Anger is Not a Policy

December 28th, 2011 at 9:53 am David Frum | 109 Comments |

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Kevin Williamson at National Review posts a powerful piece denouncing self-dealing in Congress and wrongdoing on Wall Street.

[H]edge-fund titans, i-bankers, congressional nabobs, committee chairmen, senators, swindlers, run-of-the-mill politicos, and a few outright thieves (these categories are not necessarily exclusive) all feeding at the same trough, and most of them betting that Mitt Romney won’t do anything more to stop it than Barack Obama did. …

They’re hoping that conservatives can be buffaloed with a bit of cheap free-market rhetoric into not noticing that something is excruciatingly amiss here. .. Free-market, limited-government conservatives should be none too eager to welcome them back, nor should we let our natural sympathy with the profit motive blind us to the fact that a great many of them do not belong in the conservative movement, and that more than a few of them belong in prison.

Tough stuff! Now, question: National Review is a political magazine. What, politically, would Kevin Williamson urge conservatives to do about the situation he deplores?

Williamson and other young conservatives who share his thinking are very keen to disassociate their conservatism from financial misconduct. They want to argue that is the work of Big Business and Big Government working together, and that their own ideology and movement are not in any way implicated.

Some will find this line of argument convincing, others not. Leave that aside.

The real trouble with this way of thinking is that it is entirely retrospective and argumentative. It does not answer the question: so what would you do now?

Would you tighten federal regulations on Wall Street, and if so, which?

If you oppose federal regulations to police finance, what would you do instead?

If you dislike members of Congress investing in sweetheart deals, what do you think of Rick Perry’s idea to allow members of Congress to earn even larger outside incomes?

If you oppose the undue influence of finance over Washington, which political reforms would constrain that influence?

If (as you maintain) the Tea Party is the very antithesis of Wall Street lobbying, why is Michele Bachmann denouncing Dodd-Frank? Where are the Tea Party Republicans calling for taxing hedge fund earnings as ordinary income, not capital gains?

Or to sum up: do you have a program to protect the country against the evils you decry? Or only a cultural stance against those evils?

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109 Comments so far ↓

  • icarusr

    Can I? Can I? Please? Pretty please?

    OK, OK – got it – “cut taxes for job creators” and “make the takers pay their fair share”! Oh, and abolish government departments and unnecessary regulation like the EPA and the Department of, oops, er, Energy! Oh, oh wait … bomb Iran. Like tomorrow!

    hmmm … Obamacare – I almost had a Perry moment :) … gotta absolutely get rid of Obamacare, and privatise Social Security – so more people can entrust their life savings to Wall Street financiers (the problem is that they don’t have enough money to play with – we should hand over all our retirement savings too!). And, man – now having a Cain moment – abolish Medicare and turn it over to private insurance companies, who just love to contain costs.

    And the final conservative program … drum rolls!!! …. this is a beaut, I’m telling you! Vintage Libertarianiam, right out of Fox News (courtesy of Salon) … cut welfare cheques for all “skinny ghetto crackheads” like Obama :)

    Conservative enough for ya, Mr. Frum? :) Vote Republican – unless of course you have been disqualified for voting by 21st Century Jim Crow laws :P

    • think4yourself

      Icarusr that was way over the top – and I hate that it was true.

    • nuser

      Thank you!

    • paul_gs

      21st Century Jim Crow laws

      Democrats are at it again. Already trying to claim that an election will be stolen from them, just like in 2000 and 2004. The only elections that aren’t stolen according to Democrats, are the elections they win.

      Funny how there was rampant fraud in both the 2000 and 2004 elections according to Democrats but now, when sensible ID requirements are proposed, Democrats say there is no evidence whatsovever of voter fraud. Well fancy that. ;)

      • icarusr

        “Funny how there was rampant fraud in both the 2000 and 2004 elections according to Democrats”

        You lie.

        The only “fraud” claimed in the 2000 election actually claimed by Democrats, as opposed to “Democrats”, is that perpetrated by the Supreme Court on the American people. There are a lot of complaints, to be sure, about both Florida and Ohio, but there are a lot of complaints everywhere – and, of course, in 2008, the Republicans were screaming bloody murder over everything.

        The fact – as opposed to your lies – is that everywhere Republicans have control of the state houses, they impose restrictions on voter registration, and on voting day ID. This is not an accident. Canada has “sensible ID requirements” and we do not have anything like the system in the US. In fact, as a Canadian, you have practically no insight into US voting regimes – which are controlled at the state level – and requirements – which are far more complex than those of Canada.

        You register through your tax returns, show up, show a photo ID and that’s it. Every Canadian has a photo health ID at a minimum – you know this – and so no Canadian is every deprived of the right to vote by ID requirements. If there were a driver’s licence requirement for voting in Canada it would be declared unconstitutional in about five minutes, because not everyone has one or could get one.

        So, please stop lying, and please – especially because you are blessed with Canadian voting rights – shut the f**k up about US voting rules.

  • Reflection Ephemeral

    In fairness to conservatives, they don’t have views on policies as to this issue because they have a consistent, principled indifference to policy arguments on every issue.

    • icarusr

      In all seriousness, I have to disagree. The position of the Republican Party – and of “conservatism” in the United States – on Choice and Race is pretty clear.

    • Graychin

      Mr. Williamson’s piece is policy-free because he is following the scent of red herrings laid down by his “conservative” brethren.

      Most “conservatives” DO have views on policy issues:

      They want to repeal Dodd-Frank. They want to render the CFPB stillborn by failing to confirm anyone at all as its leader – if they can’t abolish it completely. They want to give more tax cuts to “job creators” exemplified by Mitt Romney. They want to raise income taxes on people who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes.

      They want to abolish Medicare as we know it. (Oops – that’s a Big Lie. I mean they want to change Medicare into an incredible shrinking voucher system.)

      They want to privatize Social Security. (Wall Street would LOVE to get its hands on all that new money.)

      And, especially, they want to abolish “Obamacare” and revert to the status quo ante on health insurance.

      Just because a few bigwigs get greedy (insider-trading Congresscritters, modern-day Wall Street robber barons) and want to take more from the trough than is seemly under their policies doesn’t mean they don’t HAVE policies.

      I happen to believe that Barack Obama would LOVE to correct a lot of the ills to which Mr. Williamson refers – and could, if he had a sane party in opposition, or if there were simply far fewer of the opposition party in Congress. That’s how I plan to vote.

      • balconesfault

        I happen to believe that Barack Obama would LOVE to correct a lot of the ills to which Mr. Williamson refers – and could, if he had a sane party in opposition

        That is the saddest thing about the current political landscape. That the GOP has basically refused to participate in positive improvements of proposed legislation, instead taking the tack that all Democratic proposals need to be fought tooth and nail by any means possible.

        • think4yourself

          Balcone’s right and the saddest part of all, is that a good Democratic proposal can generally be made better with the input of rational GOP ideas.

      • dante

        One of the greatest Ponzi Schemes of all times is not Social Security (it’s able to run infinitely as long as politicians are willing to adjust taxes on the working in order to pay for it) but the stock market. The boost in the stock market over the past 25 years coincides almost perfectly with the average American pouring TRILLIONS of dollars into it through their 401(k)/IRA. When something is in greater demand (ie, stocks), prices go up. We have literally fueled a decades long stock boom on the backs of the investments of ordinary workers.

        However, that’s going to come to an end at some point as Boomers start pulling their money out of the market, and more money will be exiting than new money coming in… Unless, of course, Conservatives can mandate Americans put EVEN MORE of their money into the market through partial privatization of SS.

    • Baron Siegfried

      Of course they do – whatever Obama comes out in favor of, even if it’s their own proposal, they oppose. No matter who get hurt, Obama doesn’t get a win. Their only goal is the defeat of the hated kenyan, everything else is secondary to that. There are lots of things they’d like to do, but that will have to wait till the revolution is won . . .

  • Oldskool

    Nabobs? Now I’m having flashbacks.

  • Deep South Populist

    The notion that the Democrats have new policy ideas or good ideas simply because the Republicans have no ideas or bad ideas doesn’t make sense.

    The Democrats have no new policy ideas when it comes to Wall Street. What new ideas? Obama used his Democrat super-majority to pass Dodd Frank, legislation that allows for future Wall Street bailouts.

    I’d say an appropriate policy response to the Wall Street crisis would be or would have been:

    - Criminal prosecutions and jail time for the parties on Wall Street responsible for the crisis.

    - Legislation making future bailouts illegal

    - The break up or nationalization of all financial institutions deemed “too big to fail.” No private entity or tiny group of private entities should be allowed to perform functions that are that vital to society.

    • Oldskool

      Eliot Spitzer could probably use racketeering statutes to go Eliot Ness on Congress, given an ample per diem for hookers.

    • Deep South Populist

      To clarify, I’d say the Consumer Protection Bureau is the one good idea to come out of the Obama administration. Of course, on the other hand, it’s not surprising (to me) Obama hasn’t empowered his own bureau. You have to wonder about that. First, he bailed on Elizabeth Warren and now on Richard Cordray.

      And no, I don’t want to hear any non-sense about Republican obstruction. If Obama wanted to, he could fight fire with fire. If he wanted to. He doesn’t appear to want to. Obama is the president; he has all kinds of options at his disposal.

      Since the Republicans are being totally unreasonable on Richard Cordray and the CPFB, the obvious response would be for Obama to appoint Cordray and fully empower the CPFB anyway over the Republicans’ objections.

      If he wanted to, Obama could claim some new executive power and use this power as his authority for empowering the CPFB. Presidents do this often. Richard Nixon claimed all sorts of new powers for the executive branch, so it’s far from unprecedented.

      • Graychin

        Operating within the limits of the Constitution, what should Obama have done to put Warren and/or Cordray into the CPFB in the absence of a Senate minority willing to allow votes on their nominations?

        (The example of Nixon precedents is not helpful.)

      • Oldskool

        Here’s what you don’t wanna hear: Republicans decided to go with a scorched earth strategy in early 2009 and their leadership in both houses have encouraged it. Obama wouldn’t be wise to act like a petulant child and the polls have proven him right. We saw enough petulance from the last ‘president’.

      • LFC

        “If he wanted to, Obama could claim some new executive power and use this power as his authority for empowering the CPFB. Presidents do this often. Richard Nixon claimed all sorts of new powers for the executive branch, so it’s far from unprecedented.”

        That statement is scary as s***. Looks like somebody didn’t learn the lesson of unbridled and unchecked power from the President Cheney years.

        • balconesfault

          +1

        • Rabiner

          “And no, I don’t want to hear any non-sense about Republican obstruction. If Obama wanted to, he could fight fire with fire. If he wanted to. He doesn’t appear to want to. Obama is the president; he has all kinds of options at his disposal.

          Since the Republicans are being totally unreasonable on Richard Cordray and the CPFB, the obvious response would be for Obama to appoint Cordray and fully empower the CPFB anyway over the Republicans’ objections.”

          That isn’t even constitutional. The Senate isn’t going out of session during recess which is preventing a recess appointment. Without such the President does not have the power to appoint Cordray to the head of the CPFB. So yea, you have to blame the Republicans for their obstruction on this issue.

        • Dex

          And of course, if Obama were to claim some new executive powers for himself, who would be the first person complaining about the grab? DSP, of course.

      • Deep South Populist

        Obama has shown no reluctance to claim unconstitutional executive powers when he wants to. He recently signed a bill that allows various agencies that fall under the executive branch (FBI, etc.) to indefinitely detain American citizens with vague and ill defined ties to terrorists.

        So we know that in principle, Obama is open to greatly expanding the executive branch’s powers. Yet he won’t do so to fully empower the CPFB.

        Still, there have to be other ways to circumvent Republican obstruction on this matter even without Obama claiming new executive powers.

        For example, the Republican’s are preventing Obama from making Richard Cordray a recess appointment by keeping the Senate formally in session even though there is no work being done in the Senate.

        I’m pretty sure Harry Reid has the authority to just re-write the Senate’s procedural and/or parliamentary rules to specify that no one can keep the Senate “in session” when there is no work actually being done. There is nothing in the Constitution concerning the Senate’s low-level rules of procedure.

        Once done, Obama could then make Cordray a recess appointment. How about that?

        Bottom line: If Obama wanted to fight fire with fire, he could.

        • Dex

          I don’t recall Obama campaigning on a promise to fight fire with fire. Extremism and intransigence on the part of Republicans is what is breaking our political system. So how is extremism and intransigence on the part of the President going to fix it? His preferred tactic is to let his opponents self-destruct, which is what they are currently doing. Let them.

          “He recently signed a bill that allows various agencies that fall under the executive branch (FBI, etc.) to indefinitely detain American citizens with vague and ill defined ties to terrorists.”

          Really? Please identify this bill.

        • icarusr

          As usual, everything you say is either a lie, a distortion or a demonstration of palpable and breathtaking ignorance.

          “Obama has shown no reluctance to claim unconstitutional executive powers when he wants to. He recently signed a bill that allows various agencies that fall under the executive branch (FBI, etc.) to indefinitely detain American citizens with vague and ill defined ties to terrorists.”

          It is, I think, apparent to anyone with grade three civics that a President “claiming” or “asserting” executive authority – for example, the War Powers doctrine advanced by John Yoo – is vastly, significantly, fundamentally, materially, legally and constitutionally different from the the President signing a bill, duly passed by Congress, into law that gives federal agencies additional authorities.

          But then, you are a supporter of the treasonous Confederate states – who claimed and asserted and grabbed unconstitutional authority to secede and waged war on the United States – you are constitutionally incapable of distinguishing between outright treason and violation of the constitution and an Act of Congress.

        • balconesfault

          He recently signed a bill that allows various agencies that fall under the executive branch (FBI, etc.) to indefinitely detain American citizens with vague and ill defined ties to terrorists. So we know that in principle, Obama is open to greatly expanding the executive branch’s powers.

          Huh. You mean the bill he originally threatened to veto because the language in the original legislation being crafted by Congress was even worse than what was finally passed?

          http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saps1867s_20111117.pdf

          The Administration strongly objects to the military custody provision of section 1032, which would appear to mandate military custody for a certain class of terrorism suspects. This unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President’s authority to defend the Nation from terrorist threats would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals. Moreover, applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States, as some Members of Congress have suggested is their intention, would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.

          There is no evidence that the Administration lobbied Congress to make the act more draconian, and ample evidence that the Administration was pushing back against some of the worst provisions.

          Do you believe that the President would have vetoed a Defense Authorization Act that didn’t contain the worst of the language in the bill? I would like to see your evidence.

          I’m pretty sure Harry Reid has the authority to just re-write the Senate’s procedural and/or parliamentary rules to specify that no one can keep the Senate “in session” when there is no work actually being done.

          I think that Democrats are well aware that the next time the GOP holds the slimmest of Senate majorities, particularly if a Republican President is in office, they will immediately try to eliminate the filibuster, as well as do away with any number of Senate rules which empower the minority. To the extent that they see the value in having those rules available to protect Democratic issues in the future, they don’t want to start the process of chipping away at them now and create an “it started with the Democrats” narrative.

        • Deep South Populist

          @balconesfault

          There is no evidence that the Administration lobbied Congress to make the act more draconian, and ample evidence that the Administration was pushing back against some of the worst provisions.

          No, this is a common misunderstanding. Barack Obama did not threaten to veto the detention bill and push back on the bill because it went too far but rather the exact opposite; Barack Obama, amazingly, threatened to veto the detention bill because the administration felt the detention power did not go far enough.

          I know that is hard to believe, and I didn’t believe it myself until the poster “medinnus” pointed it out to me. I did some research and digging, and, sure enough, it’s true.

          The evidence is Glenn Greenwald’s detailed analysis of the detention bill, available at the links below. If those two articles which are a bit long are too disruptive to your schedule, then the quotes below give the gist (my emphasis).

          It is highly ironic, to put it mildly, that Barack Obama won’t assert an executive power for something as relatively mild as circumventing GOP obstruction on the CPFB. Yet, at the same time, he had no problem signing a detention bill that codifies into law the worst unconstitutional abuses of the Bush/Cheney years.

          But that’s Obama. He is a faux progressive from top to bottom

          In one of the least surprising developments imaginable, President Obama – after spending months threatening to veto the Levin/McCain detention bill – yesterday announced that he would instead sign it into law

          Human Rights Watch said that Obama’s decision “does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad” and that “President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.”

          [blockquote]Obama’s objections to this bill had nothing to do with civil liberties, due process or the Constitution. It had everything to do with Executive power. The White House’s complaint was that Congress had no business tying the hands of the President when deciding who should go into military detention, who should be denied a trial, which agencies should interrogate suspects (the FBI or the CIA). Such decisions, insisted the White House, are for the President, not Congress, to make. In other words, his veto threat was not grounded in the premise that indefinite military detention is wrong; it was grounded in the premise that it should be the President who decides who goes into military detention and why, not Congress.

          Even the one substantive objection the White House expressed to the bill — mandatory military detention for accused American Terrorists captured on U.S. soil — was about Executive power, not due process or core liberties. The proof of that — the definitive, conclusive proof — is that Sen. Carl Levin has several times disclosed that it was the White House which demanded removal of a provision in his original draft that would have exempted U.S. citizens from military detention (see the clip of Levin explaining this in the video below). In other words, this was an example of the White House demanding greater detention powers in the bill by insisting on the removal of one of its few constraints (the prohibition on military detention for Americans captured on U.S. soil). That’s because the White House’s North Star on this bill — as they repeatedly made clear — was Presidential discretion: they were going to veto the bill if it contained any limits on the President’s detention powers, regardless of whether those limits forced him to put people in military prison or barred him from doing so.[/blockquote]

          Source:

          salon [dot] com/2011/12/15/obama_to_sign_indefinite_detention_bill_into_law/singleton/

          More Analysis Here:

          salon [dot] com/2011/12/16/three_myths_about_the_detention_bill/singleton/

        • icarusr

          “It is highly ironic, to put it mildly, that Barack Obama won’t assert an executive power for something as relatively mild as circumventing GOP obstruction on the CPFB. Yet, at the same time, he had no problem signing a detention bill that codifies into law the worst unconstitutional abuses of the Bush/Cheney years.”

          DSP, it is not irony, but basic constitutional law.

          Asserting executive power is different from signing a Congressional bill. Regardless of what the law “codifies”, it is “law”, debated in Congress, and subject to Congressional oversight. Assertions of executive privilege are not. The problem with the Bush-Chenery years was not just the tortures and the renditions, but the rank lawlessness.

          And if you can’t understand the difference, no amount of citing Greenwald or – this is a funny one, from a ‘secessionist’ – the ACLU makes you more credible.

        • Deep South Populist

          Asserting executive power is different from signing a Congressional bill. Regardless of what the law “codifies”, it is “law”, debated in Congress, and subject to Congressional oversight. Assertions of executive privilege are not.

          Yeah, I get the difference. Quit playing lawyerball. Even if asserting or claiming some new form of executive authority is not a realistic option for making the Cordray appointment, Obama is still a scumbag for signing that indefinite detention bill.

        • Deep South Populist

          this is a funny one, from a ’secessionist’

          Secession is a good way to solve intractable political problems. The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were dissolved through secession. People should be allowed to leave if they want to. That’s all secession means.

          Secession=self-determination for a given population.

        • valkayec

          Excuse me, DSP, wasn’t that state’s rights secessionist issue resolved by the Civil War? Moreover, according to the arguments that occurred prior to the final Constitutional ratification, the people, it was finally agreed, had primacy over the states. It’s a complicated discussion but simply put the outcome was that the federal government was of the people, not of the states. Thus when the states’ right argument arises, it tends to negate the primacy of the people by putting the states ahead of the commons, or the people. At least, that’s what I see.

        • Deep South Populist

          I see secession as a valid option at all times and in all places for exactly the reason you just mentioned, and not just in the United States but everywhere. A just government — as opposed to tyrannical one — is a creation of the people. And if the people can create a government, then it must follow they can also disband one. Otherwise, the people would not hold the primary spot. You can frame this idea in terms of consent. People have a right to withdraw their consent from the government at any time, and the American founders used this principle in the Declaration of Independence when they wrote that the government derives its “just powers” from the “consent of the governed.”

          So yes, I think people should be able to leave if they want to (withdraw consent).

          What’s the point of having a strong central government ruling over people who otherwise have nothing in common and whose interests are always coming into conflict? It’s a formula that guarantees failure because it is impossible to achieve a consensus on the public good with disparate groups that share nothing in common always coming into conflict.

          Yugoslavia eventually broke up for this reason (in part). So did the Soviet Union. I don’t follow Canada closely, but I know at one time there was an active secessionist movement in Quebec.

          Although I can’t predict the future with certainty, I think this is where the United States is headed long term. Not immediately, but within the lifetime of most people reading this. Unlike the nations of Europe and Asia, Americans no longer share a common culture. Increasingly, they don’t even share the same language.

        • valkayec

          DSP, when the Senate returns to session in Jan., Reid can change all the rules he wants, provided he gets enough votes to do so. However, Reid cannot shut down the Senate, i.e. close the session, until the House shuts down. Something about that in the Constitution if I recall rightly. Moreover, if Obama claimed Executive Authority (e.g. unitary executive a la Cheney and Nixon), he could be…and would be…impeached per a violation of the Advise and Consent clause in the constitution.

          Right now, Obama has a single moment to recess appointment anyone. Apparently, Congress is required to shut down, if only for a few minutes, between the end of one year’s session and the beginning of the next year’s session. I wonder if Obama will take advantage of it and appoint a whole bunch candidates. I certainly would, especially judges and Fed members.

        • Deep South Populist

          Congress is required to shut down, if only for a few minutes, between the end of one year’s session and the beginning of the next year’s session. I wonder if Obama will take advantage of it and appoint a whole bunch candidates. I certainly would, especially judges and Fed members.

          Thanks for this information. That will be an interesting moment watch. Obama ought to recess appoint Richard Cordray the second Congress officially shuts down, along with anyone else the GOP is obstructing.

      • ladyfractal

        I understand the logic you’re using here but I don’t think you fully appreciate the depths of the crazy the GOP has decided to bring. Obama is in a classic ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation. Let’s say Obama made a recess appointment of Cordray. Before the handshake was done and the ink had dried, FOX et. al. would be screaming from the rooftops that Obama had, for the only time in American history, routed around Congress. There would be pictures of Stalin and Hitler and someone on FOX and Friends would say “you know who else appointed people? HITLER!” The media, by and large, would report the story “Obama compared to Stalin over recess appointments” and not one in 10 would ever point out that *other* presidents had done the same. How do I know? Because of the ‘czar’ freakout. It played out *precisely* like that. Obama appoints a czar for this and a czar for that and suddenly, magically, it’s the only time that has happened in the last century. That Nixon was the first (if memory serves) to use that term for an appointee was forgotten.

        So if Obama makes a recess appointment he’s a dictator. If he doesn’t make a recess appointment then he’s a wimp. And before you object, he *shouldn’t* have to govern as if the above were true but that doesn’t mean that he *can* govern as if that weren’t true. The facts are that if Obama cured cancer tomorrow Bachmann, Perry, et. al. would say something like this: “My dear old Mother, God rest her soul, died of cancer and Barack HUSSEIN!!!! Obama is an elitist who looks down on people who die of cancer. He hates them so much that he cured cancer so that people won’t have to die of it! Well, for me and mine, I’m happy to die of that dread disease the way God intended.”

        You know it, I know it and the Obama administration *certainly* knows it.

        • think4yourself

          Responding to DSP:

          Obama is not a faux Progressive. Only hardcore Progressives (and slimy GOP liars) say that. He is moderate. That means he picks his battles to ones that he considers most important and that he can win.

          DSP blames Obama for not taking a scortched earth policy to the GOP as they have done with him. What would you say if he did? Dodd-Frank is not particularly strong. It was a compromise bill that Republicans negotiated for and then did not vote for (as has been the case with almost every bill). The Dems don’t have 60 in the Senate and many that they have are more red than blue who’s seats are in jeapardy, so compromise and weakness is what we get more often than not.

          Your posts are a distraction from the article’s subject, which is GOP who espouse anger for things the Tea Party wants them to, but don’t address the issues (which are responses the Tea Party doesn’t want, which is gov’t intervention).

        • Deep South Populist

          DSP blames Obama for not taking a scortched earth policy to the GOP as they have done with him. What would you say if he did?

          If we’re talking the CPFB, I would say it’s about damn time — what the hell were you waiting for?

          Obama is not a faux Progressive. Only hardcore Progressives (and slimy GOP liars) say that. He is moderate.

          You say moderate; I say Republican-lite.

          Either way, Obama campaigned as a progressive, and he talks like a progressive, but he doesn’t govern like a progressive. That makes him a faux progressive in my book.

          If Obama is a moderate and not a progressive, then the differences between him and the GOP really aren’t as stark as people make them out to be now are they?

          I can definitely see how a person who expected a Republican-lite administration from Obama would be very pleased with his performance.

        • valkayec

          I say Republican-lite.

          And therein lies the problem for the GOP, DSP. How do they distinguish themselves from him except by moving further right? They won’t win elections by saying, “Well, he’s governing like we would, but throw him out of office anyway and elect us.” So, they block everything he tries to do or appoint and scream “socialist, fascist, Kenyan anti-colonialist,” etc. When left to his own, i.e. foreign affairs – the execution of which is solely within the purview of the President – he’s been quite successful at whatever he chose to do. Imagine how successful he’d be if he had a cooperative GOP working with him, rather than their working overtime to block his every move?

  • gmat

    Good point.

    I would add, when you present your program, do it in the form of simple bills (one issue each), that at least have a prayer of making it through committee in something resembling their original form, and require an up-or-down vote.

  • Gypsum Fantastic

    Not much to add on the substance, but I think you mean “Big Government and Big Business” in the second paragraph, not “Big Government and Big Government”.

  • balconesfault

    What we’re lacking in the Republican Party is an honest discussion of where we want to be as a society, and how we can actually get there.

    The GOP talks about wanting everyone to have equal opportunity, to have healthcare, to have clean air and water, etc … but when the rubber hits the road, their solutions for these problems far too often are of the “magic pony” variety.

    We want equal opportunity … but Government should NOT be involved in doing anything to level the playing field, or as Romney claimed last week, we’re immediately trying for equal outcomes, and not equal opportunity. So equal opportunity should arise instead by telling stories of individual success and getting rid of Government regulations so that people can succeed and improve their lot in life.

    We want everyone to have healthcare … but obviously we don’t want the kind of income redistribution that is necessary to achieve that goal to be managed by Government. So instead the GOP pretends that the free market and charity will magically take care of the problem that in their minds Government has created.

    We want clean air and water, but we don’t want it to interfere with our ability to allow those with investments in companies that pollute to maximize their profits. So again, if Government would just make compliance “voluntary”, those companies will suddenly find ways to put less toxins into the air and water by coming up with solutions that regulatory straightjackets keep them from implementing.

    Around and around, from the mother of all magic ponies, supply side economics, the GOP will talk about progressive goals for society but then balk at progressive solutions … instead embracing regressive taxation, rollback of regulations, elimination of safety nets, each time constructing a more Byzantine explanation of how eliminating Government from the equation will achieve anything other than to put more power into the hands of the wealthiest whose demonstrated goal over the past decades has been to concentrate more of our nations wealth and opportunities in their own hands, no matter what the cost to society.

    • kuri3460

      From about 1870 until around 1910, the government actually did exist the way Republicans verbally fantasize that it should today, which is to say it barely existed at all. A correct reading of history shows that this was a great time to be a titan of industry, but a pretty lousy time to be an average consumer or worker.

      Even with the regulatory state we have today, companies comply only begrudgingly, cutting every corner possible along the way, and constantly lobbying government to re-write the rules in the interests of their own bottom line, not the public good. If you think that by removing government from the equation, private citizens will still somehow have the collective power to coerce business into acting in the public interest, or that business will spontaneously develop some type of moral benevolence towards public safety, you’re either naive or an idiot.

      Free-market, laissez-faire capitalism did exist in America, and it was a disaster for 99% of the population. Human nature hasn’t changed since then.

    • think4yourself

      Balcone, well said. The other problem for the GOP is that when solutions that can have an impact are adopted by their opponents, they must abandon those solutions so their followers won’t think they are soft.

      GWB governed much more as a centrist in the last half of his second term (diplomacy internationally, No Child Left Behind, attempting comprehensive immigration reform, bailing out the auto industries, working with Bono in Africa, etc.). Obama has largely continued those policies and the GOP must run from anything they support because Obama is involved. That’s what happens when you gain power by whipping up the mob and using personal destruction as your primary tactic.

    • Anonne

      So well said!

  • Ludwig von Mises

    “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” Samuel Adams

    Anger is not a policy, it is a motivation. David Frum knows this. He asserts that anger is not a policy(i.e. a truthful premise) as the foundation for half-truth, so he can then employ it as a platform to spew more of his twisted, Neocon propaganda; After all, that is Mr. Frum’s profession. So, calm down, please, all ye hoi polloi and think the Frum way. He will set you straight et al.

    The real focus and question should be why are the ignorant masses angry in the first place?– Policy, that’s why: Neocon (Read: Bush)policy; Progressive, BHO policy.

    The Neo(con) oligarchy employs mouthpieces like Frum to write for them, e.g. Bush. In reality the Neocons want to channel the “pee-on” anger to support their own collectivist, interventionist policy. That is the goal, to achieve Neocon, collecto-interventionist hegemony.

    Who are the Neocon collectivists most afraid of? Ron Paul? No, it’s Rand Paul, because Ron is going to at the very least run the political football past the 50yrd line to within touchdown range for Rand Paul, Gary Johnson and/or some other genuine freedom-loving quarterback.

    Anger is a fire: The brush fires are igniting everywhere, and both the Neocons and their policy are going to get burned.

    You can smell the smoke already.

    Ron Paul 2012!

    • balconesfault

      CNN/ORC Poll. Sept. 23-25, 2011. N=1,010 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 3.

      “Would you say that the Social Security system has been good for the country, has been bad for the country, or has had no effect on the country?”

      Good 79%
      Bad 15%

      Yeah … that fire is raging.

      • Ludwig von Mises

        Reply to Balconesfault:

        Excuse me, did I say that there was a fire raging? Did I say that it takes a majority as opposed to a minority to ignite a (bush)fire?

        Of course, the ignorant masses favor FDR’s socialist programs; I do not disagree. They’ve been propagandized from birth, from the time during grade school, when they were merely little wet sponges, to the time when they retired.

        “You can ignore reality, but you cannot ignore the consequences of reality.” Ayn Rand

        Let’s talk reality, shall we?

        Consider, if you will, some consequences of reality: Currently, on average, 10,000 baby boomers reach the age of retirement every day for the next two decades. Does anybody really believe that government is going to care for all these people for 15yrs, 20yrs or longer? Think about it rationally, if you can; Think about all of the costs associated with being unemployed and old for a period of 15yrs! Then, think about how this is only just one budgetary problem which “amerika” faces. My god, have IQ’s really fallen that much so as not to see how this collectivist policy is going to end. Anger is an understatement. In fact, I smell smoke already.

        Here’s my prediction: By the time Rand Paul picks up the football and runs for President, then the opinion polls for FDR’s Social-Security-ponzi scheme will look more like this:

        Bad 45%
        Good 55%

        If you want further insight on FDR’s ponzi programs, then please allow me to introduce you to an avuncular figure by the name of Milton Friedman. The following video is worth more than the sum total of everything Frum has ever written. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCdgv7n9xCY

        • balconesfault

          “amerika”

          Awesome.

        • valkayec

          Ugh! Don’t you just hate that term. After all, the US is not or ever likely to be Stalin’s USSR or Mao’s China.

        • Dex

          “Here’s my prediction…”

          Are you WillyP in disguise? Resorting to an impossible-to-fact-check bombastic prediction is the first sign of a scoundrel.

        • Ludwig von Mises

          “bombastic”

          If you don’t mind, I’d prefer to be labeled a bomb(bastard) viz. one who is planting intellectual and informational time bombs in people’s minds, so when the final socioeconomic collapse occurs that takes out SS then they will remember who told them the truth, i.e. Ron Paul.

          My opinion on the popularity of Social Security or the lack thereof is solely based on a personal prediction which I base on a number of factors; chiefly, among them is the fact that history clearly demonstrates that when government fails to deliver then anger ensues. It is a simple function of A leads to B in turn the result is C:

          A) Over time, Social Security will slowly fail.

          B) As a result of that failure, people will become very angry.

          C) The polls will reflect that anger; thus my opinion of the decliningly disfavorable polls, i.e. 45%-vs-55%…..55%-vs-45%….60%-vs-%40…over time.

        • dante

          A) No, it won’t. Unless, of course, Politicians kill it.
          B) No, they won’t, unless politicians kill it and THEN the American public will get angry at those politicians.
          C) There are ZERO polls showing that approval of SS is declining over time. You’re completely fabricating numbers and pretending that they’re facts.

        • Dex

          dante, you appear to be unaware that everyone on the right gets to opt-out of participation in the fact-based community whenever it is convenient to do so.

        • Baron Siegfried

          So the obvious way around this is to encourage people to engage in more self destructive habits; drinking and smoking not only helps shorten life span, but you get the excise taxes up front, too! Eat more processed foods, cheap empty calories, sit in front of their TVs and computers for hours on end . . . Then wrangle them in bureaucratic delays so that whatever’s eventually wrong with them is terminal by the time they come up in the queue for treatment . . .

          Cheaper than encouraging people to live well, get their weight down, and eat a good healthy diet, because that would be SO ‘nanny-state’.

        • Ludwig von Mises

          Reply to Dante:

          “C” is the grade which your logic fails to achieve.

          You do understand the difference between a verb tense, right? i.e. present perfect, past perfect, future perfect, etc…

          Go back and read what I said; I did not offer you a projection on what polls were/are; no, I made a prediction of the future, i.e. a future tense verb: My God, maybe the masses are idiot savants; The products of public education….. Tip of the hat to the Department of Education.

        • valkayec

          Ludwig, have you ever researched and studied in serious detail the lives of ordinary citizens in the 19th and early 20th Century after they reached retirement age? Second question, what does your Ayn Rand libertarianism propose to do about all those old people who are not able to work until they die or don’t have families willing or able to take them in and support them?

          Even Adam Smith and Frederick Hayak acknowledged that governments should play some role in insuring a social safety net because, by doing so, those programs insure social and economic stability. (By the way, Ayn Rand was not a libertarian in the truest sense of the word so please do not quote her ideas.)

          Before you answer, logically reason out the consequences of removing those safety net, income security programs.

        • Ludwig von Mises

          “Ludwig, have you ever researched and studied in serious detail the lives of ordinary citizens in the 19th and early 20th Century after they reached retirement age?”

          Answer: Yes, thoroughly.

          Finally, a well thought-out question. Thank you.

          Now here’s something for you to ponder:

          A) Ayn Rand was/is in a class all by herself.

          B) I’m not a libertarian, but, rather, a classical liberal.

          B) You are correct about Adam Smith and Frederick Hayak; again, thank you. I, too, share your concern for the highly dependant albeit ignorant masses.

          Have you seen the newly released move about Margaret Thatcher staring Meryl Streep? I haven’t, because it’s a waste of my time.

          Let me tell you a true, meaningful story about Margaret Thatcher and F.A. Hayek.

          Remember, Margaret Thatcher first came to power during a socialist era of runaway government spending when such well intentioned albeit specious policies had had brought both Great Britain and amerika (sic) to the point of economic collapse. Well, during Thatcher’s first cabinet meeting on economics she was asked, “so, what’s the plan?” She then removed from her book bag, “The Constitution of Liberty” by F.A. Hayek. Thatcher proceeded to place it on the table and said, “that’s it.”

          It’s a pity that Thatcher and Reagan—-who, by the way, also used Hayek’s economic blueprint via Kemp’s watered-down, impotent version to plan a recovery—-never completely followed the recovery plan and failed to control the federal deficit. As soon as the plan began working, it was abandoned. Reagan choose to travel the road which Ludwig von Mises warned against: And so began the era of massive deficit spending. That’s when Ron Paul wrote Reagan in disgust, remember?

          I would gladly embrace anybody who would follow F.A. Hayek’s economic model; however, I still think that Hayek’s teacher, Ludwig von Mises, was superior to him in every way.

          Have a good day all, and Support the man who understands F.A. Hayek, viz. Ron Paul!

        • valkayec

          So, Ludwig, if you have thoroughly researched, studied and learned about life for middle and working class Americans during the 19th & early 20th centuries, you know it was awfully mean and cruel. The progressive era TR ushered in changed that awful meanness and cruelty for millions of Americans, including senior citizens and their offspring.

          I’ll ask you again, with what you replace the social safety net…or would you choose to send the back in time to an era you said exhibited many problems?

          No disrespect, but it’s easy to point out the problems; however, as a CEO once said in my presence, “I don’t want to hear about a problem unless you have a solution.”

          Oh, by the way, a libertarian by definition is a classical liberal. I know, definitions change over time and get all mixed up.

        • overshoot

          I’m always impressed when someone makes an assertion about the nature of reality and supports it by citing his own prediction for twenty or thirty years in the future.

        • think4yourself

          Dear Lud,

          Where to start. You won’t get Ron in 2012 and you won’t get Rand unless he disavows most of what you want – and then GOP elites won’t let him do in office what you want him to do.

          You won’t end Social Security, but it might be (should be) tinkered with. Too many people are invested in it – and it works better for the protection of those who need it then anything else around or proposed.

          Many people love the Paul’s and what they stand for. Until they actually realize what they stand for. The periods of American history such as the late 1800′s that is most similar to what the Paul’s want to adopt marked the biggest concentration of wealth that had been seen up to that time, that’s where the name “Robber Barons” was coined. The reaction of the populace to such figures as Jay Gould, Colis P. Huntington, Vanderbilt, Astor, Morgan, Rockefeller, even Carnegie led to Teddy Roosevelt the Trust Buster.

          If the Paul’s had their way and all the gov’t policies they wish to have rolled back in fact happened – the backlash would make the social and labor reforms of the late 19th and 20th century seem mild.

        • Ludwig von Mises

          Think4Yourself:

          You think that you know what Ron Paul stands for, but I think that you don’t.

          Actually, Carl Menger, who is the father of the Austrian School of Economics, was vehemently opposed to the Robber-Baron economics which defined the era of which you wrote. Ron Paul bases his economic morality on Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises. The Banksters are the enemy: End the Fed! End The Crony Capitalism! End neo-Robber-Baron economics. End the Military Industrial Complex. End Transnational Corporate Hegemony..

          You don’t know where to start and I don’t know where to end, so I will end here. Goodnight, Happy New Year and be well.

        • valkayec

          Actually, Ludwig, on this you are wrong. We do know what Paul stands for and some of us have looked at this legislative record, listened to his speeches, and viewed what he’s written. Some of us choose to believe he will never be elected because, by and large, the voters will not choose to have their earned benefits eliminated. Moreover, the vast majority of the American people are too moderate to accept the complete dismantling of the federal government as Paul clearly intends to do. Finally, the establishment GOP will never permit Paul to obtain the nomination, even if they have to rig the Convention to do so.

    • ladyfractal

      I think you have the prescription almost *precisely* wrong. Here would be my prescription–first some background. I am 45 but was raised by the generation that fought WW II. My father went and fought for a country that would not let him vote in the state he was born for no better reason than the color of his skin. I was greatly effected by both he and my mother’s doing what their nation needed even though their nation didn’t actually think them human enough to have the franchise or to live in the neighborhood of their choosing. I was also very much effected by my grandmother’s stories of growing a Victory Garden. That is just to give you some context.

      I am on a crusade to convince everyone born *after* 1961 to work as long as they can. I work with my head, not my hands. I am paid to think and the wear and tear on my body is fairly minimal. Both my partner and I are endeavoring to work well into our 70s. I have two reasons–the most germane one here is that the longer I can stay out of the system, the more time I buy for Social Security. To me that is my patriotic duty. I am very well aware that someone who has to schlep bricks to and fro all day will likely not be able to do that well into their seventies but I certainly can lift heavy ideas well into my 70s. So I am trying to convince people my age and younger to do what their nation *needs* them to. Why? Because this is our nation and our nation may require us to make sacrifices for it.

      I realize that this is idealistic and out-of-step with current thought on both the right and the left. I personally find that disappointing (at best). However, in order for this idea of civic virtue and civic duty to have a renaissance both the right and the left are going to have to drop some cherished beliefs. This Randian idea that your only job is to go for all the gusto you can get and too bad about your neighbor is going to have to die on the Right. I find it remarkable, given what conservatism once was, that this idea that the only things that matter are getting all the money you can, loving Jesus and a willingness to shout USA! USA!, at the drop of a hat has such cache. On the Left, the post-modernist idea that the United States specifically and the West generally are singularly evil and that everyone is a victim will also have to die. It is a liberalism I do not recognize because my parents were liberals but taught us that whatever else we might be we were sure as hell not victims.

      • Ludwig von Mises

        LadyFractal

        My dad is 86yrs of age and he just recently stopped working full-time only because of illness, but not because he didn’t love to work. I plan to follow in his footsteps, too. I think you give good advice. People born after 1960 better get ready to live in a new era absent dependency on government. We don’t disagree “precisely” and/or entirely. I do think, however, over time, that SS will emplode, like all collectivist social programs, and force people to agree with you precisely and entirely.

        • ladyfractal

          Ludwid:

          I don’t think it has to get there nor do I think that all ‘collectivist’ ideas are bad ones. I am, for instance, a product of the California public schools back when the public schools in California were the envy of the world. Public schools, public libraries are ‘collectivist’ from an Randian point of view. They are not there to make a profit, they are there to provide a service.

          Something I do not grasp, and perhaps you can make this make sense to me, is why if conservatives have such an intrinsic distrust of government because it is too big and too powerful, why is it that there is not that same kind of distrust for large corporations? Now, before you say something about how markets punish inefficient companies let me ask you to consider one word: Microsoft.

          I work in the computer industry and have done since the early 90s. I have worked with every Microsoft operating system from DOS 5.0 forward. Microsoft has put out a demonstrably inferior product–certainly from the point of view of a system administrator Windows is an IT nightmare. Yet, Microsoft *owns* the desktop market. Yes, there is Apple but I’ve now worked for three companies that supported Macs and then dropped Mac support because Microsoft walked in and made an offer the company couldn’t refuse. Is UNIX (which is what Mac OS X is built on top of) a better OS? Yes. It is inherently secure where most versions of Windows were inherently insecure. (Admittedly Win 7 and Windows 2008 are more secure) Microsoft does not *deserve* their market share and according to Randian/Hayekian ideology that should not be the case. Yes, OS X and Linux have taken a bite and the various UNIXes have a strong hold on the server market but at the end of the day, walk into any company of any size and you’ll likely see Windows on the desktop. Why? Because they’ve manipulated the market to their advantage. Windows is by no means the best operating system out there but it is the dominant one.

          So why is it that, for instance, if I have insurance through Aetna and they refuse to cover some procedure I need in order to live and I therefore die the right things have happened and the market has, once again, delivered the Panglossian solution but if I’m on Medicare and a procedure isn’t covered then the government might as well have walked in and put a bullet to my head? It seems to me that if conservatives are suspicious of large organizations that have disproportionate power that should apply across the board but it seems that abuses of power only disturb conservatives if it is *government* doing so. In fact, actually, it appears–and I may be wrong–that even if the government *isn’t* abusing power the fact that it has any power what-so-ever is considered wrong? (Here I’m thinking of the conservative strain embodied in the House of Paul (Rand and Ron) who believe, quite incorrectly, that had the Federal government stayed out of it segregation would have died of its own accord.)

          And before you suggest I read Hayek, I have. In fact, I just finished re-reading Road to Serfdom. I have also read Rand.

          My concern with what passes as conservatism these days is very much against the idea of a social contract and I think that is astoundingly short-sighted.

        • Ludwig von Mises

          “Something I do not grasp, and perhaps you can make this make sense to me, is why if conservatives have such an intrinsic distrust of government because it is too big and too powerful, why is it that there is not that same kind of distrust for large corporations?”

          Again, we don’t disagree:

          I’m not conservative; therefore I do not hold the above view. For example, I think the Fed is really a private counterfeiting business. I say end it. The banking cartels are more dangerous than an army.

          “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” Thomas Jefferson

          When you have time to read a very in-depth article, then study the history of The Robber Barons/ Banksters. If you like Hayek, then you’ll like this: http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard66.html

        • valkayec

          Ludwig, given that the libertarians who ran in the same circle as Rothbard and Rockwell say that it was an open secret (they all knew) that Rockwell wrote Paul’s egregious newsletters. So, why would I choose to read anything he writes since I am vehemently opposed to most of what he wrote in Paul’s newsletters?

  • Nanotek

    “The real focus and question should be why are the ignorant masses angry in the first place?”

    because they aren’t ignorant… they know that people who call them ignorant masses are indifferent to their pain or intent on stealing more money from them, would be my answer, as one of the unwashed masses

    UPDATE:

    “”Of course, the ignorant masses favor FDR’s socialist programs…”

    you realize that not all of us function with your level of intelligence?

    • Ludwig von Mises

      Reply to Bamboozer:

      Do you understand the important difference between the term ignorant (i.e. lack of knowledge, facts, etc) and being stupid (i.e. lack of intellectual capacity (moronic))

      I do not think of the masses as stupid, yet. I did not say that they were stupid masses.

      Let me ask you a serious question: Do you really think that the average beer-drinking, football addict is non-ignorant when it comes to the subjects of praxeology, the Overton window, Edward Bernays propaganda, Machiavellian strategy (think: Dick Morris (aka Machiavelli Morris) Keynesian economics et al?

      Come on, let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we? The ignorant masses are goldfish compared to that Neocon Shark, Frum.

      • icarusr

        “Do you really think that the average beer-drinking, football addict is non-ignorant when it comes to the subjects of praxeology, the Overton window, Edward Bernays propaganda, Machiavellian strategy (think: Dick Morris (aka Machiavelli Morris) Keynesian economics et al?”

        1. I don’t drink beer, don’t watch football, am pretty educated and have no idea what the f**k you’re talking about. Which basically means you are in cloud-cuckoo land.

        2. No one who has read a single line – one precious little itsy bitsy sentence – of Machiavelli (of The Prince, not The Discourses) could, without considerable irony, refer to the whoremonger toesucking Dick as “machiavellian”.

        3. Holding oneself out as a savant as against the ingnorant masses is the greatest totalitarian trick there is. Read Lenin.

        • Nanotek

          “2. No one who has read a single line – one precious little itsy bitsy sentence – of Machiavelli (of The Prince, not The Discourses) could, without considerable irony, refer to the whoremonger toesucking Dick as ‘machiavellian’.”

          + 1

          thanks for pointing that out, Icausr.

          For me, (depending on the translation) The Prince brings into relief a possibility that the first struggle between all people is to control the labels given to things. But when I read his bawdy and comedic The Mandrake, I re-read The Prince anew, chuckling.

          Dick Morris????

        • icarusr

          This joker – Ludwig – reminds me of the guest in Chris Matthews who was arguing that Obama’s policy on one thing or another was “appeasement”, and had no idea what the concept meant when asked …

          Or Igoya Montoya from “The Princess Bride”: “You keep using that word – I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

        • Nanotek

          “Or Igoya Montoya from ‘The Princess Bride’: ‘You keep using that word – I don’t think it means what you think it means.’”

          thanks for the laugh… Ludwig Vizzini

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2y40U2LvKY

        • Ludwig von Mises

          “pretty educated”

          Are you sure about that? Nevertheless, “pretty educated” doesn’t even cut bait on Frum’s level.

          Near, but not on the top of the food chain—where Frum and Machiavelli Morris both swim—”pretty educated” is equivalent to idiot savant in their view.

          You’re pretty something, alright. Another tip of the hat to public education.

          All you “pretty educated” people who don’t know what I’m talking about better stop mocking G.W. Bush and his daddy as some sort of rubes. The sweet, sweet hustle of those phony cowboys masks a CIA intellect that should not be underestamated.

          Wake up little goldfish, it’s an election year and the Neocons are hungry.

          Read Lenin and then read Ludwig von Mises on Lenin and then read Hayek on Neocons.

        • Nanotek

          do you realize that not all of us function at your level of intelligence?

        • henrysmall

          One of the most seductive aspects for conspiracy theorists and their ilk is their automatice recourse to a default position that psychologically elevates them above their interlocutor.

          The default position being:

          The fact that you don’t/can’t/won’t see the ineffable logic of my position is simply the result of you being a stupid, ignorant, dupe. I win.

        • LFC

          Ludwig, you sound like you might be well educated but very poorly informed. The fact that you called Social Security a Ponzi scheme is kind of a giveaway.

      • Deep South Populist

        @Ludwig

        If you’re as familiar with Western intellectual history as you appear to be, then you know from Socrates among others that we are all profoundly ignorant just about different things.

        For this reason, I don’t like the formulation “ignorant masses” as it seems to me unnecessarily pejorative and inflammatory. I like the formulation “low information.” It’s less pejorative and doesn’t imply the masses are stupid or uneducated as the word ignorant does (IMO). Anyone can be low information, even a physicist or a doctor. Most people are low information simply because they are too busy with their lives to acquire the information needed to make informed judgments on Ponzi schemes like Social Security.

        That said, I don’t disagree with your basic point. The low information people of the world are easy pickings for master propagandists like David Frum.

        • Ludwig von Mises

          You make a superfine point which I do respect regarding calling the masses ignorant; however, different people play different roles. Currently, my role is provocative and in their face. I have my reasons for doing this; 2012 is a teachable year, so don’t judge me too harshly.

          I ask you: would you critize Ben Franklin for teaching people through the use of an agressive nom de plume?

          I call your attention to the following historical facts.

          “When Franklin used a pseudonym, he often created an entire persona for the “writer.” Sometimes he wrote as a woman, other times as a man, but always with a specific point of view. While all of his writings were focused and logical, many were also humorous, filled with wit and irony. Silence Dogood, Harry Meanwell, Alice Addertongue, Richard Saunders, and Timothy Turnstone were a few of the many pseudonyms Franklin used throughout his career.

          Silence Dogood — Mrs. Dogood was Franklin’s first pseudonym, created when he was sixteen years old and serving as a printer’s apprentice to his brother James. Silence Dogood was a middle-aged widow who looked at the world with a humorous and satiric eye. Her letters dealt with a range of topics from love and courtship to the state of education in Massachusetts. In all, fifteen Silence Dogood letters were published in James Franklin’s New England Courant.

          Caelia Shortface and Martha Careful — Franklin wrote mocking letters from these two “ladies” to get even with his former employer Samuel Keimer for stealing some of Franklin’s publishing ideas. The letters were printed in the American Weekly Mercury, a newspaper published by Keimer’s competitor Andrew Bradford.

          Busy Body — Franklin’s Busy Body letters were also published in the American Weekly Mercury. Miss Body’s letters were filled with humorous looks at the battle of the sexes and barbs at local businessmen. Gossip was Busy Body’s stock in trade.

          Anthony Afterwit — Franklin created this “gentleman” to provide a humorous look at matrimony and married life from a male point of view. Mr. Afterwit appeared in Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette.

          Alice Addertongue — Miss Addertongue was a thirty-five year old gossip who provided Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette with stories of scandal about prominent members of society.

          Richard Saunders — Of all of Franklin’s noms de plume, Mr. Saunders became the best known. Richard Saunders was the “Richard” of Poor Richard’s Almanack. First published late in 1732, Poor Richard’s Almanack is probably Franklin’s best-known publication. Richard Saunders’ humorous sayings and advice filled the pages of the almanac’s twenty-six editions.

          Polly Baker — Franklin used Polly Baker to examine the negative way women were treated in the eyes of the law. Ms. Baker had several illegitimate children and was punished for her “crime,” while the fathers, many of whom were prominent citizens, suffered no such hardship.

          Benevolus — While in England, Franklin penned a number of letters under the name of Benevolus. These letters tried to answer some of the negative assertions made by the British press about the American colonists. These letters were published in London newspapers and journals.”

          Deep South, your heart is in the right place. I hope the above account helps you understand why I do what I do.

        • TerryF98

          WillyP. Eff off (again).

          Signed beer drinking football watching men everywhere.

        • think4yourself

          Maybe Ludwig Von Mises is a nom de plume of DSP all hiding the real WillyP. Makes it easy to compliment the other guy when he’s really you in disguise.

        • Deep South Populist

          Good grief; I hope you’re joking. But now that you mention it, it has been a while since I’ve seen WillyP. Smart guy.

        • valkayec

          Currently, my role is provocative and in their face.

          I don’t see the point in this statement or attitude. Perhaps if you elaborated I might understand. Leaving it at this juncture, however, causes me to conclude that you just choose to be a rabble-rouser or anarchist. Pardon me but I simply don’t see the point. Anger, hate and all negative emotions do far more harm physically, emotionally, and mentally to the one holding those emotions than to the objects of those emotions.

  • bamboozer

    If being in the pocket of Wall St. and corporations did not exist the Republican Party would invent it on the spot. Republicans did not get the name “the milliairs party” without due cause, they have always worshipped wealth and the wealthy. Hedge fund managers, big time bankers and the hoardes of scammers and crooks on Wall St. are rolling in dough, no Tea Party will ever stop the GOP from going after it. You can talk in high minded terms about “conservatism”, but in America that only means one thing: Show us the money!!!

  • valkayec

    I chose to read the entire article to get a better perspective of the author’s point of view. Aside from the obligatory slams on Democrats and smearing union workers (People making either $27/hr if they’re well experienced or $14/hr if they’re new – according to the new contract negotiated at the time of the loan to GM – and the union taking over the cost of their healthcare.) as “goons”, it was a pretty good description of the way DC works. Both sides engage equally in the corruption.

    (As an aside, the GOP head of the House Committee on Ethics recently advocated for a House rule barring insider trading after the dust up made headlines even though he benefited greatly from it.)

    Of course, I don’t understand why the author had to read a book to tell him that DC is bought and paid for. I dare say most people paying attention know it. It’s not by chance that even our neighbors across the pond in academia say Congress is corrupt.

    And without doubt it is. It is as corrupt as the in the era of the Robber Barons, Gilded Age, and Tammany Hall. Even those of us out in the hinterland know it. I was blatantly on display during the ACA and Dodd-Frank negotiations; Congressional hands on both sides of the aisle were out and being loaded down with record amounts of lobbying donations. It’s well on display still, as noted in the hearings on MF Global or the Gulf Oil Spill.

    As for big businesses, they’re equal opportunity buyers of favors and legislators. I’m sure most corporate executives look at the field of candidates, determine which is likely to win, which can most easily be “swayed”, and make their donations accordingly. Democrat or Republican is of little interest. Getting favors is. Big Business figured this out many decades ago.

    It’s why we don’t have a “free market.” A free market, by definition, requires a level playing field for all businesses – large, small, new, old and everything in between. When businesses or business sectors can buy legislation that benefits them, they shift the playing field away from “free market” towards a perverted market that creates obstacles to entry, reduces competition, keeps prices higher, and prevents creative destruction. It gives outsized influence to a few at the expense of the many.

    Lastly, Mr. Frum, you railed about Williamson not offering any solutions. I note you did not either. So, let me offer you some suggestions.

    - A Constitutional Amendment banning corporate, trade union, and non-profit monies in elections, and specifically eliminating “corporate personhood” and “money as speech” as well as prohibiting lobbyist donations.

    - Addditionally, make SuperPacs, and their ilk, illegal or at the very least, require them to state who their major donors are, i.e. anyone giving more than $1000, online within 24 hours of receiving the donation. (Frankly, I’d prefer to ban SuperPacs altogether, but that would unconstitutionally bar freedom of speech as we’ve come to know it for the last 200+ years.)

    - A law requiring – call it the Gingrich/Abramoff law – that prohibits any lawmaker from joining a lobbying firm or starting one for at least 10 years after leaving office. Make them return home to work. Further, close the revolving door of lobbying to lawmaker to lobbyist by prohibiting lobbyists to go to work for the federal government, especially in decision making and congressional offices, for at least 10 years after leaving a lobbying firm.

    - A law requiring all Federal workers – especially Congress and the Administration – to follow the same laws as required of all other citizens. Further, this law should require all investment accounts, held by the lawmaker’s family, be put into a true blind trust. Then, to tighten rules on asset disclosure, require disclosures to be filed online every quarter, thus increasing transparency.

    I’m sure there are other remedies that can be advanced, but these suggestions seem to me to be a pretty good start at correcting the corruption in DC.

    • pnwguy

      valkayec:

      Regarding this:

      “A law requiring all Federal workers – especially Congress and the Administration – to follow the same laws as required of all other citizens.”

      I’m not in the legal profession, but my understanding is that as *individuals*, members of government are personally under the same constraints. They can be tried for any federal crimes that they break – treason, tax evasion, perjury, etc. The area of contention is Congress itself, and for it as a body to be governed by it’s own statutes would require enforcement by the Executive branch. Since that violates the separations of powers under the constitution, Congress itself is except from the laws it creates, as an institution.

      I’d love to get legal clarity on this from the various legal scholars who follow the forum.

      • Nanotek

        I may be wrong but suspect valkayec’s referring to Congressional and Senatorial members buying stock and real estate based on non-public information — conduct that would send regular people to prison for years for “insider trading.”

        “In one example, Steve Kroft reports that Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), now the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, bet against the market in the days before the 2008 financial crisis hit — after getting ‘apocalyptic briefings’ from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.”

        http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-11-14/politics/30396448_1_stock-market-market-moving-information-trades

        • valkayec

          There are a few other examples that have been reported over the years where Congress exempted themselves from certain laws. I can’t think of the cases now, but I do remember being quite indignant when I read about them.

    • overshoot

      It’s all very well and good to require members of the Legislature and other members of the ruling class to obey the same laws that apply to the peonage. It’s quite another to enforce that requirement. “Look forward, not backward” and all that.

      Put another way, please observe the recent case of a mentally ill man held in police custody. He was recorded on video being tied to a chair and repeatedly sprayed with pepper spray until he died. The coroner ruled it a homicide, but no charges have been filed. Perhaps because it was only torture, and we have letters from a lawyer (now a Federal judge) that make torture legal.

    • Nanotek

      “So, let me offer you some suggestions…”

      + 1

    • think4yourself

      Valkayec, I’m in favor of your suggestions. Not sure about all the restraints on work after governmental service (for example if I ever chose to engage in public service, it would nice if after the fact I could but what I learned to good use), but certainly the ending of corporations as “people”, with the rights but not responsibilities thereof and ending superpacs or requiring disclosure.

      (BTW, it’s hilarious to see Newt Gingrinch complaining that Super Pacs supporting Romney are really Romney operatives – what didn’t they think this would happen?).

      I also saw that even though the campaigns and PACs are not coordinated, that the campaign commercials are overwhelmingly positive (in support of their candidate),while the unregulated, undisclosed PAC commercials are overwhelmingly negative. Hmmm….

      • valkayec

        That particular restraint is the one Abramoff has frequently mentioned which has led to so much corruption in Congress. Take a look at his you-tube videos to see what I’m talking about. Plus, if we’re suppose to have “citizen-legislators” then logically they should come from and be able to return to private enterprise or teaching. What they learned while in office surely can be used to as much efficacy as using their familiarity with legislators to enrich themselves by lobbying their former associates.

    • jakester

      Right Comrade Lenin,
      is this the Obama manifesto?
      /idiot-mode OFF

      • valkayec

        ????????????????

        Are you attempting to say the system works perfectly now? No changes should be made to enhance the freedom and liberty of the American people which currently are being being perverted and distorted by those who can buy elections, legislators and legislation? What do you think crony capitalism is and why it exists?

        I’m utterly confused by your statement.

      • Traveler

        This is kind of off the wall dude. Are you saying you are all for Citizens United? I am perplexed as well.

  • jakester

    It was deregulation of the financial and stock markets that got us into the last few messes. These cons love to go on about crony capitalism. In their ideal world, there are these virtuous free market capitalists who scorn any ties to the government, some amped up version of some prairie populist “well to do” but honest large farmer, vs the sleazy Democratic types who make back room deals with Congress & Obama. So if you just get the government out business, everything would run hunky dory since virtuous (judeo) Christian types would be calling the shots. Just like abolishing the EPA would help clean up the environment

  • Kane

    There is no coherent thread to connect the bewildering collection of birthers, Birchers, flat-earth­ers, gun-toters­, Tenthers, Bible-thum­pers, crypto-ana­rchists, corporatists, homophobes­, Islamophob­es, racists, Objectivis­ts, pro-lifers­, neocons, and science-deniers. In twenty years, a poli sci final exam question will be, “What common idea united the party of Lincoln at the start of the 21st century?”

    • balconesfault

      In twenty years, a poli sci final exam question will be, “What common idea united the party of Lincoln at the start of the 21st century?”

      Fear of Obama?

    • Nanotek

      “a river of mud”

      if not that, I second balconesfault

    • jakester

      Neither party is a coherent mass of people and that is good. They both have their fringers, cept on the right, they have got the upper hand.

    • Traveler

      You missed libertarians, although they could fit under objectivists I suppose. Our Ludwig would fit right in there. Smart dude, but sees only part of the moral and economic picture. Unfortunately, its the only part in his exalted mind. Plenty of what he speaks to has validity, but he completely misses basic elements of human sociology like the social contract (as all libertarians seem to). Don’t understand how people can be so selfish myself. If they truly forsook all the socialist benefits they decry, that would be another thing. But they are actually hypocrites in their lives. Sucking teat, all the while complaining about having to feed their mother. Little boys really.

  • abc123

    Easy: term limits.

    • laingirl

      And no pensions for elected/appointed people in the federal government.

    • valkayec

      How will terms limits help? It will only replace one set of corrupt lawmakers with another who seek to get rich – or enrich their friends and donors. Plus, those who’ve been around long enough have gained a vast amount of learning on specific issues or topics. Look at Indiana’s Senator Lugar. He’s considered the dean of foreign policy issues. Would throwing him out after a couple of terms have increased or decreased the Senate’s knowledge of foreign policy issues? Moreover, as we in California are beginning to understand, when there’s fairly rapid turnover of legislators due to term limits, the only ones with any tax or policy knowledge end up being unelected bureaucrats and lobbyists. Hardly an ideal outcome for a democratic republic.

  • JeffreyGoldfarb

    The Republicans are against everything Obama is for. This doesn’t make for a sensible opposition, and it has made governing extremely challenging for the Obama administration. Obama has nonetheless governed effectively. Amazing. http://www.deliberatelyconsidered.com/2011/12/president-barack-obama-deliberately-considered-at-year%E2%80%99s-end-part-1/

  • Marquis

    No need to add more oversight to the already Byzantine system of varying state and federal laws concerning insurance, retail banking, commodities, swaps, real estate, mutual funds, pension funds, etc..many of which overlap and are redundant. Rather we should simplify the regulatory complex and enforce the existing regulation…..then best regulation is that which makes the industry more transparent.

    • valkayec

      Now, that I can agree with at least in part. The problem, for me at least, is two-fold. Many corporations, in particular in the financial industry, do not want transparency and legislators have learned that they can obtain far more in donations by playing the regulation game, e.g. “we’re thinking about….”