Frank Bruni delivers the first mea culpa...
Among Americans age 40 and older, there’s a pastime more popular than football, Candy Crush or HBO.No, no no. The family values party assures us that even thinking about the future has to be outlawed. Clearly, the best way to help the next generation is to never plan beyond next week.
It’s bashing millennials.
Oh, the hours of fun we have, marveling at their self-fascination and gaping at their sense of entitlement! It’s been an especially spirited romp lately, as a new batch of them graduate from college and gambol toward our cubicles, prompting us to wonder afresh about the havoc they’ll wreak on our world.
We have a hell of a lot of nerve, considering the havoc we’ve wrought on theirs...
The country’s slowness to deal with swelling seas and melting glaciers is just one manifestation of our myopia, just one metaphor for our failure to reckon with the future that we’re visiting upon today’s children, who get more lip service than legislation from us.
The New York Times joins in with a "so sorry" to the post-millennials
Today’s young people, ages 18 to 24, should have been the lucky ones. They were preteens or teenagers when the recession hit in late 2007, with high school and college still ahead. Unlike those who had to enter the work force in the depths of the downturn, they had time, or so it seemed, to wait out the weak economy.It's a trend that will never be reversed without steeply increasing the tax rate on high incomes. Pretending otherwise means all the hand wringing is pointless.
But that’s not how things have worked out. While the worst is over, economic conditions are still subpar, damaging the immediate job prospects and long-term living standards of young adults starting out now.
In recent years, the economy has grown annually at 2 percent or so. That’s too slow to make up the current shortfall of nearly seven million jobs, let alone to absorb new graduates or push up wages in jobs that do exist.
To make matters worse, the economy contracted at an annual rate of 1 percent in the first quarter of 2014. A rebound is expected, but there is little in the economic data or current policy to suggest that an upsurge will be sustained; over all, economic growth is likely to settle at 2 percent to 2.5 percent.
For young people, these conditions will only deepen a long trend of increasing economic hardship. Census data that compares today’s 18-to-24-year-olds with the same age group in 1970 and in 1990 show more poverty among young adults over time, as well as lower income and less independence. But young people today are appreciably worse off than those in previous generations.
The exact and direct cause of lack of opportunity and a declining middle class is a spectacularly awful tax policy which promotes concentration of wealth. Fix it, or nothing else will matter.
Let's see what the rest of punditry is on about...
Ross Douthat proclaims that Hillary is the only path to victory.
She is the rare presidential hopeful who has nothing whatsoever to gain from making news. Leading the Democratic presidential field by a Secretariat-esque margin; leading every potential Republican candidate by around 10 points; running far ahead of President Obama’s job approval numbers ... if she had her way, all the months from here till 2016 would be consumed by devouring time without anything altering her current image.Well, if Ross Douthat can't convince you, then... wait a sec. Ross Douthat has never convinced anyone of anything. I can't decide if in writing this, he's being serious, or he's writing this as some kind of double fake out, or just wants to show you that he's recently skimmed a historical novel.
And her desire converges almost perfectly with the interests of her party, even if not every liberal quite realizes it yet. That’s because Clinton’s iconic status is, increasingly, the only clear advantage the Democratic Party has. If her position is weakened, diminished or challenged, the entire coalition risks collapse.
... this is where Hillary Clinton comes in. If her party is Austria-Hungary, she might be its Franz Josef — the beloved emperor whose imperial persona (“coffered up,” the novelist Joseph Roth wrote, “in an icy and everlasting old age, like armour made of an awe-inspiring crystal”), as much as any specific political strategy, helped keep dissolution from the empire’s door.So... no one finds it creepy that Douthat is making comparisons between Hillary and Franz Joseph, and then going on to say that without Hillary the Democratic Party would collapse. Anyone? Well, I suppose he didn't say Franz Ferdinand.
Ruth Marcus has a different take on destiny's candidate.
The last few days have offered vivid illustrations of why Hillary Clinton could decide not to run for president — and why, in the end, I believe she will.I have to say, knowing that it will make Drudge readers' heads explode really makes me want this to happen.
Example No. 1 is the ludicrous debate over whether Clinton, in the latest People magazine cover, was leaning on a walker.
To buy this scenario would require you to believe that People is implicated in a grand conspiracy to keep Clinton’s enervated physical state from American voters. And that People’s editors and Team Clinton are dumb enough, having hatched this scheme, to have her photographed with the walker cropped out, except not entirely. Rather than simply shooting Clinton seated on, say, the patio chair that she was actually holding in the photo.
The fact that the phantom walker was even a topic of public debate says everything about the wacko media environment that uniquely surrounds Clinton.
“PHOTO: IS CLINTON HOLDING A WALKER?” the Drudge Report tweeted. Right, not saying she is. Just askin’.
Maureen Dowd continues the tale of her unsatisfactory personal drug experience.
After my admission that I did a foolish thing in Denver — failing to realize that consuming a single square, about a quarter, of a pot candy bar was dicey for an edibles virgin — many in the pot industry upbraided me for doing a foolish thing.What's amazing about this tale of MJ standards in the New York Times... is that it's happening in the New York Times.
But some in Mary Jane world have contacted me to say that my dysphoria (i.e., bummer) is happening more and more in Colorado...
Justin Hartfield is the California founder of Marijuana.com and Weedmaps.com (a sort of Yelp for pot), and an entrepreneur involved in some of the nation’s top marijuana-technology companies. As The Wall Street Journal noted in a profile last March, the 30-year-old former high school pot dealer wants to be “the Philip Morris of pot.”
Michael Semple goes myth busting.
[myth #] 1. Freeing Bergdahl involved negotiating with terrorists.Read all five if you want to be prepared for the next person spouting the Fox party line.
Branding opponents as terrorists may be helpful in legitimizing the fight against them. But the terrorist label is often applied arbitrarily. And it offers a poor guide to whether people are worth talking to.
“What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists we’ve gone after?” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) asked about the Bergdahl deal. The Afghan Taliban movement, however, is not a classic terrorist organization. Before 9/11, it was the de facto authority in Afghanistan, and talking to its leaders was just something you had to do if you operated there, as did the United Nations and many nongovernmental organizations....
3. Talking to terrorists encourages more terrorism.
Policymakers sometimes object that bringing terrorist organizations to the table legitimizes and incentivizes violent tactics. And talks may be accompanied by an upsurge in violence rather than a lull — either because terrorist groups think their violent campaign has been effective or because they want to avoid accusations from followers that they have sold out the cause. After the failure of Northern Ireland talks in July 1972, the IRA orchestrated what came to be known as Bloody Friday and set off about two dozen bombs in Belfast.
But a well-constructed talks process will show terrorist organizations that there is a viable alternative to violence and will reward good behavior. Indeed, the history of peacemaking and post-conflict reconstruction is full of people who have transitioned from being labeled terrorists to occupying high public office. Consider former IRA member Martin McGuinness, now deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Leonard Pitts catches the NRA in a passing moment of slightly-less-crazy.
A few days ago, the NRA inadvertently said something reasonable.You know, we've done this experiment many times. Which has more gun violence: countries with lots of guns, or countries that don't have lots of guns?
This, in response to a series of protests in Texas. It seems advocates of the right to openly carry firearms have taken to showing up en masse at public places — coffee shops, museums, restaurants etc. — toting shotguns and assault rifles. So say you’re snapping photos at Dealey Plaza, and up sidles some guy with an AK slung over his shoulder.
That sudden dryness of mouth and tightness of sphincter you feel is not reassurance.
“This is terrifying,” a visitor from Washington state told the Dallas Morning News. “We have guns in our house, but we don't walk around with them. . . . This is shocking.”
The NRA seemed to agree. In an unsigned online editorial, it stated the obvious, calling the practice of bringing long guns into public places “dubious,” “scary” and “downright weird.”
Days later, having come, well . . . under fire, from Texas gun groups, the NRA was in retreat, apologizing and blaming this rare lapse of lucidity on a staff member who apparently failed to drink his full allotment of Kool-Aid. The organization assured its followers that it still supports the right of all people to bring all guns into all places.
One gets the sense, when people argue for these “guns everywhere” policies that they see themselves as restoring some frontier spirit lost in the passage of centuries. A few weeks back, former Sen. Rick Santorum contended on Face The Nation that “gun crimes were not very prevalent” in the Old West because everyone was armed.
But they weren’t. In his book, Gunfight: The Battle Over The Right To Bear Arms in America, UCLA professor of constitutional law Adam Winkler reveals that gun control in the Old West was actually quite strict.
Carl Hiaasen hands out a new award.
Lonesome Racist of the Week: Robert Copeland of Wolfeboro, N.H.Timothy Evans on how an Internet Photoshop spawned an urban legend... and attempted murder.
He’s not as wealthy or prominent as Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, but the 82-year-old Copeland is no less detestable.
Until last week he served as one of three elected police commissioners in Wolfeboro, a town of about 6,300 people in central New Hampshire. A resident had complained to the town manager that, while dining at a local restaurant, she overheard Copeland use the N-word to describe President Obama.
Copeland didn’t deny making the slur, and brilliantly sent the following email to the other commissioners: “I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse [sic]. For this I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”
Many people in Wolfeboro felt Copeland met and exceeded the criteria for being a bigoted gasbag, and a public meeting was convened. ... It wasn’t as if Copeland could be ignored or led away like some demented old uncle. The police commission is in charge of hiring, firing and disciplining officers, and also setting their salaries. Copeland also worked as a dispatch supervisor.
The governor of New Hampshire and several state lawmakers condemned Copeland’s remarks about Obama and said he should resign immediately. So did Mitt Romney, who owns a house in the state.
After a few days Copeland gave up and quit. He’s now free to shamble around the house in his bathrobe and boxers, spewing the N-word as much as he wants.
A surprising number of knife attacks on and by teenagers have appeared in the national news in recent weeks, but in terms of sheer tragic weirdness, nothing can match the case of two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who stabbed a classmate 19 times, nearly killing her — and then said they did it to appease someone called “Slenderman.”
Slenderman is not, in fact, a man, but an Internet meme, an urban legend for the digital age, a fictitious figure — tall, thin, faceless and dressed in a black suit — who appears in homemade “found” videos on YouTube, in Photoshopped pictures and on blogs describing alleged sightings around the country.
Although Slenderman has been around since 2009, the stabbing case has brought the phenomenon, most popular among teenagers, into the harsh glare of the media spotlight, with worried parents and pundits wringing their hands about the dangers of modern technology.
But they shouldn’t worry: Slenderman is a largely harmless fixation of teen pop culture who fits firmly within America’s long tradition of horror folklore.