Archive for Saturday, September 27, 2008

Talking Frank

Kansas native Thomas Frank offers scathing view of conservatives in ‘The Wrecking Crew’

Thomas Frank, featured speaker at the River City Reading Festival

Thomas Frank, featured speaker at the River City Reading Festival

September 27, 2008

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Audio Clips
Thomas Frank on his book, "The Wrecking Crew"

Thomas Frank remembers his exact thought when he first heard John McCain had selected Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate for vice president.

"I'd never heard of her," Frank says. "And I know something about Alaska politics."

Frank spent time in the state while researching his latest book, "The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule," looking into the background of Sen. Ted Stevens - who is on trial for lying on financial disclosure forms - and others.

"I thought, 'Oh, my God, they chose someone from Alaska. That's terrible,'" Frank recalls of Palin's selection. "And then it turns out she's supposed to be queen."

In many ways, that selection and other news events of the last few months have helped to bolster Frank's point in his recent book, which he will promote during a stop tonight at the River City Reading Festival in Lawrence.

Frank graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School, attended Kansas University, gained acclaim for his first book, "What's the Matter with Kansas?," and is now a columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

He'll speak at 5 p.m. today at the Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University. He'll sign copies of the book from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in a tent outside the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. The entire festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the library.

In "The Wrecking Crew," Frank's thesis is that conservatives are systematically dismantling the federal government for their friends in the corporate world, all the while painting a picture of a broken government that can be better handled by outsourcing.

On his book tour the past few months, Frank says he's yet to hear a solid argument against his thesis - and especially how it applies to the past eight years under President George W. Bush.

"It's hard to get people to defend the Bush administration," Frank says. "It's different from four years ago and I wrote 'What's the Matter with Kansas?,' and lots of people would defend Bush then."

Now, people who claim to be true conservatives say Bush isn't one of their own, Frank says.

"I've had numerous people tell me he's really a liberal and that D.C. is a liberal city," Frank says. "Conservatives will say this: that all these are horrible things, but that you can't put them at the feet of conservatism because the people I talk about aren't real conservatives."

Those people include many considered cornerstones of recent conservative moments: Bush; former President Ronald Reagan; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; and Jack Abramoff, the former lobbyist now serving prison time for fraud charges.

Since the book came out, Frank cites these news events as helping to bolster his liberal stance on politics:

¢ The scandal in the Department of the Interior, in which staffers are accused of having sexual relations with people in the industry they work with.

¢ The trial of Stephens, who is accused of fraud during the expansion of his Alaska home.

¢ Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's speech at the Republican National Convention, in which Frank says he "tried to claim all the misgovernment on liberalism."

Dissent

Not everyone is buying into Frank's philosophy.

"It's an interesting book, but it's kind of built on a false premise," says Bill Lacy, director of the Dole Institute of Politics and former director of conservative Fred Thompson's presidential campaign.

Lacy, who has not read the full book but says he has read plenty about it, calls it a "gross oversimplification" of conservative thought.

But he says he reads plenty of liberal columns, and he figures the fact that the historically conservative Wall Street Journal opinion page gave the liberal Frank a regular slot means his views are well-thought out.

"The fact the Wall Street Journal picked him up as a columnist speaks volumes," Lacy says. "Editorially it's on the exact opposite side, but it respects the guy and what he brings to the table."

Frank's political slant was one of the reasons why organizers of the River City Reading Festival chose Frank as the keynote speaker.

"He's obviously much better received here in Lawrence than he would be in other towns in Kansas," says Maria Butler of the Lawrence Public Library, noting Lawrence's liberal leanings.

Current events

Frank, meanwhile, is trying to adapt his public presentations to the news of the day. He realizes, given the election, portions of his book make him seem like a prophet, while others make him wish he could do a rewrite.

He again cites the Romney speech at the Republican National Convention, and the idea that Washington is run by liberals.

"I have a section about that in the book," Frank says. "I didn't realize - and I've been writing it for two years - I didn't realize it would become such a universal explanation that George Bush is not a real conservative - that, in fact, Ronald Reagan wasn't a real conservative."

Frank, meanwhile, isn't expecting much back-and-forth opposition from his talk in Lawrence - at least based on his previous talks about the book.

"It's all about these well-documented facts about Washington," Frank says. "I haven't had anybody stand up for the system."

Comments

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 10 months ago

Sigmund said.... He is either lying or an idiot.I think its both, he's a lying idiot. Oops, I feel like a liberal with all this name calling! But if the shoe fits......

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

Heh heh-- after years of making "liberal" a pejorative term, conservatives have now done the same thing to "conservative."

ASBESTOS 6 years, 10 months ago

Thomas Frank is no "authority" on conservatism. He just hates it and paints it in ugly colors, like any self hating American.I have purchased and read "What' the matter with Kansas" and it has some correct statments, but it is basically a conservative bash fest.Franks cannot analyze objectively, and I am suprised he has the Job at the WSJ at all.If you want the reality of "Conservatism" read Barry Goldwater's book "The Conscience of a Conservative". IT is not that hard to grasp, and is only 61 pages.Frank apparently has never read the book, otherwise he would hve a greater understanding of what "conservatism " Is and what it is Not.The GOP is Kansas are not "Conservatives", and Bush is not either. Bible beaters are not default "conservatives" either. COnservatism is a pretty basic and uncomplicted way of looking at the political world.For instance in this bailout, there would be no bailout. That is conservatism. Helping a company or bailing one out with the treasury is definately no conservatism.IF Frank wants to look at the "reduction in regulation" look no further than Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd. Both have the highest levels of contributions in congress from financial institutions,m banks etc, and nobody seems to care. ACORN gets earmarks and somehow regulators need to look the other way."What's the matter with Frank" is that he does not turn his empathic analysis on liberals at all, and only has scorn for all things republican and only praise for all things liberal.He is not objective, so his analysis is scat.

ASBESTOS 6 years, 10 months ago

Spin away big guy, spin away.Asking Barak Obama how many children he has and ignoring the racists in his past like Farrakahn and Wright is not very difficult questions. Asking Obama if they can get Obama a drink is not a very hard question either.The "Party" mentality is so over.Both of these guys are lying crooks.

Frank Smith 6 years, 10 months ago

The semi-literate sloganeer "Asbestos" objects to legitimate criticism. He claims that if he can't find something, it doesn't exist. If you provide him with sources, his response is a fumble-fingered "La, la, la, la, I can't HEAR you!"Everybody's opinion seems more correct than his, IMHO. What a twit.He's fortunate that he probably can't electrocute himself by drooling on the keyboard.If only this wanker had taken to heart Pat Moynihan's advice: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 10 months ago

Who was Jimmy Carter? I had never heard of him before he ran for president. Wish he would shut up now but I digress. Thomas Frank just another liberal hatemonger.

Zype 6 years, 10 months ago

"Barack Hussein Obama is the definition of a liberal"-BondmenHahahahahaha, wow.That just made my day. Obama has the voting record of a conservative liberal.He's nothing more than a superstar candidate.You want a liberal, try Dennis Kucinich.

clyde_never_barks 6 years, 10 months ago

Quick, someone check the thermometer. Surely hell has frozen - I actually agree with Bozo's 9:25 am post. Amazing.

Professor_Marvel 6 years, 10 months ago

Kroptkin: "Asbestos appears seriously intellectually deficient."Yup. Get him started on immigration. For him, it is the root of all evil. Along with KDHE.

Sigmund 6 years, 10 months ago

"I'd never heard of her (Gov. Palin)," Frank says. "And I know something about Alaska politics."Frank has never heard of the Governor of Alaska, the most popular political figure of either party in Alaska, and then claims to know something about Alaska.Yeah right. He is either lying or an idiot.

ASBESTOS 6 years, 10 months ago

"During the recent Couric interview, Palin demonstrated how she is not ready to govern."During the recent Couric interview Couric showed what a in the tank liberal Obama supporter she is. Why the hell did she not ask Obama those tough questions? ALl she did was get wet panties and coo with Obama."""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""'"When she indicated that Alaska airspace would be the first place Putin would rear his head, she demonstrated that she not only does not understand geopolitics, but she does not understand geography."With that statment you show just how ignorant you are of the principals of navigation and the "prevailing winds" as the Russians will be "flying aircraft" which uses air, ie wind. The area in the alutian islands is the shortest route and has been know for many years for the favorable weather at altitude, tatic, etc. The Russian AF will not go over Canadian Air Space, they will stay in "international air space" for the longest duration with the least amount of travel (great circle routes there chief) and the best chance for non detection, the alutians, not North pole.Additionally Alaska is the most logical "pathway" for ICBMs anyway for 2 reasons:1. it is really big and all Great Circle routes to Russian targets ( and the same of Russian ICBMs to the USA) go through this very large state.2. again navigation. The ICBM has a "ballistic" trajectory, which means the "Great Circle Route" is evern more compacted with the altitude.You may know law, but not too much about navigation or tactics.Bea that is just about the sum capability of your debate techniques. Dumber than a rock.

humblecommentator 6 years, 10 months ago

right or wrong, i'm getting a little tired of frank

Frank Smith 6 years, 10 months ago

I used to live in Wasilla, Alaska. I've known the Palin family for 20 years. I'm more familiar with the Alaska corruption scandals than virtually anyone who lives outside that state save for FBI personnel.Palin is a prodigious liar, thoroughly dishonest, unethical, a bumpkin, an extremely mediocre intellect. She became first a small-town mayor, then governor by walking over the prostrate bodies of her friends and supporters, and by running against an incumbent governor who had thoroughly discredited himself in a multitude of ways. After winning the Republican primary with 51% of the vote, she won a plurality, 48% in the gubernatorial election only because Republicans outnumber Democrats in that state by 5-3. In 2002 she lost the primary for Lt. Governor garnering only 21% of the vote and over 10% of her campaign funds derived from convicted criminals which she has yet to return or donate to charity. She has achieved nothing of note during her tenure except obtaining a half-billion dollar subsidy for a Canadian firm to build a pipeline that may never ever be started and certainly will not deliver natural gas to the lower 48.She is in deep trouble and could be impeached for her unethical behavior as governor. A current legislative investigation approved by a council of 8 Republicans and four Democrats has subpoenaed many of the host of incompetent members of her appointed staff and family. She is stonewalling the inquiry at every turn. She has used various illegal mechanisms to keep public information from the public.She's dropped almost 20% in Alaska public opinion polls in just the last month.Palin's ideal vision of America is a fundamentalist theocracy. She as incurious as George Bush and has a third-rate education. There is simply no way she should be a faltering heartbeat away from the presidency.

jayhawkbarrister 6 years, 10 months ago

During the recent Couric interview, Palin demonstrated how she is not ready to govern. When she indicated that Alaska airspace would be the first place Putin would rear his head, she demonstrated that she not only does not understand geopolitics, but she does not understand geography. If Putin rears his head, he is not coming through Alaskan airspace; he is coming over the North Pole through Canadian airspace. You can rest assured that Putin is not sending ICBM missiles detouring through Alaska to sightsee through Denali National Park. At nuclear Armageddon, Alaska will be an afterthought.

Sparko 6 years, 10 months ago

Frank is a first-rate writer and intellectual. Incidentally, I have spent considerable time in Alaska, and Palin is far worse and more vapid than any of us realized. I still expect her to be thrown off the ticket for one last "buzz-generating" Hail Mary McCain pass. And yes, it is far past time for Kansas to return to its progressive-populist roots. When you base your political life on censuring the lifestyles and morality of everyone else, you find that your opinion matters less and less. Concentrate on improvement and positive change, and a little less on snake handling. . .

beatrice 6 years, 10 months ago

poor, poor conservatives. Did that nerd Frank come and kick sand in your little self-righteous faces again? What a meanie! I think to get him back you should whine, pout, and shed more crocodile tears while blabbering about what a meanie he is. Then defend Palin some more, because it helps your cause so much. boo hoo, mean old liberals, boo hoo

ASBESTOS 6 years, 10 months ago

Spin baby spin:"She became first a small-town mayor, then governor by walking over the prostrate bodies of her friends and supporters, and by running against an incumbent governor who had thoroughly discredited himself in a multitude of ways."Lacking a bit in objectivity. Just because YOU believe this doesn't make it true.""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""'"A current legislative investigation approved by a council of 8 Republicans and four Democrats has subpoenaed many of the host of incompetent members of her appointed staff and family."False, the current investigation is about the removal of an at will employee at the head of the Highway Patrol. They did "ask" for Ted to come, but he refused, and this is not about anything other than a "Human Resourse" investiagaion. It is about "process" and a review it is nothing like you are making it out to be. If you have real info (not from A liberal website; DailyKos, MoveOn, CNN, MSNBC etc.) then by all means post it.As for the Alaska Poll I can't find that anywhere. Everyone that I find are still at 80%. NOw her numbers of "Favoribility" have gone down in the VP polls.But what can you expect with the entire MSM taking shots at her and asking her tougher questions of her the VP candidate, than they asked Obama a Presidential candidate.You are biased and just hate Republicans and all things GOP.Just admit it.But don't expect us to swallow this hogwash just because you read it on the Huffington Post.

Centerville 6 years, 10 months ago

This is the LJW version of: How dare another woman governor capture the nation's attention? Quick, find someone who'll make fun of her. Not Rothschild, no one falls for his fawning anymore.

beatrice 6 years, 10 months ago

So you are going to stay and pout and whine for the next 8 years? Great. If you actually believe that McCain leads the polls 62% by 38%, then have I got a bridge for you in Alaska.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 10 months ago

Frank actually spoke highly of McCain at the presentation he gave this afternoon. He said he likes McCain and Dole as far as Republicans go - and he wasn't very keen on Bill Clinton and his days in the White House. Interesting presentation.I don't recall that Obama's name ever came up.....

bondmen 6 years, 10 months ago

Frankly Thomas, that you've never heard of her is a badge of honor. It means she's not a big shot journalist writing in your little circle, nor a liberal politician - all of whom I'm sure you know, nor a phony conservative - who you would like her to be. When George W. Bush became president he kept on all the liberals who came to Washington, District of Corruption to work for the Clintonistas. Why? Because he wasn't a conservative.It's clear John McCain is not a conservative either and Barack Hussein Obama is the definition of a liberal so what's a conservative, independent nationalist to do come election day when it will be either one or the other elected POTUS?Government is way too big and takes too many scarce resources from those who work for a living. It has over promised and under funded. All of its huge programs will be reorganized and downsized. There's a train a comin' - everybody get on board!

sfjayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

asbestos, couric hardly asked any hard questions - asking her why she thinks living near russia makes her a foreign policy expert is a pretty fair question and one many wanted to hear hear explain - however no one would have predicted that palin would so spectactularly goof her response. And how is asking a vp candidate what they think of Isreal such a hard one? pretty soon even you will need to agree that this candidate is not qualified and a dangerous person to put so close to the white house.

seattlehawk_78 6 years, 10 months ago

Some things never change. During the cold war conservatives blamed everything on communists and if they didn't like someone, then that person had to be a communist. Today they blame everything on liberals and of course if they don't like someone that person must be a liberal. I find it amazing that liberals, who comprise a minority of the population, can be responsible for so many things. I didn't realize they were so powerful. Hint to whining conservatives. There is a difference between liberals and democrats as well as conservatives and republicans. And if you want to play the blame card, try taking some responsibility for the fiscal incompetence and military fiasco created by the current administration. It was your vote that created this mess.

sfjayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

Bondman, can you honestly say that you had heard of her before McCain chose her? Im guessing not, and Im guessing McCain wishes she were back in Alaska right about now - epically after that complete disaster with Katie Couric. As for Bush, to say he is not a conservative is a total joke.

Mixolydian 6 years, 10 months ago

"I'd never heard of her," Frank says. "And I know something about Alaska politics."Franks knows "something" about Alaska politics, but he don't know Alaska's governor, the most popular governor in the United States?Did Frank not get a chance to review the article before it was printed? That comment is so [insert adjective here] I have to believe he was mis-quoted.

beatrice 6 years, 10 months ago

Asbestos, you believe Palin has foreign policy expertise because she lives near Russia. Trust me, child, you have no room to call anyone "dumb." If Palin can't hold her own against the likes of Katie Couric, then somebody needs to get the net because the barracuda is now floating at the top of the tank. You reveled in the Palin bump after the RNC, and now you are whining and crying like a little child because the bubble has burst -- big time. Palin doesn't come close to having what it takes to be a vp, other than being over 35 and born in the U.S.. Now, imagine how good McCain might have appeared had he picked Mitt Romney, someone who might know something about the economy. But he didn't. He is a "maverick" making bad decisions. Instead of the White House, the maverick needs to be put out to pasture. boo hoo, boo hoo, conservatives, boo hooObama is going to be the next President of the United States of America. If you don't like it, feel free to pack your bags, because who needs a bunch of whining crybabies here anyway.

Frank Smith 6 years, 10 months ago

Asbestos appears seriously intellectually deficient.ASBESTOS (Anonymous) says there was no basis for this remark:"She became first a small-town mayor, then governor by walking over the prostrate bodies of her friends and supporters, and by running against an incumbent governor who had thoroughly discredited himself in a multitude of ways."In fact she walked over mentors from City Councilman Nick Carney, to Mayor John Schmidt, to Senate President Lyda Green. Governor Murkowski got only 19% of the vote in the Republican primary."Asbestos" simpered: "Lacking a bit in objectivity. Just because YOU believe this doesn't make it true."But he is unable to provide any actual facts, just his own loudmouthed and ill-founded opinions. In MY opinion, he shouldn't be allowed near a computer without adult supervision.""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""'He quotes me: "A current legislative investigation approved by a council of eight Republicans and four Democrats has subpoenaed many of the host of incompetent members of her appointed staff and family.""False," he claims. No, you birdbrain. It's true. "You could look it up!""Asbestos" continued: They did "ask" for Ted to come, but he refused, Palin's husband's name is not "Ted," as most anyone in America could now tell you. There is no "Ted" involved. Not unless you're talking about Sarah's friend, Senator "Ted" Stevens, who is presently on criminal trial in D.C. That would be the "Ted" in whose name Sarah found the "Ted Stevens Excellence in Government Foundation."Asbestos ranted on: "As for the Alaska Poll I can't find that anywhere."He couldn't find his butt with the lights on, both hands and a full length mirror behind him. Here's what he missed: Is Palin's honeymoon nearing end? September 24, 2008 Anchorage Daily NewsIvan Moore Research, an Anchorage-based pollster, has released new survey results showing Palin's popularity has slipped dramatically since she was last polled around the time McCain named her his vice-presidential running mate. About 68 percent of 500 likely voters approved of the governor. That's a whopping 14 points down from the 82 percent Palin garnered three weeks ago. In fact, Palin's 68 percent approval rating represents the lowest in the six surveys Moore has conducted since January.Rasmussen had her down to 72% a couple of weeks ago.Asbestos continued, making an even bigger fool of himself: "Everyone that I find are still at 80%. NOw her numbers of 'Favoribility' have gone down in the VP polls."As in the above remark, "Asbestos" finally demonstrates that his command of the English language, including basic spelling and punctuation, and his ability to reason are no better than his command of the facts. He whines: "But what can you expect with the entire MSM taking shots at her and asking her tougher questions of her the VP candidate, than they asked Obama a Presidential candidate."

ASBESTOS 6 years, 10 months ago

"Asbestos, you believe Palin has foreign policy expertise because she lives near Russia. Trust me, child, you have no room to call anyone "dumb.""No OI believe she has mor foreign policy experience as a governor only borders foreign countries.I do believe that Palin has more foreign experience than Barry Obama.""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""Obama is going to be the next President of the United States of America. If you don't like it, feel free to pack your bags, because who needs a bunch of whining crybabies here anyway."Not according to the AOL Straw poll. AOL is owned by liberals, and a Former CNN affiliate. Has McCain at 62% and Obama at 38%.Besides if there are any place that has "whining crybabies" that you are sure to be at the center of it whining the loudest.BTW, why do I need to "pack my bags"? I made no such "Alec Baldwin" statment about leaving the country. This country is my home regardless of whom is in the WH.Only idiots think like you do.Not going anywhere Bea.

ASBESTOS 6 years, 10 months ago

Blah blahj blah. IT is just more of the same sppon fed MoveON and DailyKOS and MSM crap and lies that are repeated like Kropotkin.Just more left winger drivel.Your opinion is more correct than mine?Hah! Do you know just how arrogant that sounds. You all by your lonesome tells the world I should not be near a keyboard? That is really well balanced and you are such a defender of "Free speech">This is what the Democratic Party is Becoming, punks like you.

Sparko 6 years, 10 months ago

In what way did Frank speak highly of McCain? Was it the way he is able to lie without conscience, or his prodigious hypocrisy? McCain is the last thing person Frank would want to see "leading" this country.

RedwoodCoast 6 years, 10 months ago

Craaap! Someone is criticizing conservatism! Aaaaaaaargh!... must... disparage... Frank... must... shift... burden ...of.... proof....!

Mike Blur 6 years, 10 months ago

Thomas Frank and I are acquaintances, and although I haven't spoken to him in years, I enjoy his writings, even though (these days) they're not as personal or biting as those in his erstwhile zine "The Baffler." Tom has hilarious takes on the Lawrence music scene when he does write about it. (Reference Harper's mag circa 1998 for a passage that gave Kill Creek's lead singer apoplectic fits.)That said, the meltdown of Assbustos is akin to a trainwreck in its predictability and tawdry exposition. It was two short years ago when Assbustos proclaimed Bush economic policy as "amazing"--something that the "looney left doesn't understand"--with his only supporting statement being that "home ownership is at an all time high."Here's the thread, and my refutation, citing the impending mortgage crisis:http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/nov/05/bush_revs_gop_crowd/The last few posts are Assbustos' declarations and my refutations. Disingenuously, Assbustos now tries to assess blame for the mortgage crisis to both Dems and Pubs, when only two years ago he said the "looney left" didn't know how economic theory worked. Well, Assbustos, how is Republican economic theory working now?

RedwoodCoast 6 years, 10 months ago

Asbestos probably think that the looney left is sabotaging Republican economic theory. Either that or it's illegal immigrants. It's really a toss-up, isn't it?

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