Did the Boomers Ruin America?

An interesting but uneven debate.

Because it’s an interview-driven rather than a host-driven podcast, I only listen to Ezra Klein’s podcast when the topic interests me. This week’s episode, “Did the Boomers Ruin America? A Debate.” was such an occasion.

The subhed, “The conservative writer Helen Andrews and the liberal journalist Jill Filipovic discuss why millennials are so mad at their parents’ generation,” accurately describes the content and, alas, the pitfall of the debate. Both have published recent books on the subject. Andrews’ Boomers, The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster was published in January and Filipovic’s OK, Boomer, Let’s Talk How My Generation Got Left Behind came out last August. But Andrews does poorly in the debate because she’s too blinded by ideology. And, ultimately, Klein does a better job of advancing the conversation than she does.

Filipovic makes an important point early that’s both obvious and one that Andrews refuses to concede:

[T]hey’re an incredibly politically polarized generation. So boomers, much more so than millennials, much more so than the silent generation, more so even than Gen Xers, are really split politically down the middle between liberals and conservatives. And I think what we’ve actually seen and what I hear, especially from liberal boomers, is the sense of, well, wait a minute. We were trying to make the world a better place. And then there were political forces who we didn’t vote for who may have been part of our cohort, who now you’re using to blame our entire generation. There’s some fairness to that defensiveness. That said, I would say, liberal boomers kind of won the culture. Conservative and more moderate boomers won American politics.

Andrews, who used to write for National Review and now does so at The American Conservative is in the Trump-populist wing that has taken over the Republican Party, not the more traditional conservative movement.

[W]hen we talk about the world today being a lot tougher for millennials than it was for the boomers, one of the things we’re talking about is the loss of power on the part of the working class. Their wages are not growing the way that they used to in the days of the boomers. A one-income family can’t make it the way that they could in the time of the boomers. Some of that is attributable to technology, but a lot of that is due to changes in what the boomers did to the left. That is, the boomers were the generation of the new left. And the reason they called themselves that is because they were rebelling against the old left. They deliberately wanted the left-wing party in the western democracies not to stand for working class people and unions, but rather to stand for identity politics type interests. The hinge moment in America for that is the reforms to the Democratic National Convention in 1972, when they nominated George McGovern. The way that delegates were chosen was then tilted toward or to favor identity politics. So the boomers made a choice to have their left-wing party champion identity politics, rather than working class people and unions. And so that’s the reason why the working class was then so vulnerable to these technological changes. The technological changes would have happened either way. But I think they would have had better defenders in the left-wing parties if the boomers hadn’t replaced the old left with their new left.

The problem with this is that, as Filipovic rightly notes, half of the Boomers are Nixonites and Reaganites, not McGovernites and Dukaknics. And, even as a critique of the New Left, it’s too simplistic to argue that identity politics was the key focus of Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s; to the extent it’s true at all, it’s a much more recent development. Furhter, to the extent unions were busted through government policy, Filipovic rightly argues that it’s the right, not the left, that’s responsible for that.

Andrew’s next argument is simply ahistorical:

The boomers were the generation that said going from 15 percent of Americans going to college to 30 percent of Americans going to college was good. Therefore, kicking that number up even higher to 50 percent or 70 percent must be even better. And at a certain point, you hit diminishing returns. And that’s bad for the economy. That’s bad for the people who start college and then don’t finish. So the story of the boomers and the story of higher education, they’re tied together in ways that go beyond the usual PC liberal colleges or left-wing line.

Regardless of one’s views on how many people ought go to college, it simply makes no sense to blame the Boomers for the phenomenon. The oldest of them were born in 1946 and the youngest in 1964, meaning they would have graduated high school between 1964 and 1982. By that point, enrolling in college out of high school was already the norm.

Bill Clinton, born in the first year of the Baby Boom, was the first Boomer President, coming into office in January 1993 and it would be well beyond that before the generation truly controlled the levers of power. (Hell, we’re nearly three decades past Clinton’s inauguration and the current President and Speaker of the House are Silents—the generation before the Boomers.) It just makes no sense to blame this problem—to the extent it’s a problem—on them.

The most interesting part of the discussion was this one:

Ezra Klein: So I want to pull out the cultural critique here, alongside some of the economic issues and policies we’re talking about. Helen, you write in your book that the baby boomers have been responsible for the most dramatic sundering of Western civilization since the Protestant Reformation. That’s, I think, a bigger claim than college affordability or too much college access. So what do you mean when you say that the boomers were a once in a 500 years kind of cultural catastrophe?

Helen Andrews: I have had people ask whether or not that was hyperbole. And my answer is that it was not. The way to make that analogy work and to really get your head around just how world historically disruptive the boomers were is to think about it in terms of media. The Protestant Reformation was a direct result of the advent of the printing press and the popularization of the written word as a medium of communication. And the only revolution in media comparable to that since then has been the rise of television and a visual media. And the baby boomers were the generation, the first generation to be raised by their TVs and to have their minds shaped by visual media, rather than text. There were a lot of people at the time in the 1950s saying that this shift to TV was going to make everybody dumber and eliminate a dimension of critical thinking from the way people process information. And looking at the legacy of the baby boomers and even more at what the rise of social media has done, I think it’s time to consider the possibility that the doomsayers about TV were absolutely correct. So, yes, that the rise of TV was obviously as important and as momentous as the rise of the printing press and the printed word. So it really isn’t that much of a stretch to then say that the Cultural Revolution that followed from it was equally momentous.

Ezra Klein: But what Cultural Revolution did that create? You’re very much speaking my language here. I am a huge fan of the televisual media critics, the McLuhan’s and Postman’s. And I think they’re way under-read today. But I don’t think the issue here is that it destroyed critical thinking. I think that would be a pretty hard case to prove. But it definitely changed culture. And it changed what people expected from culture. So how did it change that? How did it change what the boomers thought was the culture they wanted to build and participate in?

Helen Andrews: You can see it in politics, which has been cannibalized by the methods of advertising, rather than the methods of persuasion. Television reduces people’s attention spans. It has an intrinsic bias towards flash over substance. So, basically, anything that people are trying to think critically about. If the information that’s in their minds is information that they got through TV, it’s going to be data of a very superficial kind. And so even if they then try to process that data in their minds in a thoughtful and serious way, it’s going to come out the other side equally superficial. So you see that in literature in the decline of the novel. You see that in the academy in just the difference between what an academic book sounds like today versus the prose that you saw in an academic book in 1950. It’s just anywhere you look, you see things looking a lot more superficial.

Ezra Klein: Jill, do agree that our intellectual and cultural outputs are so much worse than they were pre-boomer and pre-television?

Jill Filipovic: No, I don’t. I think often, these issues are a whole lot more complicated than TV is good or TV is bad, or the internet is great or it’s broken all of our brains, right? I think that there is certainly plenty to critique about the ways in which, as Helen says, television has decreased our attention spans, has moved us toward a more kind of advertising mentality than a persuasion mentality. That’s all quite well taken. But the idea that that has led to a kind of a greater poverty in cultural output, I actually think is demonstrably false. I think we’re seeing a greater diversity in people who are creating cultural products. I think that we are seeing a challenge to kind of an old guard about what is valuable and what’s not. To me, that’s incredibly exciting to have new visual mediums, to have new technologies, to have new kinds of music and art and ways of speaking and rhetoric that’s all introduced into this canon. I think it makes art and literature and television and music all the richer and more interesting.

Ezra Klein: This is where I do wonder how much is generations and how much is technology. Because I think we’re a little bit on a straight line from television and then to cable and then to internet and then to — and Jill, you and I come out of blogging, which was the one great golden period of all this. And then it goes over to social media and Twitter and TikTok and so on. And so there’s more of everything, but there’s also more fracturing of everything. And to me, one of the unifying threads of both of your books is that the boomers preside over this individualization of both commerce and culture and policy-making, for that matter. But sometimes I wonder whether or not some of that fracturing doesn’t just reflect a kind of ideology that took hold for who knows what reason, but it actually reflects the direction these technologies went and what they allowed. When you have 500 cable channels, you’re going to be able to nichefy the audience in a way you don’t when you only have a couple of networks. And so, how much of the individualization that you’re talking about just stems from the fact that we lost some of that common ground?

Jill Filipovic: I think that’s right. It’s almost, I think, impossible to compare today’s internet to the television that boomers grew up with. Because boomers grew up in kind of a monoculture when it came to popular culture. There were a handful of television stations. And they have now certainly lived their adult lives through that really dramatic shift. I think there’s a couple of things happening. There’s the reality that technology has now allowed this hyper individualization, right? And then there’s also the reality that America is just a much more diverse place than it was when boomers were young people tuning in to Leave it to Beaver. America has many more immigrants. We have people from many more different countries who speak many more different languages. We’re a much more racially diverse country. And so when you look at where millennials and folks younger than millennials are oriented, I agree with many of these critiques that the sort of hyper individualization, the ability to really ensconce one’s self inside a universe where most people look and think and believe like you do is ultimately not a great thing. That said, I think the monoculture that boomers were raised in was pretty suffocating and, frankly, not exactly fertile ground for the kind of incredible creativity that I think is one positive outshoot of technology that we see now.

There’s more back-and-forth after that but Filipovich and Klein simply do a better job of holding up their end of the conversation, even though they’re playing on Andrews’ court

FILED UNDER: Education, Higher Ed, Podcasts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Donald Trump, Andrews’s idol, is a Boomer. Did he, in her opinion, deliver disaster?

    9
  2. SKI says:

    There’s more back-and-forth after that but Filipovich and Klein simply do a better job of holding up their end of the conversation, even though they’re playing on Andrews’ court

    This doesn’t surprise me. When you inhabit a world where reality isn’t required to be acknowledged, your reasoning ability atrophies.

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  3. Modulo Myself says:

    Everything Andrews says is very polite fascism focusing on an undefinable betrayal. The New Left just replaced the Old Left. It wasn’t because a bunch of 18-year old kids didn’t want to be drafted to die in Vietnam. It just happened because the New Left hated the working class. Or college became more popular. Not because working the same shift at a factory in a bleak-ass town for 40 years seems like a dead-end to the guys who worked in those factories, so they told their kids to go to college if they had the chance. No. the Boomers–all liberals–just made it happen for their own nefarious means.

    Basically, it wasn’t us–it was the Jews.

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  4. Mister Bluster says:

    Helen Andrews: There were a lot of people at the time in the 1950s saying that this shift to TV was going to make everybody dumber* and eliminate a dimension of critical thinking from the way people process information. And looking at the legacy of the baby boomers and even more at what the rise of social media has done, I think it’s time to consider the possibility that the doomsayers about TV were absolutely correct.

    Helen Andrews: Television reduces people’s attention spans. It has an intrinsic bias towards flash over substance. So, basically, anything that people are trying to think critically about. If the information that’s in their minds is information that they got through TV, it’s going to be data of a very superficial kind. And so even if they then try to process that data in their minds in a thoughtful and serious way,** it’s going to come out the other side equally superficial.

    *Sounds like she’s talking about her boyfriend Trump (b.1946).

    **Trump doesn’t even do this.

    3
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Furhter, to the extent unions were busted through government policy, Filipovic rightly argues that it’s the right, not the left, that’s responsible for that.

    Thankyou, I damned near came out of my seat when I read Andrews’

    So the boomers made a choice to have their left-wing party champion identity politics, rather than working class people and unions.

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  6. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I take that Andrews quote to mean the “left-wing” party pressed unions to allow black and brown people to join on equal terms and enjoy the same protections.

    The nerve!

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  7. JKB says:

    It is good that you point out that many talk of “Boomers” as being responsible for the ’60s, when the oldest of them would have only been 23 at Woodstock. The bulk not likely to be given parental permission to attend. Of course, early Boomers were the ones who got a short taste of the factory life before it was ripped away with closers starting in the early 1970s. But was that nefarious, or the promulgation of the automation made possible by the Programmable Logic Controller invented in 1968.

    As an early Gen-Xer commented in the early 1990s, “The Baby Boomers grew up to make everything they did illegal for their children”. And for those who were politically active in the 1970s, that is true. The Drug War, raising the drinking age, etc., all came from early Boomer parents facing teenage children.

    One thing seemingly overlooked is that the Boomers were the first full generation, over a wide swath of the world, to benefit from the inflection in human history that came to fruition in the early 20th century. Medical, sanitation and other advances shifted demography from one controlled by mortality, with disease, injury (with high infant death) to one controlled by fertility control, with birth control, late marriage and abortion. Thus more Boomers made it to adulthood. And as people shifted to fewer children, who were likely to become adults, the emphasis on more investment in them via, for instance higher education, grew. This shift migrated around the world and adaptation to fewer more heavily invested in children followed. Not sure there won’t be a shift back given current political sensibilities, but it was an inflection point for almost a century now.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I can’t speak for unions in other businesses, but in construction we had to be dragged into accepting people of color and even then the racism in the ranks could be pretty blatant. In my 35 years of wood butchering I worked with exactly one black carpenter and that was in year 30 or so.

    DEM or GOP, it made very little difference, because the best way to get into the union was to know someone. If every one in a local was white, chances were the apprentices were too. Our society was, and to a large extent remains pretty segregated.

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  9. grumpy realist says:

    Yeah, I’ve read several of Andrews’ essays over at TAC. She’s equivalently crappy over there.

    Hey, maybe the problem resulting in this “cultural catastrophe” is the incessant whining and victimhood that we’re seeing all over the place? Which is a habit not just indulged in by the “wokesters” on the Left, my dear Helen, but slews and slews of your very own political bedfellows, no? Have you seen what your fellow writer Rod Dreher has been churning out recently?

    ….in other words, clean up your own mess first before attacking others.

    3
  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Technology is driving this bus. Creatives create for the media available in their era. Prehistoric artists worked in the medium of stone walls. It’s what they had. Michelangelo had canvas and plaster and marble, so he painted and frescoed and chiseled. After Guttenberg the scribes became essayists and novelists. After cameras. . . well, you get the idea. Build a technology and creatives will infest it.

    But technology delivers art to an audience. Michelangelo chiseled for the Pope. Small, very elitist paying audience. Creatives today play to the world through the internet and are punished or rewarded by that audience. Technology vastly expanded the potential audience from one (and whoever attended a particular church and looked at the statuary) to the entire human race. It’s not a surprise that art would adapt (ie. get paid by) the available audience, as delivered by the available technology.

    We have a dynamic tension between creative and audience. The creatives imagine and create and hope to carry the audience along new and exciting paths, (and sometimes do so), but it’s still the audience which decides if what they’ve created is worth a dollar. In the end it’s always the audience that decides the fate of a creative enterprise, whether that audience is the Pope or the 18-54 demographic. He who pays the band calls the tune. People get the art they deserve, at whatever volume technology allows.

    Want better art? Stop buying crap. Want better TV? Watch the good stuff, don’t watch the shit. You want to blame someone for unsatisfying creative content? Blame Steve Jobs for making it easy, and then look in the mirror for the rest of the villains.

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  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Basically, it wasn’t us–it was the Jews.

    It always is.

    2
  12. Joe says:

    You want to blame someone for unsatisfying creative content? Blame Steve Jobs for making it easy.

    Paint

    No, @Michael, I blame Bill Gates.

    1
  13. “You can see it in politics, which has been cannibalized by the methods of advertising, rather than the methods of persuasion.”

    I honestly have a hard time accepting the notion that mass politics in the pre-TV era was especially sophisticated.

    “Tippacanoe and Tyler, too” dontcha know.

    “You see that in the academy in just the difference between what an academic book sounds like today versus the prose that you saw in an academic book in 1950.”

    ???

    In my field, I have no problem saying that, in general, the literature is more sophisticated now than in the 1950s.

    3
  14. Jay L Gischer says:

    This is a sort of “you said just what I was thinking, only better” thread. First Jill Filipovic:

    And then there were political forces who we didn’t vote for who may have been part of our cohort, who now you’re using to blame our entire generation. There’s some fairness to that defensiveness. That said, I would say, liberal boomers kind of won the culture. Conservative and more moderate boomers won American politics.

    The above got me to cry aloud with joy and recognition.

    Then there’s Michael:

    Want better art? Stop buying crap. Want better TV? Watch the good stuff, don’t watch the shit. You want to blame someone for unsatisfying creative content? Blame Steve Jobs for making it easy, and then look in the mirror for the rest of the villains.

    I haven’t watched broadcast TV, except for sports – mostly baseball – for probably a decade. Mostly I just can’t be bothered to run my life on the network’s schedule. But it insulates me from a lot of stuff that just wasn’t very good, it turns out. Unfortunately, one often needs to wade through a bunch of stuff that isn’t great to find the stuff that is. Cream may rise to the top, but it can take a while.

    So +1’s all around.

    1
  15. Teve says:

    In my own previous area of interest, science, math, technology, history of science, I have read historical books in those subjects, and antique textbooks of several vintages. Well not the entire books, but bits and pieces, because most of them are excruciating to read.

    Try to read Book 1 of Newton’s Principia. I dare you. The only reason anyone ever made it through that book is that there was no radio or magazines or TV or Internet or cell phones and your only other alternative was to spend yet another day staring at cows.

    1
  16. Kathy says:

    Isn’t it a journalistic principle that if a headline poses a question the answer is “no”?

    1
  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I haven’t watched broadcast TV, except for sports – mostly baseball – for probably a decade. Mostly I just can’t be bothered to run my life on the network’s schedule. But it insulates me from a lot of stuff that just wasn’t very good, it turns out. Unfortunately, one often needs to wade through a bunch of stuff that isn’t great to find the stuff that is. Cream may rise to the top, but it can take a while.

    Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn’t Own A Television

    3
  18. Mister Bluster says:

    Did the Boomers Ruin America?
    Of course we did. As I posted the other day We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young.
    And we got that way because our post WWII parents read The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spock. Among other things Dr. Spock had this to say about spanking children:

    The idea that sparing the rod spoils the child dates to biblical times and has continued to surface in various forms. In the 1945 edition of ”Baby and Child Care,” Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote, ”I’m not particularly advocating spanking, but I think it is less poisonous than lengthy disapproval, because it clears the air, for parents and child.”
    In the 1985 edition of the book, however, Dr. Spock deplored spanking, saying it taught ”children that the larger, stronger person has the power to get his way whether or not he is in the right.” He also suggested that the ”American tradition of spanking” might contribute to violence in the United States.
    https://www.nytimes.com/1985/06/19/garden/parents-and-experts-split-on-spanking.html

    I don’t know if my parents bought Spock’s books or just heard about his ideas from friends. I do know that they never, ever spanked, beat or hit me or my siblings with their hands or anything else. Not even the time that I threatened them with my Boy Scout knife.
    The result of this “permissiveness” as Spock’s detractors called it? I participated in demonstrations that fast devolved into riots protesting the draft and the Vietnam War in 1969 and 1970 when I was allegedly in college. That was when I learned how to run from the cops. My brother hid cases of ill gotten booze and dope in the crawl space beneath our parents house.* And my sister went to Nursing School and never did anything wrong in her life.

    *It was many years later that my brother told me about how dad discovered a bag of weed somewhere in the house. Apparently dad didn’t know what to do with it and carried it around in his briefcase for several days before he finally threw it into the Chicago River. This would have been 1968-69.

  19. Michael Cain says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Technology is driving this bus.

    From 1993 I was coding prototypes of multi-person multi-media real-time communications using desktop computers and internet protocols. Wrote a bunch of white papers that never got distributed outside a fairly tight collection of telecommunications companies. Among the messages were, “Everyone is going to be able to produce content. The vast majority of it will be terrible. The big problem will be finding stuff worth consuming.” At that time, getting managers to listen was the big problem.

    My one big success was almost an accident. The CEO’s daughter and a friend were doing a high-school research paper and had decided to write about videoconferencing. Part of their assignment was to interview someone knowledgeable, and the CEO’s “Do we have anybody?” request landed on my desk. He had envisioned them doing the interview in person. I had a copy of my software on a machine at the HQ building for other purposes, so arranged an online audio/video/shared vugraph interview (think Zoom*). The young women asked good questions and we had fun for an hour. From time to time I could see the CEO pacing in the background. The next day I got a phone call telling me the CEO wanted a copy of all of my white papers, and I should have a briefing ready for the next week.

    * The video encoding was my own invention. 15 frames per second and literally black and white — grayscale images dithered down to two levels. 15 fps is enough to tell if the audio is synchronized (mine was). Small moving images made up of black-or-white dots can convey a remarkable amount of information about facial expressions and body language. Its saving grace was that on the receiving end it took almost no computation to get something that was clearly video up on the screen. I’ve been on some Zoom calls where I think I can argue that my crappy video was more useful than what they deliver, 25 years on (which is like infinity in computer tech time). For some reason I’m kind of embarrassed about that.

    4
  20. Teve says:

    Anecdotes aren’t data. What the data on spanking shows is that spanking is associated with lower cognitive development, aggression, mental health problems, and criminal behavior.

    3
  21. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    Isn’t it a journalistic principle that if a headline poses a question the answer is “no”?

    There are notable exceptions.

    Should you bring a llama to your wedding?

    1
  22. Tubal says:

    “ The oldest of them were born in 1946 and the youngest in 1964, meaning they would have graduated high school between 1964 and 1982. By that point, enrolling in college out of high school was already the norm.”

    The chart provided does not support that statement. The majority does not come about until 1990, according to the chart.

    Figure 24 of the following appears to indicate the turning point more precisely at 1989 (slightly different criteria, but overall more detailed):
    https://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/93442.pdf

    That being said, I find generational definitions inherently vague, and often silly for much other than marketing books, docs and now podcast. Precision with regard to vague characterizations of “generations” is unlikely… although it can be internally consistent.

    Measuring significant hold on levers of power power by presidency is off (meant odd but off may be better). All generations, regardless of any placement/representation on political spectrum, exert significant power prior to holding highest or even moderate offices, provided they merely vote in significant numbers.

  23. Kurtz says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    In my field, I have no problem saying that, in general, the literature is more sophisticated now than in the 1950s.

    You say sophisticated; they say weasily.

    It’s interesting that Klein raises McLuhan and Postman here. One of the passages from Amusing Ourselves to Death makes the point that 18th century politics was quite bitter and violent, and he wasn’t talking about the Civil War. And well, one of his points is how much fear of 1984, let us slip into Brave New World. Should it be any surprise that one of FNC’s lines of defense in a lawsuit is that the programs in question should be viewed is entertainment rather than news?

    Driven by conservatives and back-seated by the center-left, that fear of 1984-style totalitarianism was used to justify the Red Scare then Cointelpro, then the war on terror. Ironic considering one of the key aspects of Orwell’s world is justification of the regime via a nebulous, shifting enemy that poses a threat so insidious, one must keep a suspicious eye on everyone.

    But none of that will keep people like Andrews and her readers from citing Orwell and denying that he was a self-ID Democratic Socialist. They probably haven’t even heard of The Road to Wigan’s Pier. If they had, it would be in their crosshairs, along with anything by Howard Zinn.

    Additionally, a conservative writer lamenting a lack of depth is tragicomic. FNC’s presentation bears more than a similarity to Hard Copy–tabloid faux-journalism adapted to a medium that, by its nature, can disable thought. It’s loud and outrageous; long on volume, short on substance. And it’s the template for every conservative outlet on TV or online.

    Joyner has the credentials and brain to be a thought-leader in conservatism. But those two attributes disqualify him as useful to the current right-wing. Fairness isn’t part of the recipe.

    3
  24. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Sure, make fun of me. I can take it.

    And, I do own a television. Several, in fact. I watch Netflix. I watch Disney+. I watch DVDs. I just can’t be bothered to watch broadcast, scheduled TV the way I did most of my life.

    Also, this is the first time I’ve mentioned it to anyone.

    But you know, my point is meant to echo Michael. We get better stuff by choosing better stuff, and ignoring the stuff that isn’t so good. Of course, the world doesn’t revolve around me and my choices, though there was a time there in the Oughts where it kinda seemed like it did, which was a strange and new experience for me.

    1
  25. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    The result of this “permissiveness” as Spock’s detractors called it? I participated in demonstrations that fast devolved into riots protesting the draft and the Vietnam War in 1969 and 1970 when I was allegedly in college. That was when I learned how to run from the cops. My brother hid cases of ill gotten booze and dope in the crawl space beneath our parents house.* And my sister went to Nursing School and never did anything wrong in her life.

    If this behavior wasn’t common in every other generation in time, I think you’d have a point. But protests have been devolving into riots since time immemorial (I did some pretty interesting work in college researching the effects of riots in London on Shakespeare’s comedies), ditto young people collecting large amounts of mind-altering substances.

    What scientific research has been done on the effects of spanking, which I believe is “a lot,” found many impairments to a child’s development and no benefits.

  26. Tubal says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Given more than one critique of scheduled tv…
    Let me suggest getting an antenna and a non subscription DVR. With Digital over the air subchannels, there is more than you could or should watch, at the time of your choosing. I am biased toward older TV, and ridding myself of cable news! [Print is better for news, although declining in quality, while audio improves.]
    But capturing more of the over the air material (which includes the most coveted material for paid streaming services to license) can free up budget for month by month adding and dropping of premium streaming services. Premium streaming dramas, and occasional comedies, are better than movies of late.

    Literature, at its best fundamentally about human condition, should be considered far before the eras discussed. While sci fi has some fascinating, necessarily newer concepts, Shakespeare and often-tedious Russian novels offer superior examination/insights into the permanent human conditions. I’d wager that the more successful and influential writers of pop culture from recent decades were disproportionately aware of such classics.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tubal:…

    Tubal says:
    Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 21:26
    @Kurtz:

    > “I will admit this lacks rigor, but with the numbers involved, I don’t think it matters much.

    According to Heritage’s database of voter fraud, which goes back to 1979, there have been a total of 1317 proven instances of voter fraud of any kind.”

    I think the perception matters. I understand critiques of how perception came about. Then perhaps I should amend to “Pervasiveness of perception matters.”
    As to the 1317 proven instances of voter fraud of any kind. Is that limited to proven cases against a perpetrator (found guilty)? I’d offer that far more instances of any type of crime occur than are proven as such. But regardless pervasive perception matters.

    My question still stands:

    Mister Bluster says:
    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 01:24
    @Tubal:..I’d offer that far more instances of any type of crime occur than are proven as such.

    You are the one advocating that there are “far more instances” of voter fraud occurring. Why don’t you go out on a limb and give us a number. And while you are at it help us all out and identify the juristictions where this is taking place.

  28. Tubal says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    I’ve moved in from Sunday, purposefully 😉

    I was not “the one advocating that there are ‘far more instances’ of voter fraud occurring” rather questioning the figures offered.

    As per your quotes, I did suggest/offer that far more instances of any type of crime occur than are proven as such. But [that] regardless pervasive perception matters.
    The later was that which was intended to be accentuated.
    My main point from Sunday was that voter ID is reasonable, especially in context.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    First, any discussion of the radicalism of the 60s should mention that the government was lying left, right, and sideways about Vietnam and drafting my cohort, boomers, to kill and be killed for nothing.

    Second, yes Dems did walk back from unions because they they thought, perhaps correctly, that they needed corporate money to compete. But yes, it was Rs that actually fought unions.

    Third, the MAGAts are right that they’ve been screwed over by our elites. But once again, Ds may not have done enough to help them, but it was Rs that were actively screwing them.

    Fourth, we are so divided and partisan because Republicans have worked very hard to make us so. It’s not like they can run on policy.

    2
  30. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tubal:..I was not “the one advocating that there are ‘far more instances’ of voter fraud occurring” rather questioning the figures offered (you’ve got better numbers? Let’s see them.)… I did suggest/offer that far more instances of any type of crime occur (except voter fraud..I get it) than are proven as such.

    Do you drive a Dodge?

    2
  31. Michael Cain says:

    @Tubal:

    Let me suggest getting an antenna and a non subscription DVR.

    I now live at the north end of the Colorado Front Range urban corridor in a solidly blue city. Let me list what I am within the official footprint of for over the air since VHF disappeared: CBS, PBS (borderline), two copies of Fox, and four low-budget independents with minimal or no sub-channels. IIRC, one of those independents is an evangelical Christian station exploiting a loophole in the FCC rules for religious affiliations. I get more signals from Cheyenne, pop 60,000 and across the border in Wyoming where the politics are toxic, than I can get locally in a city of 180,000. (Note that absent the state border between us and Cheyenne, we would almost certainly get the frequencies Cheyenne uses.)

    One of the things we considered before moving was that we could get cable and internet access to content.

    1
  32. Kurtz says:

    @Tubal:

    That was the point of my “many orders of magnitude” comment on that thread. Accepting that there are more instances of voter fraud than documented is reasonable.

    What’s not reasonable is looking at the number of instances compiled by a purveyor of the fraud narrative, comparing it to the number of ballots cast over the same time period, and contextualizing it with the number of elections it could have swung and then refusing to concede that the amount of undiscovered fraud would have to be huge for it to matter.

    The point is that the two elections in the last 20 years in which it could have made a difference, the recent race in Iowa and Florida in 2000, were both won by the party that claim systemic voter fraud is widespread.

    Let me put this simply:

    The Dems are so good at systemic voter fraud that they can engage in it in every election and avoid detection, yet they lose two high-stakes races in which the final spread was 6 votes in a House district and a few hundred votes in a statewide race for President. That stretched credulity beyond the point of reason.

    This voter fraud narrative has been around for decades. Yet every time a Republican publicizes a commission or a definitive study to be undertaken, when it comes time to release the results, it’s crickets. It discovers a few sporadic instances at most. And all that fanfare that accompanied the announcement of investigation doesn’t appear when the results are announced.

    Those people are the sole driver of the perception that you keep citing as worrisome. And they never have the goods. So they are taking your assumption of good faith and wiping their asses with it. Your assumption is noble, but at some point it ceases to be good will and becomes enabling.

    The idea that there are a ton of crimes that go unreported isn’t strong enough to do the amount of work required to justify what state legislatures are doing. Yes, there are way more DUIs and marijuana sales than arrests. But those crimes can happen anytime, anywhere. Systemic voter fraud can only happen in a limited amount of places at certain times, and thus our estimate of the number of instances is likely to be more accurate.

    Plus, one would have to connect the current laws being enacted to the types of voter fraud that allegedly occur. Yet, voter ID doesn’t address the majority of proven cases. In fact, it only addresses a tiny percentage of them.

    Even then, most of us don’t have a problem with voter ID as a concept, but only if obtaining an ID is universally trivial. Oh but wait, that’s right, the same party also went on a spree of enacting laws to make obtaining IDs more difficult with purpose of fighting illegal immigration.

    But who cares anyway? If you need to know how to obtain a false ID, just ask Matt Gaetz and Joel Greenberg.

    One last thing, you can make your argument succinctly with just a few lines. In order for me to point out the flaws in your argument by presenting data and logic-based points, I have to spend much more effort. That’s why the fraud narrative works so well.

    4
  33. Teve says:

    @Kurtz: erstwhile FauxNews star Bill ‘Loofah’ O’Reilly came from a show very similar to Hard Copy.

  34. Teve says:

    @Kurtz: It can take 10 minutes to refute a 10-second lie. That’s why the Gish Gallop is such an effective strategy.

    3
  35. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    “Fuck it! We’ll do it live!” It was Inside Edition. But ya know, tomato tomato or whatever.

    I just prefer using Hard Copy because the title so ridiculous, plus it’s easy to reference Gummy De Milo.

  36. Tubal says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Nope, I drive a Jeep.

    where’s the error?

    I don’t think it is mine.

    … reminding of the overarching point, from another thread, being photo ID as reasonable in other context.

    See you last-or-next Sunday… or maybe not…

    I don’t mean that to be snide and didn’t mean to ignore your input, I’m trying to find something interesting here, arriving orignally from memeorandum, but perhaps I have some self-imposed inappropriate temporal limitations(?).

  37. Mister Bluster says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:..If this behavior wasn’t common in every other generation in time, I think you’d have a point.

    My point was that my parents did not practice corporal punishment no matter what we did. For which I am grateful.
    Thanks mom. Thanks dad.
    RIP
    RIP

    1
  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: Don’t forget Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of anything is crud.”

    It is interesting to see what has made its way down to modern times through history as classical literature. Shakespeare? Fine. Orlando Furioso? Great–read in the original. The Essays of Montesquieu? I adore (and also read in the original.) But whoever thought that the piece of insipid romanticism called Lorna Doone had any reason to hang around as a piece of litter-a-CHUR has to have rocks in his head. For those who only know it as the name of a cookie you have been blessed.

  39. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tubal:..See you last-or-next Sunday… or maybe not…

    So you don’t have better numbers.

  40. Tubal says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Never alleged that I did.

    Given that my first comments to 2 original posts by the blog author were unanswered factual corrections, and that far too many reply comments were mischaracterizations of what I actually stated (and cross threaded) good luck to you all…
    as a phrase goes, bless your hearts
    Bye bye

    Reserving the option to simply correct on facts.

    Btw, this blog does not appear to be written by a “classical liberal” nor a faithful adherent to fact.

  41. Kurtz says:

    @Tubal:

    I didn’t see your factual corrections, can you summarize so I don’t have to dig through the giant thread?

  42. Kurtz says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    He didn’t have better numbers–those numbers, despite countless attempts to find them, have never appeared. That’s why he invoked “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” This, much like, “you can’t prove a negative” is commonly misused by a subset of the population.

    He couldn’t use the latter, because his challenge to Joyner and Taylor was trying to get them to prove that there isn’t voter fraud. But anyone who points to the rigorous studies that show miniscule rates of fraud gets met with the “absence of evidence…” line.

    When all else fails, argue the perception matters. Which if the fallacy he used was deployed correctly, he would be questioning the people who perpetuate the fraud narraritive without ever providing evidence.

    It’s a cheap trap that is ultimately non-sensical. I can’t say whether it’s trolling or sincere misapprehension, but that’s the question for many people, isn’t it?

    2
  43. Teve says:

    @Kurtz: “Prove that my vague allegation, for which I gave no time, date, place, or conspirator’s name, didn’t happen.” is not remotely how claims and evidence work. 😀

    3
  44. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Did the boomers ruin America?

    Since we have the power to define the world we live in, that group proceeded to do just that.

    As a statistical group, they hugely affected my life experience. The boomers are a bell curve. And the focus is always on the experience of the group that fits inside the 1 standard deviation of the mean. That would be the 68% of them. 95% of the boomers fit in 2 standard deviations.

    And then there is me.

    Born in 1960, I am in theory a Boomer, but it is me and about the last 2.5% of that huge baby bump that I am part of. We are the ones that fit between the 2 and 3 standard deviations from the mean. The small part of the bell curve that fades off to nothing.

    And that means that I had the extreme displeasure of watching the boomers hoover up everything they could for themselves, and then when our age group came to the table we were told that the feast was over… but it was very nice.

    That’s why some came up with a new name for the group I’m in: Tweeners (between Boomers and Gen X), Generation Jones

    I won’t belabor you with stories of closing schools, no jobs, no benefits, inflation… and the whole experience of dealing with a generation that had every benefit handed to them now telling me that everyone else had to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

    And yet today, boomers still influence everything. Commercials are either about funding retirement or every medicine for degenerative diseases played ad nausea (and they have a med for THAT nausea as well, and another if you are anxious about taking THAT med.). New sports are being created that are low impact so they can pretend they are still in their 20’s while in their late 70’s.

    They are the generation of “Drill, Baby, Drill” and the belief that every raw material should be used right now to give them everything they want. Toxic waste? Why clean it up when you can just bankrupt the LLC and move on.

    However bad all that may be, with all the horrible results of their never ending greed and short attention span, they continue to build Elysium for them in every aspect.

    Have you heard of “The Villages” in Florida? They have taken the isolation village idea of the show “The Prisoner” and made Patrick McGoohan’s nightmare into a retirement town. A very well managed, manicured, electric golf cart town that is perfect in every way. (one of us… one of us…)

    For that group, there are no others in the world that matter.

    So, yeah. Ruined.

    1
  45. Barry says:

    I’d add to the voter fraud fraud that the perpetrators of the lie are now falling back on the fact that they’ve conned a bunch of people as justification.

    1
  46. Barry says:

    “Andrews, who used to write for National Review and now does so at The American Conservative is in the Trump-populist wing that has taken over the Republican Party, not the more traditional conservative movement.”

    Note that the National Review has been scheiss since founded by Buckley, and the Trump debacle has really ripped any remaining veils off of their corruption.

    As for ‘The American Conservative’, I read it regularly. It’s been on a steep decline for years now, and the people running it have clearly decided that standards get in the way of propaganda. The argument as summarized here is actually about the median standard of quality.

    In addition, there is no Trump-populist wing. There is a Trump-false populist wing. Trump has never been populist, but a member of the elites who uses it as a front.

  47. Ken_L says:

    I challenge anybody to nominate a time or a culture where the majority of people engaged in ‘critical thinking’. For all but the last century, the way human beings thought about the world was overhelmingly shaped by the small communities in which they grew up. It wasn’t unknown, but it was very rare for anyone to question the values and beliefs instilled in them by family, class and church.

    Moves towards universal literacy, plus the increasing availability of ideas and information that challenge those taught by parents and schools and churches, triggered the birth of a new kind of society. We are in the very early stages of its evolution. How it will develop is unknowable. Debating whether “boomers ruined America” is a pointless distraction that foolishly implies conscious agency in the way societies change over time. The interesting – and hugely important – issue is how human beings are going to formulate their values, attitudes and beliefs in an entirely unprecedented kind of society.