Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kinder, Gentler Points of Blight

David Brooks got the 3 a.m. phone call from the Board of Overlords:

Culture wars and right-wing wedge issues are Out. Diversity and loving-kindness are In. Otherwise, Ted Cruz might win the nomination and lose to Hillary Clinton. So enough already with the bigotry and the religious paranoia. Up with Obama-style centrism (social liberalism balanced with economic conservatism.)

Taking a page from the postmodern GOP playbook (see my previous post) Brooks told the reactionary Christian Coalition wing of the party to stuff it for awhile, and play the part of Obama-style community organizers. It worked once for a Democratic corporatist, so why shouldn't it work for a Republican corporatist too?

Of course, this synopsis is only the crass political subtext of today's New York Times column from the Pundit to the Plutes. Telling moralizers like his colleague Ross Douthat to stop moralizing over the scourge of birth control and gay marriage, Brooks moralized:
These conservatives are enmeshed in a decades-long culture war that has been fought over issues arising from the sexual revolution. Most of the conservative commentators I’ve read over the past few days are resolved to keep fighting that war.
I am to the left of the people I have been describing on almost all of these social issues. But I hope they regard me as a friend and admirer. And from that vantage point, I would just ask them to consider a change in course.
Otherwise, rich Republican politicians might lose a few, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio might plummet from 350:1 to 348:1 under a Clinton restoration, and there might not be any more Scalia clones to amuse us to death once the original disappears into a puddle of bile. So think before you hate, haters!  Here's the Brooksian formula as dictated by the Wall Street wing of the party:
Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society. They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love. They can serve as examples of commitment. They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans. They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely.
The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.
Notice how Brooks strains to emulate Obama's "We Shall Overcome" eulogy. He even dips into Biblical anaphora -- the rhetorical device often used by the president (and preachers) which repeats the first part of sentences over and over again  -- "those are the people" -- for maximum emotional, moralizing, co-opting impact.

Here is my published Times response to Rev. Mr. Brooks:
 They thought their southern strategy to suck up the votes of poor white people was safe for all eternity, until a mass shooting in a Black church made everybody notice what a hateful symbol the Confederate flag truly is.

Their sustained ACA-repealing dog-whistle, sending the message that Poors and Blacks don't deserve to live, just got a big wad of gum stuck in it, courtesy of the Court.

And marriage equality becoming the law of the land in all 50 states? It's been a perfect trifecta of loss for the GOP.

So what to do, now that the rebel yell is losing its oomph? The GOP changes course overnight, resurrecting the stale Poppy Bush-era propaganda of "compassionate conservatism" This column is a very cute way of both endorsing Jeb! and repudiating such losers as Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. There's an election to be won, bloodthirsty Neocons waiting to claw their way back into power, fear to be struck into the hearts of America in the name of "national security."

While reciting his Christian litany, Brooks is very careful to emphasize that love for the poor will be purely voluntary. The hyper-rich will not be taxed as they "tithe and nurture" on their own private terms. Opportunity will still abound for pathologizing poor people as conservatives dellcately venture into "underprivileged areas" for daytime photo-ops, and then slash the social safety net to ribbons under cover of darkness.

Brooks's litany of hypocrisy is the smell of GOP desperation in the morning.


Meredith NYC said...

The Times op ed page has well fulfilled the function of offering us a spectrum of conservative and centrist columnists. They can’t pretend their spectrum is adequate without a range of liberal ideas. We need an effective counterweight going into 2016, against the Gop pushing TPP, corporate rule, Christian values and flying the confederate flag.

And the worst is that Brooks is a regular weekly commentator on PBS Newshour – our public, so called ‘non commercial’ network---conveniently starved of govt funding by our ‘social conservatives’.

All the values loss Brooks itemizes at the top of the column are sex related.
But, letting gays legalize their relations in marriage doesn’t affect most of the public. Now polls show they’ve realized gay marriage doesn’t threaten their own marriages.

Unmarried mothers and divorce---the issue is economic problems allowed to fester, affecting psychological stability and security. Stats show stable marriages happen more among the more educated, with decent jobs, who wait to marry until they’re more mature and can form stable, healthy relationships. And who don’t have to marry for basic financial support. Brooks and friends will never discuss this aspect.

What’s causing kids to live in “stressed and fluid living arrangements” is the rapacious, Darwinian form of capitalism of Brooks’ party. He says ‘young people grow up in a sexual and social environment rendered barbaric’ with no common norms. What about the private profit entertainment media, Mr. Brooks, which makes profits on sensationalism, and pushing boundaries in movies, TV, music, advertising? What about the degradation of taste that results, which increases profits? Any criticism of the ‘barbaric’ norms of big money entertainment capitalism?

He says many adults hunger for meaning and goodness. But most of what he deplores results from Gop exploitive policies. Did Brooks ever worry about millions suffering medical bankruptcy over decades on top of suffering their serious illness? While the ‘meaning and goodness’ he yearns for come from the liberals he opposes.

If Brooks yearns for meaning and goodness, he should study the platform of Bernie Sanders, who means it, since he lacks corporate campaign bribes. Is that enough ‘goodness’ Brooks?.

Social conservatives and ‘selfless love’? No, selfish contempt, allied with the party of mass insecurity. Brook’s Grand Old Pious party creates the personal pathology, instability and poverty that NEED charity for basic subsistence, profiting from it, while they smugly scold the poor for their inferior character. Win win.

So conservatives ‘already, but in private, tithe to the poor’? Purely voluntary of course. This is the 19th century gilded age—create the poor, profit off them, then donate to charity with hypocritical piety. But maintain control from govt regulation. Thus the US leads in both poverty and in religiosity among advanced countries.

And what’s this nonsense quoting that Dred Scott decision analogy? Talk about mental pathology? Robert George debated Cornell West on Cspan. It was most nauseating.

Pearl said...

I keep getting notices from the the Democratic party, DCCC. to renew my membership in the party and this is a last notice. If I don't do so, does that prevent me from voting in the next election?
Can someone enlighten me? Thanks. Is there an advantage to keeping my membership which I don't feel like doing?

Karen Garcia said...


Brooks's op-ed proceeds seamlessly from Sunday's GOP-planted story I wrote about the other day. He is not simply espousing "Christian" values off the top of his head, from his own Eureka moment of inspiration. This comes direct from a party strategy session. He and David Frum obviously compared notes. When analyzing a Times op-ed, always looks for motive and opportunism and read between the lines. To be fair, Krugman does the same thing -- echoes White House talking points and links to other sites (Vox, for example) which are also echoing White House talking points. It is how they roll at the Times.


The DCCC is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. To my knowledge, you register your party affiliation (if you so desire) with your local Board of Elections or wherever you mail in your ballot. The DCCC is purely a fund-raising tool. The email you got sounds like a scam designed to part you with some of your cash.

This is the last day of the month so politicians I never heard of are sending me appeals for money. I even got one from Barack, asking me to enter a contest to meet a Hawaiian crab. The political money-grubbing system is batshit insane.

Meredith NYC said...

Totally Karen. We know Brooks, but Krugman let us down.
Krugman’s recent blog linked to Vox piece “Obama is officially one of the most consequential presidents in American history” by Dylan Matthews June 26, which accentuates positives, downplays negatives.

“After Thursday's Supreme Court ruling, there's no longer any doubt: ...Obama will be a particularly towering figure in the history of American progressivism.”---Dylan Matthews.

An MSNBC 10/13/14 on- line piece by Steve Benen--- “ Krugman: Obama among the most ‘successful presidents in American history” links to Krugman’s cover story for Rolling Stone on same.

Benen says, “ Paul Krugman would never be mistaken for an Obama cheerleader....when Obama had high poll numbers, K was a substantive critic. In 2007, Obama’s campaign team was so irritated with Krugman that Obama’s aides dropped an oppo document on him.”
Says 6 years later (2014) it’s the reverse---Obama’s support has gone down, and “‘it’s Krugman who’s come around—with praise qualified at times, but enthusiastic.”

Now our most prominent liberal NYT Nobel economist tells ABC TV that Obama is up there with the most consequential.

Krugman might explain to us--- you see, it’s better to support small baby steps than to demand big steps and rile up stronger rw opposition. We could say baby steps just lets the Gop dictate the debate, and keeps the public from challenging lawmakers.

David Brooks is on a roll......he wrote about the gentlemanly Robert E. Lee last week, and keeping the Flag flying out of respect for the common soldiers. I said No, David. Museums, not public buildings with official approval. Respect for the common soldiers? Please. How about respect for the race that once lived under official dictatorship in USA, and some for the country’s professed ideals?

I wonder how Brooks reacts to Strom Thurmond’s son saying take the flag down and quoting the bible? See Wash Post “A Thurmond of the next generation seeks a new legacy in South” I dare Brooks to write a column on that.

Valerie said...

Meredith (and anyone else who is interested),
You asked Karen for information on whether or not the text of the TPP was released to the public in Australia (amongst other countries involved in the TPP). I just came across an article you might be interested in reading in The Age, a major Australian newspaper. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/tpp--what-we-dont-know-may-hurt-us-20150629-gi04s9.html

It is worth mentioning that Australia is FINALLY waking up and the media is addressing the negative issues surrounding the TPP.