreseeable that lots of people are going to die unnecessarily. Ergo, in the same way as the anarchist, Bush intended to kill people.

The same common sense tells you that approach isn't going to work. It may be dramatic, it may seem forceful and "principled," but it's silly. The case would never get to a jury.

Now, Bugliosi might have turned his prosecutorial talent and prodigious capacity for research to misprisions of office which might, indeed, result in successful prosecutions of Bush for felonies, such as death under torture of detainees in U.S. custody. Sovereign immunity will not save anyone from prosecution for violations of criminal statutes which are not excused by "administrative discretion," not at all. Indeed, the purpose of such war crimes statutes is to constrain U.S. officials in the exercise of their governmental duties. I suspect, however, that such a real case is not Bugliosi's kind of action. He made his rep busting guys like Charles Manson for violations of California Penal Code Sec. 187, and in a hundred other cases where the evidence was in his favor, with the full, august power of the state behind him.

But one thing of which I'm fairly confident: Vincent Bugliosi cannot claim among his career laurels the successful prosecution of a United States President for "murder" based on conduct of a war, any war, at any time. Bush's lawyers would argue, as Bush has done, that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a good thing for the world, an argument the bomb-throwing anarchist could make only in the event of an amazing coincidence. And while Bugliosi didn't stop after criticizing Bush for misleading us into war, and he went on to the next paragraph, he kept writing for the same reason the pundits complain and never do anything: to make a buck. So please spare us the self-glorification in your lonely, quixotic quest. Anyway, maybe the ultimate responsibility lies with the American public for putting this mendacious bumbler in office. Or the Supreme Court, for appointing him in 2000. Oh wait, you already did that. Your case against the Supreme Court in None Dare Call It Treason (no one dares except you, of course). How's that case coming?

May 27, 2008

Against a sea of troubles

Streams of consciousness...

It's from Hamlet's soliloquy, but you already knew that. The Bard of Avon certainly possessed a fine poetic gift. A "sea of troubles." No one could have topped Shakespeare's metaphor for a euphonious and evocative image of overwhelming adversity.

In his soliloquy, which was actually an early form of blogging when you think about it, the Prince was trying to figure out whether living was really worth all the trouble. He laid great weight on the fear of death, and the uncertainties of the "afterlife," if any, suggesting that the decision to live, and to act, was more a matter of compulsion than desire. Anyway, Hamlet was paralyzed by indecision, by the gnawing sense that action was futile in any case, an attitude presaging other great literary ditherers such as Dostoevsky's anti-hero in "Notes from the Underground" and Camus's Meursault in "L'Etranger."

Politicians aren't like that. They are congenital can-do types, which is good, because whoever becomes the next leader of this country will certainly encounter a sea of troubles. I suspect that American life will need a new paradigm in order to thrive, and for that I think Barack Obama is probably the best situated candidate in terms of his age, outlook and sense of the moment. Roger Cohen wrote another smart column yesterday in the New York Times about Obama's mastery of the Internet style of campaigning. Hillary Clinton is mired in older forms of connectivity, which is why she found herself outflanked by Obama in the early part of the primary season. By the time she realized what had happened to her, she had spent all the money she thought she was going to need to lock up the nomination and was playing catch-up. She was banking on her "inevitability," but in the computer age these images can change very quickly. Her habit of saying stupid and erroneous things (such as lying about her accomplishments) which can be easily refuted by Googling and YouTubing set her up for failure. Her gaffes go viral and her composite image takes another pounding. She's never figured that one out. Slowly but surely, she has Photoshopped herself into a grasping, desperate, unhinged harridan whom the hip crowd want nothing to do with. She's the first casualty of the new on-line style of campaigning.

In many forms of game-playing, such as politics, the person who knows the applicable rules better often wins, and the way you raise money nowadays is by small donations solicited through the Internet. I read that Obama now has 1.2 million individual donors, making small, repetitive donations. That's an astounding number. Money, that mother's milk of politics, is never going to be a problem for Barry, and it acts as a counterweight to lobbyist money. McCain and Clinton struggle along with the old school style of fund raisers and high-end cocktail parties, where they rub elbows with all the rich people they've met in their years of whoring out their souls. I have no doubt Obama has done much of the same thing, but he's allowed also this lofty superiority because of his direct connection with common folk. Very smart in these class-riven times.

If McCain is elected, I think the USA will go into a devolutionary phase. It will be disastrous. McCain is one of those guys who was programmed early to think of himself as a great leader with a great mission, but he's actually just a dumb old fart with no ideas who will not be able to implement any changes in the American way of life. He can't; he's not smart enough, flexible enough, informed enough. I'm surprised that people aren't more horrified by his ignorance about sectarian divides in Islam, for example, particularly when he's so casual about threatening to bomb Iran. When he claimed that Sunni al-Qaeda traveled to Shiite Iran for training and support, the press treated it as a "slip-up." If he had been talking about the American Civil War and had said that Robert E. Lee frequently traveled to Washington to consult with Abrahama Lincoln about men and materiel, we would have realized that McCain was a mouth-breathing idiot. His mistake was comparable, yet his error was attributed to some age-related malady like a transient ischemic attack or the stress of travel. Didn't I just see this movie?

McCain skims along the surface of issues and takes mildly "contrarian" positions (compared to Republican orthdoxy) which have earned him a "maverick" reputation without substance. Fundamentally, he thinks of the United States as on a fixed course determined by its World War II mission. His ideas are about 63 years out of date, in other words. If the U.S. continues to bankrupt itself by playing its Globo-Cop role, it's over. What Chalmers Johnson calls "Nemesis," our propensity for maintaining an empire without the means to do it, will finish us off. I doubt, however, that most people see that. If they had, we would not just have had eight years of George W. Bush.

May 26, 2008

What Undertow Pulls at Paul Krugman?

Perhaps you are like me and have found, over the Bush-ravaged years of 2001 to the present, consolation in the wise and steady analysis of Paul Krugman, resident economics columnist on the op-ed pages of the New York Times. He was among the first to suggest that the Iraq fiasco would be ruinously expensive and that the financial course BushCo had charted for the country was unsustainable. He has been right far more than he has ever been wrong. When it seemed that Bush's power was invincible, Krugman was confident that, in fact, Bush and his administration did not know what they were doing and that a helluva mess was being created that would require "adults," at some later point, to clean up. If anything, the conjoined crises of financial meltdown, oil shortage and unaffordability, and runaway federal budget and trade balance deficits are worse than Krugman predicted. I think the question now is not whether serious remedial action is required of "adults" who succeed Bush, but whether even such wiser heads are going to have the resources to deal with what may become a chronic, structural recession.

At some point, however, around the time that Ben Bernanke was appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Krugman began pulling his punches. I thought perhaps it had something to do with collegial courtesy; Bernanke, like Krugman, is on the economics faculty at Princeton, and maybe Krugman realized that his "wilder" utterances might come in for enhanced scrutiny by readers who in fact are the ones setting the policies that he criticizes. He wrote a column a while back in which he lauded Bernanke's bailout of Bear Stearns and suggested that the American economy had "dodged a bullet," holding out the hope that all of our problems with a deflating housing market, $130+ barrels of oil, rising unemployment, runaway real inflation, growing unemployment, dwindling consumer spending, collapse of the commercial airlines sector (as their very "business model" has been called into question by the cost of jet fuel), the struggling independent trucking industry -- all this could be handled with a little interest rate jiggering and other legerdemain by his Princeton colleague.

Krugman has also in not very subtle ways indicated his ardent support for Hillary Clinton. This became noticeable in a series of crushingly boring dissections of the two health care plans of Obama and Clinton. Krugman couched his criticism in terms of what is apparently to him a self-evident truth: that the content of the platform of a candidate is a reliable guide to his later style of governing. This strikes me as nuts; George W. Bush ran on a platform of a "humble foreign policy" in which "nation-building" was anathema to the interests of the USA. Since taking office, Bush has done little else except meddle in Middle Eastern and Afghan affairs.

My own take is that Krugman simply used his analysis of these boilerplate formalisms from the two candidates as a means to signal his support for Hillary Clinton in an "objective" fashion. Lately, however, he has been less subtle. For example, from the column of May 26:

"So what should Mr. Obama and his supporters do? Most immediately, they should realize that the continuing demonization of Mrs. Clinton serves nobody except Mr. McCain. One more trumped-up scandal won’t persuade the millions of voters who stuck with Mrs. Clinton despite incessant attacks on her character that she really was evil all along. But it might incline a few more of them to stay home in November."

This was Krugman's handling of Clinton's "RFK assassination" gaffe. What's strange about the solution Krugman prescribes is that he places the onus on Obama's supporters to remedy the problem of Hillary Clinton's habit of extraordinarily divisive and, at times, borderline crazy public statements. She's the one who made up, out of whole cloth, the lie about being shot at in Bosnia. In what sense is that "trumped up?" It's not a scandal; it's a strong indication of a reality deficit. Ditto her miraculous intercession in the Irish peace talks. Her "phone call at 3 am ad" was a home invasion scenario. The literal-minded can play games with the imagery all they want, and simply treat the story line of a lone mother at home with children, including her vulnerable, pretty teenage daughter, as coincidentally suggestive of a crime scene but really a stand-in for the general fear of "terrorist" attacks, even though this tableau makes absolutely no sense in terms of terrorist threats. And if you want to buy into Krugman's analysis, go ahead and agree with him that the "RFK assassination" reference was just to help us remember that campaigns sometimes last into June.

So: maybe Krugman received an indication at some point, like other liberal academics (Robert Reich, for prominent example), that the Clinton Dynasty might find a place for him in their new Administration. I don't know; that's speculation. He might welcome the change. For he's a terrible writer. It's painful to read an entire column in which 95% of all sentences begin with conjunctions or prepositions. I've thought of writing an entire blog piece as a parody of his style. And maybe I will someday. If I feel like it. Because that's what you can do with a blog. And no one will stop you. But then no one is likely to hire you in their administration. Because you're a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Yet maintaining your integrity. And not suggesting to people that their problems with Hillary Clinton are just something they made up.