Kitten: Fall On Me (A Four-Star Single)
52 Movies: Week 18 - Wild Strawberries

"The wages of smug is Trump."

That line comes from a piece in Vox which you may have read already. If not, it's worth the trouble: "The smug style in American liberalism." It's the work of a liberal worried about the fact that liberalism now despises so many of the people it claims to want to help. As the author notes, this is a tendency that's been growing for some time, with the domination of liberalism by feminists and others far more interested in cultural revolution than, say, the economic situation of the working class. That faction pays some degree of lip service to those questions, but what really fires them up are things like abortion and same-sex marriage. The economic complaints seem to be of interest mainly as a club with which to beat conservatives and Republicans.

The rubes noticed that liberal Democrats, distressed by the notion that Indiana would allow bakeries to practice open discrimination against LGBTQ couples, threatened boycotts against the state, mobilizing the considerable economic power that comes with an alliance of New York and Hollywood and Silicon Valley to punish retrograde Gov. Mike Pence, but had no such passion when the same governor of the same state joined 21 others in refusing the Medicaid expansion. No doubt good liberals objected to that move too. But I've yet to see a boycott threat about it.

The piece is fairly long but worth reading in its entirety. There's much in it that I disagree with, beginning of course with a substantial difference in basic political views. But it's good to hear one member of that club telling it what it needs to hear, which is that it's never going to win over people whom it openly despises. 

Finding comfort in the notion that their former allies were disdainful, hapless rubes, smug liberals created a culture animated by that contempt. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Financial incentive compounded this tendency — there is money, after all, in reassuring the bitter. Over 20 years, an industry arose to cater to the smug style. It began in humor, and culminated for a time in The Daily Show, a program that more than any other thing advanced the idea that liberal orthodoxy was a kind of educated savvy and that its opponents were, before anything else, stupid. The smug liberal found relief in ridiculing them.

I was glad to hear that criticism of The Daily Show. I haven't seen it very often, so it's possible that I got the wrong impression, but pretty much everything I've ever heard anyone say about it has supported that impression, the positives even more than the negatives. As I couldn't help noticing when Jon Stewart left the show, he was regarded as a brilliant political commentator by his fans, which seemed to include most liberals, notwithstanding the fact that he was in principle just a comedian. But it looked to me like his routine was based on taking some conservative point of view, reducing it to a caricature, and smirking at it. 


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And while one side is smug, the other side is angry, and the two sides of politicians refuse to work together. The result is that the USA is no longer the greatest country in the world, because great countries work together to make themselves great. We are now just a country with that potential.

Not that any country needs to tout itself as "the greatest", the Muhammad Ali of countries I suppose, but idiot politicians like to say this to crowds of cheering lemmings.

Much of the left seems pretty angry, too, although I guess this guy is correct in picking the smugness as more predominant. Anger does seem more the basic vibe of at least the popular right (Fox, etc.)

The refusal to work together I think is a result of the divergence of basic views. I mean, there is no doubt a component of stubbornness and desire to make the other look bad, but in so many ways the views are just mutually exclusive and compromise is not even logically possible. I mean, if you think the boat is headed for the falls, there's not much to be gained by compromising on the speed or approaching at an angle instead of straight-on--you have to turn around and go the other way. That's the way it looks from each side.

I was thinking of things that both sides would agree are helpful for all: infrastructure, jobs, health care, high speed rail systems, manufacturing, education, etc. None of these are bipartisan issues, although as in the case of healthcare they can become one. Why are other countries doing so much better than the US? I can't help but think it is due to politicians preferring to bicker than solve problems.

I certainly agree that politicians do that, and that they often cynically exploit the differences. But I think the differences are very deep and real. Healthcare, for instance--wow--that's probably one of the places where the difference is greatest and most fundamental, especially since it's connected with questions where the conflict is deepest, e.g. abortion. Education is about as bad.

Even on purely practical things like jobs, there's no agreement on how to actually improve the situation.

I just think that it is their job to go into a room and come out with ways to move forward on what is needed. Not to disagree, bad mouth each other, and then shut down the government in protest. They are treated very well as our employees in regard to remuneration, the least they can do is always have the US moving ahead on the important issues, otherwise the whole thing is a bad joke.

More fundamentally, it's their job to govern in accordance with the wishes of their constituents. That doesn't mean just being a robot responding to the latest poll, but in a broad way doing what the people want. And the people in Nebraska don't want to do what the people in New York want to do.

We want Richard Shelby to fight Obama "every single day". So that's what he's doing! :)

Yep. Then the next question to consider is: why do they want him to fight Obama? "Because they're racist" is the smug but generally wrong answer.

As a general observation about politicians, I really think the less they do the better.

Also, the adversarial style of politics has its uses. I personally don't think progressing is the point. Good governance is the point.

I wasn't even going to get into that aspect of it, but yes, I definitely don't necessarily think that "not getting anything done" is a bad thing. There's an old (like 150 or 200-year-old joke that "No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session." Not that I'm a libertarian, but modern governments are seriously over-reaching.

In that case why don't we just eliminate about half of the "positions" in Congress? I'm all for it.


Give me a movie and let's quit talking about this disgrace.


Keep in mind that we have a constitution, and those things are specified in it.

But there's no reason why being a congressman has to be an all-consuming career, with huge staffs turning out "laws" containing hundreds or even thousands of pages which the putative lawmaker has generally not even read. Let them live in their home states and come to DC for three or four months a year to attend to anything that truly needs to be addressed at the national level.

I know, that's a pipe dream.

Cross-posted--I was replying to Stu. Movie coming up pretty soon.

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