Presty the DJ for June 7

The Rolling Stones had a big day today in 1963: They made their first TV appearance and released their first single:

The number one song today in 1975:

Five years later, Gary Numan drove his way to number nine:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for June 7”


Nonpartisan ≠ nonideological

I am announcing a sectional baseball doubleheader with two local teams in the first game, with the winner possibly facing a parochial high school opponent for the right to go state.

Nevertheless, fair reporting is fair reporting, and the opposite is not.

Luther Ray Abel:

Wisconsin Watch, a self-described “nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news outlet,” is a progressive outlet masquerading as a straight shooter. While this is a free country, the outlet’s reporting as if it is the last word on objective, incentive-free journalism is morally objectionable, as Watch’s priorities originate well outside the political center.

Part of the “Global Investigative Journalism Network,” sponsored by the left-leaning Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundations, among others, Wisconsin Watch also enjoys local donors such as the Joyce Foundation ($200,000), whose stated purpose is to effect “Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform” as well as fostering journalism that “shines a light on conditions we hope to change, policies we endorse, and success stories that present solutions to problems.” In other words, these are ideological nonprofits paying journalists they hope will write about pet interests under the guise of being “nonpartisan, nonprofit.” But for charity’s sake, let’s assume that there aren’t strings attached.

The vast majority of Wisconsin Watch reporter Phoebe Petrovic’s investigation into “anti-LGBTQ+” policies at Wisconsin private schools — Christian schools — relies upon left-wing advocacy groups for sourcing. You can read the whole thing here.

The report begins by interviewing Nat Werth, a controversial 2019 graduate of Sheboygan Lutheran — a Missouri-synod Lutheran school.

Petrovic writes:

As Werth was preparing to graduate, he drafted a valedictory speech in which he planned to come out as gay and critique homophobic Biblical interpretations as archaic, mistranslated or misconstrued. Administrators canceled his remarks.

Sheboygan Lutheran is a private school that receives public funding through tuition vouchers, which currently subsidize nearly 40% of its students. Administrators ignored repeated requests by phone and email for an interview. When a reporter recently again asked Executive Director Paul Gnan for a comment in person, Gnan smiled and said: “Absolutely not.”

As I wrote two years ago, Werth attempted to make about himself what should have been a speech about the whole of his graduating class. The school administration was well within its rights to deny him the platform to make a selfish speech. But of course the whole thing turned into a circus.

Werth told Petrovic that “I’m not against school choice.” “It’s that everybody has human rights and that they should all be protected no matter what, especially the rights of kids who go to private and parochial (voucher) schools in Wisconsin,” he continued.

In other words, Christian schools should do what the government tells them to do, even if it’s against their deeply held beliefs about natural law and order.

Petrovic then turns to Suzanne Eckes, an education-law professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, for comment.

She writes:

Suzanne Eckes, an education law professor at University of Madison-Wisconsin, argued that language casting gay or transgender identities or behavior as sinful, even without policies codifying the perspective, “has a discriminatory intent behind it.”

She also pointed out how some policies, although not explicit, could result in LGBTQ+ students being treated inconsistently from others. For example, some schools specifically ban all sexual contact outside of a straight, cisgender marriage.

Note: Sexual contact outside of a “straight, cisgender marriage” is a universal prohibition on student sexual contact because high-schoolers aren’t getting married, gay or straight.

For me, the most troubling bit of the piece is when Petrovic reports that Beverly Yahnke, a guest speaker hosted by Sheboygan Lutheran, seemingly joked about sibling abuse during her “Transgenderism and Sexualization in Our Schools” presentation in April (held outside of school hours and free to the public, which Petrovic fails to mention):

In a striking moment, she also argued that children should go through natural puberty, without blockers, “to discover what it feels like to be a man, to feel their shoulders broaden to take out their little sister and smack her against the wall.” When an audience member reacted in shock, Yahnke added: “In playful jest, of course.”

It’s worth noting that Yahnke had visited Sheboygan Lutheran before, in 2020, and delivered the same speech minus the roughhousing part. She instead riffed about beards, an admittedly safer play. But, hey, at 35 minutes into a presentation before the clergy of apathy — high-schoolers — I’m sympathetic to getting a rise out of the crowd. It also happens to be true that pubescent boys are ogres discovering new strength with underdeveloped brains, which is why we pit them against one another in whatever sport is in season. Off-the-cuff jokes rarely read well on paper.

Petrovic did not indicate if she reached out to Yahnke or her organization for comment.

Further citations include the Trevor Project (a queer-advocacy group) on bullying stats, the Southern Poverty Law Center (a left-wing smear outfiton which doctors can be authorities on transgenderismTransLash (a revolutionary transgender zine that has partnered with the National Education Association, a public-teachers’ union) on the insidiousness of right-wing voucher programs, and GSAFE (which organizes LGBT clubs at schools) on the extracurricular nature of Gay–Straight Alliances or Gender and Sexuality Alliances.

Wisconsin Watch isn’t nonpartisan in a way that a layman would understand the term. Rather, it’s nonpartisan because there isn’t a party far enough to the left to earn its support. The publication uses deceptive presentation to advocate for progressive policies while using whatever activist outlet is at hand to lobby for unmaking successful programs such as Wisconsin’s voucher system — a program that allow kids to attend excellent schools and focus on their studies instead of on intersectionalist priorities.

Sheboygan Lutheran was a bitter cross-town foe of my school, but, on this matter, they did nothing wrong and a whole lot right. The public should use Wisconsin Watch’s reporting as a lesson that there are elements of the Left that would rather see kids fail than see them learn outside of the progressive orthodoxy.

The debt ceiling winner is (not) …

Noah Rothman:

It took a while, but the press has settled on a narrative in its quest to put a period on the monthslong debt-ceiling saga: Joe Biden won!

“President Biden this week accomplished what America elected him to do — govern from the center and make deals that solve problems,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius opined, citing the progressive Left’s hostility toward the debt-ceiling deal the Biden White House hashed out with Speaker Kevin McCarthy as proof for his thesis.

The New York Times also deemed the deal a “win,” and praised the president’s magnanimity. By allowing McCarthy to “claim the win,” Times analyst Peter Baker wrote, Biden secured his Republican interlocutor’s “hard right” flank, warding off a threat to the speakership even as he absorbed blows from progressives.

Having talked and cajoled Republicans out of their monomaniacal desire to destroy the American economy in pursuit of their own parochial political advantage, Vanity Fair’s Molly Jong-Fast declared, the “often underestimated” president emerged as “the big winner” in the standoff.

“Getting lawmakers to collectively step back from the financial cliff was as big a victory as any specific provision from the debt ceiling package,” Politico marveled. “And it would serve as a blueprint for the reelection campaign to come.” The deal is “a win for Biden on many levels,” USA Today’s reporters gushed. Biden achieved “total victory” and delivered a “remarkably one-sided win on the debt limit this week,” Washington Post opinion columnist Matt Bai wrote. Biden’s achievement outstripped “my wildest expectation of what he could possibly achieve in this negotiation,” MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell said. And so on.

It is a struggle to square these buoyant assessments of Biden’s transactional acumen with both the terms of the deal to which he consented and the implosion of the strategy the president pursued in the seven months it took to get there.

The president’s approach to the debt-ceiling standoff came into view even before the 2022 midterm elections, when Democrats had already resigned themselves to losing control of one or both chambers of Congress. “Republicans are determined to hold the economy hostage,” Biden said at a gathering of the Democratic National Committee in October 2022. He forecast an effort by Republicans to force the White House into consenting to reforms to America’s major entitlement programs or using the threat of default as leverage.

Biden brushed off calls from both Democratic lawmakers and members of his own administration to seek a legislative abolition of the debt ceiling altogether in the lame-duck session of Congress. Instead, administration officials insisted, the debt-ceiling debate would establish a politically beneficial contrast between his White House and the GOP. As one Biden adviser confessed, “the gun is in Republicans’ hands” and “there is little question as to who will get blamed” for a default.

This bravado masked a structural problem for Democrats, however, insofar as it was clear that there was no appetite among moderate Senate Democrats for pushing through a short-term debt-ceiling hike via reconciliation. So the matter would have to wait until 2023, and the Biden White House would count on the fractious House Republican conference to self-destruct when the chips were down.

By the time the 118th Congress was sworn in, Biden settled on his offer to the party in control of the chamber from which appropriations bills must originate: nothing at all. The president would deign to discuss only budgetary issues with House Republicans, but not the debt ceiling. “There should not be conditions around this,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted. “We should not be negotiating.” This strategy was endorsed by Democratic boosters in the media who convinced themselves that the GOP had rolled Barack Obama during debt-ceiling negotiations in 2011 (a conclusion with which no Republican agrees). But it was bad advice: The Biden White House refused to engage in substantive talks with Republicans well past the point at which its obstinacy became self-defeating.

“If the president doesn’t act,” Speaker McCarthy warned in late March, Republicans would force his hand. The House GOP would pass its own debt-ceiling hike on its terms, which would compel Democrats to respond. McCarthy gambled on his conference’s capacity to rally together around a deal, and the bet paid off. Still, Biden was unmoved by the debt-ceiling bill the GOP produced. He refused to budge, even as a growing number of prominent Senate and House Democrats urged him to abandon his recalcitrance and agree to negotiations.

Eventually, Biden buckled under pressure — not just from his own party but the voting public. By the end of May, poll after poll found that the public sided with the GOP’s position — that increasing the nation’s borrowing limit should be paired with spending cuts — while self-described Democrats were split on whether to endorse the Democratic Party’s pursuit of a no-strings debt-ceiling hike.

The deal to which Biden acquiesced reflects the leverage Democrats sacrificed during the months in which they committed themselves to mulishness. The American Enterprise Institute’s Michael R. Strain summarizes the details of the deal neatly:

$1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, tougher work requirements on certain safety-net programs, clawing back unspent Covid-relief money, measures to speed up environmental reviews for major projects, and no tax increases. Considering that Democrats control the Senate and the White House, this is all the more impressive.

Throughout it all, Democratic partisans toyed with ex machinas and elaborate Rube Goldberg devices purportedly designed to bypass the constitutional impediments to Joe Biden’s desired outcome. From repurposing the 14th Amendment so that it somehow authorized new debt rather than simply mandating the repayment of existing debt to just ignoring the debt ceiling altogether, Democrats considered all manner of non-options out of a desire to avoid facing the music. But in the end, Joe Biden caved.

In evaluating the fan fiction circulating this week about Biden’s supposed victory, the operative word is “fan.” These journalistic outlets are sacrificing their credibility by disregarding reality and substituting instead a preferred narrative of events in which Joe Biden emerges the hero. Indeed, the president has presided over a bipartisan achievement here, but he had to be dragged into it by House Republicans and the reality-based members of his own party.

The Biden White House is politically obligated to declare victory amid retreat, and it is best practice to retail that dubious narrative to reporters. But there’s no immutable law of the universe that compels reporters to accept the narrative at face value. That is a choice — a deeply regrettable one.


Presty the DJ for June 4

I was hours old when the Rolling Stones released “Satisfaction,” an arguably appropriate song since I was apparently hungry all the time:

Four years later, the Beatles released “The Ballad of John and Yoko”:

The short list of birthdays today includes Roger Brown, who played saxophone for the Average White Band …

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for June 4”

He who wants to be the next president

Jim Geraghty:

This is an actual Truth Social post from former president Donald Trump yesterday:

Have you heard that “Rob” DeSanctimonious wants to change his name, again. He is demanding that people call him DeeeSantis, rather than DaSantis. Actually, I like “Da” better, a nicer flow, so I am happy he is changing it. He gets very upset when people, including reporters, don’t pronounce it correctly. Therefore, he shouldn’t mind, DeSanctimonious?

These are apparently the sorts of thoughts that consume the mind of one of the four people most likely to take the oath of office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2025. (The other three are Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Ron DeSantis. While some other figure could surprise us all by leaping to the Democratic or Republican presidential nomination, or even by mounting a competitive independent bid, right now, all other figures are extreme underdogs.)

By the way, the next evidence that DeSantis “gets very upset when people, including reporters, don’t pronounce it correctly,” will be the first evidence.

Trump, however, is not alone in spending time and energy contemplating the proper pronunciation of “DeSantis.” The New York Times ran a two-byline column, “Deh-Santis or Dee-Santis? Even He Has Been Inconsistent,” although they at least acknowledged that it is a “highly inconsequential matter.” Axios also believed that this topic was worth spending time, energy, reader attention, and some of humanity’s presumably finite supply of neurons on. (In Mike Allen’s newsletter today, the “How do you pronounce DeSantis’s name” section is above the section about the House passing the debt-ceiling deal. Smart brevity! All the news you need, if you have the attention span of an over-caffeinated ferret.)

Presty the DJ for June 1

The number one single today in 1963:

Today in 1967, the Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”:

The number one single today in 1968:

Today in 1969 during their Montreal “Bed-In” (moved from New York City due to a previous marijuana conviction), John Lennon and Yoko Ono, with backing vocals from Timothy Leary, Tommy Smothers, Dick Gregory, DJ Murray the K, Allen Ginsburg and others, recorded this request:

The number one single today in 1970:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for June 1”