A > B, B > C…C > A

Sorry to do this twice in one week, folks, but I'm really struggling at the moment. Most of what I've written with the intent of posting lately is too depressing and/or angry even by my standards. Birthdays depress the hell out of me, as does living alone in a new (and godawful) place where there's nothing to do and no one to meet. Combined with some well timed lectures on what an awful person I am from people I care about, this has not been the best of times. Fortunately it's…well, no, it's probably not going to get any better.

So here's David Brooks. Everyone line up and kick him around for a while. This column might contain, even given Brooks' lengthy career of logic molestation, the most ass-backwards "logic" I've ever seen. Just try to make sense of it. I dare you. Apparently, Mitt Romney is the better choice because he believes in nothing concretely, and that will allow him to accomplish "bigger" things with…the House Republicans, or moderates, or the Bloc Quebecois, or what in the hell is David Brooks talking about. And that, my friends, is "The Upside of Opportunism."

Make sense? I thought so.

Seriously, I couldn't even do a "shorter David Brooks" let alone a full-scale FJM. Just read it. It's mesmerizing.

53 thoughts on “A > B, B > C…C > A”

  • It gets better, if only because in five years or so you can move. In the meantime, go to lots of conferences in better places, and have silly internet romances. It fills the time.

  • Most of us — especially the snarky too-cool types — have a hard time expressing concern without sounding mawkish, dreadfully earnest, and depressingly lame. The rest of us fear an excoriating reply. Trying to avoid pitfalls makes for the clumsiest, most convoluted gestures, but having awkward friends doesn't make you an awful person.

    But reading David Brooks without a translator is cruel and unusual punishment. It took half a white Valium to get to the punchline. Does he have regular readers who can stomach that stuff?

  • Jesus. That was…is "Brooksian" an adjective? It should be. Maybe we need to start a "Santorum redefinition" equivalent by creating the neologism "Brooksian." As in, "So stupid as to create in those exposed to it the sensation of drunkenness and/or the conviction that they must be drunk."

    Allow me to be the one to offer the "Shorter David Brooks": If Obama is elected, Senate Republicans–even those who agree with him–will continue to act like cowardly assholes who'd rather drive the car off the cliff than yield the driver's seat for so much as a second. This will be bad, therefore a vote for Obama is a vote for badness, even though the badness will be on the part of his opponents. Romney, however, will magically gain the power of invulnerability by virtue of being a Republican, because as we all know from the last four years, no Republican would ever turn on a fellow Republican for his own egotistical political benefit. Romney will therefore get his agenda passed, and even though that agenda will not work according to everyone who isn't cashing a check with the name "Koch" on the watermark–that indeed, it will be disastrous for the economy, the environment, the lives of women, our international standing, and anyone who depends on basic social services to keep body and soul together–it *will* succeed in being passed. So vote Romney, because a shit sandwich force-fed you is better than a delicious sandwich that the bullies won't let you have. I'm David Brooks, and the reason you know that I believe this crap is because, if I didn't–if I was just being a partisan hack–I would have ended this column by putting a bullet through my head.

    Also, Ed–the opinions of others are at best an occasion for the searching of one's conscience. Go ahead and do so. But if your conscience is clear–if you've done right by what you believe, or simply fucked up because you're human–then realize that even those we love have the capacity to be short-sighted and selfish. If not–if you've done wrong, then apologize, and don't do it again. It may not be enough, but it's all you can do, and that's usually enough to earn you untroubled sleep at night.

    Not taking sides, here–maybe you are indeed an asshole–but I kinda sorta doubt it. You're smart, self-effacing, and have a sense of humor about yourself and the world at large, and you embrace an ideology that values the quality of life of other people–this is not the recipe for an asshole. Just my ill-informed opinion–if you find it Brooksian, please disregard it.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    Warning from the Surgeon General: Listening or reading news or commentary on the new is deadly; please stop watching TV news or reading papers before you get to a point of no return. Let's face it, Brooks is not alone. Twitts tell me that Cookie Roberts said that Romney has momentum, Samuelson said that teachers, fire fighters and police officers don't really have jobs. Everyone on Politico claims that poll aggregators, mostly poli sci/statisticians, distort the results of polls.

    And I don't read my right wing WaPo, the centrist NYT or any other paper. It all comes from blogs and twitts. A huge pile of stinking crap.

    When you divorce, you lose a lot of couples friends. When you do it again, you are free to befriend yourself. When you fall severely ill, the curtains fall over many windows. A lot of your mental time is devoted to fighting the new demons. When you go into a coma every once in a while, you look behind you to identify your stalker. Yet, there is a new lovely lady, every morning there is new light coming through the windows, most of the time the shoes fit and the pant look decent on you. What the hell, life looks great. It clearly beats the alternative.

  • Oh, when you said "Line up and kick him around a while" you were speaking figuratively.

    Excuse me while I go take these steel-toed boots off.

  • For what it's worth, you still have plenty of dedicated fans and your writing has made our lives better. There are countless political blogs on the internet right now and most of them just repeat the same old memes. Yours brings up unique issues and angles which are extremely rare and pertinent. Your term "battered worker syndrome" should be made famous.

  • Best wishes, Ed. This, too, shall pass.

    I consider myself a cynical bastard, but I must admit this election has been particularly depressing. Lately I have taken the uncharacteristic step of visiting http://www.zooborns.com. It is reassuring to know that the world which contains Mitt Romney also has snow leopard cubs.

    (Yes, Romney might want to skin them to make a hat while singing a cheery song, in a Mr. Burns sort of way, but he hasn't gotten them all just yet.)

  • c u n d gulag says:

    I'm sorry you're having a bad time.
    Been there. Done that.

    And Bobo's the awful person – not you.

    I don't need a Gibberish-English/English-Gibberish dictionary to read you.

    You don't write convoluted sentences that name-drop famous, respected, and thoughful people to try to make your points – which, remarkably, ALWAYS end up with you on the side of wherever the Republican position is that day.
    You didn't support wars and occupations, invasion of privacy, tax cuts on people who don't need them, social positions that are straight out of either the 1950's, or maybe even the 1850's, and come up with not-at-all clever conclusions.

    So, look on the plus side – you're a long, long way from being a terrible person. In fact, you're the opposite.

    As for the town, go to the nearest libraray, go to restaurants and pubs, attend local theatre's, find the nearest meeting of Democrats – basically get out more. Get the closest local non-traditional arts-oriented publication. I lived in a military town in NC, and hated it. Then, I picked up a small local arts and food publication, went to some events, and found some great LIBERAL people to do things with.

    If I could find them in Fayetteville, NC, you can find them anywhere. There are plenty of Liberals in the Reddest areas. It's just that in those areas, by necessity, they keep a lower profile than the Conservatives.
    But you're going to have to find them.

    Also too – after what you feel is an appropriate period of time, get another pet. I think you're still depressed from the loss of your pet rat.

    Obviously, since I love this site, I wish you the best.

  • Brooks even shorter, "Vote republican or the dog gets it."
    Been depressed, it doesn't have to last forever, and you'll feel like a bat drug into the sunlight when it ends. Best of luck.

  • How come when a Republican is a "flexible flip-flopper", people like Brooks see it as a positive?

    Sorry your life sucks right now. I've gone through shitty periods, but for the last few years, this blog has given me something to look forward to.

  • Dude! You bring this menagerie together. You have regs from RFS, Aus, Canukistanis, S.Korea… We're small but loyal.
    Getting older is learning that you're happier with the quality of your friends—or in this case faithful commenters. Hell your resident troll (bb) even makes salient and intelligibly argued points.

    No! I won't read that. I've learned my lesson about links you put disclaimers w/. I still wake up screaming after that brokencyde post.

    Now quit feeling sorry fer yerself and get yourself down to your local cafe with a pen and paper and design me that coffee cup. Your challenge is something that can get taken into a military installation w/o the bearer knowing they're corrupting the machine.

    Happy birthday!

  • Your blog is inspirational, Ed; And, the butchered syllogism in the title is brilliant. Stop being a Leftist sook: everything you do is better than everything I do.

  • The Atlantic's "5 best columns" daily newsletter already shoves several David Brooks pieces at me each week. Blegh.

    So did you adopt that doggy Ed?

  • What Arslan said:
    "For what it's worth, you still have plenty of dedicated fans and your writing has made our lives better. There are countless political blogs on the internet right now and most of them just repeat the same old memes. Yours brings up unique issues and angles which are extremely rare and pertinent. Your term "battered worker syndrome" should be made famous."

    Also, I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you were writin' books, I'd be buyin' 'em.

  • Living in the UK and with a Tea bagger extended family in the US, phone calls have been getting weirder and weirder over the past 4 years. Nothing Bobo says sounds any more bizarre than what comes through the phone line out of the mouths of otherwise seemingly normal people that I know. At the same time, a few long time friendships have ended (usually with the same accusation that I am a Commie – jeez – what year is it?!).

    No doubt it's a tough time for a lot of people. And it just seems that everyone has taken leave of their sanity.

    But please know that you and your website are very much appreciated. It feels very much like an Inception-style totem. So, thank you.

    Also, as a big mid-West PhD and massive public school position holder (albiet in the UK for now), I empathize with your feelings. Looking up at the faces and seeing teh stupid oozing out of faces and papers, it can be a bit much.

    Both J.Dryden and c u n d gulag offer some good advice (as do others). Step back, take a look around, and remind yourself that somehow we will go on. Get some rest and some exercise and some Python (and maybe a case of beer).


  • For What It's Worth –
    It's amazing we aren't all on the brink of suicide with the constant barrage (sp?) of nonsense from the right – and this election was soul-draining until the hurricane gave us a reprieve. Gawd – that sounds awful!!! If I weren't married, I'd ask you out. If you are gay, I'd offer to be your best friend. If you lived in Denver, I'd invite you to dinner. I'm not sure if I'm that needy/pathetic or you are that great, but either way works for me. I was going nuts until I found this sight. You (and cundgulag as well as others) allowed me to see I'm not nuts or wrong or confused. . . just surrounded by a media blitzkrieg of bullshit. The recent loss of your little rat buddy is still too fresh . . .no one can be strong all the time. How you read all that right b.s. is beyond me . . . I would have lost it long ago. So, yea, I can see you need a break. Take it. And know that you have lots of love out here. Peace.

  • I think I understand the DB column: Mitt Romney believes nothing, and that will allow him to accomplish what he believes in.

    It could be worse, I spent my 30's in Kankakee.

  • Hang in there, Ed. As a fellow academic in transition (i.e. total isolation), I empathize completely. Unlike many, you can know for certain that you and your work here is appreciated and admired.

  • *ugh. Last minute revision = typo. You and your work *are* appreciated blah blah blargh.

    Now THAT is depressing.

  • I'm not always so great when kind words are needed, so I'll just say this: Fuck the haters.

    Also, too, seconding Misterben: "if you were writin' books, I'd be buyin' 'em." Just none of that ebook crap, mmkay?

  • Depression is an exhausting, debilitating, isolating, distorting shit sandwich. You have my every sympathy, and my solidarity.

    Of course, if I can remember accurately how it feels (and I think that it's almost impossible to remember until it happens again, like people always say is the case with childbirth) then other people's sympathy and solidarity matters not two fucks.

    I have the warmest of regard for you, Ed, person that I don't really know at all. I wish you dazzling success, and good times with people you love, and warm socks always.

  • Not that I want to lessen the arse kicking on Bobo that is deftly going on here but just a note that the Bloc (Parti Quebecois) is headed by a fiercely old-school socialist feminist named Pauline Marois. And like them or not, the Quebecers mobilize like no one else (except maybe the French in France) against injustice, whether imagined slights or (more likely) totally righteous. School fee hikes caused massive, in the hundreds of thousands, protestors hitting the streets for MONTHS, which ultimately caused the PQ to gain power.

    I'd pay cold hard cash to see Marois and Romney in the same room together.

  • I'm not depressed today, but I am tired, which leaves me rather witless. So the best I can do is 2nd, 3rd, and nth what everyone else has already said.

    Ed, you are an island of sanity in an ocean of raw right wing sewage.

    Even us crusty old straight white guys love you.


  • Eh, Brooks is what used to be thought of as an agent of Satan – he couches pure evil as a soothing, seemingly harmless, even Reasonable series of statements, but the end result is if you follow where he leads, you lose your soul. Real evil isn't necessarily vicious and violent like the various militias and KKK and etc.; real evil is often smooth and seductively appealing, like Romney. If I were a hard-core Bible-thumper, I'd be holding up a cross between us every time Romney's image came up on the TV. If that man isn't the personification of Satan, I'm not sure what would be.
    Anyway, in that you react perfectly properly to Brooks (with a loathing bordering on terror), you seem perfectly normal to me. The horrible things that people do tend to grind us all down, but you can get through them. You've been through worse, right? As for being an "awful person" – why so am I! Not that that should help, but pretty much all of us are Awful Persons at one time or other. Those of us who are the parents of teenagers (or who were teenagers ourselves, or who are married or who have Significant Others) find that we've been Awful Persons on a fairly regular basis for quite some time. Last night I was an Awful Person after picking up my 17-y-o son (because he had just got his grades and Knew I was going to bust his chops), but after we got home and he had a chance to reflect on things, he decided that I was actually a Pretty Decent Person after all (I crossed him up by being understanding and supportive – dirty pool, but being a Dad means not being predictable!).
    This election (such as it is) will be over soon, and we can then take stock of the disaster and start to work on doing what we can to salvage anything of value. That's all we've ever been able to do, really – we humans are a relentlessly destructive force, for some inherent reason, but there have always been a few of us who work on building rather than blowing up. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst, and never give up, never surrender. Oh, and hoard canned goods – especially Spam, which has its own key.

  • I enjoy reading your Blog (just came here a month ago). Unfortunately people seem to have a problem when you call out (their)BS. Hope things get better soon.

  • Perfectly okay to take a few days off from your unpaid and maddeningly prolific writing career. Stop being so hard on yourself, you awful person.

    I've been borderline suicidal for much of this butt-chugging year, and your sense of humor has helped me survive. May it do likewise for you.

  • Also, the top comment on the column made me lol and sums it up pretty well: "In other words, vote Republican to stop them from acting like Republicans?"

  • Ed, your blog is pure gold, not only for your essays but for the quality of the posts you attract – such as J. Dryden's above. The daily shot of morning adrenalin that allows me to stagger through the rest of the day.

    Have you hooked up with the Jacobin crew, by any chance?

    Pet loss is ghastly, that's the only word. I hope you're still taking auditions for a dog, they really are our most understanding animal friends. And I say that as a former cat fancier.

  • mel in oregon says:

    sometimes people get depressed over things a few years later they realize was a blessing in disguise. the people that do the best in life are those that can adjust to the situation, no matter how cruel. as the old asian proverb goes, "i felt so bad because i had no shoes until i saw the man with no feet". reading david brooks is a sure way for me to feel good, as he is so stupid, i feel way superior in intellect. all readers of rortybomb should feel the same.

  • @Ed

    Many on the right would say Brooksthought is not worth the bits and bytes it printed on….

    If you want, I can work on praying you back South again….

    We don't agree, but there is respect and love.


  • It clearly beats the alternative.
    I know people always say that, but does it really beat the alternative? How in the hell do we even know? I prefer my sister's take: "Hell, I'll keep living because I am just curious as to what else is coming down the pike." This said after her husband and son died in a car wreck.

    And Ed, don't let the bastards get you down. As c u n d gulag said, there's got to be weird in that silly town you're living in. They might be hunkered down, but they're out there waiting for you to join their little cabal. Hell, I have a friend teaching in Huntsville, TX. He amusingly related to me that when he went to the recommended town salon to schedule a haircut, the nice lady told him she'd set him up with the male hairdresser who "wasn't one of them gays." Problem is…he IS one of them gays. He just doesn't want anyone (even himself) to know. But I digress. My friend has found a little group of liberal folks with whom to associate–took some time but it happened. So, too, it will happen with you, Ed.

    I'll also echo Dryden: you can't be an awful person. Maybe people in your life are feeling pissy these days because of who knows what, but they'll get over it or you'll all figure out what it is that is causing the consternation. These things rarely continue for long.

    And then there is always booze. Gin. Tacos.

  • I don't respond to your site much anymore because you are a real asshole. (I kid; I kid) You actually seem somewhat similar to me in many ways from a personality standpoint. I'm in a bad place now as well. Shitty, shitty, shitty job supporting a brain dead federal client. Living at home with the folks after a disastrous engagement. (still trying to determine next move from a career standpoint hence the transitory nature of my living situation). Overall, significant and ongoing levels of grumpiness to which the general response is, at least at work, "Ian just don't care." You know your society is in a death spiral when the general consensus in the capitol is that the only way to cope with a pernicious lack of leadership is to no longer care. Man, are we done with the boomers yet?

    The only thing that makes me consider a vote for Romney (Actually, I won't be voting for him or Obama) is my personal desire to see half of the federal workforce lose their jobs. So fed up (pun intended) with the incompetence, baseless self-aggrandizement, blatant incompetence, apathy, and outright pettiness. I

  • …pettiness. I’ve never witnessed an “organization” containing as many adult children as the federal government. For myself, I am relegated to working as a support secretary for the incompetent rubes on both the left and the right. I gave up a few years ago in trying to obtain a federal position because I simply couldn’t compete against minority quotas (diversity requirements) and vets. I’m still trying to figure out how brown skin or firing a weapon in the sandlot we call Afghanistan qualifies you to run a data center. Basically, the left and the right make me sick which is why neither get my vote.

    As for Brooks, well, he lives in Chevy Chase MD, one of the most cloistered neighborhoods on the planet. So, you can’t expect a realistic piece from him. Flexible flip-flopper? What the fuck is that? Is that similar to watery water? And, huh, the comment about pushing the fiscal can down the road is hilarious. Not sure how much further you can push this can down the road before you’ve actually reached the dump. As I’ve said many times before, iacta alea est no matter the electoral outcome. The only solution is collapse. Welcome it and rejoice in its implications because it will mean we, guys our age, can finally tell the boomers to step aside or be set aside. That will be a glorious day indeed.

  • Wow, someone needs to grow up and stop feeling sorry for themselves. Stop whinning like a little freshman in college bitch who is homesick. Oooops, did I say that!! Be a man, grow a pair of nuts, you can get a PHD but you cannot figure out what to do with your spare time other than blog?!? Your new location has tons to offer, stop being an academic prick and get out and meet people.

  • Ed, grief can cause a lot of those feelings. It is natural, and will pass. I wish you all the best. Thanks for all you do. You will figure it out.

  • Depression sourced by loss is really only overcome by adopting some degree of an understanding of and way to manage the source of the loss. My conclusion was deism, though the more I research existentialism the more appealing it is.

    On the second point, fuck the haters. Treat the people that love you with twice as much love, and phase that don't like you out of your life entirely.

    As for Brooks, he's been a joke for quite some time. No reason to change courses now.

  • Well, if they care about you and are concerned, that's one thing. If they are just dumping on you, that's another. But you should probably avoid Bobo Brooks under the current conditions. If you just can't resist go read DougJ or Tbogg's takedowns of the poet-laureate of the Applebee's salad bar.

  • I'll point out the obvious and say "Hey, Ed, at least you're not David Brooks!" Much as birthdays push us to consider the aging process, unmet expectations, etc., yours apparently also coincides with election noise every coupla years. Damn. (I can sympathize; my husband and I got married on what turns out to be Hitler's birthday.)

    Please let us know if you got the dog! And if you think the 49ers can keep it together for the rest of the season. Strange world we're livin' in….

  • The Other Matt says:

    Ed, you're my hero. Just thought you should know.

    Take a night off whenever the fuck you feel like it.

  • Ed, you aren't alone. We're here. We like you. We pay attention to what you think several times a week.

    We make mistakes pretty often, too. We feel guilty and have people we care about point out our faults too. Our pets die too :(

    Do what you actually enjoy and you'll find other people who enjoy the same things.

    If you don't actually enjoy anything, that is known as depression.
    There are effective treatments. Mindfulness therapy works and prevents relapse too (no bunk, look up the Oxford University course on new treatments for depression on iTunes U) . Medicine works too, but doesn't prevent relapse.

  • getting old is not for sissies. so go find some way to "occupy" your mind. get drunk, stoned or sexed up or whatever it takes to get "through". this too shall pass, even though i hate saying such trite and true things.

    after all there are lots of people waiting to see your next post. i am one of them. i loved you Lilbertarians on an Airplane post. and i thought you couldn't have said it any better there. and please don't ever come down South again. Intelligence is frowned upon here and made to rot in Hell.

    losing you pet Rat also touched a nerve which you need to grieve though. please think about another pet as soon as you can. it, pets give so much more back than they "take" if that could be said. Pets connect us to the universe and lower our blood pressure. you know Free Highs.

    Halloween was my birthday, so i have lots people celebrating, but still i age one year at a time. and i age alone every year closer to the great unknown.

    you are not alone and it does get better if you hold on. not sure how much it get better, but they say it does. lol.

    please keep on fighting the fight for yourself. and don't read the paper, Right wing, all the media is a Right wing Money driven lie, taht people like BB and the Right use to try to continue to lie. and Brooks is paid top dollar to be the best WHORE in town, like my fellow townperson Coke Roberts akd Cokie Boggs from New Orleans. People in DC are out to steal and use the Media and idiot Right wingers.

    so do whatever it takes to get through this "bad" spot. living in the Fascist United States is not something i would choose if i knew waht this country would turn out to be. if you can move out of the USA please do. there are alternative to Fascism out in the rest of this wonderful planet. Don't give up and into the hatred of the Right. We may never stop the Right from destroying the World for our children, but to give up is to let the Right win by default

    as someone once said. to fight the invincible fight is more than worth the effort. and you will know how Right you have been. God is not on the side of teh Rightwingers anyway. God is inside and never left them/the Right win. make the Right pay as much as you can. the Rigth deserves to lose which is why they have such ilk like Brooks, Friedman, Obama, Rmoney and the rest/Cokie lying such a shitstorm

    you and the rest of us know how full of shit they are and have been all along. does someone need to tell you to suck it up and fight the bastards. lol

    i hope you heal your wounds and love yourself as much as you care for the world around with the words you use to show how much you care.

    i know you care and those of us out in blog land care about you. go visit a pound or a pet store now. just do it and see what comes from within.

    waiting on your next piece of heart, i am

  • oh and if you hate David Brooks, Go to the Driftglass website. i don't think anyone hates David Brooks as much as Driftglass does. or lays him as low as the piece of shit he really is.

  • Ed, enjoy your blog sooooo much, so I find this post very distressing. Depression is hell. No easy way around it. Get the dog, walk the dog, bask in the dog's unwavering love. Take good care of yourself. You, this blog and the regular posters here have been that island of sanity for me during this long, gruesome election year. But I will be right there with you if I wake up next Wednesday and have to deal with President Elect Romney.

  • Hey Ed–

    Please re-read J. Dryden's comments regarding your current emotional state, and implement an appropriate program immediately. It is exactly the advice that is needed. I know whereof I speak.

    That said, I read D. Brooks say that, and wanted to puke. It's the kind of insanely stupid "analysis" that a partisan engages in to pretend he's not partisan. FJM might actually be too good for him.

    Keep doing your blog.

    Keep your chin up.

    You can't change what's happened to you, or what you've done. You can change how you react to it, and how it makes you feel. Reading your rants, I can't believe you're any worse a person than I am, and a lot of people said a lot of crappy things about me (and still do). Some of them are deserved, and I just apologize and try to do better.

  • @bernard

    What are "taht people" and why you dumpin' on me?

    I thought we were 'sposed to be encouraging Ed, not 'bickering with bb



  • I've been reading your blog for years yet have never left a comment. Since you allow them and people seem to speak, ahem, write freely, here we go.

    Without a doubt, I'm a huge fan of your blog. You, single-handedly, make me feel smarter (whether or not I actually am…that's another story completely)– I'm not sure how many other people I could say that about on a consistent basis. You challenge the way I think and how I look at the world.

    Isn't it humorous that so many people feel like they actually know you? I remember when Seymour died, and when you moved and when you did your first comedy show. I may or may not have stalked your bands Myspace page for a month or so. I'm aware I might need to be committed.

    What I'm trying to get at here is that you've created a community on this site that rally's around your direction of thought and commentary. It's quite nice– keep it up. And take what your friend's say into consideration, they unlike us, actually know you.

    And Brooks is a douche. The end.

  • Hello there, You've performed an excellent job. I will definitely digg it and in my opinion recommend to my friends. I am sure they'll be benefited from this site.

Comments are closed.