Stories by Noah Kristula-Green

Noah Kristula-Green is the Managing Editor and a Contributor to FrumForum. He was formerly a Web Intern at The New Republic. He lives in Washington DC, grew up in Tokyo, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in political science from The University of Chicago. His email is noahkgreen [at] gmail.com & you can follow him on Twitter: @noahkgreen

Are Conservatives Ignoring Bachmann’s History?

August 3rd, 2011 at 12:28 am 166 Comments

Part of the reason FrumForum has inaugurated a Joan of Bachmann watch is because the conservative movement seems to have some large blind spots in how it views potential presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Conservatives see her as combining Tea Party financial austerity with social conservative credentials. But if Bachmann does well in the primary and scores a spot on the GOP ticket, it’s likely that the rest of the country will see a politician who will be known for holding radical views.

Consider how National Review described Bachmann’s past in their recent cover story about her. (more…)

Joan of Bachmann Watch: Migraine Edition

August 1st, 2011 at 1:14 pm 22 Comments

FrumForum‘s coverage of the conservative movement’s infatuation with the Saint of Waterloo continues. In this edition, we cover how conservatives are reacting to the news that Michele Bachmannn suffers from migraines.

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The Case to Raise the Debt Ceiling in 58 Seconds

July 22nd, 2011 at 12:07 am 16 Comments

Courtesy of Jonathan Chait I learn that FrumForum contributor Douglas Holtz-Eakin has been making a series of short YouTube videos about economic policy.The most popular video (16,659 views compared to the runner up at 790 views) has Holtz-Eakin in front of a white board explaining why the debt ceiling has to be raised, because otherwise the government can’t pay for any services that people actually use:

Holtz-Eakin is able to make this case very clearly in 58 seconds. So why does presidential candidate and presumed Iowa caucuses favorite Michele Bachmann get away with campaigning on voting against raising it? Why does Georgia Congressman Paul Broun write op-eds for NRO arguing for a lower debt ceiling?

I understand the motivation of conservatives who only want to raise the debt ceiling on the condition of spending cuts, but are conservatives who don’t want to raise the debt ceiling at all just unaware of the consequences? Or do they think we need a good recession to reset the economic system? It can’t be that the consequences of their actions are hard to explain.

The GOP is Not Blameless in a Default

July 22nd, 2011 at 12:03 am 13 Comments

I wonder if Republicans understand that voters are not inclined to be forgiving to the party that toys with financial apocalypse. Thursday evening, I spent some time with a friend who doesn’t follow politics particularly closely. She is married, has a house and kids, and runs her own business. She reads the news but doesn’t particularly care what Politico’s latest gossip is.

However, she does know that politicians are arguing over the debt and that a financial disaster is possible. Because she has a family and is very worried about whether or not she can still put food on the table, she asked her financial adviser whether there were any precautionary steps she should take to keep her family safe in a worst case scenario.

I don’t know exactly what the adviser recommended, but it was a combination of “the FDIC will insure your money”, “the debt ceiling will go up”, and “there is not much else you can do.”

My friend can’t be the only person with a house and kids who is going through this thought process. The economy is weak and Republicans are demanding that the debt ceiling can only be increased with radical policy changes. My friend may not know (or care) about the differences between the Gang of Six’s plan or the McConnell-Reid plan, but she probably knows which party to blame if the ceiling doesn’t go up and all of a sudden, FDIC insurance becomes incredibly important for her.

FrumForum Sure Looks Different Today…

July 19th, 2011 at 1:08 am 72 Comments

Take a look at the new layout for FrumForum!

Our hope is that the new design will help emphasize the “Forum” in FrumForum.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Please direct any technical issues or constructive criticism either below in the comments, or email me directly. (editor[at]frumforum.com)

Everyone should also subscribe to our RSS feed with your RSS readers. I know that many people have unsubscribed to our RSS feeds in the past because of the aggregation that we used to do, but that will no longer be an issue.

We hope you enjoy the new look.


Noah Kristula-Green,

Managing Editor, FrumForum

New Tool Makes the Cost of Tax Expenditures Clear

July 15th, 2011 at 1:51 pm 7 Comments

Many people believe that the deficit is large because of spending on expensive programs. This is why conservatives try to push for cuts in programs ranging from Medicare to the NPR, seek and why a politicians of any stripe can get elected on a rallying cry to end “waste, fraud, and abuse.” Yet politicians and public both are largely silent on a much more pernicious part of the tax code: tax expenditures and subsidies which distort the market and deprive the government of revenue. This is partly because information about how much revenue is lost through tax expenditures tends to be hard to access and difficult to interpret.

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Steal This Defense of Marcus Bachmann

July 15th, 2011 at 9:21 am 114 Comments

The controversy surrounding the clinic owned by Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, is getting more personal, and conservatives don’t seem to be doing much about it. On his show on Wednesday, Jon Stewart not only mocked Bachmann and her husband for their views on homosexuality, he also suggested that Marcus himself might be repressing his true sexual orientation, something that Jon Stewart deduced from Marcus’s dancing skills vocal intonations:

It’s not only Stewart, Gawker has a round up of celebrities who are questioning Marcus’s orientation. The Second City have released a comedic video showing the strain this puts on the Bachmann’s married life, and one LGBT blogger even suggested that Marcus would be “a fine First Lady if nothing else.”

Despite the damage this could do to Bachmann, conservatives are avoiding the meme and are not attacking liberals or Jon Stewart. The right will defend Bachmann taking money from Medicaid and argue that her old Church calling the Pope the Anti-Christ is not a controversy, but there has been a curious radio silence from the right on the questions about Marcus’s orientation.

Since a discussion about Marcus’s treatment in the media on this issue seems largely absent from the conservative blogosphere, he has had to fend for himself in interviews about his clinic. At the time of this posting, FrumForum was only able to find one blog post at The Blaze which raised concerns over the “The mean-spirited commentary” which this meme was developing. The only other sites which are discussing this and wondering if it might be crossing a line are Slate and Outside the Beltway.

That lack of conservative damage control is strange because this line of questioning could do a lot of damage to Bachmann’s campaign. It’s one thing to have a husband who runs a clinic that “treats” homosexuality. It raises the stakes to suggest that he is running the clinic as a way of dealing with his own repressed urges.

It adds to the impression that social conservatives are homophobic because of their inability to admit their own sexuality.

The silence about Marcus is especially surprising since the conservative movement attacked Jon Stewart for many lesser offenses in the past, (see, Andrew Klavan calling Stewart a bully, or one Breitbart’s bloggers calling Stewart “a left wing hatchet man disguised as a satirist”)

The conservative movement might be choosing to ignore the issue because they think there is no good way to spin this: they had pinned their hopes on Bachmann being able to overcome any social conservative baggage she may have and win the Republicans nomination with her fiscal conservative Tea Party credentials. Now it seems that her husband’s activities look set to drag her back into the religious culture war territory that conservatives would prefer not to campaign on.

While I agree with fellow FrumForum contributor Ron Hill that “reparative” therapy is harmful and that there are serious ethical questions that Marcus Bachmann must answer, the silence of the conservative movement suggests a lack of imagination of ways they can defend Bachmann’s campaign.

Why not say that Marcus might have once been gay but now has put those urges under control through reparative treatment and his clinic is a testament to how he wants others to have the same opportunities he has had? Sure it would appear bizarre to a large segment of the population but perhaps that message would resonate with social conservatives who don’t see what the fuss about Bachmann’s clinic is about. If nothing else, that defense would at least force conservatives who supported Bachmann because of her fiscal issues to wonder exactly what they signed up for when they decided to support her and give her the cover-magazine treatment on both National Review and the Weekly Standard.

This is Not the End
of Ron Paul

July 12th, 2011 at 12:57 pm 10 Comments

Ron Paul has announced that he will not be seeking reelection for his House seat and will instead be focusing on his presidential campaign. (Or will it be more accurate to call them “multiple future presidential campaigns?”)

After serving almost 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Ron Paul told The Facts this morning he will not be seeking another term for the District 14 seat.

Paul, 75, will instead focus on his quest for the presidency in 2012.

“I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election,” Paul said. “It’s about that time when I should change tactics.”

It’s appropriate that Paul says he will now “change tactics”. This is not the end of Paul’s political career. Instead, it sounds like a change in approach. No more time will be wasted having to vote “no” to every piece of legislation, now he gets to go out into the world and do TV interviews 24/7.

Paul will leave the US House and can now focus on being a public intellectual who can use his time and energy to advocate for his own peculiar brand of Paleo-Conservatism.

If Ron Paul chooses to hit the lecture circuit, then I think he will find that there is a lot of money to be made being paid to give speeches attacking the Federal Reserve. He might also start starring in some of the ads on Fox News which try to convince retirees to “invest” their money into gold.

He will also have more free time to run his inevitable 2016 and 2018 presidential bids.

This is not the end of Ron Paul.

UPDATE: The commentators correctly point out that in 2016, Ron Paul will be 81 years old, so age is probably a large factor in this as well.

Fox News Struggles to Replace Glenn Beck

July 11th, 2011 at 7:12 pm 18 Comments

How do you replace Glenn Beck’s bizarre and rambling hour of television? If you come up with programming on Fox News, you decide that 5pm is a great time to do a conservative version of the The McLaughlin Group, call it “The Five” and roll with it.

FrumForum will be providing more coverage of this new show later in the week, but I wanted to provide a few comments about the hour that I watched.

The current show feels like a placeholder. Rather then replace Beck with a host, Fox News plans to rotate through a long roster of hosts and see which ones stick and which ones don’t. Once they find out which hosts work best, presumably they will be the ones who will stay with and host is long-term.

By just sticking with Fox News commentators they already have, the show feels a bit lazy. However, after having Beck bounce of chalk boards and play with puppets, having five conservatives sit around the table and compete to see who has the best grasp of that morning’s talking points is refreshingly mundane.

On the premier episode, the five hosts were Eric Bolling, Andrea Tantaros, Greg Gutfeld, Dana Perino, and Bob Beckel. Bob Beckel’s job was to be the token liberal who can be ganged up on by the four conservatives. Media Matters staffer Seth  Michaels (one wonders how many people in that office volunteered to watch this show) tweeted that a better name for the show would be “Hannity, Hannity, Hannity, Hannity, and Colmes”

The episode opened up with a discussion about the debt ceiling negotiations. Four of the panelists lamented how irresponsible Obama had been for all his spending and making the deficits soo big. Bob Beckel said that Grover Norquist was responsible for the Republicans being unable to reach a deal and added that Norquist should be sent to Guantanamo Bay.  Beckel was self-aware enough to grumble and complain about the group-think of his co-hosts but it’s hard to take that seriously when you’ve agreed to go on the network in the first place. Still, his continued dissenting from the group made the conversation a little less lock-step.

The gimmick on “The Five” is that each host gets to lead off a short segment of the show. Eric Bolling began the debt discussion, Dana Parino talked about the ban on incandescent lightbulbs, and Greg Gutfeld got to talk about Perp Walks (like the ones that Casey Anthony and Dominique Strauss-Kahn had to do). Gutfeld was tasked to consider an important question: do perp walks make potentially innocent people look guilty? Does this harm our system of justice?

Greg Gutfeld usually hosts the Fox News “Red Eye” show at 3am which is more irreverent then the usual news. He provided the insight that pert walks: “makes you look guilty, but sexy.”

Fox News has decided that the best way to replace Glenn Beck was to just stick five commentators at a table and see what happens. With nine commentators on their roster, there are 81 possible combinations of host that they can try out. Maybe one of them will be amusing and interesting.

What to Watch in the Debt Negotiations

July 7th, 2011 at 1:06 pm 4 Comments

While we await the news from today’s debt ceiling negotiations between Republicans and Democratic leaders, help news outlets are already leaking and reporting on the possible contours of a deal. But which reporting is actually likely to be part of a deal and how much is smoke and mirrors? What developments would be unexpected if they become part of a final deal?


1. Medicare and Social Security are on the table.

Plausibility: Plausible, salve but what about Medicaid cuts?

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin has given reporters a broad outline of a deal: $1 trillion in revenue raising by closing tax loopholes, discount with the Democrats conceding cuts to Social Security and Medicare. This deal certainly looks like it could be a “Grand Bargain”.

But curiously, Durbin did not mention cuts to Medicaid. Earlier reporting had suggested that Medicaid cuts were a large part of the negotiations. Medicaid was always the more vulnerable program because the constituency that depends on it (the poor) carries less clout then the constituency that depends on Medicare (the elderly).

If Medicare cuts, and not just Medicaid cuts, are on the table, then it would be politically courageous for politicians to support them.


2. Republicans will accept revenue increase without tax cuts to offset new revenue.

Plausibility: Needs to happen if Republicans are serious about a deal, unknown how serious they are about a deal.

Several news stories are hinting that Republicans are buckling from their previous opposition to revenue increases that are not offset with tax cuts. This has been a key problem with Grover Norquists anti-tax pledge that many Republicans are committed to: it is hard to reduce government deficits over the long term if every time revenue is raised by removing a subsidy (for example, ethanol subsidies) that the revenue raised is off-set by a new tax cut.

Eric Cantor reportedly wants to “talk” about closing some of these tax loopholes which could increase revenue, but he still claims to want tax cuts to off-set them. Senator Kyl has also made comments about increasing “revenue” but its unclear from where the revenue would come.

Ultimately, if Republicans are serious, some sort of significant revenue increase that is not off-set by tax cuts will need to be part of final deal, both to get Democratic votes and to actually reduce the deficit within a reasonable time frame.

It might be that Republicans have no intention of supporting any sort of revenue increase which is what lead to David Brooks column from this week warning that the Republicans “may no longer be a normal party”.


3. Jim DeMint and Olympia Snowe will get a Balanced Budget Amendment as part of the deal.

Plausibility: No. Snowe is positioning to win reelection.

So far, the most out-of-left-field position is an op-ed by Senators Olympia Snowe and Jim DeMint arguing that any solution to the debt crisis must involve a balanced budget amendment being added to the Constitution.

You may recall that Bruce Bartlett referred to the balanced budget amendment as “quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin.”

So is this meant to be a serious part of a debt deal? Probably not. What’s more plausible is that Snowe faces reelection next year and her support for the amendment coupled with an op-ed co-authored with DeMint seems designed to try and get her to run to the right of any potential primary challengers.