Archive for Boomers

Old and Current U.S. Enemies

 

Our Congress is chockablock with Boomers. Alas, as one myself, I had anticipated and hoped that my folk would be smarter and more moral, a.k.a. more American, than the WWII crowd that thrust us into stupid, unnecessary wars, and whistled mindless tunes as federal and state governments took away the rights of millions.

Sure hasn’t happened. Boomer bozos like G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were as bad as their parents’ generation.

A surprising constant has been the ever-shifting them in the us vs. them theater. Frankly, the WWI and WWII folk were more simpleminded and thus kept the enemies clearer. We grew up with the commies under the beds (fantastical and irrational) and vestiges of the Yellow Peril (horde of Asians imagined to be massing for invasion, the racist trope).

What could be simpler than ID’ing Soviets and various Asians as the other, each and all intent on destroying our noble and glorious nation? Surely our lives were superior to those of the other, nefarious groups eager to take our stuff and snuff out our lives.

Somehow Boomers’ parents and grandparents could overlook the likes of:

  • Jailing large numbers of Japanese-Americans and small groups of Italian- and German-Americans in concentration (euphemistically internment) camps
  • Draconian voting laws and shameful economic and educational policies for African Americans
  • Endless and meaningless wars in Asia, Africa and even parts of Europe

Having spent much of my young childhood as a bit player in the Occupation Army in Japan, I had a different view of the alleged Yellow Peril. A few native Japanese chums did have their own baggage, slandering Koreans and Chinese folk, but I came to learn that likely was from long-standing nationalistic and perceived racial vestiges.  For some, awareness of military behavior in those countries surely brought deflective criticism.

Binary Simplicity

Boomers did have a now surprisingly binary upbringing. Not only did we inherit the culture of pre-War movies, but we got the new world of TV and of course literature. There were black hats and white hats, villains and heroes, Allies and Axis armies — us vs. them. Many too bought into puerile lit that munged that binary culture with politics, specifically the likes of Ayn Rand’s addlepated novels. She was best at welding oppressive sexuality to economic theory.

Ah, but it was so clean and easy. You could know who the good and the bad guys were…and what behaviors and words showed you were in the former group.

In contrast, nuance is hard. For example, we really can’t plant Thomas Jefferson entirely at one end of the moral spectrum.  How comforting it must be to live as a religious fundamentalist or political camp-follower. Check your brain at the door and you can always know you are a good guy.

The few current dictators, like Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin at least simplify diplomacy in their realms. If Donald Trump had the powers he imagines, free of judicial oversight and with a totally compliant Congress, he could quickly turn our nation into a villain state as well.

I think I can well do without the racist Yellow-Peril and other simpleminded excuses to fear and hate.

 

 

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Responsibility?

A current mean is asking whether something is “still a thing.” Let’s consider personal responsibility in that big pile.

Perhaps the most obvious cases are the far too many caught on video and by witnesses where cops kill unarmed, non-threatening civilians and face zero punishment or even charges. “I felt threatened” seems too often to immediately convince prosecutors and internal-affairs sorts that all is right.

It isn’t. We see in other professions as well (think doctors and financial execs) that self-policing and such oversight are risible. Cultural change is necessary.

The ideas and ideals boomers saw and heard everywhere included being held accountable for bad actions. Books, movies and of course parents and clerics taught that if you did something bad, there were consequences.

The norm now is what tricks can you pull to avoid punishment or even accusation. Bad drivers skate with “unfortunate accident” for their most egregious, fatal sins.

Enough with this.

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Eh, America? Podcast

We do a July 4th week look at what’s right, wrong and fixable about America. From a wide age and American experience range, Ryan and Mike hit on their hopes and the big issues — political and economic — they want addressed before this mid-year and the next Presidential election.

Some are throw-your-hand-up crucial ones, like trashing that absurd filibuster process in the U.S. Senate that has plugged progressive legislation for many decades. We want some serious leadership by President Obama as well as Congressional big shots too.

Listen in for our take.

Note: Ryan cited the trends in deficits and expenses. That appears here.

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Mass GOP Mess

Loud, incessant and dolorous is the keening. The Massachusetts Republican Party dominated the commonwealth for most of the post-Civil War. Yet, it has an all-time low percentage of elected officials at the state and national levels.

We kicked around:

  • How they got to this state of the state
  • What they might do other than complain
  • How accurate the one-party description is here
  • The role that Democrats in Name Only (DINOs) play
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Things Boston Podcast

Ryan and Mike checked in on our metropolis. We had to mention that baseball team, but mostly it was politics.

We have a hobbled, but still budgetary powerful, City Council. An off-year election with no big draws puts the four non-white (two Black, one Latino, one Asian-American) Councilors at risk.

Then there’s a suddenly energized mayor. No longer content with being popular and jovial, Tom Menino suddenly wants to bring bikes and wi fi, new green spaces, and more to town.

Home Rule Stuff

Home Rule may sound empowering, but the form that Boston got over 40 years ago is intentionally limiting. The General Court keeps Beantown in a small exercise yard.

As state capital, the city is as much a pet as peer to lawmakers. It can’t tax state property, it can’t start or raise any taxes without specific legislative approval, it can’t run its airport, it can’t do much of anything without lawmakers’ say-so. Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed, and gotten considerable legislative push-back on, letting all cities and towns add their own meals taxes and such.

A podcast from a WBUR piece on this (under four minutes in RealAudio) is here. The Rappaport Foundation analysis of Home Rule’s failure and comparison of Boston with six other cities is here. The long and detailed 1966 law (Chapter 43B) that covers Home Rule is here.

Posts of the Week

Mike chose a reactionary regional post from Hello Fitchburg. There, the ever-ranting Abraham Lincoln host held forth — this time on the meme of baby boomers. He hates ’em (us, from Mike’s viewpoint).

It’s good to deal with, because it is certainly a cliché and a bandwagon that can’t seem to get big enough for 20-somethings and 30-somethings to fit onto. Those blood sucking, me-generation, self-serving bastards are taking our jobs and stealing our social security!

It is to laugh a boomer laugh. Consider that what sociologists call The Entitlement Generation. The Koren-War-era folk (at least the white ones) are those who didn’t fight the big one, who may have lived through the Depression, but did not have to feed their families, double and triple dipped on post-WWII pensions, padded management levels, subsidized housing and education by G.I. Bills and the like, and never once have agreed to share the economic burdens of increased taxes and lessened benefits that the rest of us have. Moreover, the boomers paid ever increasing tax rates for the previous generations, paid to raise and educate the 20 and 30-somethings who now diss them, and now are sandwiched with aging parents and kids to be paid for and cared for.

This post makes amusing reading. Even though it uses a trope of 60s/70s music, it is one shriek among many that we’ll continue hearing for a long time. Those nasty old boomers. Let’s pig pile!

Ryan’s Post of the Week is again from the venerable David over at Blue Mass Group. Senator and POTUS-seeker Chris Dodd is again leading the pack where it matters, this time in resisting the ‘I don’t know if waterboarding is torture’ Attorney General pick from the Bush administration. What’s really interesting is, again, Barrack Obama finds himself the follower in a race where he very much needs to lead if he wants to succeed. Sadly, I wonder if it’s time for the young man to go – and allow the big boys a chance to offer resistence to Camp Hill.

Making matters worse is the fallout over Obama’s homophobic friend that Barrack has decided should be one of his leading advocates. It appears as if Barrack Obama’s campaign is completely out of touch with the progressive primary voters he’s been trying to lure since he entered the race. At this point, I’d rather a Hill Presidency than Obama in office – which is scary stuff. As my hopes begin to fade for a real candidate for change to enter the race late, such as Al Gore, I cling to the fact that all my gut instincts could be wrong and someone could save us from this mess.

icon for podpress  Things Boston [53:45m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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