Smug style?

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

The smug style in American liberalism

I don’t agree with everything in this long essay, but some of it rings true. I take the author’s point about boycotting Indiana over the marriage equality issue but failing to boycott over the failure-to-expand Medicaid issue. “But few opinion makers fraternize with the impoverished”. I don’t know if that’s true. I do fraternize with the impoverished, and I’m usually horrified at how racist and reactionary they are, but I try not to be condescending about it and I try to figure out where they’re coming from. I don’t always succeed.


122 thoughts on “Smug style?

  1. Democratic core: educated, the coastal, and the professional.

    Rockefeller Republicans?

    Today it can effectively be argued that the centrist wing of the Democratic Party (Bill Clinton, Barack Obama) is most similar to the Rockefeller Republicans in policy and ideology. Indeed, in the world that is not the United States, Obama has been compared to the “one nation Toryism” of Benjamin Disraeli,[7] and he’s even been explicitly linked to old-styled Rockefeller Republicans.

  2. I wish I had time to read this whole article today vs a quick skim. I think a conversation I have been following fits into this.

    As background, most of us have a set point in our head about what things should cost. For example, three years ago gas over $1.50 a gallon hits the barometer in my brain as being expensive as does a lunch special over $7. Yes, I pay that all the time, and my new set point is more like $1.90 and $10.

    The discussion focused on a similar “set point” on the political spectrum as well and how it shifts opinion and voting. The main idea is that you have a “set point” of what the “problem” and “solution” are and then you must be convinced off of that point. Politicians work to create a new set point to get public opionion and/or votes on their side. If you move the set point, you are able to remove elements of the discussion.

    The set point doesn’t have to even be true, it just has to be perceived as true. I think different parties lose/gain supporters based on how well their message aligns with the set point. For example, government experience is bad because you are an insider who spends our tax dollars willy nilly is a set point. Arguing that your candidate is an outsider gains traction as it supports the set point.

  3. I certainly get that the working class has abandoned the Democratic party. That really happened, though, in the 70’s and 80’s, and if anything, may be reversing itself now. The thing is, the working class has now also largely abandoned the Republican party, at least the Republican party that we would all recognize. Trump is not a Republican in any sense of the word. I would say that the root cause is the same – the Republicans had become very smug. Think of all the conservative pundits of the last 20 years, tsk-tsking the working class for not getting married, for not having babies at the proper time, for not planning properly for their futures and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Charles Murray is pretty smug.

  4. Republicans had become very smug.

    Every description I’ve read of Ted Cruz involved the term smug ideologue.

  5. I agree with some of the points. I see it within my family, as my siblings are in Hollywood and university environments while my fly-over country dad is a pretty conservative Republican. I feel like they do condescend about his opinions without trying to see where he is coming from, and I see more extreme versions of the smugness on their FB feeds. When he, child of immigrants who grew up in poor inter-city area, disagrees that certain social policies are the correct solution to problems, they disregard him as a cranky old man. (Never to his face – there is much love there on non-political topics) One sibling won’t leave their wealthy-enclave ultra-educated spouse alone in the room with my dad because he wants to debate everything because of his certainty of his opinions.

    I do think it goes both ways. I have plenty of conservative friends who use the term liberal in a way that could be interchangeable with leper. They view liberals as Godless heathens who only espouse those views because they are completely devoid of basic morals. The poor Republicans I know well enough to know their political views are driven most by social issues. They deride obamacare, although prior to it not one of them would be able to buy insurance on the open market due to pre-existing conditions. Their teen unwed mother daughters take advantage of all government aid available to them, comparing notes on what you can get for free as soon as you get pregnant. (Dental care, for those who are curious). They have bi-racial grandchildren, minority children-in-law, and are more vocal in their contempt of the Democratic Party than anyone in my work or social circles.

  6. I saw this the other day and started rolling with laughter. As I am sure you guys know, Smithsonian tours tend to cater to the very cultural elites we are discussing. Evidently the elites are discovering that there is actual art! and architecture! out there in flyover country. But it is just too foreign, too scary, and they need a guide to interpret all that Midwestern culture. Thankfully, the Smithsonian is happy to fill that void, with its new heartland tour of Indiana.

    Me and my sib (who travels to Indiana and Ohio too for the museums and cultural sites) were giggling up a storm over this one.

  7. “Charles Murray is pretty smug.”

    Yeah, I can’t disagree. I saw his comments on Trump a few weeks ago and I lost a lot of my esteem for him.

    Tying this to the other thread, I was watching the news coverage of the Washington DC BLM gathering outside the White House last night, before the Dallas tragedy, and I realized how much more I sympathize with the AA protesters and listen to their points, whereas many of the white upper class progressives turn me off immediately. (In the media, not here).

    The UMC is just the worst. Despicable people, the lot of them. ;)

  8. Rhett that was what my brain used as a barometer, not the cost at the time.

  9. “I think the issue is that elites on both sides have become very smug.”

    Just to be clear–everyone realizes that this is us, right? We are the elites.

  10. Houston, I was going to make that same point. And we are very smug indeed, from the liberals who can’t understand why poor whites “vote against their interests” to the conservatives who say that poor people are poor due to bad genetics and worse decision making ability. Hmm, just reading that, I see a common thread….

  11. And FB makes it all worse with everyone trying to “educate” others on the correct view to have on every single topic. I have a girl on my FB feed (a Bernie supporter) who is constantly imploring her audience to “get educated about what’s going on” (which she presumably believes she has done).

    I liked this piece:
    View story at

  12. Atlanta, I liked that article too. I find that fewer people are learning how to discuss an issue – by that I mean (1) stating your position and backing it up with something other than a gut feeling, (2) listening to another person who does that and (3) being able to figure out where your positions are similar and different – without getting into an argument that damages the relationship with that person. Or, maybe more importantly, without resorting to you are dumb if you don’t agree with me.

    I was part of a discussion a few weeks about about why its OK to get rid of Confederate flags/statues unless they are shown in a negative way becasue we need to reframe our viewpoint, but on the abortion issue we have to look at the “whole” history of the issue. One person stomped off angry and hasn’t responded to anyone else who was there regardless of the viewpoint of the others.

  13. But I am going to turn this on its head – I personally think the white non-elites are just as smug as us elites. There are so many, especially back where my family still lives, who just cannot accept anyone who doesn’t engage in white mass culture as being a real American. If you don’t hunt, or you prefer soccer to football, or you live in a city, or you eat rice and beans in preference to French fries, you must be some kind of other. If you live in California or NY, you must be some kind of horrible person (think Cruz’s “New York values”). If you aren’t in an evangelical religion (and this one I grew up with) you couldn’t be a true American. And yeah, if you have roots in another country, or are not white, you aren’t American – you are a special interest group.

  14. “The main idea is that you have a “set point” of what the “problem” and “solution” are and then you must be convinced off of that point. Politicians work to create a new set point to get public opionion and/or votes on their side. If you move the set point, you are able to remove elements of the discussion.”

    It sounds like the Overton Window.

    The Overton window is an approach to identifying which ideas define the domain of acceptability within a democracy’s possible governmental policies. Proponents of policies outside the window seek to persuade or educate the public in order to move and/or expand the window. Proponents of current policies, or similar ones, within the window seek to convince people that policies outside it should be deemed unacceptable.

  15. I find that fewer people are learning how to discuss an issue – by that I mean (1) stating your position and backing it up with something other than a gut feeling, (2) listening to another person who does that and (3) being able to figure out where your positions are similar and different – without getting into an argument that damages the relationship with that person.

    That’s because the kids’ writing classes are all about their feeeeeelings and stupid journals. No one knows how to write an essay on a set topic. Not enough philosophy and critical thinking. Grrr. I used to tell my students that I didn’t give a damn how they felt, I only cared about what they thought. I was met with lots of startled stares.

  16. If you don’t hunt, or you prefer soccer to football, or you live in a city, or you eat rice and beans in preference to French fries, you must be some kind of other. If you live in California or NY, you must be some kind of horrible person

    When we went to the rodeo in Cody, WY, the announcer was filling time between events by asking “Who here’s from ___?” and then making some sort of quip based on the response. When he asked who was from CA, and got a response, the quip was “Welcome to the U-nited States of America!” Hahaha, the Cali crowd laughed along like good sports, but it did have me thinking, why does WY think that it’s the real USA and CA is not? WY is the least populated state in the union, with a fraction of a percentage point of the US population, compared to CA’s 12+ percent. But it’s taken for granted not just in WY but in conservative politics that WY is the real America in a way that CA is not.

  17. That’s because the kids’ writing classes are all about their feeeeeelings and stupid journals.

    You’ll be happy to know that the last few years of elementary school were devoted to learning to write a five paragraph essay, which then was the expected format for middle school essays in social studies etc. A rather formulaic five paragraph essay, but by god did they learn about topic sentences and supporting points drawn from the evidence.

  18. Dang, I could talk about this all day, but I have a ton of errands to run and a cranky baby on my hands. I love the article Atlanta shared- particularly the point along the lines that “if you can’t clearly state your opponent’s argument, you don’t understand the debate.” I see this a lot on many social issues- for instance, with abortion, some pro-choicers don’t understand that the crux of the issue to pro-lifers is that they believe a fetus is a full human being with all the accompanying human rights. So from that perspective, abortion laws have nothing to do with patriarchy or controlling women, but simply not wanting murder to be legalized. Of course, many may disagree about the personhood of the fetus, but it is ignorant to think that the average pro-lifer is motivated by hatred of women or something like that.

    On a related note, I find a lot of value in reading stuff I disagree with. Sometimes I even change my view- for instance, I support most of the Black Lives Matter movement despite generally being of political views that you wouldn’t associate with that. I would hope that most thinking people are willing to explore other views sincerely enough that they occasionally change their mind.

  19. Discussing issues. Over the weekend we were talking about an auto “accident” that occurred. The specifics escape me. Once that point ended I said that I’d heard that the NHTSA or Insurance Institute for Auto Safety, I forget which, but I heard it on NPR*, was trying to get the word accident replaced by the word crash in all instances because “accident” provides absolution (impossible to prevent…act of God) vs “crash” which implies there is always fault (following too close, speeding, car in poor repair, impaired driver, etc). Anyway, my MIL, definitely 1% by $$, but not the most thoughtful person in matters involving science / human behavior / nuance of language, wasn’t buying it. In other words, when a car hits something, it’s an accident…that’s the definition. It’s another way of saying crash. I tried once to explain the absolution thing, then gave up.

    Which is why DW has ordered me to stay away from politics with her…and to never detract from anything Bill O’Reilly says.

    She cannot see the other point of view.

    Which is usually what makes us different here. I don’t have to agree with you, though most often I do, but I am interested in different points of view.

    *didn’t mention that, for I might get shunned as a liberal / elite. They probably think of me as too quiet / bookish / heathenish for being non-religious anyway, but I am a great dad to three of their grandkids.

  20. Fred,

    Interestingly enough, in some parts of the country they say wreck rather than accident.

  21. Y’all seem to spend a lot of time discussing politics with friends and family. I’ve been taught that it’s not a polite topic–I limit my political discussions to DH, with whom I usually agree.

  22. And, by the way, I would say almost all crashes are unintentional. Rarely does someone try to hit another car / person. if only a little more care were taken to observe following distance, speed, etc. a big chunk of them could be avoided.

  23. I think the creators of South Park got it right in the sense of what each group thinks of the others’ smugness. Warning the video does include some low brow humor.

  24. We call it a wreck here (“there’s a wreck on the bridge” is a daily e-mail alert)

    I agree that critical thinking is one of the most important skills in life. This, to me, is one of the great benefits of my liberal arts undergraduate degree – the heavy, heavy emphasis on critical thinking/analysis/writing.

  25. “imploring her audience to “get educated about what’s going on” (which she presumably believes she has done).”

    and assumes that you haven’t. Bernie supporters are uniformly irritating in this manner. Cuz, of course, once you are educated you couldn’t possibly simply disagree with them.

    “If you don’t hunt, or you prefer soccer to football, or you live in a city, or you eat rice and beans in preference to French fries, you must be some kind of other.”

    ITA Mooshi.

    My BIL, an upstate NY conservative, is slowly realizing that he is now part of the elite due to significant career advancements as compared to his high school buddies. It sits uncomfortably with him.

  26. “Bernie supporters are uniformly irritating in this manner.”

    Wow. Just…wow. Please take your meds, OK? Get educated, because I just can’t even right now. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Let the adults have a conversation.

    (Just bringing a little of the Slate/Huffington Post style of commentary to the TB)

  27. LOL Milo.

    For those of you I’ve actually offended, let me limit my comments to those Bernie supporters I know or that show up on my FB feed.

    On my FB feed now – police should not be armed – discuss.

  28. Am I the only one who blocks people on FB who constantly post political crap? I don’t want to read that stuff there.

  29. On my FB feed now – police should not be armed – discuss.

    Meter maids are not armed but traffic cops are. I’m not sure that traffic enforcement needs to be a police duty.

  30. “Well, probably many of us and some of our children were “accidents.” ”

    uhhh…but with a little more forethought, maybe a little less alcohol-diminished executive function, in some cases, those would not happen.

  31. Update on the rats in the dumpster. The Condo board (no poison because of the food chain) authorized a $4500 rat treatment that involves traps and dry ice in the burrows (it apparently works). Immediately afterward they issued an email telling all unit owners to keep 100% of garbage and food container recycle in the unit until 7pm the night before weekly trash collection day. Trash cans or other refuse are not permitted on our patios, btw. This so that the money would not be “wasted” and new rats would not be attracted.

    Within a few minutes one of the owners (an young Indian woman with a baby and a proper sense of hygiene) had researched the cost (about the same as one rat treatment), compatibility with the trash hauling company, and delivery window for a critter proof dumpster. She circulated an email and asked the paid property management company to draft the resolution for the Board to approve. The Board replied with a thanks for doing the research email (bless your heart, northeast style), and started to send out praise/exhortation emails – Great job, no bags in the dumpster on day one! I contacted the Board and said, well, I am prepping the basement for my returning child, I am going to put my non food non recycle trash in the dumpster tomorrow. Email back, please don’t, we want to set an example, not everyone is as conscientious as you in sorting (bless your heart, #2). So I wrote back something polite (bless your heart #3) the majority of residents are expecting a new dumpster, 100% compliance is impossible in the long run, to encourage short term cooperation I suggest you let everyone know the delivery schedule. It was effective!!!! The Board sent out an email today asking everyone to contact the property manager not them (for anonymity’s sake) with their opinion on a 200 per unit one time assessment to get a new dumpster.

  32. I don’t block all the political stuff, but I do block people who will directly or indirectly (1) say don’t reply to this if you don’t agree and/or (2) have rude replies to people they disagree with. I agree that reading or listening to other points of view is beneficial as long as it stays at the intellectual level and doesn’t go to labeling or phyiscal actions taken towards those who disagree.

    I don’t discuss politics with people I don’t know very well or people who can’t keep it civil. I have a long time friend for whom gun control is a huge issue due to being threatened with a gun as a child by a mentally ill parent (who did fire the gun in the house several times). Can’t imagine living through that, can understand how it would shape your viewpoint on gun control, but also don’t see the value of bringing up after learning the viewpoint as it will not move any closer to center.

  33. ““Well, probably many of us and some of our children were “accidents.” ”

    uhhh…but with a little more forethought, maybe a little less alcohol-diminished executive function, in some cases, those would not happen.”

    To further link to the conversation – if you planned your life as we (the royal we) did, you would have planned for this eventuality, would have had your babies at the proper time (and only inside the institution of marriage) and would have fully funded your babies’ college fund.

    Goodness, we are all smug a-holes.

  34. Goodness, we are all smug a-holes.

    I don’t think we’re too bad. I think we have a decent sense of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes and all that.

  35. I did have someone tell me on fb (a mommy group friend) to educate myself on the science of Creationists (oxymoron?) before mocking the dinosaurs at the Ark exhibit in KY

  36. I think one person may get unfollowed soon. If only because he speaks in sound bytes which make him sound terribly unintelligent and only ever believes one side of the issue. He claims to educate himself with the “other side” but he never listens.

  37. @Rhode – in my case, said babies are big kids who are draining their college funds by wanting to buy Pokemon cards. They need more education on the benefits of education.

  38. WM – LMAO!!!! Thank you for the laugh. I want to see that exhibit just for the people watching and idle curiosity. I really am trying to understand their “science”. What evidence do they have that dinosaurs and man lived side-by-side? And is it modern man? Do they accept Neanderthals, and other species within the genus Homo?

    Rhett – I’m sure most people, individually, have a sense of walking a mile… but collectively, we are smug. It’s like the adage – individually people are smart, collectively they are dumb.

  39. Louise — are they playing Pokemon Go? Mine slipped out some time around 7:30 to chase down wild Pokemon and didn’t return home till 9:15. On the plus side, I wanted them to be running around the neighborhood during summer break, and now they’re finally doing it.

  40. You get kicked out of my facebook feed for super-crazy talk – like Orlando was a False Flag operation (someone recently got booted for that), or posting too many simple anti-democrat or pro-gun memes (life’s a b*tch, don’t elect one).

    There has actually been some thoughtful discussion in my FB world about guns, and I enjoy following that. Perhaps because I come from (and so do many of my “friends”) a conflicted demographic on gun control. I grew up around guns in the West, now am crazy liberal – so there can be a bit of nuance to the discussion.

  41. I hide people on FB when I can. The problem for me is that the two biggest political post offenders are my mother and brother. Mom is a bleeding heart liberal of the old school hippyish variety who is currently boycotting North Carolina over the anti-LGBTQ legislation and also does extensive volunteer work through her church and asks for donations to the local food pantry and/or Doctors Withiut Borders instead of gifts for all occasions. Brother is a know-it-all Bernie supporter. I just feel that I can’t hide immediate family so I roll my eyes and move on. They both live in true flyover country, FWIW.

    I do think that there is a lot of smugness all around. I enjoy reading other people’s viewpoint here on this blog precisely because it is thoughtful and civilized most of the time.

    I don’t particularly like talking politics much with family & friends, but our families never shut up about it. I am surprised by how many people in my office openly talk politics and seem to assume that all around are Lakeshore Liberal types. (I guess most are, but then again, who is going to speak up if the EVP’s are pushing Democratic politics.)

    Meme – thanks for the update on the dumpster saga. Again, I could absolutely see that happening here. Love the “Bless Your Heart” NE-style.

  42. MM, I had to laugh at your link to The Smithsonian tour of Indiana. Indianapolis is wonderful! There really is incredible culture there.

    Now, Columbus, the other city they visit is just off the chart. One of my sisters has lived there for close to a million years (or 6,000 years, depending on your views). The architecture in this (what used to be the middle of nowhere) farming town is absolutely breath-taking.

    As I understand it, and I could be wrong– remember, I’m packing; we move Monday, so I have no time to look it up– but the founder of Cummins Engine agreed to cover the costs of building and designing public buildings (schools, fire stations, and the like) and churches. With a proviso: that the building be designed by only one of the best architects in the world.

    That is why you see churches that look like space ships rising from (what used to be and hopefully still are) cornfields, fire stations that look like Legos, schools that literally are all glass and slides.

    It is truly an architectural mecca. Right there in nowhere.

  43. Rhett – the folks back home got into such a tizzy over what their new church should look like and they certainly wouldn’t have voted for something that looked like that picture. They did want something new so they went with round domes which some of the parishioners hated any way because they said that it looked like a mosque.

    Meme – I loved the description of the raining rats episodes.

  44. And this was 60 years ago:

    It has a certain James Bond meets Stanley Kubric 2001 vibe that I just love.

  45. I’m stuck in the airport in Las Vegas due to bad weather on the east coast. We are waiting it out in a lounge through Amex, but there is one guy that can’t stop sneezing. It’s gross and there is no pollen here.

    I met “smug” people from all over the US this week. I also met some really nice people. This was my first vacation here. All prior visits were for conferences, and I hated it. This week was different and there are plenty of chances to talk to people because there are so many lines here.

    I met people from at least ten different states this week. We had a shared experience last night as the events in Dallas unfolded while we waited with other people to enter a theatre. Listening to the different opinions was interesting, but everyone seemed shocked and saddened.

    A few days in Nevada combined with my time last week in rural PA is an important eye opener for this smug liberal from the east coast.

  46. Thanks! Rhett. That is the flying saucer church I was thinking about. It was surrounded by cornfields last time I saw it. It is breath-taking inside. And it must be about 50 years old by now!

    So much architectural beauty in that “town”.

  47. And natural beauty, too. Cornfields in summer as far as the eye can see are, to me, at least awe-inspiring.

  48. When he asked who was from CA, and got a response, the quip was “Welcome to the U-nited States of America!”

    This sort of thing is so standard that I don’t even notice anymore. The one time I really noticed was during freshman orientation at college, one of the deans asked where everyone was from. I told him where I was and his response was, “Welcome to civilzation” That really hurt, and was not what a homesick eighteen year old needed.

  49. Stony Lonesome would be a good band name. Or nom de net.

    As I try to improve the circulation in my legs I’ve been considering changing my name to Venus Insufficiency.

  50. On FB, I do post political stuff, as well as kid photos, cute kitty photos, and photos of food. I think I have now just listed the 4 topics that account for 95% of FB posts :-)

    I also read other political posts, in particular, those that are different from my own views. I have some very conservative friends whose POV I can respect even if I do not agree. I especially understand principled evangelicals, those who are really following Christian ideals as they see it. I don’t come to the same conclusions, obviously, but I can see their reasoning.

    Now Libertarians, sorry, I just don’t get it.

  51. RMS, I had the same thought re band names. My kids have been collecting names for the band that they will never form, the leading contender being Hand-Held Iguana-Makers, from Calvin and Hobbes.

  52. Now Libertarians, sorry, I just don’t get it

    Just leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone.

    From “Paint Your Wagon”

    “There’s room enough in hell for all of us”

  53. off topic: we have tix for Fiddler on the Roof tomorrow afternoon. It is actually my birthday tomorrow, so afterwards, we want to go out to eat. I am actually not all that familiar with restaurants in the midtown west area (we are more likely to eat in Flushing these days). We could go down to the Korean places in the 30’s but that is a ways. Any recommendations for places that are both family friendly AND good (no Times Square chains, please), and preferably not Italian? If it is a place with good beer, all the better….

    I have to admit – this is only my second Broadway show ever. My first was Wicked – I chaperoned the 5th grade class trip to see it, after getting off a redeye from SF, so I wasn’t in the best mood. I wasn’t huge on Wicked because I didn’t like the music or the overamplification. I did think the plot was good. But I know I like the music from Fiddler on the Roof, and I always do like dancing Eastern Europeans.

  54. “Just leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone.”
    Yeah, I just can’t get my head into that mindset the way I can for deeply religious Christians.

    My DH was thankfully working from home the day of 9/11. But his boss, who was in the office, saw the planes go by and had a view of the burning buildings. HIs boss had been a Libertarian, but after 9/11, he kind of changed his mind, and at one point he said to DH that he could see, as those buildings burned, that Libertarianism is unworkable.

  55. Kids just got home from camp. I need to take them somewhere. We were going to go swimming but the clouds have rolled in. The library is closing in 30 minutes, and we can’t find any movies we want to see. Guess it will be the Barnes and Nobles.

  56. Mémé’s rat saga ties in nicely with my thoughts about this article. My Dad, the exterminator, would take a libertarian view of rat extermination and would let the property owner decide to exterminate or not exterminate the rats. He would not choose to be part of the Rat Discussion Community, is not a Team Player and would not Bless Your Heart. But the rats would be dead for a cost of $x (or even $0.xx) per rat.

    The problem is that in a democracy, my Dad’s decades of experience with grain silos, grain elevators and rail car loading and unloading in a dog food plant still count for one vote, and the 50 people discussing a few rats near Mémé’s condo have 50 votes. My Dad would also observe that they have lots of money, and are willing to pay $xxx per rat for rats they can see, but only $0.xx for the rats they can’t see at their Rural Midwestern Food Processing Plant.

    Remember a few years ago when there was a controversy about rats in a peanut butter plant? My Dad’s comment was, “If they haven’t ever found rats in that peanut butter plant, they aren’t looking hard enough.”

  57. MM – they don’t want to see Life of Pets? I loved Fiddler on the Roof. This weekend I’m seeing Annie (Children’s production) and next weekend is Lion King. I love Broadway shows, but of course, not actually seen on Broadway.

  58. How about Alfies on 53rd and 9th? Great beer, but check menus for your kids. I think if pre theatre, should be fine with kids. I’ve just been with adults.

  59. The problem is that in a democracy, my Dad’s decades of experience with grain silos, grain elevators and rail car loading and unloading in a dog food plant still count for one vote, and the 50 people discussing a few rats near Mémé’s condo have 50 votes.

    WCE, before you conclude that their voting rights are a problem, consider the possibility that those 50 people have their own areas of expertise, and your dad, though a well-informed man, may not know so much about those areas.

    Now the people who seem ignorant about everything make me crazy, but they’re still part of the population and disenfranchising them wouldn’t make them cease to exist or have opinions, it would just give them more reason to feel like government didn’t represent them, plus which “literacy” tests have an ugly history. And in any case, it’s not like the ignorant people all vote one way.

  60. Rhett. Thank you. Have just entered that into my phone, where I keep a running list of notes about NYC.

    We will be going in October – just DH and me for an anniversary. Hamilton tickets are probably a pipe dream, right?

  61. We would be going post show since it is a matinee. Japanese is fine as long as it isn’t a place that does those fusion rolls with mayo slathered all over. We also like Greek, Korean, middle eastern and Indian

  62. I just looked on StubHub. Hamilton tickets are anywhere from $5k – $2K for the weekend we’re going. That’s insane.

    What other great shows have I not seen?

  63. While I was interviewing for clerkships, a judge asked how I could possibly be a conservative, given my resume and test scores. She looked at me like I was something pulled off the bottom of her shoe, puzzling over what I might be while repulsed by the possibilities.

    Given my milieu, that describes most people’s reaction when they hear I am a Republican (although if Trump is where the party is headed, I’m out). Especially in law school, there were people who wouldn’t say hello back to me once my political affiliation was known. It was both amusing and disturbing.

    No doubt there are some conservative areas where people would be just as hostile to liberals who haven’t argued with them yet, but I haven’t personally had that experience.

  64. Japanese is fine as long as it isn’t a place that does those fusion rolls with mayo slathered all over.

  65. Rhett, that “kidbutz” article was interesting.

    Having watched what happens to my kids when a neighbor moves out, I would worry about whether the constantly shifting “roommate-sibling” and “roommate-parent” relationships would take an emotional toll on the kids, especially since it sounded like most of the kids involved didn’t have consistent relationships with their own dads.

  66. Especially in law school, there were people who wouldn’t say hello back to me once my political affiliation was known. It was both amusing and disturbing.

    Yeah, I hate that. Once in a long while I meet someone who is such a one-trick pony about some political issue that I avoid talking to him/her, but in general personal relationships should take precedence over political opinions.

  67. WCE – of course, your father lives in a low-population “purple” state, so with the electoral college and overrepresentation in the Senate, his vote actually counts more than those of people in Massachusetts. (And it’s not as if there are not exterminators and no-nonsense working-class people in the Boston area.)

  68. HM and WCE –

    There are 20 units, 20 votes for Condo board once a year, 3 people serving currently. The Board is authorized to make ALL decisions, including special assessments, repair priority and whether environmental concerns justify spending many times as much on dry ice versus poison. That is an efficient and workable governance model. I believe there exists a recall/referendum process, which I was fully prepared to implement. Of the three, two are 58 year old classic totebag ladies, one actually on the air at NPR. The newbie elected 2 mos ago is a young So Asian mother (not the one who took matters into her own hands) and not in a position to challenge the other two. As a matter of fact, this is not as WCE posited inefficient democracy preventing the experts from doing their job, it is a couple of elected officials attempting to create nonprofit style consensus and conformity of ideas instead of addressing the problem directly. The democratic revolt is from the majority of unit owners, whose only reason for association is our fractional ownership of the common areas.

    My liberal roots are not in the halls of academia or Hyde Park drawing rooms, where the liberal idea is that the best and brightest know what is good for you better than the stakeholders, but in labor organizing and civil disobedience – voting rights and worker’s rights.

  69. Sky, in the town where my sibbie lives, you do not express your political opinions if you are liberal. Democrats are total pariahs there. My sibbie has lived there for 15 years and still feels like a total outsider.
    It cuts both ways

  70. Meme, my FIL, a mill worker with only a HS degree, was a lifelong “union” democrat. He passed away 3 years ago, still a registered Democrat. DH’s family still is overwhelmingly Democrat.

  71. I am finally in a place where I can look at restaurant websites. The Blue Ribbon place looks excellent. Not a single Firecracker or Fiesta roll to be seen, and extra points for the bone marrow appetizer with bonito. They call themselves a “Bar & Grill” – what is the beer situation like?

  72. Sky and Mooshi, when I was home where I grew up last election season, I got together with some old friends. About halfway through the evening one said to the other that they thought I could be a member of their secret club. I asked what the club was, and they whispered “democrats”. They each had Obama yard signs stolen, yards trenched, etc. Every single county in the state voted overwhelmingly Republican. So I think that attitude goes both ways.

  73. MBT and Mooshi, I should visit those places just for the experience :)

    Sometimes I wonder if I am just a contrarian, and whether I would have turned out to be a militantly atheist liberal had I grown up in a Mormon town in Utah….

  74. Mooshi,

    We were there for lunch so I’m not sure about the beer. But, if you go make sure to order the Japanese pickles as a side/app.

  75. Also, for a Broadway show matinee, what is appropriate kid dress? When I went before, it was a school trip so they had to wear collar shirts or dresses. But in real life, can they get away with Tshirts or should they wear their polos? Are khaki shorts OK?

  76. I think we just settled on a ramen place that also has sushi and good reviews on Yelp. Two kids love ramen, one hates it but loves sushi, and the place has a full bar so maybe we can get something other than Sapporo to drink.

  77. Sky, I had a high school teacher who I really respected express shock upon finding out that I was religious. “But you are such a wonderful, intelligent person?!” she said, shocked.

  78. The dress at the theatre for a matinee will be anything goes. Casual summer to NY chic.

    Happy birthday!

  79. Today’s discussion, especially Meme’s comments, has made me think about how my political views developed.

    As a high school debater, I read about the perceived trade-offs between liberty and security and decided I was firmly on the side of liberty. (I’m less convinced that there is a liberty/security trade-off now.) When I started working, I worked in a UAW plant where no one had been hired for 20 years. It seemed apparent to me that government-mandated respect for unions had created a monster that was economically unsustainable in a world with global commerce.

    The implementation of most liberal policy goals in a world with global trade has always seemed challenging. If HRC creates the stronger social safety net that she envisions, I am skeptical that it will be economically sustainable, in no small part due to the unintended consequences of government programs.

    Even if the vision were economically sustainable, I think people need purpose in their lives and that bread and circuses (or soma) are not good for people. This relates back to the blog post a few days ago on work.

  80. Wow, I just checked on the one FB friend that I unfollowed because of his political rants, and I found out he died in March. He was a grade school friend that I haven’t seen since I was about 13. His feed was mostly obnoxious stuff, at least imo. One of his last updates was: “It’s not that all republicans are racist it’s that most racists I’ve met are republicans.” (He died after his third heart attack within a few months. I’m sure his rants and my unfollowing had nothing to do with his demise.)

    My most vocal Bernie supporter friend has the nicest updates, compared to other political posts. Her profile pic is Bernie and she mostly updates about all her advocacy activities. Apparently the Green Party nomination will be offered to Bernie, which he could use as more leverage to inject his agenda into HRC’s platform.

    WCE, I share your skepticism.

  81. “It took me a long time and a number of people talking to me over the years to begin to get a sense of this: If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk,” — Newt Gingrich

    It might have been better if he had left out “normal”, but the general sentiment is good.

  82. A social safety net doesn’t mean that no one works, WCE.

  83. CoC – the problem is that so much of the obnoxious and tedious FB posts aren’t original content, but shares. So the poster might think “oh, this is kind of amusing,” and share it, or even just like it, which can have the same effect, but then their friends see it as they’re reading through and we interpret it as a full endorsement.

  84. Completely agree with that, Milo. I have several friends (in person and on FB) who can *discuss* politics. But no discussion has every begun with a pithy meme. It just seems to shut things down. I have one friend with whom I can’t discuss anything political because each sentence includes some sort of derogatory comment about leftists or sheeple or communism or the nanny state, and it entirely shuts down the conversation. I am more liberal than many, and I’m ok with that, but I don’t want to debate things by name-calling.

  85. I spend very little time on FB, but every month or so I dip my toes in the water to see what I might be missing. The pithy memes don’t seem to be posted to begin a discussion, but to end it. Those who agree chime in with a Like or a Share, and those who disagree just move on. It is interesting to observe how many people, on both sides of various issues, assume that all of their “friends” obviously agree with them.

  86. I use facebook to keep track of my 3 out of town children. Every now and then there is an instagram or random check in. And they appreciate the Mom “like” once in a while. And the young ladies dutifully posted every day last month while on their two week southeast asia sister adventure to share photos and reassure the ‘rents. I had only one non family FB friend for a long time, and unfollowed one of my SILs for constant posting. Recently I decided to accept some friend requests, but after a few days I unfollowed everyone. I check their feeds every couple of weeks. It has nothing to do with politics or bragging, just no desire for excess input. I also limit the kitten feeds to the two Pacific northwest biggies – FDJ’s The Critter Room and Tinykittens.

    And to make everyone feel good this weekend, I will to try to link to this photo, captioned

    “Everyone needs a pocket kitten”.

  87. I just went on LinkedIn to update my profile. The “inspirational” sayings and memes that clog up FB are now migrating to LinkedIn. Joy.

  88. WCE,

    How do you weight the unintended consequences of government programs vs. the natural consequences of doing nothing?

  89. I prefer severe natural system failures to moderate government failures, because natural system failures don’t have an entrenched bureaucracy to maintain them.

    I see a federal government role for transportation/interstate commerce, defense, law, some environmental issues, the electromagnetic spectrum and saving for old age (social security or, as some countries do it, mandatory pension savings). I don’t care whether care for the disabled is provided at the state or the federal level, but there is a government role. Education is primarily a state role, possibly supplemented by federal dollars in poor states. Medicaid is probably necessary, given the framework of charity hospitals has been dismantled, and any money HRC can get from taxing the hedge funds should probably supply nursing home care to indigent Baby Boomers.

    Recent NY Times articles on HRC’s childcare proposal and secondary education proposal (which so far has only household income as a criteria, with no consideration of academic aptitude, family size or number of earners that generates that household income, availability of jobs in the field studied, or whether the recipient is willing to move for a better job) discourage me.

  90. Medicaid is probably necessary, given the framework of charity hospitals has been dismantled,

    Why was Medicaid passed if the charity hospital framework was so effective?

    Wasn’t the real reason that prior to WWII healthcare basically amounted to what we’d call hospice and all the advances made during WWII and the rapid pace of development after, overwhelmed the charity system? At that point, the only option was for the Federal Government to step in in the form of Medicare and Medicaid as the public had been unwilling to support the charity system adequately.

  91. Happy Birthday Mooshi !
    I hope you had a good time at the matinee and lunch was tasty.

  92. One thing to remember is that when Medicare was enacted the life expectancy was 67 for men and about 73 for women. They really weren’t expecting people to be on it for more than 5-7 years. Now people can be on it for over 20 years with most expenses coming in the last 6 months of life. They are trying to push back and have people keep working until 67 or later but we all want to retire early and take advantage of a system we paid into for all of our working years. Furthermore, the advances in healthcare means more expensive solutions. Take for example a trauma surgery, 20-30 years ago you would get comfort measures only until you passed, now there is microsurgery for 10 hours and the possibility of a good outcome. The cost between those two options is staggering.

  93. Medicare only kicks in at 65. When it was enacted, the life expectancy for a 65 year old male was 78 and a 65 year old woman was 81. Today it is 83 and 85. I might be off by a year don’t ding me. Those five years mean a lot to the financial projections, but the difference is not based on a double digit increase in longevity years.

  94. Completely off-topic, I just bought a car. From this site, I have learned about the improved safety on new cars, and with a new driver I’m somewhat obsessed with safety features. So, I looked at Consumer Reports list of Best Cars for Teen Drivers. From the list, my husband liked the Subaru Impreza, so I emailed a couple of dealers, one of which is part of the Costco program. That guy emailed me back and said he had a car with the Eyesight system (front collision warning, signals you when you drift out of your lane, etc), and quoted me a price $4K before list. I went over and drove it tonight, and brought it home. From the time I got to the dealer until I left with the car was an hour and 5 minutes. All in all, not a bad experience.

  95. MBT — I think you’ll be happy with your new purchase. I went through a similar process when I bought my Subaru Forester, and I’ve been very happy with Eyesight. It does seem to overreact to front car space sometimes, but it’s not really a problem. We’ve wondered how sophisticated the algorithm used. For example, how much does it take into account the speed of the car up ahead.

    I test drove the Impreza, but I decided I liked sitting up higher and what I thought was more visibility offered by the Forester. This is probably more important to me because I’m a bit vertically challenged.

    I took a longer time going back and forth with the dealer about price because I wanted to be certain the particular price/car had all the features I had selected. I was skeptical because the price was considerably better than a rival dealer, and being an infrequent car buyer I wanted to be sure there weren’t any “hidden” charges. Because of demand, I had to wait a couple of months for delivery.

  96. My husband did eventually reset the clock in the Forester. Did you manage to fix yours, CoC?

  97. Ha! I finally got the dealer mechanic to reset the clock when I took it in for service. He showed me how to do it and I hope I remember for next time. There are still a number of car features I have yet to master, like changing media options from the steering wheel. I’m a lost cause! :)

  98. CoC the music control from the steering wheel was actually one of the safety-ish features I liked. He won’t have to look down and Jack with his music while he’s driving.

    I have mentioned before how thrifty and practical he is. He has still not looked at the car, and only asked about the gas mileage.

  99. @Houston – I feel like LinkedIn has gotten clogged with spam. I probably need to leave some of the groups I’ve joined. Some were industry groups or groups for people in my field, and some of those are dead except for spam.

  100. So we got an email from DS’s summer program asking for a paper towel roll and an empty cereal box for a project. Cue the complaints! These are not Totebag household items! How can we be expected to have them?! (Totebag homes use cloth only, and cereal is the devil for those not playing along at home.)

    We had both at the ready.

    Maybe I am not as “Totebag” as I previously stated. You can take my paper towels out of my cold, dead hands. And cereal is a breakfast item than an 8 year old can get for himself while parents sleep in.

  101. I pity the teacher that needs glass baby food jars for a project. Only the most terrible people are buying food in glass jars anymore.

    Somehow, pounches are an acceptable alternative to grinding out your own, as long as the pouch contains at least 10% kale.

  102. Ha! I made my own baby food (and I think the pouches are worse than glass) but I love paper towels. Then again, my complaint when they want them for projects is typically they want the rolls the very next day, and I get rid of them when they are empty unless I have a reason to save them.

Comments are closed.