Presty the DJ for Sept. 5

The number one song in Britain today in 1954 was the singer’s only number one hit, making her Britain’s first American one-hit wonder:

The number one song in the U.S. today in 1964:

Today in 1967, the Beatles probably felt like they were the walrus (goo goo ga joob) after needing 16 takes to get this right:

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Number 15

Ian O’Connor profiles the best quarterback in Packer history:

Bart Starr sits quietly in his favorite chair in the corner of his study, his hands clasped tightly on his lap. He is wearing the uniform of an athlete in retirement — faded golf shirt, dark sweat pants, light-gray sneakers. He is 81 years old, and his trim build and erect posture suggest he is ready to spring out of that chair any minute now to start a three-mile jog through his Birmingham neighborhood or to play a quick game of tennis on his backyard court.

On the wall over his left shoulder are two framed Sports Illustrated cover shots of Starr in his Green Bay Packers prime, and on the wall to his right is a photo of the quarterback walking onto the Lambeau Field grass with his wife and two sons on the 1973 day the team retired his number, 15. On Starr’s desk stands a captioned photo of Vince Lombardi quoting one of the coach’s many enduring lines. “Perfection is not attainable,” it reads, “but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

Starr is wearing a Lombardi Classic logo on the left breast of his shirt, so it seems a good time to make small talk with the iconic quarterback about the iconic coach. But a few sentences in, it’s already clear Starr is not connecting with the name or the memories of the man who helped him win five championships in the 1960s, including the first two Super Bowls. His eyes narrow and search for meaning in words that drift aimlessly in the air.

Now it’s time to head into the kitchen for lunch, and it’s the job of the three women in the room to get him there. Leigh Ann Nelson, the personal aide. Denise Williams, the nursing assistant. Cherry Starr, the 81-year-old wife. A guest motions to Cherry that he’s willing to help, but there is no need.

They surround Starr, place their hands under his arms and remind him that the snap count is three, always on three. The women count in unison — one…two…three — and drive this dignified 180-pound man to his feet. This is what the women in Bart Starr’s life do. They pick him up and move him from one monumental challenge to the next.

Their ultimate goal is to return him to Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night, when Brett Favre’s retired No. 4 will be unveiled. Favre delayed his ceremony a year to give Starr a puncher’s chance to make it, and Bart’s family and support network of friends, neighbors and employees are forever telling him he must meet that objective.

Starr is taking small steps on the road back to Green Bay. He shuffles his feet slowly, carefully, as he leaves the office and makes his way through the hallway and into the kitchen as the women guide his every step, just so he doesn’t fall on the African stone floor like he did the previous week. Truth is, it’s a small miracle that Starr is upright and walking at all, and heading for lunch while absorbing the training camp images on the TV screen wedged between the cabinets above.

He suffered his first stroke on Sept. 2, 2014. Five days later he suffered a second stroke, a heart attack and four seizures that some doctors thought would kill him. Cherry was with him in intensive care, and she held onto her husband and caressed him when his body shook violently, uncontrollably, trying to make it stop. She’d never witnessed a seizure before, and she was terrified. Soon one doctor was telling her that her high school sweetheart, the man she’d loved unconditionally for 64 years, was not going to make it through the night.

Hospital officials asked Cherry if she wanted Bart placed on life support if necessary, and she explained that they both had living wills and that neither wanted to be sustained by a machine. Cherry called their granddaughters and told them they were needed at Bart’s bedside. But she never said her own goodbye to her husband; she couldn’t bring herself to do it. And the very next morning, that goodbye was no longer necessary. Bart Starr had launched his comeback.

It’s an amazing story, going back to his days as the son of a strict Army sergeant father who felt his older son didn’t measure up to his younger son, who died of a tetanus infection at 11. It includes his high school sweetheart, Cherry, and their two sons, one of whom died of a drug overdose. It includes Starr’s playing for Lombardi and the Ice Bowl. It includes Starr’s admiration of Brett Favre despite their vast differences.

It does not include Starr’s time as Packers coach, which is kind. Starr replaced Dan Devine, who replaced Lombardi’s replacement, Phil Bengtson. None of the three were qualified to be general manager and coach. (Lombardi was a better coach than GM, given his spotty draft history and the fact he inherited a lot of his talent, including Starr.) Starr took the Packers job out of a sense of obligation, and except for his last three seasons (including his one and only playoff team, in 1982) and one other, it didn’t go well.

But this tells you what kind of man Starr is: Starr was fired as coach and GM in 1983, replaced by Forrest Gregg. (That didn’t go well either, but that’s another story.) Gregg’s first game as coach (which my father and I attended) was the traditional alumni game. Few people probably expected Starr to come back after how his previous year went. But Starr came back and got a huge ovation from the crowd. Dick Schaap, author of Instant Replay with Jerry Kramer, opened the sequel Distant Replay with the chapter “Bart Does the Right Thing.”

Happily more Packer fans seem to remember Starr for his five NFL championships.

 

Presty the DJ for Sept. 4

The number one song in the U.S. today in 1961:

Today in 1962, the Beatles recorded “Love Me Do,” taking 17 takes to do it right:

Three years later, the Beatles had the number one single …

… which referred to something The Who could have used, because on the same day the Who’s van was vandalized and $10,000 in musical equipment was stolen from them while they were buying … a guard dog:

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Clinton vs. Trump

The Wall Street Journal writes about the presidential campaigns of former political friends Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump:

Hillary Clinton favors higher taxation, heavier regulation, more political shackling of business, and centralizing more economic control inside the White House. So does Donald Trump—at least as far as we can tell.

Mrs. Clinton is promising Obamanomics Plus: continue the agenda of the last eight years, with bonus corrections toward the left as necessary. She’s proposed to nearly double the top tax rate on some capital gains to 43.4% from 23.8%, for example, up from 15% as recently as 2012.

On energy, one of the few U.S. growth areas of the Obama era, she is even further to the left. The green elites used to tolerate support for the U.S. oil and natural gas boom if gas could be levered as a transition fuel toward a post-carbon future. Now they favor massive subsidies for wind and solar today and no fossil-fuel drilling, and Mrs. Clinton is moving their way.

About the only growth component of Mrs. Clinton’s agenda is immigration, and there she beats Mr. Trump in a romp. A larger workforce adds to GDP, and economists of all political persuasions agree that increasing human capital drives prosperity and offsets an otherwise aging population.

Mr. Trump’s candidacy is more attitude than substance, and his quicksilver positions change day to day, even minute to minute in the same interview. But he has been consistent about rounding up illegal immigrants and deporting them to their home countries—if they have one, in the case of kids born on U.S. soil. He supports “a pause” in legal immigration too.

The real-estate tycoon is also running as the most antitrade candidate since Herbert Hoover. He has assailed the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico and the pending Pacific Rim pact as “disasters” that are “killing us.” Mr. Trump promises to reopen these agreements and do better, though without saying how, apart from his alpha-male negotiating skills. He’s proposing tariffs as high as 30% on imports, and he has already promised to punish Ford and Nabisco for expanding production south of the border.

On taxes, Mr. Trump promises to release a “comprehensive” reform plan soon. So far, though, his only specifics have been some kind of tax relief for the middle class coupled with class warfare. He said in a recent interview that “I would take carried interest out, and I would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous.”

Carried interest is the accounting term for a share of profits from investments in general partnerships—private equity, hedge funds, (ahem) real-estate outfits. Congress taxes this at-risk capital at a lower rate than ordinary wages because it only pays out if a fund invests wisely, but this treatment should be reconsidered as part a larger tax reform.

Mr. Trump doesn’t engage these facts, much less anything else that might help the real economy. Carried interest is a sideshow. Much like Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, he’s trying to stoke resentment of the rich, or the merely affluent, or foreigners, people dumber than he is, whoever.

***

This makes it all the passing stranger that some conservatives are embracing Mr. Trump as a truth-teller speaking to the anxieties of middle-American voters. On this view, he’s a hero for challenging the GOP policy consensus of low marginal tax rates, free trade, less regulation and entitlement reform.

Thus instead of modernizing the tax code for the 21st century, offer tax relief that does nothing to reduce complexity and distortion or to improve the incentives to work and invest. Rather than fixing a broken immigration system to attract the hard-working and ambitious, distract low-wage American workers by scapegoating illegal workers. Instead of making the U.S. economy more competitive, attack foreigners and adopt a divisive platform and rhetorical style designed to polarize a justifiably frustrated electorate.

But following Mr. Trump down these cul de sacs—a Canadian border wall?—is a formula to lose and deserve to. After seven years of slow growth and stagnant incomes, the GOP is well positioned to make the case against liberal economic policies while stumping for an optimistic agenda that offers disaffected voters the opportunities that faster growth and tight labor markets create.

 

If it’s a holiday, I’m on the radio

Friday will be a radio doubleheader for me, starting with my occasional, and seemingly always around holidays, appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Joy Cardin Week in Review at 8 a.m.

Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network can be heard on WHA (970 AM) in Madison, WLBL (930 AM) in Auburndale, WHID (88.1 FM) in Green Bay, WHWC (88.3 FM) in Menomonie, WRFW (88.7 FM) in River Falls, WEPS (88.9 FM) in Elgin, Ill., WHAA (89.1 FM) in Adams, WHBM (90.3 FM) in Park Falls, WHLA (90.3 FM) in La Crosse, WRST (90.3 FM) in Oshkosh, WHAD (90.7 FM) in Delafield, W215AQ (90.9 FM) in Middleton, KUWS (91.3 FM) in Superior, WHHI (91.3 FM) in Highland, WSHS (91.7 FM) in Sheboygan, WHDI (91.9 FM) in Sister Bay, WLBL (91.9 FM) in Wausau, W275AF (102.9 FM) in Ashland, W300BM (107.9 FM) in Madison, and of course online at www.wpr.org.

Eleven hours later, I will be announcing high school football, so expect no mention of any Friday morning topic Friday night, and probably not vice versa either unless I think to bring it up. Back when WPR carried replays of its 8 a.m. hour at 9 p.m., I had some instances where I was simultaneously live and recorded on the radio on different stations saying different things.

 

Presty the DJ for Sept. 3

The number one song in the U.S. today in 1955 was written 102 years earlier:

The number one song in the U.S. today in 1966:

Today in 1970, Arthur Brown demonstrated what The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was like by getting arrested at the Palermo Pop ’70 Festival in Italy for stripping naked and setting fire to his helmet during …

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The thinner blue line

Last week, a Harris County, Texas, sheriff’s deputy was shot to death while putting gas in his squad car. On Tuesday, a Fox Lake, Ill., police lieutenant was shot to death by one of three suspects still sought by police as of this morning.

By one online count, nine U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed the past nine days.

That prompted this, reported by WAOW-TV in Wausau:

“The whole law enforcement family, we all seem to take a hit every time one of these things happen,” said Chief Deputy Daniel Kontos of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.

Another officer killed is something that hits home for the chief deputy.

“We are not a bunch of robots,” said Kontos. “We are human, we have families, we grieve just like everybody else. We get afraid.”

Kontos took to the sheriff’s Facebook page to talk about the role of law enforcement. In a lengthy post, he writes “sometimes officers seem defensive, stand-offish, and wary of everyone around them.”

He says it comes with the job, since they can be in harm’s way.

“We need to protect ourselves, because if we don’t, something bad is going to happen to us,” said Kontos. “So these bad people can get at the victims, and we just can’t let that happen. We didn’t sign up to get shot or stabbed or run over, but that is always a possibility, and we’re always trying to guard against that.”

He says officers aren’t perfect.

“We hold ourselves at a pretty high standard, and we are accountable and if we make a mistake, we admit it and we take care of it and we move on,” said Kontos.

He says even though Portage County is a safe community, law enforcement will always stand with people, and not against them.

“I’m now a law enforcement officer here in this county because I want to protect our county, and I want to defend the way of life that we have and when my children grow up, and have their families,” said Kontos. “I want them to have a great place to live, so that’s why we do what we do here.”

Kontos’ post includes these thoughts:

Meanwhile, people are killing each other at unbelievable rates across this country, and we don’t even seem to care. There were 216 homicides in the first half of 2015, just in the City of Chicago alone. No one seems to care. Nine just last week. No one cares. Shootings, stabbings, and a strangulation. Nope, no one cares. No one except the families and friends of the victims, but they don’t seem to count. No one seems to care about them either.

What ever happened to our humanity? What ever happened to the inherent value of human life?

I have been wearing a uniform virtually every working day of my life since 1985, and here at the Sheriff’s Office since 1995. I’ve never seen it so bad in our country. We have become such a polarized nation, one side of just about every issue pitted against another side. Us against them. We matter, but they don’t. It makes me sad to see what we have devolved into. When we start to dehumanize the “opposition,” we devalue their existence, and their lives.

How have we become such an upside down world where it has become insulting to say that all lives matter? Where high-profile politicians can flaunt the law, their oath, and their duty – and they are still defended by some. Where we stop actually thinking for ourselves, and allow others to tell us what is true and what we should think.

The police are the latest victims of this sick and twisted mentality that is based on a lie. The lie is that there is wide spread racism in the hearts of law enforcement officers across the country. The lie is that something must be done to reign in an out of control criminal justice system, where cops are just looking for reasons to oppress minorities and kill with abandon. This false narrative is pushed by politicians, capitalized upon by race hustlers and the professional grievance industry, and amplified by a lazy national media. Remember the lie, “Hands up, don’t shoot?” A proven false allegation, but to some, the facts don’t matter – as long as it gives cover for what they want.

Rather than make things better, these “leaders” have fomented an environment where it’s acceptable to fight the police. Where rioting, looting, arson, and assaults are acceptable forms of expression. Where everyone who can imagine some alleged slight now has license to hurt their fellow human being, and blame the real victim.

Often times you see the police afraid of doing their job, as their “leaders” will capitalize upon the slightest perceived error, throwing them under the proverbial bus, rather than stand up for their communities and hold the lawless accountable. These “leaders” blame the cops for skyrocketing crime rates while handcuffing them at every turn. No wonder many cities are simply out of control. Again, no one seems to care.

Who made these people “leaders” anyway? Not me. I reject their tactics, motives, and goals. …

We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Believe me, I’ve made some doozies. Thank God I have known some very forgiving people. (Yes, I mentioned God. Get over it.) I think that this is why I have become a forgiving person myself. The police make mistakes too. Let’s not overplay this fact, and work to hold them accountable, just like anyone else. Yes, I said just like anyone else.

And yes, we are also allowed to have differing points of view and different opinions. Respectful public discourse is one of the things that have made this nation great. The key is respect. Respect for your fellow human being, and respect for life. They go hand in hand.

As you know, I covered the murder of a law enforcement officer, which remains perhaps the biggest story I’ve ever covered. It was one of those stories that gives you a professional thrill until you realize the human cost of your big professional thrill.

One of the advantages of living in small towns is being able to know the police, because they’re your neighbors, they go to your church, they coach your kids in sports, and so on. It’s harder to be insular in small towns.

One problem law enforcement has is that the bad cops stick out in some people’s minds. I know some people who are reflexively anti-law enforcement, sometimes for personal reasons, sometimes because of bad experiences they had with law enforcement. (The same could be said about journalism, which includes an additional parallel with law enforcement: All your mistakes are in public.)

The police should not be blamed for bad laws, since the police has to enforce all the laws our elected officials pass, whether they are good laws or not. Even when police officers advocate for or against certain laws (for instance, in favor of gun control or against drug legalization), those laws still have to be enacted, and the police doesn’t create the law.

The police also should not be blamed for certain people’s failure to follow easily understood laws, such as, not killing someone, not beating someone, and not stealing from someone. The sheriff where I live once said that 80 percent (I think that was the number) of people will have only one encounter with his department, and of the other 20 percent, 80 percent of them will have only two encounters with his department. As you can guess from that statement, most of who police deals with are, shall we say, repeat customers. Police officers get to see things you don’t want to see.

I’m guessing readers don’t need to be told this, but I’ll write it anyway: The problems of racism and other evils of our society will not be solved by shooting police officers.