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  •  Got David Brooks - Who needs Ellsworth Toohey? (8+ / 0-)

    His column today on "Why We Love Politics" is classic Brooks, profound inanity.  Consider this 'gem' inspired (if that's the word I want to use) by the new movie "Lincoln":

    It shows that you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere. You can end slavery, open opportunity and fight poverty. But you can achieve these things only if you are willing to stain your own character in order to serve others — if you are willing to bamboozle, trim, compromise and be slippery and hypocritical.
    Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner should sue after an 'endorsement' like that. Mister McBobo is right on target as a metaphor for Brooks at work.

    Frankly, reading Brooks gives me about as much pleasure as going to a Vogon Poetry recital would.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 06:48:20 PM PST

    •  Politics didn't end slavery (8+ / 0-)

      Politics tried to end slavery and failed. War ended slavery. It wasn't just Lincoln's character that was stained in the Civil War. It was the blood of over 600,000 war dead. I have no idea where he comes up with this sanctimonious crap. Words just come out of these sheltered buffoons' mouths and keyboards that have no visible connection to observable reality. Word salad from the Appleby's salad bar.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:22:37 PM PST

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      •  Stained Character (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kovie, lotlizard
        It shows that you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere. You can end slavery, open opportunity and fight poverty. But you can achieve these things only if you are willing to stain your own character in order to serve others — if you are willing to bamboozle, trim, compromise and be slippery and hypocritical.
        What a load of crap. As you say, slavery wasn't ended by politics. And your character doesn't get stained by doing good. It gets stained by doing wrong. The political maneuverings kept slavery.

        "All men are created equal" may be the five most Earth-shattering word over written in the English language. We forget how radical those words were, but for a world with kings and princes, the idea that shop clerk was equal under the law to a captain of industry was earth-shaking. But that was an ideal that was not lived up to. If we had really believed that all men were created equal, slavery would have been banned. Even some abolitionists, even though they supported ending slavery, couldn't fully accept the idea that the slaves were actually the equal of whites.

        But we didn't end slavery then. We had the 3/5 compromise. We had the Missouri Compromise. The compromises didn't end slavery, they put things off for a couple years.

        The abolitionists didn't come out with stained character. Those with stained characters were those who said "I'm against slavery, but we can't end it now. And not tomorrow either." It's when you say you want what is right, but won't actually support it that your character gets stained.

        The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

        by A Citizen on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:11:21 PM PST

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        •  Jefferson believed that blacks were inferior (4+ / 0-)

          in mental capacity to whites and could never become their equal. He advocated eventual emancipation followed by forced repatriation to Africa. Hamilton, on the other hand, believed that they were equal to whites, in innate qualities, and could become their societal equal with proper development:

          I have not the least doubt, that the negroes will make very excellent soldiers, with proper management…. I mention this, because I frequently hear it objected to the scheme of embodying negroes that they are too stupid to make soldiers. This is so far from appearing to me a valid objection that I think their want of cultivation (for their natural faculties are probably as good as ours) joined to that habit of subordination which they acquire from a life of servitude, will make them sooner become soldiers than our White inhabitants.
          Perhaps the tone might seem patronizing in 2012, but this was written in 1779.

          What galls me is that asshats like Brooks claim an affinity to Hamilton and Lincoln when they're a lot closer to Jefferson at his worst. I.e. insufferable hypocrites.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 09:32:13 PM PST

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          •  "with proper management..." (0+ / 0-)

            This is exactly what Republicans say about "them" in 2012.

            "Their want of cultivation" makes "them" vote for inferior candidates like Barack Obama solely because he looks like "them". Didn't you know that?

            Thank Dog the US Constitution allowed amendment, because "Jefferson's America" was not a very nice place, as much as today's rightwingers pine for it while indulging themselves in little dress-up parties where they endeavor to look like Jefferson and his fellow 18th-century plutocrats.

            "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

            by blue in NC on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 05:35:57 AM PST

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            •  I think what Hamilton meant by this term was (3+ / 0-)

              that to take a slave who presumably was uneducated and otherwise unprepared to be a thriving and well-functioning member of mainstream society (or, in the specific instance he was referring to, the military), due to no fault of their own but rather an unfair and immoral legal and social system that forced them to be that way, there had to be some formal process by which they could be educated and otherwise prepared to enter and be a well-funtioning part of mainstream society.

              I don't think he meant, in light of what he wrote above about how "their natural faculties are probably as good as ours", that blacks, being inherently inferior, needed active and permanent "management" to function in society. Whereas Jefferson, in his writings AND actions, clearly did. E.g.:

              Notes on the State of Virginia
              ...
              They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course.

              Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation. We will consider them here, on the same stage with the whites, and where the facts are not apocryphal on which a judgment is to be formed. It will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the sphere in which they move. Many millions of them have been brought to, and born in America. Most of them indeed have been confined to tillage, to their own homes, and their own society: yet many have been so situated, that they might have availed themselves of the conversation of their masters; many have been brought up to the handicraft arts, and from that circumstance have always been associated with the whites. Some have been liberally educated, and all have lived in countries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad.
              ...
              But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture. In music they are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time, and they have been found capable of imagining a small catch. 31 Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved. Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry. -- Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar oestrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion indeed has produced a Phyllis Whately; but it could not produce a poet. The compositions published under her name are below the dignity of criticism. The heroes of the Dunciad are to her, as Hercules to the author of that poem. Ignatius Sancho has approached nearer to merit in composition; yet his letters do more honour to the heart than the head.

              They breathe the purest effusions of friendship and general philanthropy, and shew how great a degree of the latter may be compounded with strong religious zeal. He is often happy in the turn of his compliments, and his stile is easy and familiar, except when he affects a Shandean fabrication of words. But his imagination is wild and extravagant, escapes incessantly from every restraint of reason and taste, and, in the course of its vagaries, leaves a tract of thought as incoherent and eccentric, as is the course of a meteor through the sky. His subjects should often have led him to a process of sober reasoning: yet we find him always substituting sentiment for demonstration. Upon the whole, though we admit him to the first place among those of his own colour who have presented themselves to the public judgment, yet when we compare him with the writers of the race among whom he lived, and particularly with the epistolary class, in which he has taken his own stand, we are compelled to enroll him at the bottom of the column. This criticism supposes the letters published under his name to be genuine, and to have received amendment from no other hand; points which would not be of easy investigation. The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life.
              ...
              Whether further observation will or will not verify the conjecture, that nature has been less bountiful to them in the endowments of the head, I believe that in those of the heart she will be found to have done them justice. That disposition to theft with which they have been branded, must be ascribed to their situation, and not to any depravity of the moral sense. The man, in whose favour no laws of property exist, probably feels himself less bound to respect those made in favour of others. When arguing for ourselves, we lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right: that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in conscience: and it is a problem which give to the master to solve, whether the religious precepts against the violation of property were not framed for him as well as his slave? And whether the slave may not as justifiably take a little from one, who has taken all from him, as he may slay one who would slay him? That a change in the relations in which a man is placed should change his ideas of moral right and wrong, is neither new, nor peculiar to the colour of the blacks.
              ...
              The opinion, that they are inferior in the faculties of reason and imagination, must be hazarded with great diffidence. To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the Anatomical knife, to Optical glasses, to analysis by fire, or by solvents. How much more then where it is a faculty, not a substance, we are examining; where it eludes the research of all the senses; where the conditions of its existence are various and variously combined; where the effects of those which are present or absent bid defiance to calculation; let me add too, as a circumstance of great tenderness, where our conclusion would degrade a whole race of men from the rank in the scale of beings which their Creator may perhaps have given them.

              To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of man as distinct as nature has formed them? This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Many of their advocates, while they wish to vindicate the liberty of human nature, are anxious also to preserve its dignity and beauty. Some of these, embarrassed by the question `What further is to be done with them?' join themselves in opposition with those who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.

              Ech, just ech. I was going to boldface some particularly egregious parts but it's really all bad. And this is the man we look up to perhaps more than any other founder for our ideas about liberty, equality and justice.

              No wonder the teabaggers love Jefferson. We was their role model.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:26:29 AM PST

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              •  Ech, is right. I probably shouldn't have (0+ / 0-)

                used the Hamilton phrases to characterize Jefferson...that was certainly misleading on my part. Your observations are all correct, and I believe that Hamilton certainly held higher moral ground than Jefferson on these matters.

                "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

                by blue in NC on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 11:04:07 AM PST

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