Michael Maiello's picture

    Respect Your Betters!

    Spare me, David Brooks.

    His column today is about columns.  Well, it starts off about monument designs and why they stink now.  Seriously, who really sees the relative decline of monument esthetics as emblematic of what's wrong with America today?  The music used to be better, too, David.  Maybe that's the problem?  Or maybe you're just wrong?

    Whatever.  Brooks thinks that monuments suck because Americans have become bad followers.  Members of The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street (which Brooks incorrectly stands up as moral equivalents) don't "respect the authoritah" of their betters.

    He really does say this.

    "Then there is our fervent devotion to equality, to the notion that all people are equal and deserve equal recognition and respect. It’s hard in this frame of mind to define and celebrate greatness, to hold up others who are immeasurably superior to ourselves."

    For one thing, we definitely celebrate greatness in this society.  We celebrate great fortunes, such as those obtained by the celebrity billionaires who we defer to frequently on issues of politics and the economy.  We celebrate great athletes.  We celebrate great authors and musicians.  Right now, in the back offices of Dag World Headquarters, blogger Donal is probably celebrating some accomplishment from Obscure Sports Quarterly.  My own avatar features the greatest performer in professional wrestling of all time.  Whoo!

    But, no, David Brooks, I do not look to the current Supreme Court, to my congressional representative, to either of my Senators or to the President and think, "that person is immeasurably superior to me, I should do what they say."

    This is not because I think I am a special snowflake, even though I do think that.  It's also not that I think anything particularly bad about our leaders, be they elected, appointed or in the military.  I just find very few of them to be "immeasurably superior to me."  They are where they are through a combination of their efforts, abilities, interests and luck.

    In my own life, I can try my best to define my interests, hone my abilities and try hard to achieve what I want to achieve.  I cannot control my luck any more than the people that David Brooks thinks are "better" can.  So long as their is luck in the equation, and nepotism and the opportunities at birth that some of us had and some of us didn't, there is no reason for anyone to genuflect to anyone else as "immeasurably superior."

    I like Atrios.  He has many more readers than I do.  He can even blog for a living whereas Genghis pays me a mere $60,000 a quarter to write here (editors note: this is a lie).  But I don't even think he's a better writer than I am.  Sorry, Duncan Black!  Except that I don't have to apologize because Black doesn't seek my adulation.

    Sayeth Brooks:

    "I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem. Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions. That’s not mostly because our institutions perform much worse than they did in 1925 and 1955, when they were widely trusted. It’s mostly because more people are cynical and like to pretend that they are better than everything else around them. Vanity has more to do with rising distrust than anything else."

    Obviously, I think this is utter nonsense.  I think that people have lost faith in their governing institutions because their governing institutions have sold out to large corporate interests, allowed the people rather than the perpetrators to suffer the costs of a collapsing economy and, oh yes, was able to find money to invade Iraq but not to increase Social Security and Medicare benefits.  Arrogance and vanity are not the issue here.  The criminality and incompetence of the elites has, quite naturally, dimished their authority.

    But there goes David Brooks, droning on about statues. Which, oddly enough, are graven images, something that the ultimate authority recognized by Brooks (but not me) seems to take issue with.  But, hey, a better man than I am wouldn't joke about such things.



    On one hand I agree with you.  But Brooks is making a point which I think does need to be addressed.

    Those “Question Authority” bumper stickers no longer symbolize an attempt to distinguish just and unjust authority. They symbolize an attitude of opposing authority.

    I don't think he made the argument there is a moral equivalency between Tea and Occupy (although he made believe so). He merely was stating that if one opposes authority because it is authority:

    You end up with movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Parties that try to dispense with authority altogether.

    The problem he says we have is one I think we do need to be able to think better about [emphasis mine]:

    But the main problem is our inability to think properly about how power should be used to bind and build. Legitimate power is built on a series of paradoxes: that leaders have to wield power while knowing they are corrupted by it; that great leaders are superior to their followers while also being of them; that the higher they rise, the more they feel like instruments in larger designs. The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials are about how to navigate those paradoxes.

    I had a few civil discussions here at dagblog during the Occupy movement's heyday about the need for leaders if the movement was to be successful long-term.  I would argue that one of the key reasons Occupy is where it is today is because of the unwillingness to allow leaders to rise up to help guide it (it is just as likely that those who ended up in leadership roles would have derailed the movement faster than it did without them).

    We might not like the sound of it, but

    To have good leaders you have to have good followers — able to recognize just authority, admire it, be grateful for it and emulate it.

    In Brooks defense, he is not saying that if someone is a leader, then you must follow.  He is saying that should a good leader come along, one should follow - which isn't necessarily an inherently bad thing  (although Brooks may be of the ilk to ask one to do so blindly once the decision is made to follow).

    Well, of course you would say that, Trope.  You say this because you want us to live in a police state.  I kid!  I kid!  You make a good point.  Maybe the problem is in Brooks' tone or his reverence for a kind of "great men" theory of how society should operate.  The Brooksian hero wants that statue built.  Maybe the people who most deserve our attention don't.


    Yes I do think we need to differentiate between the notion of leadership (political or otherwise) and the folks Brooks would like to be leaders.

    The Brooksian hero wants that statue built.

    This probably sums up where he is coming from.  Also the great leaders became great because they desired to be in superior place - there is a year book photo that bounces around the internet where the kid's quote beneath is "it is not enough that I win, everybody else must lose." 

    This is the core of everything Brooks writes. He is a nostalgic elitist.

    The problem is that the elite he loves has actually ruined the country, and it's precisely the people he holds up as moral standards that are the rotting core of the problem.

    As my mentor. the great Abbie Hoffman said in a different context, he is a shondeto the goyim ...


    Thanks fer nuttin' Res...now I can't edit the fourth redundant post without a working link. It seems the server thinks preview is save...

    I didn't know you could go all the way back to the original.

    Sorry JR 

    Maybe admin can clear the redundancy? 

    Hey, David Brooks knows something about vanity. Also about pompous, precious and prissy. (o/t, praying in advance for no double post...let's see...)

    10 style points to D for the Cartman reference. Brooks is Cartman come to life. ("Die, hippie, die...")

    Brooks really stretched to make his point.  What is that saying about correlation versus causation?  That said, the Michael Lewis essay Brooks is riffing on makes some excellent points, perhaps chief among them:

     ...These aren’t the men we knew. It is not easy, of course, to make a succinct statement in sculptural form of the essence of a man’s life. It is something American art has always struggled with, especially in our chronic divided loyalty between realism and idealism. But this is the least of the problems with the Eisenhower and King memorials. They fail fundamentally as monuments, not because they misunderstand the nature of their subjects, but because they misunderstand what a monument is, or should be.
    Maybe worst of all is what political correctness did to FDR's memorial.  
    During the design process, anti-smoking groups succeeded in eliminating Roosevelt’s ubiquitous cigarette holder. Evidently Halprin and his collaborators did not recognize that Roosevelt’s cigarette holder was not the sign of a lamentable addiction, but the president’s most effective visual prop. He clenched it in his teeth with his jaw thrust forward so that it pointed upwards jauntily, to create an image of buoyant and unshakeable optimism. At the same time, pressure from activist groups for the disabled ensured that FDR would be depicted as wheelchair-bound and handicapped with polio—a fact he carefully suppressed in all public appearances. So the element he flaunted was eliminated, the element he concealed was stressed, and the rakish and jaunty cavalier was transformed into a differently-abled and rather prim non-smoker. I can’t help but think that Roosevelt himself was much more gifted in creating inspiring visual imagery than the makers of his monument.
    It is a mystery why Brooks tried to connect great monuments to authority when the essay he is drawing on correctly connects them with greatness aka excellence -- of the subject as well as the sculptor.
    What can we do about this? First, we can recognize that it is possible to make a convincing monument with the means of modern architecture. Eero Saarinen showed that it could be done with his Gateway Arch at St. Louis: an exquisite portal that opens to the west, it is our version of a Roman triumphal arch. It is abstract, but its visual logic is direct and persuasive, showing that modern materials and forms are not incapable of suggesting timeless ideas. Second, we can recognize that it is not too late. Just because a world-famous architect has submitted a design does not oblige us to build it. Third, we can remember that greatness is possible. For more than a century and a half, we built monuments with spectacular success. We have only been building them badly for a generation. I look at these recent designs, which are perhaps an honest reflection of our divided and uncertain culture, and can’t help but think we can do better once more.
    I wonder why this majestic WW2 monument, unveiled in 1967, did not trigger as serious a rivalry as Sputnik did in technology.  
    The Motherland Calls.jpg

    John Ashcroft would have to find a pretty big piece of cloth to cover up those nipples.


    I don't see why a grateful public necessarily needs to memorialize its heroes by re-presenting them in exactly the way those heroes strove to present themselves to the public during their careers.

    I don't see why they should be memorialized any other way. 

    Have you seen the FDR memorial?  It is all wrong. FDR's historic greatness is as our CIC during WW2. That is where he excelled and what will stand out long after the social issues are superseded.  The social areas were really more Eleanor and Harry Hopkins areas.  For better or worse, he made us the heirs of the British Empire.  His memorial should reflect that. 


    I haven't seen it yet in person, and I agree that from the images I have seen and what I have read about it, an important part of Roosevelt's legacy is missing: a due celebration of his leadership in the global triumph over fascism and organized genocide.

    Still, I don't think that the parts that are there are all wrong <i>at all</i>.  It would be completely wrong to remember Roosevelt solely and primarily as a war hero.  Conservatives don't like the aspects of Roosevelt's presidency that are highlighted in the memorial because they hate the New Deal, and hate the Four Freedoms, and hate remembering the Great Depression that was caused by the laissez faire capitalism they promote.  They only want to memorialize the war triumph, and whitewash the socially progressive dimension of FDR that they have almost succeeded in burying.  Well screw them.

    I also think the portrayals of Roosevelt are inspiring and affecting.  The image of him with Fala and his shawl are very much representative of the way he lives in my memory, and put a knot in my throat.  The wheelchair is fine too.  That's what heroic perseverance is.   Combating the misery of a depression and winning a global war are real and hard - its not just about jutting your chin forward for a campaign poster.  If the real Roosevelt were somehow less that the Roosevelt of public image, then maybe it would be OK to go with the man-on-horse or god-in-throne routine.  But what Roosevelt actually was is even more inspiring than the buoyant image he tried to create, and so its good to memorialize him with reality.

    I can't agree with Lewis that the monument is overly literal and lacks symbolism, even though it does contain naturalistic tableaux.  As I understand it, the whole thing is structured as a walk recreating a national journey.  That in itself is symbolism.  The Roosevelt administration is unique in the role of temporality, odyssey and transformation connected with it in our memory - it was a long journey during which the country was utterly transformed and reborn.   It is extremely difficult to convey the amazing scope and journey of national transformation that is encompassed by the Roosevelt administration, but I think the artists are to be credited for employing a sense of time and trying to do that rather than for trying to capture Roosevelt in a timeless eternal epitome.

    But I do think more should have been done to integrate the depression the war, and to integrate the national and global theater.  If I had designed it the memorial, I would have had a single individual as a recurring element in the journey.  That individual would begin as one of the men standing in the bread line, return a second time wielding a saw or a hammer in the Civilian Conservation Corps, recur a third time on a beach in Normandy, recur a fourth time holding in his arms a naked, liberated prisoner from the death camps, recur a fifth time as a mourner in the funeral cortege, and recur a six time in a happy and hopeful scene in the postwar world Roosevelt helped create.

    I hate the Washington Post article that describes the New Deal as the beginning of the "welfare state".  The New Deal was about engaged comradely work and national dynamism, not mere transfer programs of entitlement and welfare economics.

    I haven't seen the memorial in person either.  Just learned of it today but googled it and was appalled not just of the one of FDR you describe as putting a knot in your throat.  That looks to be FDR at Yalta exhausted from a rough flight from Washington.  Also  from his fourth term, not third, and not all that long before his death.  It wasn't his finest hour and I do not think Fala made the trip with him.

    You write touching sentimentalism but it does not sound like you identify with any of the ordinary people depicted.  They look to be of my grandparents generation.  I do not know about the urban bread line people, but do think the Appalachian couple would object, perhaps violently, to being immortalized like that.  Would you want to be immortalized at the lowest point in your life as a pitiful thing?  Would FDR?

    No, he should not be remembered only as a war hero and I am pleased to read you agree that it should not have been omitted.  And I agree the wheelchair as well as his braces should be depicted but in a way that reflects his strength.  I think one of him campaigning while standing in his braces with his wheelchair close behind.  From the back of his railway car would be even better.   Another of him during his 1932 radio address explaining banking.  Still another giving his Day in Infamy speech before Congress.  

    The panorama you describe is interesting but best reserved for the WW2 memorial.  It strikes me as too somber for a President whose campaign song was Happy Days are Here Again and whose vitality and spirit did so much to lift the country's mood from a Great Depression.

    We may have to agree to disagree here.


    I enjoyed walking through the FDR memorial. It is an anti-monument, but a lot of monuments tend to be one-liners.

    Sorry, I am not sure what you mean by anti-monument or one-liners.  

    It's a personal definition, but monuments command attention, usually with a central focus on a powerful form. Anti-monuments are more diffuse, more background structures.

    Years ago, one of my coworkers used one-liner to describe a design with an obvious meaning, but little else. "Take my wife – please!" Both of us had been taught that multivalence was a worthy goal for architects by professors influenced by Charles Jencks and Robert Venturi. So she was using one-liner to mean univalence.

    Thanks for the explanation.

    You bringing this up makes me wonder if Trope knows that before there were Frenchmen doing PoMo deconstruction of language, there was Robert Venturi and Las Vegas cheeky

    The Great Depression plus the Second World War account for a decade and a half of history.  While a majority of Americans certainly had confidence in  Roosevelt, enough to keep re-electing him, those years were a long hard slog through punishing adversity.  I don't think the hopey-changey Happy Days Are Here Again campaign fluff was a huge part of it, although it did provide a vital morale boost at a crucial time.  I think the guy listening pensively to the fireside chat on the radio probably provides a better sense of people's relationship with the administration.

    I don't understand your objection to the statues of the bread lines and the farm couple.  We should obscure the suffering which is the basis of Roosevelt's reputation because it depicts people not at their best moment?  Although never yet forced to stand in a bread line myself, I actually identify with those people quite a bit.  If someone in 2070 wants to use a photo of me looking stressed and bewildered on one of the days when I was finding out dozens of my co-workers had been sacked, they can be my guest.   This woman was also having a bad hair day back in 1936.  Should we keep her out of the memorializations because she isn't singing Happy Days Are Hear Again?



    I know there is a whole school of conservative revisionist thought that thinks the New Deal was a huge mistake that crowded out the private market.  But I think they're bats, and if you leave the Depression out of the FDR memory you are leaving out one of the glories.

    Are you saying I am a conservative revisionist?  That's really funny, although I do recognize there are some things worthy of conserving.  

    We were originally talking about a memorial monument for FDR.  The images and tableaus you describe would be more appropriate in commemorations of World War II and the Great Depression, worthy events in themselves and in which FDR played significant roles but do you not think FDR worthy of a monument of his own? 

    Yes, but why shouldn't it depict the events and challenges of his life?

    For what it's worth, I think the Lincoln memorial is a ridiculous work.  Jefferson memorial - OK.

    Why do we have to remember real heroes in gauzy clouds of bullshit?

    Because they are supposed to be inspirational?  

    You should read some contemporary biographies and histories of FDR if you haven't already.  I can't say that I would have liked him personally but I do admire him, politically as well as personally.

    IIRC, he was at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.  Anyway he anticipated it would lead to a continuation of WWI.   We would have be really woefully unprepared for WWII when it came if he had not did all he could to make us ready.  

    Too bad that like so many great men, he did not even consider what would come after him.  He failed to mentor or even choose worthy potential successors -- and yes, I mean Truman.

    Here's a really good one:


    Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History


    Do we need bullshit to be inspired?  Will young people be more inspired by Roosevelt if they see statues of him wearing a toga and stepping on a snake with some orb in his hands.  Or would they be more inspired by seeing him surrounded by images of the people he helped?

    Among the most inspirational images of Martin Luther King might be one showing him sitting in a ratty jail cell writing a letter.

    I do not recall suggesting a toga, snake or orb.    A globe would be acceptable since 'he saved the world'.  It can surround him if you like. cheeky  

    You really think inspirational is synonymous with bullshit?  

    Moving on now.  

    Check out the Lind article I put over In The News. ​I think you will like it but maybe not.


    No.  I asked why we had to remember our heroes in gauzy clouds of bullshit, and your said "Because they are supposed to be inspirational."

    Okay, I didn't move on.  Check this out:

    That's Roosevelt and Hoover on their way to the March 1933 inauguration.   The previous month Roosevelt had escaped an assassination attempt that killed Chicago's mayor who was sitting beside him.  Machine gun turrets lined the inaugural route so the odds of being shot by friendly fire were considerable if there had been another attempt.  


    What wusses we have become. smiley


    I think the Lincoln memorial is a ridiculous work.

    LOL! I've never heard anyone disparage it so. Not high falutin' art/architecture historians, not Southern good ole boys, nor any types inbetween; perhaps indifference or accusations of mediocrity at the worst. How odd to think it "ridiculous," something personal about Daniel Chester French's work, or what?

    Just a suggestion, Dan-- you might want to work a little bit on the common taste thing if you're going to be attempting to convince the masses of stuff like working for the common good:

    America's Most-Visited Monuments
    By Everett Potter, Travel and Leisure, March, 2012

    Which former president greets nearly six million people a year? Well, it’s not George W. Bush or George Washington, but if you guessed Abraham Lincoln, you’re correct. The Lincoln Memorial is America’s most popular monument by far [....]

    The Methodology: The National Park Service defines national monuments as being intended to preserve a nationally significant resource. This broad definition includes wilderness areas such as Muir Woods, fossil sites, historic forts, ruins, statues, the battlefield at Gettysburg, and buildings such as Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was shot.

    While these are all extraordinary sights, we narrowed our focus to the more commonly understood concept of monuments as statues, buildings, or other structures erected to commemorate a famous or notable person or event. For 2011 visitor statistics, we turned to the National Park Service, which manages many monuments and keeps accurate counts. In other cases, we relied on the administrators of a given monument or memorial to provide visitation numbers [....]

    No. 1 Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
    Annual Visitors: 5,971,220
    More visitors come to the iconic statue of Honest Abe than to any other monument in the country

    No. 2 Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.
    Annual Visitors: 4,020,127 [....]

    No. 3 World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C.
    Annual Visitors: 3,752,172 [....]

    No. 4 Statue of Liberty, New York/New Jersey
    Annual Visitors: 3,749,982 [....]

    No. 5 Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia
     Annual Visitors: 3,572,769 [....]

    No. 6 Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.
    Annual Visitors: 3,073,430 [....]

    No. 7 FDR Memorial, Washington, D.C.
    Annual Visitors: 2,309,708 [....]

    No. 8 Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis
    Annual Visitors: 2,259,017 [....]

    No. 9 Mount Rushmore, Keystone, SD
    Annual Visitors: 2,081,722 [....]

    No. 10 Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.
    Annual Visitors: 1,945,696

    No. 11 World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Oahu, HI
    Annual Visitors: 1,694,896 [....]

    No. 12 Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington, D.C.
    Annual Visitors: 1,490,358

    No. 13 National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York City
    Annual Visitors: 1 million-plus [....]

    No. 14 Fort Sumter, Charleston, SC
    Annual Visitors: 857,881 [....]

    No. 15 Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego
    Annual Visitors: 813,374 [....]

    There's 5 more , #16-20, on the list at the link.

    Tangent time, but I think you'll appreciate it.

    One of the best parts of my career as a financial journalist was that I got to work with Robert Lenzner at Forbes.  He was my mentor.  One day I walked into his office and he was reading The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes.  Bob's an old school New York City Democrat whose family helped found the NAACP.  So, I was surprised to see him with the book that all of the conservatives were hoping would rewrite the Roosevelt years.  This is the mass market book where the whole idea that the New Deal lengthened the Depression by crowding out private investment came from.

    "What do you think of that?" I asked him.

    He tossed the book onto his desk and said,  "I don't see how you write hundreds of pages like this.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved the world."

    "What's her argument?" I asked.

    "It doesn't matter," said Bob.  "The man saved the world."


    If Dan doesn't appreciate the anecdote, I sure do.

    As appropriately dismissive as he was, one may still be forgiven the unlikely hope that he boosted the execrable book. She is learned neither in economics nor history-ie, a standard right wing windbag.

    He got it for free.

    That may be better. A review copy doesn't inflate the publisher's number of copies shipped to retail, whereas "shrinkage" may be confused with sales ...

    But I thought "shrinkage" had something to do with.. umm.... well,  maybe I should stop right here.

    The unfortunate interaction of speedo swimsuits and cold water immersion? There is that usage, but in deference to Destor's finance background I was referencing the polite retailers' euphemism for shoplifting.

    Your reference to railway car reminds me of a Bill Moyers' anecdote. When FDR's coffin was carried for burial, the railway was lined with weeping people. (which leader today would draw that?). One man, dissolved in tears was asked, as if for explanation of his grief: "Did you know him?" "No, but he knew me..."

    (which leader today would draw that?)

    So are you suggesting that's a good thing? If so, you're basically more with Brooks than against him, that we need more leaders and followers, in a relationship where the president is a wise and kindly authority figure with lots of faithful followers (that I would prefer to call fans.) Where you imagine the president or other leader you have never met personally knows you, so when he passes, you feel you've lost a responsible smart and loving dad who was taking care of everything while trying to teach you stuff about how the world works.

    "with Brooks.."...you know how to hurt a guy ... I am not without my heroes but I like to see loyalty run in both directions.

    Man for himself: an inquiry into the psychology of ethics - Page 9

    (Sorry, can't post that much of a copyrighted work.  Eds)


    I was going to transcribe this section from the Google book when I noticed the embed capability and wanted to see if it worked.  It does.

    Thank you very much, Emma, most excellent paragraph there. Really puts what I think in clear terms. Clearly, you got what I was getting at by popping up with that at the drop of a hat!

    It is also getting at what troubles me about people saying they are "supporters" of individual politicians (rather than of the views and promises and judgments they are making at any one time.) It actually depresses me to see a smart person say/do that; the voter is supposed to be the higher up, the one hiring, and the politician the employee. If any support is being given, it is the politician who should be "supporting"  his/her constituents, once hired to do so.

    Our campaign system is just soooo fucked up from way before Citizens United, entangled with things like celebrity worship and rooting for sports teams and sports stars.

    And that's without even getting into the whole thing of expecting the president to take care of everything, solve everything, to the point where that's really the only race many people care about and don't bother to vote in mid-terms. It's antithetical to our system, mho. It's no coincidence that that very much ramped up with FDR and the concurrent expansion of the Federal government; before him, our presidents beyond Lincoln and Washington were not seen by many as all powerful all knowing saviors, just as presidents and prime ministers are not in many other countries. Of course, the assassination of JKF is the crucial thing that really got the country looking for, as he says, "magic qualities" in a president.

    Now, even though Obama is no longer a rock star to many, I haven't seen the problem go away totally. The way so many people obsess on blogs day after day over despising him or "supporting" him, or just constantly talking about him, and whether they will vote for him or not, to me that means the savior thing is still there, that people still invest too much supreme authority in the office of the president. </rant>

    He was the first mass media President so ordinary people probably did feel they knew him better than any before.  That they also thought he knew them says much for his political skills and policies.  It is a sweet anecdote.

    Remember Obama's adoring crowds in 2008?  He might have drawn as many mourners had anything happened to him then.  Too early to say if the same would happen in 2012.  

    Those 2008 crowds were unsettling.

    I'd pay to get close enough to piss on the coffin...just returning the favor, as it were

    the first mass media President

    Yes, that's an important part I left out of my rant above. Back in the early 70's as an undergrad I didn't have much interest in what was called "Mass Communications," but friends did. They were studying newfangled stuff like "the selling of the president," I would not be surprised if FDR Fireside chats were included at the start of such lectures.

    P.S. I just did a quick google and came across this example of the "worship of Saint FDR" variety from last Oct at Daily Kos, by--no joke--"candid pychiatrist":

    ....Imagine if the crowd at Zuccotti Park were to erect a large, visible shrine to FDR right in the middle of the plaza. No Che Quevara, no Arab Spring notable, no fringey sort of leftist figure, but the most beloved and popular POTUS in his own time the nation has known...

    Another populist who gets under your skin AA?

    Fair try retort to my crack to you and pop culture, but not very accurate...

    I'll would say that populists like Charles Coughlin "get under my skin." I would definitely call Huey Long a populist, as does Wikipedia, but he didn't live long enough and accomplish enough to "get under my skin" Neither of them ended up thinking much of Roosevelt, and I dare say they wouldn't think him populist.

    And I agree with them on that, that he was far from a populist, though not because he was friendly to Jewish bankers or  similar. He had awful rarified tastes, for one.  I think he was more like an elite who had learned to speak to the pop culture. Eleanor proved to be far, far, far better at that, though, basically gave denounced her class rank. As I was trying to point out to Jolly Roger in a roundabout way: he was an elite, educated leader with many elite connections and many followers in the general population, just the kinda guy Brooks is whining about.

    What I find especially funny about that DKos post is the use of "shrine." Now there I do suspect a little cynical populism and demagoguery on the part of "Psychiatrist," breathless with a plot on how to get all the masses involved....I don't read a lot of sincerity there, just the possibility of manipulation, and manipulation that wouldn't work, relying on an inaccurate reading of the population.

    I'll admit does gets under my skin when, people adore individuals instead of venerating their accomplishments (hat tip: Roman Catholic Catechism.) See Emma's book quote. But it gets way way more under my skin when demagogues play to that.

    And I'll also admit some of 2007-2008 Obama campaign rhetoric really "got under my skin" and it made me feel sad that so many people didn't see some of the usage as cynical.  I don't know if I'd go so far as call it demagoguery, though, because the man had written two books, (as more than a few internet posts,) available to all, on where he really stood on such things.

    I guess populism can be rational or irrational, too. ;-D


    I think that I was not clear. FDR is not among my heroes-he was an all too effective agent of counter-revolution. That the plutos were short sighted enough to evince disdain perhaps facilitated the con which resulted in the touching anecdote...

    Ah, Brooks doing what he knows how to do best, opining invitingly (via just a pinch of shit stirring) on topics on which everyone feels entitled to a strong opinion. And there isn't anything on the "everyone has a strong opinion" front that can top publicly-funded art. You've got a plan for a public sculpture or a public memorial? Be ready for decades, if not centuries, of arguments about it!

    Not just art, but architecture as well.  Maybe that's art as well.  I have long thought nothing should be named after a living person.  Not a library nor road . Not anything.  Now waiting at least a century before memorializing a person or event seems like a good idea to me.


    Authoritarians are useless pricks. They deserve zilch respect.

    I wrote one of my rants and Q showed up. Not an every day occurrence.


    We were talking about Frum.

    I bring this up because there appears to be on the horizon a new repubspeak. I mean I do not understand what that all entails but its novoneconismbullshite.

    To my mind, I agree with Q that Frum is talking about something else.

    Q says that Frum just broke down. He could not take it anymore. And Frum is on another course like Bill Buckley's kid.

    Brooks seems to seek more recompense for his wondrous thoughts.

    But Brooks is harder to believe than Frum.

    And I do not think that Brooks is responsible for the bullshite coming out of the mouth of was Frum was.

    But then again, neither Brooks nor Frum made money off of Cheney's old corporation!

    I do know this.

    Brooks has no more idea about statutes than Ashcroft had any idea about statues.

    And while Brooks wishes to be remembered as to his reason-ability, Frum has questioned the entire system.


    You got me thinking.

    Good post!



    I have a new idea for a bumper sticker: Question David Brooks

    I love it.


    My first thought was a quote from the 1985 film, Emerald Forest: "If I tell a man to do what he does not want to do, I am no longer chief." Wanadi leads, but he leads the Invisible People where they want to go. Of course a tribe in the Amazon has a very clear tradition to follow.
    I also recalled Iron John: A Book About Men, where Robert Bly talked about Zeus Energy, or "male authority accepted for the sake of the community." For that to work we have to buy in to the idea that if we don't follow authority things will get worse. But things are getting worse and the authorities don't seem to be interested in the sake of community. They say they are. They promise, oh, how they promise that they will lead us to Morning in America. Then they foreclose on our homes, and sell us shares of Facebook. Thanks, Zeus.

    I would be remiss were I to let pass a (sadly rare these days ) Robert Bly reference without adducing the bit of o/t info that the troupe of strippers for whom I now, in my latter years am reduced to serving as Artistic Director (the headliner no longer...), perform as Iron John's Sons. (say it fast..)

    Quiz time:


    If the question is David Brooks, the answer has to be....

    Three oranges and a goat.

    Premature ejaculation and night blindness.

    The line in the article that struck me was:

    Even the more successful recent monuments evade the thorny subjects of strength and power. The Vietnam memorial is about tragedy. The Korean memorial is about vulnerability.

    It is true that no great leader is celebrated within the Vietnam memorial. It is true that those inscribed stones point to a tragedy.  But to say that matters of strength and power have been "evaded" in its design is an odd picnic basket to take to that place.

    I experience something else when I am there:

    Here is service. What is worthy of it?

    Here is service. What is worthy of it?

    That is so well put Moat and truly describes the feeling the wall imparted to me. 

    It's very much a different emotional feeling that overcomes a person, than the one Lincoln conveyed at Gettysburg 

    "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain"

    The Vietnam Memorial......Here is service. What is worthy of it?

    The World didn't end when we left Vietnam, it only ended for some, who were sacrificed, when they were forced to go there. 

    A Memorial to remind us. 

    And after all the sturm and drang and worse surrounding its creation, it is now the second most popular monument in the country. Maya Lin is truly a genius, she knew that what many thought they wanted was not what they needed.


    In other words, it is necessary to put the division of labour and the distribution of its fruits beyond the reach of the electorate

    The class war is on  

    I know this is out of place, but everyone should read this IN THE NEWS article 

    Latest Comments