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The kids are alright

The kids are alright

Two stories caught my eye this week for the starkly contradictory picture they paint of a younger generation. First, an opinion piece in the Washington Post added to the collective pearl-clutching over free speech on college campuses. According the piece, a poll showed that a fifth of college student felt it was ok to use violence to shut down disagreeable opinions.

Another piece, also in the Washington Post, described psychological evidence that “kids these days” are better than ever. It charted continuous improvement over generations in children’s abilities to delay gratification, along with rises in average IQ’s and declines in risky behaviors.

On closer inspection, the poll about college free speech, bought by the Koch brothers, falls apart, while the story about rising capabilities of younger generations has lots of corroboration. It inspired a post at Forbes about the college free speech hoax. In short, the kids are alright, and they might just save us all.


  1. Today was a virtual nonstop torrent in politics, so it’s understandable if you might’ve missed a thing or two. To recap:

    – Senate Republicans shelved their atrocious Graham-Cassidy ‘healthcare’ bill after Susan Collins, as expected, came out against it. Also as expected, the GOP still hasn’t given up and is now looking towards using their ’19 budget as a vehicle for repealing Obamacare. Best of luck with that, fellas.

    – Bob Corker of Tennessee won’t be seeking reelection in ’18, much to Mitch McConnell’s assured dismay. Being the deep red state it is, Bannon will likely push hard to see a far-right fringe candidate win the primary, and the GOP will have to spend millions to defend an otherwise safe seat, and while it’s not impossible for the right conditions and Democratic candidate to make this a race, it’s more likely that Texas would flip than Tennessee. Take that as you will.

    – And of course, batshit religious whackjob Roy Moore has scored a total KO to win the Republican primary in freakin’ Alabama. Ain’t much to say here except Mitch McConnell is laying on a few more drinks than usual tonight. Moore promises to make his political life as miserable as possible.

    – On the brighter side of things, Democrats have added to their column of special election wins in ’17, with Florida Democrat Annette Taddeo flipping a previously Republican-held state Senate seat, and, much more surprisingly, yet another N. Hampshire flip with Kari Lerner taking a state House seat that Trump won by a WHOPPING 59-36 margin, outdoing Clinton by 25 points.

    Oh, and I found this video. Good stuff:

    1. Things may be looking rocky in the GOP and the state legislature seats may be flipping. Nevertheless, they are going to make another try at killing health care while saying how much they are helping the American people. And they are still going to try to pass a big tax cut for the rich, while increasing the deficit. At the same time they are going to say that the “tax reform” is really going to help working and middle class Americans. In other words, the same old BS. We will just have to wait and see and meanwhile keep resisting.

      Meanwhile, I’d really like Chris to express his thoughts on this so called Republican Civil War.

      1. Oh, and we haven’t discussed the GOP Tax Reform Proposal…such as it is…with as few details as we know….If they want it to be “revenue-neutral”, they lost the fight (so far) on massive cuts to Medicaid; are working on cuts to Medicare….what is the “pay for” going to look like? Again and again, Republicans talk about reducing corporate taxes from 35%….yet tax analysis I have read indicates that due to carve outs/loop holes, etc, the “real” tax businesses pay (and some of the biggest pay nothing) is really about 25% – which smaller companies pay more so than the “big” guys. And, that’s just the corporate side of the equation.

        Regardless, here’s Politico’s take, a link to the GOP Tax Plan, and your evening read (-; Should make for interesting campaign debate for Dems…

        I spoke tonight at a campaign event to Congressman Brady’s point man on the GOP Tax Plan – which Brady was involved with and will shepard through the House….I asked him what corporate loopholes would be cut to “pay for” the cuts in corporate taxes (to 20%). He assured me there are offsets and the bill will be scored by the CBO (although he was dubious of their analysis…) and move through lots of committees. I asked if they were going to use “regular order” or Reconciliation to pass it…He demurred….

  2. I’ve always seen the criticisms of campus behavior from the right as exaggerated and, like most things American, anti-intellectual, but from my point of view the kids are very much not alright.

    For the record, I’m 31, so no longer accurately represent ‘The Kids’ but also in my own way don’t represent ‘The Boomers’. It’s only been a half of a generation since I’ve left college, so they’re still technically ‘my generation’ by whatever mediated headlining sells the most newspapers regarding ‘Millennials.’

    Already there is a huge change in the fact that when I was in college, progressivism was about exchange — you get some college jam band, they’d go up on stage and say, “And this next song we were thinking of mixing Afro-Carribbean drums with Indo-Brazilian fluting with a vibe we discovered from the Malaysian Rohinga” (cheers of recognition re: recent events) “and vocals in the Japanese Noh tradition!” And then they’d play generic rock music, but whatever, it was fun.

    Today the band wouldn’t get past ‘Afro-Caribbean’ without a deluge of social media posts decrying ‘appropriation’, and you can’t tell me that’s just a Koch brothers lie because I live it every day in my own social media circles. I’m trying to find a way of pointing out that defining ‘cultures’ as distinctive entities requiring intellectual property rights is a great way to develop a legal justification for ethnic nationalism. But I don’t even know how to have the conversation, because among other things, my whiteness contains prescriptive requirements for ‘civil discourse,’ of which largely revolve around ‘listening and apologizing’, which I once asked a friend to take me through so I could understand it. What she gave me was a literal script that essentially had me begging mercy for thoughts I don’t have and behaviors that people don’t exhibit.

    It’s easy to see why older people, conservatives, and their ethnonationalist friends can see that sort of behavior as free-speech squelched thought policing. Ultimately I’ve listened to the debate long enough to understand there are meaningful and important truths being expressed behind notions of privilege and appropriation. But the conversation is extremely messy due in no small part to the echo chamber of social media. Reminder that an echo is also a distortion, like a carnival mirror.

    So that’s my experience. Now for rote numbers.

    The primary vote happened in my mid-sized city and here are the voting demographics from the 12,676 votes:

    18-20: 37
    21-29: 272
    30-39: 597
    60-69: 4,001
    70-79: 3,814
    80-89: 169
    90-99: 5

    I have more friends on Facebook in the 30-39 range from that city, than voted in that city’s mayoral primaries. You’ll notice that more 60-69 year olds voted than all younger demographics combined. Total 60+ accounts for 75% of the vote. If ‘The Young People Party’ versus ‘The Old People Party’ were what were being elected, old people win by a 50 point margin. More if ‘old’ starts at 50.

    Of course that’s just an off-season primary. Younger people aren’t aware of them or very active, right?

    Except there was a mayoral candidate that all of my social justice warrior friends love. He made videos he shared on social media about the power of solar energy, the need for science research and development, methods of providing better quality education and services for low-income communities, a reshifting of policing resources away from drug use enforcement toward community engagement, and all those other types of topics that tickle my peer group pink (woops, pun not intended but I’m keeping it).

    He got 1% of the vote. My peer group was outraged and claimed that it was because the Democratic party just didn’t support him because he was an outsider. Keep in mind, the guy who did win the Democratic party was also an outsider. They claim that he’s an ‘investment banker’ (you know that means he’s accepted the devil by being infused by the blood of third world babies) and that’s why he won. I’m pretty sure he won because he posted HIS campaign videos on 8 o’clock local news stations and bothered talking to 60+ year olds. Also I’m pretty sure he won because my peers shared a whole lot of videos BUT DIDN’T FUCKING VOTE.

    So the kids are not alright. The kids are morons. I’ve been dealing with their ineffable resistance to voting my entire adult life and I don’t even know how to get it through their heads. It’s the same thing every election, they get excited about somebody, don’t bother to show up at the polls, then use the fact of that person’s loss as an example of why they don’t vote because they’ll “never really win anyway.”

    In conclusion, Democrats are doomed in 2018.

    1. To use our 2016 elections as an example, it can be said that the voting demographics did have a lot to do with the result. There was very little participation from younger people but apathy might not have been the main factor.

      Large numbers of young people felt disenfranchised by the Dems obvious tilt toward HRC and stayed home as a result. I think the backlash from that and the general dislike for Hillary handed our twit in chief the job IMHO.

      1. Bernie didn’t win because young people didn’t turn out to vote. If they don’t want to feel disenfranchised, they shouldn’t disenfranchise themselves.

        You can look up the turnout for the Democratic primaries yourself. Young people posted social media about how Bernie should win, but didn’t show up at the polls themselves. Then, they blamed the Democratic party for not providing them the support that they want. This all while they invented the most absurd calculus to tell each other how he could still win.

        I sat in a room with 8 of my friends once while they were grousing about a road that was being built near a national monument. “Nobody asked us!” one of them said. I pointed out to him that they did — the road was a ballot measure in the previous election. It was approved by a margin of six. Not six points, six votes. If those eight friends had voted, the road wouldn’t have been built.

        His response: “You’re so naive. The developers would have paid the government to build it anyway.”

        I was starting to get hopeful that the anger over 45 would put a bug in their ass to become active, but early returns show they still think posting a Facebook status is how you get a Mayor elected. If I were running for Mayor, I wouldn’t waste my time trying to reach out to young people. They wouldn’t help me get elected, at all.

    2. Writing from the perspective of one in his early 70’s, I can say that has been true my entire voting life, which began in 1966. At that time the Vietnam War protests were just beginning. I was attending a junior college – there were no significant protests there and I had just returned from Vietnam myself. I did vote. But a few years later, after I had transferred to the UWA, a hotbed of war protest, the students made a lot of noise but did not vote in significant numbers,

      Throughout my entire life, regardless of the issues of the specific time, one reads and hears a lot about those issues from the compusses, but rarely do the youth vote in significant numbers. The only exception was the Reagan era. Then there was little noise from the campuses, but once again the youth did not vote in significant numbers.

      The only thing I can ascribe this to is that the youth are more engaged in things that affect their lives at the specific moment, than national issues that they have little individual control over and do not affect them specifically in the short term. That was even true during Vietnam, when draft avoidance had far more importance than voting, since successfully avoiding the draft had more effect than casting one vote out of millions.

      As people age they engage far more politically. That has even been true of myself and i’ve never missed a presidential election, maybe 1-2 off-year elections, and a few local elections. I also failed to get my vote in the 2000 primary election (not the presidential) postmarked in time to be counted, because I was overseas. Since I retired, I’m far more engaged politically.

      The voting distribution that Aaron showed is about typical.

    3. I agree with this. Many youngsters may have their heart in the right place, but they’re so caught up in their virtual/phone world that they refuse to realize that the real world isn’t affected by virtual action. Maybe in the future it will be, but not today.

      Posting a video on facebook is fake action. It does not lead to any change. Voting, going to public hearings, writing your congressperson, marching in DC, are all real action. While one can argue how effective e.g. voting is, it is orders of magnitude more effective than whatever FB, Instagram, or twitter post someone makes. Of course, real action is generally harder than fake action (although given how little time it takes to vote, one can’t really say that it’s hard, unless you’re working a job that doesn’t give you time off on election day, or are stuck in a poor district where the polling stations are deliberately spread out and understaffed to make you wait hours that you don’t have).

      All that posting on FB allows you to do is make yourself feel empowered, and convince yourself you’re changing the world, thereby dissipating any energy and motivation you may have had to exercise real power. And the political establishment thanks you for not bothering them with any demand for (or exercise of) real power, content to spin circles in the virtual world, believing ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ are the same as votes, and convincing yourself that all your time and energy spent in the virtual world has any effect on the real world.

      One can generally assess the efficacy of one’s actions by the response it provokes in the people you’re opposing. Marching during the civil rights era meant you had a good chance of being arrested or clubbed by the police. In the modern era, Chelsea Manning was imprisoned, and Edward Snowden is in exile, constantly looking over his shoulder for the American authorities waiting to snatch him and throw him down a dark hole for the rest of his life.

      OTOH, if The Man coddles your displays of anger, happily sells you lattes as you agitate in the coffeehouse, and supports your protests with sidebar ads telling you where to buy the latest in rebel fashion, then you’re doing it wrong.

      I realize that this is a gross generalization, and does a disservice to the legions of young people who *have* engaged in real action, and taken real risk to their future careers or life to bring about change. But unfortunately, they are a small minority. JFK, in support of democracy, once said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”. The modern corollary, which the political establishment is beginning to figure out, is that “Those who make fake action possible, can make real action avoidable”.

  3. EJ

    So, less than 24 hours after my last post about the German election, I have some potential bad news for my American friends. In order to give the bad news I’m going to have to explain a bit about German politics. Please bear with me here and I promise it won’t be too complicated.

    In the south of Germany there is a state called Bavaria. Bavaria is a large place with many developed cities and a flourishing tech sector. However, most of Bavaria’s voters are very rural, and very religious, and very traditional. More importantly, Bavarians are sterotypically very proud of their regional identity. To Bavarians, the only true Germans are Bavarian, the centre of Germany is the city of Munich, and customs which originated outside Bavaria are scarcely German at all. To the rest of us, this gets a little tiresome.

    (Whenever Chris describes Texas, I think of Bavaria.)

    This may explain why the Bavarians have their own political party, the CSU. In practise this party exists as part of the CDU, which is led by Angela Merkel, but it is technically separate. While it only exists in one state, the CSU traditionally gets a huge share of the vote in that state, and is thus an important part of the CDU’s support. The CSU is a very traditional, very Catholic party, which means that its support base tends to be older and whiter than the rest of the country is. To nobody’s surprise this means they also tend to be a bit more racist.

    Over the last few years, the CSU has gotten very annoyed by the way that Merkel has led her CDU into the political centre. She’s resettled large numbers of New Germans (our term for former refugees who’ve settled here) and has not only legalised gay marriage but has appointed openly gay people to high office.

    Yesterday, the CDU/CSU won the election. However, the CSU’s support in Bavaria plummeted from 49.3% in 2013 to just 38%. For a party which has long run Bavaria as a one-party state, this is alarming. What’s worse, most of the voters they lost went to the AfD. Many people in the CSU are panicking about this, especially as Bavaria has its state elections coming up in 2018. The CSU leader Horst Seehofer cannot afford to look weak by doing poorly in those elections. This means that he needs to swerve hard to the right, which is a problem given that Merkel is now talking to parties of the centre and the left about forming a coalition.

    Yesterday night, the CSU said that they want the AfD to be part of the coalition. This is unacceptable, and everyone realises it is, but it’s likely to be an opening gambit for a request to steer the CDU away from the centre and towards the right, which may destroy the coalition.

    Yesterday I said that a CDU/CSU/FDP/Green coalition was likely. This may scupper it. Worse, it may make the CDU/CSU itself an unstable party, meaning that Merkel does not have a free hand to be the leader of the free world.

    This may be a problem.

  4. A look at the end of an era as the ‘American Empire’ comes to a slow, but not unexpected fall from… er, sporadic periods of grace.

    For what it’s worth, in retrospect, I believe this was inevitable. We’ve come too far away from the tragedy of World War II and too many people today don’t recognize the essential truth of why we built our post-war order. It may simply be that they too will have to experience a horror to make them realize the folly of their naivety.

    1. An interesting read. Unquestionably, America’s influence has declined in recent decades. It is not the global hegemon that some would pretend it is. It does not have the predominance of economic and global power that it did at the end of WWII. This article is somewhat typical of the pessimistic writing of Chalmers Johnson and Bacevich.

      On the other hand there is another way of looking at global trends. That is illustrated by Peter Zeihan, in the Accidental Superpower. In that book he looks at the global geopolitical situation and concludes that the US is alone among the various candidates for global leadership that has a favorable geopolitical situation. China has numerous problems including a rapidly aging population, lack of resources, unstable borders, a tendency towards xenophobia, etc, Russia has many of the same problems including a rapidly collapsing population. The US has stable land borders, is a maritime power bordering on the two major oceans of the world and a fairly dynamic population though it is aging, is aging more slowly than other significant powers.

      While I concur that we do have problems, I feel they are largely due to both overreach and inept leadership. Part of that inept leadership is due to the dysfunctional nature of US governance at this time. There are numerous reasons for that. In a short comment such as this I cannot even begin to touch on them. Many of them are under discussion in this blog. I have mentioned many of thoughts in my earlier comments in this blog.. One such is the structure of the electoral college that gave us the present inept President.

      I continue to be hopeful and expectant that the American system will correct itself and forge ahead. It has in the past. You may have hit on an unfortunate fact when you stated “It may simply be that they too will have to experience a horror to make them realize the folly of their naivety”, i.e. “why we built the post-war order”. That is a thought that Howe and Strauss expressed in their generational works and continues in the generational dynamics concept.

      1. Russia is a second-rate power right now. They don’t have an economy strong enough.

        I don’t think the supposed issues for China are particularly problematic issues. They do have a good supply of resources, and they are working hard and successfully to get many African countries into their sphere of influence. The “aging population” is a trope the wealthy raise because they want a growing population to produce more competition for their real estate. The dependency ratio changes little with almost any actually observed population ratio, except with very rapid growth, which is worse. China will have more old people and fewer children, with about the same % of workers. China’s borders are not unstable except the South China Sea, and that’s a deliberate choice on their part. Xenophobia is, if anything, an asset for becoming a major power. It just makes things more unpleasant for everybody else.

  5. If the Kochs fail at winning over the hearts and minds of our youth, as they surely must, it’s not for lack of trying.

    They have created and invest heavily in programs at all levels of education to push their pro-corporate, libertarian agenda. From the Mercatus Center at George-Mason University (get it? Mercatus is “market” in Latin!), to the so-called “Bill of Rights Institute” designed to be similar to ALEC but for school programs (creating suggested curriculum rather than suggested laws), to my personal favorite, the “Youth Entrepreneurs” program which suggests curriculum items such as the evils of unions and the minimum wage (apparently it’s taught now at 36 high schools).

    One would hope for the reasons you mention in the excellent Forbes article that because the youth of today have more access to diverse opinions than at any time in history, that being targeted by corporate propaganda would be less effective than in years past.

    1. Backwards thinking tactics like those are like a brittle dam up against the raging flood of free flowing information that a child can access with a swipe of their fingertips. If they sat down like so many old dudes and watched Fox News every night, we’d all be right to worry. Thankfully, that is very much not the case.

      1. This is a thoughtful essay from former WSJ editorial writer Bret Stephens, now with the NYT, delivered in Australia this weekend. I believe it summarizes the “state of affairs” we currently find ourselves in here in America.

      2. Stephens says: “Nor do I believe the answer (to our pathetic media) lies in a return to what in America used to be called the “Fairness Doctrine,” mandating equal time for different points of view.” (He doesn’t say what he believes the answer is.)

        One problem I’d pick out is concentration of ownership, especially in the broadcast media. We used to prevent that, to a certain extent. Another huge problem is ownership of media concentrated among a certain class of people, or maybe worse ownership of media by corporate interests. Social media (as Donald Trump seems to believe) may be part of a solution for this.

      3. The fairness doctrine does not work, since it devolves into a “he said, she said” shouting match. It does not provide substantive discussion.

        Ownership concentration is a significant problem. Social media at present does not really solve the problem, since there is little substantive and respectful discussion in many of the forums.

        ‘Political Orphans’ is one of the exceptions. Chris to a large extent sets the tone and that has attracted many of the posters to this blog.

      4. Mary-
        I read that article and it annoyed the heck out of me. Bret Stephens denies that climate change is a looming disaster that needs to be addressed, fervently believed in invading Iraq, refusing to admit it was a mistake even as late as 2013, etc. etc.

        For someone to bemoan the dying art of disagreement while refusing to acknowledge such simple facts as climate science and the lack of Iraqi nuclear weapons means he’s part of the problem, not part of the solution.

        Also, I like how he casually throws Fox News under a bus, while not acknowledging that the WSJ editorial page goes hand-in-hand with their crazy conspiracy theories. Fox News even has a show called “The Editorial Page Report” headed by Paul Gigot, who’s the head of WSJ’s editorial section. If Fox News is part of the problem, how does that not implicate the WSJ, and himself as part of its editorial staff?

      5. WX – You obviously follow Stephens more regularly than I do. I am not familiar with his positions on the issues you cited – global warming or the Iraq invasion. I also am not aware of who serves on the WSJ editorial board only that there was a great deal of internal dissension from staff for perceived tamping down of equivalent campaign criticism for the Trump vs Clinton campaign. He did land at the NYT – whatever that means. I am by no means a fan of FOX News and anyone who gives them a “pass” has a serious bias.

        I thought Stephan’s speech offered an interesting framing of the problems we have in America for communicating our various positions effectively. In fact, I think this problem goes well beyond our political figures and has permeated mainstream dialogue. It’s such a problem that serious groups in which I am active are considering offering workshops on how to have a more constructive discussion with friends and associates on social and political issues. It was interesting to learn that his presentation was opposed by the intended audience. It’s easy to become myopic and shut out opposing arguments. I confess to doing so on topics I feel strongly about. However, when we (I) fail to listen, my opportunity to learn from others is lost.

      6. Mary-
        I am all for listening to “the other side”. I fully agree with his statement that to disagree with someone, you actually have to first *understand* that person’s argument, frequently better than he himself does in order to argue against it intelligently (which is why I read his article fully, then sought out his other articles to learn about him more; I actually thought he would be interesting to read until I started to actually find his other articles).

        But what happens when you reach the point where you *do* understand that person’s argument, and you still disagree? At that point, there’s very little extra insight you’ll gain by continuing to engage in discourse, respectful or not. Take climate science, for example: in order for me to engage in discourse with someone on this topic, I require that they accept the following 3 facts:
        1) climate change is real
        2) A large proportion of it is due to human activity
        3) the resulting changes will have large, potentially catastrophic impacts on global society on social, economic, and political fronts.

        These are facts. They are not up for debate unless you are a climate scientist who has legitimate data to question these conclusions, in which case, you’ll probably be lead author in the front page of _Nature_ and I’ll defer to other climate scientists to evaluate your data. If you accept those facts, then we can have a respectful discussion about how to deal with climate change, where we spend our resources, which parts of the economy should be protected and which should be changed, etc.

        Bret Stephens does not accept these facts. He accepts #1, is “agnostic” on #2, and disagrees with #3. Ergo, there is nothing to be gained by debating him. Whatever conclusions he comes up with based on that flawed base of evidence will be wrong. Yes, a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut, but I’ve got better uses of my time than debating with a blind squirrel in the hopes that he may show me a nut that I didn’t see for myself. A better use of my time would be to ensure that he’s outvoted in the next election.

        This is where I find myself with most Trump voters. With all due respect, I understand the issues they bring up far better than they do (not that I can’t learn more; that’s why I’m on this site. But I don’t learn anything by engaging with the average Trump voter who has less understanding about his pet issue than I do). In many cases, I feel I even understand their argument for their side better than they do. And in most cases, their arguments are simply factually wrong. We can debate values and priorities, that’s the point of a democracy. But debating with someone whose position is factually incorrect, or internally inconsistent, especially when they’re not willing to agree on the facts, is pointless.

        Take the recent obamacare repeal effort. The fact is millions of Americans will be without coverage if the repeal goes into effect. Conversely, the govt will save hundreds of billions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on medicaid and subsidies. We can have a respectful debate about our values, whether we should prioritize the health of millions of Americans, or the federal deficit, or other priorities like tax cuts. I have a strong position on this, but I’m willing to debate with someone who says tax cuts or deficit reduction is a higher priority than healthcare. Or even someone who says, yes, this will cut money for states, but maybe that sets off some local innovation that will allow us to find cheaper ways to cover people.

        What I’m not willing to do is debate someone who denies that this is what the repeal effort will do, which is what Graham and Cassidy are trying to do. They even tried to push the bill through to a vote before the CBO could score it precisely to avoid dealing with those facts.

        This is what Mr. Stephens is asking people to do. He’s basically saying, stop calling out our factual and logical falsities because it hurts our feelings. Instead, can’t we just discuss our conclusions?

        Re: the WSJ. I bring it up because Mr. Stephens (according to his bio), worked at the WSJ for 11 years, most recently as deputy editorial-page editor, before joining the NYT a few months ago. IOW, the mainstream editorial page most associated with the fake news, alt-right, wingnut faction of the Republican party, and whose members (such as Paul Gigot, Charles Krauthammer, et al, are frequent Fox News contributors) was under his [partial] control. The WSJ and Fox News have been conservative brothers-at-arms for years, during a time when he had a say in its direction.

        He (rightly) takes to task college students who don’t support free speech (Although ironically, Chris’s post here is about how those surveys are flawed…), yet is mum about the fact that his newspaper’s editorial page basically called anyone who didn’t support GWB’s disastrous Iraq war a traitor.

        All in all, IMHO, it was just too much sanctimonious pearl-clutching from someone who carries far more responsibility for the coarsening of public discourse than whatever college students he seeks to blame.

  6. I apologize for going off-topic and ranting a bit.

    I find Drumpf’s campaign against the athlete’s protesting extremely nauseating. He talks about respecting the flag, the military and the first responders. That is a bunch of malarky. He showed no respect when he used student deferments then “bone spurs” to avoid military service during the Vietnam conflict. I remember that time only too well. The use of “bone spurs” was a really common dodge. All one had to do was arrange for a shady doctor to write a letter, with some “grease” under the table and one was able to get the medical exemption. The draft boards knew what was happening but they had plenty of candidates from the working classes to fill the quotas and the whole concept of “selective service” was to select those people that society would least miss, if they were chewed up as cannon fodder. That made it possible for the well off young people such as Drumpf to avoid military service completely. I recently discussed this with a friend, who was attending Princeton at the time. He failed the physical because of eyesight. He said he was on a bus with almost all Cornell students. They all failed the physical. There was another bus with largely working class men and a large portion of them passed the physical. This was obviously no coincidence. The students all had worked out dodges.

    For myself, I was from a lower working class family. There was no money for college, I didn’t have the grade point average to get scholarships and the community college movement had not really got started when I graduated in 1963. The Seattle area was in a significant recession. My best and only option was to enlist, which I did. At least I got some training in the military and the Vietnam era GI Bill gave me Government aid for college. That enabled me to get my BS degree and made a huge difference for me.

    1. You don’t mention if you got sent over to Vietnam, but if you did, I’m glad you made it back ok. It sounds like such a crazy time.

      The Ken Burns documentary on right now about that war is eye opening, chilling, and ultimately depressing. So many mistakes were made, and we’re still making them to this very day. We always underestimate the will of a people to resist anyone perceived as foreign invaders.

      No one knows what’s going to happen with North Korea, but if there’s one thing that that is evident it’s that Drumpf probably doesn’t know or care about the lessons of history. If 70% of the reason we escalated the war in Vietnam was to avoid a humiliating defeat, imagine what a guy like Drumpf could do.

      1. Yes, it was a crazy time. The boomers were just coming of age with a new American awakening. Then throwing the Vietnam War into the mix made for some really intense times. Even if there had not been Vietnam, the period would have had a lot of upheaval.

        Personally, I did deploy to Vietnam. It was early in the conflict from 1965 – 1966. The morale was still quite high. I fortunately did not see active combat. I was a supply clerk and sergeant in a signal construction company, i.e. constructing telephone communication lines.

      2. For the reprehensible clusterf*** that VIetnam was, it’s a chilling reality that N. Korea has the potential to be magnitudes worse. Deceptive though it was, at the very least, we could claim we were trying to oppose communism in our opposing of the North. As far as Korea goes, we’re just openly provoking Kim Jong Un over and over again for no other reason than Dr. Strangelove’s ego, uncaring that his rhetoric could end up getting millions of innocent people killed.

        I just commented with an article talking about the end of the ‘American Empire’. If Trump ends up taking us to war with N. Korea, that process will likely accelerate itself several times faster than it is already.

    2. I’m glad you made it back okay. The number of lives we wasted because we couldn’t face the truth of our own defeat is a collective shame for all of us. I’m glad you weren’t part of that terrible price.

      Vietnam single-handedly destroyed the notion of collective defense of our country. The problem with the draft wasn’t the draft per se, it was the inequality of the draft. That destroyed the notion that the upper-middle class would ever share in any future bloodshed needed to defend our country. This has been proven true even in today’s all-volunteer force.

      To Trump’s deferments, I’d add his treatment of the Khan family during the election. You’ll recall Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala who lost their son in Iraq. Trump openly mocked them. But now all of a sudden he’s worried about denigrating the military. I guess the flag is sacred but Gold Star families are, I don’t know, stupid losers?

      1. Thanks for your comment. I overlooked the Khan fiasco as well as the disparaging comments about McCain. Of course, when I wrote the comment I was steaming.. That was the reason for the rant, which functioned as a release.

        In regards to the draft, you are correct in the assessment that the upper-middle class and well off would not have to serve. Even if the draft could have been made equitable by a lottery or similar means, the young people in those categories would not be canon fodder. The military tends to redirect those people to higher valued military occupations. If they happened to be in one of the combat arms, they would likely end up being officers or assigned to areas where there would be small chance of fatality or severe injury. That was generally what happened in WWII and Korea and to a large extent it also happened in Vietnam. I am speaking in generalities. Of course, being a 2nd Lieutenant in infantry is a pretty dangerous position.

        Actually in my personal case, that is the reason I ended up in supply. I was trained as a telephone lineman. When I reported to my first line unit, the First Sergeant noticed my military test scores and assigned me as a supply clerk rather than to a line platoon. That worked out well for me.

  7. Even Ben Shapiro, a man that I more than disagree with, found his Berkeley reception more civilized than he expected:

    Turns out, if you are not a fascist, or sympathizer, or enabler, in a narrow sense of those words, most of the time, you are going to be all right.

    When I went to Berkeley in the early 2000s, my father semi-joked (having attended in the early 70s) that it has become a prestigious, selective vocational school, and students and faculty relatively apolitical. Its famous liberalism is perhaps more a tradition of the town, now, and more a symbol than reality.

    1. EJ

      Thanks Flypusher. It was nail-biting.

      A brief hot take for my friends in America:

      The AfD got 13%, slightly overperforming its predictions. The two parties that I agree with most, the SPD and FDP, slightly underperformed predictions at 21% and 9% respectively. Still, the Nazis lost and that’s what matters.

      It looks like we’ll end up with the result that I was hoping for, that being what we call a Schwampel: a governing coalition of the CDU/CSU (Merkel’s party of the centre-right, closest to Clinton’s wing of the Democrats in the US) the FDP (a socially progressive and economically laissez-faire party) and the Greens (no easy parallel in US politics). This is also sometimes called a Jamaican coalition because of the colours of the parties.

      Schwampel coalitions have governed some of the states before. We’ve seen that they can work when the leaders are willing to be adults.

      Importantly, this puts the SPD (a party of the centre-left, closest to the Warren-Sanders wing of the Democrats) in opposition. This is important because in our system, the largest opposition party controls some checks and balances, and we want them in the hands of an acceptable party. It’s also important because it positions them well to grow into a position to take power after next election.

      The two unacceptable parties, the AfD and Linke, have been locked out of power. This is the way it should be.

      Today is not a perfect day. For the first time, the AfD got enough votes to be assigned seats in the Diet (not sure what the English translation of that is.) This is not good: the last time a Nazi set foot in the Bundestag was in 1945, and some of us were hoping that that would be the last time. So that’s not good.

      Still: tomorrow will be much like yesterday. The coalition has changed, but Merkel remains in control. For those of us who like the world and don’t want it set on fire, this is what a victory looks like.

      (It’s also a sign of how things have changed: I’m not a very patriotic person and I’m hardly a friend of the CDU, but this election had me waving a flag as if my party had won. What a strange age we live in.)

      1. EJ

        Thanks mary.

        According to the results, 13% of my country are Nazis, which is shameful. That number is 13 percentiles higher than it should be.

        Let us hope that this is their high-water mark.

      2. I second Mary. I am really happy that Merkel pulled it out again. As others have stated she is truly the leader of the West at this time. Now if she and Macron can forge ahead with their cooperation, Europe may offer a strong counterweight to the US.

      3. Germany’s results is certainly one to be grateful for, but I wonder what steps Merkel will take to see that Alternative is rightfully beaten back. That they’ve won seats in Parliament for the first time ever is disturbing indeed.

  8. That’s because ‘kids these days’ actually see destructive, antagonistic, tribalistic, and anti-constitutional policy as destructive, antagonistic, tribalistic, and a threat to the constitution they were taught about and probably read.

    You have a right to have an opinion, this does not entitle a person to be correct. They know this. GOP have been wrong and pandering to the the bottom 20% of every 80-20 issue for nearly as long as ‘kids these days’ have been alive and cognizant of politics, starting with Bush and the war we’re still fighting.

    1. That’s why ‘kids these days’ didn’t vote for Hillary, the preordained and guaranteed promise of the same stonewall obstructionism of the past 8 years that has failed an entire country, and sure as hell don’t like Trump, who embodies the root of the problem: deliberate and willful antagonism. They don’t feel represented, and soon, they’ll be “old” enough to do something about it.

      Bad ideas don’t die in America, they get elected into office. That’s what ‘kids these days’ see. What both parties don’t get is that you have to represent the people who didn’t vote for you as much as the people who did. Elected officials are there to negotiate, supposedly, but they’re not.

      Republicans have proven to an entire generation that If they can’t rule as a unilateral single-party government like the Communist Party of China, they will be happy to ensure that there is no operable governance at all.

  9. Tonight in the bar we were having a conversation, among the 40 and 50 years olds, about the impact of the fragmentation of the news dissemination platforms over the past couple decades and the ramifications on the general knowledge of the masses. I then called over to a couple of the servers, who were, quite literally, watching cat videos on a phone. I asked them to name the 3 main TV networks. They could not name one, though the 22 year old in university did come up with CNBC.

    Does that mean anything? I don’t know. I will leave that to better minds than I to mull over.

    1. The next generation isn’t a ‘scratchy radio and black and white TV’ generation. What can be hard to grasp is that they’re technologically savvy and highly interconnected with one another. They’re more ‘liberal’ so to speak because it’s the same thing that you see in urban areas: Cyberspace is a high-connectivity, international community, with a high cultural exchange rate. They probably wouldn’t even seriously consider Fox News to be ‘news’. It’s fairly common knowledge and running gag on the internet that “Faux News” (google it) is just a propaganda mouthpiece for the RNC.

      Most don’t even know about the left spinboard that’s MSNBC, although I did manage to salvage Morning Joe out of their lineup, and for all of the gravity defying left leaning of Maddow, she can present a better fact-based argument than O’Reilly. My formerly Republican and now-retired parents agreed with that, to my surprise.

      About the turn of the century I ended up being cut off from TV for about a year. After that, I never really went back. All informational related activities could be readily obtained online from news feeds and general community chatter. Something happens, the online community hears it, and has no need of channels like Fox News or MSNBC to repeat the same four issues on loop for seven days straight. They don’t need ‘TV’, because the online space allows for them to consume information when they have time to consume it with less undesired repetition.

      Since media is on-demand, they never ‘potato out’ into watching something dramatically different, like evening shows rolling into the news. They’re active searchers of new entertainment.. and god help me if I don’t need more cat videos than Trump news feeds this year.

  10. I work with many 20 somethings. Some so long that a couple have joined the over 30 crowd but I live and work in NYC and part of the year out in the Bay area and San Diego so I know I am not meeting the “average millennial”. My daughter just turned 28 and has a corporate job in San Francisco. Her friends from school both HS and College are largely middle class but similarities end there. The number of mixed race, children of immigrants, gays are noticeable and their team or cooperative approach to problem solving is remarkable. I don’t worry about them though I hear their worries “am I progressing as fast as I should be? Why haven’t I found anybody yet? Shouldn’t I have a house by now?”…sounds all too familiar.

    When they find their voice and politics …it’s not going to be a sea change but a tsunami. I hope I’m around for it.

  11. I concur with your thoughts. My experience with the younger generation certainly backs that up. I grant that I my experience is small and selective. Nevertheless, in our family there are several in their 20’s. All have graduated from respectable universities and are getting started in their adult life. One has just graduated from UPenn with a JD degree and is working for NJ. Another has just purchased a cooperative living unit with her boyfriend. Our granddaughter is a senior in high school and is pursuing college admissions. She worked this summer. Though she wants to go out of state for college, she is certainly not exhibiting significant signs of teenage rebellion. Just last Thursday, her mother and she joined my partner and myself for dinner with my partner’s mother. It was a pure pleasure to have four generations of women together chatting amicably. Many of the young people are working very hard. I chat with some of the baristas at a Starbucks, i frequent. Most of them are students at the University of Washington or other local colleges and are working to get through school.

    Your column generally conforms to my observations. I realize my experience is limited and is selective, but I certainly feel that the younger generation is “alright”.

  12. Some of us on this blog have grey hair. I have always been a logical methodical thinker who questions authority. Surprise , surprise my children are the same. Maybe the majority of the old goats were fooled but not all of us. Dad was a deep south man who’s grandpa was a confederate war veteran. But he had a career in the Navy. I regularly played with diverse desegregated play mates. And was put into a northern Catholic school already desegregated in the late fifties. That changed me and despite the herd pull in the earlier part of my life living in the south towards the southern view I rejected it. Cities in the south have become diverse and that diversity is spreading into the countryside. Orlando Florida for instance has totally changed in just 40 years. The old confederacy is heading for final defeat. And the age of fossil fuel is coming to an end so the Koch brothers and their ilk are going to lose their power base as their monopoly falls apart. The new business model depends on diversity and free exchange of ideas. The young as Chris pointed out are hardy fooled or attracted to right wing nonsense. We lost a battle with Trump but hardly the war.

    1. EJ

      There’s certainly less violence in my generation, I think that’s true. As for sex, I shall be discreet and not say where I was last night.

      Meanwhile, anxiety levels are very high. The average teenager nowadays has the same level of anxiety as the average diagnosed neurotic in the 1980s. Sadly, that doesn’t get reported as often.

    2. I’d say the answer is somewhere inbetween. You say “gratification”, but then you don’t really go into any kind of detail about what, specifically, it is you mean, which speaks to me of something of a preconceived notion of the word that you may (granted, I could be way off here) have felt you didn’t need to explain, and understandably so.

      In a world more free and comparatively prosperous than any we’ve ever had, I believe individuals are able to gleam a broader and more nuanced definition of what satisfaction and happiness means to them, and in turn have a greater degree of patience in reaching it. Of course, having an effectively limitless resource of entertainment (yes, video games are a big part of that) in the meantime certainly doesn’t hurt.

      1. I would expect that the children of those who post on this blog are a pretty strong group. They have “great” models. This age group grew up in the digital age. That has both expanded their world in terms of exposure and limited them in terms of some important life experiences. Which, I think, they will grasp as they enter the workforce and begin to make their way in the big, bad world of life.

      2. Kids have different pressures. This isn’t half a century ago when our parents were their age, with a nearly guaranteed road map of dating in highschool, survive college, get a job you stay at for 40 years then retire with a pension.

        Kids today have single parents or have friends who have single parents. In many cases, families struggling with insolvency and job instability thanks to the crash.

        Millenials were and are faced with the reality of survival in difficult and extremely unpredictable and unfavorable times. High divorce rates, crippling student debt, the Recession, wars in afghanistan and iraq, and THEN you add political instability, antagonism, and marked insanity from the past seven years.

        THEY WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS CRAP. Plain and simple. Eventually, X’ers and Millenials will take the reigns, but at this point, I think we’re waiting for the old partisans to either kill each other off, or hurry up and die off. Nobody wants to carry the torches they’re holding aloft.

      3. To put it shortly:
        Do not mistake despair for apathy.

        That cat video? More important than Trump. More important than the millions of Republicans that stand to become destitute or die because of their own party’s health care policies. More important than an impotent or incompetant presidency.

        That cat video can do something our government is not capable of doing: Making them smile when things are rough.

  13. Good read, Chris. Our kids are going to save us from ourselves….I noted today that the alt-right group that was planning a “free speech” rally at UC, Berkeley, has cancelled the event….It is suggested that the event was never seriously going to take place…..However, “Yiannopoulos promised to rally on campus at Sproul Plaza at noon on Sunday “with or without” the student group, and said he had a “huge surprise” planned for attendees. “I can’t promise you’re going to be safe,” he added. “It’s not an official event.”

    These people live under rocks. Fortunately, the second story is more accurate about the young people of America attending higher education. The Koch glass is always half-empty. I was surprised to see Brookings name coupled with a Koch sponsored study. What say you to that oddity?

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