Proving that there is no accounting for taste, I present the number one song today in 1960:
The number two single today in 1970 was originally written for a bank commercial:
Britain’s number one album today in 1970 was Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”:
Proving that there is no accounting for taste, I present the number one song today in 1960:
The number two single today in 1970 was originally written for a bank commercial:
Britain’s number one album today in 1970 was Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”:
My high school days coincided with the publication of a book named Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, about, as described by the always accurate Wikipedia …
” … a man who is a dilettante, a trend-chaser, an over-anxious conformist to fashionable forms of lifestyle, and socially correct behaviors and opinions, one who eschews (or merely lacks) the traditional masculine virtue of tough self-assurance. A ‘traditional’ male might enjoy the ironically not so exotic egg-and-bacon pie if his wife served it to him; a quiche-eater, or Sensitive New Age Guy is alleged to make the dish himself, call it by its French name quiche, and serve it to his female life partner to demonstrate his empathy with the Women’s Movement. …
The book’s humor derives from the fears and confusion of contemporary 1980s middle-class men about how they ought to behave, after a decade of various forms of feminist critique on traditional male roles and beliefs.
The satire prompted others to write their own “Real ________” pieces, including my contribution, a “Real Lancers” piece in my high school’s student newspaper, as well as Real Men Don’t Cook Quiche, Real Women Don’t Pump Gas, Real Pets Don’t Eat Leftovers, and Real Kids Don’t Say Please.
Thirty or so years later, the New York Times apparently found an actual stereotypical quiche-eater to write this, responded to in boldface by the writer of the Monster Hunter Nation blog, with creative expletives retained:
Being a modern man today is no different than it was a century ago. It’s all about adhering to principle. Sure, fashion, technology and architecture change over time, as do standards of etiquette, not to mention ways of carrying oneself in the public sphere. But the modern man will take the bits from the past that strike him as relevant and blend them with the stuff of today.
My sons, as you go through life you will learn that libprog rags like the NYT, Slate, and HuffPo usually start their bullshit articles with a paragraph that sounds all sorts of reasonable. Beware. It is a trick.
What follows is one dude’s bizarrely specific pronouncements, which range from preachy but passable, to full turnip. Now, if this jackass had just lived his life according to his own code, real men wouldn’t give a shit, but of course not… This is the New York Times, bastion of bullshit, which will not be content unless it is telling you how you’re living your life wrong.
1. When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.
Who the hell buys shoes for their wife? As you grow older you will learn that many women like to shop for clothing and shoes. No. I don’t understand it either. But as a manly man, your duty is to work and provide money to your woman, so that she may go and do this sort of thing if she wants.
As for knowing sizes, no. As children, your mother buys clothes for you. Right now your requests for her seem to be “Get a shirt with Deadpool on it” and that is good. But as men large of stature you will eventually purchase your own clothing from the Extra Large Casual Male Outlet or the Cabela’s Catalog.
For you who are descended from giants, you know man sizes starts at 2XL (or 3X if you need to carry your pistol concealed under an untucked shirt) and shoes sizes begin at 15, but unlike the wimpy New York Times reporter, manly men understand that all men are different, and we do not judge them, even if they shop in the children’s section.
As for knowing your woman’s sizes, no. Your mother owns like 40 pairs of running shoes. She doesn’t even know which brands run big or small, and she has a uterus.
2. The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.
This sounds like good advice, boys, but it is trickery. A real man assesses his situation and does what is best. A real man must know when to ask for help. You have had the opportunity to grow up around warriors, and some of them have experienced terrible things. Even these great men need help at times. Hiding depression leads to things like suck starting your 12 gauge.
3. The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.
Or you could just close your stupid face hole as you chew your food, you slack jawed idiot.
And by “ruckus” I’m guessing he wasn’t watching something like The Expendables, but rather he’s talking about the song and dance numbers on Mamma Mia.
4. The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.
A real man lets other men eat what they want and isn’t a self-righteous prick about it.
But this talk of steak is just more trickery, sons. This is a Pajama Boy trying too hard to sound like a man, because steak is considered a manly food. Note that he spells filet wrong. That piece of meat isn’t fatty, and what kind of doofus burns a good piece of meat?
5. The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.
Again, a real man doesn’t care what other men do as long as it doesn’t infringe upon him.
In real life, park wherever you feel like. You will either spend time looking for a close space, or you will spend time walking from a far one. That is your decision to make.
6. Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.
No. That is their problem. If you fail to plug your crap in, and you run out of power tomorrow, then you’ll learn. If your father comes and bails you out every time you make a stupid little mistake, then you will never become accountable for your actions, and then you will grow up and make foolish choices, like becoming a New York Times reporter.
7. The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.
Look, boys, nobody likes a bossy asshole. I like Coke the best, but since I’m not a pretentious dickweed, I don’t presume to speak for other men. The thing about “taste” is that it is subjective, and so can’t be wrong.
Besides, do you know what manner of man drinks Mountain Dew? Coal miners and Boyd Crowder. Men like your uncle Jack, who can bench press like 400 pounds because he pulls industrial electrical cables at construction sites all day, drink Mountain Dew. Do you truly believe that this effeminate, limp wristed, debutante could “show them the door”?
Also, Dr Pepper isn’t even a cola, idiot.
8. The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.
Yet “GET TO THE CHOPPA!” will always remain a thousand times cooler than anything this Pajama Boy ever says.
I am a bestselling novelist. Words are my profession. So I really hate the Word Police. Beware anyone who tells you what words you can, and can’t use. They only want to control you. That said, when you see somebody using the word “gauche” they’ll usually prove to be a pretentious dipshit.
9. Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.
I have daughters as well. I actually agree with this one.
Don’t worry. I’m sure he’ll fuck it up somehow.
10. Te modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.
Can’t the “modern man” afford a dishwasher?
Boys, as you are aware every family will have a division of labor known as chores. You will take your assignment and fulfill it to the best of your ability. Doing a half ass job is unacceptable. This Pajama Boy is bragging about merely not doing a half ass job. It is sad that he is so proud of this minor achievement that he felt the need to put it on this list.
11. The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.
I do not know what these words mean.
However, because each generation is more technologically savvy than the one that came before, I’m not going to presume to tell anyone else what they can and can’t do. That is naïve. That would be like your grandfather telling me not to “internets” or his father telling him that color TV is a fad.
12. The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.
And Real Men have more important things to do than worry about how another man bathes himself.
I don’t care if you take all the little bits of soap and smoosh them together into a ball of mutant soap. I don’t even know what brand soap we have, because your mother buys it. The only time a real man cares about the bathing habits of another man, is if he smells bad, because then his stink is now intruding on your turf. Then you will inform him to get his shit together.
Besides, I’m betting this New York Times reporter smells of lilacs… and shame.
13. The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.
Who is she?
Okay, seriously, yes, I do know who Wu-Tang Clan is, but only because of the Dave Chappelle Show.
Here’s the thing. In grown up life, nobody gives a flying fuck what you listen to, and only pretentious cock nozzles feel the need to judge others based upon their tastes. He could have changed that to Frank Sinatra, Pearl Jam, or Garth Brooks, and it would be just as pointless. Being a fan of something doesn’t make you inherently better than someone else. That’s hipster nonsense.
14. The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.
No, really. You write it on a piece of paper, put it on your phone, scribble it on your hand with Sharpie, fly by the seat of your pants buying whatever you feel like, or your wife does the shopping… NOBODY GIVES A FUCK.
You sensing a trend yet, boys?
This guy is a symptom of a much bigger problem. People like to make themselves feel more important by telling other people that they are having Wrongfun. Judging others makes them feel special.
15. The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.
Most real men have whatever flooring their wife wanted when they built their house, because we don’t care, because we’re working all day so don’t get to stand on it much. Or they have whatever flooring came with the house when they moved in, and eventually when they can afford to they’ll put in whatever flooring their wife wants, because they don’t care. Some men do care, and they can put in whatever floor they feel like. Good for them.
All of those men think this reporter is a douche.
I don’t even know what a Kenneth Cole is. I’m not sure what an oxford is, but from the context I believe it is a type of shoe. As a man who usually wears size 15 Danner boots, this is my Not Impressed Face.
16. The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.
This one sounds good, but as we go down the list you’ll see the reporter is completely full of shit again. His ability to fight off an intruder is as questionable as his understanding of manhood.
Plus, kids, your mom isn’t going to “get away” she’s going to go for her gun too.
17. Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?
I’m picturing an Army Special Forces A-Team, somewhere in Afghanistan right now, questioning their manhood because of their complete lack of melon ballers.
My sons, when you grow up, if you want to uniformly shape cantaloupes, I will not judge you, but I will profoundly wonder where I went wrong.
18. The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.
Hell, I’m surprised this fucker didn’t say what brand of shoehorn was mandatory!
19. The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.
Boys, this is actually good advice. So I think we’re at 2 for 19. But since you both understand sports, you can see that he’s not doing well.
20. On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon. Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.
See? That’s the kind of bullshit that you just never need to know about another dude! This is just as bad as pontificating on what somebody else does in the shower.
But hang on. Isn’t this the same inconsistent twit who wrote #2?
Fuck it. Real talk time, boys. Women don’t respect pansies. Those who say they do are lying, and once they marry their sensitive little Pajama Boy, they will dream about actual manly men, who take care of business rather than fretting about melon ballers.
21. The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.
That is so insanely specific… What is this, Leviticus? But if thy daughter doth sneeze while eating a maple bar, though shall beat her with a rod!
22. The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.
My kids were all like, what’s a newspaper? …
And next, half-naked? Which half? Are the neighbors going “Damn it, there’s that Lombardi asshole without his pants again!”
23. The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time).
I call bullshit on this one. This is a Pajama Boy trying too hard. The only thing he has on Blu-Ray is the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.
I like Michael Mann movies. I’m trying to think of a Michael Mann main character who wouldn’t call this reporter a pussy to his face. …
24. The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.
You are out of batteries because you were plugging in your kid’s shit in #6, you inconsistent spaz!
Now kids, listen carefully. If you’ve got a friggin’ clue, you know that a phone is just another tool, and if you’re going to carry the stupid thing around, you might as well have it charged, that way if you need it to call 911 after you see this Pajama Boy get beaten up for insulting Mountain Dew drinkers you’re ready.
25. The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.
This is probably the stupidest one in the whole bunch.
You have no use for the gun? What about in #16? Oh, that’s right. We’re dealing with a chickenshit talking out of his ass about a subject he doesn’t even begin to comprehend.
So, you’re going to fight off that intruder with what? Your shoe horn? Clue time, fuckwit, the kind of guy (let’s call him T-Bone) who invades your house in the middle of the night doesn’t give a shit about melon ballers. Uh oh! T-Bone drinks Mountain Dew. SHOW HIM THE DOOR. Only he spent time in prison learning how to fuck people up, and his idea of winning at Modern Manhood is being a pitcher rather than a catcher in the prison showers. What are you going to do to defend your wife and children now? Talk to him about your shared love for Wu-Tang? Show him your Kenneth Cole oxford collection?
No. T-Bone is going to hurt you in ways you can’t even imagine, and then you’re going to lie on your hardwood floor, bleeding, praying that your wife got to the phone in time so that a Real Men with guns might come and save your pathetic hipster ass.
Boys, the single most important responsibility of a man is to provide for the safety and well-being of his loved ones. Period. The gun is simply the single most effective tool to stop a violent aggressor. Real men understand that. Which is why I’ve also taught you, your sisters, and your mom to shoot, so if I go down, you still have a chance.
This bullshit modern man is a selfish, irresponsible child, banking on good intentions and wishful thinking to ward off evil. Only real evil simply does not give a shit about your good intentions.
26. The modern man cries. He cries often.
I’d cry too if T-Bone murdered my family because I was a useless sack of crap.
But wait… #2 is pretend everything is okay, but #26 is cry like a big baby.
To my sons, I’m not going to feed you a bunch of nonsense about how real men never cry, because I’ve seen some bad asses cry. But damn it, I try to save it for a good reason, like somebody died, or one of you did something that I’m ridiculously proud of. You’re overcome in a particularly spiritual or emotional moment, and you tear up? Great. I’ve known men far better than I who do that.
All that said, if you cry all the time like this doofus, then you’ll be seen as a loser, and if you’re lucky enough to trick a woman into marrying you, she will eventually cheat on you with the mail man, because at least he isn’t a wimp. Women don’t desire men who cry freely about wanting to be the little spoon.
27. People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. That is, until the D.J. plays his jam and he goes out there and puts on a clinic.
How much you want to bet his jam is really “It’s Raining Men”?
If this is modern manhood, then I’m proud to be an old fashioned man.
One good thing about reaching the age I’ve reached is that the older you get, the more you can ignore others’ opinions of you, as well as opinions like Lombardi’s. (Assuming it wasn’t satire as well.)
I admit to not fitting Monster Hunter Nation’s stereotype of he-manness. I’m a hideously bad athlete and a poor shot. I am pretty inept with tools. (My abilities go up to assembling toys and Ikea furniture.) I do know how to cook and wash dishes and clothes. (Of course, MHN is an accountant and fiction writer, neither of which qualify as macho vocations.) To quote Bill Belichick, by now it is what it is.
One point in which Lombardi is completely wrong and MHN is completely correct is the gun issue. I’m always amused when I hear a Wisconsin liberal preface comments in favor of gun control by talking about his or her gun ownership or use. (Which is a rhetorical feint, but that’s a subject for another day.) I am unconvinced Lombardi is from the Midwest (he’s listed as living in DeKalb, Ill.), because Midwesterners hunt. With guns. And even if you’re not a hunter, the husband in a family must protect his family if a situation comes up by any means necessary — guns, knives, baseball bats, your own fists, whatever.
As for the rest, while Dr. Pepper is clearly not a cola and Mountain Dew is something you drink only to rot your insides, I agree more with MHN than Lombardi that most of the stuff on Lombardi’s list isn’t anyone else’s business. John Boehner is one of the most powerful politicians in the U.S. (for now), and apparently his personal waterworks flows for few apparent reasons.
Manhood is more about doing what you say you’re going to do, doing your work and other things well, and setting an appropriate example for your own children, your sons and daughters. (For one thing, children’s models of how they should treat their future spouses inevitably comes from their own parents, for better or worse.) I’d add knowing when to use, and not use, profanity is a helpful skill as well, which is why I don’t use it in this blog except when quoting others.
My favorite comment was:
I’m highly disappointed he didn’t have this:
#28: Modern Man drives a Hybrid or all-electric car.
Frankly, If you can’t drive a stick, your father was a failure. And the only hybrid you should ever even be allowed to consider is a Denali… and even that is pushing your manly man manhoodliness to the edge; it is only allowed because you can rub the ‘hybrid’ in the pretentious face of some Prius driving college professor.
The University of Wisconsin athletic department appears poised to enter into a sponsorship agreement with Under Armour after 15 years with Adidas. …
According to the resolution, UW would receive an annual cash contribution of $4 million from Maryland-based Under Armour on top of $3.3 million in product for the school’s 23 sports programs during the first year of the deal. During the Badgers’ contract with Adidas, they received somewhere between $750,000-$800,000 each year in cash compensation.
Product contributions following the first year of the Under Armour deal would be worth between $2.45 million and $3.05 million annually. Adidas provided $1.375 million in product this season.
Schools currently sponsored by Under Armour include Maryland, Auburn, Boston College, Northwestern, Notre Dame and South Carolina.
UW’s contract with Adidas expires on June 30, 2016.
Athletic director Barry Alvarez told the State Journal in April that he met with Under Armour representatives when the UW men’s basketball team played at Maryland in late February.
Alvarez said in April that Under Armour wouldn’t be able to cover all of UW’s footwear needs right away — specifically mentioning volleyball and track and field — but various shoe lines are being developed.
“They’ll allow you to purchase other shoes,” Alvarez said in April. He said Under Armour would prefer Adidas and Nike not be used as replacements, “but I think there would be some flexibility if there was a big drop-off on quality. We’ll figure that out if we get there.”
The contract also states that “Under Armour would acknowledge its plan of action with respect to human rights issues and allow UW access to archives and contemporary inspection and monitoring reports for all facilities producing goods for the university.”
This is obviously a business deal (and a rather lucrative one for UW, it seems), not an aesthetics deal. Under Armour’s client schools have football uniforms ranging from traditional (Auburn and Notre Dame except for their many special games) to, well, not (Maryland). So to expect UW to change its look, which it has had ever since the year after Alvarez’s first year (when the motion W appeared), is unlikely.
As I’ve written here before, UW doesn’t wear the right color uniforms, because the university’s colors are supposed to be cardinal and white, not bright red and white. (For those counting, the last three schools added to what was the Big T1e1n, Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers, all are red, which makes the 14-team Big Ten half red and half everything else.)
The Big T1e4n’s red color spectrum, from light to dark, should be:
Red matching the state flag: Maryland (and gold, black and white).
Scarlet: Ohio State (and gray), Nebraska (and cream), Rutgers.
Cardinal: Wisconsin (and white).
Crimson: Indiana (and cream).
Maroon: Minnesota (and gold).
Purple: Northwestern (and white), which I just added to show that maroon and purple are not the same color.
(Wisconsin is not alone in cardinal confusion. The local high school is supposed to have cardinal uniforms, but the football uniforms are more maroon than cardinal or Badger red. The local team also has black alternate jerseys, which I call “midnight red” on the air.)
Certainly coach Paul Chryst has bigger things to deal with than football uniforms (for instance, finding better running backs and offensive linemen since his predecessor couldn’t find either), but when he has a minute, he should talk to his boss about …
These uniforms (1) are the correct color red, (2) are neater than the awkward-looking stripes of the current uniforms while not being a significant departure from the current uniforms, (3) use the current UW-approved numbers and (4) harken to the 1960 and 1963 Rose Bowl uniforms. Wear the red pants on the road, and your fat players won’t look like Michelin Men.
The red helmets coach Gary Andersen introduced appear to have gone nowhere with the fans. Something like these might be better for at least an alternative helmet, though there is far too much black in them.
My favorite Ray Charles song was number one today in 1961:
Today in 1969, the BBC’s “Top of the Pops” refused for the first time to play that week’s number one song because of what singers Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin were supposedly doing while recording “Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus”:
According to a classmate of mine, Madison radio stations play Britain’s number one single today in 1971 too often:
Last year, Journal Communications, the state’s largest media company, “merged” (the scare quotes are there for a reason) with the E.W. Scripps Co., with Journal’s broadcast properties, including Milwaukee’s and Green Bay’s NBC stations and the mighty WTMJ radio going with Scripps, and Scripps’ print publications going into the new Journal Media Group, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
As a former Journal employee in its employee-owned days and its publicly traded days (the former was vastly preferable to the latter), I wrote that it was obvious that Wisconsin and the print side got the raw end of the deal.
As proof that however bad things may be, things can get worse, the Journal Sentinel reports a strange celebration of National Newspaper Week:
Gannett Co. Inc. said Wednesday it plans to buy Journal Media Group — the parent company of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — for about $280 million in cash.
The deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016 if it receives regulatory and shareholder approval, adds Wisconsin’s biggest newspaper to Gannett, which already owns newspapers in Green Bay, the Fox Valley and other important markets in the state.
“This transaction marks a critical next step in the transformation of our industry as we build local media brands that matter at a time when operational scale is a competitive advantage,” Tim Stautberg, president and chief executive officer of Journal Media Group, said in a statement. “Both Journal Media Group and Gannett are guided by a vision of strengthening lives and communities, and we’ll be better stewards in our local markets by sharing ideas, content and best practices among our new and larger family.”
The agreement is part of an era of further consolidation in the U.S. newspaper industry, as newly pure-play newspaper companies take steps to meet the competitive threat of scaled digital news and advertising businesses, the companies said in a statement.
When the deal is completed, Gannett, the parent company of USA Today, The Arizona Republic and The Indianapolis Star, will be in 106 U.S. markets and have a digital audience of more than 100 million unique visitors each month.
In addition to the Journal Sentinel, Journal Media Group owns papers in more than a dozen other markets, including in Memphis and Knoxville, Tenn., where Gannett owns the Nashville newspaper, and in Naples and Treasure Coast in Florida, where Gannett owns the Fort Myers paper.
In a letter to employees, Stautberg said it is too early to determine the potential impact of the transaction on jobs or day-to-day operations in Journal Media Group markets.
The companies estimated in a joint news release that the deal will yield an estimated $10 million in immediate savings and the potential for $25 million more over the next two years. That is anticipated through the consolidation of a variety of functions, including corporate operations, printing and distribution, the companies said.
The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both Gannett and Journal Media Group. Under the terms, Journal Media Group shareholders will receive cash of $12 per share, representing a premium of 44.6% over the $8.30 closing price of Journal Media Group stock Wednesday.
“The publications of both Gannett and Journal Media Group have a rich history, a commitment to journalism and a dedication to informing and being active members of the communities we serve,” Bob Dickey, president and chief executive officer of Gannett, said in a statement.
Dickey continued: “Our merger will combine the best of each of our organizations to create a journalism-led, investor-focused company which will provide substantial value to the shareholders of both companies. This transaction is an excellent first step in the industry consolidation strategy we have communicated to our shareholders.” …
Both companies underwent major transitions in the past year. Journal Media Group was created in April after The E.W. Scripps Company and Journal Communications merged their local television operations and spun off their respective newspaper assets into an independent, publicly-traded company based in Milwaukee.
Gannett, based in McLean, Va., returned to its own roots as a newspaper company on June 29, when it completed its own split, creating separate companies focused on local newspapers and local television. Its local television and national digital operations, including Cars.com, are now part of Tegna, also based in McLean.
Although the acquisition will cost Milwaukee a corporate headquarters, Journal Sentinel Publisher Elizabeth Brenner said the newspaper will remain local in its approach.
“Look back on when Journal Media Group started. All of the news decisions, the editorial decisions, the community support — everything we do isn’t going to change,” Brenner said. “We’re still here. We make our decisions and run our newsrooms out of Milwaukee, not anywhere else. We serve our advertisers and subscribers out of Milwaukee, not anywhere else. And we support causes that are important to our community from this building. So all of that, it’s not going to change. It didn’t change when Journal Media Group started up. It’s not going to change now.”
That line “Everything we do isn’t going to change” reads like whistling in the dark, and a statement Brenner (who wrote me a nice email after my enforced departure from Journal) really can’t make with credibility this far away from the closing. (As for “strengthening lives and communities,” whatever happened to reporting the news without fear or favor?) Gannett owns the daily newspapers of Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Wausau, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield now. And now Gannett will run the biggest newspaper in the state.
The issue is not that Gannett is the biggest media company in the U.S. The issue is the mediocrity, or worse, of Gannett’s Wisconsin newspapers, to which the Journal Sentinel most likely will be dragged down. That is, unless you think printing pages of the previous day’s USA Today (those would be the USA Yesterday pages, I guess) strikes you as superior journalism. Most Gannett newspapers aren’t like USA Today, or the Arizona Daily Republic, or the Des Moines Register, or the Indianapolis Star. Most are at best like The Post~Crescent in Appleton, which has a decades-long history of typographical errors, wrongheaded editorial stances, poor editorial decisions, and previous employment of a sportswriter who loudly proclaimed the Packers would never win the Super Bowl the year the Packers won the Super Bowl.
There used to be a debate, back before The Post~Crescent was acquired by Gannett (it previously was owned by Thomson Newspapers, which makes Gannett look like the Wall Street Journal in comparison), as to whether The Post~Crescent was a worse newspaper (the opinion of Fox Cities residents) or the Green Bay Press-Gazette was worse (the opinion of Green Bay residents).
But don’t believe my dire observations of Gannett. Ask a reader of the Oshkosh Northwestern, Fond du Lac Reporter, Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter or Sheboygan Press. They are run by one editor who is apparently under orders to not employ enough news or sports reporters to actually cover local news and sports. I’m all for eliminating the suits, but you need actual bodies to cover the news, and more bodies than Gannett is willing to employ.
This is not limited to Gannett. Earlier this year the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, the newspaper I grew up reading, laid off three reporters people purchased the newspaper to read. (The State Journal resolutely refused to hire me, which I’m told by a departed State Journal-ist — get it? — was good for me.) The State Journal’s cuts appear to be less about the State Journal’s finances (if you can’t make money in the Madison media, you really need to find a new line of business) and more about the finances of its owner, Lee Enterprises, which has been in financial trouble for years due to overexpansion. (Lee really needs to sell the State Journal, and not to Gannett.)
Meanwhile, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald began printing its newspaper in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last week. Cedar Rapids is not a suburb of Dubuque (nor is Waterloo, whose Courier is also printed at the Gazette), so I have been told that the deadline for stories inside the Telegraph Herald is now 2 p.m., and the deadline for front page and sports stories is 9 p.m. As you might imagine, this eliminates most government meetings, all weeknight sports, and a lot of weekend sports from the newspaper. (I believe that at least all six Northeast Wisconsin Gannett newspapers print in Appleton now.)
If it strikes you as strange that a daily newspaper would do things to handicap its ability to cover the news on a daily basis (as in the things that happen today appearing in tomorrow’s newspaper), you’re not alone. The big winner here is the weekly newspaper that covers an area that is not part of the primary coverage area (or not anymore) of a daily newspaper. Weeklies are doing better than dailies because weeklies don’t generally have print competition. No one has figured out how to deliver the news of a community newspaper (including such events as births, school news, engagements, weddings, deaths, criminal court listings and local sports) better than print. At least not yet.
This all was foreshadowed for the farsighted when Journal Communications abandoned its legacy of employee ownership and went public in between my terms as a Journal employee. (And, the first time, employee-owner.) Something like this had been rumored for years, because Journal was seen as being big enough to be acquired but not big enough to acquire, but impossible to pull off because the employee-owners (as well as the Grant family, which kept a minority interest) would probably not approve a sale. The employee-owners were gotten rid of by going public, which raised stockholder money so Journal could purchase more broadcast properties. Scripps shareholders ended up benefitting from that, and now Gannett shareholders will benefit, if not Journal Sentinel readers and advertisers. And as I discovered, while stock is good to own, a publicly traded company is not a good place to work, given the panic that takes place every time there is an earnings report that can be perceived as negative.
There will be some Wisconsinites who will be perfectly fine with this because they hate the Journal Sentinel and its liberal political slant and cheerleading for the John Doe investigations against Gov. Scott Walker and conservatives. At the risk of channeling my inner Chris Cillizza, they should be careful what they wish for. USA Today is not a politically conservative newspaper, nor is the Des Moines Register. The Journal Sentinel does a lot of reporting, including in sports, that has no political slant, including sports. (The JS employs Bob McGinn, the best current Packer writer; if I were McGinn I would be updating my resume immediately.) The chances a competing non-liberal Milwaukee newspaper will be published are slightly greater than absolute zero.
As I’ve written here before, the splitting of print from broadcast strikes me as a mistake, though something other media companies are doing. It’s a mistake because I see print and broadcast in the process of merging into one single information source, with different delivery vehicles, thanks to the Internet — print if you want it, audio if you want it, video if you want it, available 24/7. Splitting off print and broadcast properties goes in the wrong direction.
And as I wrote here before, this is yet another example of a Wisconsin company leaving the state by acquisition. As an employee it is good to work as far away from corporate headquarters as possible, but a company’s interest in corporate contributions to their community drops like a rock the farther you get away from the corporate offices. Journal was a huge presence as a corporate citizen in the Milwaukee area in its employee-ownership days; it probably dropped after the company went public, and it will drop near zero with the decisions being made in Virginia instead of Wisconsin.
One of the less obvious assets of Donald Trump’s campaign is the Obama administration’s flailing foreign policy. The president’s penchant for making abysmal deals with our enemies abroad and advertising his inability to affect the course of events gives Trump exactly the contrast he needs to sell his reputation as a tough negotiator.
As Foster noted, a vivid example of the Obama administration’s signature style is Secretary of State John Kerry’s obsequious public appearance with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, touting their “constructive meeting” immediately after the Kremlin gave America and its allies one hour to clear out of Syrian airspace, lest they run into Russian warplanes.
Last Friday, President Obama insisted, everyone else’s perception of deteriorating U.S. influence in the region notwithstanding, that Putin’s intervention in Syria was actually a sign that the White House’s policies were working and the Kremlin’s weren’t. “Mr. Putin had to go into Syria not out of strength but out of weakness,” Obama said. But his overriding tone was one of helpless resignation, as if he himself hardly believed his own rhetoric. “This is a hugely difficult, complex problem,” he said. “No amount of U.S. military engagement will solve the problem.”
No wonder Americans are taking a long look at the guy with the bright red “Make America Great Again” hat, the one who keeps boasting that he never gets taken to the cleaners in negotiations. Trump’s view on the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria isn’t that different from Obama’s — but it’s unlikely you will ever see Trump dwelling on American powerlessness and the daunting complexity of an issue. He’s risen in the polls by offering voters the fantasy of simple solutions to intractable problems.
Trump’s most frequent refrains are that the Obama presidency has been “a disaster” and “we have incompetent people — probably stupid — but incompetent people making deals.” The administration brought home a bad deal with Iran, and the American people knew it; only 21 percent told Pew they supported it.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — remember when Israel was a respected, valued ally? — called the deal “dangerous” and “a historic mistake,” declaring that it “paves Iran’s path to the bomb.” The president who once talked of his vision for a future without any nuclear weapons appears to have set off a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt examine their options for a nuclear deterrent. That sure looks like disastrous incompetence.
Trump insists he could straighten it out through sheer toughness and savvy. While most Republican presidential candidates talked about ripping up the Iran deal, Trump suggested he knows how to defeat an opponent by tying him up in red tape and contractual minutiae that would otherwise go unenforced.
“You know, I’ve taken over some bad contracts. I buy contracts where people screwed up and they have bad contracts,” he said. “But I’m really good at looking at a contract and finding things within a contract that, even if they’re bad, I would police that contract so tough that they don’t have a chance. As bad as the contract is, I will be so tough on that contract.”
While Trump doesn’t specify how that would work, it’s not hard to understand why the idea of “policing that contract so tough” might sound refreshing to voters. After all, in its eagerness to make a deal, the Obama administration excused Iranian leaders’ chanting “death to America” and the Iranians’ decision to conduct a military practice exercise sinking a U.S. aircraft carrier. An administration willing to excuse those provocations might appear likely to ignore any minor breaches of the resulting agreement.
It’s the same with China, another of Trump’s favorite themes. The administration has failed to muster a muscular response to Chinese aggression in the Pacific, and Obama responded to Chinese intelligence agents’ massive cyber-theft of American government-personnel records by inviting Premier Xi Jinping to dinner at the White House. Trump, on the other hand, assures voters that the Chinese are “going to listen to me. … And if they don’t do that, they have to suffer economically because we have the engine that makes China work. You know, without the United States or without China sucking out all our money and our jobs, China would collapse in about two minutes.”
It’s a preposterous analysis, of course — but alluringly so. The GOP primary electorate, fed up as it is with the president’s fecklessness abroad, is an easy mark for Trump’s strong-man act. It remains to be seen how far that act will take him. But it’s worth noting just how bad things had to get for it to take him anywhere at all.
In 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court recognized what numerous historians and legal scholars have been saying for many decades: Namely, that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution secures an individual right—not a collective one—to keep and bear arms. Yet despite this widespread legal and academic consensus, certain gun control advocates still insist on behaving as if the Second Amendment does not mean what it says.
The latest example of such regrettable behavior comes from liberal New Yorker pundit Adam Gopnik, who claims that a vast and intrusive gun control regime can happen here in the United States because the U.S. Constitution protects no such thing as an individual right to possess guns. Nothing in the Constitution, he asserts, “limits our ability to control the number and kinds of guns in private hands.” The only reason so many people think otherwise,Gopnik says, is because they’ve been hoodwinked by the “radical” and “tortured” interpretation of the Second Amendment put forward by “right wing” Justice Antonin Scalia in his “younger-than-springtime decision D.C. v. Heller, in 2008.”
For a freshly minted piece of “right wing” radicalism, the individual-rights interpretation of the Second Amendment sure has a lengthy and long-running list of distinguished liberal supporters, including some of the biggest names in legal academia. For example, there is University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson, a leading liberal scholar, who published an essay in the prestigious Yale Law Journal back in 1989 titled “The Embarrassing Second Amendment.” As I explain in my recent book Overruled:
The embarrassment, Levinson argued, came from the legal left’s refusal to take the Second Amendment seriously. “I cannot help but suspect that the best explanation for the absence of the Second Amendment from the legal consciousness of the elite bar,” he wrote, “is derived from a mixture of sheer opposition to the idea of private ownership of guns and the perhaps subconscious fear that altogether plausible, and perhaps even ‘winning’ interpretations would present real hurdles to those of us supporting prohibitory regulation.”
Eleven years later, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, a respected scholar and teacher whose former students include a young Barack Obama, amended the new third addition of his legal treatise American Constitutional Law to officially endorse the individual-right interpretation of the Second Amendment. This was a marked change from the two previous editions, where Tribe had accepted the collective-right view. “My conclusion came as something of a surprise to me, and an unwelcome surprise,” Tribe admitted to the New York Times after the third edition came out. “I have always supported as a matter of policy very comprehensive gun control.”
Along similar lines, the Constitutional Accountability Center, a respected liberal think tank and law firm “dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of our Constitution’s text and history,” filed anamicus brief at the Supreme Court in the 2010 gun rights case McDonald v. Chicago. As that brief plainly (and accurately) stated, “the original meaning of the Privileges or Immunities Clause [of the 14th Amendment] protected substantive, fundamental rights against state infringement, including the constitutional right of an individual to keep and bear arms.”
In short, there is nothing “radical” or even particularly “right wing” about the well-founded idea that the Constitution secures an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Or, you could ask such Founding Fathers as …