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Rolling Stone Magazine essays
The Guardian essays
- Finally, Democrats are looking in the mirror. That's reason for optimism, August 10, 2017
- The media's war on Trump is destined to fail. Why can't it see that?, July 21, 2017
- From rust belt to mill towns: a tale of two voter revolts, June 7, 2017
- The Democrats' Davos ideology won't win back the midwest, April 27, 2017
- Don't let establishment opportunists ruin the resistance movement, March 9, 2017
- How Steve Bannon captured America's spirit of revolt, February 10, 2017
- The intolerance of the left: Trump's win as seen from Walt Disney's hometown, January 27, 2017
- How the Democrats could win again, if they wanted, November 29, 2016
- Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there, November 9, 2016
- The Republicans and Democrats failed blue-collar America. The left behind are now having their say, November 6, 2016
- Forget the FBI cache; the Podesta emails show how America is run, October 31, 2016
- Some of Clinton's pledges sound great. Until you remember who's president
, October 6, 2016
- With Trump certain to lose, you can forget about a progressive Clinton, August 13, 2016
- Hillary Clinton needs to wake up. Trump is stealing the voters she takes for granted, July 28, 2016
- The world is taking its revenge against elites. When will America's wake up?
, July 19, 2016
- Why Hillary Clinton's 90s nostalgia is so dangerous, May 20, 2016
- Why must the Trump alternative be self-satisfied, complacent Democrats?
, May 4, 2016
- Bill Clinton's crime bill destroyed lives, and there's no point denying it, April 15, 2016
- Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here's why, March 7, 2016
- The issue is not Hillary Clinton's Wall St links but Democrats' core dogmas, February 16, 2016
- Republicans: we don't need no regulation, January 6, 2012
- The Bullshit Boys, August 17, 2002
- The worst DC has to offer: Influence is a paean to Washington greed and corruption, July 3, 2016
- Bill Clinton's odious presidency: Thomas Frank on the real history of the '90s, April 14, 2016
- The Democrats own this mess too: Gerrymandering and obstructionism alone can't explain American inequality, March 31, 2016
- It's not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street, January 11, 2015
- Chain restaurants are killing us: Billionaire bankers, minimum-wage toilers and the nasty truth about fast-food nation, January 4, 2015
- Thomas Frank: First we kill all the diamond-class five-million milers, December 21, 2014
- Thomas Frank: The New Republic, the torture report, and the TED talks geniuses who gutted journalism, December 14, 2014
- Thomas Frank: Ann Coulter and David Brooks play a sneaky, unserious class card, December 7, 2014
- Thomas Frank: Wall Street's long, slow tease, November 30, 2014
- Thomas Frank: Phony spin even Fox News won't buy, November 23, 2014
- Thomas Frank on Ronald Reagan's secret tragedy: How '70s and '80s cynicism poisoned Democrats and America, November 16, 2014
- The GOP's poisonous double-speak: Thomas Frank on how Republicans hijacked the midterms, November 9, 2014
- Righteous rage, impotent fury: Thomas Frank returns to Kansas to hunt the last days of Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, November 2, 2014
- Thomas Frank: "We are such losers", October 26, 2014
- Thomas Frank: Paul Krugman's sloppy, wet kiss, October 19, 2014
- EXCLUSIVE: Elizabeth Warren on Barack Obama: "They protected Wall Street. Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs. And it happened over and over and over", October 12, 2014
- Genius grant or TED talk: Does a MacArthur grant make a genius smarter?, October 5, 2014
- College is ripping you off: Students are cash cows, and schools the predators, October 1, 2014
- Bernie Sanders: Longterm Democratic strategy is "pathetic", September 28, 2014
- In Brownbackistan, everything is awesome! And don't let any liberal tell you different, September 21, 2014
- All these effing geniuses: Ezra Klein, expert-driven journalism, and the phony Washington consensus, September 14, 2014
- Finally, Wall Street gets put on trial: We can still hold the 0.1 percent responsible for tanking the economy, September 7, 2014
- The 1 percent's long con: Jim Cramer, the Tea Party's roots, and Wall Street's demented, decades-long scheme, August 31, 2014
- Cornel West: "He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency", August 24, 2014
- How to wreck the GOP in 3 easy steps!, August 17, 2014
- Jon Stewart is not enough: The curse of centrism, and why the Tea Party keeps rolling "Daily Show" Democrats, August 10, 2014
- Ayn Rand's libertarian "Groundhog Day": Billionaire greed, deregulation and the myth that markets aren't free enough, August 3, 2014
- Obama really let these clowns win? How right-wing obstruction always trumps sober centrism, July 29, 2014
- The animatronic presidency: How presidential museums become propaganda palaces, whitewashing Bush's disasters and Clinton's failings, July 23, 2014
- Right-wing obstruction could have been fought: An ineffective and gutless presidency's legacy is failure, July 20, 2014
- The god that sucked: How the Tea Party right just makes the 1 percent richer, July 6, 2014
- Free markets killed capitalism: Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, Wal-Mart, Amazon and the 1 percent's sick triumph over us all, June 29, 2014
- Hillary Clinton forgets the '90s: Our latest gilded age and our latest phony populists, June 22, 2014
- Off with their heads! Eric Cantor, the Tea Party guillotine, and the certainty of conservative sell-out, June 15, 2014
- Colleges are full of it: Behind the three-decade scheme to raise tuition, bankrupt generations, and hypnotize the media, June 8, 2014
- David Graeber: "Spotlight on the financial sector did make apparent just how bizarrely skewed our economy is in terms of who gets rewarded", June 1, 2014
- The trigger warning we need: "College is a scam meant to perpetuate the 1 percent", May 25, 2014
- Congratulations, class of 2014: You're totally screwed, May 18, 2014
- The problem with Thomas Piketty: "Capital" destroys right-wing lies, but there's one solution it forgets, May 11, 2014
- Our sad "Mad Men" revolution: How consumerism co-opted rebellion, May 4, 2014
- Tom Frank: Bill Clinton was so not down with Thomas Piketty, May 2, 2014
- Hipsters, they're just like us! "Normcore," Sarah Palin, and the GOP's big red state lie, April 27, 2014
- Straight into the Fox News buzzsaw: Why elite, billionaire liberalism always backfires, April 20, 2014
- Let them eat McMansions! The 1 percent, income inequality, and new-fashioned American excess, April 13, 2014
- Tom Frank interviews Barbara Ehrenreich: "You're the anti-Ayn Rand", April 6, 2014
- Plutocracy without end: Why the 1 percent always defeats the middle class, March 30, 2014
- The Hope Diet: Would the Tea Party fall for this?, March 23, 2014
- There is no meritocracy: It's just the 1 percent, and the game is rigged, March 16, 2014
- We are all right-wingers now: How Fox News, ineffective liberals, corporate Dems and GOP money captured everything, March 9, 2014
- Baby boomer humor's big lie: "Ghostbusters" and "Caddyshack" really liberated Reagan and Wall Street, March 2, 2014
- Paul Krugman won't save us: We need a new conversation about inequality, February 23, 2014
- The matter with Kansas now: The Tea Party, the 1 percent and delusional Democrats, February 16, 2014
- If memory swerves: The 1 percent laughs last, as Wall Street wins again, December 29, 2013
- Ad absurdum and the conquest of cool: Canned flattery for corporate America, December 22, 2013
- Sound, fury, cliche! Lazy pundits "double down" on "game-changing" "narratives", November 3, 2013
- TED talks are lying to you, October 13, 2013
- Reaching for the pillars: The conservative plan is sabotage, October 2, 2013
- America's bankrupt morality, March 29, 2012
- Romney, the true Tea Party candidate, January 9, 2012
- How conservative greed and corruption destroyed American politics, August 7, 2008
- The Enron outrage, December 14, 2001
- Enron, we hardly knew ye, November 9, 2001
Harper's Magazine essays
- Tears for Fears, February 1, 2014
- Donkey Business, January 1, 2014
- Chicago Is the Future, December 1, 2013
- Home of the Whopper, November 1, 2013
- Course Corrections, October 1, 2013
- If Memory Swerves, September 1, 2013
- Ad Absurdum, August 1, 2013
- A Possible Urtext for Mad Men, July 24, 2013
- Trio Grande, July 1, 2013
- Getting to Eureka, June 1, 2013
- Power Rangers, May 1, 2013
- Broken English, April 1, 2013
- Blood Sport, March 1, 2013
- Team America, February 1, 2013
- Second Chance, January 1, 2013
- Appetite for Destruction, December 1, 2012
- All the Rage, November 1, 2012
- The Maintenance Crew, October 1, 2012
- Compromising Positions, September 1, 2012
- A Matter of Degrees, August 1, 2012
- Letter from Brownbackistan, July 1, 2012
- The Price of Admission, June 1, 2012
- Bully pulpit, May 1, 2012
- It's a rich man's world, April 1, 2012
- Debt, be not proud, March 1, 2012
- Act of contrition, February 1, 2012
- Semper infidelis, January 1, 2012
- More government, please!, December 1, 2011
- The Bleakness Stakes, November 1, 2011
- Social studies, October 1, 2011
- The Age of Enron, August 1, 2011
- Gold faithful, July 1, 2011
- Required reading, June 1, 2011
- Scenes From the Class War in Wisconsin, May 1, 2011
- Check It Yourself, April 1, 2011
- The Confessions of Glenn Beck, March 1, 2011
- Servile Disobedience, February 1, 2011
- The Fatal Center, January 1, 2011
- Bright frenetic mills, December 1, 2010
- The wrecking crew, August 1, 2008
- Taking names:
Anti-liberalism in theory and practice, February 1, 2006
- Get rich or get out, June 1, 2003
- The trillion-dollar hustle, January 1, 2002
- It's globalicious!, October 1, 1999
- Brand you: Better selling through anthropology, July 1, 1999
The Wall Street Journal essays
- The Economic Crisis: Lessons Unlearned, August 11, 2010
- Glenn Beck and Our 'Stolen' History, August 4, 2010
- A Newt Gingrich Time Warp, July 28, 2010
- Linda McMahon's Pro Wrestling 'Soap Opera', July 21, 2010
- Obama and the Pink Scare, July 14, 2010
- Spies (All Too Much) Like Us, July 7, 2010
- Avoiding the Austerity Trap, June 30, 2010
- The Meaning of Joe Barton's Apology, June 23, 2010
- Britain Cries Foul Over BP, June 16, 2010
- Obama and the Gulf Spill Anger , June 9, 2010
- Laissez-Faire Meets the Oil Spill, June 2, 2010
- Rand Paul's Bad Week , May 26, 2010
- Jim DeMint's Capitalist Fairy Tales, May 19, 2010
- The Gulf Spill and the Revolving Door , May 12, 2010
- Goldman and the 'Sophisticated' Investor , May 5, 2010
- Porn Didn't Give Bernie Madoff His Start , April 28, 2010
- Please Tread on Us , April 21, 2010
- Conservatives and the Market for Alienation , April 14, 2010
- Drill Now? Try Regulate Now. , April 7, 2010
- Conservatives and the Cult of Victimhood, March 31, 2010
- From Televangelism to the Tea Parties, March 24, 2010
- Don't Mess With the Texas Board of Ed, March 17, 2010
- The Rise of the Reactionary Right, March 10, 2010
- A New Age of Monopolies, March 2, 2010
- What's the Matter With Democrats? , February 24, 2010
- The Tea Parties Are No 'Great Awakening', February 17, 2010
- Washington's 'Deficit of Trust', February 10, 2010
- Populism Is Democracy at Work , February 3, 2010
- Centrism Died in Massachusetts, January 26, 2010
- One Cross of Gold, Coming Up, January 19, 2010
- Bring Back Glass-Steagall, January 12, 2010
- Watch Out for GOP Populism, January 5, 2010
- A Low, Dishonest Decade, December 22, 2009
- Obama Should Act Like He Won, January 14, 2009
New York Times columns
- Rendezvous With Oblivion, September 1, 2006
- Defunders of Liberty, August 29, 2006
- Thus Spake Zinsmeister, August 25, 2006
- G.O.P. Corruption? Bring In the Conservatives., August 22, 2006
- What Is K Street's Project?, August 19, 2006
- A Distant Mirror, August 15, 2006
- The Spoils of Victimhood, August 12, 2006
- The Culture Crusade of Kansas, August 8, 2006
- 'John Kenneth Galbraith': The Presidents' Man, February 27, 2005
- American Psyche, November 28, 2004
- Failure Is Not an Option, It's Mandatory, July 16, 2004
Joe Klein's Turnip Day, A review of Politics Lost for the New York Observer, May 1, 2006. His bio of Woody Guthrie was better.
The Curmudgeon, Washington Post Book World, February 5, 2006, a review of Marion Elizabeth Rodgers' comprehensive and impressively researched biography of H. L. Mencken.
Anti-liberalism in theory and practice, A review of Bernard Goldberg's 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, Harper's Magazine, February 2006. It's not much of a book, but it speaks encyclopedias about the conservative mindset.
'John Kenneth Galbraith': The Presidents' Man
, Review of the excellent biography by Richard Parker, New York Times Book Review, February 27, 2005.
American Psyche, Review of The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro (and two other books), New York Times Book Review, November 28, 2004. An unfortunate use of some very valuable research.
Essays since the publication of What's the Matter With Kansas?
“What’s the Matter With Liberals?,” New York Review of Books, May 12, 2005. Answers the question: Why do we suck?
“Why WWI?,” The American Prospect, January 5, 2006. Answers the even more vexing question: Why do I collect World War I relics?
“Looting Homeland Security,” Rolling Stone (with Eric Klinenberg), December 2005. Eight thousand words on the failure of FEMA, and it’s still not enough.
Essays relating to "What’s the Matter With Kansas?"
How the U. S. Senate is doing its damndest to live up to the blueprint for culture war I describe in the book. For the New York Times.
A dispatch from the Democratic Convention in Boston. For the Los Angeles Times.
For Harper’s Magazine
I have written a number of feature stories over the years. You need to be a subscriber to the magazine to access these articles online. These are my favorites:
"Brand You: Better Selling Through Anthropology," Harper’s Magazine, July, 1999. I attend a gathering of highly educated advertising people in the throes of romantic self-deception. They speak of themselves as liberators. As tribunes of the plebs. They marvel at the magic of “chaos.” This essay was later included in The Best Business Stories of the Year, 2001 Edition, edited by Andrew Leckey and Marshall Loeb.
"It’s Globalicious," Harper’s Magazine, October, 1999. On Thomas Friedman, the New York Times’s foreign affairs columnist, and the greatest of the free-market romantics.
"The Trillion-Dollar Hustle," Harper’s Magazine, January, 2002. The mind-bending con behind the push for Social Security privatization, and the ways in which it is sold as the purest ambition of idealistic youth.
"Get Rich or Get Out," Harper’s Magazine, June 2003. The Bush budget is pushing the federal government deep into debt, but not in the ordinary Keynesian way. In its every nuance, it is an engine for showering gifts on the rich and screwing the working class.
Essays for Le Monde Diplomatique, the excellent French weekly.
The America that will vote for Bush, A primer on the Republicans' appeal to class anger and, more importantly, a discussion of the qualities of the American left that allow them to get away with it.
February 1, 2004
Enron: Elvis lives, A primer on Enron.
February 1, 2002
Malls aren't us, A story about trends in shopping mall design. More interesting than it sounds.
August 1, 2001
US 'newseum' to mediocrity, I visit Gannett's Newseum, a monument to crappy journalism.
August 1, 1999
Creation myth of the "geo-architect",
July 1, 1999
France, an unforgivable exception , On the New York Times's persistent Francophobia. This was long before the UN showdown with France over Bush's Iraq war, remember. Back then the crime for which France was the scapegoat was its infernal skepticism about the claims of the "New Economy" boosters.
April 1, 1998
Essays for Artforum Magazine
I wrote the "Slant" column for Artforum in 1998-99. The art world made an ideal target for the critique of commodified dissent I was then working on, and a few of the columns were memorable. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost nearly all my copies of the magazine, and nothing from that era is online.
The best pieces I did for Artforum were when I got to write the "Top Ten," a free-format analysis of whatever ten things the author felt like analyzing. I am still proud of the "Top Ten" I wrote for them in April, 1998.
"The Bullshit Boys"
It was the summer of 2002: The “New Economy” had fallen apart, Enron had collapsed, the neo-liberal world had fallen on its ass. And yet the leading theorists and thinkers and boosters and puffers of the whole flatulent, fraudulent fiasco were still riding high. (As, I might add, they still are today.) Why are there no consequences for the golden boys of the libertarian right? Unfortunately, this particular critique was not amenable to mass-circulation American publications (since most of them were caught up in the puff-bubble in one way or another) and it had to be published in the Guardian
"Rocking for the Clampdown" Harvard Design Magazine, Number 17 (Fall, 02). A consideration of the nation’s two big rock museums, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. While the latter is obviously a monument to the music industry, the EMP presents itself as something very different: Interactive, grass-roots, “alternative,” even. What it really is, though, is a monument to a different industry: Paul Allen’s Microsoft and his vision of the creativity-driven economy.
"Let’s Talk Class Again" Conservatism reacted to the collapse of the “New Economy” by suddenly rediscovering the good ol’ culture wars. Forget NASDAQ: Get mad about the “liberal elite”! A Review of Bias, by Bernard Goldberg, for the excellent London Review of Books.
"When Markets Rule Politics" Financial Times, April 6, 2001. My first foray into the matter of Social Security privatization. (Guess what, I’m against it.) Main point made here: While pundits worry constantly about the “politicization of markets,” the real concern should be the opposite. Investing Social Security funds in the stock market will “marketize” our politics, give Wall Street a weapon with which to threaten any liberal legislator who might want to consider measures that would empower labor or protect the environment or otherwise discomfit the stock market. “Touch Wall Street and you’re dead.”
I must admit, it is surpassingly strange to me that while American newspapers were generally unreceptive to the above analysis, a British business publication has opened its op/ed pages to me. Another favorite story for the Financial Times:
"America’s Sucker-in-Chief" December 14, 2000. Bush’s market populism prevails. My stab at writing an election-day story, postponed by a full month due to the Florida recount. A man of utter, child-like credulity is elected to the highest office in the world.
"All Good, No Bad" I visit Singapore, a land where management theory has supplanted politics. Context, December 2000. While you’re on their website, spend some money and support the very worthy Dalkey Archive.
"Marching With Mammon" An introduction to the concept of market populism.
Frank vs. Enron
In the summer of 1997, electricity deregulation reared its head in Illinois. I was maybe the only person in the state to give a damn about the subject, and as a result I had my first brush with Enron. For the Chicago Reader
, December, 1997. Ironically, of the many columns I wrote for the Reader, this was the one that drew the least interest.
My thoughts on Enron on the eve of its (self) destruction. These appeared in the very last print issue of The Industry Standard
, July 23, 2001. This was the first story in any American business magazine to call Enron evil.
This one was written during the collapse, and appeared in Salon in December 01.
The bitter aftermath, written for The Nation magazine, April 02. While researching this piece I paid a visit to the Enron tower in downtown Houston and was able to leave the building with one of their company motivational posters (”Enron: Excellence”) under my arm.