Audit Notes: Tom Frank Exits, Ayn Rand, Illegal Immigrants, Rubin

Thomas Frank is the sole liberal on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages, and one of the few liberal columnists—perhaps the only one in the major papers—to really understand where Red State America is coming from. He’s a minor miracle of the Murdoch era at the WSJ.

Make that “was.” Today was his last column in a two-year run. He’s going to Harper’s. He reserves most of his parting shot for the what-might-have-beens, particularly for his fellow pundits:

Here, talking about 2008, as the financial system collapsed around us to be saved at the last minute by the Bush administration and further propped up by Obama:

Never again, I thought, would journalists fall over one another to flatter CEOs, nor would pundits build careers by finding clever ways to equate the workings of markets to democracy itself. Management theorists would cease to be public intellectuals, and the political advice of stock pickers would henceforth be treated like the toxic sewage it clearly was…

As the right howled “socialism,” President Obama took pains to demonstrate his loyalty to the exhausted free-market faith. On trade issues and matters of economic staffing, he loudly signalled continuity with the discredited past. On the all-important issue of regulatory misbehavior—a natural for good-government types—he has done virtually nothing.

So much for “change”:

On Wall Street, the road to hell is still lined with bonuses. And Washington feels the same as ever. The prosperous, well-educated people still tote their yoga mats around town, line up outside the special cupcake shops, and listen to NPR talk show hosts welcome the next generation of boring centrists into the glorious circle of the right-thinking. The lobbyists still gather at the tasteful restaurants du jour, doing their work on behalf of the forgotten men of the uppermost one percent.

And so the Journal’s influential editorial pages will now be even more of an Ayn Rand-worshipping echo chamber than they already are.

— Speaking of Rand, this brief piece , “Our Daughter Isn’t a Selfish Brat; Your Son Just Hasn’t Read Atlas Shrugged” from McSweeney’s, is worth a look-see:

When little Aiden toddled up our daughter Johanna and asked to play with her Elmo ball, he was, admittedly, very sweet and polite. I think his exact words were, “Have a ball, peas [sic]?” And I’m sure you were very proud of him for using his manners.

To be sure, I was equally proud when Johanna yelled, “No! Looter!” right in his looter face, and then only marginally less proud when she sort of shoved him.

The thing is, in this family we take the philosophies of Ayn Rand seriously. We conspicuously reward ourselves for our own hard work, we never give to charity, and we only pay our taxes very, very begrudgingly.

Since the day Johanna was born, we’ve worked to indoctrinate her into the truth of Objectivism. Every night we read to her from the illustrated, unabridged edition of Atlas Shrugged—glossing over all the hardcore sex parts, mind you, but dwelling pretty thoroughly on the stuff about being proud of what you’ve earned and not letting James Taggart-types bring you down.

(h/t Megan Garber)

— And speaking of the Journal, the paper fronts news of a Pew study that finds that 8 percent of all babies born in America now is a child of illegal immigrants. It’s a stunning number, and it comes amidst a debate over the 14th Amendment, which makes anyone born on U.S. soil a citizen.

The study is a picture of an immigration system gone haywire—in this case with a Civil War-era law that’s outlived its original purpose—and it shows that this is hardly a fake issue. We’re talking millions and millions of people:

The report, based on Pew’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s March 2009 Current Population Survey, also found that the lion’s share, or 79%, of the 5.1 million children of illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. in 2009 were born in the country and are therefore citizens.

Andrew Ross Sorkin reports for The New York Times that Robert Rubin is getting back into the finance game, this time with boutique firm Centerview Partners.

Is it too much to ask that stories about Bob Rubin include the fact that he was the architect or facilitator of the deregulatory actions of the 1990s that helped cause the financial catastrophe? You know, dude pushed the most important pieces of regulatory law since the Great Depression (sorry, Dodd-Frank).

In other words, Rubin is one of the primary culprits of this crisis. Call him on it.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.