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Thomas Frank
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Entries by Thomas Frank

Dead End on Shakin' Street

(28) Comments | Posted July 19, 2012 | 11:17 AM

From the current issue of The Baffler

My hometown is vibrant. Its status as such is certified, official, stamped on both sides.

There was a time, though, when it wasn't, when my friends and I would laugh at Kansas City's blandness: its harmless theater productions, its pretentious suburbs,...

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Too Smart to Fail: Notes on an Age of Folly

(75) Comments | Posted March 26, 2012 | 2:28 PM

The "sound" banker, alas! is not one who sees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows so that no one can really blame him. --John Maynard Keynes

In the twelve hapless years of the...

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Pity the Quarter-Billionaire

(112) Comments | Posted January 9, 2012 | 1:21 PM

Take a Ride on the RINO in 2012

Cross-posted from TomDispatch.com

Dear Tea Party Movement,

For the last few months, the world has been fascinated by your frenzied search for a presidential candidate who is not Mitt Romney. We know that...

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Bring Back Glass-Steagall

(12) Comments | Posted January 13, 2010 | 12:35 PM

Last month, Sens. Maria Cantwell and John McCain proposed a measure that would revive parts of the old Glass-Steagall Act, the 1933 law that separated investment from commercial banking. After having been diluted many times over the years, Glass-Steagall was largely repealed in 1999, permitting a wave of consolidation in...

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The Real Chicago Way

(12) Comments | Posted December 9, 2009 | 12:42 PM

When the entertainers of the right aren't declaring their disgust with President Obama for groveling before foreign potentates, they're pretending to fear him as a left-wing thug, an exemplar of what they call "the Chicago way." As imagined by the right, the men in the West Wing are like a...

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Conservatives Want Republican Purge Trials

(33) Comments | Posted December 2, 2009 | 5:18 PM

Across the land, grindstones sing as axes are sharpened for the RINOs. For years, conservatives have railed against these moderate "Republicans in Name Only," launching primary campaigns against them, pouring money into their opponents' campaign funds, and excluding them from committee chairmanships. But since 2006 the party's pulse has weakened,...

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The Real Danger of "One Big Regulator"

(8) Comments | Posted November 11, 2009 | 12:26 PM

Financial regulation is the next item on the political horizon, and it doesn't have to be the deathly dull wonk-battle that it sounds like. In fact, if the Democrats do their job, it can just as easily become a platform for addressing the greatest issues of them all.

Our...

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Glenn Beck's Hotline to Nowhere

(191) Comments | Posted November 4, 2009 | 6:39 PM

Glenn Beck, the popular Fox News host, has a red telephone on his desk that never seems to ring. Every now and then, in a moment of acute frustration, he will pick it up and give the camera his trademark pleading-puppy look.

What Mr. Beck wants to hear from the...

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Obama Is Right About Fox News

(205) Comments | Posted October 28, 2009 | 1:11 PM

Journalism has a special, hallowed place for stories of its practitioners' persecution. There is no higher claim to journalistic integrity than going to jail to protect a source. And the Newseum in Washington, D.C., establishes the profession's legitimacy with a memorial to fallen scribes, thus drawing an implicit connection between...

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From John Birchers to Birthers

(56) Comments | Posted October 21, 2009 | 1:41 PM

Next month will mark the 45th anniversary of the publication by Harper's magazine of Richard Hofstadter's famous essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," a work that seems to grow more relevant by the day.

I was not always a fan. When I first read it two decades ago, I...

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The GOP vs. Labor Law

(16) Comments | Posted October 14, 2009 | 12:59 PM

The signature achievement of the late Republican ascendancy was government failure. Regulators scaled back enforcement. Agencies were filled with former lobbyists.

It worked superbly for the party's supporters, but not so well for the rest of us. And today, though the GOP has paid for its sins at the...

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Health Care and the 'Predator State'

(9) Comments | Posted October 7, 2009 | 1:21 PM

In June 2008, I used this space to call on then-Sen. Barack Obama to add economist James K. Galbraith's book, The Predator State, to his reading list. As an account of the capture of government by private interests, I thought it would make a far more useful guide to contemporary...

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Obama and the K Street Set

(10) Comments | Posted September 30, 2009 | 1:58 PM

There is something uniquely depressing about the fact that the National Portrait Gallery's version of the Barack Obama "Hope" poster previously belonged to a pair of lobbyists. Depressing because Mr. Obama's Washington was not supposed to be the lobbyists' Washington, the place we learned to despise during the last administration.

...
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The Left Should Reclaim 'Freedom'

(101) Comments | Posted September 16, 2009 | 4:45 PM

There are few things in politics more annoying than the right's utter conviction that it owns the patent on the word "freedom" that when its leaders stand up for the rights of banks to be unregulated or capital gains to be untaxed, that it is actually and obviously standing up...

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Why Democrats Are Losing on Health Care

(14) Comments | Posted September 2, 2009 | 12:53 PM

What's dragging the Democrats down in the health-care debate isn't confusion about details. On this the president and his supporters have proven themselves the ablest of technocrats, easily identifying each plan's particulars and its shortcomings, laying everything out on nice flow charts.

It is the big questions that are tripping...

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Health Care and the Democratic Soul

(43) Comments | Posted August 26, 2009 | 3:30 PM

What is at stake in the debate over health care is more than the mere crafting of policy. The issue is now the identity of the Democratic Party.

By now we know that Democrats can bail out traditional Republican constituencies like Wall Street, but it remains to be seen...

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Dissent Commodified

(43) Comments | Posted August 19, 2009 | 5:42 PM

The 40th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival has certain pundits in a misty-eyed nostalgic funk for the days when youth culture came of age, challenging conformity, standing up for individuality, and making awesome music before it all got so commercialized.

The memory it brought back for me came from...

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'Blue Dogs' or Corporate Shills?

(58) Comments | Posted August 5, 2009 | 2:42 PM

Capitalism is said to be in terrible trouble these days, with the profit motive suffering rampant badmouthing. Entrepreneurs are facing criticism, damnable criticism. And this criticism must stop.

If we don't watch what we say, some warn, the supermen who shoulder the world will soon grow tired of our...

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The Gates of Political Distraction

(42) Comments | Posted July 29, 2009 | 3:43 PM

The essential point about Gates-gate, or the tempest over last week's arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., is this: Most liberal commentary on the subject has taken race as its theme. Conservative commentators, by contrast, have furiously hit the class button.

Liberals, by and large, immediately plugged...

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A Conservative Sellout? Quelle Surprise

(27) Comments | Posted July 22, 2009 | 3:18 PM

"David Keene is no conservative."

That is what I predict Mr. Keene's brethren on the right will soon be saying about the longtime chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU).

Last week, Mr. Keene's ACU became embroiled in another of Washington's pay-to-play scandals, seeming to offer its services to...

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