More than Dowd or Huffington or Palast, economist turned editorial firebrand Paul Krugman arouses ire at the red end of the blogosphere. You can practically see the Seinfeldian scorn curling their collective lip every time someone invokes the hated name: Krugman! Emerging as the New York Times’s voice of intelligent dissent in the wake of Bush 43’s accession to the presidency, Krugman brings a hard-numbers background to the table. Not only is he ready to contest the slipperiest postconservative bullshit–from rebates disguised as refunds to the doughnuttiness of the prescription-drug benefit to the attempted dismantling of social security–he’s got the math to back it up. And his fierce but measured outrage at the administration’s oligarchical agenda–not to mention the tactics employed in its service–might serve as a model for some of his snarkier, more hotheaded peers. (Most recently, Krugman has had some sobering things to say about the slim chances of the Democrats retaking the House in November after years of Republican gerrymandering.) But his grasp of the bigger picture and ability to explain it shouldn’t be that surprising. After all, he’s an economist and despite America’s capacity for denial on this score, almost all our remaining problems are really economic. His talk kicks off the 2006 Chicago Humanities Festival, which this year is themed “Peace and War.” See next week’s issue for a festival schedule. a Thu 11/2, 6 PM, Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago, 312-494-0509 or, $6, $5 in advance.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Deitch.