Friday, March 20

Who You Callin' Myopic, Four Eyes?

David Brooks, "Perverse Cosmic Myopia". March 19

CONSISTENCY gets horrible Press, thank you Mr. Emerson, and undeservedly. Without consistency there's no meringue, no concrete, and no pancakes, though personally I pretty much equate the last two. Without consistency watercolor is spackle and spackle is all over the floor. Given that "Tiny" is the most popular size in Minds anyway, is it too much to ask that Consistency's many virtues come in for the occasional extolment?

Just to give you one example: if the New York Times had placed its daily columnist listing where it always goes, instead of selling the right half of the page to Lowe's--for that matter, if Lowe's itself concentrated on running a retail chain instead of reminding me that Spring is when grass starts to grow and barbecue grills to smolder, and spent some of that ad money hiring and retaining cashiers who could put in a full three minutes work without stopping to take personal calls on their cellphones--then I could have avoided Brooks' column like I'd planned and would be outdoors this very minute screwing up the lap joint cuts for the sagging half of my garden gate, necessitating the purchase of more lumber at...Lowe's. Chaos theory, dudes.

I ran into the link in the middle of the page, and I clicked on it, and I'm sorry.

For one thing, of the various stratagems and personal tics (pop sociologist, Professor of Applied Burkanomics, Former Liberal, Reformulator of Red Meat Republican Talking Points for Sensitive Stomachs) Brooks has developed over the years in an effort to save his lunch money, Passive-Aggressive Brooks is the one I find most infuriating, I think because the literacy level required to read his stuff precludes, at least in theory, falling for this sort of thing over and over:

In times like these, you’d expect prudent leaders to prepare for the worst. After all, the pessimists have recently been vindicated by events. But that’s apparently too painful to think about. In normal times, leaders like to focus on the short term at the expense of the long term. But now the short term is really confusing, so leaders take refuge in projects that are years or decades away.

The president of the United States has decided to address this crisis while simultaneously tackling the four most complicated problems facing the nation: health care, energy, immigration and education. Why he has not also decided to spend his evenings mastering quantum mechanics and discovering the origins of consciousness is beyond me.

So he ought to leave those things for a later administration, one that, say, looks more like that American political supermajority that is centered somewhere near David Brooks' transverse colon?

Aren't every one of those 'tangents' actually integral to future economic health? Didn't the previous administration--the one that so resembled Brooks' colon at the time--address education, immigration, and energy policy (we think that's what Cheney was up to) in its opening months in office? Okay, so their only health care initiative was deciding who got the Cipro, and "Cut Taxes!" doesn't really take a whole lot of calculation time, but, what? they get points for not doin' shit, and doin' what shit they did wrong, and having time left over, because they didn't have to waste any effort cleaning up the Sewer of Despond, because they were only just then creating it? Jesus Christ, Dave, just because you've got a two-day workweek.

And y'know what? Our fucking Presidential campaigns are two years in length now, even longer if you're Sarah Palin. Candidate Obama had a position on all of those issues, and a whole shitload more, as we say in Indiana; I know because I read 'em all, the better to explain his positions to his supporters during the primaries. Th' fuck do you want? Blue-ribbon Commissions? He's the President, and these colossal messes, generally agreed to be so, are the result of a thirty-year plan to increase the wealth of the wealthy by encouraging the mass transference of paper wealth and the abrogation of regulation and anti-trust policies which kept things reasonably honest. Public education is a fifty-year-old political football kept in play so your party could appeal to racists while retaining what it felt was enough deniability to refute the charge. Immigration? Always been an issue; owes its present prominence to your party looking for new avenues of crypto-racist appeal.

Is this sort of shit supposed to pass for concern? It doesn't. It doesn't pass for anything much, except a prominent "thinker" caging political talking points in spasms of Faux Concern. When the President's initiatives have failed due to over-reaching, then you'll have a point. And then, of course, is when you'll write it up as Your Opinion All Along, not hide it under a bowl of mush.

But we were talking about Consistency. How 'bout trying some sometime?
The Washington political class has spent the past week going into made-for-TV hysterics over $165 million in A.I.G. bonuses. We’re in the middle of a multitrillion-dollar crisis, and our political masters — always willing to throw themselves into any issue that is understandable on cable television — have decided to risk destroying the entire bank-rescue plan because of bonuses that account for 0.001 percent of the annual G.D.P.

Christ, y'know, I really don't remember, back when you were washing the wishy over the enormously unfair cost of GM's labor obligations, you ever converting it into percent of GDP, let alone comparing it to the cost of doing nothing. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars going to a few dozen employees doesn't count, because the US economy is so large. Th' fuck does that have to do with anything? Billions loaned to US automakers, though, is controversial because some of the money will go to thousands of workers who would otherwise be unemployed, devastating whole communities. Yeah, I see where your principles come into play there.

Sideshow? Some might say undercard; some might consider the vast number of people who've been left to fend for themselves the past thirty years with ketchup as their only vegetable. You'll forgive me for calling you a liar again, Mr. Brooks, a liar so profound he now imagines that great American landscape, whether carefully manicured and sprayed with enough 2,4-D to defoliate Southeast Asia, or fadishly gone to Bohemian seed, cares one whit about how "miniscule" a $4 million bonus seems when compared to the age of the Solar System.


Kordo said...

hehe, I knew it. I saw the headline; "Perverse Cosmic Myopia", and I allowed myself to hope. Perhaps Mr. Brooks has had (another) Road to Damascus moment. He has gone back and re-read everything he's written in the past 10 years and reevaluated it in light of new-ish evidence, and decided to come clean. Go ahead, laugh; I suffer these bouts of optimism daily, right about the time the first burst of caffeine hits my central nervous system. The title certainly sounds like it applies to Bobo. No such luck. Halfway into the column, I checked on Riley, 'cause I knew what was coming. Thank you, Doghouse. Your column kept me from pulling all my hair out today. Yer a good fella, I don't care what they say about you...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

"The pessimists have been recently vindicated by events?"

WTF? Time to slap your inner cheerleader down.

Right after saying you'd expect prudent leaders to prepare for the worst with nary a mention of our previous Leader?

Brooks needs a serious ass-kicking.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Also, "(whatever topic)... is beyond me" could serve as a shorter for nearly every David Brooks column.

Hattie said...

Isn't what he is saying really this? "Sure we have problems, but we can still afford to allow mediocrities like me to blow it out their shorts."

Uncle Omar said...

Mr. Bobo has his own entry at I recommend it to all of his fans.

Kathy said...

jeez, is President Obama supposed to ignore serious problems because he has a lot of them?

Does a Fireman holding the water hose ignore screams for help from the burning house, or shrug at the sight of the arsonist strolling away from the scene? What *would* He do? GET HELP? Or is that as far "beyond" Brooks as, well, actual functioning consciousness?

Imagine a scale with Brooks stupid on one side and his dishonesty on the other: would the scale balance perfectly, or would one trait outweigh the other so much it would go flying thru the air and smack into somebody's face like a really awful pie?

Or is this an irresistible force/unmovable object scenario?

ciocia said...

The Washington political class has spent the past week going into made-for-TV hysterics over $165 million in A.I.G. bonuses. We’re in the middle of a multitrillion-dollar crisis, and our political masters — always willing to throw themselves into any issue that is understandable on cable television — have decided to risk destroying the entire bank-rescue plan because of bonuses that account for 0.001 percent of the annual G.D.P.

O.K., that's just pure jealousy. Conservatives have been whipping up made-for-TV hysterics against the poor for decades, and CNBC tried whipping up some against the poor and homeowners in a "grass roots" movement that nobody cares about. Now people are genuinely outraged--without much whipping-- against the conservative's own political clients, and that's gotta hurt.

R. Porrofatto said...

To be fair, the Bush administration tackled the health crisis by establishing Health Savings Accounts, and had only enough Americans taken advantage of their investability HSAs would surely have salvaged more than a few currently disputed banker bonuses. And has Brooks forgotten Bush's visionary approach to tackling Social Security by turning the SS Trust Fund into feed corn to fatten our Wall Street heifers? Who wants a chicken in every pot when you can have a Porterhouse on every grill! (In keeping with your Spring BBQ meme.)

And what a powerful point he makes with his shameless conversion of bonuses into percent of GDP! I can only counter with the less embarrassing illustration that if you stacked two hundred dollar bills every day since the birth of Jesus, you'd still be $20 million short.

Sator Arepo said...

Big government is, apparently, evil--unless giving a bunch of money to rich, corrupt executives who are already rich.

Mo MoDo said...

At least Maureen Dowd is still leading the pitchfork parade. If only because Wall Street execs are buying bling that she would rather have.

heydave said...

Pissed off enough yet? There's a program on NPR called Speaking of Faith. A little bit interesting, but greatly sucky much of the time, the host actually had Bobo on recently:
Go get pissed off more.