Posts tagged David Brooks

The Neo-Conservative That Is One

Here's a young-looking photo of

David Brooks (2004): neo-conservative creepy spendthrift fascist

Hey, man, remember 10 years ago, back when David Brooks wrote a column in which he disavowed neo-conservative as a political label, insisted that there was no coherent group of neo-conservatives, insisted that the people labeled neocons had no real influence on the Bush administration and agreed about basically nothing other than foreign policy, and then went on to ridicule everyone who wrote about neocon influence on the Republican Party and to mock them in the most abusive terms, as full-mooner, probably anti-Semitic, conspiracy theorists?

In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for “conservative” and neo is short for “Jewish”) travel in widely different circles and don’t actually have much contact with one another. The ones outside government have almost no contact with President Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle’s insidious power over administration policy, but I’ve been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he’s shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings.

It’s true that both Bush and the people labeled neocons agree that Saddam Hussein represented a unique threat to world peace. But correlation does not mean causation. All evidence suggests that Bush formed his conclusions independently. Besides, if he wanted to follow the neocon line, Bush wouldn’t know where to turn because while the neocons agree on Saddam, they disagree vituperatively on just about everything else. (If you ever read a sentence that starts with Neocons believe, there is a 99.44 percent chance everything else in that sentence will be untrue.)

–David Brooks (2004), The Era of Distortion
New York Times (January 6, 2004).

Boy howdy, that was a time.

Here's an older looking photo of

David Brooks (2013): creepy spendthrift fascist neo-conservative

The conservatism that Kristol was referring to is neoconservatism. Neocons came in for a lot of criticism during the Iraq war, but neoconservatism was primarily a domestic policy movement. Conservatism was at its peak when the neocons were dominant and nearly every problem with the Republican Party today could be cured by a neocon revival. . . .

–David Brooks (2013), The Neocon Revival
New York Times (August 1, 2013)

So, in light of a New York Times correction ten years in the making, I will no longer be calling David Brooks a creepy spendthrift fascist. It’s back to neo-conservative, which is of course a much more succinct way of saying the same thing.

In case you were wondering, the domestic policy movement Brooks is so eager to revive, incidentally, is the use of an expansive welfare state for Right-wing social engineering. Or here’s the creepy spendthrift fascist neo-conservative Brooks (2013), in his own words The crucial issue for the health of the nation, in this view, is not the size of government; it is the character of the people. Neocons opposed government programs that undermined personal responsibility and community cohesion, but they supported those programs that reinforced them or which had no effect. Neocons put values at the center of their governing philosophy, but their social policy was neither morally laissez-faire like the libertarians nor explicitly religious like some social conservatives. Neocons mostly sought policies that would encourage self-discipline. In almost every area of public concern, we are seeking to induce persons to act virtuously, whether as schoolchildren, applicants for public assistance, would-be lawbreakers, or voters and public officials, James Q. Wilson wrote.

You may have noticed that back in 2004, those were exactly the kinds of sentences that David Brooks predicted to have a 99.44% chance of being entirely untrue; since at the time he insisted that the only thing the people labeled neocons agreed on at all was an aggressive National Greatness foreign policy. But now in 2013 he simply shoves the whole thing to one side within a single sentence, and insists that the main thing they really had in common was their aggressively paternal-statist commitments in domestic policy. I don’t know; I guess maybe something must have happened in the interim so that it is now more politic to talk up neoconservative ideas on domestic policy rather than neoconservative ideas on foreign policy?

Just spitballing here.

Also.

Perhaps the stupidest sentence written on the New York Times Op-Ed page in 2010

I think we have a winner.

It’s a bit early to call it, especially in such a competitive field, but right now I am really leaning towards this contribution from David Brooks:

He’d do it because this is the beating center of American life — the place where the trajectory of American politics is being determined.

— David Brooks, Midwest at Dusk, New York Times (November 4, 2010)

Keep in mind what an impressive achievement is just to be the stupidest sentence in a single Op-Ed column by a commentator who apparently cannot find the Midwest U.S. on a map.[1] But while most of the column is just dumb, the notion that the beating center of American life is simply identical with, or even has a good goddamn to do with, the trajectory of American politics (meaning the state-by-state results of seasonal U.S. elections) or whether or not the U.S. will remain a predominant power (!) is not only stupid, but immensely narrow-minded and pernicious, and a pretty good one-sentence illustration of everything that is wrong with David Brooks, as a commentator and as a human being.

(Via William Easterly, via Jesse Walker 2010-11-05.)

See also:

  1. [1]… that region of America that starts in central New York and Pennsylvania and then stretches out through Ohio and Indiana before spreading out to include Wisconsin and Arkansas. Dude, really?

Monday Lazy Linking

    <ul>
<li><p><a href="http://catandgirl.com/?p=2626">On the Town with Bad Decision Dinosaur. Dorothy, <cite>Cat and Girl</cite> (2010-09-24)</a>.  <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/MarketUrbanism/~3/NRDeFEBdzCs/">Food deserts and zoning. Stephen Smith, <cite>Market Urbanism</cite> (2010-09-13)</a>. <q>by Stephen Smith The other day I put up a post detailing the restrictions that small-scale restaurants and food carts face, but I should mention that grocery stores and supermarkets also face similar restrictions.  Like restrictions on restaurants, they end hitting poor, urban, black neighborhoods the hardest, creating the phenomenon...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thesuperfluousman/~3/N189OnyRVY8/apparently-starvation-blockades-are-bad.html">Apparently, starvation blockades are bad for the economy.  Who knew? John Markley, <cite>The Superfluous Man</cite> (2010-09-06)</a>. <q>David Brooks has a column in The New York Times entitled "Nation Building Works," in which he attempts to vindicate the US government's past seven years in Iraq. From the article (via Cheryl Cline at der Blaustrumpf):“Iraq has made substantial progress since 2003,” the International Monetary Fund reports. Inflation is...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://www.oblomovka.com/wp/2010/09/14/haystack-vs-how-the-internet-works/">Haystack vs How The Internet Works. Danny O'Brien, <cite>Danny O&#39;Brien&#39;s Oblomovka</cite> (2010-09-14)</a>. <q>There’s been a lot of alarming but rather brief statements in the past few days about Haystack, the anti-censorship software connected with the Iranian Green Movement.  Austin Heap, the co-creator of Haystack and co-founder of parent non-profit, the Censorship Research Center, stated that the CRC had “halted ongoing testing of...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://reason.com/blog/2010/09/09/libertarian-review-archives-on"><em>Libertarian Review</em> Archives Online. Brian Doherty, <cite>Brian Doherty: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2010-09-09)</a>. <q>One of Reason&#39;s high-quality competitors from the 1970s-80s has a semi-complete archives now available online. It&#39;s a fabulous compendium of Carter-ish era libertarian historical fun. David Boaz explains the mag and what it accomplished, focusing on its amazing editor the late Roy Childs.</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://jonoscript.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/openness-is-a-lot-of-work/">Openness is a lot of work. jonoscript, <cite>Not The User&#39;s Fault</cite> (2010-09-24)</a>. <q>You can’t just make something “open” and expect magic to happen. Openness is a lot of work. This is true whether you’re making an open-source software project, a website with user-generated content, a political movement, a charity, or any other kind of organization where you expect volunteers to show up...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://binarybonsai.com/2010/09/18/george-lucas-stole-chewbacca-but-its-okay/">George Lucas Stole Chewbacca, But It’s Okay. Michael, <cite>Binary Bonsai</cite> (2010-09-18)</a>. <q>Foreword The creation of Star Wars is comprehensive mythology onto itself, populated by rarely documented anecdotes, the likes of “the Millennium Falcon was inspired by a hamburger, with the outrigger cockpit being an olive off to the side” (1) or “My original inspiration for Chewbacca was my dog Indiana.” (2),...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cato-unbound/~3/Y-_iNQgR_QI/">Of Hayek and Rubber Tomatoes. Timothy B. Lee, <cite>Cato Unbound</cite> (2010-09-24)</a>. <q>Henry Farrell writes that “Hayek argues that markets are superior because they allow the ‘dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess’ to be aggregated in a useful way.” He then faults Hayek for failing to acknowledge a key limitation of the price mechanism:...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/c4ss/~3/UkqloCzuQrA/4018">“I’ve Never Seen a Poor Person Give Anyone a Job” Kevin Carson, <cite>Center for a Stateless Society</cite> (2010-09-16)</a>. <q>“I’ve never seen a poor person give anyone a job.”  The cliche is commonly repeated on the Right, in polemics against what they call “class warfare” — not that there’s actually much of it being waged by Democrats, except when they’re fighting on the same side as the Republicans.  See...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://knifetricks.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-am-detained-by-feds-for-not-answering.html">I Am Detained By The Feds For Not Answering Questions. PKL, <cite>KNIFE TRICKS</cite> (2010-04-23)</a>. <q>Sherman Oaks, CaliforniaI was detained last night by federal authorities at San Francisco International Airport for refusing to answer questions about why I had travelled outside the United States.The end result is that, after waiting for about half an hour and refusing to answer further questions, I was released –...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://knifetricks.blogspot.com/2010/09/10-brief-responses-to-700-comments.html">10 Brief Responses To 700 Comments About Refusing To Answer Questions At Passport Control. PKL, <cite>KNIFE TRICKS</cite> (2010-09-11)</a>. <q>Phuket Island, ThailandMy post about refusing to answer questions from Customs and Border Protection officers when re-entering the U.S. has resulted in a lot of debate. My thanks to everyone who joined the conversation, including the authors of the more than one hundred posts that called me a douchebag. Let...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/MarketUrbanism/~3/g4soszEh-Lg/">Deregulating food. Stephen Smith, <cite>Market Urbanism</cite> (2010-09-11)</a>. <q>by Stephen Smith Urban planners like to discuss heavy things – roads, buildings, cars, trains. Food, though an integral part of humans’ lives, generally doesn’t enter into the equation as more than a footnote. This may be because food service is governed by different departments than buildings, streets, and vehicles,...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)</em></p></li>

Friday Lazy Linking

    <ul>
<li><p><a href="http://twitter.com/feministhulk/statuses/22731440679">feministhulk: SO MUCH HEGEMONY TO SMASH, SO LITTLE TIME! HULK OFTEN RELY HEAVILY ON DAY PLANNER, THOUGH TRY TO STAY FLEXIBLE. <cite>Twitter / feministhulk</cite> (2010-09-01)</a>. <q>feministhulk: SO MUCH HEGEMONY TO SMASH, SO LITTLE TIME! HULK OFTEN RELY HEAVILY ON DAY PLANNER, THOUGH TRY TO STAY FLEXIBLE.</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2010-09-01.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/reason/HitandRun/~3/m6wW8U4AUkI/concern-about-police-secrecy-t">Concern About Police Secrecy = "Tilting at Windmills"? Radley Balko, <cite>Hit &amp; Run</cite> (2010-09-01)</a>. <q>My column this week was about the continuing secrecy of Virginia's largest police departments and the way the state's law enforcement community is opposing efforts to make the departments even marginally more transparent. The journalist sounding the alarm about all of this is Michael Pope, who writes for Northern Virginia's...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2010-09-01.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://cherylcline.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/can-preschoolers-think/">Can Preschoolers Think? cherylcline, <cite>der Blaustrumpf</cite> (2010-09-02)</a>. <q>As I’ve said before, the NYT often shows up The Onion in terms of laughs.  This week, the NYT featured an unintentionally funny article about preschool depression accompanied by even funnier photos: Kiran didn’t seem like the type of kid parents should worry about. “He was the easy one,” his...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-09-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/c4ss/~3/OL-PfrlK6Fo/3788">Social Individualism and Solidarity. Darian Worden, <cite>Center for a Stateless Society</cite> (2010-08-26)</a>. <q>A functional libertarian political order will rise the strongest from fertile ground. To maximize individual liberty it is necessary to promote the best kind of individualism at all levels. Controversy over the building of various mosques and the Park 51 Islamic cultural center shows the influence of anti-Muslim sentiment on...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-09-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://libertarian-labyrinth.blogspot.com/2010/08/new-anarchist-platformist-archive.html">New Anarchist Platformist archive. Shawn P. Wilbur, <cite>Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth</cite> (2010-08-24)</a>. <q>Anarchism and the Platformist Tradition is a new archive with a nice collection of platformist texts, starting, naturally, with the 1926 Organisational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft), but including both prior and subsequent contributions to the platformist tradition. Whether or not you ultimately agree with the approaches...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-09-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://libertarian-labyrinth.blogspot.com/2010/08/practical-support-for-microenterprise.html">Practical support for microenterprise. Shawn P. Wilbur, <cite>Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth</cite> (2010-08-24)</a>. <q>I've been featuring the 500 Friends of Reading Frenzy! Kickstarter project in the sidebar here since it was launched. It's now in its last week for funding, and 75% on its way to a goal of $5000. Reading Frenzy is a remarkable operation: a tiny shop which has been able...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-09-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://libertarian-labyrinth.blogspot.com/2010/08/e-armand-gulf.html">E. Armand, &quot;The Gulf&quot; Shawn P. Wilbur, <cite>Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth</cite> (2010-08-08)</a>. <q>This short piece by Emile Armand appeared in Horace Traubel's The Conservator in 1910. It's an interesting piece to have appeared in a magazine dominated by the shadow of Walt Whitman—and an interesting example of Armand's thought.THE GULFAll the societies of the vanguard—Social Democrats, revolutionaries of all shades, various communists—say...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-09-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://cherylcline.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/what-is-david-brooks-for">What is David Brooks for? <cite>der Blaustrumpf » What is David Brooks for?</cite> (2010-09-02)</a>. Vulture Economics (Cont'd): every mushroom cloud has a silver lining. <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-09-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/c4ss/~3/KsmFKtHl4h4/3874">Some Hard Facts on Copyright. Kevin Carson, <cite>Center for a Stateless Society</cite> (2010-09-02)</a>. <q>I’ve referred to Nina Paley quite a bit in recent columns.  Her song “Copying is Not Theft” and her Mimi and Eunice cartoons skewer the moral pretensions of the Copyright Nazis more effectively than just about anything I’ve seen. In a more serious vein, I just ran onto her interview...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-09-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://reason.com/archives/2010/09/02/the-ruling-class">The Ruling Class. Jesse Walker, <cite>Jesse Walker: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2010-09-02)</a>. <q>Few essays attracted as much attention from right-wing readers this summer as &quot;America&#39;s Ruling Class—and the Perils of Revolution,&quot; an extended argument that an incestuous social set &quot;rules uneasily over the majority of Americans.&quot; Written by Angelo Codevilla of the Claremont Institute and first published in The American Spectator, this...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-03.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2010/08/04/spinster-aunt-casts-jaundiced-eye-at-popular-television-show/">Spinster aunt casts jaundiced eye at popular television show. Jill, <cite>I Blame The Patriarchy</cite> (2010-08-04)</a>. <q>Hollywood has long been recognized by the Global Cabal of Spinster Aunts as Ground Zero for American misogyny. Like everything that gurgles forth from that foul city, this Mad Men sensation that’s sweeping the nation has many sicko antifeminist repercussions. Never heard of Mad Men? It’s a “critically acclaimed” —...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-03.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/arthurmag/~3/oSeBnTsCEKY/">Revolutionary Letter #4 by Diane di Prima. editor@arthurmag.com, <cite>ARTHUR MAGAZINE</cite> (2010-08-29)</a>. <q>Revolutionary Letter #4 by Diane di Prima Left to themselves people grow their hair. Left to themselves they take off their shoes. Left to themselves they make love sleep easily share blankets, dope &amp; children they are not lazy or afraid they plant seeds, they smile, they speak to one...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2010-09-03.)</em></p></li>

Wednesday Lazy Linking

  • Walking While Black in America Today… Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality with a Ten-Foot-Long Flexible Trunk (2010-01-25). Ta-Nehisi Coates: Ta-Nehisi Coates: Fear, Parenting, and the Police: We talked some, last week, about how fear drives black parents. I think this is the sort of case that I was thinking about: The photos taken by Jordan Miles’ mother show his face covered with raw, red bruises, his cheek… (Linked Wednesday 2010-01-27.)

  • Populism. Ezra Klein (2010-01-27). Stopped clocks and all that, I guess. The rest of Brooks’s column is, in fact, nonsense; but this is spot-on: “Populism is popular with the ruling class. Ever since I started covering politics, the Democratic ruling class has been driven by one fantasy: that voters will get so furious at people with M.B.A.’s that they will hand power to people with Ph.D.’s. The Republican ruling class has been driven by the fantasy that voters will get so furious at people with Ph.D.’s that they will hand power to people with M.B.A.’s. Members of the ruling class love populism because they think it will help their section of the elite gain power.”

    Of course, the reason that the rest of Brooks’s column is nonsense is because Brooks identifies this as a problem with “populism.” It’s not. It’s a problem with populism as filtered through electoral politics. Or, to get to the heart of it, it’s a problem with electoral politics. Which is always based around zero-sum power plays and consists more or less entirely in only nominally opposed power-elite factions playing off fear of one another in order to secure support from a captive voter base. (Linked Wednesday 2010-01-27.)