"John Legend Says What Everyone Was Thinking About David Brooks" is a headline we are reading, here in 2013, because that is the way things are now.
"Romney is going to have to define a vision of modern capitalism. He’s going to have to separate his vision from the scandals and excesses we’ve seen over the last few years. He needs to define the kind of capitalist he is and why the country needs his virtues. Let’s face it, he’s not a heroic entrepreneur. He’s an efficiency expert. It has been the business of his life to take companies that were mediocre and sclerotic and try to make them efficient and dynamic. It has been his job to be the corporate version of a personal trainer: take people who are puffy and self-indulgent and whip them [...]
Hey, David Brooks wrote a column about me! I am one of the 20% of American men of "prime" working age who does not have a job. And apparently we are destroying America by not "getting up and going to work." Oh yes: "In 1954, about 96 percent of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today that number is around 80 percent. One-fifth of all men in their prime working ages are not getting up and going to work."
The real menace here is that we are apparently draining Social Security, which is headed for a complete state of brokeness in the not very [...]
"Has there been any indication that Barack Obama does not believe in the 'old-fashioned bourgeois virtues?' Has the man been anything but bourgeois to a fault? Has he not believed in 'order' so deeply he's sacrificed his presidency to its maintenance? Has he not been so 'self-disciplined' that he's regularly accused of being robotic? Let's leave aside the inflammatory rhetoric of 'personal responsibility': Has Barack Obama ever been accused of being late? And if not, where the hell does 'punctuality' come from?" —Yowch. The Times David Brooks gets severely beaten down for writing a sentence that is "either frankly racist or frankly forgiving of racism."
Sarah Palin: "Known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah commemorates the eight-day miracle that took place when the Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated. Though there was only enough consecrated oil for one day, the flame miraculously burned for eight – just long enough to prepare more. This beautiful story is rich with life lessons for members of all faiths. With hope and dedication nothing is impossible, and the Almighty never abandons those who seek the light."
Here is the argument David Brooks makes in his op-ed, "A Sad Green Story," in today's Times: Government legislation to curb global warming, which he supports, has failed because because Al Gore supported it so strongly. It is the "highly partisan former vice president"'s fault, Brooks says, because after Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006, and Gore "became the global warming spokesman, no Republican could stand shoulder to shoulder with him and survive. Any slim chance of building a bipartisan national consensus was gone." It is Gore's fault, for being so highly partisan earlier in his career, that Republican congressman refuse, on partisan grounds, to [...]
"In most times and in most places, the group was seen to be the essential moral unit. A shared religion defined rules and practices. Cultures structured people’s imaginations and imposed moral disciplines. But now more people are led to assume that the free-floating individual is the essential moral unit. Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart." David Brooks mourns the death of god and homogeneous culture and frets over the implications of independent thought in today's Times. Like a lot of people have been doing for a while now. Yes, finding a [...]
"Along the way he offers banal observations as if nobody had ever thought of them before. He reveals that women menstruate and men do not." —David Brooks is right about the commentaries in Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's manifesto, The Green Book. Some of them have indeed been thought of before. But the overall gist of his column in today's Times, that "The paradoxical fact is that if you want to stay in office as a dictator, it is better to be a narcissistic totalitarian than a run-of-the-mill autocrat," seems a little banal itself. This seems like a point made by everyone from Karl Marx to George Orwell to [...]
Rest easy, America! After our long march through the spiritless battle to prop up our inflammable paper economy, David Brooks has identified the true cause of our distemper: we have been lulled into a terminal state of civic distrust by an overly porous power elite.
Yes. The recruitment of our upper-class leaders has become more demographically open, Brooks notes, with the old WASP establishment giving way to a "meritocratic" scrum of other-than white male power brokers. And as a result, "we've changed the criteria for success. It is less important to be clubbable. It is more important to be smart and hard-working." But there's a twist! "As [...]
David Brooks is off to the sexting races today. He is claiming, in essence, that since we kids today do not date within the circles of our church socials and Maypole parties or whatever, and that we have no "social scripts" for getting sex and romance, and so bad things happen, and we are all sexting each other and constantly trading up for better sex parties and getting all degraded. This has some truth to it! There's two places where he goes hideously wrong. For starters: "Over the past few decades, these social scripts became obsolete. They didn't fit the post-feminist era." Yeah, your complaint about the uses of [...]
Hahahahaha, David Brooks can't say "cavil" right! To be fair, we all have words we find difficult to pronounce correctly. I, for instance, can never quite manage "antediluvian." Also "Schermerhorn." How about you?
"Young people’s brains are developing while they are immersed in fast, multitasking technology. No one quite knows what effect this is having." —Unlike, you know, playing stickball in the street. Or running around catching fireflies in an idyllic suburban backyard. Or doing math! What about all that writing by hand, with pens and paper? I bet that did crazy things to brains. Anyway, I hereby sentence David Brooks to 40 consecutive Tree of Life viewings.
Lots of people loved president Obama's speech calling for civility Wednesday night. It was a great speech. (Except the line about "jumping in rain puddles in heaven.") And in that spirit, and because I think it's good to note when people you often disagree with say something you do agree with, I very much like what David Brooks writes today: "The truth is fragmentary and it’s impossible to capture all of it. There are competing goods that can never be fully reconciled. The world is more complicated than any human intelligence can comprehend."
But not everyone is in that kind of mood.
"Why is Haiti so poor? Well, it has a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism. But so does Barbados, and Barbados is doing pretty well." That's David Brooks, going out on a crazy limb. (He goes out on some others, which we're not even going to address. This one is maddening enough.) For starters. Barbados has a population well under 300,000, and Haiti has a population of over 10 million? Haiti is almost 11,000 square miles and Barbados is 167? This is a question of manageability. More importantly, Barbados has been stunningly smart in occupying the middle ground between neighboring tax haven islands and the highly-regulated (and/or more [...]