The Golden Age of Libertarianism That Never Was

Thomas Frank's Pity The Billionaire bounces a reality check.

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In one of his reportedly few sober moments, the legendary statesman and tippler Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), is rumored to have said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Weirdly, the lack of definitive sourcing for that quotation only confirms its essential validity.

But what happens when the facts seem so different among people that there's virtually no common ground for conversation, much less resolution of basic differences?

I thought a lot about that question — not to mention drinking — while reading Thomas Frank's new book, Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right, which he announces as "a chronicle of a confused time, a period when Americans rose up against imaginary threats and rallied to economic theories they understood only in the gauziest of terms." A University of Chicago-trained historian who co-founded the hip left-wing journal The Baffler and pulled a stint as the token liberal on the Wall Street Journal's opinion pages, Frank has written a series of books about American culture and politics, most famously What's the Matter with Kansas? (2004).

To Frank, fears that government intervention into the economy and debt-fueled spending helped to cause and perpetuate the financial crisis are plainly "imaginary." He believes that the economic "theories" America is currently embracing are hardcore austerity measures ripped from the playbook of Herbert Hoover, circa 1929. "The revival of the Right," says Frank, "is as extraordinary as it would be if the public had demanded dozens of new nuclear plants in the days after the Three Mile Island disaster; if we had reacted to Watergate by making Richard Nixon a national hero."

Where to begin separating facts from opinions? For starters, it's simply wrong to claim, as Frank does, that "the main political response to [the financial crisis of 2008] is a campaign to roll back regulation, to strip government employees of the right to collectively bargain, and to clamp down on federal spending."

Certainly the tea party, a handful of people in Congress (most of them with the last name Paul) and some policy wonks would welcome such moves. But far from being power brokers, such folks are little more than utopian dreamers, as likely to be attacked by their allies as by their enemies. The toughest fight that tea party favorite Rand Paul had in becoming the junior senator from Kentucky in 2010 came from House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did everything he could to keep him from gaining office.

Lest we forget, the major response to the financial crisis in 2008 was the bailing out of Wall Street and the auto companies under a conservative Republican president and the implementation of an $800 billion stimulus plan promoted by a Democratic president.

That's not to mention a health-care reform package that was routinely described as "historic" and "transformational" at its passage. Ironically, such immediate, massive and — in the case of the stimulus — ineffective actions are in keeping with those of Herbert Hoover. After all, the stimulus failed to achieve any of the targets set by its proponents.

Contrary to Frank's claims, Hoover was never a fan of government austerity (at least while he was in office). According to economist Randall G. Holcombe, Hoover increased federal expenditures in real terms by 88 percent between 1929 and 1933.

Perhaps the major interventions of the last few years sneaked through under the wire because too many of us were traumatized by the collapse of Bear Stearns (and yet another Pittsburgh Steelers victory in 2009's Super Bowl). But in fact, spending and regulations ballooned tremendously all through George W. Bush's presidency — and still show no sign of slowing down.

In constant 2010 dollars, the federal government spent about $2.3 trillion in 2001. By 2010, the total was around $3.6 trillion. And though the federal government has not passed (and will not pass) a budget for a third straight year, the two plans currently on the table envision spending either $4.7 trillion or $5.7 trillion in 2021. The lowball figure comes from the budget that passed the GOP-controlled House last spring. The higher number comes from President Obama's budget proposal.

If austerity is the new black, the news has yet to reach the people who actually wield power in the capital. And if the Washington elite aren't serious about cutting spending, they sure aren't hell-bent on cutting red tape and regulations either.

For self-evident reasons, George W. Bush and the Republicans soft-pedaled the fact that, over the course of his presidency, he hired 90,000 net new regulators, signed the Sarbanes-Oxley bill that radically complicated corporate accounting practices, passed a record number of "economically significant" regulations costing the economy $100 million or more and, says economist Veronique de Rugy, spent more money issuing and enforcing federal regulations than any previous chief executive.

Obama is continuing the trend by increasing employment at regulatory agencies by more than 13 percent and issuing 75 major rules in his first two years.

All this happened during what Frank calls "the golden years of libertarianism." So I have problems understanding what he is talking about when he issues dicta such as "free-market theory has proven itself to be a philosophy of ruination and fraud."

He is surely correct that many anti-government types conveniently minimize the role bad actors played in banks, financial houses and elsewhere in the private sector in causing the financial crisis. But he also never provides a compelling response to the argument (common among libertarians) that the root of the problem remains implicit and explicit bailout guarantees that securitize irresponsible risk-taking. When it comes to free markets, I feel more like quoting Gandhi's answer when asked how he felt about Western civilization: "I think it would be a good idea."

"Pity the Billionaire" suffers not just from a lack of engagement with what I consider reality. It dismisses out of hand those with whom the author disagrees. Members of the broadly defined right, says Frank, "blow off the facts when they feel like it; they swipe symbols from the other side." I hear him, and I even have some sympathy when he cries in exasperation, "What kind of misapprehension permits the newest Right to brush off truths that everyone else can see so plainly?"

What indeed, brother, what indeed? We live in an era of "beer summits" and diplomatic "resets" and a screwed-up economy in which inflated housing prices are not allowed to fall to the depressingly low levels they might actually be worth. In ways he surely didn't mean to, Thomas Frank's "Pity the Billionaire" has helped explain why so many of us seem to be talking past each other.

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.tv and Reason.com and the co-author, with Matt Welch, of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America (PublicAffairs). A version of this ran originally at The Daily on January 7, 2012.

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  1. After many years of attempting to earnestly understand why liberals insist pointing at the failings of non-free market experiments to condemn free market ideas, I eventually just came to the conclusion that some of them use those intellectually dishonest arguments out of spite and the rest do it because they’re just too fucking stupid to understand the difference.

    1. I’m going with too fucking stupid

      1. are both completely full of shit

        1. ? HUMANS ARE NOT PROPERTY

          Are humans to be “consumed, sold, rented, mortgaged, transferred, exchanged or destroyed?” Because that’s what owners do with mere property.

          Therein lies the bait-and-switch con-game of libertarianism, as identified by Robert Locke in his 2005 article Marxism of the Right:

          “Like Marxism, it [libertarianism] aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics.”

          ? TRANSFERING YOUR SELF TO ANOTHER NEGATES THE “SELF” PART OF “OWNERSHIP”

          If “ownership” of your own self must be transferred?via wage or voluntary or chattel slavery?to the owners of earth’s resources in exchange for food or tokens for food and resources to survive in a society, that transfer negates the “self” part. (Except in libertarian economic la la land.)

          Libertarianism is all about “Thou Shalt Own Thy Neighbor as Thyself” — even if it’s just for only the most productive part of your neighbor’s day. Hell, wage slavery more profitable for the owner class than having chattel slaves who have to be fussed over and cared for 24/7. Which allows for more Privatize gains, socialize costs. (Then bitch about the socialized costs.)

          Neat little swindle ya’ll got goin’ there.

          1. Look up the word “alienable” in the dictionary. Then rethink the past twenty years of your life.

            1. I’ve read that Austrian bullshit. It’s about as convincing as Marx, twit.

          2. Skipping his offhanded dismissal of any philosophical underpinnings that might support libertarian ideas, then criticizing what remains as not being able to answer philosophical criticisms, I’ll just say Robert Locke is an ass, but a comical one even if doesn’t intend to be. I especially enjoyed his use of Russia an an example of economic freedom. I did business in Russia and Russian Federation sub-countries, travelling there 13 times in 21 years. The last time was only two years before Locke’s article.

            The laws were worse –both Byzantine and perverse– than anything I ran into in any other European country. The government’s respect for contracts and property rights, even as written into their own constitution and law, was negligible. And the corruption… Rampant would describe little more than the surface of it. Officials, both petty and grand, were insulted if they didn’t receive gifts for giving you their permission to do normal business activities with all permits already in hand, even when bringing in supplies their local industries were gasping without.

            What Russia “lost control of” was it’s own government, not it’s economic life.

            1. philosophical underpinnings that might support libertarian ideas

              ::two conical thumbspikes up::

            2. Conservatives are mostly full of shit like Libertarians, but Locke’s line there is a good observation:

              “Like Marxism, it [libertarianism] aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics.”

              Nice dance around the obvious there.

          3. I hate to break this to you, but EVERY CHOICE you make is economic. Every behavior you engage in is to either produce something and/or consume it. Anything “social” beyond that reality is a whatever eyewash you need to get through your day, which you are more than welcome to. The problem, of course, is when those eyewashes CLASH with each other, and a person or group thinks their NON-ECONOMIC based flight of fancy is the one EVERYONE needs to live by, and since, by your embedded definition, is SUPERIOR to crass economic function the use of Force is justified. So, a self appointed group of people set up some constructed Good that is so superior to everyone else’s that they get to use FORCE to control everyone else, and they do so be impounding and redistributing their labor based on their “non-economic” based “social” system of Good and Bad. And that’s how you get grinding poverty of royalism and serfs, or the death camps of hardline “social”ists – left or right.

            All you have is time and resources, and how they get allocated is up to you and all of us. We can have as Forcefilled an equation as you want, or one that is outputted by people making free choices. But the underlying reality is TIME and RESOURCES are SCARCE, and they need to be put to BEST USE. And that is WHY economics exists in the first place. It’s not AN INTELLECTUAL CHOICE, is a FUNDEMENTAL REALITY like gravity. So if you believe gravity can be made to not exist by getting together a bunch of likeminded people “socializing” the concept away, and point a quivering finger at others who recognize scarcity and how to deal with it, as CAUSING scarcity and how to get around it, then you simply have proven how bankrupt you are philosophically.

      2. It can be both. The first group are bitter and in denial…the rest are unintelligent or intellectually lazy and in denial. The third group are drunken men who know where they are and care, but don’t drink. 🙂

        1. Props for the A Fistful of Yen shoutout.

          1. Thanks…I appreciate someone getting that even though I botched the quote. 🙂

            1. Put this man in cell #1, and give him a drink!

    2. Seems more likely that it will never be the case that free market advocates will ever own up to their own failures because there will conveniently always be a government agency around to blame.

      1. Yeah, reality is a bitch, isn’t it Tony? If only government could alter it by fiat.

      2. Seems more likely that it will never be the case that free market government advocates will ever own up to their own failures because there will conveniently always be a government agency the free market around to blame.

        FTFY

        Tony you are really off your game these days! Maybe it’s time to turn the reins over to a more vigorous defender of the faith.

        1. I don’t blame the free market for anything because I think it is as real as unicorns.

          1. Excellent….we agree! Now you’re getting it. The government interferes and distorts or makes it an unfree or manipulated market.

            Ah Tony I do have high hopes for your full and speedy recovery! It’s not easy getting off the government sauce!

          2. Tony|1.18.12 @ 7:03PM|#
            “I don’t blame the free market for anything because I think it is as real as unicorns.”
            Thanks to shitheads like you.

          3. Nice thing about free market economics…they don’t require you to believe in them to exist. You might try to ignore them and you might distort them, but eventually you either accept them or they reduce you to poverty.

            But you have fun trying to dig your way out of the hole, Tony…I’m sure eventually you’ll hit China. 🙂

            1. So cite an example of a market that satisfies(d) your criteria for being free… I can’t think of one that didn’t have any government interference of some kind.

              The point is, wouldn’t it be prudent to figure out how to deal with an economy that does have to cope with government interference, since it seems intractable?

              1. There are none that had no government interference…it’s just that the less interference they had, the more prosperous they generally were. Hong Kong had minimal government interference in its economy, by way of example. Which is all I’ve ever wanted…a government that only involves itself in the economy in incidents of theft and fraud.

                Most libertarians are minarchists, not anarchists.

                1. Oh, and to create currency…I’m fine with a government currency.

                  1. Government currency negates any free market. If there is no free market in money, there isn’t one at all, because money is one half of every modern transaction. Real currency has always arisen out of market forces – not imposed by government. Without the gold standard that arose in the market, governments would not be able to convince people to switch to paper. Just imagine that coming from the top in society that didn’t already have a currency system – “here take this paper and use it to trade for things, like labor and food”. Yeah, that would go over just GREAT.

                    1. Tony 1: Seems more likely that it will never be the case that free market advocates will ever own up to their own failures because there will conveniently always be a government agency around to blame.

                      Tony 2: I don’t blame the free market for anything because I think it is as real as unicorns.

                    2. I’m glad I am not the only one that noticed that.

              2. The market always copes with government interference, in the most extreme of cases by going underground (black market).

                The less interference, the less time and resources spent on circumventing the government. Fewer barriers to the market, the greater the quantity and variety of goods and services available for more people. It is not a difficult concept.

      3. Re: Tony,

        Seems more likely that it will never be the case that free market advocates will ever own up to their own failures[…]

        Yes, for instance, you have to go naked and shoeless because nobody produces those things – the free market failed, right?

        Imbecile.

      4. Speaking of too fucking stupid… ‘sup, Tony?

        1. Re: Jeff,

          I don’t know in which world Tony seems to operate, but by the looks of it, he seems to think Bush and his cronies were Austrian libertarians all. I guess that compared to the level of intervention one could find in, oh I don’t know, North Korea, even the current president would look like an AnCap.

          1. wasn’t there some crazy stat about bush not vetoing a SINGLE spending bill for the first X months of his presidency?

            i can’t recall the #, i just remember it was shocking (or not, if you are used to “small govt” repubs getting in office and promptly becoming big govt. repubs.

            1. He didn’t veto a single bill for five years, actually?

              1. Actually, that wasn’t meant as a question.

                1. Dammit. Who typed a question mark on the teleprompter?

          2. Yeah, Tony’s one dumb twat alright.

      5. Speak of the devil… 🙂

      6. Free marketeers believe in failure, failure is essential and must be allowed to happen. Free marketeers acknowledge failures, learn from them and move on. Failure is inherent.

        It is only socialists who think failure must be prevented. Socialists deny failures, pretend they never make any happen blame someoneelse and tell us they have the perfect plan for everything.

        1. Yet every time there is a failure you guys do nothing but bitch about whose fault it is.

          1. Angus is not Old Mexican is not Sevo. We are not a collective. We are a collective of individuals. Angus may hold these beliefs, while most everyone else here may not.

            1. I disagree!
              Oh.
              Uh.
              Er.
              Huh.
              Never mind.

            2. Dr K, How can you advocate free markets and not accept that failures will occur as a result? Freedom to succeed = freedom to fail.

              1. Oh, I agree completely. I was just pointing out that Tony was treating the libertarian commentators as a collective.

                  1. Shouldn’t you be out on a vision quest or something? You know where the great spirit points your inner warrior towards the nearest 7-11?

                    1. But that would mean giving up the internet for longer than it takes to pee or answer the pizza delivery guy at the door. White Indians are such city statists

          2. And every single time the least little thing troubles society you demand a federal program to fix it! I hope you never drop by the “People of Wal Mart” site or all reason.com readers will hear about for the next month is that the American people deserve a “Department of Proper Wiping”.

          3. Tony|1.18.12 @ 7:03PM|#
            “Yet every time there is a failure you guys do nothing but bitch about whose fault it is.”

            Shithead, define ‘failure’.
            Or admit you’re making shit up.

          4. I think you’re confusing libertarians with liberals. I don’t blame oil companies and corporations for the state of my life. If you’re talking about libertarians’ tendency to point fingers at the government when the laws they propose have significantly different outcomes, well then yeah…no shit.

        2. Success, on the other hand, can only occur for all parties involved if their participation is voluntary. Otherwise, no transaction is win/win.

      7. Tony|1.18.12 @ 5:36PM|#
        “Seems more likely that it will never be the case that free market advocates will ever own up to their own failures because there will conveniently always be a government agency around to blame.”

        Shithead, meet someone who has your number:
        UCrawford|1.18.12 @ 5:25PM|#
        “…I eventually just came to the conclusion that some of them use those intellectually dishonest arguments out of spite and the rest do it because they’re just too fucking stupid to understand the difference.”

    3. It is all about the narrative. The facts do not create the narrative. The narrative creates the “facts” . We all know the narratives. We can all predict the responses to every issue, news event, and discussion. The great thing about having the narrative is that it prevents you from having to have anything more than a superficial understand of what is going on. It is the crutch that makes one look informed to the blissfully ignorant even when one doesn’t know their a** from a hole in the ground.

    4. If you work for the government, or need government benefits, or are retired from the government, are you seriously going to blame the people who keep you in house and home for ANYTHING?? Of course you aren’t.

      1. I work for the government. I still want to cut things from it…even in the area I work in. But that’s because I’m also competent enough to be able to find another job if I lose my current one.

        1. Now see? That’s what the fuck I’m talking about. Where’s the poster with this guy on it?

          1. In fairness, though…I can sympathize with guys who are a lot closer to retirement than I am who aren’t particularly stoked about the idea of losing their pensions.

    5. I eventually just came to the conclusion that some of them use those intellectually dishonest arguments out of spite

      I do not! Er, I mean, they do not!

  2. Isn’t that the head vampire in Lost Boys?

  3. I’m having deja vu. Didn’t we already have this article posted?

    1. yep, January 9th.

      1. Same as it ever was….same as it ever was….

        1. I hope I’m not stating the obvious, but I just got this: you’re referring to Thomas Frank’s hand gestures and oversized suit?

          1. I couldn’t think of a clever response, so, yes, yes it is.

            1. Beaker.
              That is all.

  4. “The revival of the Right,” says Frank, “is as extraordinary as it would be if the public had demanded dozens of new nuclear plants in the days after the Three Mile Island disaster…”

    Because, what, coal-fired plants would have been better? If Three Mile Island was a “disaster”, bring ’em on. I’m afraid I don’t seem to be able to find the exact passage online, but in Dr. Bernard Cohen’s “Before It’s Too Late: A Scientist’s Case For Nuclear Energy” he discusses how the average Three Mile Island protester faced more danger in traveling to protest than they did from any negative consequences of the accident.

    1. If anything, Three Mile Island proves that Americans aren’t worthy of nuclear power.

      1. Funny every day seeing libertards go full city-Statist. When it’s convenient, of course.

        1. Fat bottomed boy you make the rocking world go round!

        2. I’m shocked, shocked that White Indian is also an antinuclear hysteric.

          1. He also blames Alar for his inability to procreate.

            1. Must be. Can’t be his brains, looks or personality after all.

    2. Rational risk assessment is hard apparently. See the War on Terror as Exhibit A.

      1. So you don’t think private insurance companies were rational in rejecting nuclear power?

  5. At what point during this “Golden Age of Libertarianism” did the War on Drugs end?

    1. I think it was right after the flat-tax and before Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid were abolished.

  6. Austerity, to guys like Frank and Krugman, is failing to increase spending by enough to make a difference. How much is enough? More than we’re doing now.

    Actually cutting spending? That’s pure insanity.

  7. Also, guys, Stalin was totally a capitalist agent whose mission was to smear communism.

    1. Pol pot turned away from the humane Communist ideals he spouted and became and ultra-nationalist, capitalist exploiter of his people, and a tool of the CIA.

    2. I’ve had two political science professors who hold that position. Stalin wasn’t really a communist or a socialist and if the US had just left the USSR alone the Soviet system would have totally worked.

      I’m actually grateful to both of them though, I turned to Mises after being forced to read Howard Zinn and Michael Parenti.

      1. Re: A Serious Man,

        I turned to Mises after being forced to read Howard Zinn and Michael Parenti.

        You were made to read Zinn? What the hell did you do, knock up your teacher’s daughter or something?

        1. Yeah, he did, and unfortunately he wasn’t an “oppressed minority” so he didn’t have an adequate excuse.

        2. Yeah, a lot of young minds were lost in that classroom.

          I mean Jesus, he gave every student a pamphlet advocating the Keyensian wet dream of a transcontinental high speed rail system financed by the government mostly on credit because that’s what China has been doing for the past decade.

          1. One billion Chinese could never possibly be wrong…regardless of how many of them die in a famine. 🙂

      2. Parenti is a Soviet apologist of the highest order, despite his protestations to the contrary. He will claim to not apologize for the “excesses” of the Soviet regime (all of that troublesome persecution, mass murder, political institutionalization, de-kulakization, etc.), but will then claim that the Soviet Union failed because the mean Americans dared to embargo them, while “force” them into an arms race. For the desert, he offers up a straight-faced serving of “the right people weren’t in charge.”

        It’s fucking depressing that I remember Parenti’s name.

        1. …..he offers up a straight-faced serving of “the right people weren’t in charge.”

          And yet they managed to butcher 20 million of their own citizens. Sounds like those were guys who could get things done!

          Seriously, anybody attempting to defend communist/peoples republics has a serious case of intellectual battered wife syndrome!

  8. I don’t see why Reason bothers trying to refute partisan cranks llike Frank, who are just TEAM boosters. Their views aren’t based in rationality nor reality, but in what’s good for the TEAM. So why bother with shit stains like Frank that rely on outright lies and distortions?

    I know, you can’t let it go unanswered, but fuck does it ever get old.

    1. 1. Write rebuttal to popular but highly misguided article.
      2. Mr. Hipster Douche for the first time in his life realizes what he read from a safe source was completely unsatisfactory.
      3. He Googles for a counter point, and finds Reason. Reason profits!

      1. I knew it. Those greedy capitalists aren’t doing this for the Greater Good, they’re just trying to turn a quick buck!

      2. Seriously, for a site called Reason, have you guys made any effort at all to get a monocle manufacturer to advertise on the side of the page?

        1. What are these ads you speak of?

          1. I only block those that annoy me. A stack of gold coins beautifully photographed can never annoy me.

        2. I seem to remember seeing a bot advertising monocles awhile back. I could be mistaken, though.

  9. I believe we have found Tony’s secret identity!

    1. Underpants Gnome?

      Too obvious.

      1. The Underpants Gnomes had more sense and a better plan than Tony.

        1. Not to mention a burning desire to profit.

          1. Rumor has it that Tony has something burning down there!

      2. When has Tony even been known to be subtle?

  10. The toughest fight that tea party favorite Rand Paul had in becoming the junior senator from Kentucky in 2010 came from House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did everything he could to keep him from gaining office.

    And if the vitriol and downright nastiness that permeates the campaign against Ron Paul is not evidence of the completely open hostility towards libertarian ideas and principles from the Establishment elites, including and especially from the pro-war Republicans, I don’t know what would be. Frank is simply making his arguments from a totally fabricated reality where the Congress and Senate during the Bush years were readers of Bastiat, Menger and Rothbard.

    1. That bit of wisdom came from Nick Gillespie.

  11. Stop Making Sense!

    1. We have a winner

  12. How is it that Libertarianism gets the blame for a bloated Corporatist State and Crony Capitalism?

    1. It doesn’t fit the narrative that deregulation ruined the economy if the Bush 00s are properly viewed as a time of government run amok.

    2. Bubububecause RepubwicanZ!!!!1!!!11111!!!111!

    3. Kulak wreckers and hoarders always get the blame.

  13. Lest we forget, the major response to the financial crisis in 2008 was the bailing out of Wall Street and the auto companies under a conservative Republican president and the implementation of an $800 billion stimulus plan promoted by a Democratic president.

    A few quibbles here:

    1) Exactly half of the TARP bailout was perpetrated by an allegedly conservative president–George W. Bush. The other half of TARP was perpetrated by Barack Obama.

    See the headline from the Huffington Post, “TARP Vote: Obama Wins, Senate Effectively Approves $350 Billion”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..58292.html

    That’s story’s from February of 2009. Barack Obama took office in January 20. His half of the TARP disgrace was the very first thing he did when he got into office.

    2)

    The auto bailout was not perpetrated under George W. Bush. It was all Barack Obama–and a hideous display of crony capitalism it was.

    GM filed for bankruptcy on June 1 of 2009. Almost six months into the Obama’s reign–the GM bailout was all about Obama.

    I despised the Bush Administration–I continue to despise the memory of the Bush Administration–but we shouldn’t let the Obama people off the hook for all the evil things they did when they used the future paychecks of average working Americans to bail out Wall Street investors and the UAW.

    Bush was responsible for some of that–but let’s give Barack Obama full…um…credit for what he did, too.

    1. I agree with your statement here, but the more I see of Obama, the more appreciative I am of Bush.

      1. Bush kicked ass in Afghanistan in 2002, but he should have immediately left the country after destroying the Taliban, saying “THAT is what happens to governments which harbor terrorists.” The whole Iraq thing, and continued in the ungovernable Afghanistan (“Never fight a land war in Asia”) was horrible mistakes on Bush’s part. His presidency is thus unforgivable.

        1. Bush kicked ass in Afghanistan in 2002, but he should have immediately left the country after destroying the Taliban

          Did he have a humongous mecha or what?

      2. Every current president serves to burnish the reputation of his predecessor!

        1. It certainly seems that way.

        2. Can’t say that about Reagan or Ford

          1. ^^ This 🙂

  14. “For starters, it’s simply wrong to claim, as Frank does, that ‘the main political response to [the financial crisis of 2008] is a campaign to roll back regulation, to strip government employees of the right to collectively bargain, and to clamp down on federal spending.’

    Certainly the tea party, a handful of people in Congress (most of them with the last name Paul) and some policy wonks would welcome such moves. But far from being power brokers, such folks are little more than utopian dreamers, as likely to be attacked by their allies as by their enemies.”

    What a fascinating assertion. Really. Have you heard of Scott Walker? He’s governor of Wisconsin. You mention Ron Paul, but have you heard of Rick Perry? He, too, wants to eliminate several federal agencies. It’s true Paul and Perry don’t have the slightest chance of being nominated, but that’s not because they want to dismantle the federal government. Do you really, actually believe that these people have no power or influence beyond a small circle of policy wonks and utopian dreamers?

    1. ???? So, because Scott Walker took away the teacher’s unions power and sell off some old facilities without taking bids, and Rick Perry, who runs a slim chance of even getting an honorable mention in the primaries, we’re living libertopia?

      I’m sorry, but only a fool can argue that we’ve been living in a libertarian world.

      Yes, there are a few republicans who want to cut or simplify taxes while lowering spending, symbolically, in a few irrelevant areas, but come on.

    2. Surely you should get back into your spaceship, Kathy. Even FDR thought Scott Walker was correct in that public unions shouldn’t exist. The people don’t need the protection of unions against the people. It’s an absurd notion, and yet here we are, pitting the people against the people.

    3. No. At the federal level they do no have any power, and the little influence they do have makes the Republican establishment shit its collective pair of Depends.

      To say that Paul’s influence outweighs the power of GSEs like Freddie and Fannie, the rent seekers like GE, Disney, Mattel, Solyndra, etc., all of whom are only able to establish their rents through anti-libertarian policy, is so fundamentally dishonest I must ask you why do you waste your time and ours given you are demonstrably incapable of a fair representation of fact.

    4. “Do you really, actually believe that these people have no power or influence beyond a small circle of policy wonks and utopian dreamers?”

      Yes.
      Next question.

    5. “Do you really, actually believe that these people have no power or influence beyond a small circle of policy wonks and utopian dreamers?”

      Did you really, actually go into a coma during the debt ceiling debate, when tiny, marginal cuts of future increases was the best anyone could hope for in exchange for taking on a 13-digit amount of new debt?

      Yeah, I believe it.

  15. Bush was a “conservative” Republican? Color me stupid for not recognizing that.

    1. It was the “compassionate” bit that threw you off. Apparently that word does not mean what I thought it meant either.

  16. the more I see of Obama, the more appreciative I am of Bush.

    Without that fucking cretin Bush, and his Congressional Republican accomploices, Obama’s “achievements” would not have been possible.

    1. ^this. Bush beget Obama.

  17. “The toughest fight that tea party favorite Rand Paul had in becoming the junior senator from Kentucky in 2010 came from House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did everything he could to keep him from gaining office.”

    Was Mitch McConnell House Minority Leader in 2010? His .gov website says “First elected to the Senate in 1984.”

    1. How I wish I could wikipedia this!

      He was chosen as Minority Leader in 2006
      http://mcconnell.senate.gov/pu…..=Biography

      1. House, Senate – does it really matter which chamber holds the pot?

        1. Different dynamics for getting bills passed. I’d say that’s about it.

  18. Up on Drudge:

    NEWT EX-WIFE UNLOADS ON CAMERA; ABC DEBATES ‘ETHICS’ OF AIRING BEFORE PRIMARY

    Yeaahhh . . . The only thing they are debating is how much it might help Paul.

    1. As long as it gets rid of Newcular I approve!

  19. Hello,my friends!Here’s the most popular dating site for now__SeekCasual*com, a place for people who wanna start a short-term relationship.And also for finding soul mate.Over 160000 happy members are waiting their lovers.Join free and have a try,nothing to lose.`

    1. During the Bush Administration, I did a different supermodel every night!

      At least that’s how I remember it. My recollection of the Bush era is a bit fuzzy.

  20. Ha ha.

    Look at all the libertards desperately evade responsibility for bank-enlarging, bubble-inflating derivative trading deregulation as cooked up by Phil and his leathery wife Wendy Gramm at the Mercatus Center, a hive of exquisitely libertarian boardroom-fellators that takes its funding from the same Koch checkbook Reason gets its operating money from.

    Why here’s the Mrs. right now, busy designing what became the CFTC Modernization Act to remove the jackboot of Big Government from the throat of poor defenseless derivatives traders back in 2000.

    http://mercatus.org/publicatio…..-framework

    And here’s Mercatus with lips wrapped tightly ’round the Koch:

    http://jonathanturley.org/2011…..e-the-epa/

    Herp, that’s just a coinciderp, stutter the libertards.

    Ha ha, says everybody else.

    1. using a Turley piece whose title contains the phrase “deny climate change” = fail. Some other poster was right; there is no point debating liberals. You just have to laugh at them.

      1. Me no like that source. Me deny Reason’s funders also fund Mercatus.

        No problem! My pal Google’s got way more. Such as these:

        http://tinyurl.com/893p2od

        Also: Ha ha.

        1. Check the bottom of the page:

          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/

          1. Those dirty, dirty Koch brothers. They are funding educational science programs. Clearly, all that Nova stuff is FAKE SCIENCE. And they claim that “the overwhelming majority of scientists agree: earth’s temperature has risen during the past century.” This is obviously Koch brother funded nonsense – we must end that lie. GLOBAL WARMING IS FALSE – COOKED UP BY THE KOCH BROTHERS! See how fun this is!

          2. So key financial-deregulatory legislation could not have had its origins in libertarian think tanks and philosophy because…the Kochs also paid for an unrelated TV show?

            You are bad at thinking.

    2. “He is surely correct that many anti-government types conveniently minimize the role bad actors played in banks, financial houses and elsewhere in the private sector in causing the financial crisis. But he also never provides a compelling response to the argument (common among libertarians) that the root of the problem remains implicit and explicit bailout guarantees that securitize irresponsible risk-taking.”

  21. Heh. You used “hardcore austerity” and “Herbert Hoover” in the same sentence. I still can’t stop laughing.

  22. “The people don’t need the protection of unions against the people.”

    No, they need protection of the unions against the companies that employ them. A century of labor rights victories like laws against child labor (which of course Newt Gingrich would like to bring back) prove that.

  23. “Yes, there are a few republicans who want to cut or simplify taxes while lowering spending, symbolically, in a few irrelevant areas, but come on.”

    I’m sorry, but what? Every Republican candidate for the presidential supports some kind of a flat tax. They all want to cut taxes and they all want to cut spending, although of course they exempt military spending.

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