The unlibertarian Libertarians

What is the point of being the Libertarian Party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates if you don’t believe in libertarian principles?

Jim Geraghty poses that question:

Gary Johnson, speaking with the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times earlier this month:

I’m open also to the notion of a carbon tax. That it does have an impact, that it ends up being revenue-neutral. I’m not looking at this as a revenue generator, as much as there are costs associated with, there are health and safety issues with carbon.

It’s a shame the Libertarian Party couldn’t nominate, you know, actual libertarians this year. Even if you let Johnson off the hook on this not-very-detailed support for a carbon tax, Johnson and Weld praised Stephen Breyer and Merrick Garland as their kind of Supreme Court justices. That’s the pro-affirmative-action, anti-school-voucher, dissenting-against-Heller Justice Breyer.

Johnson’s the kind of Libertarian who doesn’t just want unrestricted access to abortion, but opposes cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He thinks it’s okay for New Mexico to fine a photographer for refusing to work at a gay wedding, because “on the basis of religious freedom, being able to discriminate — something that is currently not allowed — discrimination will exist in places we never dreamed of.”

Finally, the vice-presidential nominee of the party that’s supposed to stand for individual liberty recently talked about how the most popular rifle in America and handguns are on par with nuclear weapons. No, really. I wish I was making this up, but there’s video.

“The five-shot rifle, that’s a standard military rifle; the problem is if you attach a clip to it so it can fire more shells and if you remove the pin so that it becomes an automatic weapon, and those are independent criminal offenses. That is when they become, essentially, a weapon of mass destruction. The problem with handguns probably is even worse than the problem of the AR15.”

This sort of language would be over-the-top coming from the Brady Campaign or Mike Bloomberg. It’s just inexplicable coming from the Libertarian ticket, and suggests that Weld is a fair-weather friend of the Second Amendment at best. No surprise to those of us who studied his record in office:

While failing to keep his fiscal promises, Weld also managed to make some moves on cultural issues that are seriously inconvenient for a Libertarian candidate in 2016. In 1993, as governor, he endorsed a slew of gun-control proposals: a statewide ban on assault weapons, a waiting period for buying handguns, a limit on the number of handguns an individual could buy, and a prohibition on handgun ownership by anyone under 21. “The purpose of this common-sense legislation is to remove deadly guns from our streets and to take weapons out of the hands of many teens who themselves are becoming deadly killers,” he said at the time.  Great choices, Libertarians!

Great choices, Libertarians!

Not that Democrats or Republicans should talk. Perhaps Weld (or after him Mitt Romney) was as Republican a governor as you can get in Massachusetts. But when you have the Libertarian label you’d think you should not support gun control. Nor should you oppose religious freedom and support carbon taxes.

If I’m going to vote for a Libertarian, I want someone who actually believes what Libertarians are supposed to stand for. You’d think members of the Libertarian Party would want that too.

 

Presty the DJ for Aug. 24

Today in 1963, Little Stevie Wonder became the first artist to have the number one pop single and album and to lead the R&B charts with his “Twelve-Year-Old Genius”:

Today in 1974, one week after the catchy but factually questionable number one single (where is the east side of Chicago?) …

… the previous week’s number one sounded like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony compared with the new number one:

Today in 1990, at the beginning of Operation Desert Shield, Sinead O’Connor refused to sing if the National Anthem was performed before her concert at the Garden State Arts Plaza in Homdel, N.J. Radio stations responded by pulling O’Connor’s music from their airwaves. To one’s surprise, her career never really recovered.

That was the same day that Iron Maiden won a lawsuit from the families of two people who committed suicide, claiming that subliminal messages in the group’s “Stained Class” album drove them to kill themselves.

As a member of the band pointed out, it would have made much more sense to insert a subliminal message telling listeners to buy the band’s albums instead of a message that, had it been followed, would have depleted the band’s fan base.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Aug. 24”

Great moments in Wisconsin journalism (not)

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reports on the flagship publication of my former employer (other than Marketplace Magazine, R.I.P.):

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pulled a sneaky maneuver this summer. In mid-July it published a column on race relations by columnist James E. Causey containing the incorrect claim that the unemployment rate for white men in 1954 was zilch. It appeared that this fanciful statistic had been sourced from a website named YourBlackWorld.net.

Instead of fixing the column and adding a correction, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel disappeared the entire thing. It never showed up in print, and the column’s link dead-ended. Then, after this blog inquired about the situation, it resurfaced the piece, this time with a correction.

More corrective action appears to be descending on the work of Causey, who wrote a compelling piece this past weekend about the violent protests around his Milwaukee neighborhood after a fatal police shooting of an armed man (he even scored a nice writeup on Poynter.org). In April, for instance, Causey wrote a piece about Gov. Rick Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis: “Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder should be charged.” A cached version of the column (captured on Aug. 14) turns up this explanation of the crisis:

It started in April 2014, when the state decided to temporarily switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River as a cost-savings measure until a new supply line to Lake Huron was ready. That would have been fine, but the Flint River had a reputation of being nasty. Right after the switch, residents complained that the water was brown and it smelled funny. Residents started reporting hair loss, rashes and illness in 2014.

Compare that phrasing to a CNN  piece dated Jan. 19, 2016, about three months before Causey’s column:

In April 2014 the state decided to temporarily switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure until a new supply line to Lake Huron was ready. The river had a reputation for nastiness, and after the switch, residents complained their water looked, smelled and tasted funny.
Virginia Tech researchers found the water was highly corrosive, and the city switched back to the Lake Huron water supply in October.

In recent days, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has addressed this matter, among other deficiencies in Causey’s Flint story. An italicized passage at the top of the piece reads, “Correction: An earlier version of this column inaccurately attributed information about the water crisis in Flint, Mich., and inadequately attributed other information. The column also inaccurately described a quotation by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who said it would not be unfair to compare the crisis to Hurricane Katrina.” No longer does the story contain the passage that mimics CNN’s formulation. Instead, it now reads this way:

The problems began after the state switched Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014. Almost immediately, residents complained of brown water and a foul odor. Some said they broke out in rashes and lost their hair, CNN reported.

That’s an improvement. Two other Causey columns also contain headlining corrections, one for poor sourcing and the other for poor attribution and crediting.

The Erik Wemple Blog asked Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editor George Stanley how long the newspaper knew about the attribution problems and how he viewed them. He responded, “The explanations on the stories are the result of an internal review to set the record straight with readers — corrections that were addressed prior to any outside inquiry.”

The newspaper’s review may want to linger a bit on a Nov. 2015 column by Causey titled, “Diversity needed in the jury box.” It contains this description of a decision by a Kentucky judge Olu Stevens:

Stevens, who is black, dismissed the panel Oct. 14, because on the second day of jury selection, he was concerned that the pool of jurors that attorneys were to choose from had 37 white citizens and only three black citizens. Two of the three potential black jurors already had been eliminated.

Weeks before, Louisville’s WDRB.com wrote this:

In the recent case, on the second day of the drug trial on Oct. 14, Stevens said he was concerned that the panel of jurors attorneys were to choose a jury from included 37 white people and only three black citizens. And two of the three potential black jurors had already been eliminated.

This blog asked Stanley about that overlap; we are awaiting a response.

Inadequate attribution is one thing when the information is correct; it’s another when the information is bogus. As we reported earlier this week, Causey’s July column titled “Donald Trump’s right: We do have a race problem” contained these assertions about historic racial disparities: “In 1954, unemployment was zero for white men, and it was 4% for black men.” YourBlackWorld.net put the matter this way: “For white men in 1954, unemployment was zero. For African-American men in 1954, it was about 4 percent.” Both were wrong, but YourBlackWorld.net was wrong first.

After the unemployment gaffe, Causey’s column took a hiatus of several weeks. Stanley attributed that gap to a “special in-depth reporting project” that will stretch into next year.

 

The Olympic, and our own, ideal

Mike Gonzalez apparently watched much more of the Olympics than I did, and enjoyed it immensely, particularly women’s gymnastics:

The only fly in the ointment has come via the news and the realization that politics and race have once again crept up into the Olympics, just as it has in the past. I picked up USA Today at a local supermarket one morning to read that the Final Five is proof of the triumph of “diversity.”

An editorial notes that race relations are at a nadir in America, “as evidenced by the intense battles over illegal immigration, policing and the Black Lives Matter movement.” All true, and the polls are there to prove it. But the editorial goes on to aver, “But diversity also improves America’s competitiveness, from the balance beams of athletics to the board rooms of the world economy.”

A quick check online that night turned up that a lot of people have been saying similar stuff stateside. Over at the Chicago Tribune, Heidi Stevens had this cris de coeur: “We need the Final Five to push back against the daily rhetoric that tells us we’re a divided, crumbling shell of our former selves.” Vox, as usual, got its knickers in a twist, celebrating the team’s diversity while bemoaning that its achievements “won’t calm race relations.”

America, however, has always been diverse and drawn upon this large talent pool to surmount existential moments, just as it did when during the Civil War, when an estimated quarter of the Union Army’s enlisted men were foreign born.

If this is what the writers mean by “diversity”—that we take people from all over the world, turn them into Americans, and benefit from their talents—then of course I am with them.

But the melting pot isn’t what is usually meant when people celebrate diversity.

In fact, as any college freshman can tell you, diversity and the melting pot are rival models of how to organize the country. The enforced affirmation of diversity above all else often detracts from the greater national identity, and thus the unity that makes a team succeed, whether it’s made up of five or 330 million.

The Final Five are indeed a victory for the melting pot—the idea that we all meld together into an American nation, forging out of many different elements one unified, stronger alloy. But their feat is a rebuke of diversity as it is indoctrinated in campuses and policed by all levels of government. The board rooms that USA Today refers to are in fact not diversifying fast enough even for the independent Securities and Exchange Commission, which is considering mandating stricter rules to force companies to disclose plans to make boards more diverse.

“Diversity,” thus, is enforced through means that are inimical to the success of the women’s gymnastics team:

  • Affirmative Action: Diversity enforcers demand that participation in all aspects of society reflect the numbers of members of different groups. If the Final Five were, for example, the Final 10, they would be suspect if they did not include a member of the other two components of the ethno-racial pentagon, Asians and Native Americans. But Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman and Madison Kocian—two African-Americans, a Latina, and two white girls—as we keep hearing—obviously got their place in their elite group through meritocracy. They deserved to be there because of their talent as gymnasts. Period. If two of them had been replaced to wedge in a less-deserving Asian-American or Native American, the team would have suffered as a result.
  • Ethnic Identity: Diversity emphasizes identification with sub-groups at the expense of the traditional touchstones of religion and country. Being a member of one of the oppressed groups deemed to have suffered from historic discrimination—a consideration even accorded to an immigrant whose ancestors could not have been kept poor by the very real legally sanctioned depredations that took place decades ago—is the important identity when it comes to the affirmative action discussed above. But the members of the Final Five give no indication that such racial or ethnic emphasis is present at all. Look up Hernandez, for example, and what jumps out is not that her parents are Puerto Ricans, but that she’s a strong Christian who’s been home-schooled from the third grade. She meditates daily on 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (“Give thanks in all circumstances”), a verse that’s hard to square with racial grievance mongering—which may be why it’s missing from most articles on this outstanding athlete. Just last week Hernandez told reporters she didn’t “think it matters what race you are. If you want to train hard enough to go to Olympics, then you’re going to go out and you’re going to do it. It doesn’t matter what skin color or who you are.” Again, not exactly Black Lives Matter.
  • Official Multilingualism: This other shibboleth of the diversity movement would render Americans less able to pull together for a common purpose (for examples, please see Belgium and Canada in the industrialized world, and places too numerous to cite in the less developed world). But the Final Five work as one. Hernandez again: “We’re always building each other up and making sure that we’re cheering for each other and shouting ‘C’mon, you got it, confidence.’”

The melting pot cuts against the grain of all this, which is why it is denigrated and discouraged today from kindergarten on. The melting pot, in fact, is what allowed Reisman and Kocian—one Jewish and the other with one likely Czech ancestor—to be undistinguishable Americans. While the Czech immigration into Texas begins in the 1840s, many of the East European immigrants who came in through Ellis Island from 1890 to the 1920s weren’t even considered white at all, and neither of course were Jews for decades. The melting pot got rid of these differences, though of course African-Americans were kept out of it. The answer obviously is to extend one American identity to all, and to minimize our differences.

The Evan McMullin top 10

Why should you vote for Evan McMullin for president and not Hillary, The Donald or (Feel the) Johnson? The Collision Blog has 10 reasons:

1: The two party system is screwing us over, and we need to punish it. 

Our Democrat and Republican choices honestly couldn’t be any worse than they are. You’re the boss, guys. Roughly 14 percent of adults (eligible voters) in  America chose Hillary and Trump. *Taps microphone* FOURTEEN PERCENT. That means roughly 86 percent of those who can vote either stayed home or preferred someone else. Sure, some gleefully jumped on both trains when their candidate failed to win, but the people who don’t regularly sniff lines of Fun Dip dust and Comet are voting for the nominees because they think they have to. It’s tribalism at its worst.

Let me channel my inner Nancy Reagan: Just say “no” to tribalism.

If more people would detach themselves from a soul sucking party affiliation, people would start realizing that there’s more of us than them.

2: He was a senior adviser for the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives on national security issues, was the Chief Policy Director with the House Republican Conference, and is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In short, the man knows his way around foreign policy like Trump knows his way around bankruptcy laws. Below is a video of him in May speaking on mass atrocities, and addressing the lack of follow through in the “never again” movements.

3: It’s the closest we’re ever going to get to voting for Jack Bauer (I can’t stress this one enough). 

Evan worked for the CIA from 2001 – 2011, specifically on counter-terrorism and intelligence operations in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. Not only was he nose deep in foreign affairs from a legislative level, but he has first hand experience on the proverbial front lines.

Let me reiterate: It’s like voting for Jack Bauer.

Unfortunately, it’s without the hacksaw and Tony Almeida, but let’s be reasonable here… only so many of our dreams can come true.

4: He doesn’t pander to your unwarranted paranoia. 

McMullin worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a Volunteer Refugee Resettlement Officer in Amman, Jordan.

In short, the man knows his way around refugee issues like Donald Trump knows his way around failed business adventures and broken promises.

“I spent ten years, over ten years, in the Central Intelligence Agency, serving overseas and in the Middle East, and let me tell you, if you’re a terrorist and you want to come to the United States, the worst possible way to try and do it is as a refugee. You’ll go through a year and a half to two years of vetting. If you want to come to the United States and you’re a terrorist, you’re much better off just coming through on the Visa Waiver program from Europe, or just walking across the border in Mexico. So, I think there’s a lot of hysteria, unjustified hysteria around the refugee situation. And I think we need to be more careful, and thoughtful, and accurate with the way we talk about that issue, because it has implications for a variety of other interests that we have overseas.” – Evan McMullin during a Special Report Interview with Brett Baier

Watch the entire interview below:

5. He has a solid grasp on how to defeat ISIS. 

“The problem is the pace of what we’ve been doing. President Obama has articulated a containment strategy that sort of has this other slow road towards defeating ISIS. The problem is that when you allow ISIS, or any other Islamist terrorist organization, to have a safe haven the size of the one that ISIS has, you buy them time to plot and plan the kinds of attacks that have happened in Europe and the United States, and elsewhere, over the last year. So the pace needs to pick up, this isn’t something that we can get around to casually, and that’s my objection with what President Obama is doing… I don’t think we should take anything off the table, but there are a lot of better options for us to turn to before we put traditional troops on the ground. I think we need to use CIA operations, and we need to use our Special Forces. I’ve been there, done that, we’re very good at this… We need to exhaust some of these things before we put traditional troops on the ground. I don’t think it’s necessary, I think we can defeat ISIS through other means.” – Evan McMullin during a Special Report Interview with Brett Baier

In short, the man knows how to handle terrorist organizations like Donald Trump knows how to find younger wives.

6. He ACTUALLY says what everyone else is afraid to say concerning immigration. 

“I’m not for deporting 11 million people, I think it’s ridiculous. It would cause so much trouble economically and in other ways. It’s a ridiculous idea, and I oppose that. I think what we need to do is for those here illegally but not criminals, and who want to stay, there should be a path towards a legal presence here in the United States.” Evan McMullin during a Special Report Interview with Brett Baier

He also says other amazing things with – dare I say? – Jack Bauer swagger. …

“As a former intelligence professional, I find it alarming that Donald Trump is receiving a classified intelligence briefing. Trump, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort and General Mike Flynn are all compromised by the Russians, and this briefing will be an intelligence coup for Vladimir Putin’s SVR and GRU.” – Evan McMullin during a CNN interview with Jake Tapper

It’s like Cheng Zhi vs. Bauer all over again.

7: Win or lose, he has the power to carry the conservative principles away from the shark infested waters and to the shore.

If it’s down to Hillary and Trump, Trump is taking a loss. It would require a miracle for him to win (one that’s not beyond Hillary, I suppose). Just going off of 2012 numbers (Check out this article), let me put this in perspective: Based on voting records and data, there are over 85 million people who don’t normally vote in any election, over 100 million who are ineligible (children, felons, etc.), and roughly 133 million who will vote in the General (give or take a few million due to new voters or those who stay home in the general). Roughly 73 million of the voters who didn’t find it in their hearts to go to the booths in the primary will join the 60 million who did vote in the primaries come November (based on previous elections).

So that’s roughly 120 million people who didn’t vote for Trump in the primary, and 117 million who didn’t vote for Clinton, who will vote in the general. Now within that 120 million/117 million, respectively, you have tribalists who will jump on due to party affiliation (more so for Democrats), but in that 120 million/117 million, you have demographic numbers that youMUST hit. One important demographic is the female vote – which accounted for over 53% of the vote in 2012 – and Trump’s negative ratings with women are 20% higher than they were with Romney… and he’s running against a woman. I won’t even go into the numbers in the African American or Hispanic communities because, well, it paints a very sad picture for those poor White Nationalists who keep saying they want to deport me when their guy wins and kicks us liberal [insert various creative expletives here] to the curb – despite the fact that I was born in Texas, the daughter of a 30 year veteran, cry when Lee Greenwood sings, and love Apple Pie more than some people love their children – come November (I don’t think they grasp the transitional period between November and January yet).

See, I went through all of that to show you that those in the GOP who refuse to vote for Trump aren’t a swaying factor in regards to individual vote count and the electoral college. As much as I’d hate to see so many sexists, racists, and fascists – those who have become the personification of dyspepsia – curl into the fetal position and cry in November, it’s more than likely going to happen.

Aaaaand the point here is that Hillary has already won if you think the only options are her and the Lord of Darkness. The odds are that bad. If I were obnoxious – like some supporters on the dark side – I might even say that a vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary. Regardless, Conservatism needs a dog in this fight because not only would we like her to lose, as well, we can’t allow conservative ideals to be mistakenly chained to Trump’s ankles when he and his campaign are sucked into the deepest and darkest political black hole in November. We need to separate out the ideals, we need to be able to say, “This over here is Conservatism, that over there is Fascism.” Having someone in the race who represents conservative ideals – more so than many of the other candidates we had, I might add – is going to help us achieve that goal.

We need to focus on the future like Donald Trump focuses on Miss USA pageant contestants… and probably laser pointers.

8: He isn’t a career politician, and he truly isn’t beholden to anyone – unlike both Clinton and Trump.

I don’t think anything else needs to be said on this, so here’s my favorite John Wick GIF:

9: History. History. History.

He hasn’t destroyed thousands of jobs.
He hasn’t ignored increased security requests.
He has sued zero little old ladies.
He hasn’t praised Putin.
He hasn’t praised Saddam Hussein.
He hasn’t lied to the families of dead American heroes.
He hasn’t donated to people who lied to the families of dead American heroes.
He hasn’t lied under oath about deleted emails.
He hasn’t used bankruptcy laws to harm innocent families for his own personal gain.
He hasn’t talked about wanting to bed his offspring.
He doesn’t refer to women as a “piece of a**.”
He doesn’t intend on forcing our troops to commit war crimes.
He knows what a war crime is.
He knows the difference between Kurds and Quds, and what a “Nuclear Triad” is.
He hasn’t demonized rape victims.
He wasn’t involved in Watergate.
He hasn’t hired “all the best people” only to fire “all the best people,” over, and over, and over again.
He hasn’t lied about sniper fire for attention.
He hasn’t been disrespectful to the military, veterans, and their families. (See what I did there? That one is funny because you can’t tell which one I’m talking about.)
He hasn’t made plans to attack religious freedom.
He hasn’t made plans to attack the First Amendment.
He hasn’t made plans to push more gun-control.
He hasn’t made plans to grow the size of government. (Look, I did it again.)
He hasn’t put national security in jeopardy. (Oh, there’s another one.)
He hasn’t lived a life of corruption. (I can’t stop…)

Alright, I’m having too much fun on this list and should stop before it becomes a book and you stop reading. Point is, he’s a clean slate with an impressive background. That’s better than the two current leaders in the race who, like other breathtakingly horrible human beings, happen to have resumes that read like the character description of an evil dictator in a dystopian novel. …

10: He keeps things in perspective.

While I take a moral position – like everyone else – on societal issues, the GOP has lost its way by putting all of their eggs in that particular basket. We need to be focused on the benefits of the free market, responsible foreign policy, and reasonable spending cuts. We need to sell our ideas and values, not shove them down their throats.

Example: Same sex marriage debate.

The truly small government position on same sex marriage would be to ask why the government is involved in marriage at all. It shouldn’t be “I’m right!”or “You’re wrong!” It should be “why did we ever make this a government issue in the first place.” Evan is smart to brush off this topic as a hill that is not worth dying upon. Additionally, he recognizes issues that many in the GOP need to start coming to grips with:

BONUS ROUND: He’s good for down-ballot races.

Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of people staying home, and the legislative branch is in jeopardy. We desperately needed to give people a reason to go to the voting booth, and Evan gives them that reason. I was always going to go to vote, but now I’m excited to vote for someone who represents my principles.

I don’t know what happens after November, guys. I just don’t. I don’t know what principled conservatives will call ourselves when this mess is over and the fallout hits, or what politicians will be on our side. However, there is one thing I know: Evan McMullin saw a deep void in this election and he stepped up when no one else would. …

Anybody who reads my blog is well aware that no one is beyond reproach on this page. I do, however, believe that he’s standing up for the conservative values currently in jeopardy, and I believe he is a man of good character who has spent his life helping others, and that’s a foundation worthy of applause.

Presty the DJ for Aug. 22

Today in 1964, the Supremes reached number one by wondering …

Today in 1968, the Beatles briefly broke up when Ringo Starr quit during recording of their “White Album.” Starr rejoined the group Sept. 3, but in the meantime the remaining trio recorded “Back in the USSR” with Paul McCartney on drums and John Lennon on bass:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Aug. 22”

Presty the DJ for Aug. 20

Today in 1965, the Rolling Stones released the song that would become their first number one hit, and yet Mick Jagger still claimed …

Today in 1967, the New York Times reported on a method of reducing the noise recording devices make during recording. The inventor, Ray Dolby, had pioneered the process for studio recordings, but the Times story mentioned its potential for home use.

Ray Dolby, by the way, is no known relation to the other Dolby …

Today in 1987, Lindsey Buckingham refused to go out on tour with Fleetwood Mac for its “Tango in the Night” album, perhaps thinking that the road would make him …

The band probably told him …

… but look who came back a few years later:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Aug. 20”

On the air all over

I was on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Joy Cardin Week in Review Friday morning segment this morning, which you can listen to or even download here. (Listen for the references to nuclear holocaust movies, which didn’t include “The Day After” or “Fail-Safe.”)

This week starts the high school football season, which means I am announcing a game tonight and a game Saturday night, both of which can be heard online. The start of high school football is not a holiday, but, believe it or don’t, today is Black Cow Root Beer Float Day, National Aviation Day, National Hot and Spicy Food Day (you’d think that and the previous holiday wouldn’t really go together), National Potato Day, National Men’s Grooming Day, National Sandcastle and Sculpture Day, World Humanitarian Day and World Photo Day.

Saturday, by the way, is highlighted by National Radio Day, National Honey Bee Day, Lemonade Day, National Bacon Lover’s Day and National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day.

But about tonight and tomorrow, Travis Wilson writes on the state of high school football:

It is en vogue to take shots at football for being too violent, too dangerous, and something that will not last the next few decades.

In Wisconsin this year, three 11-Man football teams have canceled their seasons in the last few weeks, with a pair of 8-Man teams suffering the same fate. It led to numerous questions about the sustainability of high school football, especially in the small schools. Newspaper articles and internet commenters rushed to forecast the demise of high school football.

However, despite challenges faced in the arena of public opinion, the actual game at the high school level in the state of Wisconsin remains strong.

In data provided by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, while overall high school enrollment in the state of Wisconsin (public and private schools) fell by 3,094 students from the 2014-15 year to 2015-16, the number of players out for football at the start of 2015-16 was 883 higher than the previous season, this despite four fewer teams overall.

An analysis of enrollment and participation data provided by the WIAA shows no significant change in the overall participation rate in high school football over the last 16 years. In 2000-01, the first year private schools joined their public school counterparts in the WIAA and the first year full data is available, the beginning-season football participation rate amongst all high school students was 9.50%. Outside of several years where full private school enrollment information is not available, which skews those seasons, the football participation rate has remained between 9.12% (2003-04) and 9.63% (2001-02).

The participation rate for the 2015-16 season of 9.46% was the third-highest of the last 16 years (not counting the years of no enrollment data for private schools). So, in the face of increased publicity about concussions, heat-related dangers, etc., the sport continues to be the highest participation sport in the country and the state at the high school level, and the participation rate has been largely unchanged for nearly two decades.

While it is true that the raw participation figures for football are decreasing over the last 10-15 years, it is a result of decreasing populations in the state of Wisconsin more than a decrease in the interest or participation levels.

The WIAA and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association have done a great job trying to spread the message about the measures taken in recent years to make football even safer, with numerous studies continuing to show that football is as safe as it has ever been. But public opinion and the shots taken at the game in the media are an ongoing challenge.

Both the WFCA and the WIAA, along with the schools impacted by low numbers in football programs, have to search for solutions to ensure that those student-athletes and communities that want to continue the sport of football have that option. As evidenced by recent rules changes that make the game safer as well as increased support of 8-Man football, the leadership in the state remains proactive and I trust will continue to do so. No one wants to cancel a season, especially right before games begin.

There is a sense among some that the start date of football, which has crept into the end of July the next two years, is chasing away players. While that may the case in some isolated instances, the overall participation numbers continue to show no significant change. Many coaches cite other reasons (sport specialization, not going to start on varsity, jobs, etc.) that players have given for not coming out for football.

It is important for everyone to be up front and honest about the possibilities of injury and the out-of-season work it takes to be involved in football. But it is also important to continue to spread the word about the measures taken to improve the game, and wherever possible, cultivate a sense of excitement, not trepidation, about high school football.

As a former football player under coach Jim Harris and WFCA Hall of Fame coach Avitus Ripp at Richland Center High School, I can certainly attest to the many positives that I took from the game, and can tell you unequivocally that I have no regrets about coming out for football my sophomore year after choosing not to play as a freshman. It is a great game that you will cherish for the rest of your life.