More deep thoughts from David Brooks (and a few other people)

David Brooks (whose er, wisdom I previously discussed here) is back to offer us some new insight on Occupy Wall Street: They’re completely trivial compared to daring rebels who agree with Brooks that the way forward is to cut Social Security (as he advocates elsewhere) and trim the deficit.
Brooks is factually wrong in some of his assertions (as noted here and here) and, like a lot of columns by well-off professionals calling for sacrifices, his essay comes off reeking of the privilege of someone who’s comfortably employed: Brooks admits we’re doing nothing for short-term problems with unemployment and under-water homes, and he doesn’t call for that to change: Instead he says the important thing is to fix the long-term problems such as the deficit, instead of “trivial sideshows” that blame the super-rich for everything (which, as I’ve mentioned, is a distortion). One of his suggestions is that we adopt a tax plan offering unlimited deductions for business investments and savings. A good deal for the rich, who have the money to do both, much worse for the poor, who have little to spare for either. And, of course, cuts to Social Security mean they’ll be even worse off later.
The article is also interesting for reflecting what many critics have observed is a fundamental assumption of the pundit world (and a lot of supposed hard reporting): Centrism is a good thing in and of itself. Never mind what the centrist position is (though it usually turns out to be something the pundit approves of) or whether it makes sense. Centrism means you’re rejecting the extremes of right and left, so you must have attained truth!
Of course, given how far our country has slid right in many ways the past, that means the “true” position automatically shifts to the right. And since there have to be extremes to justify centrism, the fact Obama is the centrist of their fantasies (when pundits discuss the need for a Centrist Third Party, it’s usually pretty close to his policies) must be ignored.
In some ways, Rep. Peter King discussing the terrible, terrible threat of the media glorifying Occupy Wall Street or the group influencing policy is even more annoying. This is, after all, the toad who glorified IRA terrorism for years, including asserting that if civilians are killed during an IRA attack on the military, well, cry him a river. And denying any resemblance between the Afghan & Iraqi insurgencies and the noble heroism of the IRA, whom he prefers to compare to Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (of course, when apartheid still ruled Africa, conservatives branded the ANC as a terrifying communist threat).
His credibility on anything ought to be zero.
And segueing to someone else with zero credibility, John Yoo——the Bush administration lawyer who believes there’s no legal restriction on the president torturing children to get information from their parents——weighs in on the assassination of Awlaki, which I discussed earlier this week. Unsurprisingly, Yoo’s conclusion is that Obama isn’t murderous enough: Awlaki is a member of an enemy armed force so Obama should have had him gunned down without a second thought! None of this crap about rules of engagement and trying to capture Americans, just shoot him! Never mind the dubious evidence to prove Awlaki was any such thing.
Yoo (and Cheney’s pet torture-justifying lawyer, David Addington) strike me as the White House equivalent of a mob mouthpiece in their endorsement of the president’s power: “Mr. Capone, legally you can’t burn down someone’s house, but I think if we apply this interpretation, you can claim it’s justified …” Although Obama’s choices aren’t much better. As Glenn Greenwald observes at the last link, if all you need is a White House lawyer to rubber-stamp the decision, then (as one of Nixon’s lackeys put it), if the president does it, it can’t be illegal.


Filed under Politics

9 responses to “More deep thoughts from David Brooks (and a few other people)

  1. Wish you were a journalist with a broader audience. Keep up the analysis, and getting us to think in new and broader directions. So many people’s deteriorating living conditions depend on this kind of writing and talk. Cheers

    • frasersherman

      I used to write the same sort of thing when I was a journalist. Doing it in a virulently red state town was an interesting experience.

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