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Smug David Brooks

Having resumed with occasionally posting to the NY Times, yesterday I received the censor stamp yet again.  Thin skinned editor for the absurd David Brooks, who manages to be about as smarmy as on can be.  Below is my response to his item of the day, The Rediscovery of Character.   David is always amazed and in wonder when he discovers new things that have been around forever.



As usual, Mr Brooks let’s his blinders blind him. He casually dismisses the “Marxist” claim that people behave owing to “material” things. Nope, it’s some more nebulous thing called “character.” Grow up in a poor neighborhood, with lousy schools, no hope of a job, and you get bad character and broken windows. Grow up in a rock solid Republican one and you get classy schools (perhaps private), a ticket to Harvard, and then you can go on to Wall Street and bust balls and crash the entire economy with your greed: good character.

It doesn’t take a social scientist to figure out poverty begets poverty, nor does it take a Marxist to notice that in our wonderful plutocracy wealth begets wealth, regardless of the “merits” or the “character.”

David “The Suit” Brooks

Following suit with the censoring nature of his colleagues in rightist arms, Ross Douthat and Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist David Brooks yesterday saw fit to whip out the censor’s stamp for my reply to his Op-Ed item on the virtues of fracking and the lack of virtue in democracy as exampled by people actually learning about and stopping it in their front or back yard.

“but rogue companies have screwed up…”    Rogue companies like, oh, BP. Like Massey Coal. There’s a long list of major corporations which appear to be rogue companies. There was even a US Executive administration that was “rogue”.

If our corporations acted in good faith, if they could be trusted for one honest word, if they did not litter the globe with their messes, then perhaps the conversation could be more civil. But they do lie, they do leave wreckage where ever they go, and they do so in pursuit of profit and as to the rest, devil take the hindmost.

Most of these corporations are firmly Republican in political inclinations. They have bought the government, the judiciary and the press. And Mr Brooks.

The extraction methods of “fracking” leaves ample room for doubts. But that never bothered an American capitalist before as the litter of industrial waste and destruction around our country testifies.

Fracking in the country

For an interesting insight into the nature of “fracking” see this piece, an interview with activist and theater and film director Josh Fox, on his work in making Gasland.

Fracking well, PennsylvaniaToxic fracking slurry pond, Photo: Copyright J Henry Fair (thanks for OK)

One imagines that Mr Brooks, in whatever privileged enclave he lives in, would promptly become a NIMBY were it proposed to start fracking in his neighborhood.  But for those redneck crackers “out there” it’s a bit of money (and a whole lot of money for his friends in the energy business which is the rip-roaring Republican capitalist business) , so what the hell?

How fracking “works”

Like most extractive industries, fracking is a dirty business.  You have to make roads to get where you’re going to drill (often, if not always, paid for with public “socialist” money); you have to get permits from those whose land, public and private, you are going to drill – often done by paying or bribing.  In the case of fracking you must truck in chemicals, water and build a small industrialized base at which you drill, inject your chemical/water/sand compound, blast, and then begin to pump out the gas you have freed up.  Along with the gas comes a slurry of toxics which you must then either store on site, or ship out to dump some other lucky place.   And once you’re done, you can pack up and leave the clean up to the government, or just let those who live around it suffer the consequences.  The good old All-American Way!

Berkeley Pit, Butte Montana.  The lake is highly toxic, and no longer pumped, it seeps into the earth, with houses below it having leakage come into their basements. Butte has a long history of industrial poisoning, quite visible on the streets  in its population.

West Virgina.  Not only is mountain top coal strip mining unsightly, it destroys the adjacent water shed with erosion and tailings being dumped into the local water supply.  Fish and animals disappear.  Humans and towns as well.  But money talks and Massey Energy, famed for its numerous violations of mining regulations and its periodic appearance in headlines over mining “accidents” owns the West Virginia government, as well as the Washington regulatory agency.

Along with many of his fellow 1% pundits, Mr Brooks has been blind-sided and puzzled by the Occupy movement.  Like the others he essentially ignored it until it became too obvious a Pravda tactic, and then like the others – the Time’s Bill Keller, former editor of the rag, being an exemplary of the I-don’t-get-it crew – who, like Mr Brooks, look more and more ridiculous each time they attempt to catch up, they began their diatribes about “class war”.  Living in the cocoon of their wealth, surrounded by like minded souls, they never see the America right before them.  Instead they exchange wisdoms on the golf course or in the board room or in the cozy confines of their gated community or penthouse.  In between they travel in dark glassed limos, surely avoiding an unpleasant neighborhoods, urban or rural.  Naturally, they just don’t get it.  It’s hard to “get it” from a private jet.

Coast to coast



While usually it is Brooks or Douthat which buries my comments at #312 or so, or simply (without using their deleted notice) doesn’t bother to print one, yesterday it was Krugman’s op-ed comments which did so.  I was early (as the early numbers on the other two things I responded to indicated – and I did his first) but was not printed.  Here’s what I wrote:

The bleeding is a purposeful and deliberate policy of the oligarchy which now governs us. Its function is to whip the vast majority into fearful compliance, to render those who work into serfs, and to leave those who cannot find work helpless, stripped of the social safety systems built in the wake of the Great Depression. It is not stupidity or ignorance, but deliberate policy we are seeing: those who advocate austerity wish to take full control of society, and put “in their place” all those who are under them. They commenced by obtaining free trade agreements, manipulating with the IMF, the World Bank and other mechanisms so that they can relocate their profit making businesses to places with the lowest labor costs, least regulations, absence of environmental protections. Having stripped the US of most manufacturing (except weapons and food), they now have a subservient populace willing to work for 3rd world level pay and no benefits.

It is, as the Republicans have yelped, class war-fare, but as Warren Buffet says, it is being done by the wealthy against the middle-class and poor. And they are, as he says, winning.

I don’t know who does the editing in the op-ed section, but it seems some things can’t be said in America.  I guess the above is one of them.

Meantime in the parlance of the day, Obama appears to have come out swinging, as the Republican chorus says, waging “class warfare.”   His proposed package for cutting 3 trillion from the deficit in 10 years actually suggests taxing the richest, and this, in the current Tea Party climate is virtually treasonous, hence the hysteria on the right. (See Mr Brooks today.)

Once upon a time in America

Of course, in Obama fashion, this sop to the left just happens to include many a sop to the right.  As we have grown accustomed to, Obama’s crab-like movement is always from some quasi-centrist position to the right.  However, needing to placate his ostensible left base, which has grown volubly noisier and unhappier with each passing move, Obama needs to posture as a populist.  So out of the bag comes the tough talk about taxing the rich, whose worst prospect is that the Bush give-away will lapse.  Poor devils.

UPDATE:  I spoke too soon.  On Sept 20, responding to a David Brooks column, the censors got out the scissors, right on cue – here’s what I wrote:

Mr Brooks, I concur with you – you are a sap. This likely explains your sappy thinking, and your sappy use of statistics. For example:

\”In reality, the top 10 percent of earners pay nearly 70 percent of all income taxes, according to the I.R.S. \”

But you neglect to say that that same top 10% makes more than (and owns more than) 70% of the wealth of the USA. You then claim (against other evidence) that wealthy people pay 31% in taxes while middling lower income people pay 14. Other statistics, cited in this paper of record, indicate the wealthy pay 17% and the normal $50K a year earner pays 20%.

In this column you drop your sometimes liberal seeming pose and show your fangs for the rich. Not that anyone reading between the lines didn’t see that like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, they usually show in that curious smile of yours. You are a shill for wealth, and nothing more. And that is what makes you a sap.

David Brooks, sap and shill

More Censorship, Sept 22, reply to general editorial comment on execution of Troy Davis:

Justice in America. Racist, classist, a tool to suppress blacks, hispanics, and those with lower incomes. The statistics on the death penalty tilts heavily towards those who are dark skinned, have low incomes. A little of this may be a reflection of the divide of money; the larger part is a reflection of the class conscious/racist administration of justice. Money buys one out of court; poverty puts you in. The nation’s biggest, most devastating criminals wear costly suits and work in finance – but we don’t see them in the courts.

Written by an “ex-con”, 1965-67 for the heinous crime of refusing to fill out form SS 1000 and hence to serve in the governments authorized killing organization.

Troy Davis is scheduled to be yet another victim of another branch of our socially sanctioned killing bureaucracy. In the name of  “justice.”

And, reply to the ever idiotic Thomas Friedman:

“They would understand, as President Eisenhower did….” that our military-industrial complex, eating up 50-70% of each year’s Federal “discretionary spending” was a threat to the nation. He warned of it in his Farewell Speech. Read it. And he warned of all the rest to.

Mr Friedman does not address the bloated military-industrial establishment and how it has severely warped the country – financially, morally, politically. [How could he, one of its ardent cheer-leaders not so long ago as we invade Iraq with Thomas and his pom-poms there on the safe side-lines?] He does not address the toxic language of the right – the same one he cheered for many years; he does not address the corporate “flat world” of which he was a champion, which sent American jobs abroad to places of low-cost labor, no unions, no workplace regulations, no environmental protection laws, and which in turn produced the unemployment in America while making for massive profits in the boardrooms of those same corporations.

Instead Mr Friedman sits back dismayed at the squabbling incurred by the very practices he championed. And then he pretends to be a wise man passing out instructions for the betterment of our future. He should retire.