New York, Arkansas…You Know, the Midwest


Remember when David Brooks had a reputation as a close observer of American society? The man can't even get his geography right.

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  1. God, I hate heretics!

    1. Let me know if God gets back to you about that, Maxward.

      1. A stoning will bring us the answers that we seek! How big can they be again?

        1. They can be as big as Keith Olbermann’s stones.

          1. I thought we were still talking weed?

  2. So, he said “Midwest” when he meant to say “Rust Belt”. Is that such a humiliating gaffe?

    1. In what universe is Arkansas part of the Rust Belt?

      1. Mine!

      2. I can see Central New York from here. And Little Rock just over them hills.

      3. Cars on blocks in front of trailers. There’s your Arkansas rust.

    2. We don’t cut heretics any slack.

      1. If you’re going to keep beating this Church of Libertarianism gag to death, Maxward, you should try to get the metaphors right. Brooks has never been a libertarian, so he would be a heathen, not a heretic.

        1. Is the r silent in heathen now?

          1. No, but the R in Maxward is…

        2. Heathen? What’s with using the polite PC-language, Jesse? Brooks is a straight-up political pagan, and I’m not afraid to say it.

        3. Yes, Maxward. Listen to your betters, like a good little progressive.

        4. He’s a right winger like you Jesse (wink, wink), but of a heretical variety.

          1. God…please tell me Max he is he has to be from another planet in order to not realize that libertarians have almost nothing in common with Brooks. Oh, and please smite him for his odious combination of arrogance and ignorance.

            1. And please smite me (please, oh please) for the typos and awkward phrasing of that last entry.

              1. Tell me, you fucking moron, that the matket-worshiping, tea-party-supporting “libertarians” here aren’t right wing.

                1. So supporting the free market and/or the tea party makes one right-wing? Nice brainfart, Maxward.

                  1. It’s a simple calculus for MaxWAD. We’re not left-wing, so ipso facto…

                  2. Well, yes. Yes it does. This weird idea that libertarianism is somehow not on the ‘normal’ political spectrum is foolishness. Liberals repeatedly shows anyone who cares to look that their devotion to individual liberty is false, yet some libertarians cling to those lies as evidence that libertarians should ally with the left.

                    Libertarians are to the right of Republicans and conservatives on the spectrum( Reps and cons dalliance with ‘social conservatism’ keeps them closer to the statist side than libertarians)

                2. Look, you unlettered, witless knuckle-scraper, how many right wingers oppose capital punishment, favor gay marriage rights, abortion rights, oppose the drug war and almost all military wars of the past century (and this century), consistently support civil liberties, and opposed most of the policies of the Bush administration? Also, how much of the above was in line with Brooks line of thinking. Oh, right, no need to answer that as you don’t or can’t read so you wouldn’t know. Ignorance and arrogance truly are one of the ugliest combinations of the human personality.

                  1. Max?

                    Oh, he ran away again.

                3. Right-wing = not left-wing.

                  Courtesy of Max’s Dictionary.

      2. It’s ironic because Max feels the need to label libertarians “right-wing.” To Maxward, being right-wing is the ultimate heresy. No need to question what right-wing is or if the person you’re attacking is actually right-wing, BURN HIM!!!11

        1. It’s ironic because so many avoid the label ‘right-wing’ based on liberal demonization of the term. Liberals associate National Socialist with ‘far right-wing’ ideas–despite the complete lack of right wing ideas at all, and people have internalized that.

          Statism cannot be ‘right wing’ Liberals and social conservatives are statist. They are, therefore, to the left of libertarianism.

          Stop letting the enemy define the terms.

          1. Actually, left wing and right wing are the two wings of the bird of prey of big government collectivism.

            Libertarians stand apart from such a creature. Libertarians aren’t to the right of anything. Libertarians are different altogether, standing apart, outside of, unique.

          2. If you define “right-wing” as antistatist or liberal, and “left-wing” as statist or illiberal, then on that contiuum, (some) self-described libertarians are to the right of (some) Republicans. Also on that continuum, (many) self-described leftists are to the right of many self-described rightists/conservatives/right-wingers/capitalists/whatevers, and some self-described leftists are to the right of some libertarians.

            Which should be a pretty good hint that your little political continuum is not what most people mean by “left” and “right”, a continuum in which libertarians happen to not fit very well. Which is perfectly fine; but if you’re going to think clearly, you need to not equivocate between the two.

  3. People like Brooks have to be corrected by their editors that we no longer call Ohio and Kentucky “the frontier”.

    1. Isn’t New York still the frontier?

      I mean, they’ve got all the savages living there and all, right? There, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

      1. Interesting point. Let’s ask Jesse.

        1. Daniel Boom! Daniel Boom! Davy, the king of the wild….

    2. I beg to differ.

      1. No. You just beg, period, you statist louse.

      2. Oh, and yeah, I hope you are ran over by a bus one day while crossing a falsely signaled green light. It would serve your state trusting ass right.

    1. Who’s on first.

  4. Mr. Brooks displays a perfect example of ‘flyover country’ mentality.

    1. Maybe he was having his period.

  5. Hey cut ole “crease in the pants” Brooksie a little slack. Just because he made a mind-numbingly idiotic geographical error doesn’t mean he isn’t still smarter than you.

    Just ask him.

  6. All us Great Unwashed look – and smell – the same to important people like Dave.

    1. I know, like totally, right? But I just

      1. totally

        1. love you guys anyway! Keep on rockin! Boy this website’s comments are wacky, huh? Still cool though!

          1. You tarted-up twit!

            1. What’s the frequency?

  7. He means Michigan, but he said “Michigan” twice, and he’s a lazy writer. It’s fine, if you think Brooks in general is fine.

    Market gap: a thesaurus of proper names, for journalists. (Rabbis have ’em. Secret shit.) Celebrity and athlete nicknames could pad it out to a couple thousand pages and make it look like business-expense type business. You could charge a couple grand for an update subscription.

    Marketeers, go!

  8. OT: NASA says they are going to find the source and fix the hydrogen leak so it doesn’t happen any more. I thought this was the last flight?

    1. It is, they are using matches to find the leak.

  9. I wouldn’t mind if Arkansas was included in the Midwest. Then maybe the University of Arkansas could move out of the SEC and not play a ranked team every other week.
    It would make my Saturdays so much less stressful.

    1. SEC snobs. (rolls eyes)

      1. It’s rough being in the best conference year after year.

  10. So growing up in Hanover, PA (east of Gettysburg) I was in the Midwest? Living in Jamestown, NY I was in the Midwest then too? Now I’m in Columbus, IN and will soon move to Mineral Point, WI so I’m still in the Midwest. When does the Midwest end? When will I get out of this hell?!

    As an aside where was I during my time living in Boston? The Eastwest or the Mideast?

    1. The midwest is everything between Manhattan and LA.

      1. Or more properly, that thin spit of land between the Hudson and Sacramento rivers…

  11. To be fair, Brooks doesn’t claim to be describing the midwest in that part of his column. Instead, he was talking about the working-class part of the country. He does go on to mention the Midwest, but he has no control over what the headline writer slaps on his article.

    Even on the substance, he’s closer than ya’ll are giving him credit for. St. Louis is clearly in the midwest and there are parts of Arkansas that are much more closely aligned with St. Louis than they would ever be with Savannah or Richmond (or even Little Rock). Arkansas is a “southern state,” but she was always too poor to be considered part of the plantation south.

    1. You’re the reason God made Oklahoma!

      1. Parts of OKLA are tied to St Louis, and a lot of Okies migrated to Bakersfield.

        1. Any idea how long it takes to get from Arkansas to St. Louis? It may be the difference between Boston and Jersey to you, but it’s not all that far for most of the country. I’m not a great Brooks defender generally, but he’s very clearly speaking about cultural geography, which doesn’t follow the neat strictures of physical geography the way you assume.

          1. The cultural distance from Arkansas to Wisconsin is pretty damn far.

            1. ^this^

            2. It doesn’t matter, you see, because they are all just rednecks who are not as sophisticated and nuanced in their thinking as us coastal types.

            3. Matt, not St. Louis, Wisconsin. The other one.

    2. If you have to twist shit to that extent to rationalize it away than why bother?

    3. I agree with Dallas Attorney and Rhywun below. I grew up in upstate NY, and later lived in Chicago. Been located at other times in Portland, Houston, SoCal and Tucson, and my extended family is from Georgia/Florida for generations back. Upstate NY towns have far more in common with Chicago (economically and ethnically) than any of the other places I’ve lived, visited or known through family. Just two cents. Arkansas is a stretch, I think.

      1. There might be a song or two in that comment.

      2. Chicago has more in common with upstate NY towns. It goes that way because there were upstate NY towns before there was a ‘Chicago’.

  12. He also makes the specious claim that government spending has exploded, when in fact, it has only increased a few percent. Increased federal spending was largely offset by decreased state spending. The stimulus “failed” because there was an equal and opposite de-stimulus at the state level.

    1. Is that the excuse for the day? I forget, we have so many and they’re always changing. Anyway, keep up the good work!

      1. Go have a McRib and get out of my country.

      2. You make it all sound so frat-boy simple.

    2. Chad, you have proven time and again you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about. So why don’t you just scurry off, and piss a cop off by reaching for his gun, or something. Just stop wasting that space you have ungraciously commandeered from the universe.

    3. Increased federal spending was largely offset by decreased state spending.

      Where was state spending decreased?

      California? Illinois? Maryland? West Virginia?

    4. Psst — you’re dangling.

  13. Why does David Brooks have an audience? Everything he writes is either laughably off-base or trivial.

    1. He provides ridicule-fodder for H&R.

  14. Well, IIRC, Walker has lived in Carolina, Michigan, and Maryland. So as a life-long mid-westerner, he should know.

  15. I don’t know about Arkansas but I’m from western New York and I can assure you that it is culturally Midwest. They speak with the same accent and they loathe that region on the other side of the Appalachians with the same fervor as their neighbors in (western) PA and OH. The pop/soda dividing line runs through central New York, for crying out loud.

    Not defending Brooks or anything – just sayin’.

    1. I’ve traveled a bit, and I find OH, Western PA, and Central and Western NY very Midwestern. I don’t agree with Brooks’s politics, but I get what he’s saying. I also did undergrad in Central NY, and it’s got a “Getting Away From Pretty Much Being Away From It All” feel to it. I especially thought Buffalo had a distinct Midwestern vibe when I spent some time there last Feb. Friendly people, and sort of a wide-open, laissez-faire lifestyle. At least socially, that is. It’s certainly not the Northeast nor New England, where I’m from.

  16. Yeah, the only part about this that struck me as off was Arkansas. Western NY and PA are definitely part of the Rust Belt or Great Lakes Region, and culturally there are similarities. Arkansas, on the other hand, is definitely part of the South.

    Whether we use the soda/pop/coke boundaries (Arkansas: coke, Midwest: pop) or power conference schools (Arkansas: SEC, Midwest: Big Ten), I don’t know of any Arkansans or Midwesterners who would consider any part of Arkansas part of the Midwest.

    1. How about the frontier? The frontier needs a new home.

  17. And here I thought I was the worst pupil in class, even I know where I stand!

    We help Americans find jobs and prosperity in Asia. Visit for details.

  18. You know who else thought Arkansas was part of the Midwest…

    Nope? Me neither….

  19. Albany: settled c. 1620
    Utica: settled c. 1790
    Chicago: settled c. 1830

    The settlement of New York west of the Mohawk awaited the defeat of the Iroquois, who sided with the British in the American Revolution. Settlement of Central and Western New York occurred at the came time and was part of the same process as settlement of the Old North West, now the Middle West. They are also old manufacturing regions that have been wrecked by government. The process is merely more advanced in Central and Western New York, because New York State government contributed independently.

  20. Albany: settled c. 1620
    Utica: settled c. 1790
    Chicago: settled c. 1830

    The settlement of New York west of the Mohawk awaited the defeat of the Iroquois, who sided with the British in the American Revolution. Settlement of Central and Western New York occurred at the came time and was part of the same process as settlement of the Old North West, now the Middle West. They are also old manufacturing regions that have been wrecked by government. The process is merely more advanced in Central and Western New York, because New York State government contributed independently.

    1. Come to think of it, most of Upstate New York was empty before the Erie Canal was build. The Hudson River connected Albany to Manhattan even in the days of New Amsterdam. The Erie Canal connected Utica with both the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean at the same time in 1825.

    2. The end of the French and Indian War in 1763 was a cause for great celebration in the colonies, for it removed several ominous barriers and opened up a host of new opportunities for the colonists. The French had effectively hemmed in the British settlers and had, from the perspective of the settlers, played the “Indians” against them. The first thing on the minds of colonists was the great western frontier that had opened to them when the French ceded that contested territory to the British. The royal proclamation of 1763 did much to dampen that celebration. The proclamation, in effect, closed off the frontier to colonial expansion. The King and his council presented the proclamation as a measure to calm the fears of the Indians, who felt that the colonists would drive them from their lands as they expanded westward. Many in the colonies felt that the object was to pen them in along the Atlantic seaboard where they would be easier to regulate. No doubt there was a large measure of truth in both of these positions. However the colonists could not help but feel a strong resentment when what they perceived to be their prize was snatched away from them. The proclamation provided that all lands west of the heads of all rivers which flowed into the Atlantic Ocean from the west or northwest were off-limits to the colonists. This excluded the rich Ohio Valley and all territory from the Ohio to the Mississippi rivers from settlement.

      I think Utica is West of this boundary, which puts it in the same category as Arkansas.

  21. The pop vs. soda map proves conclusively that western New York is culturally a part of the Midwest. Arkansas, no. Brooks is indeed a dink, but ad hominem slurs no matter how justified do not affect the facts.

    1. Hmm. So the USA is made of 4 regions: the East Coast, the West Coast, the North, and Greater Atlanta.

  22. I do think that Central New York is culturally closer to the Midwest than to Manhattan. Demographically it belongs there. It belongs there politically if you look at which districts elect Republicans and which districts elect Democrats (

  23. I’d heard of Arkansas, like Tenn, as “The Mid-South.” This was on the radio in both places, usually from desperate realtors, which they pronounce real-TOR.

    /Also, per that other article, Monkey County, MD can be quite hillbilly NW of Rt. 27, though admittedly Rockville Pike is just one planned 50k+ suburb of folks sucking on the gubmint teat after another. However, Chambersburg, PA is really Hagerstown, MD, a Baltimorish-town, though I’ve argued that the I-81 corridor is Greater Pennsyltucky, (Rust Belt+Appalachia), from TN-Scranton, with coal (now natural gas) the main economic driver, along with intermodal transport of goods by companies seeking to avoid I-95.

  24. Has anyone caught that the name of the man writing against David Brooks has the name William Easterly?

    The true use of the word Mid-West requires first defining what is the west and then defining the middle of it.

    Either way, both David Brooks and William Easterly are wrong as to what is the Midwest.

    If you go by the historical use of the word, Midwest, Brooks becomes closer to being right, while Easterly reveals his ignorance.

    Today’s Midwest centers around the city of Grand Junction, Colorado, if you go by roads and Salt Lake City, Utah, if you go by latitude and longitude.

    If you go by roads, then half the west-to-east distance between Los Angeles, California, and Portland, Maine, is the distance between Los Angeles and Joplin, Missouri. This defines the western half of the U.S.A.

    Half the north-to-south distance between McAllen, Texas, and Minot, North Dakota, is the distance between McAllen and Newton, Kansas.

    Roughly, Grand Junction, Colorado is the middle of the Midwest.

    If you go by latitude and longitude, taking that Lebanon, Kansas, as the geographic center of the contiguous U.S.A., then roughly Salt Lake City, Utah is the middle of the Midwest.

    A strong case can get made that the peoples of Central and Western New York as well as Western Pennsylvania live in what has been called historically “the Midwest.”

    Much linguistic evidence and cultural evidence supports this concept.

    Words define the beliefs held in the mind. When people speak and think from the same word hoard, such people tend to see the incidents of living similarly.

    Culture means the codified law and codes of conduct of a people.

    Those people of Central and Western New York as well as Western Pennsylvania share much in words, expression, cultural institution and cultural practice with those in neighboring Ohio and throughout the rest of the “Midwest.”

  25. Next let’s debate whether The Son is the “same substance” as The Father, or only a “similar substance”.

    That’s always fun!

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