Another big media chop

I can, as readers know, relate to what Warren Bluhm writes:

When the news broke late last week that layoffs were imminent at the corporation that owns the venerable small-town paper where I worked for most of 14 years, I started to think about how logical it would be to lay me off. I suppose all of my co-workers had similar thoughts about themselves, but I just had a feeling.

I don’t take horoscopes seriously, but I do read mine because they often contain good advice. On Monday morning, I read it out loud to Red and we both laughed nervously:

“Changes at work are coming: This could be the luckiest turn of events that’s happened in months. To prepare yourself, bone up on your skills and make sure your client base is ample.”

If ever there was a moment when I went over to the dark side and embraced the idea that my fate is sealed by the position of stars light years away, that might have been that moment. Whether or not I “believed,” in any case, by golly, it was good advice.

And: A little after noon on Tuesday, I was given the word that I was part of the company’s latest round of cuts to contain costs.

It was a cordial conversation, and I was assured this was not a performance decision but an economic one yada yada yada, and they explained some nice going-away benefits, and off I went to let the folks who work with me know they were safe, and only I was leaving (at least in the newsroom; a trio of other, tremendous support people were also let go).

Now, my dear friends and colleagues have railed about how could the company do this, and I love them, but let’s note that the goal is to keep the doors open, and under this ownership the newspaper has endured for 12 long years since the previous owner decided he couldn’t make a go of it any longer. My fondest desire was always to grow the paper despite the odds, but in the absence of such growth, the alternative is to cut costs, and frankly I was the costliest cost in the room.

The paper survives to fight another day. My loyalty has always been to the 154 years of folks who toiled under the banner before me and with me, and not to the corporation that bought the brand, and perhaps that helped put me on the list. You know what? It doesn’t matter. The brand survives, and if anyone can save it from oblivion, it’s the incredible journalists and other people who still work in that building.

I am so proud to have been a part of that tradition and grateful for the high bar set by the people who walked those hallways before me. Anytime I started feeling my oats, all I had to do was remind myself, “Bluhm, you’re no Chan Harris,” or someone would come along to say it for me. I wouldn’t have tried as hard as I did without those noble ghosts chasing me.

Today is the first day of the next phase of my life, and oh, what an adventure it shall be.

It seems that the worst thing a media person can do these days is work for a publicly traded media company. I guess I was not specifically laid off, but when the company that owns your magazine decides to close the magazine, you are definitely surplus.

The Door County Advocate has for decades been the state’s largest weekly newspaper, with thousands of its subscribers living in Door County only during the summer. But at least, like me and my former Journal Communications colleagues, Warren has a lot of company with former Gannett Co. employees. (That sentence has a double meaning in that no one works for Journal Communications anymore, with the broadcast/print split and subsequent print sale to Gannett.)

Gannett’s next purchase, by the way, reportedly will be the thing called “Tronc,” the print arm of the former Tribune Co., which like Journal split off its broadcast (Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times) and broadcast (the WGNs) properties. Again, change is not necessarily progress.



Class and … not

Ellen Carmichael writes about Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race:

On Monday evening, Opportunity Lives hosted a “Comeback” screening event at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) headlined the event, and he requested that Pastor Jerome Smith of the Joseph Project also participate.

Following a screening of a few of the episodes of the film, Sen. Johnson and Pastor Smith, joined by Dallas-based Urban Specialists Pastor Omar Jahwar and Antong Lucky, held an on-stage discussion and question-and-answer session with nearly 100 students and guests on community-based solutions to poverty. The conversation covered topics ranging from criminality to social entrepreneurship to economic empowerment.

Johnson’s heart for the poor beats outside the halls of the U.S. Senate. For the past several years, he and Smith have run The Joseph Project, a Wisconsin-based non-profit that teaches vital job skills to unemployed adults in search of long-term work.

After successfully completing training with The Joseph Project, qualified applicants are matched with local employers, typically in the state’s manufacturing sector, who are seeking reliable employees. These positions often pay upwards of $25 an hour with full benefits. Since many of the program’s participants have criminal records, such opportunities would be impossible without The Joseph Project vouching for their trustworthiness to prospective employers.

Once an applicant receives an offer, Johnson’s group ensures he or she can go to work. If no dependable transportation is available, The Joseph Project will transport workers to their jobs and back home for free. The organization runs several shuttle routes daily, ensuring that those who complete the program can earn a steady paycheck once they enter the workforce.

For Johnson, The Joseph Project is a deeply personal passion. It combines a faith-inspired calling to serve others and honoring the manufacturing heritage of the Midwest. And for the Wisconsin Republican, it harkens to his own business success story, where he rose from machine operator at his wife’s family business to eventually its owner and CEO.

And unlike many public figures, Johnson is actually involved in the organization he promotes. He’s led 13 training sessions, and he’s personally connected job seekers to Wisconsin manufacturers with positions to fill. Without Johnson’s leadership, many families couldn’t put food on their tables.

At Monday’s event, Johnson recalled the families whose lives have been transformed by The Joseph Project. While he credited Pastor Smith’s ministry for the program’s success, his business acumen and personal network have been utterly indispensible in helping people achieve their dreams.

Following our event, National Public Radio (NPR) ran a brief write-up about Johnson’s faith-focused efforts to eliminate poverty. The story, apparently meant to convince secular Madisonians that Republicans want religious litmus tests for those needing aid, insinuates that Johnson believes only his religious-affiliated approach is the right one.

Johnson’s political opponent, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), responded by claiming non-profits like The Joseph Project were insufficient substitutes for robust government spending. But he didn’t stop there, denigrating the organization, explaining:

“It’s not enough to pick people up in a van and send them away a couple hours and have them come back exhausted at the end of the day. That doesn’t make a community.”

When the NPR reporter relayed Feingold’s full statement (there was more that wasn’t included in the published piece) to Johnson after our event, he was visibly disgusted and seemingly a little shocked that his Democratic rival would insult the program’s leaders, volunteers and participants so brazenly.

Perhaps Feingold’s bizarre strategy of attacking a faith-inspired inner city charity is a reaction to the incredibly effective slate of television advertisements from the Johnson campaign telling the stories of the beneficiaries of The Joseph Project. Or maybe it’s because the Democrats thought Johnson’s seat would be an easy pick-up for them in the 2016 cycle. The race is currently a statistical tie with Johnson trending upward and Feingold collapsing in the polls.

Either way, Johnson is right to be repulsed. Feingold’s comments demonstrate the Left’s earnest sentiments about the poor: they are too stupid to want better for themselves and too lazy to do the work necessary to achieve it.

While Democrats like Feingold never stop congratulating themselves for their altruism, it is this same self-aggrandizement and condescension that has exacerbated the problems in America’s disadvantaged communities. Their policies have done nothing to improve the quality of life for those who struggle, and in fact, have made it worse by discouraging the dignity of work and diminishing each individual’s worth.

Fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s so-called “War on Poverty” began, U.S. taxpayers have spent more than $22 trillion on programs intended to help the poor. Much of this spending has expanded government under control of Democrats who promised that their benevolence would eliminate poverty. It didn’t.

Today, 14 percent of Americans are still poor – the same percentage as those impoverished half a century ago. After allocating three times what the U.S. government has spent on all wars from the American Revolution to present day on eliminating poverty, there is still an inequality of opportunity in the form of educational injustice and economic immobility in disadvantaged communities.

To make matters worse, the Democrats’ favorite spending programs have undeniably eroded the family unit, diminished localized civic involvement, and handicapped faith-based institutions. For centuries, these have been keys to thriving, stable communities. Without them, they have crumbled.

Despite the abundant evidence that clearly proves just how wrong they’ve been, Democrats are so wedded to the cause of growing government that they continue to put politics over people and ideology over better ideas. And when faced with the human costs of the repeated failures of their policies, Democrats soothe their guilt by celebrating how much money they’ve spent and promising to spend more. For too many Democrats, outputs are irrelevant, particularly if the inputs – government spending – make them feel good about themselves and help them get reelected.

And too many Democrats see charities, especially those rooted in a faith tradition, as a threat to the poverty industrial complex that perpetuates their power. They insist that groups like the Joseph Project – an organization that has actually been successful moving people from welfare to work – are inferior alternatives to a government system that, in many cases, is the hurting the very people it is designed to help.

Feingold won’t tell Wisconsinites the truth: organizations like the Joseph Project, if replicated and tailored to neighborhoods nationwide, would practically end the poverty industrial complex that has destroyed communities, and with it, the spirit of far too many of our fellow Americans.

Or perhaps he simply doesn’t understand some important truths. The government can’t give a felon a hug. A federal law can’t instill in a hopeless person a sense of purpose. And no Congressional action is as effective as someone giving themselves in service to another.

It is human beings caring for each other person to person – human beings like those who work and volunteer for the Joseph Project, including Sen. Ron Johnson – who make a difference in our country.

Imagine that: Improving the lives of the poor without a government program. Obviously Feingold opposes that. And he’s a jerk, but you knew that.


Presty the DJ for Oct. 27

Four days before Halloween was the world premiere of the more recognizable version of Modest Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain”:

The song was an appropriate theme for the Friday-bad-horror-flick-show “The Inferno” on WMTV in Madison:

Britain’s number one song today in 1957:

The number one song today in 1963 was the Four Tops’ only number one:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Oct. 27”

And remember, Feingold voted for this

Media Trackers:

Desperate to salvage the credibility of the increasingly discredited Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Robert Kraig, the state’s leading ObamaCare apologist, are trying to put a new spin on a wave of negative news stories about ObamaCare driving shocking premium increases. Instead of admitting that premium hikes are increasingly making the Affordable Care Act less affordable, Kraig calls the cost increases “moderate.”

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that the Obama Administration’s own Department of Health and Human Services released data showing premiums for mid-grade health insurance plans will rise by an average of 25% in the 38 states that use the federal health insurance exchange. Wisconsin is one of those states.

Previously, Media Trackers pointed out that according to data provided by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, health insurance premiums in the Badger state are set to rise an average of 15.88% next year, and some health plans will see a 30.37% increase in monthly premiums.

Neighboring Minnesota, where Democrats led by Gov. Mark Dayton (D) implemented a state health insurance exchange at the cost of state taxpayers, suffered a near-catastrophic departure of health insurance providers from the exchange this year. Dayton admitted in public remarks that, “The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people.”

Citizen Action and Robert Kraig wanted Wisconsin to follow the path of Minnesota in the way the Gopher state set up a state-based exchange and regulated insurance plans that were offered through the exchange. While Wisconsin has suffered from premium hikes and the departure of several big insurance companies from the market, the crisis has not been as acute as it is in Minnesota.

“A preliminary analysis by Citizen Action of Wisconsin of Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace rates released earlier today by the federal government shows moderate increases when premiums and deductibles are taken together,” Kraig blogged on Sunday on the ironically named “No Sacred Cows Blog” run by Citizen Action.

Wisconsin consumers won’t be hit hard by the premium hikes, Kraig argued, if they look at premium hikes and lower deductibles together. “The result is that rates (premiums and deductibles together) decreased by 1.2% for the most common plans,” he claims. But that requires consumers to be unhealthy enough to make use of their health insurance up to and beyond the cost of the deductible. For a healthy person, there is no silver lining to the premium hikes.

Arguing that, “a Wisconsin consumer who uses enough health care to pay the full deductible will actually see a reduction in consumer costs (not including tax subsidies)” is not a terribly persuasive argument because it requires the assumption that consumers spend at least some part of the upcoming year sick.

After making the argument that sick people will be the winners under the monthly premium hikes, Kraig then asserts that, “Premium increases are actually easier for health consumers to handle because they are covered by affordability tax credits.”

Who pays for those tax credits – also known as a subsidy for health insurance premiums? The federal government. Who funds the federal government? Taxpayers. Who is required to have federally-mandated health insurance coverage? Everyone.

Additionally, because of how the Affordable Care Act was written, a taxpayer may fund the subsidies on one hand – because they pay taxes – while not qualifying for them when they buy government-mandated health insurance. The subsidies are only available to individuals and families who make less than 400% of the federal poverty level. One group hit by that rule is small business owners who run their business expenses and profits through their personal tax rate.

Not once in his praise of premium hikes did Kraig address the biggest broken promise of ObamaCare: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” That’s not true in Wisconsin or anywhere else, where new plans have replaced pre-ObamaCare plans and entire insurance companies have quit the marketplace.

Russ Feingold voted to ruin your health care by voting for ObamaCare. Keep that in mind when you vote.

The alt-Republican (assuming Trump is a Republican, though he isn’t)

Leonid Bershidsky went West to watch Evan McMullin:

In Boise, Idaho, this weekend, I watched people packed into a high school auditorium warm to a ticket most Americans haven’t even heard of: Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn. McMullin, a 40-year-old former Central Intelligence Agency operative, Goldman Sachs banker and congressional aide, has only been running for president for 11 weeks. He hasn’t even raised $1 million. Yet, according to polls, he was even with Trump and Clinton in Utah, the state where he was born. One poll even showed him ahead. He wasn’t just the first third-party presidential candidate with a chance of winning a state since George Wallace in 1968 — he’d be the first candidate in U.S. history to do so without a party affiliation. If he manages this, he’d have a platform to try to revamp the right flank of American politics — his project after what he sees as an inevitable Clinton victory. …

People laughed and clapped when Finn, a 35-year-old former Twitter executive and consultant to the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney, admitted she hadn’t had plans to run for vice president this year “or ever.” But the mood got more serious when she and McMullin explained why they decided to run: They’d waited and waited for a big-name conservative to come forward and stand against Trump and Clinton. When none appeared, they despaired and decided to make a go of it themselves, just to show, as McMullin said, that there were “millions of Americans more qualified to be president than Trump or Clinton.” That was a sentiment the audience shared. Lines formed at the end of McMullin’s short speech — one to have pictures taken with him, a regular occurrence at his campaign stops in the Mountain West, and another one to donate to his campaign, which subsists on these contributions — less than $40 on average. Capacity crowds at every venue where he has appeared since making a dent in the Utah polls ensure that he can go on.

McMullin says he voted for Senator Marco Rubio in the Republican primary. “He was the best on national security issues and I thought he would be successful at bringing in people of different races and religions into the conservative movement.” But he would have backed any Republican candidate except Trump, whom he called a racist, an enemy of religious freedom and of everything a true conservative holds dear, from the Second Amendment to the right to life. “I don’t trust the Donald Trump who’s running for president,” he said. “I trust the Donald Trump before he was running and his entire life.”

McMullin says Trump harnessed the feelings of people left behind by trade, automation and ultimately the Republican Party itself. “He took these people’s frustration and turned it into anger and hate and that drove his momentum even further,” McMullin said. “And as he did that, you saw leaders of the Republican Party join him because they saw political opportunity in it and that gave him even more opportunity, and here we are with Donald Trump as our nominee.”

When Trump won the nomination, McMullin was working as policy director for the House Republican Conference, the party’s congressional caucus. He had access to leading lawmakers, and he watched with mounting frustration as they either fell in behind Trump or refused to oppose him. “They told me Trump’s supporters would send them angry tweets if they did,” McMullin told the crowd in Boise, to laughter and jeers.

The former CIA agent, who ran intelligence and counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East, approached a group called Better for America, which had been casting around for an anti-Trump conservative candidate and trying to secure ballot spots for a knight in shining armor. He said he would have served whoever was picked. But the group couldn’t find anyone with even minor name recognition. So McMullin took the plunge, setting up his election headquarters in Utah and trying to get on the ballot everywhere he could — mostly as a write-in. He raised about $300,000 in the first month, then almost nothing in the month that followed because few believed he stood a chance. He says the trickle of funding increased to a more respectable stream after the Utah polls.

Not a Spoiler

McMullin’s plan was to win a state or two in the Mountain West. Idaho and Wyoming, as well as Utah, have large Mormon populations, and McMullin, himself a Mormon, knows his coreligionists have a hard time accepting Trump even as an alternative to Clinton. Mormons, with their memory of persecution, haven’t taken kindly to Trump’s early promises to keep Muslims out of the U.S.

Trump was expected to carry Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, all deeply conservative states, and McMullin may deny him victory at least in Utah (polls in Idaho and Wyoming don’t track him yet).

If the race between Trump and Clinton were close, a victory even in one state would allow McMullin and Finn a theoretical chance at the White House because if neither candidate gets a majority of electoral votes, the 12th Amendment of the Constitution calls for Congress to pick the president. That was their original long-shot strategy — such a scenario hasn’t played out since 1825. McMullin is the first to admit that this “does appear less likely now”: He is certain Clinton will win by a landslide. So is Finn.

“Clinton is within three points of Trump in Texas, my home state,” Finn told me. “It shows the damage he has done to the Republican Party.”

If the race ends as they predict, the votes cast for McMullin won’t change anything, but he he and Finn hope to “send a strong message to Washington, to the Republican Party and to conservatives that something new is happening and that there’s a new conservative movement that we’re building.”

I’ve heard the word “movement” from a number of candidates in this campaign — Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and, of course, Trump. Sanders and Trump did succeed in forming genuine movements. On a small scale, McMullin has done so, too, at least in the Mountain West. Hundreds of people, far more than expected, show up at his volunteer recruitment events. He talks of plans to keep the organization alive after Election Day, perhaps even turn it into a party. He says:

Both of us are skeptical that the Republican Party will change in a good way after this election. It will learn that it needs to be able to appeal to women, to minorities and to millennials, and they’re doing terribly with that in this election. They’re not getting better. They’re getting worse. I have been involved with the Republican Party at high levels and tried to change the party, and we see that it really struggles. Every week it seems like there’s another Republican member of Congress saying something terrible about women. I mean, they can’t help themselves. Now that Donald Trump supporters are more empowered than they’ve ever been, that doesn’t suggest a positive future for the Republican Party to me. Most likely over time they will shrink in size and become a white nationalist party.

That’s not a direction McMullin wants to go. He and his running mate may have given up on modernizing the party, but not on conservative politics.

Conservatism for Millennials

After months of listening to U.S. Republican politicians thunder about gay marriage and abortion, I was surprised at the seeming mildness of McMullin’s message on these issues. He talked about working with liberal groups to minimize the number of elective abortions, and said that the Supreme Court had ruled on gay marriage so it’s time to move on. (One reason for the latter stand may be that McMullin’s mother is now married to a woman.) But when I asked him if his was a somewhat watered down version of conservatism, he pushed back hard.

“If I became president I’d appoint Supreme Court justices who would, I hope, overturn Roe v. Wade,” he said. “So that would be a litmus test for me.”

His stands don’t differ much from Republican orthodoxy: He calls for entitlements reform to cut the deficit and government debt, and wants to replace Obamacare with a cheaper system that would do more to foster competition among insurance companies and downsize government in general. His biggest objection to Clinton, apart from the litany of accusations stemming from the e-mail scandal, is that she’s a government expansionist. In the traditional Republican vein, he’s more of a national security hawk than the Democratic nominee, and rejects what he sees as Trump’s affection for President Vladimir Putin.

Unlike either of the candidates, McMullin, who worked in the Middle East for most of his 11 years at the CIA, has a coherent plan for Syria. It involves full radar coverage of the country to monitor and report Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes along with the creation of no-fly zones in the north and south of the country to protect moderate Syrian rebels. The U.S., he says, is perfectly capable of building a local force that could hold its ground against President Bashar al-Assad on the battlefield and force him to negotiate his departure. “As far as the moderate Syrians are concerned, I am really frustrated when policy makers say, ‘They are weak, we can’t really work with them,’” McMullin says. “Oh yeah, they are weak because we don’t support them. How are they supposed to fight this battle on their own?”

Both McMullin and Finn sound capable of discussion and compromise, of accepting others’ views rather than imposing their own. They are not harsh ideologues or politicians intent on hitting their talking points. When I remarked on that, McMullin said:

I think generally there’s a hunger for authenticity. We’re honest about our goals, we’re honest about the chances, we’re honest about what we stand for. That is not the usual thing, and we know that because we come from that world: We’ve been top advisers to politicians.

As I listened to this pair of political novices talk about broadcasting their events on the social networks or using Facebook to build awareness, I imagined one of the next elections — perhaps not the one in four years, but surely by 2024 — in which they and their peers on the left would argue out the issues instead of slinging mud. I could easily imagine them working toward political compromises, too. By being genuine and understated, they would perhaps restore the credibility the U.S.’s democracy has lost this year.

On both sides of the line dividing the American right and left, there is a yearning for something different, an earnest belief in working to make the country better. Perhaps there’s a chance that it won’t be corrupted by the realities of politics: The negative example of the Trump v. Clinton race is there for all to see and avoid.

Presty the DJ for Oct. 26

Britishers with taste bought this single when it hit the charts today in 1961:

Today in 1965, the four Beatles were named Members of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. The Beatles’ visit reportedly began when they smoked marijuana in a Buckingham Palace bathroom to calm their nerves.

The Beatles’ receiving their MBEs prompted a number of MBE recipients to return theirs. “Lots of people who complained about us receiving the MBE received theirs for heroism in the war — for killing people,” said John Lennon, previewing the public relations skills he’d show a year later when he would compare the Beatles to Jesus Christ. “We received ours for entertaining other people. I’d say we deserve ours more.”

Lennon returned his MBE in 1969 as part of his peace protests.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Oct. 26”

Black lives and blue lives

Heather Mac Donald:

FBI Director James Comey has again defied the official White House line on policing and the Black Lives Matter movement. The “narrative that policing is biased and violent and unfair” is resulting in “more dead young black men,” Mr. Comey warned in an Oct. 16 address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego. That narrative, he added, also “threatens the future of policing.”

Mr. Comey has spoken out before. In October 2015, after he observed that rising violent crime was likely the result of officers backing off proactive policing, President Obamaobliquely accused the FBI director of “cherry-pick[ing] data” and “feed[ing] political agendas.”

But as much as Mr. Obama has tried to dismiss the violent crime increase that began after the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the data are clear.

Last year’s 12% increase in homicides reported to the FBI is the largest one-year homicide increase in nearly half a century. The primary victims have been black. An additional 900 black males were killed last year compared with the previous year, resulting in a homicide victimization rate that is now nine times greater for black males than for white males, according to a Guardian study. The brutality of these killings can be shocking. Over the weekend of Sept. 16, a 15-year-old boy in Chicago was burned alive in a dumpster.

More police are being killed this year too. Gun murders of police officers are up 47% nationally through Oct. 21, compared with the same period the previous year. In Chicago gun assaults on officers are up 100%. In New York City attacks on officers are up 23%. In the last two weeks, four California officers have been deliberately murdered.

Gangbanger John Felix prepared for his lethal attack on two Palm Springs officers on Oct. 8 by setting a trap and ambushing them as they stood outside his door. Two days earlier, parolee Trenton Trevon Lovell shot Los Angeles Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen in the face as he investigated a burglary call. Lovell then stood over Sgt. Owen and fired four additional rounds into his body. A planned assassination of two officers on coffee break in Vallejo, Calif., on Oct. 17 failed only when the assault rifle used in the attack jammed. In Indianapolis on Oct. 13, police headquarters were sprayed with bullets by a car that then fled, echoing a similar attack on Oct. 4 against the same police station.

Officers are second-guessing their own justified use of force for fear of being labeled racist and losing their jobs, if not their freedom. On Oct. 5 a female officer in Chicago was beaten unconscious by a suspect in a car crash, who repeatedly bashed her face into the concrete and tore out chunks of her hair. She refrained from using her gun, she said, because she didn’t want to become the next viral video in the Black Lives Matter narrative.

The Chicago Police Department now wants to institutionalize such dangerous second-guessing. Its proposed guidelines for using force would require cops to consider the “impact that even a reasonable use of force may have on those who observe” it.

A Los Angeles police officer recently described to me his current thought process in deciding whether to intervene in suspicious or criminal behavior. A man high on meth was violently accosting pedestrians around a Santa Monica bike path. The cops were “very hesitant to arrest,” the officer said, because “we knew we would be on YouTube before we could get back to the station.” That reluctance to make contact intensifies when the suspect is black, he added.

The Black Lives Matter narrative about an epidemic of racially biased police shootings is false: Four studies published this year showed that if there is a bias in police shootings, it works in favor of blacks and against whites. Officers’ use of lethal force following an arrest for a violent felony is more than twice the rate for white as for black arrestees, according to one study. Another study showed that officers were three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed whites.

We are at a crucial juncture on law and order. Police officers unquestionably need more hands-on tactical training that will help them make split-second shoot-don’t shoot decisions. Some officers develop obnoxious attitudes toward civilians that must be eradicated. But as Mr. Comey said in San Diego, “Police officers are overwhelmingly good people . . . who took exhausting, dangerous jobs because they want to help people.”

No government agency is more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police. If the next administration continues to disregard that truth in favor of a false narrative about systemic law-enforcement racism, the next four years will see more urban violence and race riots, and more dead cops.

A First and Second threat

Steve Chapman:

Donald Trump is a clear menace to our democratic form of government, the rule of law and my James Madison bobblehead. The teenage Ted Cruz could recite the entire Constitution from memory. Trump wouldn’t know it from Two Corinthians.

But it’s not exactly safe to entrust your copy of the Constitution to Hillary Clinton, either. You might get it back with some parts missing or mutilated—like the First Amendment and the Second.

When it comes to gun rights, Clinton has taken a position appreciably to the left of Barack Obama’s. From his first presidential campaign, he has assured gun owners he respects their cherished prerogatives and would never take away their weapons.

When the Supreme Court issued its landmark 2008 decision in D.C. v. Heller, he applauded it. “I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms,” Obama said.

Not Clinton. When asked in June whether she endorses that interpretation, she conspicuously declined to do so. “For most of our history, there was a nuanced reading of the Second Amendment, until the decision by the late Justice Scalia,” she groused.

Asked whether she agrees “that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right,” Clinton replied, “If it is a constitutional right, then it, like every other constitutional right, is subject to reasonable regulations.” If?

In her final debate with Trump, Clinton was asked again about the Heller decision. She reiterated her opposition, insisting that “what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns, and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them.” She eventually said, “I also believe there’s an individual right to bear arms.”

So Clinton rejects the Supreme Court decision that established constitutional protection for that right—but now agrees the right has constitutional protection? As former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan once said, “If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said.”

She and Obama both favor universal background checks for gun purchases, a ban on “assault weapons” and denying guns to anyone on the federal no-fly list. But her cramped view of the Second Amendment suggests she would favor additional curbs that she knows the Supreme Court would not abide.

Clinton seems to think that a new justice or two might set the Second Amendment right. On the First Amendment, however, she sees the Supreme Court as a lost cause.

Her target is the 2010 Citizens United decision, which established the right of corporations and labor unions to participate in electioneering. In the debate, she said it “has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system.”

But all the decision did was to prevent the government from suppressing speech about political matters. The justices noted that under the law it struck down, it would be a felony for the Sierra Club, within 60 days of a general election, to run an ad urging “the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests.” The court ruled that speech doesn’t lose protection merely because it comes from corporations—a category that includes many advocacy groups.

Such expression would be censored if Clinton had her way. She proposes a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision—which would alter the Bill of Rights to restrict our freedoms.

The idea has drawn opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, which says, “Our system of free expression is built on the premise that the people get to decide what speech they want to hear; it is not the role of the government to make that decision for them.”

Her alarms about “dark money”—contributions to politically active groups that don’t have to reveal their donors—are misplaced. In the 2014 campaign, 77 percent of political spending was fully disclosed, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, up from 45 percent in 2010.

What Clinton omits is that Congress could require more transparency from these groups if it wanted to. The Citizens United decision doesn’t forbid such regulation. The obstacles are political. But the same obstacles stand in the way of her constitutional amendment.

Trump and Clinton make me miss Al Gore’s famous Social Security lockbox. Over the next four years, it would be the perfect place to keep the Constitution.

Presty the DJ for Oct. 25

Today in 1963, the Beatles played two shows in Sundstavagen, Sweden, to begin their first tour of Sweden. The local music critic was less than impressed, claiming the Beatles should have been happy for their fans’ screaming to drown out the group’s “terrible” performance, asserting that the Beatles “were of no musical importance whatsoever,” and furthermore claiming their local opening act, the Phantoms, “decidedly outshone them.”

Three thoughts: Perhaps the Beatles did have a bad night. But have you heard a Phantoms song recently? It is also unknown whether the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” was intended as revenge against the Swedes.

One year later, a demonstration of why the phrase “never say never” holds validity: Today in 1964, the Rolling Stones made their first appearance on CBS-TV’s Ed Sullivan Show.

A riot broke out in the CBS studio, which prompted Sullivan to say, “I promise you they’ll never be back on our show again.” “Never” turned out to be May 2, 1965, when the Stones made the second of their six performances on the rilly big shew.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Oct. 25”

On day number 8,767

There we were, 24 years and an hour of so ago, the media geek and the returned Peace Corps volunteer.

Twenty-four years, three children, four dogs and four cats later …

Players at Alone for Christmas.
Michael the potential future firefighter.
Michael the potential future firefighter.
Dylan plays trombone.
Dylan plays trombone.
Shaena the violin player.
This is Leo and Max
This is Leo and Max “playing,” not an argument between the human siblings.
Oskar and Luna couldn't care less, unless they're hungry, which is only in the a.m. or p.m.
Oskar and Luna couldn’t care less, unless they’re hungry, which is only in the a.m. or p.m.

Five years ago I wrote this on the occasion of our 19th wedding anniversary.

A few things have changed, like jobs and address. We also have three teenagers in the house, including the child who is not a chronological teenager. Other than that, you can probably add five years to everything listed in there. (The march of time!)

Here’s what has not changed: I still love my wife.