Presty the DJ for Nov. 28

The number one single today in 1960:

The number one (for the second time) single today in 1963:

The number one single today in 1964:

The number one British single today in 1970:

Today in 1991, Nirvana did perhaps the worst lip-synching effort of all time of its “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the BBC’s “Top of the Pops”:

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The latest observation of our impending demise

Steven Crowder asks:

Is liberalism killing the real, masculine male? It seems that way. Keep in mind here, that when I say “man,” I’m not talking about the clichéd embodiment of false machismo who throws back macro-brews, chases skirts and scratches himself in public. By “real” I don’t mean someone who has to be tough, brawny or even rough around the edges. …

In all seriousness, my father (like most fathers) always taught me that a man is someone who stands by his principles, someone who lives with integrity and puts his family before himself. That last one is important, because as a young boy, it’s your pops who provides you with security.

The financial, emotional, even physical security of the son rests squarely on the shoulders of his father. What could possibly be more manly than providing all of the above for your kin? …

Here’s the problem with the modern, liberal man — he can never fully provide that sense of security for his family, because he doesn’t believe that he can provide it for himself.

Liberals don’t believe in the ultimate concept of self-reliance, which is why they look to the government for stability. Extravagant welfare programs, the near impossibility of getting fired on the public dole and an increasingly complicated tax code are all products of the same deeply rooted concept that man cannot provide for himself.

Liberals simply believe that man is not good enough. Indomitable spirits be damned! That’s why most college students are liberal. Living on a diet of Kraft Dinners and Mountain Dew would make anyone yearn for somebody else to step in and take the reins. Instead of looking to a dietician they reach for Uncle Sam (and a keg).

When a child can see this belief in his dad’s world view, it makes him uneasy to the core. Words like “Everything’s going to be okay” ring completely hollow because children understand that daddy doesn’t even believe himself that he can make everything okay. That’s why daddy votes for Democrats.

Every manly icon the West has ever admired has embodied the very spirit of American independence. …

The truth is, that the spirit of the great American man is dying. In the age of entitlement mindsets and a perpetually defeatist attitude, if we don’t pro-actively pass the concept of independent self-reliance on to our children it could be lost forever.

Crowder’s essay required all those ellipses because of his failed attempts to be funny, but his larger point is correct.

There are two ironies in this piece. The first is that we have done this to ourselves to a large extent. Every generation is softer than the previous generation due to advances in technology and creature comforts, but that’s not what Crowder’s talking about. (Fortunately, since unlike the generation before me, I suck at athletics, I neither hunt nor fish, and I will never build an addition to any house.) Every single-parent household represents a failure, usually on the part of the father, to step up to his responsibilities once he made the mother of his children pregnant. The fact that everyone knows some children of single-parent families who turned out OK doesn’t mean that single-parent families generally turn out OK.

One of the comments on Crowder’s piece adds:

The self-absorption and self involvement I see in young people today starts with the parents being generally unavailable emotionally. Mothers walking, with their children asking a question, the mom relentlessly ignoring them and vigorously texting or scrolling on her phone. The young men being unable to show any respect or concern for any female, but still bonding heavily with the male group by verbal abuse of women, hooking up, no emotional content or commitment involved. Unable to become an adult because their role models were insecure, ineffective parents, in conjunction with an overbearing, intrusive government, and the overexposure to a relentless media showing parents as buffoons, plus foul-mouthed, violent, disrespectful videos. I couldn’t agree more…if you grow up insecure, you can’t make anyone else feel secure.

Men of my grandparents’ era were unlikely to have been able to define the term “emotionally unavailable,” and perhaps many of those fathers wouldn’t fit today’s definitions of proper parents. But society isn’t getting better in any meaningful sense, is it?

Here’s the second irony:

By the definition of his non-political life, Theodore Roosevelt unquestionably demonstrated the manly virtues, as an outdoorsman, big game hunter and officer in the Spanish-American War. He was also, according to accounts of the time, a doting father, except for the period when he bugged out for the West after the simultaneous birth of his daughter and death of his wife and mother.

By the definition of his political life, Roosevelt’s progressivism helped started us on the path we’re on now. I’m sure Roosevelt never intended for bigger government to replace families, but he wasn’t smart or foresighted enough to see that once the snowball started rolling, no force on Earth was going to stop government from getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I’m not sure Wisconsin’s own Fighting Bob La Follette, another giant of the Progressive Era, was smart enough to see that either, but apparently Bolshevik Bob was OK with that.

Someone claimed to prove this premise otherwise by claiming that such traditionally blue states as New York and California have higher incomes than now-red states. The fact is that such 1-percent liberals as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates not only came from stable families, but raised stable families themselves. Apparently personal conservatism allows you to be a liberal. As Margaret Thatcher pointed out, the facts of life are conservative.

Happy Thanksgiving? Certainly for nothing outside our own families.

Bad fashion statements are fashion statements too

Bruce Andriatch forces me to post something about clothing for the second time in a month:

The film “Spotlight” is being celebrated for its depiction of hard-working journalists from the Boston Globe exposing decades of systemic corruption within the city’s Catholic Archdiocese.

But it also is getting rave reviews for the wardrobe designed for the actors who play the reporters and editors. Wendy Chuck, the film’s costume designer, has managed to capture the general fashion sense of print journalists which is, in a word, awful.

“It’s an unthought-about uniform,” she said in an interview with the New York Times. “It mirrors school uniforms really. It’s something you don’t think about when you dress. You don’t really care; you’ve got other things to think about that are not clothes.”

I wondered how a real-life print journalist would feel about Chuck’s approach. So I took time out from my busy schedule to sit down with myself to get some insight into the fashion choices my colleagues and I make every day.

Did you see the film?

I did. I think “All the President’s Men” has some competition when it comes to the greatest movie about newspapers ever made.

What did you think of the clothes the actors who portrayed Globe reporters wore?

Perfection. Everything was about a half-size too big, totally lacking in style and appeared to be purchased from a clearance sale in a department store basement several years earlier.

Do you have a theory about why journalists dress this way?

I’m an editor; I have a theory about everything. I like the idea that we do it because we have more important things to worry about. It’s also true that clothes cost money and we don’t have any. But I also think it’s because early in our careers, we dressed to the nines, like we were still on job interviews, because we were trying to impress people. But then we got assigned to cover cops one week, and every time we showed up to check the blotter, the detectives laughed and said we dressed more like a DA than a reporter, or asked how things were on the set of “Thirtysomething,” or whether we had a part-time job working as a mannequin at J.C. Penney, and we began to make adjustments.

Did that happen to you?

I really don’t want to talk about it.

Does this apply equally to men and women?

Oh yeah. I have walked past many female reporters and thought, “I think I have that same shirt.” And it’s not a good shirt.

Aren’t any of the people at newspapers more fashion conscious?

Publishers always seem to have nice suits. Some executive editors. The occasional ad rep.

But not reporters?

Nothing leaps to mind. One of my best friends had a Brooks Brothers suit he used to wear, if that counts. Of course he also had a pair of shoes that he kept together with duct tape.

Describe how you decide what to wear to work every day.

It’s not exactly a painstaking process. I have five or six go-to pairs of pants and about twice as many shirts. I try to get matches, but pretty close is good enough for me. I have two pairs of loafers, one for the olives, browns and khakis, one for the blues, grays and blacks. I do pretty well choosing socks that don’t draw attention to my shoes. Sometimes I wear a tie, sometimes not.

Just a guess, but if I looked in your closet, would I see that most of your shirts are button-down collars and cotton-poly blends?

Wow. That’s pretty good. To be fair, I do have a couple of 100 percent cotton shirts, but I save them for special occasions because they get pretty wrinkly and I hate taking them to the dry cleaners to be pressed.

Why don’t you iron them?

I’m not really sure where the iron is. Or how to work it.

What about wearing a sportcoat to work?

If you’re coming from a funeral, it’s OK. Otherwise, no. You usually get mocked in the newsroom if you show up wearing a sportcoat.

Sounds like high school.

It kind of is, but the insults are grammatically correct and involve more semicolons.

True or false: Pleated pants are out of style.

Do they make pants without pleats? I haven’t seen a Lands’ End catalog in a while. Can I pass?

Nevermind. What is the oldest article of clothing that you own and regularly wear?

Dark green Alligator sweater, 1988.

Why do you still wear it?

Because it fits – sort of – and it doesn’t have any holes in it.

I’m guessing that sentence says as much about print journalist fashion as any movie.

It’s like you can read my mind.

Presty the DJ for Nov. 27

The number one album today in 1965 was Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”:

The number one single today in 1966 was this one-hit wonder:

The number one British album today in 1976 was Glen Campbell’s “20 Golden Greats”:

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Before you carve the turkey …

… read James Taranto:

It’s Thanksgiving, and the Democratic National Committee is declaring war on uncles. “The holiday season is filled with food, traveling, and lively discussions with Republican relatives about politics sometimes laced with statements that are just not true,” the DNC declares on a website called “Here are the most common myths spouted by your family members who spend too much time listening to Rush Limbaugh and the perfect response to each of them.”

There are 10 “myths,” with accompanying talking points in response—five about Republican presidential candidates, five about political topics. If you’re a Republican uncle and want to stump your DNC-informed niece or nephew, you might want to say something disparaging about Hillary Clinton or bring up national security, as these don’t make the list.

The talking points are unsubtle and tendentious enough that one suspects they were written by the unwieldily named Debbie Wasserman Schultz herself. Example: If your uncle says, “I like that Donald Trump! He says what he means,” you’re supposed to respond:

He certainly does say what he means, and most of the time, it’s xenophobic, or sexist, or out of touch, or totally irresponsible. But what’s really scary is that the rest of the GOP field agrees with him. Because Trump is leading in the polls, the other Republican candidates are competing with each other to see who can echo his message the loudest.

In case that isn’t enough to destroy your uncle, there are a couple of follow-ups.

The DNC idea is far from original: Battle prep for holiday political arguments has been a liberal trope for several years now. Salon’s Alex Pareene, for instance, observedChristmas in 2011 with a piece titled “How to Argue With Right-Wing Relatives” andThanksgiving in 2013 with “How to Win Thanksgiving: A Holiday Guide to Arguing With Right-Wing Relatives.” The latter he billed as “a special ‘Obamacare train wreck’ edition.”

This year, the Puffington Host’s Chris D’Angelo explains “How to Talk to a Climate Change Denier,” while Salon’s Sarah Burris reports: “Wow, Seth Meyers Just Stripped Down Donald Trump’s Lies and Islamophobia So Clearly Even Your Racist Uncle Will Get It Now.”

Vox has a whole package called “How to Survive Your Family’s Thanksgiving Arguments.” Six writers address particular personages (Trump, Bernie Sanders) and issues. In a hilarious attempt at appearing evenhanded, the Voxen include responses to left-wing relatives too, such as this from Zack Beauchamp:

Your uncle says: “This Benghazi thing is pure cynical politics. Republicans are just trying to destroy [Hillary] Clinton’s campaign.”

Your uncle’s got a point, but you can distract from the inevitable argument between him and someone more conservative at the table by pointing out that Republican incentives here aren’t always what they seem.

Yes, some Republicans are cynically manipulating this issue for their own gain or to hurt Clinton—but some do genuinely believe the White House did something right, and some are just kind of trapped by the internal GOP politics of it all.

There’s an asymmetry here. After all, if liberals have annoying right-wing relatives who pick arguments at Thanksgiving dinner, it follows that conservatives also have annoying left-wing relatives who do the same thing. But as far as we know, the “How to Win Thanksgiving” genre is the exclusive province of the left.

Though this year has seen a spate of conservative satires: “How to Talk to Your Progressive Niece about Obamacare This Thanksgiving” by Ricochet’s Jon Gabriel, “Don’t Argue Like an Amateur at Thanksgiving” a series of tweets by Bloomberg’s Megan McCardle, “How to Talk to Your Pansy Marxist Nephew at Thanksgiving” by the Washington Free Beacon’s Uncle Strickland. (We haven’t seen Strickland’s byline before and suspect it’s a nom de plume.) Liberal CNN also has a half-joking piece, “Turkey Table Politics: 7 Tips to Beat the Stuffing Out of Your Rivals,” by the delightfully named Gregory Krieg.

One serious response to all this is to suggest that holiday dinners are an inappropriate venue for the airing of political differences. The Chicago Tribune’s Alison Bowen consults psychologists for advice on “How to Keep Politics Off the Table at Thanksgiving.” The Federalist Sean Davis last year explained “Everything You Need to Know About Winning a Thanksgiving Argument”:

Don’t start one. That’s how you win.

Don’t be that guy. Don’t ruin Thanksgiving by thinking anyone cares about your stupid political opinions.

And Real Clear Politics’ Heather Wilhelm bemoans “The Tightening Grip of the Politicized Life”:

Politics, for many, has morphed into personal identity. Just look at colleges today, where opposing political sentiments or offensive statements can make students collapse like panicked, half-hearted origami. And hey, it makes sense: If politics is the be-all and end-all of life, and you honestly believe we can build a utopia buttressed by bureaucratic control, your personal worth, by logical extension, is ultimately based upon your political beliefs. No offense is too petty to let stand; no Thanksgiving dinner can be left in peace.

This week, let’s give thanks for America’s remaining respites from the politicized life. They may be endangered, but they’re out there—and if we’re smart, we’ll work to expand them. They’re often the best places, after all, to count our many blessings.

There is wisdom here, but we can’t agree entirely. When people gather, it is natural to talk about things that interest them, including current affairs. Such arguments are seldom “won,” but it can be interesting and enlightening to hear points of view different from one’s own. Surely there are ways of avoiding an angry “Crossfire”-style battle short of setting up a safe space where any political discussion is off-limits.

If we were offering advice on how to talk politics at Thanksgiving (or in other ordinary social settings), it would come down to two points: 1. Think for yourself. 2. Be respectful, and prepare to back off or change the subject should things get heated.

The latter point runs counter to the spirit of the left-wing advice, which treats conversation as a contest and futilely aims at victory. The former runs counter to its substance—namely, prepackaged talking points. Liberals have no monopoly on truculence, but the need to be told what to think does seem to set them apart.

The left today is both doctrinaire and capricious; political correctness is unsparing in its demand for conformity to an ever-changing set of dogmas that frequently contradict each other, not to mention reality. A real-life example comes from Politico, whose Edward-Isaac Dovere claims that President Obama is doing a bang-up job combating the Islamic State but is constrained not to say so:

Obama has more he could say in response to the questions about ISIL he’s getting pummeled with since the Paris attacks. They’re just not, according to people familiar with his thinking, things that he wants to say out loud.

Things like, “Remember everyone panicking about how much surveillance we’re doing?” Or “How about all those people I’m killing with drones”? Those wouldn’t have quite the right ring for a president who’s come reluctantly, and with continuing reservations, to both. . . .

The president, according to people who know him, would rather not be Big Brother Obama or Kill List Obama, and he certainly doesn’t want to be seen that way.

That creates a tricky situation for the White House. Obama wants credit for his response to terrorism, but he doesn’t want to be attached to many of the ways he’s managed that response.

“Obama isn’t anxious to be known as the drone president,” said a Democratic strategist familiar with his thinking. “But to anyone who looks at the strikes they’ve taken and the raids that have been authorized, he clearly is fiercely going after these guys.”

It’s difficult to believe—and neither Dovere nor his sources explicitly claim—that Obama has been as effective against ISIS as a president unconstrained by politically correct ideology would have been. But it does seem plausible that his embarrassment over the actions he has taken makes him appear even more ineffectual than he is. If the World’s Greatest Orator can’t forthrightly explain his own policies, no wonder like-minded nieces and nephews who lack his rhetorical gifts are so intimidated by their Republican uncles.


Presty the DJ for Nov. 26

The number 14 single today in 1958 was this singer’s first entry on the charts, but certainly not his last:

Today in 1967, the Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye” promotional film (now called a “video”) was shown on CBS-TV’s Ed Sullivan Show. It was not shown in Britain because of a musicians’ union ban on miming:

One death of odd note, today in 1973: John Rostill, former bass player with the Shadows (with which Cliff Richard got his start), was electrocuted in his home recording studio. A newspaper headline read: “Pop musician dies; guitar apparent cause.”

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