the scroll

Andrew Sullivan complained yesterday that I had engaged in a “McCarthyite” attack on Ron Paul by writing the following:

A politician isn’t answerable for the antics of every one of his supporters. But there’s surely a reason, isn’t there, that racists, anti-Semites, 9/11 Truthers, and Holocaust deniers are so strongly attracted to the Paul campaign. They hear something. They continue to hear it too, no matter how firmly Ron Paul’s more mainstream supporters clamp their hands over their own ears.

Andrew’s riposte:

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Waiting Time in Iowa

David Frum January 3rd, 2012 at 9:33 am 27 Comments

I attended Romney’s closing rally last night in Des Moines. Very professionally done, introduction by Senator John Thune.

Three themes really stood  out:

* Romney opened with a statement about the danger from Iran. Without mention of Ron Paul, it astutely poked at the top vulnerability of the second-polling candidate here.

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After quoting from a speech where a Republican presidential candidate praises the space program, Mark Palko writes:

I [Palko] don’t know what the reaction of the crowd was (the reporting wasn’t that detailed) but I’d imagine it was friendly. You can usually get a warm response from a Republican crowd by coming out in favor of manned space exploration which is, when you think about, strange as hell.

If you set out to genetically engineer a program that libertarians ought to object to, you’d probably come up with something like the manned space program. Click here to read more

What is wrong (and right) with Joe Stiglitz’s analysis of the Great Depression? Click here for Part 1. Click here for Part 2. Click here for Part 3.

Back in the 1960s, Daniel Patrick Moynihan once offered this solution to the economic problems of black America: restore Sunday mail delivery.

The line was sort of a joke, but sort of not. The Post Office of those days really did provide secure employment to large numbers of black Americans, and a seventh delivery day would require the employment of still more.

Government can always create direct employment. It’s often said that the three biggest employers on earth are the Chinese Red Army, the Indian state railways, and the UK’s National Health System, government enterprises all. Click here to read more

What is wrong (and right) with Joe Stiglitz’s analysis of the Great Depression? Click here for Part 1. Click here for Part 2.

Yet for all the problems with the Stiglitz theory of the Great Depression and the Long Recession, there is some useful wisdom as well.

Stiglitz is framing a critique–not only of the Friedman/Schwartz theory of the Depression–but also of the neo-Keynesian theory of today’s economic problems.

The neo-Keynesian view of the current situation (expressed most pungently by Paul Krugman) goes something like this:

The US economy has been hit by a financial crisis, not an economic crisis. The crisis has deprived consumers of the cash and credit to buy goods and services. Aggregate demand has slumped, and so therefore has employment. If government stepped in as a substitute buyer of goods and services, demand would revive – perhaps as rapidly as a mere “matter of months,” as Paul Krugman boldly stated in a recent blogpost.

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University of Iowa professor Stephen Bloom has gotten a lot of well-deserved criticism for an error-ridden piece in The Atlantic that’s sets new records for academic elitism, distain, and distate for just about everything about his adopted state. Much as I abhor Bloom’s style–it represents just about everything that drove me away from my parents’ uber-left views–I think that his point that Iowa’s role in the presidential nominating contest is overblown has something to it.

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In my column for CNN, I discuss the root causes of America’s obesity epidemic:

Obesity has become the country’s leading public health problem. Yet as we talk and talk about the issue, the country only becomes fatter and fatter.

The problem for the country echoes the problem for individuals: Willpower is not enough. “(It’s a) basic instinct, even stronger than the sexual instinct, to store calories to survive the next period of starvation. And we live in an environment where there’s food every half mile. It’s tasty, cheap, convenient, and you can eat it with one hand.”

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What is wrong with Joe Stiglitz’s analysis of the Great Depression? Click here for Part 1.

Problem 1: Repeat after me – The Great Depression was a global event. That’s a fact American economic historians always have great trouble keeping in mind, and Stiglitz here succumbs to the national myopia.

How did the troubles of the American farmer wreck every economy from Germany to China? If your theory of the Depression does not start with the huge debts bequeathed by the First World War – and the failure of the postwar settlement to re-establish a stable economic and financial order – then it’s not a very good theory.

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Joe Stiglitz’s offers in the current Vanity Fair an arresting theory of both the Great Depression and the current economic malaise.

Contra the (now) orthodox view propounded by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz, Stiglitz argues that the Depression was not fundamentally a monetary event. Instead, Stiglitz counters, we should think of the Depression as driven by a deeper crisis in the real economy: Between 1890 and 1930, technological advance had rendered most farm labor obsolete. Click here to read more

Enforcement of the law prohibiting the employment of illegal immigrants, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), enacted in 1986, has been pathetic. When the was first enacted, illegal migration from Mexico initially slowed to a trickle as Mexicans waited to see how seriously the U.S. Government would enforce IRCA.

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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On the morning of January 1st, I was able to join the panel for Up With Chris Hayes on MSNBC. I’d of course recommend watching both part 1 and part 2 of the show, but if you are short on time, I’d watch part 2 since that is when Corey Robin came on to discuss his new book: The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin.

Robin’s book is interesting but it makes a bold thesis that both I and Michael Brenden Doughterty had to respond to.

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On the last day of 2011, President Obama “with reservations” signed the authorization for the 2012 defense budget.

The president said he objected to language in the bill that granted him powers to detain terror suspects indefinitely – but forbade him to transfer detainees to the mainland US. Unmentioned in the signing statement was another section of the bill his administration had fought even harder than the detainee language: new sanctions on the central bank of Iran, an amendment pushed hard by Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.

According to one knoweldgable observer:

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Like those of a previous generation remembering November 22, 1963 or December 7, 1941, most of us alive today will never forget “where we were” that dark day ten years ago, when the world changed.

But TLC’s controversial All-American Muslim series rings in the New Year with a provocative new telecast (10pm Eastern and Pacific on most cable systems) on Jan. 1st, which gives its cast of Midwestern Muslim believers a chance to look back on Black Tuesday from their own very unique perspective. On the day that, as one put it, “I realized that people [started looking] at me as less American.”

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Don’t sleep in once you are done with your New Year’s Eve party. Instead, make sure to check out MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes at 8am (EST) on New Year’s Day. FrumForum’s Managing Editor Noah Kristula-Green will be on the show’s panel.

Also on the panel for the January 1st show will be Errol Lewis, Political Editor of New York 1; Amanda Marcotte, a Contributor to Slate & The Guardian, and Michael Brendan Dougherty, Political Editor of Business Insider (formerly a Contributor to The American Conservative).

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History That Matters

David Frum December 31st, 2011 at 5:28 am 3 Comments

In my column for the National Post, I discuss the importance of the latest issue of the Dorchester Review:

I’ve written before about Canada’s important new historical journal, the Dorchester Review. Now they have published a second issue – and I am doing it again.

This opening paragraph from one of the current issue essays nicely conveys why the Dorchester Review matters so much:

“The myth of a ‘Great Betrayal’ by Britain during the second world war has taken root in Australia, not just in the minds of parochial scholars, but in a hazy anglophobia amongst the general population. Fortunately, Augustine Meaher, an American scholar at Melbourne University, has stripped away the naive excuses and selective use of sources characterizing what he calls Australia’s ‘national myth.’ Meaher’s grandfather served with U.S. forces in the South Pacific during the war. He came to Australia to escape the narrowness of U.S. institutions and discovered a prime example of Australian parochialism instead. Australians can be grateful for his scholarly demolition of our local mythology.”

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As 2011 comes to a close, FrumForum plans to re-run some of our best featured pieces from the year. In ‘Two Cheers for the Welfare State’ David Frum responded to Yuval Levin’s essay in National Affairs about America’s welfare state.

Don’t miss Yuval Levin’s piece in the current National Affairs, “Beyond the Welfare State.”

The piece is interesting and important for many reasons, but not least because of its author’s background: a prominent Bush domestic policy staffer, Levin has spent a lot of time pondering the question: “What is/was compassionate conservatism?”

Based on his new essay, the answer seems to be: compassionate conservatism is kaput.

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2011 in Review

December 30th, 2011 at 6:00 pm 1 Comment

As we say goodbye to 2011, here’s FrumForum’s look back at the year in politics and popular culture — and the way the two keep intersecting year in and year out. It was the year when John Boehner replaced Nancy Pelosi as the House’s number one power broker — or so he wished. (With Eric Cantor and a rebellious Tea Party caucus standing in back of him, how’s that Speakership workin’ out for ya?)

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The Voice of the Celtics

December 30th, 2011 at 5:55 pm Comments Off

With the NBA season finally upon us, I find myself thinking about an NBA legend who never laced up the sneakers – legendary Celtics announcer, Johnny Most. I’ve written about sports voices before, those I loved (Dave Zinkoff) and those I hated (John Sterling). With Johnny Most, I had trouble deciding.

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As 2011 comes to a close, FrumForum plans to re-run some of our best featured pieces from the year. The piece by David Frum discusses whether or not the Founding Fathers would be recognized as libertarians.

Let me toss in my 5 cents worth on the question of whether the Founders were “libertarians.”

This seems to me a question approximately as meaningful as asking whether the Founders would have preferred Macs or PCs: it exports back into the past an entirely alien mental category.

Libertarianism fuses two ideas, one political, one psychological. The political idea is that the central state should be confined within the narrowest possible limits. The psychological idea is that each person should enjoy the widest possible scope to live as he or she thinks best.

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Ron Paul’s Base

David Frum December 30th, 2011 at 8:20 am 129 Comments

Here’s another tragic misunderstanding of Ron Paul’s message of human freedom: Paul has just gained David Duke’s endorsement. This week, the former KKK Grand Wizard telephoned into the radio show hosted by Stormfront founder Don Black to announce his support, and the two men had the following conversation.

Ron Paul was a hot topic this week on the talk radio show hosted by prominent white supremacist Don Black and his son Derek. Mr. Black said he received Mr. Paul’s controversial newsletters when they were first published about two decades ago and described how the publications were perceived by members of the white supremacist movement. Former KKK Grand Wizard and Louisiana Congressman David Duke also phoned in to explain why he’s voting for Mr. Paul.

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