The Journal’s Memory Hole

August 20th, 2011 at 9:48 am David Frum | 105 Comments |

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Yesterday, I started deconstructing the Wall Street Journal’s most recent Perry-praising and Fed-bashing editorial. But you have to give the editors credit at least for this: they write very economically. They pack a lot of misinformation into very few words. The job of correcting the record accordingly occupies more space than the original item. Can’t be helped. Below follows Part 2, as promised.

I’m picking up at the mid-point of the editorial. If you recall Part 1, you’ll remember that a lot of art went into insinuating that the housing bubble of the 2000s – and the slow wage growth of that same period – were somehow the fault of a (non-existent) loose money policy at the Federal Reserve. What comes next is audacity itself:

Then huge chunks of middle-class net worth were wiped out in the panic. And now, even as the recovery is supposedly underway, their meager salary increases are being washed away with another burst of commodity inflation caused by near-zero interest rates and quantitative easing. This is what happens when politicians and central bankers try to use monetary policy to compensate for the slow growth caused by bad fiscal and regulatory policies.

The insinuation here is that the Fed’s (non-existent) loose money policy, having first created the bubble, must bear responsibility for the crash.

This is an especially important insinuation for the Journal, because the page has its own guilty conscience on the subject to quell. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 destroyed trillions of dollars in real-estate and financial wealth. As has been pointed out by every expert to study the question, from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on down, there is just no way that the US housing bubble alone could have triggered such a global cataclysm. The cataclysm was too big relative to the size of the mortgage market.

We have a real-world example of the point: the failure of the Savings & Loan industry in the late 1980s. The collapse of this entire banking sector, then about a $200 billion industry, pushed the US into a mild recession that lasted for less than a year. Four years after the recession’s end, the US shifted into one of the most roaring expansions of the post-World War II period.

If the US could so easily shake off a $200 billion financial loss in 1990, how is it that the collapse of the not-very-much-bigger subprime market–$1 trillion at its peak–could threaten to wreck the entire financial system of the western world in 2008? How could it cause a market plunge that wiped away at least $13 trillion in wealth? How could it trigger the biggest and steepest plunge in economic activity since the 1930s, extending into a mini-depression that has lasted now almost three years and looks likely to last for at least three more?

The story as told by the Journal makes no sense.

Subprime became a lethal weapon because a finite number of subprime loans were packaged and repackaged into a vastly greater derivative market. That greater market had grown up entirely unregulated, based on all kinds of dubious practices. And when the decision was made back in 1998, 1999, and 2000 to leave the derivative market unregulated, guess which media outlet was the most powerful voice in favor? Of course–the Wall Street Journal.

It was that same derivative market, and not the loose money policies of the Fed, that enabled the dramatic run up of household debt in the 2000s. By 2007, household debt had reached a share of GDP last seen in 1929.

Why was household lending so much more permissive in 2007 than in, say, 1997? Not because Fed policy was looser. (In fact, the Fed repeatedly raised rates through the 2000s, after holding them steady through the later 1990s.) Lending was loosened because of the illusion of security fostered by securitization. A bank that might have blinked at extending an unsecured $15,000 loan to a $60,000 a year household happily allowed them to run up credit card debt that could then be repackaged and sold as a AAA credit thanks to the good offices of the people at J.P. Morgan and Standard & Poors.

It ought to be a waste of your time and mine to recapitulate this familiar history. But the recapitulation is made necessary by the determination of America’s leading financial newspaper to bury the history in favor of a bizarre myth made plausible only by the power of the mythmaker’s megaphone.

And that’s just sentence 1 of the above paragraph!

Sentence 2 contains a remarkable confession of perspective. Many might think the most salient economic fact of the moment to be the horrifying level of unemployment in the United States. The Journal cannot muster even a crocodile tear for them, perhaps because such a tear would prompt the question: Won’t tighter money worsen the job situation?

It’s certainly true that for those still in work, wage increases are difficult to come by. You’d think a free-market paper might appreciate the role of supply-and-demand in setting wages. Pay increases are scarce because labor markets are slack. Tighter money will make labor markets even slacker – and thus render wage increases even more unobtainable even for those workers who retain their jobs through the second recession that the Journal is demanding.

As to the idea that commodity price increases are the biggest problem that Americans face – well yes, it’s annoying to pay more for gas. Some food items cost a little more too. But this too is supply and demand in operation. China and India continue to buy oil and grain. The global middle class is growing. A long period in which commodities became cheaper relative to manufactures and services is yielding to a period in which manufactures and services are becoming cheaper relative to commodities.

But tightening money inside the US won’t alter that shift in global terms of trade – except by pushing more Americans out of work and thus reducing the ability of American citizens to bid for these goods in world markets. That’s a cure worse than the ailment.

As to the third sentence, the one about bad fiscal and monetary policies causing our problems:

This is revisionist history at its most brazen. The fiscal policies in place in 2007-2008 were precisely those consistently advocated by the Journal. Even now, the tax policy of the US ought to be close to the Journal’s heart: the Bush tax rates in place through 2012, a 15% capital gains rate, no taxation of corporate dividends, etc. President Obama has cut taxes, not raised them, and the federal tax take has been forced down to levels last seen in the Truman administration.

On the spending side, yes, the Obama administration has spent a lot. But how possibly did the spending policies of 2009-2011 cause a financial crisis in 2007-2008?

Hey – it looks like I’m going to need a Part 3…

- MORE TO COME-

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105 Comments so far ↓

  • JimBob

    In 1990 the National Debt was 3.2 trillion. Baby boomers were at their most productive. Today boomers are retiring and those close to retirement are saving money. They’re downsizing. The kids have flown the nest. With 75 million boomers the long term sustainability of our economy is very much in doubt.

    We need to lower tax rates and close loopholes to broaden the base. Sunset the regulations Bush and Obama have put on the productive part of the economy. Hopefully the Supreme court will overturn Bamy Care because that is a wet blanket on the private sector.

    No more stimulus or cheap credit which pumps up the bond and stock markets. Let the economy heal. Government and the FED are responsible for this mess.

    • balconesfault

      We need to lower tax rates and close loopholes to broaden the base.

      I have heard GOP politicians say this innumerable times recently … and it makes as much sense as maresedoatsandoeseatoats in this context.

      Lowering tax rates and closing loopholes has nothing to do with broadening the base. It is gibberish.

      Sunset the regulations Bush and Obama have put on the productive part of the economy.

      More gibberish. What productive part of our economy is being stymied by regulations? The financial sector? You have quite a warped definition of “productive” if that’s the case.

      Hopefully the Supreme court will overturn Bamy Care because that is a wet blanket on the private sector.

      Unproven hyperbole, with some very stupid slang thrown in just to highlight the fact that the commentor has no intention of offering up an intelligent argument.

      • Banty

        “Lowering tax rates and closing loopholes has nothing to do with broadening the base. It is gibberish.”

        The Daily Show on Thursday did a great send up of the “broadening the base” line and coverage of this issue, especially on Fox. It’s usually in a context of “how come 1/2 of the people don’t pay income taxes” complaint.

        Well, the total wealth of the bottom 50% (not even their income taxes if it weren’t for exemptions and the Earned Income Credit – their *wealth*) comes up smaller than the lost revenue due to the drop in tax rates to the top 1%.

        But it has a certain appeal – “hey, make THEM bums pay”.

      • Banty

        “Sunset the regulations Bush and Obama have put on the productive part of the economy.

        More gibberish. What productive part of our economy is being stymied by regulations? The financial sector? You have quite a warped definition of “productive” if that’s the case.”

        Yep. Like I said before, I’m working in the high tech part of our economy, one that enables you reading what you’re reading at this very instant, and, with production dealing with all kinds of chemicals, has to deal with regulations at each step of manufacturing. It’s going bangbusters right now, because there is demand.

        I agree that it’s the financial sector that has been putting out most of this gibberish. From my standpoint as an engineer working in semiconductor development, it’s hard to swallow the line about how the financial sector has to be “innovative”. Innovative my you-know-what. Banking should be boring.

        • balconesfault

          Innovative my you-know-what. Banking should be boring.

          This should be a first principle.

          As I’ve often said, when someone uses the term “innovative financial instrument”, it’s a good time to check and make sure where your wallet is.

        • JimBob

          Gawd you’re a dumbass

        • Demosthenes

          Yeah Jimbo he’s a dumbass engineer working on applied solid-state physics and you garadumacated with yer MBA and whatnot

        • Banty

          *She’s* a dumbass engineer working on applied solid-state physics …

      • JimBob

        Even a liberal Democrat like Bill Bradley understood that lowering tax rates and closing loopholes is good for the economy. Instead of sheltering money people will get it out there working.

        The private sector you know the part that generates wealth is being killed by excess regulations.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0S3xfheycU&feature=player_embedded

        As usual you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • balconesfault

          Self serving dribble.

          If there’s uncertainty over taxes … we have 10 years of evidence now to demonstrate that the Bush Tax Cuts did not actually provide for sustainable economic growth, and that they fueled record deficits. Reinstate the Clinton tax rates, and uncertainty is gone.

          If there’s uncertainty over a carbon tax … again, the carbon tax isn’t just a thing unto itself. It’s part of a policy to reduce carbon emissions and slow the rate of climate change. Since your CEO totally ignores that half of the equation, then I guess what he wants is simply certainty. In which case we should pass Cap and Trade, give him his certainty, and let him make his investment decisions with that certainty. In fact, it’s clear that there is a HUGE amount of capital in low carbon power generation and energy efficient technologies sitting on the sideline because of the uncertainty that’s been caused by the GOP continuing to block comprehensive climate change legislation.

          Ohh … 30 years of successful gutting of organized labor might be reversed. Uncertainty! We might not be able to screw workers over 5 years from now to the degree we’re planning on!

          And the Healthcare Reform pitch he makes is ludicrous. Claiming that the legislation is “too complex” for businessmen like him to understand and model is just playing to the ignorance of people like JimBob, who actually believe that the major corporations in America don’t already know exactly what costs ACA will mean for them 5-10 years out.

        • John Q

          “The private sector you know the part that generates wealth is being killed by excess regulations. “

          Yes, those excess regulations we used to have on financial institutions were a real problem.

          Once Glass-Steagall was repealed, then things got so much better for all of us.

          Oh, wait….

        • John Q

          The private sector you know the part that generates wealth is being killed by excess regulations.

          You’re right.

          We need to go back to the days when rivers were so polluted they actually caught fire.

          Now these pesky environmental regulations mean that someone somewhere is making a little less profit. Just to please those DFHs!!

        • Banty

          Scaredy capitalism from a guy in an industry that creates mostly low level minimum or even below-minimum wage jobs.

        • drdredel

          Guys (and gals), please stop replying to trolls (or dolts in troll’s clothing). It’s not necessary to rebut every bit of gibberish that is posted here. Anyone not smart enough to see that JimBob and his ilk are incapable of coherent conjecture isn’t going to understand anything you tell them in your rebuttals anyway, and like most people with extremely (sometimes clinically) low IQs, JB sees himself as smarter than everyone else. This makes him a terrific candidate for pity (and I sincerely pity him), but it doesn’t make it any wiser or energy efficient to rebuke his pointless, misinformed, and largely delusional diatribes.

        • Banty

          I dunno if that would even work, drdredel. I’ve seen these kind of fora overrun with these guys, catcalling, stomping around, and posting links that are fed them elsewhere. Taking the high road and ignoring them doesn’t seem to work.

          How about this instead – consistently pointing out how they so often miss the point and are really off topic. It’s mostly just canned bullshit. And make sure that’s only a fraction of the conversation. But I just haven’t seen ignoring them work. In principle it should work, but a bunch of responses, with links from Mises and redstate and Youtube diatribes, gets to *look like* they’re winning. And frankly, human beings don’t have that kind of discipline anyway.

        • searchinghereforintelligentlifeforums

          Folks, I am new to this forum. My respect for David Frum has been growing day by day. Although I agree with other commenters that it is irritating to see him drop an occassional right-wing sop (e.g., aggressive fiscal policies don’t help in fighting recessions) in otherwise well-argued essays, I think he is doing the country a great service. He is trying to talk the non-crazy Republicans off the ledge. I respect him for it and (with increasing desperation) hope that he will be successful.

          JimBob and his ilk, of course, don’t want this to happen. I am happy to see him being taken down convincingly (I hope).

        • Banty

          Jimbob actually functions as a good foil to illustrate the problems with the thinking of those over the ledge.

  • Bosco

    Goodness, Mr. Frum, your analysis ascribes no motives. Thank you. Certainly all parties want what is best for America. So, why would the Wall Street Journal provide such an alternate universe if such universe is not intended for the greater good? What benefits accrue to the WSJ and the American people: poor, middle class, and the moneyed? Who would benefit from this 20/100 hindsightful revisionist history?

  • ceartas

    The Journal is owned by News Corp. Every page from beginning to end is tainted by the Murdoch agenda. More accurate information is available in the Weekly World News.

    I dismiss it utterly.

  • balconesfault

    Thanks for keeping the focus on the derivatives market. If someone soaks their carpet in gasoline, and then sets a fire in the fireplace, when the inevitable spark jumps out of the fireplace and the house burns down what was the cause?

    The credit swaps and derivatives were gasoline, pure and simple. They did nothing of real value for our economy, while creating massive risk. Accepting this reality(and it’s true that blame needs to flow not only to the Bush Admin for ignoring that growing bubble of risk, but to the Clinton Admin for not pushing for regulations on that market from the beginning) should be a prerequisite for being taken seriously in any discussions on how we need to protect our economy going forward.

    • Houndentenor

      If we don’t reinstate Glass-Steagall, we’re going to repeat this cycle every decade. If banks were capable of self-regulation we wouldn’t be in this mess (or the last one or the one before). Anyone who thinks banking executives are super-geniuses who act with enlightened self-interest has obviously never met any of them personally.

      • MSheridan

        I agree re: Glass-Steagall, but I think another reform that would help a great deal is extending the length of time stock must be held before profit on its sale is eligible for the “long-term” capital gains tax rate, currently a mere one year. Or just raise that rate (easier said than done in this political environment. As it stands now, if you are a corporate executive with stock options available to you, you are leaving piles of money on the table if you don’t try to maximize profits in the short term, even if you know or strongly suspect that in doing so the company will be heading for a crash in the medium term.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          thank you, I have long said that I can accept lowered Capital gains taxes for LONG TERM investments, but short term ones should be taxed at income tax rates.

        • MSheridan

          Exactly. Heck, I might possibly even be willing to accept an even further reduction in the capital gains rate on truly long-term investments, if a credible analysis showed that revenue wouldn’t fall off a cliff, just to get the corporate world into the habit of taking the long view. The current system stinks on ice.

    • JD71

      Agreed. My plan to get us on the right track would be:
      1. Reinstate Glass-Steagall
      2. Bring up RICO charges against Goldman Sachs and the Credit Rating Agencies
      3. Any investment banking should be reorganized as Limited Partnerships (make them accountable to each other and less temptation for risky investments)

  • MSheridan

    Your former associates will never take you back, David. Even if you crawled. You knew that, though, and that’s probably been true for a while.

    Your writing has really improved with the devil-may-care attitude you have taken of late. It feels great to be a free man out in the sunshine, doesn’t it?

    • agustinvicente

      I guess I don’t know the back story. Why is he a free man out in the sunshine? Who is he trying to crawl back to? Just wondering.

      • MSheridan

        Regarding the first part of your question, he used to write for the WSJ editorial page (something I think he mentioned in the first installment of the piece above) and later was with the American Enterprise Institute and also had his own page on The National Review. The NR let him go when his sanity too consistently contrasted with their other writers. AEI did more or less the same thing, and he hasn’t been a good fit for the WSJ for years.

        However, I didn’t mean to imply that he had any intention of crawling. Quite the reverse. Frum is smart enough to know how pointless that would be at this point. They’d never take him back now even if he wanted to be taken. It looks as if he’s finally decided to stand up firmly for his own beliefs without carrying water for anyone he doesn’t agree with. I think he’s a political hack in recovery. The fact that I don’t share a lot of his worldview doesn’t stop me from being pleased at the triumph of integrity.

  • Banty

    Hurrah. And especially to putting the finger on what really nearly tanked whole national economies – - the enormous volume of derivatives, especially CDOs and CDS’s, which were exposed to complete losses as the housing sector started to teeter.

    The best explanations that came out in September and October of 2008 were on “60 Minutes” and the NPR show “American Life” and Matt Taibbi’s pieces in Rolling Stone. In the meantime, I was already seeing people post and re-post a Youtube of a Sean Hannity piece blaming it all on the 1980′s CRA program.

    I think there’s a propaganda machine that, for any and every event (like the S&P downgrading), an alternate narrative is carefully crafted. Simplistic, vivid, and barely plausible, but one which appeals to the fearful half educated.

    • Banty

      Apropos of nothing.

    • MSheridan

      JimBob, if you are a believer in the Austrian school, you have two choices. You can, like Murray Rothbard, advocate free banking (a system known to produce cyclical booms, busts, and bank failures, even in the Austrian view) or you can advocate for even heavier regulation of banks and stronger reserves to attempt to keep banks sound (few Austrians go this route). Are you a proponent of free banking? Do you even know what that is? Because I haven’t previously seen you argue in favor of that.

  • armstp

    It is amazing that both Gigot and Moore have such low ethical standards. I think they are true believers in their own bullshit, but given how obvious their BS is, you have to think they are purposely distorting their facts to push a political agenda.

    The question is; what exactly is that political agenda? Even Greenspan has admitted that his endless Ayn Rand thinking has its limits. These guys are just reptiles. Greedy bastards. As long as they and the interests they represent get theirs then screw everyone else.

    We will have to see what happens when the younger Murdochs take over. Over the past few years it has become clear that they are not happy with the journalistic integrity at both FOX and the WSJ. I would assume they will make some changes when they take over. You have to think this massive wire-tapping scandal has made them even more angry with the ethics and lack of standards at the media properties.

    • Bunker555

      Gigot is a lying sack of shit. He’s taken the Wall Street Urinal editorial page down the shitter with his fact free SHOUTING.

    • CKW

      No, JimBob, Keynsianism didn’t cause the economic collapse. Stupidity and greed did.

      Love,

      John Boy

      • JimBob

        Yes, Keynesianism did cause the collapse. The Princeton clown himself, space alien Paul Krugman calling for the Federal Reserve to create a bubble in housing to replace the Dot.com bubble that had just burst. Using monetary policy to juice the economy which does nothing but distort the market and create bubbles.

        • balconesfault

          The Princeton clown himself, space alien Paul Krugman calling for the Federal Reserve to create a bubble in housing to replace the Dot.com bubble that had just burst.

          What the hell are you talking about?

          First, I suspect it’s an insanely stupid interpretation of something Krugman said to claim he argued for a “bubble in housing”.

          Second, the idea that the Greenspan Fed listened to a word Krugman said is purely idiotic. In 2001 Krugman was announcing that Bush economic policies were aimed at creating a new banana republic out of America, widening the gap between the haves and have nots while systematically undermining the middle class. Yet the Fed felt quite happy to roll along very complictly with Bush for 8 years.

        • Demosthenes

          Have you seen Jon Stewart’s take on the “broaden the tax base” bit? It’s high-larious and very much worth watching. He put up a chart on income inequality rates for the whole world, I was shocked to see the USA just a few spots higher than Nepal!

        • balconesfault

          Nope – but you’re the second person who has pointed me to it.

          The whole “broaden the tax base” thing reminds me of the “Lucky Ducky” comic

          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/14/LuckyDuckyComic.png

          It’s a crime that people who make less in a year of full-time work than the CEO of ExxonMobil makes in an hour aren’t paying taxes. Something must be done!

        • JimBob

          Only space aliens can save the economy—Paul Krugman

          http://dvice.com/archives/2011/08/economist-faked.php

        • Demosthenes

          “OK, that’s by far the best thing I’ve heard about my remark that an imaginary threat from aliens, by leading to a burst of spending, would solve the unemployment problem.”

          http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/18/wag-the-dalek/

          The original link:

          http://blastr.com/2011/08/nobel-prize-winning-econo.php

          Krugman’s quote:

          Think about World War II—that was actually negative social product spending and yet it brought us out … If we discovered that space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive build-up to counter the space alien threat, and inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, “whoops, we made a mistake,” we’d [still] be better… There was a Twilight Zone episode like this, in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. Well, this time we need it to get some fiscal stimulus.

        • Banty

          “The Princeton clown himself, space alien Paul Krugman calling for the Federal Reserve to create a bubble in housing to replace the Dot.com bubble that had just burst. Using monetary policy to juice the economy which does nothing but distort the market and create bubbles.”

          This one has been repeatedly debunked, but oh, don’t let that stop you …

          http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/and-i-was-on-the-grassy-knoll-too/

        • JimBob

          No it has never been debunked. The only person who thinks it has is the Princeton clown.

          http://blog.mises.org/10153/krugman-did-cause-the-housing-bubble/

        • Banty

          And you quote Mises to “prove” that …

          And the results of a Google search on “Krugman” and “housing” (which seems to be about all that there is in this) does not mean he advocated a bubble. Housing has been important in our economy for some decades.

        • JimBob

          Banty, you can’t refute one damn thing. Nothing!! After the Dot.com bubble burst Krugman over and over called on the FED to lower interest rates to juice the economy which would lead to a housing boom. A bubble.

          As for the Mises Institute. Only the Austrian Economics got it right about our current crisis. They were predicting in back in 2001. The Housing bubble. They were laughed at by Keynesians.

          Peter Schiff Austrian telling people back in 2006-07 what to expect over the next few years.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I0QN-FYkpw

          Banty, you don’t know what you’re talking about and I’ll leave it at that.

  • Nanotek

    “Hey – it looks like I’m going to need a Part 3…”

    thanks … please keep them coming

    • Bunker555

      ^+1 Part 3

    • NRA Liberal

      He’s going to need a hell of a lot more than three parts if he really lets himself follow this thread where it leads.

      On a related note, why isn’t this blog doing more for Huntsman? He seems to be speaking out against the madness lately, much like Frum himself.

      • balconesfault

        The site pushed Huntsman so heavily early on, I suspect they’ve just run out of new things to write about him …

        Meanwhile, Balloon-Juice had a great bit on Huntsman yesterday:

        http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/08/20/out-of-kindness-i-suppose/

        Yes, it’s silly when Halperin and Joe Scar pretend that Huntsman has a chance in the Republican primary, but I can no longer blame them for rooting for him. In this interview Huntsman is remarkably reality-based (and suicidal, politically speaking) on science, on the debt deal, on Bernanke’s “treason”.

        Huntsman’s candidacy comes ten or twenty years too early; I believe that within 10-20 years, we’ll either be a Franco-style theocratic dictatorship headed up by Generalissima Bachmann or, more likely, that electoral set-backs will convince the Republican party to dial things back a bit. In the meantime, Huntsman is pissing in the wind, but I respect him for it, and I can see why moderate Republican commentators let him hang around.

        • Banty

          Huntsman’s problem right now is his manner – it’s lacking fire and charisma.

          And I’m still not sure if he’s a moderate or the same cat, but somewhat different stripes. The flat tax, for example, if I heard him right on ThisWeek.

        • balconesfault

          Huntsman is a moderate Republican. Which means that on issue by issue polling, he’s still to the right of majority American opinion 70-80% of the time, but he doesn’t take a position that those who are to the left of him should be wholly delegitimized, or that ideology needs to trump objective reality.

        • Polifan

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/21/jon-huntsman-2012-candidates-this-week_n_932399.html

          He is still on the top of my list for potential Republican party ‘candidate.’ I am still hopeful.

  • Graychin

    These are good analyses. Perhaps a few people who actually listen to the op-ed pages of the WSJ will have their eyes opened. Very few, I fear.

    But debunking the WSJ’s skilled and poisonous propaganda could be a full-time job. Are they really worth the effort? Are they thoughtful opinion leaders, or mere propagandists like AM talk radio hosts dressed in business suits?

    Don’t you see where this leads? Next, will you be deconstructing the ravings of Michelle Bachmann?

  • pnwguy

    Little by little, I think Frum has been putting down the crackpipe of GOP talking points and finding that life in rehab is refreshing. Maybe he’ll be able to come clean without a relapse. He’s still got the Israeli myopia to struggle with, but that’s a far deeper and authentic tribalism in his case. It’s also less of a flaw for US politics. I figure if he quits on the Devil’s Dandruff, I’ll indulge him the occasional Marlboro.

    I applaud David’s recent dissections of what has been promoted as conservative policy. As others have pointed out, skepticism and empiricism was historically a major part of the conservative temperament. I am glad that David has been rediscovering it.

    Bring on part 3.

    • TJ Parker

      Amen.

      I’m sorely disappointed in George Will.

      • MSheridan

        Time was when Will was very much worth reading, even if–or perhaps especially if–you disagreed with him. He went the same way as Broder, though. He petrified.

        • balconesfault

          An amusing bit on Will in today’s DailyKos:
          George Will spent last week moaning about how Kennedy lost the Cold War and this week making comparisons between Chris Christie and Woodrow Wilson. Has anyone done a Turing Test on Will’s writing lately? I do believe this stuff is being cranked out by tacking together random urls from Wikipedia with a handful of javaScript. This is one step from gibberish — and not always one step in the right direction.

        • MSheridan

          Thanks. I just checked out the piece by Will that inspired that. Truly sad. Once, and yes, it was a while ago, Will was relevant because he was an articulate and thoughtful conservative voice. Now, apparently, he’s granted page space because he WAS (past tense) relevant and because he gives the occasional political handjob to guys like Chris Christie and can generally be counted on to safely disparage the President without sounding as if he’s typing while wearing a bed sheet over his head.

  • balconesfault

    I’m sorely disappointed in George Will.

    When he writes about anything but baseball, I’ve been sorely disappointed in George Will going on 30 years now.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    great thread on a great article, is was amusing to watch jimboob be throroughly trashed with him not having the faintest idea how much he was crushed.

  • PatrickQuint

    “*She’s* a dumbass engineer working on applied solid-state physics …”

    A female engineer… who knows physics… and is interested in politics… on the internet? Such a thing is preposterous. ;)

    Incidentally, I’d be interested to see work on gender bias with regard to screen names. Gender-neutral screen names (such as odd jumbles of letters and numbers) often seem to be presumed to be male.

    The article clearly lays out facts, but does so in a way that is unlikely to change minds. A hostile tone puts people on the defensive and makes convincing much, much harder because the other person cannot be seen to agree with you without accepting the validity of the insults and losing face as a result. It’s more effective to allow your opponents a means of saving face while doing a 180 on their position.

    Vitriol and shaming entrench opinions, rather than breaking them.

    Listen to Sun Tsu. Always allow your opponent at least the appearance of a means of escape. Cornered enemies fight to the death, while troops with a clear path of escape ones can be defeated as they flee or lose cohesion.

    • Banty

      “Incidentally, I’d be interested to see work on gender bias with regard to screen names. Gender-neutral screen names (such as odd jumbles of letters and numbers) often seem to be presumed to be male.”

      I was actually thinking of going from “Banty” to “DumbassEngineer”. (“Dumbass Engineeress”??)

      Naw, I’ve been “Banty” for a long time.

  • JimBob

    There’s actually a good article in the Washington Post today about the economy and why it going to take years to get out of it.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/recovery-will-be-one-of-the-longest-most-difficult-in-history-economists-say/2011/08/17/gIQA6D6rPJ_story.html

    The FED’s easy money policy encouraged people to go out and borrow.

    “For example, in the United States between 2000 and 2008, outstanding consumer credit and home mortgage debt rose rapidly, from 65 percent of gross domestic product to more than 90 percent.

    The economy cannot fully heal until consumers and other debtors shed their financial burdens and are able to spend more freely again. Consumer credit has since fallen to 85 percent, but it could take many years for households to reduce what they owe.”

    • Nanotek

      if the TARP money, subsidized by working Americans, had gone to working class consumers rather than the leeching banks, consumer credit wouldn’t be the problem as now characterized by the banks and their pom-pom waving yell squads

      • JimBob

        Working class consumers took on all this debt. They over extended themselves. The wealth effect. Saw the value of their house go up year after year. It was all phony gains. Encouraged by the FEDs artificially low rates. The central bank created this mess we are in today.

        • Demosthenes

          This is the first link on the van Mises blog article (from 2 May 2001):

          http://www.pkarchive.org/column/5201.html

          A brief quote:

          Put it this way: Many economic commentators seem to subscribe to a sort of crime-and-punishment theory of recessions. They believe that after the economy goes through a period of speculative excess, it must then pay for that excess with a slump. But must irrational exuberance be followed by recession? The alternative to crime-and-punishment is let-bygones-be-bygones. Of course capital is wasted in a speculative boom, and much of that capital must be written off. Moreover, the sectors of the economy in which the speculative excess was greatest may not see much new investment for a while; it might be years before the demand for servers or business software resumes rapid growth. But why should this stop the economy in its tracks? There are always good investments to be made, if the price is right. Millions of Americans have decided that low interest rates offer a good opportunity to refinance their homes or buy new ones, even as the headlines warn of a slumping economy; and there are plenty of profitable opportunities in those old- economy sectors that got a bit neglected during the technology bubble.

          I think Mr. Krugman’s point still stands. Our problem even now is not that there are no good investments to be made, it is that nobody is making those investments. There is a demand crisis exacerbating a liquidity trap.

          Regardless, Krugman advocating lower rates at the Fed, and noting that people could leverage those rates to refinance their homes (or buy new ones), does not equate to “causing” the recession by “creating” a housing bubble. Was there a housing bubble? Sure. Have you dealt with the substance of Frum’s arguments, that the housing bubble mathematically could not have caused the widespread economic devastation? In no way, shape, or form.

          But I guess they don’t teach math at Harvale Business Academy.

          P.S. From Arnold Kling over at Economics and Liberty

          http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/06/defending_what.html

          1. Krugman was mainly expressing pessimism. He was not cheerfully advocating a housing bubble, but instead he was glumly saying that the only way he could see to get out of the [2001] recession would be for such a bubble to occur.

        • ottovbvs

          Krugman advocated low interest rates in 2002 when the economy was in recession and monetary stimulus was an option. Duh!

        • ottovbvs

          “The central bank created this mess we are in today.”

          Amazingly I partially agree with Jimbo. Although it wasn’t just the working class that over leveraged it was everyone from middle class investors trying to make money flipping condos to banks who were making financial bets with 40 times their capital. There’s no doubt the Fed’s loose money policies (which didn’t involve over expanding the money supply btw) were an important contributory factor to igniting the financial misbehavior. Frum is simply wrong about this. The Fed kept rates depressed for far too long. But there were certainly other factors notably reckless banking practices by everyone from Lehman Brothers to Countrywide. And this is where the the third and most massive failure occurred and that was a failure by the Bush admin to properly regulate these activities. Basically they were MIA because of a combination of ideological reasons and because the boom suited them politically. There was certainly no political or philosophical pressure to remove the punch bowl. Just read some of the WSJ opeds of the period! And it would have been very easy for the Fed, the Treasury or the other quasi governmental institutions like the SEC to shut the entire bubble down in 2005/6 before the whole thing got completely out of control and by when it was very apparent a bubble was in the making. There were many voices warning of the dangers including amongst others Volcker and Paul Krugman (Jimbo’s idee fixe). The result has been probably the only major balance sheet recession since the war (all the others were basically tight money recessions) which as the revisions to the GDP figures for 2007-9 show was much deeper than anyone thought. It’s going to take a long time for the de-leveraging process to work itself out, a situation that is exacerbated by the fact we find ourselves in liquidity trap where the efficacy of monetary remedies is very limited and where for political reasons the obvious remedy of creating fiscal stimulus is blocked.

          NB. Here’s a link to the Fed rates for the period. Basically they took them below 3% in the middle of 2001 and kept them there for four years (most of the time under 2%). This almost exactly coincides with the RE bubble which got underway in 2002 and popped in the middle of 2006.

          http://www.wsjprimerate.us/fedfundsrate/federal_funds_rate_history.htm

        • indy

          Amazingly I partially agree with Jimbo.

          I know, pretty funny. Exactly what I thought when I read this thread. Jimbo isn’t his usual full on crazy self. Then I checked to see if the full moon was waning or something.

          The Fed kept rates depressed for far too long. But there were certainly other factors notably reckless banking practices by everyone from Lehman Brothers to Countrywide. And this is where the the third and most massive failure occurred and that was a failure by the Bush admin to properly regulate these activities.

          It stretches back farther than that though. From about 1990 or so forward, there has been a significant lack of scrutiny in the financial arena. It unfortunately continues today. I know there is a desire among Democrats to absolve Clinton, but no, I think he was culpable as well. Not to the same degree, perhaps, but that isn’t reason enough to ignore it.

          Edit: I’ll say again what I have said before. I think Greenspan was absolutely horrible. Partly, as he admitted I think, it was the constraints of his ideology.

        • Banty

          Jimbo:”Working class consumers took on all this debt. They over extended themselves. The wealth effect. Saw the value of their house go up year after year. It was all phony gains. Encouraged by the FEDs artificially low rates. The central bank created this mess we are in today.”

          Uh-huh. I actually think there is a point in the Fed’s role in this (too easy money yes, but mostly in leaving themselves no room in that dial should the economy not respond.) But keep in mind it was them dealing with the *previous administration’s* recession, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts having failed in boosting the economy.

          But what really gets me about this narrative, is that is depicts millions of prospective home buyers, of all educational levels, personal propensities, and familial situations, as ALL, each and everyone, individually, responsible for this mess. As if, banks just do what they do what-the-heck, financial firms just do what they do with their complex financial instruments what-the-heck. And, if only, *if only*, each and everyone of these individual homebuyers did their part and be all frugal and responsible, this economic situation would never have happened. They all should have sat there tight, renting, or not refinancing, and tell the spouse that they’ll rent forever, tell the kid they’ll have to pay for their entire college or just not go, in a time of stagnant wages. All to protect AIG from being disastrously exposed in their ‘insurance’ instruments to the point that their downfall was on a scale of national economies.

          Ludicrous, just ludicrous. But this was the core of that Rick Santelli rant that some trace the start of the Tea Party to.

          Hello – there is something called *underwriting*. Back when banking was boring (like, in the 90′s when they had been chastised by the S&L crisis and when I bought my house), there was a responsible agency that did not let crap deals even get close to closing. But, instead, since the risk could be passed on, that agency was gone, and the charlatans stepped in to crank out deals just to harvest up the fees. (And, no, the CRA or anything like it never authorized liar loans or CDS’s or CDO’s or any of that – it was there to address redlining where even a Black doctor or dentist of perfect standing could not finance a modest home in a mostly Black neighborhood.)

          But it’s so much more satisfying to the right to blame each of these individuals. Financial firms – hey, they just Do what they Do. Brilliant, ‘innovative’, deserving by just sitting where they sit.

          This is the utter damaging BS that they want us to believe, and that folks like JimBob conveniently run around with and repeat and repeat doing their part in the propaganda machine.

        • ottovbvs

          To be fair to Jimbo (not something I’d usually do) he’s assigning the bulk of the responsibility to the Fed for their low interest policies. While the vast majority of the responsibility (like 95%) for creating the bubble lies with the Fed and the financial industry, and the lack of regulation, consumers can’t be totally absolved. Many Americans were feckless, no doubt about it. Paternalism no doubt but these idiots should never have been give the opportunity behave stupidly.

        • Banty

          “Paternalism no doubt but these idiots should never have been give the opportunity behave stupidly.”

          Well, yeah. But, the way things were set up, if the idiots behave stupidly, who would lose? The loss was all up in a big amorphous financial cloud as far as anyone was concerned. Who wants to pay the opportunity costs of mitigating against a hugely diffused risk?

          Story: In 2005 I refinanced my house, cash out to do a foundation repair and renovations, and to pull in the term from 30 to 15 years to align with my retirement plans. Two individuals in my circle told me I was naive to go with a fixed 15 year rate; I should go with an ARM with a low rate, and just refinance later, leveraging part of the cash out in other investments. They had all the talk, about how I was “leaving money on the table”, “not getting with the game”, “anyone who can, is doing this”.

          Well, I’m kinda old-fashioned I guess. I’m not going to say I was prescient (although I was noticing and wondering how people who really shouldn’t, were living large), mostly I had a lot on my plate and like to keep things simple and straightforward. Well, who are these guys now? They’re two of the Tea Partiers I know. They think the game was ‘ruined’ by those other people who got mortgages and should not have.

        • Banty

          “To be fair to Jimbo (not something I’d usually do) he’s assigning the bulk of the responsibility to the Fed for their low interest policies. ”

          … but by mechanism of all those ‘wrong’ people being enabled by the low rates alone. As if.

        • indy

          We apparently have a well-trained generation of consumers. When given the opportunity, via loose monetary policy or some other mechanism, they consume. On one hand, it propels the economy. On the other hand, it propels the economy.

          Plenty of blame to go up and down the line, but it was a massive failure across the spectrum.

        • JimBob

          Hilarious. Banking was really boring in the 90s. Janet Reno and Roberta Achtenberg were going around the country threatening banks that they better make more home loans to blacks and hispanics or there would be consequences to pay.

          http://www.mequonnow.com/blogs/communityblogs/43775462.html

        • Banty

          Maybe you should read the comments to the drek you post, Jimbo. Like the first one.

          This is the “gub’mint made the banks do it” narrative that was cooked up at that time, that I’m talking about. This one throws in Acorn and all the other bete noirs of the right.

          How about some time taking on the POINT David Frum makes in the article we’re all supposed to be commenting on? The one about how the size of the whole mortgage market cannot account for the problem in 2008? I mean, actually discussing, rather than re-posting drek from your collection of URLs, would be just so, so refreshing.

          From the article:
          “This is an especially important insinuation for the Journal, because the page has its own guilty conscience on the subject to quell. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 destroyed trillions of dollars in real-estate and financial wealth. As has been pointed out by every expert to study the question, from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on down, there is just no way that the US housing bubble alone could have triggered such a global cataclysm. The cataclysm was too big relative to the size of the mortgage market.

          We have a real-world example of the point: the failure of the Savings & Loan industry in the late 1980s. The collapse of this entire banking sector, then about a $200 billion industry, pushed the US into a mild recession that lasted for less than a year. Four years after the recession’s end, the US shifted into one of the most roaring expansions of the post-World War II period.”

        • Banty

          This is the first comment to that article Jimbo posted. I would love “Brew Crewer” to come around here if he (she?) isn’t here already. It sure shows ya that the *informed* saw right through this crap immediately, but it got legs, man did it ever have legs.

          “Mr. Wickert juxtaposed article misappropriates logic and misrepresents facts. It’s easy to identify the inherent contradiction of an attorney “speaking the truth.”

          As far as the facts, no private lenders were compelled by laws to make subprime mortgages. Only federally charted banks. Not S&L’s, not private mortgage brokers.
          Half of all subprime loans were originated by private lenders. Another 25% came from bank affiliates which were governed to some extent by the law, but not as fully as the banks. (With affiliates the banks were given the choice of counting the loans.) That leaves 1 in 4 loans that were originated under the laws that Wickert refers to.

          It’s quite telling, amid all the recent recriminations, the lenders themselves have not fingered regulations. Furthermore when subprime lending intensified in 2004, independent mortgage companies, made high-priced loans at more than twice the rate of the banks and thrifts.

          Ben Bernanke speaking of mortgage brokers rightfully placed the blame where it belonged noted in testimony before the House last year where he stated: “ The originate-to-distribute model seems to have contributed to the loosening of underwriting standards in 2005 and 2006. When an originator sells a mortgage and its servicing rights, depending on the terms of the sale, much or all of the risks are passed on to the loan purchaser. Thus, originators who sell loans may have less incentive to undertake careful underwriting than if they kept the loans. Moreover, for some originators, fees tied to loan volume made loan sales a higher priority than loan quality. This misalignment of incentives, together with strong investor demand for securities with high yields, contributed to the weakening of underwriting standards.”
          These loans were not purchased by Freddie or Fannie. Freddie and Fannie were prohibited by regulation to accept anything less than “ALT-A” paper, (any credit rating below 600). Subprime loans made up a very small of their book, but I will not argue these firms were mismanaged.

          Wickerts reference to red lining, “accusing sound lenders of being racists” was a result of lenders losing court cases for that very practice. You shouldn’t, and can’t, discriminate against buyers by where they live, or the color of their skin. Foreclosure rates on these subprime instruments by race, pretty much mirror the race percentages of our entire populace. Blacks are no less likely to be foreclosed than whites, and vice versa.

          This mess is clearly a result of the greed of a few, not the result of regulation, as Treasury Secretary Paulson has reminded us, and has called for regulations to prevent its reoccurrence.

          Wickerts logic in laying the fault on the creation of Fannie and Freddie is akin to blaming Wilbur Wright to modern airline crashes. Nice try Gary! So if you want to insist I’m a socialist, liberal commie, I’ll take that label over that of a “ Attorney speaking the truth”. “

      • ottovbvs

        “better make more home loans to blacks and hispanics or there would be consequences to pay.”

        Aw Jimbo, you gotta ruin it by reverting to idiotic type.

      • JimBob

        Hilarious. Yes it is.

        “Roberta Achtenberg, the daughter of a Russian-born owner of a
        Los Angeles neighborhood grocery store, was plucked by President
        Clinton from relative obscurity in 1993 and elevated to the position of
        assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
        Roberta and Bill were united in their desire to increase home
        ownership in poor and minority communities.

        And despite a barrage of objections led by Senator Jesse Helms,
        who referred to Achtenberg as that “damn lesbian,” the lady took up
        her appointment in the new administration, citing innate racism as
        one of the main reasons why banks were reluctant to lend to those
        without funds.

        In the ensuing couple of years, Roberta Achtenberg harnessed all
        of the formidable energy on the massed ranks of United States
        bankers, sometimes threatening, sometimes berating, sometimes
        bullying—anything to persuade the banks to provide mortgages to people
        who might not have been up to the challenge of coping with up-
        front down payments and regular monthly payments.

        Between 1993 and 1999, more than two million such clients became
        new homeowners. In her two-year tenure as assistant secretary,
        she set up a national grid of offices staffed by attorneys and investigators.
        Their principal aim was to enforce the laws against the banks, the
        laws that dealt with discrimination. Some of the fines leveled at banks
        ran into the millions, to drive home Achtenberg’s avowed intent to utilize
        the law to change the ethos of providing mortgage money in the
        United States of America.

        Banks were compelled to jump into line, and soon they were
        making thousands of loans without any cash-down deposits whatsoever,
        an unprecedented situation. Mortgage officers inside the banks
        were forced to bend or break their own rules in order to achieve a good
        Community Reinvestment Act rating, which would please the administration
        by demonstrating generosity to underprivileged borrowers
        even if they might default. Easy mortgages were the invention of Bill
        Clinton’s Democrats. ”

        http://www.amazon.com/Colossal-Failure-Common-Sense-Collapse/dp/product-description/0307702413

  • Bunker555

    “They pack a lot of misinformation into very few words”

    Mr. Frum, glad to see you “right” some major distortions in WSJ reporting. Hope you can take back the GOP from the Tea Cons and Christian Jihadis.

    Perhaps your original phrase “Axis of Hatred” seems appropriate for the WSJ, Faux News, and National Review.

    Perhaps Frum Forum will become the most popular political blog in the world.

    Perhaps News Corp will buy you out and shut you down, just like News of the World. Don’t sell for anything less than what Arianna got for HuffPo

  • Idle Resources

    If you can’t understand the problem – Rove-Bush expenditures beyond revenues plus unaffordable Obama program spending – then you can hardly use your social idiocy to pose solutions.

    Solution: apply WH Hutt’s Economic Stability macro and microeconomic models, and treat all workplace components as Resources. ALL Resources must be operated in a manner that promotes Stability, and its basis: balanced budgets, starting with revenues matching or exceeding program-spending .

    Why would there be investor confidence in the current economy? Almost one-third of mid-size to large US companies, offered Mutual Fund options in Payroll Savings plans. When the values of same collapse, a huge Institutional investment base collapsed. Where an existing company can show large profit-to-earnings ratio, they may attract investors. New startups remain in entrepreneur’s imaginations. Why? Malfeasance.

    These entries should be directed directly to David Frum and not the idle rich brats who use this forum to emulate GWB’s dypso psyche; I wish he had lost that battle. The rest of you aren’t housebroken. Go to littlegreenfootballs, and be with adult-infants like yourselves. Toilet train on this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Lie_with_Statistics

  • ottovbvs

    “I’ll say again what I have said before. I think Greenspan was absolutely horrible. Partly, as he admitted I think, it was the constraints of his ideology.”

    I think the Fed and the Bush admin failures were almost entirely ideological. As Greenspan famously admitted even before his ideological mea culpa he didn’t see it as the job of the Fed to prick asset bubbles whether they were dot.com or real estate. I don’t absolve Clinton but his sins were fairly minor by comparison with the derelictions of duty by people like Cox and Snow. A lot of people go on about the repeal of Glass Steagall but it was obsolete and no one seriously proposes reinstating it. IMHO there were no shortage of laws on the books to rein in the financial industry before Dodd Frank. What was missing was the will to use them by the Greenspan Fed, and the Bush Treasury/SEC/FDIC et al. What makes Frum’s take down of the WSJ oped page appropriate, is a reading of their opeds from this period which were all of the Goldilocks variety. I used to read them and roll my eyes. The more simple minded could get the original from that idiot Kudlow on MSNBC. The real estate market started collapsing Q3 of 2006 and when those couple of hedge funds (run by was it Bear Stearns or one of the big banks like Citi?) went belly up in mid 2007 it was obvious the game was up but Bushco and the Fed still kept trying to pump air into the bubble.

    Edit: on a personal note my daughter runs the compliance operation at a fairly substantial bank and I think she’d disagree with you about whether the banks are getting a lot more scrutiny these days (and she’s much more liberal than me)

    • balconesfault

      What makes Frum’s take down of the WSJ oped page appropriate, is a reading of their opeds from this period which were all of the Goldilocks variety.

      Bingo. There was blame for both sides of the aisles. In general, because they were a lot more comfortable with the idea of people making massive amounts of money while not doing anything, the GOP probably were worse actors. Throughout the expansion of leveraged risk that finally culminated in the 2008 meltdown, the WSJ was the biggest bunch of cheerleaders for all the worst practices that led to the meltdown.

    • indy

      on a personal note my daughter runs the compliance operation at a fairly substantial bank and I think she’d disagree with you about whether the banks are getting a lot more scrutiny these days (and she’s much more liberal than me)

      I hope so. My (mostly anecdotal) discussions with people who work in various arms of finance, particularly those at the risk desks, have made me to believe it is pretty much business as normal. Hopefully, the administration is going about it systematically, putting the ducks in a row one at a time.

      • ottovbvs

        Well mine is also anecdotal of course but according to her there is heightened scrutiny and what’s perhaps even more important the “expectation” of heightened scrutiny which changes the balance of power in these financial institutions. In every corporation I’ve ever worked in the legal, compliance and standards depts are regarded as the sales prevention departments. When there is a perception that their power is weak the envelope gets pushed and vice versa. In the Bush years the SEC was widely regarded as neutered hence people like Spitzer going into action. And of course it was neutered by the appointment of people like Cox and other free market conservatives who could outvote the two Democrats required by law and block both new regs and enforcement actions.

  • ottovbvs

    “there is just no way that the US housing bubble alone could have triggered such a global cataclysm.”

    For want of a nail the kingdom was lost? Of course the proximate cause of the world financial crisis was the US real estate bust. This is a totally bizarre claim by Frum and detracts from his wider argument. I don’t disagree that the sheer extent of the crisis was the product of securitization and the proliferation of other financial instruments like CDS, but what Frum is ignoring is that this huge growth in securitization could not have taken place in any environment other than one where money was cheap and regulation lax. Had, for example in 2004, Greenspan raised Fed rates to 6% or the SEC clamped down on banking reserve ratios, the whole thing would have come to a sudden halt.

    • Banty

      But that would have stopped the Candy Train and possibly created a “Bush recession”. At least Reagan and Volker had guts.

      • ottovbvs

        It had nothing to do with Reagan. Volcker was appointed by Carter and by the time he was reappointed by Reagan his reputation and the circumstances were such that it would have been hard not reappoint him. He wanted a third term but Reagan who was looking for a looser monetary regime and a Fed chairman who wasn’t going to be openly critical of fiscal policies dropped him in favor of Easy Al.

  • gravymeister

    You mean, Barney Frank didn’t trigger the Global Recession by forcing banks to lend to poor people with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977?
    Economics was so simple back then. What happened?

  • Bunker555

    When Frum takes on the National Review’s lies, I will be truly impressed.

    • Nanotek

      I would appreciate him doing that; the real history seems hard enough to grasp… and way out of my league … his organizational clarity helps

  • Smargalicious

    David, methinks you must read the NY Times.

    Unfortunately, the “flagship of American journalism” morphed into a leftist tabloid years ago.

    Meh.

  • connor25

    I used to read the Wall Street Journal for business tips and then stopped once religious organizations started putting their opinion in the opinion pages. And other articles and responses from readers turned me off from reading it ever again.

  • angeleno

    The fact that the WSJ would deceive like they did In this instance scares the bejesus out of me. I trust David Frum. I read most everyone’s responses. There are a lot of smart people that visit this site. Thank you all for helping me learn.