Saturday, October 6, 2018

Actions Have Consequences | Lefsetz Letter

Can you piss off half the population and get away with it?

We’re about to find out.

Nobody knows anything. That’s what William Goldman famously said about the movie business. Now we’ve got the same thing with news. Forget dishonest, forget facts, ignore spin, no one in the news business seems to be able to accurately divine what is going on, never mind what’s gonna happen. And all the vaunted seers have lost their luster. I used to be a believer in Nate Silver, the averager of averages, the interpreter of polls, but he got the last election wrong, and what’s worse, as only a statistician would, he said he got it right. As Joni Mitchell sang, where’s that at, if you want me I’ll be in the bar.

We were for the Vietnam War before we were against it.

We were pro-military before we were anti-military.

Bob Dylan was a niche artist before he became a legend.

So I’m at an overnight at summer camp, you know, where they bus you to nowhere and you pitch tents and everybody’s got a chore and a Drazen twin told me America was at war.


My mother had these two bound copies of World War II photo books which I flipped through more than occasionally. Six million Jews were murdered, we could not have another war.

But it was in a place no one had heard of. And we assumed we could win. And we felt the need to combat Communism, we remembered the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And then everything flipped.

Suddenly, people you knew were against the war. Barry McGuire sang that we were on the “Eve of Destruction.” Everything that was taboo was now on the table, like marijuana.

Those were the sixties. When the government was afraid people would riot. And they did. As they did a few summers back, but somehow the end result is support of the police, just like our veterans are lionized, as we cut treatment for them after the fact. I’d rather not send our troops into battle, I’d rather no one die, but ever since the Iran crisis nearly four decades ago it’s been fine to be rah-rah, pro-American, before that no one ever chanted USA!, USA!

So the sixties were a time of turmoil. And there was a clear generation gap. The youth were expanding their brains while the oldsters were settling into the comforts of the aged, until they were disrupted.

It was the music. It was the clothes.

And then it was the war.

History has been rewritten, if it weren’t for antiwar protests, Johnson would have run in ’68. And when I was in college, maybe the most popular course was “Revolutions In The Modern Era,” taught badly by Marjorie Lamberti. Oh, she was excited by her subject, she was just a lousy teacher. Most PhDs are. Recent studies tell us TAs are better, but there were none of those at Middlebury. But I believe in the revolution. And I believe it’s just around the corner.

It’s not gonna make everybody happy. And forget the sounds of the last era, the Beatles’ “Revolution,” the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Things changed, it’s just the outcome was not what was predicted.

Like after the 2008 economic crisis.

Bush and his cronies got us into it.

Obama and his cronies saved the economy at the price of no one but bankers believing in it. If you were rich, the crisis was good for you, but if you weren’t…

That’s how we got here. We can’t make it here. We’ve been fed a line of b.s. about the rich being job-creators, about the immigrants being the problem, but it used to be the rulers did a better job of obfuscating their duplicity, but now, an entire political party has decided one gender does not count.

It was hard to find a male of age who was for the Vietnam War. They didn’t want to go, they didn’t want to get their ass shot off in a worthless endeavor.

And after being kicked around for years, women have awakened. There was a foundation, once again nearly fifty years ago. And progress has been made. And the younger generation was complacent until…

What is the tipping point?

You know it’s coming.

And it won’t come from somebody famous, they have too much to lose. But someone like that fruit vendor in Tunisia will rise up and trigger…

It’s about making half of America second-class citizens.

And that half is never gonna forget it.


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