Today, if Republicans had learned the right lessons from the Westerns, or at least John Ford Westerns, they would not be the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice. They would once again be the party of community and civic order.Now, I don't knock Brooks' sincerity in writing this; however, I do wish that he would remove his rose-colored glasses. Because the truth is that in the 1968 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon perverted phrases like "the party of community and civic order" into code words for his race-baiting Southern Strategy.
They would begin every day by reminding themselves of the concrete ways people build orderly neighborhoods, and how those neighborhoods bind a nation. They would ask: What threatens Americans’ efforts to build orderly places to raise their kids? The answers would produce an agenda: the disruption caused by a boom and bust economy; the fragility of the American family; the explosion of public and private debt; the wild swings in energy costs; the fraying of the health care system; the segmentation of society and the way the ladders of social mobility seem to be dissolving.
Ronald Reagan's simple-minded platitudes belied the underlying cynicism of his 1980 campaign kickoff in Philadelphia, Mississippi, locale of the 1964 murder of civil rights activists James Cheney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Reagan did not have reconciliation in mind when he averred thatReagan communicated nothing subtle when he committed to states' rights, the euphemistic mask behind which southern politicians had created a system of apartheid below the Mason-Dixon line.
I believe in states' rights ... I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment.
In 1984, Reagan campaigned for reelection on the claim that under his leadership, it was morning again in America:
Watch the commercial a second time. The only black and Latino faces are prepubescent (read: unthreatening) boys gazing up adoringly after the words "under the leadership of President Reagan" and just before a montage of flag raisings and displays. This ad makes it perfectly clear that "morning in America" is reserved for traditionally minded white people and minorities who know their place.
Now, reread Brooks' second paragraph. By asking "What threatens Americans’ efforts to build orderly places to raise their kids?" he strikes directly at conservative paranoia and fear of the other. This renders the remainder of the paragraph into so much noise until he closes with "the way the ladders of social mobility seem to be dissolving." This phrase could mean almost anything. Liberals might point to income disparity and rising college costs, but today's conservatives will be drawn immediately to affirmative action, and immigration -- that is, ongoing threats to tradition white social mobility.
Again, I'm not arguing that this is Brooks' intent. He seems like a decent and well-meaning man who believes in the best parts of his writings and public statements. But he doesn't push the Republican party to confront the way that social conservatism -- social fascism, really -- has polluted any ideals that the party might have. Most of the country has turned away from right wing values issues as divisive and disconnected from everyday reality. Until Republicans face up to this, the party will remain in the grip of the Deep South and the rural west, a sure path to national irrelevance...
The New Orleans Times-Picayune excoriates the Army Corps of Engineers for recommending an obviously inferior plan for NOLA's canals that would
leave deficient floodwalls in place -- something that a regional levee official described as "criminal." The fear is that the existing canals and floodwalls won't be able to hold water from a 100-year rainfall if one occurs during a storm, and that's a reasonable concern.
The Corps selected the cheaper of two options ($800,000,000 compared to $3.4 billion) while freely admitting that the second option was technically and operationally superior. Here's what Citizen K. doesn't understand: The impetus for this came from the destructive aftermath of a hurricane that did over a hundred billion dollars worth of damage. In light of this, the Corps is being penny wise and pound foolish, and the difference between $800,000,000 and $3.4 billion seems downright piddly. Anyway, what is the price of an orderly place to raise kids (as David Brooks might put it)?
"We can't ever again let the corps force us to live with inferior protection," Jefferson Parish Council member John Young said last week.
That's for sure, and the fact that the corps is putting its weight behind an inferior plan is a bitter disappointment...
Here's a real howler, courtesy Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
The president is free to nominate whomever he likes. But picking judges based on his or her perceived sympathy for certain groups or individuals undermines the faith Americans have in our judicial system.More on the Republican plan to oppose President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court -- whoever he or she might be -- here. The choice of ultraconservative white Southerner Jeff Sessions to be the Republican public face during the nomination hearings must tempt Obama mightily to nominate an urban minority woman...
Cinco de Mayo: Lila Downs explains then sings "El Quinto Regimiento," a song of liberation from the Spanish Civil War: