David Brooks | Wisdom Isn’t What You Think It Is – The New York Times

” . . . When I think of the wise people in my own life, they are like that. It’s not the life-altering words of wisdom that drop from their lips, it’s the way they receive others. Too often the public depictions of wisdom involve remote, elderly sages who you approach with trepidation — and who give the perfect life-altering advice — Yoda, Dumbledore, Solomon. When a group of influential academics sought to define wisdom, they focused on how much knowledge a wise person had accumulated. Wisdom, they wrote, was “an expert knowledge system concerning the fundamental pragmatics of life.”

But when wisdom has shown up in my life, it’s been less a body of knowledge and more a way of interacting, less the dropping of secret information, more a way of relating that helped me stumble to my own realizations.

Wisdom is different from knowledge. Montaigne pointed out you can be knowledgeable with another person’s knowledge, but you can’t be wise with another person’s wisdom. Wisdom has an embodied moral element; out of your own moments of suffering comes a compassionate regard for the frailty of others.

Wise people don’t tell us what to do, they start by witnessing our story. They take the anecdotes, rationalizations and episodes we tell, and see us in a noble struggle. They see our narratives both from the inside, as we experience them, and from the outside, as we can’t. They see the ways we’re navigating the dialectics of life — intimacy versus independence, control versus uncertainty — and understand that our current self is just where we are right now, part of a long continuum of growth.

I have a friend, Kate Bowler, who teaches at Duke and learned at age 35 that she had stage IV cancer. In real life, and on her podcast, “Everything Happens,” I have seen her use her story again and again as a platform to let others frame their best story. Her confrontation with early death, and her alternating sad and hilarious responses to it, draws out a kind of candor in others. She models a vulnerability, and a focus on the big issues, and helps people understand where they are now.

People only change after they’ve felt understood. The really good confidants — the people we go to for wisdom — are more like story editors than sages. They take in your story, accept it, but prod you to reconsider it so you can change your relationship to your past and future. They ask you to clarify what it is you really want, or what baggage you left out of your clean tale. They ask you to probe for the deep problem that underlies the convenient surface problem you’ve come to them with.

It is this skillful, patient process of walking people to their own conclusions that feels like wisdom; maybe that’s why Aristotle called ethics a “social practice.”   . . . “

David Brooks | The Heart and Soul of the Biden Project – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“What is the quintessential American act? It is the leap of faith. The first European settlers left the comfort of their old countries and migrated to brutal conditions, convinced the future would be better on this continent. Immigrants all crossed oceans or wilderness to someplace they didn’t know, hoping that their children would someday breathe the atmosphere of prosperity and freedom.

Here we are again, one of those moments when we take a leap, a gamble, beckoned by the vision of new possibility. The early days of the Biden administration are nothing if not a daring leap.

I asked Anita Dunn, one of President Biden’s senior advisers, to reflect on the three giant proposals: Covid relief, infrastructure and the coming “family” plan. What vision binds them together? What is this thing, Bidenomics? Interestingly, she mentioned China.

This could be the Chinese century, with their dynamism and our decay. The unexpected combination of raw capitalism, authoritarianism and state direction of the economy could make China the dominant model around the globe. President Biden, Dunn said, believes that democracy needs to remind the world that it, too, can solve big problems. Democracy needs to stand up and show that we are still the future.

I asked Cecilia Rouse, the chair of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, where our vulnerabilities lie. It is in our public goods, she said, the degradation of our common life.

“The model of the past 40 years has been to rely on the private sector to carry the load, but that sector is not best suited to deliver certain public goods like work force training and infrastructure investment,” she told me. “These are places where there is market failure, which creates a role for government.”

Brian Deese, the director of Biden’s National Economic Council, said that Bidenomics has three key prongs: an effort to distribute money to those on the lower end of the income scale, an effort to use climate change as an opportunity to reinvent our energy and transportation systems, and an effort to replicate the daring of the moon shot by investing big-time in research and development.

Some people say this is like the New Deal. I’d say this is an updated, monster-size version of “the American System,” the 19th-century education and infrastructure investments inspired by Alexander Hamilton, championed by Henry Clay and then advanced by the early Republicans, like Abraham Lincoln. That was an unabashedly nationalist project, made by a youthful country, using an energetic government to secure two great goals: economic dynamism and national unity.

Bidenomics is a massive bid to promote economic dynamism. It’s not only the R&D spending and the green energy stuff; it’s also the massive investment in kids and human capital.”  . . .

David Brooks | Joe Biden Is a Transformational President – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post, via Getty Images

“This has been one of the most quietly consequential weeks in recent American politics.

The Covid-19 relief law that was just enacted is one of the most important pieces of legislation of our lifetimes. As Eric Levitz writes in New York magazine, the poorest fifth of households will see their income rise by 20 percent; a family of four with one working and one unemployed parent will receive $12,460 in benefits. Child poverty will be cut in half.

The law stretches far beyond Covid-19 relief. There’s a billion for national service programs. Black farmers will receive over $4 billion in what looks like a step toward reparations. There’s a huge expansion of health insurance subsidies. Many of these changes, like the child tax credit, may well become permanent.

As Michael Hendrix of the Manhattan Institute notes, America spent $4.8 trillion in today’s dollars fighting World War II. Over the past year, America has spent over $5.5 trillion fighting the pandemic.

In a polarized era, the legislation is widely popular. Three-quarters of Americans support the law, including 60 percent of Republicans, according to a Morning Consult survey. The Republican members of Congress voted against it, but the G.O.P. shows no interest in turning this into a great partisan battle. As I began to write this on Thursday morning, the Fox News home page had only two stories on the Covid relief bill and dozens on things like the royal family and cancel culture.

Somehow low-key Joe Biden gets yawns when he promotes progressive policies that would generate howls if promoted by a President Sanders or a President Warren.

This moment is like 1981, the dawn of the Reagan Revolution, except in reverse. It’s not just that government is heading in a new direction, it’s that the whole paradigm of the role of government in American life is shifting. Biden is not causing these tectonic plates to shift, but he is riding them.”  . . .

It has become a covid lockdown tradition here for us on Friday night to watch the PBS News Hour with Judy Woodruff, and with analysis near the end by David Brooks and now Jonathan Capehart. Then Judy ends with a video collage In Memorium of 5 people who have died recently of Covid-19, with photos and stories submitted by their families. It is breathtakingly sad.
In the 7 or 10 minutes of Brooks and Capehart, Brooks usually summarizes his op-ed from that same Friday’s NYT in one or two sentences, which is quite a feat of discipline and taciturnity. And what a great column he wrote. (above)

This weekend in the New York Times, reported by David Lindsay

Photo: Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand.

There has been plenty of good analysis this weekend in the New York Times.

Paul Krugman wrote on Friday, May 2nd, “But I’d argue that there are deeper reasons for the current stock market-real economy disconnect: Investors are buying stocks in part because they have nowhere else to go. In fact, there’s a sense in which stocks are strong precisely because the economy as a whole is so weak.

What, after all, is the main alternative to investing in stocks? Buying bonds. Yet these days bonds offer incredibly low returns. The interest rate on 10-year U.S. government bonds is only 0.6 percent, down from more than 3 percent in late 2018. If you want bonds that are protected against future inflation, their yield is minus half a percent.

So buying stock in companies that are still profitable despite the Covid-19 recession looks pretty attractive.

And why are interest rates so low? Because the bond market expects the economy to be depressed for years to come, and believes that the Federal Reserve will continue pursuing easy-money policies for the foreseeable future. As I said, there’s a sense in which stocks are strong precisely because the real economy is weak.” https://nyti.ms/3d4hMMx

 

David Brooks, not to be outdone, weighs in with good news. In a piece titled, Why Trump’s Ploy Stopped Working, he starts, Even in a pandemic there are weavers and rippers. The weavers try to spiritually hold each other so we can get through this together. The rippers, from Donald Trump on down, see everything through the prism of politics and still emphasize division. For the rippers on left and right, politics is a war that gives life meaning.

Fortunately, the rippers are not winning. America is pretty united right now. In an ABC News/Ipsos poll last week, 98 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans supported social-distancing rules. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov survey, nearly 90 percent of Americans think a second wave of the virus would be at least somewhat likely if we ended the lockdowns today.

Pew survey found 89 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats support the bipartisan federal aid packages. Seventy-seven percent of American adults think more aid will be necessary.

According to a USA Today/Ipsos poll, most of the policies on offer enjoyed tremendous bipartisan support: increasing testing (nearly 90 percent), temporarily halting immigration (79 percent) and continuing the lockdown until the end of April (69 percent). A KFF poll shows that people who have lost their jobs are just as supportive of the lockdowns as people who haven’t.

The polarization industry is loath to admit this, but, once you set aside the Trump circus, we are now more united than at any time since 9/11. The pandemic has reminded us of our interdependence and the need for a strong and effective government.” https://nyti.ms/2SoVXPL

 

The Editorial Board struck a blow to our President, with their editorial, In a Crisis, True Leaders Stand Out, which began, Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis it is easy to identify. As the pandemic has spread fear, disease and death, national leaders across the globe have been severely tested. Some have fallen short, sometimes dismally, but there are also those leaders who have risen to the moment, demonstrating resolve, courage, empathy, respect for science and elemental decency, and thereby dulling the impact of the disease on their people.

The master class on how to respond belongs to Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand. On March 21, when New Zealand still had only 52 confirmed cases, she told her fellow citizens what guidelines the government would follow in ramping up its response. Her message was clear: “These decisions will place the most significant restrictions on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history. But it is our best chance to slow the virus and to save lives.” And it was compassionate: “Please be strong, be kind and united against Covid-19.”

Ms. Ardern, a liberal, then joined with the conservative prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, in shaping a joint effort that has all but eliminated the virus from their island nations.”

 

Republican or Conservative- You Have to Choose – by David Brooks – NYT

“The never-Trumpers are having an interesting debate over the question, Is it time to leave the Republican Party? George Will and Steve Schmidt say yes: The Trumpian rot is all the way down. Bill Kristol says not so fast: Once Donald Trump falls, the party could be brought back to health, and the fight has to be within the party as well as without it.

My instinct is that we can clarify this debate by returning to first principles. Everybody in the conversation is conservative. Where do conservative loyalties lie? How can we serve those loyalties in these circumstances?

Conservatism, as Roger Scruton reminds us, was founded during the 18th-century Enlightenment. In France, Britain and the American colonies, Enlightenment thinkers were throwing off monarchic power and seeking to build an order based on reason and consent of the governed. Society is best seen as a social contract, these Enlightenment thinkers said. Free individuals get together and contract with one another to create order.

Conservatives said we agree with the general effort but think you’ve got human nature wrong. There never was such a thing as an autonomous, free individual who could gather with others to create order. Rather, individuals emerge out of families, communities, faiths, neighborhoods and nations. The order comes first. Individual freedom is an artifact of that order.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at NYT comments.
Bravo David Brooks, you are amazing. As my father liked to say, don’t let the bastards get you down. Folks! The civil rights movement of the 1050”s and 60’s had wonderful leaders from diverse backgrounds and parties. Martin Luther King was one of many black church leaders and civil rights activists. He was helped by the likes of John Lindsay, who co-authored the civil rights act while working in the attorney general’s office for President Eisenhower. Lindsay and small group of mostly liberal Republicans forced the Kennedys to bring the civil rights act to a vote, and Lyndon Johnson, then the Vice President, and a southern conservative Democrat, was a leader of the management that got the civil rights act passed. All of these historical facts support David Brooks’ deep thinking on these difficult subjects.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

The Politics of Clan: The Adventures of Jared Kushner – by David Brooks – NYT

“We don’t know everything about his meetings with the Russians, but we know that they, like so much other clan-like behavior, went against the formal system. We also know that they betray rookie naïveté on several levels — apparently trusting the Russians not to betray him, apparently not understanding that these conversations would be surveyed by the American intelligence services, possibly not understanding how alarming they would look to outsiders.

We seem to now be entering the paranoia phase of the Trump presidency, as insiders perceive that everybody else is out to get them. As The Times’s Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere detailed in some amazing reporting, Kushner’s role in this White House may be in peril. This turmoil, for both Trump and Kushner, was inevitable”

Bravo David Brooks. You make me smarter, and more informed with depth.

Here is the first comment I read, and marvel at. This poetry is based on a very famous ballad, the Flying Cloud, starting, Oh my name is Edward Hollander. It was rewritten by Steve Goodman, as the Ballad of Penny Evans.

Larry Eisenberg is a trusted commenter Medford, Ma. 5 hours ago

with apologies to G and S

My name is Jared Kushner on intrigue I am intent
I Journey everywhere I always go where I am sent
The right hand man of Donald, a deal maker supreme
And I am his adviser on every squalid scheme
I deal with Russian diplomats as a matter of course
Just as I deal “with Frenchies who are active on the Bourse
Critics say I use back door channels just to make a buck,
they think the reason for my wealth is not savvy & pluck
And I can’t think why!

I am an active slumlord and evictions are my meat
To squeeze more cash from tenants I will not suffer defeat,
Repairs are never timely, each flat looks like a dump
I have the warm approval of my father-in-law, Trump.
I deal a lot with Russian Banks and lavish loans we’ve had.
They get good int’rest in return, it doesn’t make them sad,
And now I am the subject of an FBI witch hunt,
Publicity’s the reason, it’s a vile uncalled for stunt
And I can’t think why!

And I’m his wife Ivanka, I’m the daughter of the Don,
I live a Life in clover, unlike Butler’s Erewhon,
I have a line of products products which the Public doesn’t buy
And Daddy tweets malevolence with stores short on supply
I seem to run his businesses,in fact I never do
The Trust he built is phony he makes all decisions, too,
I act as an adviser yet my knowledge is so scant
I’d like to advance womankind but Daddy says I can’t
And I don’t know why!

Reply 751 Recommended

The Post-Trump Era, by David Brooks – The New York Times

“As awful as Donald Trump is, it will be exciting to witness the coming re-creation of the Republican Party.” NYT

Source: The Post-Trump Era – The New York Times

I liked this piece, and admire David Brooks, but not on politics. There was so much missing form his pretty description of a changing GOP.
Short on time and energy and brains, I went straight to the Comments for some firepower.
Here is one of many excellent comments I enjoyed:

gemli is a trusted commenter Boston 1 day ago

“Spin it as a model failure if you must, Mr. Brooks, but Republicans are responsible for their undoing.

The Reagan era marked the transition from a time of social and economic progress to one of naked greed and self-righteous fundamentalism. From covert wars to the savings and loan crisis it unleashed the forces of greed and power that characterize conservative policies today. It also heralded in the rise of the religious right with the Moral Majority and created social havoc with simplistic “Just say no” drug policies and mandatory sentencing.

The dumbing down of America was preceded by the dumbing down of its leadership, reaching its nadir with the Republican reaction to Barack Obama. Trump was midwife at the birth of the birther movement, and carried the banner for ignorance and spite that marshalled the forces of the Tea Party, the science-deniers and the Christian fundamentalists.

David Brooks and his fellow pundits were apologists for a destructive Republican philosophy that chipped away at the wall between church and state while it built one between ordinary people and the economic benefits of living in the richest country in the world.

Republicans tried to stop Obama by grinding the wheels of government to a halt. Trump is the low-information response to stagnation and economic abandonment.

Now these same pundits are wringing their hands and wondering how things could have gotten so far out of control. To find the answer, they need only look in the mirror.”

1010Recommended

It’s Not Too Late! by David Brooks – The New York Times, Lindsay’s Comment

“Back in the early evening, before the current panic set in, Republicans understood that Ted Cruz would be a terrible general election candidate, at least as unelectable as Donald Trump and maybe more so. He is the single most conservative Republican in Congress, far adrift from the American mainstream. He’s been doing well in primaries because of the support of “extremely conservative” voters in very conservative states, and he really hasn’t broken out of that lane. His political profile is a slightly enlarged Rick Santorum but without the heart.On policy grounds, he would be unacceptable to a large majority in this country. But his policy disadvantages are overshadowed by his public image ones. His rhetorical style will come across to young and independent voters as smarmy and oleaginous. In Congress, he had two accomplishments: the disastrous government shutdown and persuading all his colleagues to dislike him.There is another path, one that doesn’t leave you self-loathing in the morning. It’s a long shot, but given the alternatives, it’s worth trying. First, hit the pause button on the rush to Cruz. Second, continue the Romneyesque assault on Trump. The results on Saturday, when late voters swung sharply against the Donald, suggest it may be working.Third, work for a Marco Rubio miracle in Florida on March 15. Fourth, clear the field for John Kasich in Ohio. If Rubio and Kasich win their home states, Trump will need to take nearly 70 percent of the remaining delegates to secure a majority. That would be unlikely; he’s only winning 44 percent of the delegates now.The party would go to the convention without a clear nominee. It would be bedlam for a few days, but a broadly acceptable new option might emerge.”

Source: It’s Not Too Late! – The New York Times

Dear David Brooks. Thank you for a brilliant piece. Unfortunately, I read down the Comments in the Readers Picks, and some of your critics are clearer than you are. They are right, that there is no deep bench, or that there was any serious variety of positions on serious matters, with the exception possibly of Donald Trump. I gravitated towards Kaisich, but others say that underneath his golden veneer, he has many of the same positions as the other anti-science dwarves. He accepts that climate change is real, but not sure that is is caused by human activity. As a fan of yours, who agrees with you and Tom Friedman, that we need two viable, healthy parties for a healthy democracy, I recommend that you read carefully the critics in the comments, and imagine that the undecided convention look outside the 17 dwarves. It might be too late to revive the party of Lincoln, but if the convention wants to keep their party alive, they need someone of Lincoln’s stature. There aren’t many names that come to mind. Michael Bloomberg and Colin Powell are the only ones I can think of. Was Arnold Schwarzenegger concerned about climate change? Is Alan Simpson still kicking? Are there any Republican civil rights leaders, like the deceased John Lindsay?

Paul Krugman has written that the Republican party in now a serious threat to the small chance the world has to address climate change in time. The current GOP is a threat to life on earth as we know and enjoy it.

Time for a Republican Conspiracy! -David Brooks,  The New York Times

“Reality-based conservatives should mobilize against the hijacking of our party.”

Source: Time for a Republican Conspiracy! – The New York Times

Good afternoon Mr. Brooks. Great points. And, I hope you are reading all the articulate comments here in the NYT in the comments section pointing out that moderates like you have been asleep for too many years to probably inflate this ship of fools and fascists now led by Trump and Cruz. God help us if they win! And C D E and F are not that different on key points like climate change.

I share your desire to save the Republican party. We should work to have both the house and the senate turn Democratic, ungerrymander the country, and undo the Citizens United fiasco. Now that you have woken up, join the intellctual middle.

The Brutalism of Ted Cruz – by David Brooks, New York Times

“In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.”

Source: The Brutalism of Ted Cruz – The New York Times