The Provocative Opinions of the Privileged David Brooks

Rad note » this entry originated from another page. It was moved here because the subject drifted far enough to warrant its own, separate entry.

At the end of this entry (that you're reading now) I have included a link that will return you to the exact spot from where this entry originated. Here ya go ...

» David Brooks

I talk about David Brooks on this page .. and several others. I probably mention Brooks more than any other opinion writer at the Times ..

.. which surprises me, because he is the Times' token conservative, and had a privileged education.

David Brooks with gray hairTho I suspect that his divorce last year (.. after being married for as long as Mandela spent in prison) ..

.. is the thing that shook him from his conservative comfort zone ..

.. and reorientated his views on life just enough that I found many of his opinions thought-provoking.

(Hey, we could all use a little broadening of our perspectives every now-n-then.)

David has a new book out (April, 2015), titled » The Road to Character .. listed as a '#1 Best Seller" in the category of » Philosophy of Ethics and Morality.

What is your purpose? I like what Ecclesiastes says about the meaning of life » all is vanity. A concept so potent that it evoked a title from Hemingway.

In March, I wrote a short piece about my oncologists titled » Life-Saving Skill Sets & the Sense of Meaning They Confer.

Way to go, David. Good for you! [ Dude, I checked Amazon and it says that your book is ranked #8 in sales. (Of ALL books.) Can that be true? Number 8? That would make you a true stud. ]

You can peruse all of David's books » here.

I also noticed that your most recent article, titled » Love and Merit .. is currently the "Most Emailed" feature at the Times.

Developing Character » Child of Privilege vs the Adversity of Injustice

Tho a part of me wants to ask .. what could a child-of-privilege such as yourself possibly know about the challenges to character faced by most Americans today?

<ignore this intentional body-text marker>

••• today's entry continues here below •••

If some twist-of-fate were to change the color of your skin and deprive you of that impressive education ..

Baltimore via Google Maps.. and life had dumped your ass somewhere round about Baltimore ..

.. do you think you would have fared any more morally or virtuously than the rest of the local, indigenous species?

I think not. But for the grace of God.

Character, I feel, at least to a certain degree, involves the adversities that a man faces. No?

Sure, a man who never had any adversity in his life may indeed be moral and ethical, and even possess a degree of character.

But how can you evaluate the depth and sturdiness of the rudder if the ship sails in nothing but calm waters and bright sunshine?

How do you know that this same ship wont break into pieces if it encounters a storm .. such as those found by black men in Baltimore, and in Ferguson.

16 Year Old High-School Sophomore Kalief Browder Slammed to the Ground while Hand-Cuffed by a Uniformed Officer at Rikers Island Jail in NYCAnd at Rikers. » » »

[ Go ahead and click on the screen-grab of the video of the 2 boys playing there. I dare you. » ]

» Ethics and Morality

Ethics and morality .. what a subject. Unlimited in scope, more or less.

I took a class in Logic, at a community college in California.

(While working 12-hour days .. which can be a bit tricky.)

I had actually dropped a previous class in Logic with a different teacher, because the professor was so depressing ..

.. talking about his divorce-in-progress after a marriage of many years. I mean, he was coming apart at the seams right before our eyes.

"I gotta get outta here," I thought. "Or I'm gonna slit my wrists."

But the subject itself intrigued me, so I took it again with a different teacher, a lady this time.

And [ here is the reason why I told you all that other insignificant stuff ] it was THIS LADY PROF ..

.. also taught another class in [ drum droll, please ] » Ethics & Morality.

And even tho our class was really about » Logic .. she nonetheless would weave into her lessons little tidbits of ethics and morality.

And she would say things like » "You kids should take my Ethics class next semester."

David Brooks caricatureI mean, she was pimping her own class and doing a good job.

Because I thought » "You're right. I should. Because those are some fascinating ideas that you are exploring there.

More fascinating than this Logic you are teaching to us right now, in fact.

And this is certainly some very cool shit."

My point is that I never was able to fit her class into my schedule, but I did get a feel for it.

The flavor. It tasted spicy. Certainly stimulating and strong. Like a double espresso.

There was an element of being challenged, on a personally level, that came with her introduction to ethics and morality. A self-reflective personal level.

Much more so than merely the acquiring of facts and dates and formulas that is associated with much of a college education.

But there are courses that also challenge us on a personal level, which force us to examine (closely) things that we have never even considered.

And if this is done well, then it reveals to you things about yourself .. and in the process of learning things about ourselves (know thyself, the ancients implored) we feel ourselves grow out of our old, and more-limited selves.

Logic does not challenge you personally in this way. But philosophy does.

Anyway, as you can see, David Brooks got me thinking again. Thinking & writing.

I'm not really sure how he manages to do this, but it would seem that I am not the only one.

Speaking of which .. David, what do you think about Annie's comment regarding your recent article titled » The Nature of Poverty ? You should write a response to her critique.

She does seem to present the facts in a less biased format than you do.

[[ Speaking of biased .. David, here is something that I want to discuss. Not only because it seems to support what Annie said, but because I found interesting Zweig's comments about you.

Particularly this one » Every time, he spoke with pith and humor; the audiences laughed and cheered along with his jokes and likably nebbishy demeanor. The guy knows what works.

But I dont have time for more than that right now .. so I will return to it later.

I havent read it, but I noticed a title that included the words fact-checking with Niall Ferguson .. which made me think of you. ]]

Update June 5, 2015 » I am not going to comment, but this is good » The Separation Strategy on Iraq. A good example of Brooks' writing.

Strong language. Confrontational ideas. This is one of the reasons why I like Brooks. He is not afraid to get off the porch and throw shit.

I am not saying that I agree with every point he makes, but rather that I appreciate the way he makes them.

<end brooks update june 5 iraq column>

Update July 7, 2015 » I must not know David Brooks as well as I thought I did.

Because I did not think he was capable of writing something like this » The Courage of Small Things.

Who did you get to write that for you, David?

<end update July 7 Courage of Small things>

Update Aug 25, 2015 » David, I loved this column on The Big Decisions. Enough to go a-googling for more info .. where I found this. Which sounds a lot like the intro to your column.

I am not a big plagerism hawk like some. Rather I am more thankful that you share this cool stuff with your readers. Tho it might speak to and reinforce some other criticisms.

Anyway, I love that kind of stuff that this lady teaches on. Wouldnt I love to pick her brain over a brandy. Maybe even smoke a cigar with her.

I can feel myself getting all excited when I read about the stuff that she is into. Very thought-provoking concepts.

And she is talking about vampires .. which I have thought about myself. And posing these questions which really make you think and challenge you.

I was totally feeling her 15-minute lecture. She had me eating out of her academic hand.

<end update Aug 25 brooks' big decisions>

<begin update Sept 11, 2015 brooks new romantics computer age>

I should just have gone to your index page, but instead I googled » david brooks nytimes.

Because I wanted to find and mention this column I very much enjoyed » The New Romantics in the Computer Age (Sept 4)

I am kind of noting it here so that it doesnt get lost. So I can return to comment on later. I dont trust my chemo-memory.

But when I looked down the Google page, I saw many people writing about you, and your ideas, and not in a flattering way, either. Rather more critically.

I will get a few of them and drop links here for future reference, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

A far worse thing would to be ignored. Here are a few of the more prominent search results:

» David Brooks will never get it: Isn't the New York Times embarrassed by this lazy ignorance? (Salon » July 16, 2015)

» Open season on David Brooks: Twitter erupts at clueless New York Times' columnist's masterful trolling (Salon » July 16, 2015)

» Is The New York Times' David Brooks Converting to Christianity? (Newmax » April 17, 2015)

» David Brooks's 5-Step Guide to Being Deep - A manifesto against America's 'happiness' and 'resume' cultures (The Atlantic » July 1, 2014)

» For David Brooks, the Rich Are People, the Poor Are Numbers - America's favorite get-off-my-lawn cultural conservative is too sheltered to talk to the millions of people he criticizes over and over again (Rolling Stone » March 11, 2015)

I dont have time to read these right now, but I confess that I am curious as to their complaints. Some of them do seem rather fired up.

Dude, you have Matt Taibbi writing about you from the Rolling Stone. That alone makes you something of a stud.

Okay, I read Matt's intro. That is pretty vicious. See here:

Everybody gets on famed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's case for quoting cab drivers, but say this about Friedman: At least he talks to somebody outside his own house.

Ouch. How do you deal with this type of criticism? Taibbi can be withering. (That's why everybody likes him.)

Have you tried sending him money? (That usually works.)

Okay, I read a little more. He is basically saying that you dont get it. And he is right. He makes detailed points .. quoting your own chapter and verse.

I mean, there are some things that you get, sure .. but some that you dont.

You are the embodiment of that Paul Simon lyric from the Boxer .. how a man hears what he wants to hear .. and disregards the rest. Lie-la-lie.

You are not the only one, so you shouldnt feel isolated.

Hard to believe, I know, but there was a time when I didnt get it myself. So I am not unsympathetic.

But Matt is being very detailed .. very specific. Pointed in his criticism.

» David on Two Dollars a Day

Homeless Camp in SeattleDavid, let me try to help.

Here is a learning experience for you.

Spend a month with these people.

Live like they live.

Live on $what they live.

You could even bring along your laptop and write from there ..

.. like I used to write from the coffee shops and the libraries in Laguna & Newport.

Talk to these people. Exercise your empathy and compassion. Put yourself into their shoes. As best you are able. (Be courageous.) Maybe even try a little emotional intimacy.

This should not be very difficult, knowing you can exercise your Privilege at any time and call someone to evacuate your ass out of there.

"Beam me up, Scotty. I cannot take another minute of this shitty two-dollar-a-day lifestyle."

If nothing else, people will respect you for this. Like they respect Obama for going to Oklahoma.

And like they respect Cornel for sitting in the protest line with them.

I mean, it's really a nothing thing for Obama .. because he leaves Oklahoma at the end of the day. On a big-ass jet.

Heck, he doesnt even spent an entire day there .. yet it sends a big message. No?

It's like you spent your whole life tuning out this shit .. because you dont like what it is saying to you. So you construct your own paradigm in order to explain away these uncomfortable statements.

[ and yes, i am feeling the spirit right now .. the writer behind the writer, so to speak ]

But your paradigm is total bullshit. It holds water like a piece of toilet paper. Except for people who really wanna believe this pretty-sounding narrative version.

Then it becomes a mighty fortress .. but only in their minds.

I usually stop writing along a certain thread, along a certain vein, when I feel myself waxing abstract.

One of these times, I am just going to run with it .. and see where it leads. But now is not that time.

I'm sure I speak for many, David .. by personally challenging you .. to set up camp with these folks. And hear their stories. All of them.

And when you come out of there, people will not be writing shit about you, saying that you dont get it .. because you will. They will not be writing articles saying the Times should be embarrassed by you.

"Whereas before I was blind .. now I see."

Extra credit points if you go during the monsoon season, or during the middle of the winter.

David on Two Dollars a Day. There's a nice, alliterative title. You fill in the rest.

Looking forward to reading your future columns.

And while you're down there, call Bill O .. and invite his ass down there, too. He's a christian, right?

» Feeding Their Own Shit Back to Them

Perhaps I should mention .. that, when I saw the title asking if you were converting to Christianity ..

.. I thought about the cleverness of addressing this article and telling you that we-christians didnt want you. That we couldnt afford you. And basically feed back to you the conservative exclusionary line.

So you could get a taste of what it feels for you to be on the other end of the conservative social equation.

But my boss will not let me go there. I actually tried a few alternate routes, but he will have none of that.

Sometimes .. I will begin to proceed cautiously down a particular avenue. A particularly controversial avenue.

And the sense here is sorta like me calling out, "You see me heading down this path here..."

And if I get no red lights, no resistance .. if my conscience does not protest .. then I continue to explore.

But there are no avenues available for me to proceed down that particular course .. of feeding the conservative exclusionary line back to you.

So perhaps I am not as clever as people say I am.

I used to feed my dad's own shit back to him. He did not like that. At all. He would hang up on me.

Click. "Hello? Dad?"

"No sense of humor," I thought.

But sometimes people can see things more clearly, more plainly, if you will, when you feed their own shit back to them.

"Hmm, this looks just like the stuff that I've been feeding to my son for years. Smells like it, too. God! This shit tastes awful! I probably shouldnt feed any more of this nasty-tasting shit to my kids. I did not know how awful it tastes. I can see now why he didnt like it."

[ Here is John Oliver feeding their own shit back to them .. quite proficiently. I like him. My favorite is Glenn Greenwald .. saying, "Open wide, bitch. Here comes your tasty shit." That was especially nice. ]

<end update Sept 11, 2015 brooks new romantics computer age>

<update Oct 13, 2015>

David, you must read this, by Sean at Salon. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but David Brooks is making sense."

I was thinking the exact same thing myself earlier today, right after I read your latest column.

But that piece by Sean tickled me pretty good.

You definitely seem to possess an ability to provoke comment .. whether negative or positive. To what do you ascribe this ability?

You do not appear to do this intentionally .. by saying things that are patently outlandish.

Do you know any other columnists who are able to provoke comments from others like you are?

These are very smart, articulate, intelligent, educated, well-read (and even funny) people who are commenting on your columns.

<end update Oct 13 sweet jesus>

» The Privileged Dish on the Deadly Parental Dysfunction of the Affluent

Update Dec 18, 2015 » David, did you notice I gave you your own page? You totally deserve it. Now I can focus a little better on your ass. More clearly. More comprehensively.

Blow's page has become so big that I need to break that sucker up. Except that this would break any incoming links that I have going to individual sections in any parts that become new pages.

I actually did Egan's page first .. because he impresses me even more than you. But I did you both on the same day (yesterday). Yet I selected your birthdays as my 'publish' date.

This kinda gives me the feeling of being able to go back in time. (Which quantum physics says you can do. Or maybe it just says that there is nothing that says you cant.)

Does Egan impress you like he impresses me?

Anyway, I want to stay focused here. There have been a number of columns that you posted recently that, while I was reading, I thought, "Wow .. this is very good. I love this kind of stuff."

And I would have commented on them .. were my ass not dragging from other things.

But these cool columns of yours are not what I want to talk about right now. Right now .. I want to talk to you about writing a column on the "Affluenza Teen" Ethan Crouch, who grew up in beautiful Tarant County, Texas.

And who is probably cruising the Caribbean right now on a private yacht somewhere with Ken Lay.

Surely you see the parallel » you both come from privileged upbringings. So who more qualified to write on this topic?

So I am very much interested in your opinion here. And writing opinions is what you do, David.

Specifically, I am interested in your opinions on how society justifies poor parenting as a valid excuse to avoid jail for someone who literally killed multiple people (.. who had stopped to render help and assistance to a person in a disabled vehicle).

Yet sees nothing wrong with a criminal justice system who kills unprivileged (poor) people .. for seemingly insignificant bullshit.

I would like you to discuss how the privileged elements of our society set impossible standards fir others, yet for themselves they make an endless stream of excuses.

You are obviously the man to discuss things related to privilege in our society. (You and Bill O.)

Perhaps you can help our nation avoid the social turmoil that inevitably accompanies such moral and ethical inequality. Because this kind of shit really pisses people off. Of a level that transcends rational logic.

Because, here's the thing about money today » here in the twenty-first century, capital is merely an accounting construct .. something that exists only in the mind of those who put their trust in an (obviously corrupt) spreadsheet.

Speaking of obviously corrupt, I would like you to hold forth on the corrupting influence of wealth.

I am also interested in your opinion about the responsibility of the christian believer today .. seeing that the judeo-christian scriptures have a lot to say about inequality and God's attitude toward how a just society should treat the poor and the helpless, and also the role of the rich and wealthy.

Looking forward to reading your future opinions.

» Using the Times Opinion Writers to Raise My Game

Ya know, David .. back when I first had the idea to write about you opinion writers there at the NY Times .. which I first mentioned back in March, which was actually a part of Michelle's entry ..

.. and I had had the thought, the urge, a few times before that initial mentioning. And which I dismissed each time .. because I couldnt see the purpose behind it. I only felt the urge. 

And really, who is going to write about writing experts? There is a laughable aspect to it. Almost a no-win aspect. So I was reluctant. Repeatedly reluctant.

But now I can see that I kinda USED you guys (and Maureen) .. in a way .. to raise my game (so to speak) .. in order to gain height (so to speak) .. in order to deliver my message. (Which is actually focused beyond you guys.)

I mean, you guys do your things and I do mine. There many be some overlap, sure, but these are really different things that we all are doing.

Being a descendant of Abraham, you surely know the part where God says to Moses, "Go tell Pharaoh thus-n-such."

And Moses responds by saying something like, "Who am I? That I am going to tell Pharaoh anything? And that he would ever listen to me?"

And God is like, "You cannot make him do jack shit. I just want you to tell him thus-n-such."

Why didnt God just tell Pharaoh himself? Why didnt he just write it on a stone with a laser-beam finger? That would've surely gotten Pharaoh's attention.

Jan 12, 2016 » Ooh, David .. this might be my #1 favorite Brooks column ever. I can't think of another that impresses me more.

I have promoted you .. tho I am not sure what title I would assign to your new position. (I will come up with something catchy.)

About your column .. I am not sure what surprises more .. the ugly moral light that it shines on Ted Cruz or that you happen to be the one holding the flashlight.

Your column evokes all kinds of questions that I have found myself pondering for quite some time now. (And I'm not the only one.)

What do you call people who profess to be christians, yet exhibit behaviors and utter statements that are so contrary to well-documented scriptural values? (They seem to be such the polar opposite.)

When I was reading your column, I caught myself thinking, "I love David Brooks." [ Or at least something about you. ]

I have long felt that the writer should write what only they can write .. and here is where you come into your own.

Well .. you came into your own long ago .. but this column definitely emphasizes that. The reader can perceive your insight most clearly here.

It actually reminded me of Maureen's most recent column, where you can see her insight into Hillary. (I do not really get Hillary most of the time. But Maureen obviously does.) Maureen always has the best photos in her columns.

How do you even KNOW about this stuff (with Ted Cruz)? Had you heard it before? Did a friend call you and say, "Let me tell you a story" ?

It's such an illustrative story that I am surprised I havent heard it before.

Oh, look at this, David. (Same at Politico.) Does it not beg the very same questions that I have been wondering about » "What does he mean by the term 'Godly'?"

You should go down there and ask him, David. I'm sure that I am not alone in my curiosity.

Is Ted Cruz really a Godly man? Or is he just employing the tactic used by George Bush .. of hoodwinking the uneducated and those who are eager to believe what they want to believe?

Too eager, in some cases. You think they would've learned their lesson with George. Arent these the very things that they said about George?

You should probably bring a Bible with you .. and say, "Show me where it says that."

And then ask them about the verses pertaining to social justice. And how those verses apply to modern social issues confronting our nation today.

I'm sure it will be a most fascinating and enlightening conversation.

Many self-professing christians dont know what the scriptures actually say, what they actually teach.

What does the Republican establishment and the majority of its (dissatisfied) constituents have in common? What values do they share?

When I heard the Duck Dynasty guy say, "He's one of us," I thought » "He's copying me." Because that's exactly what I said about James Joyce .. after reading some of his Portrait.

Oh, look .. there you go again, David, being provocative.

Jan 19, 2016 » You dont usually post columns on a Monday, do you? Today's column is noteworthy on a number of fronts.

".. with an alacrity that would make rats admire and applaud." This is clever writing, for multiple reasons.

Perhaps most eyebrow-raising » "Very few presidents are so terrible that they genuinely endanger their own nation, but Trump and Cruz would go there and beyond." Strong words, David. Very strong.

Re Ted Cruz: "He's always been good at tearing things down but incompetent when it comes to putting things together."

This made me think of my nuclear training, where they taught that reactors [ fission ] breaks atoms apart, but the sun [ fusion ] puts them together. It is much harder [ requires more energy, much more ] to put them together than break them apart. Which is why we have no fusion reactors today. Yet putting them together yields much more energy. Which is why the sun will cook your ass from 93 million miles away.

Did you know that, when you see the sun come up in the morning, it actually came up 8 minutes and 20 seconds ago? That is how long it takes its rays of light to reach you. If you drove your car at 60 mph to the sun, it would take 177 years to get there? [ 93 mil / 60 mph / 24 hours/day / 365 days/year ]

Re: "Yes, I'm talking to you state legislators, or local committeepersons, or members of Congress and all your networks of donors and supporters."

Here you address them directly and call them out. The digital age, I have noticed lets virtually anyone address anyone else directly. "Dear Fuck-head..."

You are Mr. NYTimes, so you already have yourself an elevated platform. They are going to listen to you .. because of your large readership. But digital technology now gives littte people a venue to express their views and opinions from street-level. Their honest views.

Re: "Less-educated voters are in the middle of a tidal wave of trauma. Labor force participation is dropping, wages are sliding, suicide rates are rising, heroin addiction is rising, faith in American institutions is dissolving."

Letting the facts speak for themselves .. nice. Hard to argue with cold, hard facts. That doesnt mean people won't, of course, but it make them look stupid.

Re: "What's needed is a coalition that combines Huey Long, Charles Colson and Theodore Roosevelt: working-class populism, religious compassion and institutional reform."

Well said. With a nice mathematical symmetry.

Re: "This would be a conservatism that emphasized social mobility at the bottom, not cutting taxes at the top."

Go David. Hopefully the financial elite in Davos are reading your columns.

It seems like you are now in a political no man's land .. where you are not liberal enough to be a liberal and not conservative enough to be a conservative. Which I find brave. It gives you a freedom and hopefully influence.

Re: "Please don't go quietly and pathetically into the night." Pathetically? Strong word. Tho, you must admit, they are well on their way.

There are more quotes that I could cite [ such as, "And maybe it's time some Republicans took a stand on what is emerging as the central dispute of our time -- not between left and right but between open and closed." ] but I am here commenting, even when I have determined not to.

Jan 26, 2015 » Fuck you, David .. for lumping Bernie in the same category as Trump and Cruz. Shame on you.

[ Oh, look .. Rosario is feeling me. She is very good at public speaking. She makes it look so easy. What a million-dollar smile.

You know that you have made to the higher levels when Rosario is feeling you. (She's got that certain light about her.)

She really gives it to Hillary. "Let me watch my tone."

And she kissed Spike right on the lips. I dont know how Spike was able to stay on his feet. ]

You're lucky he's too busy to drive over there and thump your ass. I bet that Bernie could kick your ass.

You sound like the other Brooks (Arthur). Is he your brother?

Do you think Numsfeld is a polymath? Leonardo was a polymath .. and Rumsfeld is no Leonardo. Certainly, he is an anti-Renaissance man.

I thought about you, David, while I read this.

I also thought about you today, when I read a passage quoted by Joseph Frank (page 53) about a mentor-like person, named Ivan Shidlovsky, whom Dostoevsky himself said was very important and influential in creating his biographical background.

Here is that passage .. of Dostoevsky writing about Ivan Shidlovsky:

This is the only true sign of the great poet, who is man at his highest peak; soil him with dirt, slander him, oppress him, torture him, his soul will nonetheless stand firm, true to self...

But if you are privileged, then it is not so very difficult for you to stand firm. Can you see why this passage made me think of you?

Feb 18, 2016 » I was soaking in the bathtub last night, David, thoroughly relaxing in some epsom salts by Dr. Teal, when I caught myself thinking about (without trying to) your most recent column.

At first, I wanted to respond and tell you why your ideas are full of shit. But then I thought about how you addressed your column directly .. to Hillary, Jeb, Marco and John.

Even tho I have been experimenting with this technique myself, and even tho your columns are published for public consumption .. I somehow felt less qualified to take issue with your ideas.

My hesitation here went something like this » "This particular column is a formatted as private dialogue from David Brooks to these presidential candidates, and therefore none of my business. If they cant see the flaws behind David's reasoning, then that's their own fault."

I was telling Maureen recently how today's twenty-first century technologies now give ordinary citizens the ability to address politicians and other influential people directly.

"Dear Clueless Leaders Who Live Inside a Pretty Bubble Where All Your Bills Are Paid and Who Receive Many Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars for Merely Talking for an Hour and Telling Rich People What They Want to Hear, I am writing to tell you that life here outside the bubble has become very difficult and seems to be getting worse and that if something doesnt change and change quickly .. it will not be good for the continued health of our nation. You should probably worry a little less about making already obscenely-rich people even richer. Dont say you werent warned."

I also thought about your ability to provoke a response. Tho I'm still not sure how you do it .. but do it you do.

Anyway, I like that you addressed these presidential candidates directly .. tho I am not yet able to put into words why I feel this way.

Speaking of Hillary .. did you notice how she said here (half-way down the page):

"They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe," she said. "This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in our politics or our country."

She substituted the phrase paranoid fringe for the lunatic fringe. I noticed this quote from her because I was just mentioning a similar thing to Egan.

Do you feel, as many blacks do, that Obama has been disrespected as president because of the color of his skin? .. and that he has had to endure things that no white president would ever have to endure?

Speaking of the systemic racism in our American society and economic inequality .. what do you think of Nicholas Kristof's most recent column (Feb 18, 2016), where he quotes Robert Putnam of Harvard as saying »

"One glimpse of the structural unfairness in America is this: A dumb rich kid is now more likely to graduate from college than a smart poor kid, according to Robert Putnam of Harvard University."

I thought of the Bush brothers when I read that quote about dumb rich kids. What a waste of a good education that was.

Feb 23, 2016 » This was good, David, because so much of human happiness and emotional pain is wrapped up in our intimate relationships.

But I found myself wanting to know what you yourself thought and felt about these things .. what David Brooks himself has learned from his many years of experience, living life and operating in this arena.

I wanted you to wax existential and share your own experiences along these lines .. and how they might cause you to prefer one of these paradigms over another .. or perhaps even expound on a theory not presented here.

I wanted you to make it personal. I wanted you to have the courage to reveal some personal vulnerability. I wanted you to share what you have learned about this subject from knowing thyself.

I wanted you to share with us, your readers, what maxims you have come to embrace via a life of privilege.

Sometimes I receive these forwarded emails from people. You probably get them, too. And I find myself craving real words from these people themselves .. and not merely the forwarded words and thoughts of another.

There is nothing wrong, per se, with forwarding the words and thoughts of another. But when this is all you receive from someone .. you start to wonder if they have any original thoughts of their own.

I would rather have one sentence of original thought from a person .. than a page full of forwarded material. So perhaps you can see why your column today reminded me of one of these forwarded emails.

Feb 26, 2016 » One of the reasons why I like reading your columns, David, is because they are short.

You manage to cram a lot of good stuff into a small space .. far better than I am able to accomplish. And while there is certainly a place for longer treatments, I know that, when I read a Brooks' column, I am not in for a long slog.

With some of the other columnists there at the Times, I wait to read their columns until I am ready. But with yours, I always read them right away .. soon as I see them.

I enjoyed your latest, tho I did not like your use of the word 'cancer' in the title .. tho this is probably just personal preference caused by a sensitivity to the word.

And I couldnt help but notice that your disappointment with our current governing system of government failed to mention that the vast majority of our nation's newly created wealth goes almost exclusively to the ultra-rich .. in other words » those who need it least. (The oligarchs.)

These economic flows are determined, to a large degree, by political algorithms crafted by politicians .. who receive money from the very people who are benefitted by the laws that control these flows of wealth and resources.

I could get off on such a tangent here .. but your view of the "governing" problem with our system of government misses the point. The real point. (Corruption in favor of the ultra-wealthy at the expense of everyone else.)

Even Charles Koch agrees that the system is rigged in favor of the most wealthy. He should know .. since he and his brother are responsible for much of this rigging.

It's nice to see that the younger generation gets this .. probably because these shitty values have been foisted upon them. Rudely foisted. So this understanding of the core problem of our political system bodes well for the future.

Your mention of the 33 pages of Trump insults reminded me of driving around with a friend who grew up in New York City (Brooklyn or the Bronx, I forget) .. who would rail at the other drivers.

"Must be rough going thru life with only half a brain, lady," he would shout at a driver who cut him off in traffic.

He possessed a seemingly unlimited supply of such verbal assaults. I found them very entertaining. Shit I had never heard before. (And I had heard some shit .. let me tell you.)

March 4, 2016 » David, I am trying so hard not to write any more on this page, but you make it difficult.

Let me tell you what you dont get. You get that a public condemnation by Romney does nothing to diminish Trump's standings .. in the eyes of those with whom his words resonate.

On the contrary, it only makes the Donald look even sexier than he already looks. The bulge in his pants only gets bigger. (Is it any wonder that he has that smoking-hot imported super-model wife?)

It's like, when the CEO of Goldman-Sachs (Lloyd) says that the things that Bernie Sanders is saying makes him nervous.

That only makes people love Bernie more. It makes them want to send him more money. It makes them want to name their first-born male child after him.

Because it means that the little people might actually have someone who gives a fuck about their plight.

The economic plight being wrought by historic levels of ever-worsening income inequality .. that is helping to fracture and destroy the particular American society in which they live. The thing that is killing the American dream.

The fact that the Vampire Squid is feeling the heat from the Bern .. that makes us happy. Because it sounds like the ringing of the bell of hope. (Which we havent heard for a long-ass time.)

And you can tell Mr. Blankfein that it's only gonna get hotter .. so stand the fuck by, Lloyd. You might wanna have your expensive taylor sew in a layer of asbestos .. into your expensive business suits.

[ I am feeling pretty fired up, right now. It is dangerous to write under such conditions .. so let me wrap quickly. ]

When these other writers complain that you "dont get it" I feel sorry for you. But I must say, I see their point.

It's not just that you dont get it (sometimes, not always) .. but that you dont get even the most obvious shit sometimes.

And that is the thing that has an effect on the reader. This effect, of which I am referring to, is not something that I would call infuriating .. but it's in that general direction.

Because this stuff is so obvious .. and you obviously dont see it.

» They Obviously Have No Clue

Speaking of not getting it .. have you ever been talking to someone (I'm sure you have) when they say something that tells you » "They obviously dont get it." ?

Or worse » "They obviously have no clue." ?

Particularly when they are discussing things for which they have no experience .. for which they have no expertise. (Mere speculations.)

What do you do in such circumstances? Do you say, "Dude, you have no clue." ?

Probably not .. because this would risk offending them. 

If, however .. this conversation falls into the context of them dispensing advice in your direction .. regarding things for which they clearly have clue ..

.. then you are almost obligated to address the reasons why they are clueless. No?

But what if they are the type of person with low self-esteem who would feel diminished by your personally-informed experience? What then?

March 8, 2016 » I am not going to say that I told you so .. but rather, I will quote for you a sentence from this article:

The emphatic victories by Mr. Trump were a sharp turnabout from his difficult weekend and suggested that his stumbles in recent days had not done substantial damage to his campaign.

And now I'll say it » I told ya so.

I was thinking about writing an entry that listed the names of all the people who have said that Trump would never be the Republican party nominee .. as an illustration for how out-of-touch they obviously are.

But, we will wait until the nomination is actually named.

I have heard so many politicians boldly declare that "There is no way Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee." But now, it looks like "the way" is all but inevitable.

Speaking of me telling you so .. I was wondering, David .. seeing how you are a child of privilege .. what you think about the timing of Scalia's death ..

.. and how he was found at a luxury ranch in Texas, while on a junket that was paid for by wealthy people whose cases were argued before him?

On one of many such junkets. How is such a thing okay? Are you telling me that such things do not influence their decisions? Because everybody knows that that is total bullshit.

No wonder all the Supreme court decisions have been going in the direction of monied interests and against the little guy (.. who has no money).

I want you to take up a lament, David, and cry out against such judicial corruption. It's the least that you can do .. being a child of privilege yourself.

March 22, 2016 » I have just started reading your last. I love your opening sentence » "The phrase almost completes itself: Midlife ... crisis." And I'm not even sure why.

The rest of your opening paragraph » "It's the stage in the middle of the journey when people feel youth vanishing, their prospects narrowing and death approaching. So they become undone. The red Corvette pops up in the driveway. Stupidity reigns."

My dad, who was so practical and tight that, if you put a piece of coal up his ass, it would be a diamond within a week .. bought a used Fiat Spider mid-life.

That was a stupid car to buy. I could have told him that. Everybody knows that Fiats are always in the shop.

He rarely drove the thing because it was always broke. He pumped so much money into it .. that he probably paid for it several times over. (He thought that he got a good deal when he first bought it.)

When it was running, it was sweet, sure. But those times were few and far between.

When I was 17 or 18, which is when he had his Spider, my dad was 42 or 43. I guess you could consider that "midlife".

I do remember that point in my own life .. when youth was clearly "back there" somewhere and your prospects naturally narrow with your narrowing number of remaining years and death starts to seem more inevitable than impossible.

I watched Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine (2013) last night .. with the Academy Award-winning performance by Cate Blanchett. It contains some of the most impressive acting - ever.

She crosses over, back and forth, into insanity, right before your very eyes. Even seeing it .. it is still hard to believe .. that she was able to pull that off. Much respect.

Talk about a midlife crisis. Certified Fresh.

My own sense of things is that we all begin life in an ever-expanding galaxy .. continally moving outward and growing and learning and being exposed to new stuff (some of it good, some of it not so good) ..

.. until we reach the outer limits of this ever-expanding galaxy .. and then we pass over to the gravitational force of the black-hole of physical death.

You clearly know that it's coming, but it seems far off for now. Yet you keep getting ever closer with each passing day and each passing year.

And the point where we pass from the ever-expanding galaxy of the beginning of life .. into the gravitational traction of the black-hole of physical death .. somewhere around there is usually the point where we experience this midlife thing that you write about today.

March 25, 2016 » You better stop writing shit like this, David, or the conservatives will have your ass. They will disown you.

I wasnt even going to read your column today. Sometimes, this is the only way I can keep myself from commenting on the things you write.

I am feeling kinda low-energy today. (I'm sure Jeb Bush could relate.) But I just feel like I need to rest today.

I am pretty sure that this iron supplement (from Germany) that I have been taking .. is the thing makes the difference. Whenever I ask, "Why is my ass dragging so badly today?" .. it is usually the case that I stopped taking the iron supplement a few days ago.

A little 10 ml swig of this black-cherry-tasting juice seems to make a big difference.

Anyway, like I said .. I wasnt gonna even read your column today. But then I saw a reference to your column at the bottom of Egan's column today.

So I interpreted that as Egan endorsing your ass. Or, at least, that particular column.

But yes, you are provocative. Do you consciously intend to be provocative? It doesnt seem like you are .. yet you are.

[ Some people feel that there is not much of a difference between someone who is provocative .. and an asshole.

Remind me to tell you about Kierkegaard here, who I was reading about earlier today. He was certainly provocative. Not unlike Nietzsche. ]

Re » "The first step clearly is mental purging: casting aside many existing mental categories and presuppositions, to shift your identity from one with a fixed mind-set to one in which you are a seeker and open to anything."

I was kinda pissed at you when I read that sentence. Cuz I thought, "Fuck, now I'm gonna have to respond." I was doing good until that point. 

But that might take some time. So let me instead address this » "Somehow the Republican Party will have to rediscover a language of loving thy neighbor, which is a primary ideal in our culture, and a primary longing of the heart."

Have you perchance happen to seen Edsall's graph of the Values Gap here (~halfway down the page, from January, 2016)?

It basically says that .. one of the things that makes a conservative a conservative .. is that he doesnt give much of a shit about compassion (of which 'fairness' certainly plays a part).

It's just not part of his values DNA. It's like telling a leopard that he needs to change his spots.

In other words .. I dont think it's even possible. Not in this universe, anyway. Maybe in some alternate one.

Be careful what you wish for, David.

Speaking of getting what you wish for .. what do you think of The Intercept? (where my girlfriend, Laura Poitras, is a principal.)

They are out there .. on the bleeding edge.

The end. ■

You can return to the exact spot from where this entry originated .. see » here.

Radified home

<ignore this intentional bottom text spacer, too>


  • about
Powered by Movable Type 5.2.12

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rad published on August 11, 2015 8:11 AM.

The Hippie and Kerpa (from High School Days) was the previous entry in this blog.

The Legend of Joe Getty is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.