Category Archive 'The Urban Elite'

02 Apr 2018

“The Middle of Nowhere”

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An 1812 log cabin somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Salena Zito takes personal exception to the coastal urban elites’ condescension toward people who would rather live in the real America.

Earlier this year, Bill Kristol, editor at large at the Weekly Standard, tweeted ahead of the Super Bowl that it was too bad two Acela Corridor teams, the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, had to play their matchup “in the middle of nowhere.”

It was a reference to the host city of Minneapolis’ location in the Midwest, far from the “civilized worlds” of Boston and Philadelphia – the assumption being that unless you are on the East Coast, your town’s sophistication and glamour could not live up to the modern amenities of a cosmopolitan city.

In my estimation, there is no patch of geography in this country that is the “middle of nowhere.” This is America; everywhere is the middle of somewhere.

Whether it is Tightwad, Mo., Mooresville, Ala., Hyder, Alaska, Oatman, Ariz., or right here in Lost River, W.Va., every place, large or small, depressed or thriving, or down to one mailbox on one lonely road, is somewhere.

We are all equals; we all contribute to the culture, diversity, dialect, and importance of this country. We build things, we serve in our communities, we serve in our military, we create families, businesses, and technology no matter where we are – we find a way to make each village and town and city a unique snapshot of this country.

It is an idea and an ideal that Hillary Clinton not only got wrong in the last election, but is still getting wrong; her remarks in India in March reinforced that.

“If you look at the map of the United States, there’s all that red in the middle where Trump won,” she said. “I win the coast, I win, you know, Illinois and Minnesota, places like that.”

She went on to say that where she won, America is thriving: “I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So, I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.”

Clinton is not the only person to hold that contempt. Many of her supporters have gone on to agree with her and to hold those same strident positions – and their condescension for half of the country has only deepened since November 2016.

No one has learned anything; no one cares to. Everyone wants to hold on to their bigotry towards the people who live and work and worship and go on with the business of life outside of “the places that represent two thirds of America’s gross domestic product.”

They don’t get that they are just as optimistic, just as diverse, just as dynamic, and deal with the same issues of gender, sexuality, and race just as often as they do. They just don’t make slick commercials of their lives to reinforce their worthiness.

They deal with these issues with dignity, not fanfare.

The response last week to Roseanne Barr’s return to ABC primetime television floored these same elites – the two-episode premiere attracted an astounding 18.2 million viewers, over-performing in the very middle of America, in states like Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania where towns like Claremore, Center of the World, and Intercourse are always beating back the notion they are in the middle of nowhere.

Cities like New York and Los Angeles did not even crack the top 20.

Those “middle of somewhere” places showed everyone they are a viable and prosperous force to be reckoned with and that whether they supported Trump or not, they are tired of rarely finding an American family who looked just like them on television – when they do, those shows are often canceled too quickly.

Politics, government, Hollywood, and popular culture have long overlooked the middle of America – diversity focuses of the last generation have been on color and gender, leaving behind the religious, cultural, and economic diversity of the Midwest.

Their role has been to be a butt of a joke, or mocked, or sneered at, or all three.

Our current political populism has been a pushback against larger institutions like Hollywood and its disconnect with the heartland – and it has also been a pushback against establishment politicians, like Clinton and her unmasked contempt for those who live here.

It is only once the people in power understand that Trump was the result of this movement, and not the cause, that maybe they’ll start calling all of America the middle of somewhere.

RTWT

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That contempt often proceeds to real aggression. As Glenn Reynolds observes:

“Gun Control [u]ltimately, [is] all about humiliating the flyover rubes and letting them know who is boss. Everything else is window dressing.”

08 Nov 2013

“Your Purring Little Murderer”

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Sullyblog recently found itself another humanitarian crusade to climb on board.

Bad enough our letting the Bush Administration roughly handle jihadi terrorists (Torture!). On top of that, we allow domestic cats to reproduce and then we “introduce” them into natural environments properly understood to be the park and preserve of rodents and small birds. We are kind of like God introducing Spaniards into the New World.

TIBS from Sam Huntley on Vimeo.

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Disapproving Aunt Andrew quotes crusading vegan journalist Deanna Pan writing in Mother Jones about the findings of a study of feline atrocities by the University of Georgia.

About 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful hunters and killed, on average, two animals a week. Almost half of their spoils were abandoned at the scene of the crime. Extrapolating from the data to include the millions of feral cats brutalizing native wildlife across the country, the American Bird Conservancy estimates that kitties are killing more than 4 billion animals annually. And that number’s based on a conservative weekly kill rate, said Robert Johns, a spokesman for the conservancy.

“We could be looking at 10, 15, 20 billion wildlife killed (per year),” Johns said.

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Doesn’t it seem fitting that the moralizing and modernizing representatives of the progressive community of fashion not only hasten to defend the Mussulman bombmaker, but also take time out from ordering the stars in their courses to champion the rights of mice, rats, pigeons, and house sparrows?

Spoilsport Deanna Pan (I bet she was not born with that surname) thinks we should bell and bib our cats in order to foil their hunting.

(Also quoted by Andrew Sullivan) Amanda Marcotte, writing in Slate, contends that helicopter-pet-ownership, i.e. persistent bien pensant human supervision and restricted access to the out-of-doors, is the solution.

One of my cats spent the first year of her life as a completely outdoor cat who slept in a barn, so getting her to stop begging to be let out took some spine, but now she’s perfectly happy to have her outdoor life limited to small amounts of time on the balcony. If I ever feel bad about exerting power over her in this way, I just remind myself I’m being much more generous to her than she’d be to small creatures that she comes across, which goes a long way toward relieving any guilt.

All of which proves, I think, that no limits to officious theorizing of the modern pseudo-intelligentsia can be found to exist.

Personally, I think all these self-appointed legislators’ pantries should be infested with hanta-virus-bearing mice and pigeons should target them whenever they go outside.

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Let Piaf speak for the pussycats.

11 Nov 2012

The Culture of the Smug

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Manhattan Upper West Side brownstones

William Deresiewicz
has an uncharacteristically self-critical commentary on the aesthetic sensibilty of the urban-based community of fashion elite.

[N]ow I wonder if there’s also something new. Not middlebrow, not highbrow (we still don’t have an avant-garde to speak of), but halfway in between. Call it upper middle brow. The new form is infinitely subtler than Midcult. It is post- rather than pre-ironic, its sentimentality hidden by a veil of cool. It is edgy, clever, knowing, stylish, and formally inventive. It is Jonathan Lethem, Wes Anderson, Lost in Translation, Girls, Stewart/Colbert, The New Yorker, This American Life and the whole empire of quirk, and the films that should have won the Oscars (the films you’re not sure whether to call films or movies).

The upper middle brow possesses excellence, intelligence, and integrity. It is genuinely good work (as well as being most of what I read or look at myself). The problem is it always lets us off the hook. Like Midcult, it is ultimately designed to flatter its audience, approving our feelings and reinforcing our prejudices. It stays within the bounds of what we already believe, affirms the enlightened opinions we absorb every day in the quality media, the educated bromides we trade on Facebook. It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know, doesn’t seek to disturb—the definition of a true avant-garde—our fundamental view of ourselves, or society, or the world. (Think, by contrast, of some truly disruptive works: The Wire, Blood Meridian, almost anything by J. M. Coetzee.)

There is a sociology to all of this. As Clement Greenberg pointed out in “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” (1939), the predecessor to Macdonald’s essay, high culture flourished under the aristocracy. Mass culture came in with mass literacy, while Midcult is a product of the postwar college boom, a way of catering to the cultural aspirations of the exploding middle class. Now, since the ’70s, we’ve gone a step further, into an era of mass elite and postgraduate education. This is the root of the so-called creative class, the Bobos, the liberal elite as it exists today. The upper middle brow is the cultural expression of this demographic. Its purpose is to make consciousness safe for the upper middle class. The salient characteristic of that class, as a moral entity, is a kind of Victorian engorgement with its own virtue. Its need is for an art that will disturb its self-delight.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

03 Nov 2012

Single Moms Don’t Tip

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HuffPo
passed along the rapidly-going-viral photograph of a restaurant check originally posted by PhoenixSongFawkes on Reddit.

Apparently, certain single moms can dine out on a sufficiently lavish scale to run up $138 restaurant tabs, but consider themselves so disadvantaged and worthy of special consideration that they feel no obligation to conform to the general custom of adding a 15-20% gratuity (which actually represents the principal portion of the compensation received by restaurant servers).

This particular woman’s spectacular sense of self-entitlement has won her a well-deserved 15 minutes of fame on the Web.


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