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The Politics of Everything

I miss the days when late night comedians didn’t talk about politics all the time.

In September of last year, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote a column that garnered a lot of news. Entitled “Clinton’s Samantha Bee Problem,” he lifted up Bee as an example of how the entertainment industry has gone from being slightly left-leaning to becoming full-on liberal activists. He explained that where once there was a David Letterman or Jay Leno offering mostly apolitical monologues, there are now late night hosts that are basically de facto explanatory journalists:

On late-night television, it was once understood that David Letterman was beloved by coastal liberals and Jay Leno more of a Middle American taste. But neither man was prone to delivering hectoring monologues in the style of the “Daily Show” alums who now dominate late night. Fallon’s apolitical shtick increasingly makes him an outlier among his peers, many of whom are less comics than propagandists —liberal “explanatory journalists” with laugh lines.

Some of them have better lines than others, and some joke more or hector less. But to flip from Stephen Colbert’s winsome liberalism to Seth Meyers’s class-clown liberalism to Bee’s bluestocking feminism to John Oliver’s and Trevor Noah’s lectures on American benightedness is to enter an echo chamber from which the imagination struggles to escape.

It isn’t just late-night TV. Cultural arenas and institutions that were always liberal are being prodded or dragged further to the left. Awards shows are being pushed to shed their genteel limousine liberalism and embrace the race-gender-sexual identity agenda in full. Colleges and universities are increasingly acting as indoctrinators for that same agenda, shifting their already-lefty consensus under activist pressure.

Douthat continues by saying this sets up a false sense of strength on the part of liberals, who live in their own bubble unaware that the other 300 million or so Americans might not feel the same way they do:

For the left, these are clear signs of cultural gains, cultural victory. But the scale and swiftness of those victories have created two distinctive political problems for the Democratic Party.

First, within the liberal tent, they have dramatically raised expectations for just how far left our politics can move, while insulating many liberals from the harsh realities of political disagreement in a sprawling, 300-plus million person republic. Among millennials, especially, there’s a growing constituency for whom right-wing ideas are so alien or triggering, left-wing orthodoxy so pervasive and unquestioned, that supporting a candidate like Hillary Clinton looks like a needless form of compromise…

I’ve been thinking about this as we face yet another attempt by the GOP to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Back in the Spring, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel shared the story of his recently born son who needed heart surgery. He used this as a reason to keep the Affordable Care Act. He started a conversation with Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy on the issue. Now that Cassidy is behind a health care bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and give less health care, Kimmel has responded by calling the Senator a liar. He is now using his show as a platform to oppose the Graham-Cassidy Bill going as far as giving phone numbers of Senators to call. Politics and entertainment are now entertwined:

Kimmel is a host who once boasted that an episode of his show would be “Trump-free”— and who once announced that “if anyone says the name of the orange-colored man with the Russian boyfriend, they will have to put $100 in that jar that Guillermo is holding right there.” Now, though, the politics have knocked on his own door, at his own home, for his own son. And he is rising to meet them — another late-night host who is embracing the idea that politics and entertainment are, at this moment in America, tightly tangled together. On Tuesday, at the end of his monologue, Kimmel listed the medical interest groups that have opposed Graham-Cassidy. He shared a number that viewers can call to tell their representatives that they oppose the bill. He took for granted that anger can be its own political force.

Now, you should know that I am opposed to the Graham-Cassidy Bill. Being right of center, I don’t think Graham and Cassidy are trying to be mean-spirited, but they are part of a problem in the modern GOP; a party that is woefully out of step with the larger public and really misunderstanding the conservatism of Ronald Reagan.

That said, I for one am getting tired of entertainers becoming more and more politicized. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have political opinions, but there is something polarizing about Kimmel’s fight. He, along with other entertainers like Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers vent anger against Trump, which tends to say to the wider society that said entertainer is on the liberal side. This kind of willingness to bear ideological identities started in earnest under President Obama, when liberal entertainers glommed on to the President. Now that Trump is the Commander in Chief, entertainment is becoming part of the resistance.

There is a sense that these entertainers only belong to half of the country and not all of it. It might make my liberal friends excited, but the thing is, having one more entertainer speaking condescendingly to conservatives means that you lose someone that could be persuaded.

But the other part of this is that it would be nice to have places in our society that aren’t touched by politics. The problem today is that more and more, politics seems to invade areas of our life that should be politics-free most of the time. We can’t watch the Grammys or the MTV Video Awards without some reference to politics. As much as I support transgender Americans serving in the military, I was bothered that the MTV Video Awards made a statement in favor of transgender soldiers. I didn’t watch it, but there was a feeling of wishing that there was less partisan politics in our entertainment.

But there is also a danger here for liberals. As comedians become less middle-of-the-road and more partisan, they risk causing the half the public that doesn’t agree with them to make their feelings known at the ballot box. Douthat again:

At the same time, outside the liberal tent, the feeling of being suffocated by the left’s cultural dominance is turning voting Republican into an act of cultural rebellion — which may be one reason the Obama years, so good for liberalism in the culture, have seen sharp G.O.P. gains at every level of the country’s government.

This is where I insert that tired phrase, “This is why Trump won.” People don’t want to be told they are bad people for not thinking the same way. They don’t want an angry comedian yelling on the TV. Kimmel’s rants might have a positive effect in stopping Graham-Cassidy, but they also help lead to the breakdown of our common civic life. Writer Damon Linker explains how this breakdown of the common good has consequences:

The damage to our civic life is real. The more seemingly impartial public figures are accused of covert bias, the more citizens begin to suspect that everything is political, that no one ever rises above partisan passions. And the more citizens begin to doubt the possibility of rising above partisan passions, the less they try to do so themselves — or to expect any better from public officials. Everyone has a political agenda. No one is fair-minded or concerned with the impartial truth.

When everything is political, nothing is held in common, admired, and understood in the same terms by all. And a nation in which nothing is held in common, admired, and understood in the same terms by all is less a community than an aggregate of warring factions jostling for advantage, striving for a total victory in which those on the other side of the battle are permanently vanquished.

I really hope that Graham-Cassidy doesn’t pass because it’s a bad bill. But I also wish that entertainers like Kimmel would stick to being comedians. In these divisive times, we need to be able to laugh. We have enough anger, thanks.


Staff Writer

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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231 thoughts on “The Politics of Everything

  1. I disagree Dennis. I was born with (patent ductus arteriosis) something similar to Jimmy Kimmel’s son. I like to laugh just like everyone else, but I’m damn proud of Kimmel for speaking up. He has been affected quite deeply and he is fighting for what he believes. This stuff isnt theoretical. There are real stakes. If he had gone through the ordeal with his son, but chose to stay silent, sure maybe he would be a better comedian. But he would also be an asshole. The world needs fewer assholes.

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  2. So you want to make a point about politicized comedy and you choose *Kimmel* as your example?
    Good god: you may of literally chosen the worst possible example..

    Kimmel presented a heart felt story about how his newborn son wouldn’t be alive without the medical attention that he could get for him because he has good insurance. And his point that every parent’s child should have the same chance his child did.

    Cassidy then grabbed that story, and promises to Kimmel’s face that he will support no plan if it doesn’t pass that test, and even named it the Kimmel test. And Cassidy gets a lot of good press as a moderate, caring GOP member.

    He then turns around and sponsors a bill that includes large cuts to funding for medical insurance and opens up huge loopholes for states to weaken and even effectively remove protection for existing conditions. And without that protection, it very hard to see how a non-rich family could afford treatment for a child like Kimmel’s

    Kimmel, understandably, reads that Cassidy’s invention of the ‘Kimmel test’ was a incredibly cynical ploy to simply gain political gain from the tribulations of Kimmel’s famil.. And so Kimmel tears Cassidy a new one.

    So we have a father raging at what seems a betrayal of his families suffering and *that* is your example of comedians who should shut about politics??

    You want liberals to stop stereotyping conservatives as granny starvers? Then call out conservative politicians like Cassidy for acting like completely cynical and dishonest bastards and *you* (redacted for being insults; see below comment by me – Maribou) acknowledge the pain that that ‘angry comedian’ must be feeling about Cassidy’s actions.

    .

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    • I hope you will also find that without calling the OP’s writer tone-deaf and blinkered (which is against our comment policy), your comment is actually more effective. Also, don’t attack the writer instead of his ideas / statements, no matter how mild you feel the insults are in comparison to your strong feelings about his post, or I will probably censor, suspend, etc., more in the future.

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      • I must admit I find your response a little disproportionate: tone-deaf seems pretty mild. But if those are the blog rules, then those are the rules.

        But just to understand: would have it been acceptable to say the *argument* is tone-deaf and blinkered? Even you admit below that Kimmel isn’t even a passable example for supporting the point that Dennis is trying to make.

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        • Yes, it would have been acceptable to say that about the argument. I think someone actually did use one of those words about the argument, downthread? The problem was not only with the insults, but with building to them as the climax of your comment in the way that you did. I didn’t have a problem with your comment in general or I wouldn’t have been so selective in the redacting.

          I realize it’s a fine line, between disagreeing vigorously with an argument, and being uncivil towards its author, but it’s a line we try to hew to.

          I might not be as mad at Dennis as your comment is – I think he’s pretty great and I appreciate the way his posts make me reflect on things I take for granted – but I “admit” that below because I agree that the argument (actually the whole thesis, IMO) is deeply flawed. How I moderate and how much I agree with the OP are as non-connected as I can possibly make them.

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    • Any sensible healthcare system that hopes to keep costs low is going to have engage in rationing of one form or another. (whether it goes under that name or not) Spending lots of money to get someone who is already in their late seventies or eighties live a few more months does not seem like the best use of scarce public resources. If you personally have the means, go ahead, but the calculus when you are spending the public dime is different. That the left finds this position beyond the pale speaks more to their own blinkered-ness than to anything else. This lack of self awareness is one reason why they can’t understand why trump won.

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            • I dont see how thats relevant. Back when Palin was talking about Death Panels, we all agreed that 1) Some rationing was desirable in any system that wsa to work and 2) Among the least efficient uses of healthcare dollars is on life extension for old people.

              The mere fact that a predictable outcome of current policy* is that those inefficient dollars are not going to be spent on grandma does not make it ok to demagogue this issue especially when we all agree that points 1) and 2) still hold.

              *You know, I’m not even sure if the people who are going to be affected are the very old. In all probability lots of people who could have easily been saved will be screwed over but we aren’t talking about that because talking about grandma makes for better TV

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              • Just to be clear. AFAIK, this bill doesn’t do much to Medicare but it’s pretty savage on Medicaid, the state-level program for poor folks. Aaand… Medicaid pays for a whole lot of nursing home care. So yeah, it will hit quite a few grannies.

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                • The bill can’t do anything to/about Medicare: reconciliation rules, under which all this is being done in order to avoid needing 60 votes in the Senate, explicitly prohibit changes to Medicare or Social Security.

                  Relatedly, in prior bills this year, the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that moving the authority to regulate insurance companies with respect to pre-existing conditions and such from the federal government (under the ACA) to the states does not fit under the reconciliation rules (that is, that’s not a budget decision). Assuming she’s consistent, and that the Senate does not overrule her advice (hasn’t been done for approaching 50 years), the version of Graham-Cassidy that would be voted on would be quite different than what has been described so far.

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              • There’s a world of difference between complaining about the very idea that rationing a scarce resource is a real thing and complaining that one side wants to crank the rationing knob way over to cover tax cuts. “Death panels” was the first one. What we’re seeing now is the second one.

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          • Can activists ever complain about the predictable human costs of healthcare cuts or restrictions, or does the fact that some restrictions are necessary render the entire line of objection out-of-bounds under all circumstances?

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          • Sure, except are they really screaming about the same thing? At all?

            Back in the day, the righties were attacking — I don’t recall what they were called exactly — expert panels that would review the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of medical procedures in an effort to spend scarce resources more efficiently. These were the so-called death panels. They also seriously mis-characterized a provision that would authorize Medicare to reimburse for advance directive counseling. Basically, deciding in advance, while your mentis is still compis, exactly how much effort you want to expend in keeping you alive rather than having that decision fall to the kids or the doctors.

            What the Republicans are doing now is just trying to take a lot of money out of the system, leaving millions — by some estimates as many as 10% of the population — without any realistic access to healthcare.

            Sure, ability-to-pay is one possible basis for rationing. Is it the best or most moral route?

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      • I’m sort of mystified as to what this has to do with the post you’re replying to, since it has virtually nothing to do with the healthcare bill under discussion. Graham-Cassidy is notable for containing large Medicaid cuts, eliminating the requirements that insurance plans cover certain things, like pregnancy,[1] and eliminating prohibitions on pre-existing conditions. However, people in their last decade of life are largely unaffected by the because they get their almost all their health coverage through a different government insurance program, Medicare, which I’m pretty certain Graham-Cassidy doesn’t cut.[2]

        Even very cost-conscious healthcare systems, like the UK’s, have been moving towards loosening the sort of rules about cost-effectiveness to allow more care to be delivered to very sick infants and children, doing things like waiving or hugely increasing cost-effectiveness thresholds for drugs that target rare childhood illnesses.

        So the idea that Kimmel’s reaction, or that of other people who are (broadly speaking) on the left, towards Graham-Cassidy is somehow a denial of reality is weak to begin with, and it is further weakened by the fact that G-C, like the previous GOP attempts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare don’t plausibly do anything to move our system towards rationing care in a manner similar to other healthcare systems.

        [1] It’s not that expensive in the grand scheme of things, and is far from the sort of thing other (i.e., sensible) healthcare systems don’t cover.

        [2] Is this all confusing as hell? Yes. Welcome to the American healthcare “system”. We also have our own mini-NHS for veterans because why not.

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        • I’m replying to the bit at the end of Peter’s post where he talks about granny starving. (Of course Peter’s not the only one. Colbert and Trevor Noah also made similar points) And it seems to me that there’s a lot to be said against dying on that particular hill.

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          • The use of “granny starving” was meant in this sense: If you don’t want people to unfairly reduce your point to “granny starving”, then you should should a modicum of care the language and arguments *you” make.

            I thought granny starving was so over the top, that the sarcasm was obvious. Obviously, I could have made it much clearer

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  3. I appreciate that you would voice your opposition to Graham-Cassidy.

    I would rather not think much about politics, but I find it impossible. I didn’t sleep a wink on Election Night. Trump is the bully I never beat. I thought I’d left behind, but now he would be on every channel, all day long.

    And maybe you’re right, maybe he was elected out of some sort of resentment from conservatives over entertainers. The entertainers are people I have no control over, though. At least with the election, I had a vote, and so many people seemed to vote out of spite. But spite is no way to govern.

    No way at all.

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      • Which, I’m sure we all agree, is liberals’ fault (in this case, for not wanting to maximize chaos in our health system, cause tens of millions to lose insurance, etc.)

        Where does personal responsibility fit in for the spite voters?

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        • Oh, it’s right there. The fact that a person is voting more on emotion than reason doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s a bad way to vote.

          It’s explanatory, not absolving.

          The fact that popular entertainers might hurt your feelings is not an excuse for voting for an idiot.

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    • If Clinton wasn’t a bully, and didn’t bank on spite, then I could understand why election night would have been restless for you. If our prior president hadn’t spent 8 years of spiteful bullying, then I could see the transition being difficult. As it stands, though, I don’t see your point.

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      • I am with and I too, would like to know how you felt Obama engaged in bullying. I’m quite serious, and interested in your response.

        I think this is an idea that has echoed around the conservative subculture, but I do not know where it came from or what it’s based on, and I would like to know.

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        • Here’s what happened above:

          Pinky – I’m sick of being accused of witchcraft.
          North – Who accused you of witchcraft?
          Saul – Witch!

          I’m sick of that tone. That tone blossomed in the Obama era. It was also the beginning of the Twitter era, so I can’t blame Obama exclusively, but he was never shy about questioning his opponents’ motives, treating every political disagreement as a personal attack and responding in kind.

          And I know, it’s possible that I’m just being oversensitive to it. It’s possible that just as Jay sees spite in his opponents, I see spite in mine. So I just took a step back and read the State of the Union speeches of our last two presidents at the beginning of their second terms (2005 and 2013). There’s a difference. There’s a dismissiveness, an arrogance that you see in the latter. Do me a favor and read them. They’re from the same point in each presidency: they’re addressing Congress with their second term agenda. But tell me you can’t see a difference between them.

          I could write up a couple of clever paragraphs that would convince no one, and someone else could reply in kind, or we could look over the source material. I know they’re long and ultimately insignificant speeches, but they do reflect something of the speakers.

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            • No, of course not. I specifically addressed this matter in my comment above, where I said that I thought it would be more productive for someone to compare those two random speeches side by side than me citing reasons and someone else disagreeing with them. Don’t you agree? I mean, do you really think that a back-and-forth would lead to better results?

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              • Frankly no I do not agree. Your characterization of the former President as having engaged in eight years of spiteful bullying strikes me as a very strong claim and you having made said claim I, and Dr. Jay, invited you to present strong examples to back it up.
                Instead you have focused on Sauls’ unproductive emotional interjection (you should probably thank him for that by the way), provided some bog standard political speeches and invited us to read bullying tone into one of them. As an example of eight years of spiteful bullying that strikes me as mighty weak tea.

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                    • And the quest to reach the moon both predated Kennedy and outlived him, but it’d be foolish to write a history of it without highlighting him. Under President Obama, the accusation of bigotry became our go-to move.

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                      • Under Bush it was the accusation of disloyalty.

                        Under Clinton it was the accusation of degeneracy.

                        The nature of the go-to charge has shifted over the years, with the ebb and tide of the salient political controversies of the day but I really don’t see why “bigotry” is worse than “treason”.

                        And really, after the country’s foremost Birther has been made President and pardoned the country’s second-most prominent Birther, I think there might be a teeny bit more going on with the bigotry charge than bullying here.

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                  • So I’m still left with Obama engaged in spiteful bullying for eight years because you didn’t like the tone and word choice of some of his public speeches. Oh and also Saul behaved like Saul? I’m actually kind of bemused because that really sounds like a complaint I’d usually see the right accusing the emotive SJW-left of making.

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          • I, seriously, see no particular dismissiveness in either speech. I’ll always prefer Obama’s oratory to Bush’s, but Bush’s speech was pretty good, and short–which is an under-appreciated virtue in SotU addresses. I also find Bush’s policy preferences mostly awful and Obama’s mostly decent. So I disagree a lot more with what Bush had to say. But that’s not really what’s it issue, is it?

            In both cases they complain about one of their priorities not coming to a vote (Bush on judges [1] and Obama on gun control), and Obama says that keeping the sequester for everything but defense is a bad idea, but in neither case did I see anything that looked like a personal attack or bullying.

            [1] “The Constitution also gives the Senate a responsibility: Every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote.”—George W. Bush, 2005.

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          • You’re right about what happened above and if Doctor Jay hadn’t told Saul to give you space more eloquently than I could, I would’ve said so myself.

            As for the matter itself, I read both sets of source material and I was far more amazed at how interchangeable they are than anything else. I see no difference in tone whatsoever.

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  4. Kimmel’s rants might have a positive effect in stopping Graham-Cassidy, but they also help lead to the breakdown of our common civic life.

    I’d think that illustrates more of a problem with Graham-Cassidy, and in particular Bill Cassidy himself, than Jimmy Kimmel. What Cassidy did with Kimmel was sleazy,[1] and of course despite Kimmel supposedly being a partisan liberal figure, a Republican Senator was willing to go on his show and use it as a platform. Hell, Kimmel let that Senator on his show to use it as a platform. This would seem to call the whole idea that entertainment is just this big liberal thing into question a bit.

    But not so much as the two Presidents that the OP invokes: Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump! Indeed, one of the threads flowing through this article, and Douthat’s, and Linker’s, is that people got so mad at TV stars injecting them into politics that… they went and elected a reality show host President? Isn’t that the sort of apparent contradiction that at least bears mentioning? And perhaps consideration?

    And mightn’t liberals, who just watched that TV star become President, and are now watching Republicans gearing up to run a terrible rapper for Senate in MI, maybe wonder if there’s something else going on here? Especially after the right has spent the past twenty-odd years building up an entire parallel media universe based on exactly the supposed threat we should just be paying attention to now: biased, liberal media alienating conservatives?

    The whole thing starts to look a bit like arguing that liberals pass up what appears to actually be an effective political tool, thereby giving policy that everybody seems to agree is awful[2,3] a better chance to be enacted, because they are solely responsible for the civic wellbeing of America. That’s not an argument that’s likely to gain much traction with liberals. It certainly doesn’t do much for me.

    [1] No, Kimmel’s feelings on that score are obviously not even in the top 20 million things at stake in the fight over G-C, but it’s not like he jumped into this feet first out of the blue, either.

    [2] By “everybody”, of course, I mean myself, Kimmel, and Mr Sanders. But the transgender ban in the military and the ACA repeal efforts are really unpopular. The idea that Kimmel et al. are alienating half the country is a bit dubious in light of that.

    [3] And OK, so degradation of our shared civic spaces is bad, but isn’t bad policy also bad? Isn’t there at least a plausible argument that the damage to the shared civic spaces is outweighed by the damage avoided by stopping terrible ideas from being enacted?

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    • Without getting into whether comedians should be more or less political, I think that Kimmel did something that more TV hosts in general should do: Come back and revisit it when one of your guests uses your platform to lie. Politicians have learned that they can say anything they want on TV and nobody will fact check them in real time. It’s pretty rare for anybody to revisit the truth of what you said later, so TV appearances have become a free-for-all to muddy the waters. A sitting senator on an evening television program is literally no longer a better source of information than a random yahoo on Twitter. I’m glad Kimmel made an example of Cassidy and I hope more hosts follow suit.

      As for Kimmel and this issue specifically, it seems like he has every right and probably even a moral obligation to say something here. He has real, first hand knowledge of what this bill is all about. The fact that he’s rich enough to stay quiet, let Cassidy lie to America, and enjoy the resulting tax cut just makes it even more laudable that he chose to call out bad behavior and make his viewers aware that they’re being lied to and that government isn’t just a consequence-free television show.

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  5. Telling Jimmy Kimmel to stay in his Lane when politics is now trying to intrude into his life lane and make it harder for kids like his son to live a life I don’t know it just comes off as a bad look bro.

    Staying your lane, stay in your place, all just ways of quieting voices you don’t want to hear.

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    • I’ve been reliably informed by other commenters that when one has passionate opinions, one sometimes uses “You” in a way that means “people” rather than “you the person I am addressing”. So I am going to assume that’s what you were doing.

      But if you were addressing Dennis, specifically, with “quieting voices you don’t want to hear,” I’ll suggest quite strongly that you’re wrong. I’ve never seen him act that way and while I might not agree with this post, if that’s your take-away, I think you’ve missed the point of it.

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  6. I always so enjoy reading your posts, Dennis, perhaps moreso when I don’t agree with them.

    Canada has extremely political comedians and has had for longer than my lifetime, and yet they’re not divisive… I think the difference is that Canadian politicians tend to think everyone’s doing a horrible job, and mock them all. Still during the Harper years, they started to drift apparently left just because Harper’s cabinet did so many things that were just. not. okay. Now that Canadians have moved back to a center left political consensus (for the most part), the comedians are starting to remember how to mock everyone for every little thing again.

    I think you’re seeing the symptom, here, and confusing it for the cause.

    (Though I do think Jon Stewart’s adoration of Obama confuses matters a bit. Still, it didn’t stop him from mocking him and his administration whenever he felt like it. Eg http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/01/13/pkg-orig-jon-stewart-rips-obama-holder.cnn )

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    • Also I realize this is Linker and not you, but when was this:

      “When everything is political, nothing is held in common, admired, and understood in the same terms by all.”

      ever not the case in the US?

      Someone is always experiencing the downside of political difference…

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    • I really miss Stewart. I could very much appreciate that he had no trouble leveling criticism or giving praise when it was due, to either side. And he was always respectful to his guests, even when he very clearly disagreed with them.

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    • The big difference, , is that on certain things, as far as I can tell, things are settled in Canada when it comes to basic bedrocks of society.

      Even Harper, who seemed pretty right-wing by Canadian standards went after health care or attempted to revise abortion guidelines or other such things. Sure, he cut programs, made regulatory decisions a lot of people didn’t like, etc., but he wasn’t trying to completely reverse changes made by previous governments.

      That’s the big thing – no other conservative party in the First Would wants to rollback as much as the modern day GOP does. As a result, politics are far more high stakes.

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      • Harper broke a lot of rules and precedents. It’s not just that he cut programs and made regulatory changes, he and his people literally took SIGNED guidance from senior deputy ministers, changed words, and then presented it as signed. Ie, they lied and cheated. The same sort of Trumpian “I can get away with this” crap.

        Harper did his best to roll back same-sex marriage within a few *months* of being elected the first time. He failed, horribly, and almost suffered a no confidence vote as a consequence – but he tried REALLY hard.

        There are plenty of other examples like this one. Please don’t American-splain Canada to me. I will have a great deal of difficulty taking your theories seriously if you do.

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        • A good way to explain it was that Harper was a extremist in terms of matters of procedure, whereas Jesse is thinking of extremism as a matter of policy where he was pretty moderate (especially compared to his caucus).

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          • He wasn’t moderate about SSM until he got shoved the other way by a majority of Canadians. There are a few other things like that but it’s hard to say whether he was, as you describe, moderate compared to his caucus, or whether seeming moderate was just part of his play to be mild-mannered and admirable.

            Otherwise that’s a really good gloss.

            I guess my concern is that I actually worry more about Trump’s extremism of procedure than about his extremism of policy.

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            • (I should say why, I guess? It’s because extremism of procedure keeps increasing with each new pres since 9/11 – really long before – but extremism of policy tends to get corrected once power shifts, and I still have hope that’s what will happen here. Hope isn’t certainty, mind. But it’s not nothin’.)

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    • Re: Stewart it’s really possible to like and admire a politician while disagreeing with them more or less strenuously, and Stewart was, I think, more prone to that then most. One of the more striking things he said, as W was on the way out, was, “If only he hadn’t been President, I think I would have really liked the guy.”

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      • Yeah, I felt more or less the same way about W that Jon did, and as I said, he still gave it to Obama with both barrels. I just think that the amount of time Obama spent on his show, clearly being adored by the host, made it harder for folks to see the Daily Show as even-handed, even though it was, in fact, relatively even-handed at the time. But that’s a mild muddying, not the worst thing ever. Really I was mostly disagreeing with Dennis that comedians drive politicization, when really it’s the outrageousness of certain politicians (particularly procedural outrageousness, as in “HE JUST DID WHAT????”) that drives comedians to become more political. AFAICT.

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  7. Mostly, this post made me think of a line I saw the other day from Jerry Holkins: “What you think isn’t political – that is to say, what isn’t up for debate – is really just an index of your politics anyway, and quite a robust one.”

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    • That’s pretty astute as is Jesse’s comment below on how “promoting civic” whatever really just means “Would you kindly shut up and leave me alone”

      There has been a lot of pearl-clutching at antifa and black block and how they are destroying free speech. I’m not really into antifa but I’ve noticed that even the most mild of libertarians absolutely refuse to believe me when I try and differentiate between mainstream liberalism and the further left.

      So there is all this pearl-clutching about how horrible it is that people scream back at Milo Y when he shows up but when you have someone like Kimmel or any other late night host be political it becomes “Why do all these comedians need to bring up politics? Can’t they just give me the chuckles?”

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      • @veronica-d Please try to be clear that Dennis is neither pearl-clutching about antifa, generalizing them to the further left, or unaffected by Trump’s changes to the political system, here or elsewhere.

        I’m not saying he’s right; I happen to disagree with him on this issue.

        But if you’re going to argue positionally, you should consider consider the vulnerabilities of the person you’re reacting to before you react. Reacting to someone like Dennis the way you’d react to the people you’re actually mad at is the exact same kind of lumping that you’re complaining about, .

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        • — I react to Dennis the same way I react to Caitlyn Jenner when she cozies up to the right wing. Which is to say, there will always be members of vulnerable minorities, who due to circumstances, have positioned themselves in the “middle class” (or higher), and thus inherit the sensibilities of the middle class, meaning comfort first. Fine. This is the same attitude that drove posh gay men to oppose the Stonewall riots. They thought it made them look bad. Don’t turn the apple cart, they thought. Likewise, nice respectable gays were happy to remove “gender identity” from legislative efforts, cuz after all, we trans folks are weird and off-putting to mainstream str8s. Get what they could for the nice normal gays. We freaks can rot.

          Clutching pearls over an awards show? Really?

          No business as usual.

          Three weeks ago one of my long distance poly partners broke up with another partner and lost her living situation, so she was out on the street. She can’t go to shelters, cuz trans. I’m trying to get something set up for her out here, east coast, but it’s hard.

          She got raped last week, behind a building. The cops did a rape kit, but nothing else really. It’s just a thing. She has to suck it up and move on.

          Her first STI test came back negative. She’s getting another today. I hope she doesn’t have HIV.

          The current political fight over trans in the military is part of a much bigger fight: can we ever be normal? It’s a real fight with a real cost.

          Obviously trans in the military wouldn’t stop my g/f from being raped last week. But still, social progress takes hard work. The world where she is homeless, jobless, not eligible for shelters, etc., is a world built by both malfeasance and complacency. And while these fights go on, and on, and on, and on, normal folks would rather have their awards show “politics free,” but that means “politics invisible.” Comfort first. Don’t offend conservatives by being queer in their presence.

          It says something not-so-nice about Dennis that he can be complacent. It just does. That is the awful implication.

          Honestly, how much of what he has was paid for by people who fought in the street, who were loud and queer, who broke rules, who offended, who got pissed off?

          Are we not allowed to ask this?

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          • You are allowed to ask all those things and to talk about why you think it’s important. In fact I actively *encourage* you to do that. I’m glad when you do that and I almost always agree with you.

            You are not allowed to verbalize negative assumptions about him such as “complacent,” (which is different, albeit subtly, from the question you asked) or that overall he’s objecting because he’s comfortable (well, really, I’m just going to nudge you gently if you do that, unless it’s a clear attack, “not allowed” is too strong) and you’re definitely not allowed to textually “yell” at him the way you did in the sentence in your below comment that I deleted.

            I hope that’s clearer.

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            • Also if there is literally anything practical I can do to help with your partner’s situation, please let me know here or email me offline. I don’t have a ton of money, but if there’s other things I could do to help I will, including what money I can spare. I know you probably have other friends working on it, and you’re working on it, and you don’t need me, but if you do, I will help.

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          • Wow. I am stunned. Basically you just called me an Uncle Tom.

            I don’t support this bill. So this isn’t about me wanting the bill to pass. I was critiquing Kimmel’s crossing the line to journalist/activist. I think that there are issues with this way of doing things. I never said he can’t ever say anything ever. I’m saying that it doesn’t always have to be on TV.

            Veronica, you have no right to speak to me that way. I speak out against injustice, if you read past posts. So, you don’t have a goddamn leg to stand on by making me some kind of privileged black gay man who doesn’t care about others. You don’t goddamn know me.

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            • [ — let us hash this out. It won’t be pretty, but it needs to happen.]

              — Look, I don’t know shit about Kimmel. I don’t watch his show. I don’t care what he said. I was responding to the following things. First, the Dohaut quote, which you seem to approve of:

              Awards shows are being pushed to shed their genteel limousine liberalism and embrace the race-gender-sexual identity agenda in full.

              Oh no! Not that! How dare Hollywood affirm my humanity in the face of the enormous social and political forces that want me dead.

              You know I’m not exaggerating, right? They really want me dead. They really reject my humanity. Do you actually get that?

              And I mean the republicans, your party.

              We’re dying out here!

              And then you said this:

              But the other part of this is that it would be nice to have places in our society that aren’t touched by politics. The problem today is that more and more, politics seems to invade areas of our life that should be politics-free most of the time. We can’t watch the Grammys or the MTV Video Awards without some reference to politics. As much as I support transgender Americans serving in the military, I was bothered that the MTV Video Awards made a statement in favor of transgender soldiers. I didn’t watch it, but there was a feeling of wishing that there was less partisan politics in our entertainment.

              Good grief man. That is grotesque.

              Look, I’m no fan of Hollywood and their self-congratulatory awards show. I never watch the darn things. But all the same, I’ll take whatever support we can get. Right now the right (your party) is going full bore against us. All the political fuel they milked out of gay marriage, they’re turning those guns against us.

              But with us, it’s not just about marriage. It’s about our capacity to exist in public. It’s about restrooms and “trans youth” and government issued ID cards and passports and insurance and cops that rape us. The fact is, WE ARE EASIER TO KILL THAN GAY PEOPLE. There are fewer of us. We’re weirder, harder to like. We have fewer tools to defend ourselves. We depend on medical stuff and surgical stuff in ways that gays do not. But we get AIDS the same as you do.

              Do you really understand that? It’s hard to explain, actually, to people who are not in the thick of it. It’s hard to see the social costs, until you realize that homeless shelters reject transgender people and jobs programs have no place for us and cops just assume we’re sex workers anyhow and will arrest us just for carrying condoms (no really) —

              — there are so many little things that kill us.

              Guess the HIV rate for trangender women in 2017?

              26%

              Why?

              Cuz we turn to street level sex work cuz we have no other choice.

              Imagine being a homeless transgender woman, who cannot access any of the support that is available to cis women, but who is just as fun to rape.

              My girlfriend was fucking raped.

              I mean, this is not about me personally. I work for google. But I got really lucky in ways almost no one does. All the same, I am in my community. I’m a trans the same as them. I love them, rub shoulders with them. I sleep with them. My heart is their heart.

              Can a middle class gay man really understand this?

              Yes you can, but you have to do some work.

              #####

              I would never dare use the term “uncle tom.” That said, I’m not stupid. I understood the implication from the beginning. But still, the examples I chose were from LGBT history: the gays who opposed Stonewall, the gays who bargained away gender identity during the ENDA fight.

              I feel entirely comfortable calling out a middle class gay man for throwing trans folks under the bus (even as he gives lip service) in a way I would not feel comfortable calling out a black man for race stuff.

              But you are a gay man, and the facts are the facts.

              Regarding race — you’re a black conservative. You get to own what that implies. It ain’t my place to belabour the point.

              #####

              If we could re-run history, and you found yourself in a world where Hollywood took no political stands, where they never spoke up about race, about gay liberation, about AIDS, a world where Rock Hudson did not die and Reagan could go on with his head up his ass about AIDS, a world where “big culture” never took your side — where would you be? Honestly, where are you without Ellen coming out, without Will and Grace, without RuPaul being delightfully sassy, without all of that?

              I know how insipid Hollywood is, BUT STILL! Where would you be?

              My point, give us this. You had it. You already cashed in. We need it, every little scrap.

              #####

              As the fight for gay marriage wound down, many transgender activists asked themselves a simple question: will the gay community be there for us, in the trenches, ready to fight — not lip service, but a real fight, tear down the walls, no business as usual, we ain’t free till we’re all free — really fucking fight! For trans people. Would they?

              The jury is still out on that one. In the meanwhile Hollywood occasionally says something nice about us in an awards show. I suppose conservatives don’t like that.

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              • For the most part I can see that you are making an effort to be civil at the same time you are angry and I don’t intend to moderate as long as that continues.

                I do, however, think you’re missing some things about Dennis, so I’m telling you them as a fellow trans person, and a commenter on this site, and not as a moderator:

                1) He wrote a post in August of last year about leaving the Republican party: http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2016/08/01/this-party-cannot-be-saved/ Is it really reasonable to keep calling the Republicans his party at this point? He’s not calling himself one.

                2) He wrote a detailed post back in May of this year about the importance of universal health care (http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2017/05/08/mugged-by-reality-a-conservative-for-universal-health-care/) so he’s not just giving the nod here to opposing these bills to avoid controversy. He’s writing about them *to a conservative audience* and telling them to move their butts onto the humane side of the line.

                And you have zero idea what his income status is or his social class. None. (Though he does mention working for 6 bucks an hour in the health care post.) You have zero idea if he’s put himself at risk for trans people or not. None. You’re *guessing* who he is based on a pretty skimpy outline. I’ve been paying a lot more attention to him than you have, apparently, and I don’t think he is the person you think he is at all. I know people like that. Hooboy do I. He isn’t one of them.

                I don’t agree with him about awards shows and I do agree with you. Fiercely. They *are* stupid, but acknowledging the places where the world is shattered doesn’t make them worse. It makes them a ray of hope in a very dark place.

                But he’s not who you think he is, from what I can see.

                And my dear ones are sometimes homeless, sometimes raped, sometimes lost to the beatings the world gives them, too. And for many of the same reasons.

                As long as you can keep from tossing cuss words and the like directly at Dennis, I’ll probably stay well in the background from here on in. But what I see when you talk to him is that you’re angry at someone who doesn’t deserve it, and who is understandably fed up enough with your inaccurate anger to miss your larger points, and your accurate anger, because of it.

                Maybe not, I can imagine him taking a deep breath too, and seeing what you’re getting at and what you’re going through. But you’re giving him a lot to overcome to get there, by calling him out both for stuff he should hear, and stuff that isn’t about him at all.

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        • Hey, I just want to clarify that I didn’t mean that comment to come across as some sort of attack on Dennis’ post. Far from it; I actually liked his post, and I think Dennis is getting flipped way too much shit in these comments; you guys gotta take it down a notch, Dennis is clearly a good dude and even if you think he’s wrong he deserves the same respect as anyone else who’s trying to get a point across in an earnest and non-trolly way. Maribou is 100% right downthread when she says that this is how we end up talking past each other. I just posted what I did because I thought it would make Dennis introspect in kind; I didn’t see any profit in just internet-yelling at him.

          Also, I do wanna say; Doctor’s Jay’s points down thread about the politicization of everything being due to the internet is spot on, and what I’d been intending to post when I got off work until I saw he’d already made the point.

          Likewise, I actually kind of agree with Dennis in one respect: I’m also pretty wearied by the rising politico-entertainment complex on the left, not because I think it’s bad per se but because I think it’s oversaturating. Back in the 2000s, Stewart and Colbert seemed like plenty. Do we really need six or seven different versions of that, all essentially pushing the same ideas? Maybe we do, but I suspect that in effect what it generally does is either paralyze us or overwhelm us with inputs; in either case, the effect is the same.

          For the past few years now I’ve come more and more to the notion that we (and I mean “we” in the Molochian sense of the term), via the combination of omnipresent internet access and the permanent news cycle, performed a kind of collective and self-inflicted DDOS attack on ourselves. Information, like water, is essential for survival, but when you can only receive it via a firehose blasting into your face, that essential nature becomes a twisted reflection of itself, and so we’ve all become a little psychologically broken as a result. This is not stuff our primitive ape brains were ever prepared to handle, and I earnestly fear that as the processes of capitalism inevitably winnow out ever more effective hacks on our attention, that firehose will eventually fill the lungs of our minds until we drown.

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  8. Humans are inherently social animals and that makes us inherently political animals. Anything has the potential to become a political issue or a religious issue, which is another form of politics when you try to enforce your religious beliefs on a wider populace. Part of this is because what is light-hearted fun to some person can be deadly serious to another, so when a comedian cracks a joke at farm to table hipster restaurants it might not seem political unless you somebody who takes food issues very seriously. Than it becomes political. The only way to really have apolitical humor is to have an apolitical society. We aren’t an apolitical society.

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  9. To be honest, I don’t get the point of the OP. A lot of people express opinions I don’t like. So what? There are a lot of comedians I don’t find funny, a lot of actors I wouldn’t watch if they paid me, a lot of musicians whose music I find insipid or just plain bad. So what? The world is not obligated to cater to my tastes.

    The political point of the article seems, to be charitable, puzzling. The message seems to be that liberals would be more effective if, what, they weren’t so darn liberal? What precisely would they be more effective at? Being conservative? It makes no sense.

    I remember the 1980s and the Reagan years. The conservative case was baloney back then, but at least they had an actual case. It seems today that conservatives can’t even muster up a case, and can’t do any more than complain that it’s just so rude that people disagree with them, and worse yet, they disagree out loud. Oh my! How uncivilized!

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    • “It seems today that conservatives can’t even muster up a case, and can’t do any more than complain that it’s just so rude that people disagree with them, and worse yet, they disagree out loud. Oh my! How uncivilized!”

      I have this frustration too, but it has little to do with the point of the article. Dennis *disagrees* with the bill in question, he just doesn’t want to hear about it 24/7. Your first two paragraphs address this vigorously, that last part I just quoted, not especially relevant.

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      • I actually disagree with you pretty strongly. Part of the frustration on the part of exactly the people Dennis is complaining about is that not only are they right, but no one is honestly presenting a counter-point.

        For Kimmel specifically, the response has been essentially nothing more than a less-polite version of Dennis’ argument that he shouldn’t be discussing whether this bill flunks the Kimmel rule. No one even begins to argue the bill doesn’t flunk that rule, because it obviously does. Which is why Kimmel is pissed. Which is why Kimmel is acting pissed. Which is what apparently bothers Dennis.

        I actually think the degree to which modern GOP politicians are utterly unable to muster a defense of their own legislation is stunning (and a better explanation for the cultural criticism than some sort of cultural change) and fairly included in that comment.

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        • But Dennis wasn’t complaining that “it’s just so rude that people disagree with him” or that they disagree out loud. He was saying that he doesn’t want to hear *from people he agrees with* about political topics.

          That’s the distinction I was trying to make.

          Two different things.

          Nothing that you say here is wrong, as far as the people who want to pass the bill go (if there even are any such people, honestly it’s a terrible bill). I was just saying that wasn’t what Dennis was complaining about.

          I don’t agree with what he IS complaining about. But it’s not that thing.

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          • Here’s the thing – if Dennis wanted to complain about random celeb person on Twitter talking about this bill because they’re entertainers, OK. I don’t agree, but I get it.

            But, it’s called the Kimmel rule. If some politician called something the Ewiak rule, and then went around and unleashed legislation that I think broke that rule, I’d be talking all I could about how I disagreed with it.

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            • I agree that Kimmel is not a good or even a passable example. You’ll notice I had zero disagreement with people saying he was a poor example. My concern was specifically to caution people (of whom I thought, quite possibly wrongly, that Larry was one) against saying that Dennis, the conservative author of this post, was therefore also (insert laundry list of problems with conservatives here). This is a thing that was happening prevalently in the comment section when I came into it, and it’s quite possible I misread Larry for that reason. (Oh, the irony.) If so, , I apologize.

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              • You have nothing to apologize for, Maribou: I read your comment as saying correctly that my point about the lack of conservative argument went beyond the point of the post. Which it did: I was making a generalization. I assume you let the point stand because I was not making that charge explicitly against the author, and I did not intend to imply that he personally lacked an argument.

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          • But Dennis wasn’t complaining that “it’s just so rude that people disagree with him” or that they disagree out loud.

            But the comment you responded to didn’t claim Dennis was. Which is why I felt your response was incorrect in that case.

            The comment was pointing out a real, true, thing about Conservative politics in this moment, and connecting it to the issues in the OP (of which there are many). It sounds like you even agree with me that the issues DO connect.

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            • That’s fair. Honestly I came in to the comment section at first blush to find several people had blatantly mischaracterized Dennis’ post, some of whom had very sturdily crossed over the boundaries we set, and so it didn’t seem like much of a stretch that when paragraphs 1 and 2 were about how little sense the commenter made out of Dennis’ post, paragraph 3 was directly about Dennis’ post as well, rather than connecting.

              I wanted more clarity on that point, but, again, probably my perspective on each individual comment was shifted by my overall reaction to the comment section as I came into it. So it’s totally possible I’m being unfair to Larry here.

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  10. A proposal:

    Late night comedy will be left liberal and explicitly political if talk radio becomes less hard right extremist. Deal?

    If not, why not?

    Seems to me each side has retreated to an arena that allows both comfort and strength. This might be good or bad or both… but to say that only liberals need to pick their spots is just absurd.

    Maybe the market will sort this out and offer you an alternative…

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  11. The last time I watched some of those comedy shows with any regularity was John Stewart’s show. Saw a bit of the Steven Colbear show too, but that’s it.

    I find political jokes funny, but yes, 24/7 all the time “resistance” is just boring. I get it, you don’t like him. As to the Kimmel thing, YOU GO. The guy thinks he was lied to his face. That demands payback. If Kimmel’s correct then the other guy deserves what he gets.

    As for the rest, yeah, liberals live in a bubble. A lot of them do. So do a lot of non liberals. Examples abound. I’m sure you’ve all heard the stories of the NYC reporting saying that it was so surprising that XXX won the election as she new know one who voted for him. Same with my liberal actress friend.

    Is it divisive? Sure, but you don’t have to watch it. I’m of the opinion that there’s one thing that trumps (ehem) politics-money. If they are making money and not losing ratings, they are giving enough people (not necessarily a majority) something they want.

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  12. Although there is plenty to disagree with here, I think two points are worth emphasizing:

    1. The first is that Trump won because of the Electoral College, not because Americans wanted him as their president. This should never be ignored. A political device inserted into our politics specifically to protect conservatives from change has delivered yet again. Asking people whose candidates get the most votes to accept losing is now, and will forever remain, an absurdity. Then asking those people to believe that they are in the minority – when, again, their candidate got the most votes – is a positively infuriating thing.

    2. Telling comedians to just be funny is like telling athletes to stick to sports. These are real people living in the real world, same as everybody else, and their lives are affected by this stuff, whether it is Kimmel realizing that anybody born like his own child is being explicitly threatened by the conservative dream of making poor and sick people suffer, or Michael Bennett being picked out of a crowd fleeing gunshots because he was the black guy in the crowd. This is then doubled-down on when no conservative anywhere, ever, is asked to simply stick to whatever it is that they do. And again, the double standard is infuriating. Why are only some people allowed to be political? Why are only some people allowed to have be offensive? Why are only some people allowed to advocate? And what is to be gained from the system working in that way, other than it being even more favorable to conservatives and conservative outcomes?

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    • So let me get this straight…..a bunch of guys who considered freedom from a king, who desired to create their own country, are a bunch of scheming conservatives who created a “political device inserted into our politics specifically to protect” themselves? I’d call them radicals for their time, but to you their conservatives? Wouldn’t those be the guys who supported the King?

      And this political device has been so effective that it’s been the deciding factor in 5 elections in over 200 hundred years. 5. Wow…….

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      • I agree with Damon on the substance here. The issue wasn’t liberal/conservative at that time, it was a combination of needing to assure small states they wouldn’t become vassals to, e.g., Virginia and the founders’ deep distrust of direct democracy. In this case, I believe also seasoned with a bit of practical logistical limitation.

        Now, I also agree with Sam that if such a system ever made sense it certainly does not today. Not only is the USA far larger than the founders could ever have dreamed, but state sizes are far far more unequal and our sense of ourselves as a single nation is far far far stronger than it was then. Not only that, we’ve decided we actually like direct democracy far far far far more than the founders did. Given the realities of the constitution, however, the only plausible path forward is this one. Which all people of conscience and good sense should support!

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        • And I disagree. The issue was liberal/conservative (in the modern sense) in that it was urban/rural (also in the modern sense). The owners of large tracts of land and large numbers of valuable livestock (either of the 4 or 2-footed variety) didn’t want their political might weakened by the numbers advantage of effete mercantile class and their city hangers-on. The less densely-populated states didn’t want to cede power to the more densely populated ones. And FWIW Virginia was a big winner in the early electoral college numbers game (because of the slaves resident there). It held more than 13% of the electoral college in the 1800 census, and with nearly half of the population of eastern virginia being slaves the 3/5 compromise helped a lot.

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          • Well, Virginia had the most EVs because it had tons of slaves. The electoral college isn’t the same thing as the 3/5ths compromise. I suspect Virginia would have had significantly more power with nationwide voting that still provided the extra votes representing 3/5 of slaves. Obviously, it would have done substantially worse (and TJ wouldn’t have won in 1800) if slaves got zero votes.

            (I’m not persuaded, at least in this moment, that the EC was created in the form it took solely to provide a mechanism for counting 3/5 of slaves.)

            I think the EC makes a lot of sense in an indirect democracy sense when you’ve already resolved a lot of relative-power concerns (big/small, slave/free, etc) through the House/Senate system. It’s just stupid today.

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          • No, the 3/5ths compromise hurt Virginia. Think of it this way:

            How many votes were allocated to women? 1
            How many votes were cast by women? 0
            How many votes were allocated to minors? 1
            How many votes were cast by minors? 0
            How many votes were allocated to slaves? 3/5
            How many votes were cast by slaves? 0

            People get confused by the 3/5ths compromise because they mistakenly read voting rights into the formula. But slaves don’t vote.

            And when the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment passed, it increased Virginia’s vote allocation.

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        • @nevermoor The idea was to prevent little states from being subjected to the whims of big states. The solution – forcing big states to suffer the whims of small (almost always more conservative) states – is a terrible solution, as evidenced by both George W. Bush’s and, now, Donald Trump’s elections. Americans wanted one thing, and the system gave them another.

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          • Can anyone identify any political issue, other than representation, on which large states, as such, lean one way and small states, as such, lean another? On what issue would NY, Pa, Mass. & Virginia be on one side and Connecticut, Delaware, North Carolina, and South Carolina be on the other?

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          • Well, the idea was that the Delawares of the world thought of themselves as a country, and weren’t going to join a union where they would immediately lose all political influence.

            Which was fine then when “big” and “small” meant relatively little (and the model was an elite-white-man led republic). It really sucks now when the differences are far greater and the model is much closer to direct democracy.

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  13. A fine post Dennis but I have to agree with a lot of the commenters: Kimmel is a very bad example to use. Senator Cassidy specifically reached out to Kimmel on this subject, attached himself to Kimmels’ general comments on the subject and was given a platform on Kimmel’s show to speak on his position from. Since Kimmel’s complaints are objectively factual, Cassidy has in sponsoring this bill, flat out reversed himself on many major promises he made while using Kimmel’s show as a platform, I struggle to see how Kimmel pointing this out is in any way problematic. Live by the talk show, die by the talk show.

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  14. I don’t think Graham and Cassidy are trying to be mean-spirited

    The alternative explanation is that they are too stupid to understand what they are doing. I certainly don’t dismiss this possibility, but I don’t find the distinction particularly useful.

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    • It can’t just be stupidity on their part. As Senators, they have incredible resources at their fingertips to figure out what the likely effects of their bill would be. If they aren’t doing due diligence on a bill that would have major affects on healthcare for tens of millions of people, that in and of itself demonstrates callous indifference.

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    • I don’t know Cassidy very well at all, but I’m pretty familiar with Graham. I think he’s trying to win his next primary, which is different from being mean-spirited or stupid. It’s ruthless, yes. I think it’s doomed to failure, and I think he knows that.

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  15. The problem is, of course, I cannot ever be non-political, because for me simply being alive and happy is a political issue. Just fucking living in this world is political. So fuck this.

    We can’t watch the Grammys or the MTV Video Awards without some reference to politics. As much as I support transgender Americans serving in the military, I was bothered that the MTV Video Awards made a statement in favor of transgender soldiers. I didn’t watch it, but there was a feeling of wishing that there was less partisan politics in our entertainment.

    (redacted – see below – Maribou)

    Seriously.

    Let me ask you, was AIDS a political issue?

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    • No bellowing cuss words at people, particularly our writers, . I get why you’re pissed and I’m not going to suspend you for this – you’ll notice I left your other cuss words alone – but even when righteously angry, there’s still a line and you just crossed it. Dennis isn’t your actual enemy here.

      If you do it again, I will suspend you.

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      • — I’ll decide who my enemies are. Honestly, the whole “keep your ugly politics [meaning my human dignity] out of my pleasant awards show” is a repulsive notion. It’s grotesque and wildly offensive. You cannot dress it up in nice words and erase what is behind it.

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        • Fair enough, you can decide who your enemies are. And I was wrong to phrase my objection that way. if it were me, though, I’d at minimum put “gay African-American pastor who explicitly supports transgender people in the military but whom I disagree with about the role of politics in awards shows” well behind about at least several thousand other people on my enemies list. In my case, I actually count him as an ally who is wrong. You have the right not to do that, and I apologize for stating otherwise.

          If you yell at him or anyone I judge to be in a similar position again though, like you did in the the part I censored, I will suspend you.

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  16. Has there ever been a time when comedy wasn’t political in some way?

    Aristophanes plays smacked aganist the Pelopensian War.

    Comedy is one of the easiest ways to speak your mind because it provides for anger through laughter and also for Cover in darker regimes.

    I’m sorry Dennis but this sounds like tone policing. We are living in really angry times. This is attempt number what at repealing the ACA? People will be hurt and people are mad. Yet you want people to be quiet because it hurts Republicans’ feelings? Maybe the GOP Congress should stop being shits for once and take the message.

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    • Shapiro is doing a much better job of addressing the issue well because he’s essentially acknowledging what the bill does and then arguing that it’s a good thing. The rest of us are not yet at a point where we’re ready to have that conversation, primarily because the people pushing the bill are still in the “up is down” part of the argument where they just straight up lie about what’s in the bill.

      I’m totally down for hearing the argument that bringing back pre-existing condition exclusions and raiding Medicaid for tax cuts is good policy. Not so much with the argument that the bill does no such thing and everybody will get more and better coverage and a pony.

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  17. So we need a fairness act for comedians?

    It’s curious — comedians (entertainers at all) live very much subject to the free market of opinions. Whether people will plunk down money or attention is the currency they live by. So if they keep showing up on your TV, and talking politics, that’s because it’s what people want to hear.

    If they didn’t, they’d pretty swiftly find themselves canceled.

    In any case, the “But I also wish that entertainers like Kimmel would stick to being comedians. In these divisive times, we need to be able to laugh. We have enough anger, thanks.” is pretty hilarious, because entertainment has always been political — and comedians have always spoken about politics.

    You just don’t notice when it’s your politics.

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      • Like what?

        This is the man who said Ban porn after an Independent article on Japan’s declining birthrate and how young Japanese are not into romantic relationships. An Independent article that cited a comedian instead of sociologists on Japanese romantic life and was based on a rather dubious “study” that wasn’t even named. The article smacked of Orientalism and making fun of the weakness of Asian men. But it let Ross D pearl-clutch.

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        • Nothing anybody twits on twitter is admissible in my books. Let the twittery stay in twitspace.

          Anyhow, Douthat has all kinds of foibles, sure, that’s why I disagree with him but he lays his arguments out coherently and has logical internal consistency which is becoming less and less common on the right. Also he’s one of that endangered little posse of reformicons who talk sensibly about how the GOP is long past it’s best before date on economic and tax policy to name just one of his more sensible positions.

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          • Nothing anybody twits on twitter is admissible in my books. Let the twittery stay in twitspace.

            This is another reasonable policy that has gone by the boards with Trump.

            Not that I really disagree with you about Douthat. Sometimes he’s good.

            It’s just that this was not one of those times.

            (Linker is pretty much always dreck IMO.)

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                • bl–ator is a word that is hard-banned in the system for some reason, before my time. maybe it was a tell for a sock-puppet?

                  Anyway I don’t have any troubles with you calling any random famous-in-the-blogosphere people names as mild as that one (as opposed to people who write here, comment here, used to write her, etc etc etc) – so I undeleted your comment. There was no human intent behind it being blocked.

                  Just wanted to let you know why it got auto-moderated in the first place in case you want to avoid that word in the future. I don’t check the trash very often, mostly just to make sure nothing like this is happening, and I tend to assume if comments are in there it’s because people deleted them themselves. (And as such I forget them the second I see them – they expire on their own quickly anyway.)

                  But that one is such a weird word that I remember it being on the block list, and your comment was short, so I caught it.

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  18. The funny thing is, Kimmel is probably a Republican, or at least was one. (Or most likely, an ‘Independent’ that leans Republican)

    You don’t hang around Ben Stein and Adam Carolla for that long without some of them rubbing off on you.

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  19. Sorry, nothing personal, but a “common civic culture” means in reality, the oppressed and afflicted and those aligned with them should keep quiet and stop disturbing the lives of the relatively comfortable. Now, when I say this, I’m not only including the transgender person or the person who will lose health care if the ACA is repealed, but also the laid of auto worker or the opioid addicted single mother in rural Michigan as well.

    I mean, let’s look back at even relatively recent history – lots of people in entertainment and such spoke up about the plight of folks like Ryan White during the early days of the AIDS crisis. Now, we all think that’s reasonable because nobody thinks people with AIDS are terrible people now for the most part, but in 1984, somebody at the MTV Music Awards was ‘destroying the civil culture’ by pointing it out.

    Same thing with Civil Rights – should numerous Hollywood stars of the time just stuck to being entertainers, instead of marching? Again, we praise them now, but they sure were disturbing the common civic culture of the time.

    Progress doesn’t happen without disturbing the common civic culture and creating a new one.

    That’s not even getting to the point where Jimmy Kimmel talking about health care or Colin Kapernick kneeling is ‘injecting politics into the common civil culture’ but the slobbering over the military that happens at every sports event isn’t political, at all.

    Weird. It’s almost like many of the people who have a problem with politics in the non-political arena really only have a problem with one kind of politics in non-political arenas.

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    • Very much this. Excluding blacks from baseball was praised as keeping politics out of the game. The blacks thought otherwise, but they didn’t matter. Then eighty years later, blacks were in. The racists howled about this imposition of politics ruining their game. feh

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  20. I suppose I can understand how freaking *EVERYBODY* in entertainment having similar enough political views can feel like being gaslit.

    You and most folks you know think X.
    And every night on the television, comedians make jokes about people who think X. Y is *OBVIOUSLY* the correct opinion. (Audience whoops and hollers)

    Change the channel. A different comedian makes a joke about people who think X.
    Change the channel. A different comedian makes a joke about Y being good and people who don’t agree are just trying to make money.
    Change the channel. Oooh. It’s that sitcom that’s pretty good. A joke about the dad being bald (laugh track). A joke about mom being high-strung (laugh track). A joke about the son being a horndog (laugh track). A joke about Brexit? They put a freaking BREXIT JOKE IN HERE?

    Anyway, the best way to deal with this is to assimilate to their world view.

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      • Everybody has a radio.

        I suppose that that’s why Conservative Talk Radio is so popular. You can go to it and be immersed in “your” culture without feeling like you’re being gaslit.

        “We need a fairness doctrine!” was a thing there for a while. Remember that?

        Good times.

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          • Until we can figure out how to set up a news organization that does a good job of catering to an educated urban elite, we’re stuck between the Scylla of making our entertainments Politically Liberal and the Charybdis of censorship.

            Hey, everybody knows that if you absolutely have to pick one… you pick Scylla.

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            • What’s that have to do with what I’m saying?

              Liberals are laying claim to entertainment media. Conservatives have laid claim to talk radio and cable news.

              Everyone has their little world in which to exist. Why do you want to clutch pearls at the former but not the later?

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                    • I’m not sure what “pearl clutching” is exactly. It seems to be a way of making fun of people who are worried about something you find to be a trivial problem at best. That makes “virtue signaling” a bad replacement because virtue signaling does not need to involve worry. It can also involve pride “I am more woke than anybody because I know all about privilege.”

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                      • “It seems to be a way of making fun of people who are worried about something you find to be a trivial problem at best.”

                        This is correct.

                        Or they aren’t focused on the bigger issues. So when people complain about the Berkeley or antifa reactions to Milo Y or Richard Spencer, it is why I often response back that Richard Spencer wants me gone from the planet because I am Jewish, how am I supposed to have a polite conversation with him?

                        A lot of this talk about decaying social norms or how there is a lack of civility sweeps under the rug that Nazi thugs have been emboldened to march with torches in public.

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                        • You’re not supposed to have a polite conversation with Richard Spencer. I encourage you to call him all the names you want, here, elsewhere, anywhere…
                          In this thread if you want.

                          You’re supposed to have a polite conversation with people like Dennis or Pinky, which is a far step from that. Even if they were telling you to have a polite conversation with Richard Spencer (which neither of them is), having a polite conversation with them is still a far step from being polite to him.

                          That awareness is not actually helping any of us by itself, but in order to successfully ally against assholes like Spencer or more palatable but also more powerful assholes like Trump, you have to be able to talk civilly to people who agree with you on some stuff and not on other stuff. And not just be like “why do I have to be polite to people who aren’t as worried about Richard Spencer as I am?” in the same breath as “why do I have to be polite to Richard Spencer?” as if they’re the same thing.

                          They are not.

                          You know this. Why have you forgotten this?

                          And in any event, there are better ways to express it than “pearl clutching”. Which, as mentioned, is as sexist when the left uses it as when the right does.

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                          • I think my question regarding whether comedy was ever not political was valid. Dennis has not answered yet.

                            My comment on Spencer was not aimed at Dennis but more musings on issues I see in those fretting at antifa or the left more broadly.

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                            • I agree that that was a valid question. I actually agree with you that apolitical comedy is a rare beast indeed. My advice about the difference between Spencer and the people you interact with on this board had nothing to do with that question and everything to do with how you’ve otherwise been commenting on this post.

                              It was just that, advice, and if it’s unwelcome, feel free to ignore it.

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                      • Not so much that they actually worry, but that they ostentatiously convey how much, with a sublime subtlety stolen from the leads in “Wrath of Khan”. It’s like a bastard child of Virtue Signaling and Concern Trolling. Concern Signaling?

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                    • “I’m actually kind of bemused because that really sounds like a complaint I’d usually see the right accusing the emotive SJW-left of making.”

                      Well, that which we hate most in others often tends to be that which we secretly hate most about ourselves. Projection’s a bitch.

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        • I find it hard sometimes to figure out where you are on something.

          The fairness doctrine was repealed by Republicans, and it gave birth to conservative talk radio and Rush Limbaugh. I do not think that made things better for America, but it made Rush Limbaugh rich. I was going to say it made some conservatives happy, but mostly I think it made some conservatives angry, because that’s what he does, make people angry. That’s what all of it is about, pissing people off.

          But any “fairness doctrine” makes no sense on the Internet, so it’s a lost cause anyway. What is your take?

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          • What is your take?

            In saying this, you put it better than I ever could:

            any “fairness doctrine” makes no sense on the Internet, so it’s a lost cause anyway

            I might quibble and point out that “the entire internet is a fairness doctrine”. Everybody who has an opinion can give it. They can tweet. They can start a blog. They can comment on Reddit and be part of interminable top level pun threads.

            And the people who catch on will catch on.
            And the people who fizzle out will fizzle out.

            But, quite honestly, you put it well enough with what you said up there that I won’t bother.

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              • Welcome back, . Your suspension didn’t expire until tomorrow, but I was going to unsuspend you before I went to bed anyway, since my schedule is so different from everyone else’s… so I decided to just restore this comment and bring you back early.

                I missed your perspective on some things, and I’ll enjoy seeing that again, but please do remember that if you do the same pattern I’ve previously objected to, or otherwise cross my lines, I’ll be suspending you again for longer as a minimum reaction.

                That said, welcome back and have at.

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              • I don’t even know how to parse this statement.
                I realize my reply will almost certainly be lost because it’s several days out of sync, but can you clarify exactly how you believe the largest search engine and the two largest social networking platforms on the internet are “mak[ing] sure conservatives can’t speak on the Internet”?

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        • I suppose that that’s why Conservative Talk Radio is so popular. You can go to it and be immersed in “your” culture without feeling like you’re being gaslit.

          If you’re conservative! Listening to that shit as a liberal is… pretty weird. But more to the point, that is also entertainment!

          People just split it off because… I don’t know. A lot of the time, I get the impression from folks on the right that it’s OK for stuff consumed by conservatives to be aimed at them specifically, but if liberals want to be entertained, it better be stuff that appeals to people of every political persuasion.

          “We need a fairness doctrine!” was a thing there for a while. Remember that?

          Yeah, that was pretty stupid.

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          • A lot of the time, I get the impression from folks on the right that it’s OK for stuff consumed by conservatives to be aimed at them specifically, but if liberals want to be entertained, it better be stuff that appeals to people of every political persuasion.

            Well, the big tension is always between having a large square where everybody can get a spoonful of flavorless mush that isn’t particularly offensive to anybody and having a small community that is pungent and spicy and flavorful (and likely to give indigestion to people who aren’t used to coming there regularly).

            And the usual solutions favored by people is something like a Taco Bell-ization of other people’s corners and an emphasis on authenticity for one’s own.

            For what it’s worth, I kind of like the idea of there being a Jay Leno-type night show host who gets up in front of everybody and the most political joke he tells is about how (President So-and-so) has a pretty crappy golf handicap before moving on to a joke about how Coca-Cola is making a product change again.

            But, then again, it’s not like I watch night shows. So it’s not like I would consume the product that I’m talking about liking if it were different.

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              • I just don’t see why I should particularly want my corner Taco Bellified.

                You shouldn’t! If they want a version of the real thing that is toned down to their liking, they should make their own!

                It’s not like what they’re doing in their corner, which is playing with something deliberately inaccessible to others in order to keep them out rather than smoothing off the rough edges to allow everybody to enjoy it.

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                • If they want to play with something deliberately inaccessible to keep others out, that’s fine with me.

                  I’ve been there, done that, and bought the Sonic Youth albums that were overproduced by Butch Vig just so I could complain about them.

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    • Has the joke about Brexit been put there? And are we even clear on which group of people are the ones being targeted by a Brexit joke?

      Even still… the argument is strange…

      “Lots of people in this industry seem to agree. That agreement when shared publicly looks like group think. The obvious solution is to tell those people not to share publicly.”

      WTF?

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      • The assumption of monoculture among the elites can be seen as offensive to people who are not members of the monoculture.

        Sure, we all know that people are far-too-easily offended but unless we, as a society, are willing to establish “suck it up, buttercup” as a official policy, we have to actually deal with the people who get offended because, for some reason, we still let these buttercups vote.

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          • Saying “You’ve got X, which is a monoculture and there is also ~X” is not the same thing as saying that there are two monocultures.

            I suppose that you could make the point that X and ~X are two distinct sets but that doesn’t make ~X homogeneous with regards to X. It just makes it ~X.

            I mean, assuming that X isn’t binary. Which I do.

            Even if Fox News does exist.

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              • That there are a hell of a lot of minicultures out there.

                Like, in the 1970’s, when so-very-many November/December commercials said “Merry Christmas!”, there was a monoculture among the commercials and a whole bunch of people who weren’t Christmas-celebrators who were irritated by the monoculture. Like Jewish folks, Muslim folks, Atheist folks, Secular Humanist folks, and so on.

                Saying that there were two monocultures (“the Christian one and the non-Christian one”) is something that the members of the monoculture tended to pull.

                When, really, there was just a monoculture among those who were making the ads and a ton of little monocultures who were thinking “yet another dang commercial where people are saying Merry Christmas”.

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                • But the onus remains on him to make the case that it is more problematic.

                  Culture, ultimately, is a function of the will of the collective. If more people want to watch “Modern Family” than “7th Heaven”, it is wrong to dismiss the former running on a major network in primetime as evidenced of monoculture run amok. No one is saying “7th Heaven” can’t exist… just that there isn’t enough of a want for it to exist in that particular space.

                  The response being offered here seems to be that more people ought to like “7th Heaven”. But why should they?

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                  • No, he’s focusing on the monoculture of people who like 7th Heaven. That’s the one he sees as a problem. (Not for liking 7th Heaven, but for how they vote.) That’s the one he’s trying to “solve” (at the ballot box). You can think he’s wrong (I happen to), but I think you’ll see his comments differently if you reframe them that way. (It’s also more accurate or I wouldn’t suggest it.)

                    Note this isn’t me moderating, this is my Jaybird-splaining mode :D.

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                      • I don’t think it’s “sacrifices to accommodate them” so much as “get inside their heads so our interventions are more effective than they have been.” Consider that he mostly interacts in the real world with people who think he’s a huge flaming liberal. (His mom, his coworkers, etc.) In any case I don’t agree with him about most of the things he thinks we should do, it’s part of what we enjoy about each other. But I was just translating for Kazzy. I do that sometimes.

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                    • It is interesting because I couldn’t have read him more differently. But my Jaybird Translator tends not to work well.

                      Thing is… I don’t see either group as a problem inherently. Let the “7th Heaven” folks have their “7th Heaven”. And the “Modern Family” folks their “Modern Family”.

                      What I’m struggling with is calls like the one Dennis is making, wherein he seems to want Kimmel but only the parts of Kimmel he likes. You can want that… but it doesn’t seem particularly reasonable to actually expect that.

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        • The assumption of monoculture among the elites can be seen as offensive to people who are not members of the monoculture.

          They should stop making that assumption, though.

          Not because it’s offensive, but because it’s silly and wrong.

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    • Another important point is that some people are making a lot of noise about this particular bill because, like the last one, the Republicans are trying to sneak it through with as little fanfare as possible. A big part of the reason this is just a bunch of people ringing alarm bells instead of a conversation about healthcare policy is that there’s a mugging in progress.

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  21. I have been thinking about Dennis’ theme, which is how politics is invading entertainment. I want to put this into a broader context. Politics is invading everything. My thesis is that this is due to the Internet.

    In particular, the biggest offender is Facebook. Facebook’s business model is to leverage our most personal, deepest relationships for the purposes of selling advertising.

    That’s the business model. But since it’s textual, it seems ok. This is the “interruption” model of advertising. I had hoped that AdSense on Google would kill of the interruption model, but no, Facebook brought it back with a vengeance. Not that it’s the only offender.

    Can you imagine sitting down to coffee or lunch with a friend and partway through the conversation something pops up on the table with commercial for coffee creamer or whatever? Or your discussion of your recent prostate cancer gets interrupted by ad for Viagra? I hate this with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I hate that the things I care about and love get so polluted by commercial messages.

    And the political is also the commercial these days. Web media is all designed to get people wound up, and politics is the best way to do that.

    I mean, if you don’t like what’s on TV, you can turn it off. But can you turn off talking with your friends?

    We used to have a rule that was often articulated when I was young, which was that it wasn’t polite to talk about politics or religion. But that rule is in the dustbin, and the Internet helped kill it.

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    • “We used to have a rule that was often articulated when I was young, which was that it wasn’t polite to talk about politics or religion. But that rule is in the dustbin, and the Internet helped kill it.”

      How often was this practiced more in breach?

      I don’t think we are seeing anything new under the sun. Politics has always driven people to be angry and mad. If you read Rick Perlstein, there were plenty of conspiracy theorists in the 1950s and they made it to Congress as politicians. OC was a hotbed for right-wing conspiracy theories. Have you been watching the Ken Burns documentary? Plenty of people were angry at journalists and comedians in the 1960s for speaking the truth about the no-win situation in Vietnam or about civil rights.

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      • And those discussions did not take place in the public square, and in particular, they did not happen on broadcast media. I lived through those times, Saul. You didn’t talk about politics on a “social occasion”, which was defined as a gathering of people for some other purpose than a political discussion. There were specific times, places, and even TV shows for political discussion, and they could all be avoided, and often were.

        You didn’t see political comedy on TV (there was plenty of political comedy, for instance Mort Sahl) because of the fairness doctrine. This was significant. Repeal of the fairness doctrine was huge, but now it doesn’t matter, as I said to Jaybird elsewhere in this thread.

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        • I think there are too many people to argue about whether you talked about politics at all as a social occasion.

          I think the reason people didn’t talk about politics during the 1960s (allegedly or not) was that there was a large amount of consensus about many issues and it was kind of a holdover from the Victorian Era. Things were pretty squeamish and kept squeaky clean but there were TV shows that started to deal with social issues. There was an episode of the Defenders where the father-son lawyer team represent a female teacher who was sued for being an atheist.

          There was also a lot of social changes and issues in the 1960s that forced people to take sides like the Civil Rights Movement and just increased social liberalization/secularization as the Boomers and others came to age and rebelled against social conservatism.

          I guess I just think that the reason people did not discuss politics and/or religion is because there were just granted assumptions of Christian superiority and secondary status of non-whites or even “white ethnics”. This started changing in the 1950s and 60s and makes things political.

          Even if political comedians did not make it on TV, you still had politics via stuff like seeing Bull Corner let all hell loose on the Civil Rights Marchers. You also had allegedly neutral figures like Benjamin Spock who felt they needed to speak out against Vietnam in order to prevent the slaughter of innocents.

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      • Also, with the Internet, there’s no rest anymore. Every day, a brown person who isn’t even Muslim is assaulted by someone invoking 45’s name, and it gets caught on someone’s phone, and we see it. Every day, some idiot on a college campus says something stupid about the first amendment and we see it. Every day Roy Moore says something unAmerican and we see it. Every day a Daily Show vet makes a political joke and we see it.

        Shit used to happen before the Internet but we didn’t see it. We could relax. We could pretend our coworkwrs were nice people. We could have discussion threads without everyone on a hair trigger and one click away from a ban.

        We could pretend it wasn’t all political. People as privileged as me could, at least.

        I’ve said it before – I officially became a liberal when I realized that the way I’ve felt every day since last November, that’s the way a lot of people feel ALL THE TIME.

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        • Right. There is a lot of rage out there and I don’t always agree with it but it is honestly felt. And there are times when the stridency of tone does wear me down and make me want to stop engaging.

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    • The Internet might exasperate the trend of politics invading everything because it increases the broadcast power of nearly every political group even if they are very fringe. It also helps them be more sleek in their presentation. Before the Internet, most people on the extreme side of politics would be really isolated and struggling to make their presence known. The Internet allows them to make their presence known.

      At the same time, I think the trend towards partisanship and politicization can be traced all the way back to the early days of the Cold War or the Vietnam War to be exact. The people who were really adamant about opposing Communism and saw everything they didn’t like about modern America, civil rights, feminism, rock music, men with long hair and facial hair, as Communist are on the American right today. The people who wanted a less vigorous response to Communism are on the American left today.

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    • I think this is an important connection, namely that the politicization of everything is closely related to the commoditization of everything. Throw in the best method of facilitating marketing and commerce in the history of our species and it becomes impossible to compartmentalize.

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    • Politics was always in entertainment!

      It’s just invisible when it’s your politics.

      Murphy Brown was political, despite the fact that single motherhood wasn’t exactly unknown. But that show became a freaking campaign talking point. If showing a single mother was politics in entertainment, the shows that had stable, two-parent households were political as well (like, oh, Leave it to Beaver).

      Then there’s every children or teen TV show in the 80s, and their mandatory “Very Special Episode” about drugs. Or teen sex.

      Or heck, comic books and the Hayes Code.

      Law and Order is political, but a lot of people don’t see it (there are a LOT of people who find the idea of Hollywood telling them cops and prosecutors are tough truth-seekers is a pretty nice whitewashing of some nasty crap). 24 was political.

      There’s no escaping politics.

      And bluntly, there’s no point in whining — entertainment is as free market as it gets. If Jimmy Kimmel does better talking about Healthcare than interviewing A-listers, that’s America making a choice about what it wants to watch. Making a choice with cash on the table, as it were.

      Unless you want a new fairness doctrine, that’s life. Complaints about it are, basically, “My desires aren’t as popular as other desires”. I mean I get that — there’s plenty of shows I love that got cancelled, or went in directions I didn’t like so I stopped watching.

      That’s life.

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      • I think there is still a difference between explicitly and implicitly political. The politics in all the above shows you mentioned are implicit, especially for the people who believe in whatever your show is preaching and even too many that don’t. Other shows are much more explicitly political and didactic like the Left Behind novels for promoting American Evangelical Christian politics or Dear White People for the left hand side of American politics. What seems to have changed is a lot of what used to be done implicitly, single mothers are just as good as a traditional father/mother household or cops/prosecutors are heroes, is know done more explicitly and with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

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        • Bad art, bad in large part because it’s excessively didatic and polemic, also has a long history.

          It’s mostly forgotten because good art tends to be remembered while bad art doesn’t.

          Eta – sturgeon’s law is an eternal truth.

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          • Even good agitprop can have a limited audience in the future or even at the time. Brecht was brilliant at agitprop and left-wing polemics because he had the rare talent of being wicked and sexy but being didactic at the same time.

            The Threepenny Opera is left-wing and equates sociopathic thieves with Capitalism. Mack the Knife is saved from hanging when Queen Victoria knights him. But it also has wickedly good songs and sex appeal with songs like The Ballad of Mack the Knife (the German lyrics are a lot darker than the sanitized Bobby Darin version), the Cannon Song (which itself is an attack on colonialism and European soldiers committing atrocities in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East), and the Ballad of Sexual Dependency.

            But Brecht is now only really popular among highbrow theatre types with bourgeois backgrounds and bohemian inclinations.

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        • Your implicit is my explicit.

          And TV has, if anything, gotten more subtle over the past few decades. You should go rewatch crap from the 90s. You think stuff’s blatant now?

          Good god. I was rewatching the Highlander TV show and couldn’t stop the giggles over the “Former Native American love” flashback….

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  22. I have to wonder how much of this ‘politicize everything’ has anything to do with our current president who…politicizes everything.

    Everyone remembers that time he tweeted out a political new years tweet, right?

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  23. I really really dislike this argument. Much of the reason why has been fleshed out above, but the thing that I haven’t seen is the argument’s part of a long-line of mistargeted concerns.

    If you don’t like that Kimmel is devoting shows to Graham-Cassidy, and agree that Graham-Cassidy is terrible (which, as everyone paying even moderate attention knows is true), then the problem is Graham-Cassidy, not Kimmel. So maybe let’s keep that fact in mind.

    That’s true about a lot of these issues, since the GOP for years has followed the [propose terrible, half-considered policy], trigger reactions about terribleness and thoughtlessness of the policy, whine about tone of reactions, cultivate anger from base. We have threads about how liberals are bad for reacting, about how the base should be excused for providing anger, etc. But maybe let’s focus on the fact that these are objectively bad ideas from any even center-right understanding of governance, that liberals aren’t to blame for that, and that the second point is true even when they open their mouths.

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  24. Kimmel didn’t politicize his show. Republicans politicized his life when they introduced a bill that makes his son and others like him much more likely to die. You cannot threaten the health care of 32 million Americans and expect all of them to politely shut up about it.

    You don’t like previously apolitical spaces being politicized? Maybe don’t propose legislation that will kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.

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    • “You don’t like previously apolitical spaces being politicized? Maybe don’t propose legislation that will kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.”

      See, this is exactly the kind of thing that leads to people talking past each other. Did Dennis introduce such a bill? No. Did he vote for the people who introduced such a bill? No (at least I’m pretty sure he didn’t). Can he write such a post, even while being clear on the fact that *he doesn’t agree with the bill*, without being addressed in the collective as a lump sum with the people who did? No.

      I’m not even trying to moderate you, so much as I am baffled that it’s so hard to see the distinction between those two things that it keeps coming up over and over.

      These disaffected Republicans are sooooooooooooo easy to win over, and many of y’all Democrats seem oblivious to it. You don’t even have to grant them their examples when you don’t agree with them! You can tell them they’re wrong! I encourage it! You just have to not lump them in with the very people they’re disaffected from… and that seems really hard to do for whatever reason.

      It can’t be because of how personally affected you are by the bills, ’cause I’m personally affected by all of this stuff, have loved ones even more affected, and yet I still see this as a time to get more people who are basically in sympathy with me (us), and *agree* with us on the issues, to move away from the GOP’s current stance (which hardly started with Trump!) and back toward the center again.

      Which one doesn’t accomplish by responding to a post about not liking politicization not by criticizing the arguments (which plenty of us have done), but by seeing if one can paint with an even broader brush than the OP does…

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      • You just have to not lump them in with the very people they’re disaffected from… and that seems really hard to do for whatever reason.

        A lot of this comes down to who they appear to regard as their in-group and who they appear to regard as their out-group. I know react very strongly to this, and I doubt I’m particularly unusual in that regard. Dennis did, like, a top-quintile job of avoiding doing that in this post, and it still really got my hackles up, too.

        EDIT to add: I’m not saying that makes the reaction right. I’m saying that’s what makes avoiding the reaction difficult.

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        • Yeah, that’s a good insight.

          I suppose I underestimate how odd I am for being cheerfully married to someone who, before we were even dating, said “I freaking HATE Christians.”

          “Hey, your mom’s a Christian and so am I.”

          “Well I didn’t mean *YOU*. You’re not *really* Christians.”

          “@%)*(@%@()*$@)”

          Jaybird’s a lot older, mellower, and wiser these days, but I suppose I do have more practice than most at not instinctively coming out ready to swing. (I also suppose Jaybird could list off at least 20 examples of me coming out ready to swing based on something he carelessly said in the last year, and vice versa.)

          I’m not going to stop prodding people about it, but thank you for reminding me about (one of the places) where it comes from.

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