Reasons for Donating to Reason's Webathon, Day 2: Seeing the "Bull" in Modern-Day Bull Mooses


You should really read his writings about the white race. No seriously, you should.

Good morning and welcome to Day 2 of Reason's annual Webathon! To reach our goal we need about 400 or so more donations–big ones, small ones, $666 ones (of which we've received one so far!). Our basic proposition is that opinion journalism doesn't pay for itself in subscriptions and advertising, so we're asking you to volunteer a premium, in exchange for the value you get out of the experience of consuming our work, watching us represent your views on TV and radio, and taunting us viciously in the comments. Speaking of which, did you hear we have a book out?…

Here's an example of what Reason gives you that few other journalistic outlets will:

So the president of the United States travels to Osawatomie, Kansas yesterday, in a naked attempt to seize the baton from Teddy Roosevelt's century-ago "New Nationalism" speech, which was one of the most famous wills to executive power in American history ("executive power," T.R. explained in his address, is "the steward of the public welfare"). Barack Obama used the opportunity to complain that ATMs haved replaced bank tellers, to declare that education is a "national mission," to dust off some "Made in America" economic nationalism, assert (falsely) that "unless you're a financial institution whose business model is built on breaking the law, cheating consumers, or making risky bets that could damage the entire economy, you have nothing to fear" from new banking regulations, and to sketch out a new model of corporate citizenship that "will require American business leaders to understand that their obligations don't just end with their shareholders." R-e-q-u-i-r-e.

History's greatest monster

Reason criticized various bits of the speech in posts by Mike Riggs, Tim Cavanaugh, me, Jacob Sullum, and Peter Suderman. What about our friends in the media, many of whom (like us) were harshly critical of George W. Bush's executive power-grabbing? What was their response to Obama's Doris Kearns Goodwin-inspired T.R. moment?

The New York Times editorial board:

[The president] has fought energetically for a realistic plan to put Americans back to work and has been stymied at every step by Republicans. That seems to have burned away his old urge to conciliate and compromise, and he is now fully engaged against the philosophy of his opponents.

Tuesday's speech, in fact, seemed expressly designed to counter Mitt Romney's argument that business, unfettered, will easily restore American jobs and prosperity. Teddy Roosevelt knew better 101 years ago, and it was gratifying to hear his fire reflected by President Obama.

It was "The Obama we've been waiting for," Robert Reich wrote in Salon. The proletarians at The New Yorker agreed: "Invoking Teddy Roosevelt," financial correspondent John Cassidy headlined his enthusiastic blog post, "Obama Finds His Voice."

And, predictably, it wasn't just out-and-proud left-of-center economists applauding. As mentioned here yesterday, Bull Moose is the go-to historical figure for "do-something third-party pundits" everywhere. So without missing a beat, "No Labels" enthusiast John Avlon let out a hearty huzzah:

Confession: I'm a Teddy Roosevelt nerd. And apparently President Obama is as well. [..]

The unapologetic Americanism and aggressive reforms advocated by an iconic rugged individualist like TR have broad appeal to Republicans, Democrats and especially independents. […]

Interestingly, however, in recent years representatives of the right-wing talk radio crowd have started to throw Teddy Roosevelt under the bus as part of their RINO (Republican in Name Only) hunting expeditions.

Didn't like it then

Avlon, like such T.R. enthusiasts as David Brooks, Thomas L. Friedman, John McCain, and Matt Miller, see "Teddy Roosevelt" in one corner and "ideological absolutism" in the other. But as Reason tirelessly points out, self-described post-ideology is often as ideological as it gets, inevitably ending up at the same conclusion of giving the federal government (and the executive branch in particular) more power.

For a fresh example, look no further than this morning's column by Senior Editor Jacob Sullum about "Obama's Indefinite Detention Powers." As Sullum in particular has spent 35 months chronicling, the constitutional lawyer-candidate who campaigned daily against the excesses of Bush-Cheney executive power has held tight to the stuff once it became him having to pragmatically solve the world's problems.

In times like these, where so much of journalism and commentary seems calibrated for or against the political party holding power, you need a watchdog and voice out there who is skeptical of authority, government, and executive power irrespective of who is wielding it. We didn't like the Cult of the Presidency when George W. Bush was the flyboy in chief, and we don't like it now. We didn't go from opposing war to taunting anti-interventionists just because Team Blue was ordering the drone strikes. Click on our "Executive Power" topic page, scroll down through the years, and see for yourself: We are equal opportunity critics who think those in power require scrutiny. Some issues–all of them?–are more important than tribal membership.

Don't like it now

Please check out our reason.com/donate page, and scroll over the giving levels to see the fun and occasionally bizarre swag you'll get in return for supporting our journalism. A gift of $333 forces Nick Gillespie and myself to answer any question you ask, on camera. The Full Monty of $2,500 gets you a black leather jacket signed by Senor Gillespie himself. A hunnerd large gets you a gift subscription (send it to your frenemies!), and even $20 is muchas appreciatedas. And regardless of what you can cough up, please help us out (and enter yourself into a free $100 Amazon gift card sweeptakes!) by filling out our online survey, which we are using to make improvements to your experience at this here website. Thanks, pals!

NEXT: Are We Standing on the Edge of the Climate Change "Abyss"?

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  1. Are those Weeping Angels in the background of that picture?

    1. Nah, just some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.

  2. Man I never even thought about it like that before. It makes pretty good sense dude.


  3. Here we go: TEAM BLUE has a new meme, and it’s Teddy Roosevelt, and those fucking robotic sheep morons will now repeat the same shit non stop day and night for a few months.

    TEAM BLUE is absolutely going for the brass ring of stupidity over TEAM RED, and you know what? They’re winning.

    1. I’m confident TEAM RED will close strong, Epi. I predict a dead heat.

      1. I don’t know about that right now, RC. TEAM BLUE is like the Packers right now. Things will switch up over time, but this season, they’re undefeated in utter stupidity.

        1. Everybody is stupid except me.

          1. Especially you.

        2. Epi, TEAM RED has an all-star line-up for sheer stupidity. And a deep bench of teh stoopid. Frankly, I just won’t bet on this match-up – its a toss-up.

        3. You’ve been watching this whole Presidential debacle you don’t plan to vote in, right? This contest about which team is stupidest is like the Special Olympics — nobody in the race can lose.

    2. That would be the Teddy Roosevelt who said:

      “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

      “Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.”

      “It is difficult to make our material condition better by the best law, but it is easy enough to ruin it by bad laws.”

      Seriously, have they no shame? No brain?

  4. apparently no one wants to notice that his many personas, Obama has likened himself to FDR, Lincoln, Reagan, and now TR. Wouldn’t it be simpler to say “the man has no real clue who the hell he is”.

    Obama’s core remains that of an agitator, an ideologue committed to collectivism who knows he can’t say that out loud and hope to be elected, not even with sycophantic MSM help. So, he cloaks himself in whatever strain of thought looks like a form of leadership that the public will buy. And he counts on America’s collective ignorance of history, civics, and economics to advance his case. When a toadie like John Avlon tries to ascribe “unapologetic Americanism” to Obama, the shark has been jumped, re-jumped, and eaten.

    1. When will he hurry up and compare his administration to Hoover?

  5. so we’re asking you to volunteer a premium, in exchange for the value you get out of … taunting us viciously in the comments

    Okay, I have to admit, this is the sales pitch that works on me. I derive a great deal of amusement out of the comments section here.

  6. Little slow here today. I suspect Matt, Tim and Nick are writing up answers to David Brooks latest full on retard screed. I suffered through it, but was amazed at his ability to skate around the actual arguments concerning the pressures regulation are placing on the economy.

    To him, the fact that 4 out of 5 visiting lobbyist to the White House were industry insiders and not activist proves Higgs and de Rugy wrong. I’ve seen Brooks correctly use the regulatory capture argument before, so why would he make such an embarrassing omission here? He’s like a man who picks his nose in public and eyeballs asses but somehow believes himself to be invisible while doing so.

    Several more craptacular arguments follow after that one, including the claim Cass Sustain and his crew of econometricians are non ideological technocrats only interested in the truth when they are measuring the effects of regulation, and a claim that only 17 percent of businesses say that regulation effect their bottom line, which simply counts health insurance cost and other matters of government compliance as a separate matter from regulation altogether to get that figure.

    Looking forward to the take downs to come.

  7. I’m really surprised nobody has spent $10 to put “BOOBS” or “shrike is a C____f__” or the like up on the rotating banner. The text shows up instantly upon donating. It’s either automated, or someone at Reason has way too much time at 12:30 AM PST.

  8. Doris throws less like a girl than Captain Momjeans.

  9. The post-ideology tireless-reformer types claim they want to fundamentally re-order politics and governance to fix cynicism. They want to do so without changing the way politicians are elected, without changing the way politicians govern, and without changing the number, size, or scope of government agencies and powers.

    Apparently the only thing we need to cure cynicism in government is to eliminate political parties and reduce distractions from the fundamental task of controlling the choices other people make. Surely the citizenry will respond optimistically to authority and condescension.

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