Media comments after the Obama administration backed off attempts to cut Social Security benefits exhibited a curious notion about where the "middle" is and what "majority support" means.
"Islamists…lack the mental equipment to govern," New York Times columnist David Brooks writes today (7/5/13). "Incompetence is built into the intellectual DNA of radical Islam." Now, Brooks has been known to cite eugenicist Steve Sailer on "white fertility rates" (12/7/04; Extra!, 4/05). But let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that rather than making a racist argument, he's simply appearing to be racist as a metaphor (as when he wrote recently that interracial marriage was producing a "nation of mutts"–6/27/13). So he's saying, then, that Islamists govern as if they were biologically inferior. And his evidence for […]
Republicans and various right-wing commentators have had a thing for talking about the supposedly "anti-business" tilt of the Obama administration. It's never made much sense–and it doesn't make any more sense now that pundits are reacting to news that Obama will tap his current chief of staff Jack Lew to be his next Treasury secretary.
The gossipy, horse race-obsessed outlet Politico ran a story on October 29 about the credibility of polling expert Nate Silver, whose 538 blog at the New York Times is a must-read for people interested in election forecasting. What Silver does isn't, on one level, all that tricky–his model combines national and state polls and generates probabilities about election outcomes. This model finds it highly likely that Barack Obama will win the election. It's probability, not a crystal ball or a bet. Politico's Dylan Byers notes that Silver's model says this "even as the polls have [Romney] almost neck-and-neck with the incumbent." […]
You often see pundits making suggestions to political candidates like David Brooks makes in his New York Times column today (1/10/12): If Romney is to thrive, he really needs to go on an integrity tour. He needs to show how his outer pronouncements flow directly from his inner core. He needs to trust that voters will take him as he really is…. He needs to stop opportunistically backtracking on his Medicare position, just to please whatever senior group he happens to be in front of. He needs to show that he is willing to pursue at least a few unpopular […]
New York Times columnist David Brooks, who's been called the "bard of the 1 percent" for his writings in defense of the economic elite, is at it again–telling people not to worry about the concentration of wealth at the very top of the income scale. Brooks writes in his January 31 column that the claim that "America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society's resources" is a "distraction." Brooks argues: The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent […]
New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a tedious column today (10/11/11) about how the real radicals are the centrists, not the Wall Street occupiers. (Read Dean Baker to see what Brooks is getting wrong.) But this jumped out at me: A third believe the U.S. is no better than Al-Qaeda, according to a New York magazine survey. How would someone "survey" a leaderless, ever-shifting mass of protesters? I am not sure, and it's not really what New York did. They asked a series of questions–some of them obviously cheeky–to 100 activists at Liberty Plaza. As you can see: Rank […]
Some in the press still seem to have trouble defining whatever it is that motivates the Tea Party movement. I noticed this in an L.A. Times piece last week (6/5/11): Americans possess a long-standing wariness of power and its potential as a corrupting influence, especially in the hands of large institutions. That instinct bred our government system of checks and balances and, more recently, led members of the "tea party" to embrace the nation's founders (repackaged as a band of small-government crusaders) as the guiding lights of their movement. So "wariness of power" and the "corrupting influence" of "large institutions" […]
It was great to see this letter in the New York Times from Edward Said's widow (3/11/11): To the Editor: I smiled when I read "Huntington's Clash Revisited," by David Brooks (column, March 4). Eighteen years after Samuel Huntington wrote his Foreign Affairs essay "The Clash of Civilizations," Mr. Brooks has arrived at a conclusion that so many Arabs and Arab-Americans arrived at very soon after its publication. Mr. Huntington's essay and subsequent book, in which he asserted that the peoples of the Islamic world were incapable of developing societies rooted in freedom and democracy, which he perceived to be […]