THE WAY WE LOOK: Our open contempt!


Part 2—Harvard child's rank condescension:
In recent weeks, we liberals have kept ourselves busy looking down at the white working class.

Some of our conduct seems to betray condescension. Some of our conduct seems to betray an attitude more like contempt.

Some of this condescension/contempt has come from our liberal rank and file. But a lot of it comes from our "liberal elite," from our high-profile liberal "thought leaders."

Quickly, let's be fair. This open contempt for the white working class has come, in fairly even measures, from the three major branches of our leadership class—from graduates of Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Last Saturday morning, Alexandra Petri chimed in. For today, let't consider the type of contempt she displayed in her weekly column in the Washington Post. Let''s consider the types of moral and intellectual blindness involved in behavior like hers.

As we noted in this award-winning preview, Petri grew up as a member of the "Eastern elite." She lived in Georgetown, right there in D.C., and she prepped at National Cathedral.

Her father was a congressman. She graduated from Harvard in 2010.

The youngster took these enormous advantages and good God how she ran! Last Saturday, she published the latest column in which members of her elite class displayed their unattractive, unintelligent contempt for the white working class, apparently full stop.

Before we continue, let's stress a key point: members of the white working class can see us when we do this. We liberals are the only people who can't see our unattractive, unintelligent behavior for what it actually is.

Everyone else is able to see who and what we actually are. Only we liberals are clueless!

Petri's weekly column for the Post appears on Saturday mornings. Her columns carry an identity tag which says she writes the paper's "ComPost blog."

Presumably, the "Com" is a shortened form of "comedy." Sometimes, the wonderfully whimsical name of Petri's wonderful blog seems more directly descriptive.

Last Saturday, Petri's column appeared beneath this hard-copy headline:

"Every recent story I have read about Trump supporters"

"Story" is a childish term our journalists use to refer to news reports and analysis pieces. According to Petri's headline, she was summarizing the things she has read about the 63 million people who voted for Donald J. Trump.

We were struck by the things this massively over-privileged child hadn't been able to spot in the various "stories" she's read. Plainly, though, Petri believed she had harvested a few key points from those "stories" about Trump supporters. She seemed to have read that Trump supporters are very dumb. She also seemed to have read that Trump supporters have funny white ethnic surnames.

In her wonderfully comical way, she mocked two Trump supporters whose last name was Blarnik; she mocked a third whose name was Slabornik. Lydia Borkle was one of the comical idiots too. Trump supporters have funny last names! This seemed to be one of the basic points she had gleaned from those "stories."

Apparently, Petri had also read that Trump supporters are thin-skinned idiots from the backwoods regions of the country which had supplied her with her own vast set of advantages. In this passage, she tells us about Linda Blarnik:
PETRI (4/8/17): Like the rusty hubcaps hanging on the wall behind her, she was made in America 50 years ago, back when this town made things, a time she still remembers fondly. She says she has had just enough of the "coastal elitist media who keep showing up to write mean things about my town and my life, like that thing just now where you said I was like a hubcap, yes you, stop writing, I can see over your shoulder." Mournfully, a whistle blows behind her, the whistle of a train that does not stop in this America any longer.
Saying that Blarnik was "made in America," Petri wittily compared her to a rusty hubcap. She then lets us laugh at how touchy the Linda Blarniks can be about such upper-class humor.

Those Trump supporters are so stupid! As she describes another Blarnik, Petri helps us see how stupid their basic complaints seem to be:
PETRI: Linda's sister, Carla Blarnik, is married to an undocumented immigrant yet voted for Trump, who has vowed an increase in deportations. Asked to explain this contradiction, she shrugs. "Do not tell Bert this," she says, "but I have been trying to find an unobtrusive way to break up the marriage for years." Huh. Okay.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Good God, those Blarniks are clowns! Nor do they have real complaints!

As Petri continued, she further signaled who These People are. Say hello to Herm Slabornik:
PETRI: In the corner, under a picture of George Washington that is cracked and stained with tobacco juice, lies Herm Slabornik. Herm is encased in a cryogenic tube that will be unplugged if Trump gets his way. According to a note on his cryo tube, he knows what Trump said about unplugging tubes but he does not think Trump would unplug him personally. He will vote for Trump again in 2020, provided he is not unplugged. Also, he hates Obamacare.
It isn't just that Slabornik is dumb. As with the reference to the hub caps, that reference to the tobacco juice tells us why he's so dumb. It signals his membership, as part of a lesser breed, in our one true lower class.

According to Petri, these wonderfully humorous portraits represent "every recent story I have read about Trump supporters." We thought of some of the things we have encountered in recent reports about Trump supporters. This included some important things a vastly privileged young "coastal elitist" may be unable to hear.

Quickly, let's review a few things which have stuck in our mind from recent press events exploring the situations and outlooks of some Trump supporters.

We recall many exchanges from the Chris Hayes/Bernie Sanders town hall event in McDowell County, West Virginia. No tobacco juice was on the wall, but at one point, a woman younger than the Blarniks offered this:
HAYES (3/13/17): Sabrina, what happens to a place when jobs go away, the way they've gone away in McDowell? What have— What have you seen in your lifetime, if you had to tell someone the story of the trajectory of this place that you call home? What would you tell them?

SABRINA: I never saw the jobs. I never saw what could be. I still don't know what-all is out there. I'm trying to figure it out, that you're born in a generational poverty, where you don't know people who can get houses, or can get cars, or if you do, it's like 10 percent of people. I mean, it's not that many. So you think you're really rich if you can get a house and a car, and compared to some people, you are. But for all the coal that has came out of our mountains, and the whole country and all, half of the world got electricity because of my grandparents, my great-grandparents, my uncles, my cousins—we really, we really got bread crumbs out of it. So I was, I was born—


HAYES: Do you agree with that, Senator?

SANDERS: Yes. Of course I do. I mean, you know, these guys are heroes...
Sanders saw heroes sitting around him. Petri was eager to tell Post readers that she has only seen clowns.

Earlier in that program, Hayes had spoken to various people about the difficulties of life in McDowell County. He had spoken to Philip Lucion, a youngish man who had already worked ten years in the mines.

Lucion described the "harsh environment" one finds down in the mines. Late in the program, he explained why he voted for Trump:
LUCION: I don't know a lot of about politics and I don't know what Donald Trump is going to do for the rest of the country, but as far as West Virginia, that's what he promised us. You know, that's what matters to me, because I'm a West Virginian. I'm proud to be a West Virginian. And what the man— I voted for him only solely because what he said he was going to help us. He was going to put the coal miners back to work and we're going to have health care, and this and that.

We need health care. Everybody in this room needs free health care.

HAYES: Now, are you expect—I mean, when you think about him, he made those promises to you. You're looking for him to deliver on those promises, particularly on health care?

LUCION: Absolutely! On health care, yes. Definitely. Because I mean, some people are elderly. They have no way to work. They have no way—if they can't work, like Mr. Evans said, they can't eat.
Lucion said he didn't know much about politics. Then again, he didn't go to an elite prep school, then on to four years at Harvard.

Lucion was already down in the mines while Petri lounged by the Charles. After all those years among the elite, Petri seems unable to empathize with, or even respect, lesser beings like him.

Lucion believed or hoped that Candidate Trump would follow through on his pledges. We'll guess he made a bad judgment on that.

Then again, he didn't have all the advantages. Throughout this hour, we saw him, and several others, describing great human need. Petri saw a bunch of clowns spitting tobacco juice.

Here's something else we've remembered from a "story" about Trump voters. We've remembered that 59-year-old woman in Kentucky who was paying $3000 per year for an Obamacare insurance policy, but couldn't afford to go to the doctor due to her high deductible.

She too had voted for Candidate Trump because he said he would fix that.

We remember being able to see that this woman was facing a serious problem. There is no sign in Petri's piece that she has been able to hear anything like that in any of the "stories" she has encountered.

Petri swims in a sea of massive, gigantic advantage. She also displays contempt for those who are less than her kind.

The Riches, the Krugmans, the Rampells, the Petris—our intellectual leaders have been standing in line to voice this noxious outlook. They went to Harvard, to Princeton, to Yale. They have contempt for those who didn't. But then, remember Rachel, back in 2009? Remember all those dick jokes?

Others are able to see who We are when our tyros behave like this. Everyone else can see who We are.

The only dumb bunnies are Us.

Tomorrow: Rebecca Solnit advantagesplains about that "bleak little suburb"


  1. What is the difference between "summarizing the things she has read about the 63 million people who voted for Donald J. Trump," when you daily summarize the things "we liberals" say?

    1. 'Cause Bob uses specific examples of highly-placed liberals, e.g. Petri. He's talking about people who have a platform, from which they can spread knowledge , but, instead, choose to disseminate ridicule.

    2. Ilya. Enjoy an Irish baby for breakfast. They are exporting them and it helps their trafe deficit with the Brexiteers.

  2. When I read that Petri story, I had the impression she was making fun of other such stories, not so much the people they describe. But I really wasn't sure. If it was the latter, then I think it was in breathtakingly bad taste. That's part of the reason I assumed that it wasn't.

    1. Yes. I usually defend Bob, but Petri is making fun of the writers of these punching down articles.

      Has Bob become Emily Litella?

    2. Bob has consistently had a problem with women who are funnier than he is and financially rewarded handomely for their work.

      Wait, scratch "consistently" and replace it with "redundantly".

    3. I don't know what Petri's intent was, but for me that column mocked Trump voters as well as other columnists.

      Suppose she were mocking some racist articles about black voters. Suppose that her approach was to write an even more offensively racist article. Wouldn't her article be considered racist?

    4. David in Cal, it all comes down to the question of whether or not Petri is mocking the condescension of the other articles. If she is, then maybe "for you" she was mocking Trump voters, but that certainly wasn't the intent, and that's important. If intent isn't important, then we can react any way we like to what someone has said, and that becomes the dominant narrative rather than what it was they were actively trying to communicate. That's one of my pet peeves with the current progressive movement.

  3. We'll be looking for Lucion on the front lines, calling for Trump to do what is right for the citizens of the U.S. and world.

  4. Bob Somerby's post on the Petri parody can best be summarized by an actual comment posted to Petri's column. And no, I didn't invent the name:


    4/6/2017 7:13 PM CDT

    I don't get it. Is this supposed to be funny? Or is the writer just trying to mock how stupid Middle America is?"

    Earth to Dorky Bob: She is satirizing the media Bob. You know, the people you have spent the last eighteen years whining about?

  5. Lupion said: "I voted for him only solely because what he said he was going to help us. He was going to put the coal miners back to work and we're going to have health care." But Hilary Clinton ALSO said she was going to put coal miners back to work, in healthier, less dangerous, more sustainable industries than coal mining. She ALSO promised to make health care more affordable by fixing and expanding Obamacare, including enacting the public option. And one more thing: candidate Trump never, EVER supported "free" (presumably Lucion means single-payer) health care. He promised SOMETHING better than Obamacare, but never Sanders-style single-payer. Which raises a question: if a Harvard grad like Bob Somersby, with all his advantages, can't get the most elementary facts right about this Democratic platform, why should we expect Philip Lucion who admitted "he didn't know much about politics" to do so, regardless of the content of said platform?

  6. Once again Somerby harkens back to the 59 year old woman from the Sarah Kliff article in Vox. I remember her too, Mr. S. I also remember you comparing her to Rose of Sharon, the teen who uses her breaat milk to save a starving man after her own child is stillborn.

    We also remember you left out a lot about this saintly lady in order to further your meme about heartless elite liberals. I'll clue your remaining followers to what a saint she is. From Kliff, with my own highlighting.

    "One of the Obamacare enrollees we interviewed was 59 and currently a caregiver for her mother-in-law.
    She and her husband received a monthly tax credit that would cover most of their premium. But they would still need to contribute $244 each month — and face a $6,000 deductible.

    The woman said she had insurance before the Affordable Care Act that was significantly more affordable, with $5 copays and no deductible at all. She said she paid only $200 or $300 each month without a subsidy.

    The deductible left her exasperated. “I am totally afraid to be sick,” she says. “I don’t have [that money] to pay upfront if I go to the hospital tomorrow.”

    Her plan did offer free preventive care, an Obamacare mandate. But she skips mammograms and colonoscopies because she doesn’t think she’d have the money to pay for any follow-up care if the doctors did detect something.

    But her frustration isn’t just about the money she has to pay. She sees other people signing up for Medicaid, the health program for the poor that is arguably better coverage than she receives and almost free for enrollees. She is not eligible for Medicaid because her husband works and they are above the earnings threshold.

    Medicaid is reserved for people who earn less than 138 percent of the poverty line — about $22,000 for a couple. This woman understood the Medicaid expansion is also part of Obamacare, and she doesn’t think the system is fair.

    “They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” she says. “They’re going to the doctor for pills, and that’s what they’re on.”
    She felt like this happened a lot to her: that she and her husband have worked most their lives but don’t seem to get nearly as much help as the poorer people she knows. She told a story about when she used to work as a school secretary: “They had a Christmas program. Some of the area programs would talk to teachers, and ask for a list of their poorest kids and get them clothes and toys and stuff. They’re not the ones who need help. They’re the ones getting the welfare and food stamps. I’m the one who is the working poor.”

    So the woman who Bob called Rose of Sharon begrudges those who get Medicaid. She begrudges the poor children who got donated Christmas "clothes and toys" because their parents were on welfare. She is "the working poor" even though she gave up her job in the public school system and seems to forget it was the employer based insurance she got there that made the cheap generous insurance policy she remembers before Obamacare possible.

    Oh, and one more thing Somerby misinformed you about. His 59 year old Rose of Sharon did not vote for Trump because he was going to fix her deplorable
    Obamacare. Again from Kliff's interview with her:

    "I voted for Trump. If you lived in Kentucky in the last eight years and watched all the jobs go away, you would understand."

    She is another from coal country who believes Trump will bring the Kentucky fossil fuel economy back. He can't.

    Shame on you Somerby. You do precisely what you profess to deplore.

    1. She gave up her job because she is a caregiver to her mother-in-law. Now, that is a separate subject why people have to do that -- however, she is not unreasonable in her description of the problems faced by the working poor, people who fall through the cracks. Yes, Obamacare has failed in many ways. Ironically, it may have succeeded at shining a bright spotlight on our broken healthcare system. Nothing you quote, though, makes this woman appear as unsympathetic as you suggest.

      Let's imagine for a minute that she is not "begrudging" those on public assistance, but simply pointing out that she needs help, too. Don't need to look at it in this pejorative light. And she voted for Trump because she thinks that he'll magically bring the jobs back. That may be magical thinking, but does not make her a horrible person.

    2. No my friend. She is punching down. People are on welfare (welfare as we knew it ended with Bill Clinton in the 90's) and food stamps so their kids don't need voluntarily donated Christmas items. She needed help more than they because she had a public job that did not pay as well as she might have liked.

      To her, people on Medicaid are "on pills."

      I am not looking at this in a perjorative light. Symnpathizing with and understanding her plight is fine. I am pointing out that Bob Someerby would rather jump off the Golden Gate Bridge than tell you the whole story so he can portray this woman as the equivalent of a Steinbeck created symnbollic character.

      And I think that is what makes Somerby mad. Because clearly the Kliff article is one of the type Petri was satirizing. But it was written in December.

    3. She isn't punching down. Perhaps she's seen anectdotal examples of people who use the system to get opiates.

    4. A while back, Bob referred to Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”. He didn’t hammer on the parallels of the novel and the reality of the plight of coal miners.
      Politicians have suggested that miners migrate to a place where there are jobs. Perhaps Silicon Valley, where high paying jobs are available. Silicon valley already has its “Hoovervilles”, ready for indigent migrants.
      Steinbeck wrote of the Oakies, people forced to leave the land they were born on, the land their parents and grandparents were born and died on. There was no future there, so the left to go to the paradise of California. They didn’t want charity. They didn’t want handouts, all they wanted was a decent job that could provide them with shelter, jobs that could feed them and their children decent food. They wanted work and pay enough so they would not be tempted to steal. They wanted jobs that could give them a little pride, a little dignity.
      That’s what so many unemployed miners want. They don’t want welfare; they want jobs that pay a living wage.
      Was Hillary Clinton going to give them that? Who knows? They didn’t think so.
      For a century, workers fought for their rights against government that sided with big business and big money. The Democrats of the New Deal helped the workingmen and women back then, but not so much after the war. They took their votes for granted. And then, they took their votes for granted again.
      Is Donald Trump going to give them good jobs and respect? Not likely, but he didn’t have a legacy of broken promises.
      I remember so many Progressive Democrats on Facebook and other social media agreeing that the Trumpsters were low education, racist, ignorant, foolish, just plain stupid.
      Conservatives were hard-wired to be less realistic and less empathetic than liberals, yada, yada, yada.
      Now, Silicon Valley is going to Appalachia to train software engineers.

    5. gravymeister, do you ever listen to right wing hate radio? It doesn't appear so.

      Trump didn't have a legacy of broken promises? Really? He was being sued for fraud/racketeering during the campaign. He paid those suckers $25 million just a week or so ago. He has a trail of literally ripping off contractors, using undocumented workers, using bankruptcy laws to get out of paying his legal obligations while walking away leaving a whole bunch of hard working construction workers holding the bag. Yeah, he's a real peach.

    6. Trump doesn't have a legacy of broken promises to voters. Get it?

    7. gravymeister,
      And when Trump breaks those promises to his voters, his voters will blame immigrants, minorities, the poor, and liberals.
      At most, they may put on funny hats, call themselves some name intimating they aren't Republicans/ Trump voters, then pull the lever for the next person who promises to treat minorities like shit.

    8. Yes, I got it, gravymeister. If pussygrabber hadn't broken promises to voters before, it's only because he never had the opportunity. Since taking power he is breaking promises faster than the speed of light, yet his supporters still trust him.

      Again, I don't think you listen to wingnut hate radio. In wingnut land, Mitch McConnell is a RINO, John Boehner was a sellout because he didn't shut down the government and default on the debt. These people have a fundamental misunderstanding of how our government works. Their one and only guiding light is hatred on Democrats. Any compromise with Democrats is considered a broken promise. And here we are.

    9. Incumbents carry baggage, which puts them at a disadvantage.
      And no, I don't listen to hate radio. It don't drink raw sewage either.
      I live in Arizona, our senior Senator is RINO-in Chief, because the gerrymandering, voter suppressing Teapublicans can't quite dump him.
      I live in a Teapublican state, I get their shit every day without trying. I don't need to search for it. Maybe you do so you can feel smarter than them, hmmm?

    10. Yes, that must be why incumbents win reelection 95+% of the time. They're really at a tremendous disadvantage.

      No, I don't search for it. Since it dominates the AM dial 24/7, it's kind of hard to miss. I avoid it now also.

      I don't mean to get into an argument with you. Hillary Clinton lost because they drove her untrustworthy quotient thru the roof because of something something something Benghazi and something something emails and I believe she caught a slight case of pneumonia without telling the world immediately. Meanwhile, in real time pussygrabber was being sued for fraud and racketeering, got caught using funds from his phony charity to bribe the FL AG, and had a trail of lawsuits a mile long screwing everyone he ever did business with. Obviously they decided he was much more trustworthy. The national media reported on the ridiculous email story 600 days straight, as if the fate of the republic hinged in the balance.

      And 63 million people decided they couldn't trust her. What exactly did she do except work her ass off for her constituents for the 8 years she was a US Senator and then the following 4 years she served as Secretary of State to earn the reputation of breaking promises?

  7. No one needs to write mean things about these people Trump voters). They are self parodies.

  8. As I've been trying to tell in my comments in Salon: hate the Trump, but love the trump voter. It is a problem that we try to portray a great cross-section of the people in this country as having no redeeming value. It is not a useful framework for affecting change.

  9. Everyone else is not able to see us when we do this. They would have to read the NY Times or the Washington Post, and they don't do that. If they did, they wouldn't be stupid as a stone and they wouldn't vote for someone like Trump.

  10. Bob, why did Gore lose his home state? Did Gore make fun of the voters who voted for Bush? No he didn't. Those people voted for Bush because he was more God-fearin'. After twenty-five years on the scene, these voters knew that Hillary was not on God's side. She was never going to get those voters. Everyone gets this except you.

    1. I thought this was parody at first, but now I'm not sure.
      Wait until Glaucon X finds out there is no God, and there never was.
      Sorry, Glaucon X, Trump's election was pushback on "political correctness", so we no longer have to tiptoe around that truth.

    2. @10:02, what do you know that scientists, philosophers, and all the greatest thinkers in the history of mankind have never been able to figure out? Do tell.

    3. 11:42,
      That supply-side economics is a scam designed to move money from the working class to the elite, AND that one of our political parties gets away with it because of racism.

    4. 12:51,
      The question was, "what do you know that scientists, philosophers, and all the greatest thinkers in the history of mankind have never been able to figure out?", not "what does everyone know, but most are in denial about?"

    5. Anon 11:42
      What I know, and what they didn't know is knowledge of non-Newtonian physics, non-Euclidean geometry, symbolic logic, general semantics , and cognitive thinking.
      And I could throw in a bit of quantum mechanics, too.
      A Victorian scientist one remarked that Man had uncovered all the secrets of the natural world. All that was left for the next generation was to calculate one more decimal place.

  11. I see today Trump has berated Comey for not jailing the obviously guilty "Crooked Hillary." Again. This advanced stage of moral dementia is a system on not just Trump but the Country.
    One wonders, does Bob ever consider how a rational and decent woman, who displays none of this dementia, feels when Trump berates her dashed hopes for the first Woman President in this way. Is there any evidence that he could possibly give a shit?

    This is why it must be concluded that Somerby does not care about decency, or "punching down." Might he actually not be amused when Trump punches down on these women? Compassion for Bob is a "Trump" card to played on a one way street, only asked of one group and never another. So it is generous to call it "meaningless."

    1. Poor multi-millionaire who got rich from politics and failed to win the biggest prize because she expressed hatred for people who disagree with her.

    2. Ah, the deep wellspring of compassion from Bob's right wing fans!

    3. ...and failed to win the biggest prize because she didn't express enough hatred for "Black Lives Matter".

      Fixed it for you.

    4. Trump never expressed support for the KKK. Hillary specifically, by name, expressed support for its more relevant, hateful, and dangerous counterpart, Black Lives Matter.

    5. Bwahahaha!!

      Well the KKK sure as hell expressed their support for pussygrabbing pervert traitor flim flam man fraud tax cheat mentally unhinged Trump.

    6. 3:24 PM is, obviously, suffering economically. LOL.

  12. Hi Bob. Hillary voter here. Worked my ass off my whole life. I come from a working class background in New Jersey, where my grandfathers both worked from the time they arrived in America in leather factories in New Jersey. My father fought in WWII in the Navy, got married when he got out, worked and went to school at night for years to earn his Masters in Construction Management while raising his children in a 2BR apartment in NJ.

    I wish I could comment further, but I have a very busy schedule. NY Times writers are beating down my door to find out why I strongly supported Hillary Clinton. I keep pushing off the Washington Post until the NY Times is through with me.

    Then I have numerous upcoming appearances on CNN and MSNBC on their panels of Clinton voters that you must have seen in the weeks and months following the election. After that I plan to write a book.

    Yours truly,


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