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MEDIA CRITICISM:

Annals of Mendacious Punditry: Larry Kudlow's Pin-Striped Perfidy

by Jason Miller
A moral philosopher like Adam Smith would recoil in horror at the gross injustices and atrocities resulting from the economic system so often attributed to him.
Wrestle free if you can, for at least a moment, from the catechism of free markets, deregulation, free trade, and the like. Now consider just a few characteristics of American capitalism which guarantee that we, as its practitioners, will continue sinking deeper and deeper into the fetid cesspool of depravity and isolation that rules our everyday lives, even if we (at least many of us) remain largely oblivious to its daily exactions. Our system, which we have been inculcated to view through Panglossian lenses, rewards greed, selfishness, self-absorption, and hyper-individualism (four of the most repulsive aspects of human nature); necessitates that profits trump humanity; and demands perpetually futile efforts to fulfill an insatiable appetite for growth and expansion. If we in the United States had the courage to gaze upon our collective reflection in the mirror, we would shudder at the sight of a visage more grotesque than that of Dorian Gray.

To paraphrase Karl Marx, those that have a society's wealth will also be its "ruling intellectual force." Few in today’s corporate-dominated mass media in the United States better embody our “ruling intellectual force” than Lawrence Kudlow. As his CNBC bio sketch indicates, he is no mere sycophant to the criminal class of plutocrats who rule our nation. His resumé includes a Princeton education, an influential position within the Reagan administration, a stint as a high-powered player on Wall Street, and (currently) a position as the principal of an investment research firm. No mere journalist is he. Kudlow is both a member of the ruling class and its staunch advocate in the “liberal media.”

Calling him a swine would insult our porcine brethren, so let’s not label him. Instead, let’s define him by his numerous betrayals of the human race. As we shall learn, these betrayals gush from his pen (and mouth) to form a relentlessly potent stream of perverse justifications for institutionalized theft, environmental rape and killing.

Let’s consider and dissect some examples of Mr. Kudlow’s punditry:

Kudlow’s “Design for Doom” appeared in the Washington Times on 5/13/07:

“And while Republicans talk about significantly increasing the defense budget and expanding American force levels for all the armed services, the Democrats hope for some sort of Iraqi peace dividend upon immediate withdrawal — one that can be rechanneled into higher domestic social spending..... To a person, each Democratic presidential candidate also wants to raise taxes on the rich and roll back President Bush’s tax cuts. The Republicans, however, understand those tax cuts have propelled economic growth and contributed to a stock market boom. They recognize Mr. Bush’s Goldilocks bull-market economy — which I call the greatest story never told — relies on extending the investor tax cuts and perhaps even moving forward with a flat tax or national sales tax.... Finally, to a person, each Democratic presidential candidate also has it in for corporate America. The Democrats discuss various punishments for business — especially oil companies, but also drug, utility and insurance firms. Not so for the Republicans, who talk about helping businesses and promoting entrepreneurship in our successful free-enterprise economy.”
Slow down there, Larry! You are emptying your arsenal of American Capitalist memes in just a few paragraphs!

Kudlow knows that if he and his fellow aristocrats are to maintain the shekels to afford $3,000 suits, cars costing six figures, Rolexes, trophy wives and mistresses, global jet-setting, and homes with the square footage of the Taj Mahal, we “commoners” have to believe in the illusion of democracy, and that there is a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats. Yet given the fact that both parties are beholden to obscenely wealthy corporations and individuals, and that many of our “elected” officials are well-heeled insiders like Mr. Kudlow, even Mr. Roarke and Tattoo couldn’t make this fantasy real.

And by all means, let’s increase a “defense” budget that already exceeds more than the rest of the world's combined (to “defend” 5% of the world’s population). Assuming the Democrats did throw a few additional crumbs to the homeless, poor and working class via the “higher domestic social spending” Larry decries, public spending for infrastructure, education, housing, transportation, and health care would remain grossly inadequate for a nation with the wealth and power of the United States.

Presenting a particularly glaring pair of contradictions, Kudlow laments that the Democrats "have it in for corporate America.” Would Larry have us believe that the Democrats are truly dense enough to bite the hand that feeds them?

Further miring himself in inconsistencies, he raves about the success of our “free-enterprise economy.” With sharply decreased regulation and the increasingly incestuous relationship between the U.S. government and “corporate America,” leviathan companies like Microsoft, Halliburton, and Wal-Mart are attaining frightening power and dominating the so-called “free market.” Free enterprise has indeed been wildly successful for a relative handful of major investors, like Kudlow.

In May of 2006, Larry penned “Would Adam Smith Approve?” This excerpt comes from Human Events.com, which claims to have been “leading the conservative movement since 1944”:

“A couple hundred years ago, in his “Theory of the Moral Sentiments,” Adam Smith contended that capitalism requires a moral and ethical center if it is to function effectively and to the benefit of all.

About 30 years ago, supply-side economic philosopher Irving Kristol similarly emphasized the importance of capitalism’s moral compass. His wife, the brilliant historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, wrote regularly about the importance of morality in society, culture and the economy, a topic she covered in her standout book, The De-Moralization of Society. She sets off the Victorians in English history as an example of a moral society......

Capitalism in this country has been under assault ever since FDR’s New Deal 1930s, a time when a number of alphabet agencies attempted to control America’s industrial and farming sectors. The experiment soon proved a dismal failure, with unemployment running 20 percent to 25 percent up until World War II. It was only when Roosevelt started unleashing businesses to produce wartime goods that the economy ultimately resurrected.

Still, the American welfare state would grow. In the 1960s and 1970s, the murderer’s row of economic morons — LBJ, Nixon, Ford and Carter — in allegiance with their liberal Keynesian advisors, concocted a socialist policy mix that ultimately led to wealth-destroying big-government stagflation.

Providentially, Ronald Reagan changed all that in the 1980s. The Gipper slashed tax rates, deregulated industries and rescued the dollar, unleashing the forces of entrepreneurial capitalism....

As deregulated stock markets democratized the American financial system, a great new investor class grew up. Roughly 20 million investors evolved into over 100 million share-buyers, and they got rich in the process....

This investor class has also become the nation’s most powerful voting block. In recent elections, nearly two out of every three voters has been a stockowner. And yes, they are voting for capitalism — meaning lower tax rates, limited government and greater opportunities for entrepreneurship.

George W. Bush, a lineal descendant of Reagan, calls this the “ownership class.” And though I can’t prove it, I’m willing to bet that this group’s demand for lower tax rates and entrepreneurial activity goes hand-in-hand with the cultural characteristics of hard work, thrift, personal responsibility and law-abiding behavior....

Looking down from his perch in heaven, Adam Smith would be very proud.”

Once again, Kudlow has showered us with a salvo of deceptions and distortions. He wastes no time with subtlety, either, as he relentlessly advances the agenda of the ruling elite.

It is obviously a testament to his superior intellect that Kudlow can discern that Adam Smith would feel such pride “from his perch in heaven.” Yet in spite of Larry’s certainty, one can’t help but consider the more likely possibility that a moral philosopher like Smith would recoil in horror at the gross injustices and atrocities resulting from the economic system so often attributed to him.

In a flagrant display of intellectual dishonesty, Kudlow reassures us of the “moral compass” guiding capitalism by referencing Irving Kristol, the godfather of the Neoconservative movement. Sinking further into a quagmire of deceit, he portrays Victorian England as “an example of a moral society.” Yes, those of us with a social conscience marvel at the morality exhibited by the industrial capitalists of the Victorian Era. Child labor, fourteen hour work days, pittance wages, dangerous working conditions, squalid living conditions, and workhouses. What an example of a moral society driven by an undying compassion for humanity!

What Kudlow means when he says that “capitalism in this country has been under assault ever since FDR’s New Deal 1930’s” is that he and his excessively wealthy associates strenuously object to progressive taxes, public spending on domestic social programs, and laws that protect workers and consumers. Kudlow longs for a return to the “good old days” of the Gilded Age, Robber Barons, monopolies, and unbridled freedom for him and his ilk to inflict misery upon the rest of us.

Kudlow’s professed reverence for “the Gipper” (who was largely successful in his efforts to crush what remained of the power of organized labor, emasculate government regulatory agencies, and shift the tax burden back to the poor and working class) coupled with his odd reference to George W. Bush as a “lineal descendent of Reagan,” offer us more clear indications that he is a relentless champion for the cause of the ruling elite.

(“Lineal descendent?” Sounds almost as if Kudlow would welcome the restoration of a monarchy).

Kudlow’s highly disingenuous arguments concerning the “ownership class” or“investor class” in the U.S. are riddled with fallacious conclusions.

Playing fast and loose with the truth, Larry boldly proclaims that “this investor class has also become the nation’s most powerful voting block....And yes, they are voting for capitalism — meaning lower tax rates, limited government and greater opportunities for entrepreneurship..... I’m willing to bet that this group’s demand for lower tax rates and entrepreneurial activity goes hand-in-hand with the cultural characteristics of hard work, thrift, personal responsibility and law-abiding behavior.”

Wouldn’t it be instructive if we knew by what means Kudlow determines that people voting for a particular candidate were “voting for capitalism?”
Since we haven’t had a legitimate presidential election since 1996, and both the Democrats and Republicans represent corporate and patrician interests, the composition of the largest voting block is nearly irrelevant. This “minor detail” aside, wouldn’t it be instructive if we knew by what means Kudlow determines that people voting for a particular candidate were “voting for capitalism?” It is also interesting to note his less than subtle implication that those who don’t “vote for capitalism” are lazy, wasteful, irresponsible, and criminal.

Kudlow’s ebullient claim that, “Roughly 20 million investors evolved into over 100 million share-buyers, and they got rich in the process...” is extremely dubious.

For a more realistic perspective on the “ownership class” in the United States, consider this segment from a report from Professor G. William Domhoff of the University of California at Santa Cruz:

“In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 44.1% of all privately held stock, 58.0% of financial securities, and 57.3% of business equity. The top 10% have 85% to 90% of stock, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.”
Remember that Lawrence Kudlow represents the 10% who own the United States. Those of us comprising the remaining 90% are “just renting” and need to recognize his agitprop for the intellectual flatulence that it is.
Remember that Lawrence Kudlow represents the 10% who own the United States. Those of us comprising the remaining 90% are “just renting” and need to recognize his agitprop for the intellectual flatulence that it is.

For those still doubting pernicious nature of Kudlow and his efforts, here are a few more examples:

“The Greatest Story Never Told” appeared in Human Events in 4/06:

“Today’s economy may be the greatest story never told. It’s an American boom, spurred by lower tax rates, huge profits, big productivity, plentiful jobs and an ongoing free-market capitalist resiliency. It’s also a global boom, marked by a spread of free-market capitalism like we’ve never seen before.... Indeed, bashing big oil won’t create a drop of new energy. Nor will confiscating Lee Raymond’s bank account. Energy is best left in the hands of the free market. With this in mind, Congress should allow environmentally friendly drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf, more LNG terminals and the creation of nuclear power facilities.”
Perhaps today’s economy is the “greatest story never told” because the fairy tale Kudlow depicts never happened.

To his credit, in this piece Larry openly proclaims his support for rapacious industries (i.e. Big Oil), outrageously excessive CEO compensation, and the rape of the environment for profits.

Kudlow wrote “Bull-Market Cheers for Bush” on 2/3/07:

“... George W. Bush became only the second sitting American president to visit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange...

Huge cheers. Loud applause.

This is the same guy the mainstream media loves to kick around—the same guy who suffers sinking polls while standing resolute on the subject of Iraqi freedom, and who gets virtually no credit for the Goldilocks economy and unprecedented four-year stock market boom. He’s also the same guy who continues to prove he has more character than most anyone serving in public office today.”

Kudlow’s capacity to pervert the truth (or perhaps his tenuous grasp on reality) is breathtaking. While many serving in public office in the United States are ethically challenged (which lowers the bar considerably), Larry has still averred that George W. Bush, one of history’s most heinous war criminals, has character.

Notice how Kudlow cleverly intimates that he is not a part of the “mainstream media," which he and his fellow reactionaries often label as “liberal” to maintain the illusion that the Fourth Estate is still performing its function as watchdog rather than serving as the propaganda network for the ruling elite.
Notice too how he cleverly intimates that he is not a part of the “mainstream media," which he and his fellow reactionaries often label as “liberal” to maintain the illusion that the Fourth Estate is still performing its function as watchdog rather than serving as the propaganda network for the ruling elite.

In response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 7/06, Kudlow opined in “Israel’s Moment, the Free World’s Gain”:

“Israel is doing the Lord’s work. They are defending their own homeland and very existence, but they are also defending America’s homeland as our frontline democratic ally in the Middle East....

Repeatedly hostile actions by the totalitarians in Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and North Korea are all connected....

When the dust clears the world will applaud Israel for its courage. Sensible freedom-loving people everywhere will realize that Israel’s furious response in the face of senseless terrorist attacks will have made the world a better place.

In fact, we are all Israelis now.”

What are we to make of this bizarre set of statements?

Are we reading the ravings of a lunatic, the pronouncements of a pathological liar, or perhaps the calculated manipulations of a master propagandist?

Killing over a thousand Lebanese civilians (compared to the 43 Israelis Hezbollah killed), displacing over 200,000 people, and devastating Lebanese infrastructure is “doing the Lord’s work?”

What is Kudlow’s alleged connection linking the actions of the disparate entities he characterizes as “the totalitarians in Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and North Korea?”

Mr. Kudlow, thank you for pointing out that millions of “sensible freedom-loving people everywhere” are lining up to support oppressive, militaristic aggressors like Israel and the United States. Most of us are unable to recognize their presence.

“We are all Israelis now?” Wow! Perhaps Lawrence is a bit daft after all.

After examining Lawrence Kudlow’s mendacious punditry, it is reasonable to conclude that his myriad media conduits have enabled him to infect the minds of untold millions with “the ruling ideas” of “the ruling class.” Accordingly, if by some miracle the ruling elite of the United States face consequences for their egregious military and economic crimes against humanity, those meting out punishments need to remember to give Mr. Kudlow a generous helping.


Jason Miller describes himself as "a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually." He is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor (www.bestcyrano.org/) and publishes Thomas Paine’s Corner within Cyrano’s at http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/. He welcomes constructive correspondence at JMiller@bestcyrano.org.


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This story was published on May 23, 2007.