Presty the DJ for Oct. 18

The number one song today in 1969:

Britain’s number one single today in 1979 probably would have gotten no American notice had it not been for the beginning of MTV a year later:

The number one album today in 1986 was Huey Lewis and the News’ “Fore”:

The City of Los Angeles declared today in 1990 “Rocky Horror Picture Show Day” in honor of the movie’s 15th anniversary, so …

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Oct. 18”


A Democrat considers his party

Giancarlo Sopo writes in USA Today:

Cuba’s socialist revolution was supposed to work for workers — like my grandparents who lived in Miami during Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. In January 1959, just two weeks after Fidel Castro seized power, they returned to the island to care for my grandmother’s ailing mother. For the next 20 years, they remained prisoners in their own country.

As Cuba’s political and economic situation worsened, my grandfather told a friend he wanted to return to the United States. Someone overheard the conversation and reported him to the authorities. For this, the Castro regime threw him in jail. He was later stripped of his job and salary as an accountant and assigned to feed zoo animals. In addition to the emotional distress it caused, this made my family’s financial circumstances even more precarious.

To understand my grandparents’ desperation to flee socialism, imagine leaving everything behind and starting anew at almost 60 years old.

I was born in Miami a little after my family was able to return to America — when President Jimmy Carter allowed travel restrictions to lapse. Growing up, a framed photo of my parents with President Ronald Reagan was a mainstay in the living room of our modest duplex. Yet, during the first election I was able to vote, I served as a precinct captain for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Four years later, I knocked on doors in New Hampshire for then-Sen. Barack Obama. In 2016, my wife and I drove 14 hours to volunteer for Hillary Clinton and this June, we marched in support of immigrant families.

The popularity of ‘democratic socialism’

Despite my working-class immigrant roots, I am concerned by the popularity of socialism within my party. On the night of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in New York, I thought her use of the term was a misnomer. Then I began studying the views of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the rapidly growing national organization she belongs to, and was disturbed by what I learned.

Like those of yesteryear, today’s socialists believe the government should nationalize major industries, propose eliminating private ownership of companies, and reject profits. In other words, democratic socialism is a lot like the system my family fled, except its proponents promise to be nicer when seizing your business.

When I confronted some progressive friends about this, they initially dismissed my concerns. After sharing some articles with them, the conversation shifted to “they just want us to be more like the Nordic countries” and “they’re not like real socialists!” Both are reductionist, self-delusions to avoid confronting difficult truths.

The latter is a particularly absurd fallacy because it requires one to believe that adults who willfully join socialist organizations, sound like socialists and call themselves socialists are not what they claim to be.

Claims of “Nordic socialism” are also largely exaggerated. As Jostein Skaar, of Oslo Economics, told me, “I would stress that the Norwegian economic system is capitalistic, heavily influenced by the U.S. and U.K.”

This is probably why DSA argues that the Nordic model is not good enough.

The ideological counterparts of America’s democratic socialists are likelier to be found to our south than in northern Europe. For instance, Cuba — where the state controls three-fourths of the economy, limits private-sector activity, and employs the majority of workers — is clearly more representative of DSA’s economic vision than Denmark, where 89 percent of the wealth is privately owned and seven out of 10 Danes work in the private sector.

Moreover, as an investigation by Transparency International revealed, the Venezuelan government owns at least 511 companies — resulting in a state-owned enterprises per-capita ratio that is more than three times greater than all of Scandinavia’s combined.

As someone who spent years defending Democrats from “socialista” charges, I understand why people roll their eyes when Cuba and Venezuela are mentioned alongside democratic socialism, but to reject the comparison simply because we don’t like those countries’ outcomes misses the point of why they turned out the way they did. I’m under no illusion that increased access to health care and education will turn us into the Venezuelan capital Caracas, but it’s foolish to believe that democratic socialists — who promise to end capitalism — would be satisfied with Medicare for all, if given the reins of power.

This must never happen. The descendants of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels should have no place in the party of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. Given its horrific record of human suffering, it would be a moral disgrace for Democrats to embrace socialism just to win elections, as some suggest. Those who use the blitheful ignorance of many for the political gain of a few deserve to lose. Indeed, if socialism represents the future of the Democratic Party, that’s a dystopia no American should want to be a part of.

Jon Gabriel adds:

A Gallup poll has discovered that, for the first time, Democrats have a more positive image of socialism than they do of capitalism. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners support the state-run economic system, while just 47 percent support free enterprise.

Did these people fall asleep in history class during the lectures about the Soviet Union and the Khmer Rouge? Miss the past few years of Venezuelans unable to find medicine, milk or toilet paper? Forget that just last month, Nicaraguan strongman Daniel Ortega shot up a bunch of university students in a church?


A Democrat considers Trump

Devin Stewart:

Like most Democrats, I reacted to the stunning 2016 election of Donald Trump with a combination of confusion and dread. After all, Hillary Clinton was the favorite and, to Democrats like me, a Trump victory seemed to portend certain economic disasternuclear war, and pretty much the end of America as we knew it.

But now nearly two years into his administration, Trump has presided over a “winning streak” that includes a booming economy and stock market, an unemployment level at a nearly 50-year low, two Supreme Court appointments, no new foreign wars or domestic terrorist attacks emanating from abroad, a significant degree of progress on trade relations with Canada and Mexico, a “needed reset” on the China relationship, and the prospect of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Perhaps it is time that even his opponents reconsider Trump. Does Trump have a strategy that we can describe? Is Trump a return of Richard Nixon, of Ronald Reagan, or of something else entirely? After several months of watching the news without gaining any answers, I finally canceled my cable subscription and sought out other sources. I found some insights in unexpected places.

Trump’s presidency marks a return to realpolitik and great power politics. No one knows what goes on in Trump’s mind or if even he believes he has a strategy. What matters is what Trump does, so this essay looks at his actions, considers the bias of his critics, and seeks a new way to understand his policies. It considers the possibility that Trump has a method to his madness.

The first clue toward understanding this new era was the way in which American media covered Trump’s approach toward North Korea, a country I have watched closely for 20 years as an Asia specialist.  North Korea is an urgent nuclear threat to the United States, as President Barack Obama warned Trump during their famous meeting after the election. Kim Jong Un subsequently accelerated his missile development and demonstrated weapons that could reach the U.S. mainland. During the fall of 2017, my colleagues and I laughed nervously about the prospect of nuclear war — given Trump’s threats earlier that summer to meet North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” and at the U.N. General Assembly to “totally destroy” Kim’s regime.

A year after those hyperbolic threats, Trump has just finished bragging at the U.N. General Assembly about how he had made significant progress in diplomacy with North Korea — even some “skeptics” agree. Overall, however, the press remains skeptical about Trump’s efforts with North Korea. It blames Trump for recklessly escalating the rhetoric and then blames him for meeting Kim in Singapore for diplomatic talks and getting “played.” After that meeting, the press predictably slammed Trump for not getting North Korea to immediately denuclearize, an unrealistic goal.

Of course, every president experiences fierce and sometimes unfair press criticism. They all feel quite persecuted by the press and frequently complain about their treatment. But Trump’s adversarial relationship with the press seems of a different type. He has challenged the press directly, even labeled them the enemy of the people. In response, much of the mainstream press seems to have adopted a certain smugness in the way that they consistently denigrate not just the president’s policies, but also his competence and fitness to be president. In contrast to the tone of press criticism of Obama, the mainstream media seems absolutely certain that they are smarter than Trump. In other words, they are smug. So, despite a radical change in U.S.-North Korea relations, the tone of the press coverage remains highly negative.

But the president’s approach has a clear logic. Trump shattered “decades of orthodoxy” by starting the North Korea negotiations with a summit directly between himself and Kim and offering the concession of pausing U.S.-South Korea military drills on the Peninsula. In contrast, previous administrations had dispatched diplomats to lay the groundwork for nuclear disarmament first, with the prospect of meeting the president as a reward. The recent isolation of North Korea with sanctions and limited diplomatic engagement had only persuaded it to build up its nuclear weapons capability and strengthened mutual suspicions. Trump’s instincts on North Korea may even be better than that of his advisors, accordingto former officials like Morton Halperin, a longtime arms control expert who served in the Johnson, Nixon, Clinton, and Obama administrations. Trump’s approach of engaging North Korea personally and directly makes much more sense than simply demanding immediate denuclearization.

Of course, the verdict on Trump’s effort with North Korea is not yet in.  But much of the press has not paid sufficient attention to the progress Trump has already made. His approach has secured the remains of some American troops lost during the Korean War, contributed to successful inter-Korean talks, and promised a follow up U.S.-North Korea summit. He is trying an unorthodox approach, but it is too soon to render conclusions about them because we are right in the middle of it. Experiencing the discrepancy between mainstream coverage of North Korea and my own analysis was eye-opening.

The second came from a project I was running at the Carnegie Council. The first was on Trump’s approach toward Asia. In 2017, I hosted a podcast with George Friedman, who described the post-World War II system as a “freak” and predicted that the world is returning to “a more normal structure in which the nation-state is dominant, international trade is intense but managed by states for their own benefit, and where this idea that the nation-state is obsolete goes away.” A similar theme came up during my podcast with scholar Raymond Kuo, who hopefully described Trump’s transactional approach as possibly like that of “master statesman” Otto Von Bismarck during his rule over Germany in the late 19thcentury. Maybe Trump is just a return to the norm of what Ian Bremmer calls our “G-Zero World.”

A third insight was from the unlikeliest place: the critically acclaimed animated show, “Rick and Morty.” During Trump’s campaign, his supporters frequently talked about how funny the candidate was. This humor was lost on most of my left-leaning peers. But “Rick and Morty” showed me what I have may been missing. Here is a popular TV show about a mad scientist Rick, an amoral, sociopathic man who considers himself the smartest man in the universe and tells dirty jokes in front of his grandson Morty. The slapstick, low-brow, and nihilistic insults and dirty humor of “Rick and Morty” — much like Trump — resemble some of the comedic greats from the decades  prior to the 1990s: “The Honeymooners,” “Benny Hill,” “Abbott and Costello,” “The Three Stooges,” and “I Love Lucy.” These comedic devices can be traced back hundreds of years to Asian and European theater, which used slapstick, puns, insults, and innuendo.

Compare that oeuvre to the 1990s-2000s, during which comedy was more satirical, knowing, self-referential, meta, and smug. This idea is far from perfect, but examples of satire that use slapstick as well include “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” “South Park,” “Team America: World Police”, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s parodies. American society today seems to be witnessing a return of what columnist Noah Smith calls “goofy” humor and a decline of “knowingly sarcastic” humor. Even The New Yorker complained that the 2018 Emmys were too smug and later described Trump’s rallies unfavorably as a “vaudeville routine.” Perhaps our shift toward a reversion in history also means we are seeing a cultural reversion as well.  Smugness has become politically tone deaf.

It’s possible that his opponents simply do not get Trump’s humor. The famous comment Trump made in 2016 about hoping that Russia would find Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails was delivered amid the Republican candidate’s riff about the Jon Lovitz character Tommy Flanagan, the pathological liar, from Saturday Night Live. Another source of media consternation was Trump’s remark that he preferred soldiers who were not captured, in contrast to John McCain, who was captured in the Vietnam War. Al Franken made the same joke about 20 years ago and Chris Rock delivered it in his 2008 HBO special to huge laughs. Rock’s hilarious punchline: “I don’t wanna vote for the guy that got captured. I wanna vote for the mother f—er that got away!” But when Trump made the same comment, much of the media portrayed these jokes as evidence that Trump was a treasonous, insensitive monster. Of course, there are different standards of propriety for politicians and for comedians, but one can’t help but sense that there is an entirely different standard for Trump.

The same dynamic played out after Trump called the gang MS-13 “animals” (which he later clarified) and also when he said that people disputing the confederate statues in Charlottesville had “very fine people on both sides” of the debate. In these two episodes, the U.S. media twisted the president’s statements to make him sound like he was calling all immigrants animals and that he was calling neo-Nazis fine people. But that’s not what he said. Slanted media coverage of politicians is nothing new, but fellow Democrats must be aware of it even when it confirms their views.

Of course, Trump, like all presidents, is trying to have it both ways. He is trying to encourage his base, while seeking to avoid alienating the mushy middle. It is a bit unseemly and at times hypocritical, but it is politics, not bean bag. Trump’s opponents like to call out his hypocrisy in hyperbolic terms, but in so doing they simply stoke outrage while failing to provide any sort of objective analysis about what he is really accomplishing.

Such an analysis would require a difficult reckoning with some missteps that long predate Trump. Backing for Trump stems in part from mistakes made by his predecessors. Bill Clinton’s famous 1996 “bridge to the 21st century” speech depicted a world in which the United States could “maintain our world leadership for peace and freedom” while also protecting the environment and training its citizens to compete in a globalized world. Americans could have it all.

During the 1990s, that phrase “bridge to the 21st century” became — sometimes sarcastic — shorthand for a set of policies that the United States would promote to foster globalization, technology, and open trade. It was a trusting aspiration that if only the United States would follow its liberal principles, other countries would follow along. That mentality led to welcoming China into the World Trade Organization, the flawed efforts to invade and nation-build Iraq and Afghanistan Wars by the Bush administration, and then the 2008 financial crisis.

Like many Gen-Xers who studied politics or international relations in the 1990s and 2000s, I absorbed this gospel of liberal internationalism almost completely. But Trump’s early successes have already caused me to question those tenets of my education.

The Trump Doctrine takes previous policy assumptions and turns them on their head. Trump’s “America First” approach is a reversion to the idea of realpolitik and great power competition. It is better suited to a moment in which American power is much less dominant. The president takes each state-to-state relationship on its own terms. That’s why he’s often antagonistic with allies and friendly with threatening dictators. The consequences of insultingfriendly countries, such as Canada, might be hurt feelings in exchange for better trade terms, while souring relations with an antagonistic one, such as North Korea, could result in serious security threats. He pursues the optimal outcome in a utilitarian sense rather than follow previous rules about diplomatic etiquette. Trump keeps his enemies even closer than his friends, while previous presidents did the opposite. Niccolo Machiavelli might have been familiar with these tactics.

Trump’s diplomatic method can be reduced to the four “B’s”:  bullying, bargaining, burden-sharing, and bragging. He starts an interaction by bullying the subject — usually on Twitter, seeks a chance to sit down with the target to bargain as hard as possible toward what Trump may see as a more reciprocal relationship of burden-sharing, and then finally brags about whatever the results are. Trump treats all relationships as transactional, deploying tit-for-tat tactics toward achieving his goal of “reciprocity.” His message is that he wants to make America great again but does not spend much time lecturing or moralizing to foreigners. Finally, his use of insults, jokes, and slapstick, physical humor creates an image of honesty and authenticity with his supporters. Overall, these techniques and worldviews are becoming increasingly common around the world, including with the leaders of countries as diverse as Turkey, the Philippines, Russia, Israel, Mexico — and potentially Brazil.

Trump described his realpolitik-with-no-sacred-cows approach during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September: “America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again. This is true not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity.”

Overall, Trump’s approach represents a reversion to a style of statecraft that flips previous approaches. Technocracy, meritocracy, and bureaucratic approaches are giving way to establishing top-level personal rapport, trust, and loyalty. Free trade ideology is giving way to trade as a means to enrichment. Building institutions gives way to questioning the utility of each institution. Moral diplomacy gives way to talking to anyone who will bargain. Careful speeches give way to saying anything that gets results. Saving sacred cows gives way to killing them or threatening to do so. Open markets give way to using U.S. markets, military, and migration as bargaining chips. Every relationship is subject to maximum leverage of what is possible.

To be sure, the Trump Doctrine has critics. A common attack on Trump is that his policies risk “a slippery slope” toward something much more extreme. But the slippery slope is a logical fallacy. Just because Trump advocates trade wars to address unfair trade practices does not mean Trump will put tariffs on everything or simply cut off trade with the world. Another attack is “the ends don’t justify the means.” So if Trump decides to flatter Kim Jong Un in order to establish personal rapport, it is not justified even if it means peace on the Korean Peninsula? The belief that the United States should protect its moral high ground is anachronistic. It’s doubtful anyone will be talking about Trump’s flattery a decade from now, and it can be seen as pretty harmless if it results in reducing the threat of nuclear Armageddon.

Of course, this new world has risks. World politics is returning to a realist doctrine of “self-help” in an anarchical world. The system has returned to a web of relations and is therefore potentially more unstable. But as any realist will tell you, we have to deal with the world as it is, not as we want it. For Trump’s opponents to reach a broader perspective and truly understand the Trump phenomenon, they need to pop their cognitive bubbles and challenge their assumptions by, for example, testing out alternative views and sources of information.

This essay was an attempt to put concepts to Trump’s actions, to describe Trump in a new way. Critics may argue that in fact Trump is a narcissistic megalomaniac who likes strongmen, but no one can actually know what he is thinking. They should give up on the efforts at amateur psychoanalysis. If the political opposition wants to gain any ground, it needs to look for patterns in Trump’s actions and understand what it’s up against. Most of all, Trump’s opponents should stop their condescending attitude. Put up against Trump’s growing string of successes, such an attitude will ring increasingly hollow. For now at least, the era of smugness is over.


Views from the home away from home

Game 3 of the National League Championship Series is tonight in Los Angeles, with the series tied at one game each.

The Brewers are not playing at home, but some of the Brewers are playing pretty close to home, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

Your National League Championship Series matchup: L.A.’s team vs. L.A.’s team. …

“I don’t think there’s any team that has more L.A. connections than we have,” Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun said.

Braun attended Granada Hills High. Outfielder Christian Yelich, the MVP-to-be, attended Westlake High. Third baseman Mike Moustakas, who attended Chatsworth High, said all three players now live in Malibu.

So does Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, who last month tore his Achilles tendon on the beach, charging to the rescue of his labradoodle, who was under attack by a larger dog. His dog is fine. His rehabilitation includes a modified scooter, decorated in Brewers gear.

Milwaukee is the smallest market in the major leagues, and a long way from the Pacific Ocean.

“We’ve got a lake,” Attanasio said. “Maybe not an ocean, but a lake.”

Attanasio loves to tell the story of how, not long after he bought the team, a guy driving a garbage truck ran up to welcome him to Milwaukee.

“And he took his glove off too,” Attanasio said.

The kids that grew up in the big city swear by Milwaukee, even if they did not know much about the place before playing there.

“I just had the vision of watching Brett Favre play in the snow, so I just assumed that it was cold,” Braun said.

Braun, a six-time All-Star, twice skipped the chance for free agency to sign contract extensions with the Brewers. Attanasio calls him “a cheerleader for the city.”

Said Braun: “It’s such a special place to spend the summer, because it’s such a small window of good weather. In L.A., we’re spoiled. We have good weather year-round. In Milwaukee, it’s a three- or four-month window, so every day, there’s a carnival, concert, festival, something going on. Everybody is outside. It’s 45 degrees, and they have shorts and T-shirts on.

“The time we spend there is the best time of the year in Milwaukee.”

Braun, in his 12th season there, said he has helped newcomers Moustakas and Yelich find good places to eat, nice neighborhoods, and ways to navigate what relatively little traffic there might be.

“It’s an awesome city,” Moustakas said. “I’m from L.A., but I try to keep to myself. I’m not a big-city guy.”

“It’s a great baseball town,” Yelich said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

The Brewers ranked in the top 10 in attendance this season and last, despite ranking 30th in market size and playing in a city with a population closer to the size of Fresno than L.A. In Attanasio’s 14 seasons as owner, the Brewers have had seven winning seasons, three postseason appearances, and one 90-loss season.

The smallest market in the majors might be the easiest one in which to sell tanking, but Attanasio wants no part of it.

“You can break things down, but it’s not easy,” he said. “Just because you break them down doesn’t mean you’re going to get back to where you want to get to.

“Plus, I just hate to lose.”

Attanasio could have eliminated his frequent Milwaukee commute without sacrificing ownership of a major league team. However, he declined to assemble a group to bid on his hometown Dodgers when Frank McCourt put them up for sale in 2011, even though one of Attanasio’s investors in the Brewers has season tickets “literally behind the dugout” at Dodger Stadium.

“I’ve got things set up, where God willing, my kids can take this over some day,” Attanasio said. “I’m dug in here, for the long haul.

“Every ownership group is different. This is all mine. It’s all the fun, and all the pain. It’s all on me. I have other investors, but I’m the only decision-maker.” …

“It’s going to be way different than when we played there during the regular season,” Yelich said. “It’s going to be strictly a business trip. You won’t be able to cater to anybody’s needs. You’re not going to be able to say hello. You have to minimize the distractions.

“I may even turn my phone completely off.”

But how will all your friends track you down to ask for tickets?

“No one,” Yelich said with a small smile, “is getting any tickets.”

This blog reported Friday about how Major League Baseball hates the idea of the Brewers possibly in the World Series. Nancy Armour can’t understand why:

Why do they hate fun?

Yes, the Brewers are a small-market team. The smallest of the small markets, to be exact. They don’t have the cachet of the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Boston Red Sox, and they don’t have Houston’s bragging rights. The radio guy rivals the soon-to-be NL MVP for star power.

But, man, is Milwaukee fun.

Just the kind of wacky fun baseball needs.

The Brewers took down the mighty Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Friday night with the kind of quirky game you’d normally see in spring training, not Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Manager Craig Counsell pulled Gio Gonzalez after two innings, the pitcher who relieved him took Kershaw deep and the guy who pinch-hit for him singled in a pair of runs.

There also was a catcher’s interference call to keep one inning alive, and an overturned call on a steal to extend another one. The closer nearly gave the game away, only to strike Yasiel Puig out.

And if that’s not enough for you, the 6-5 victory gives all of Milwaukee a free hamburger.

See, wacky.

“We’re a fun team to watch,” infielder Travis Shaw told USA TODAY Sports. “I think once people get to watch us a little bit, they’ll enjoy watching us.”

You wouldn’t know it from the rabid, towel-waving, sold-out crowd at Miller Park, but baseball is in the doldrums. Attendance was down sharply this season, TV ratings lag well behind the NFL’s and kids just don’t dig baseball like they used to.

Part of that is the length of games and the late starts – Friday’s game lasted 4 hours and 2 minutes and ended at 12:14 p.m. Eastern. But the bigger problem is that all the fun has been sucked out of baseball by esoteric stats, shifts and pitch counts that serve the same purpose as bubble wrap.

The Brewers are not immune to this. Few other managers have embraced the shift like Counsell, and he’s a matchup savant.

But he’s not afraid to turn traditional philosophy on its head, either.

Take Friday’s game.

Gonzalez hadn’t pitched since Sept. 30, so he was fresh enough to pitch a complete game. Yet Counsell’s plan was to have him go two innings and let the bullpen take over. Sure enough, he brought Brandon Woodruff in to pitch the third, and he retired the Dodgers in order the next two innings.

He also took Kershaw deep to right-center to lead off the bottom of the inning and tie the game.

“It certainly changed the energy in our dugout from what you think is going to be the kind of grind-it-out game against Clayton,” Counsell said. “That happens, it gives everybody life.”

With Woodruff dealing as he was, you’d think Counsell might have let him go deeper in the game. Nope. When Woodruff’s spot in the order came up in the fourth, Counsell brought Domingo Santana in to pinch-hit.

Smart move, as Santana drove in a pair of runs with a single to left.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve got this kind of stuff where you’ve never been a part of it and now you’re doing it. It’s exciting to see the revolution.”

OK, but some pitchers would be less than pleased at getting such a quick hook. When that question was posed to him, however, Gonzalez’s face left no doubt how crazy that idea is.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “At the end of the day, everybody’s pitching. Everybody gets a chance to pitch. Which is what you’re playing this game for. Everybody wants to be a part of it. Everybody wants to grab an at-bat.”

That’s the most appealing part of these Brewers. They’re playing with the kind of abandon that made them fall in love with the game in the first place. The roster is a glorious mishmash of home-grown products and castoffs reveling in a second chance, so they don’t much care what roles they’re playing or who’s getting the credit.

Derek Jeter will rue the day he thought trading Christian Yelich was a good idea — if he doesn’t already. Jesus Aguilar, whose solo homer in the seventh turned out to be the game-winner, bounced around the minors and had a few cups of coffee in Cleveland over three seasons before the Brewers claimed him off waivers before last season. Mike Moustakas escaped the purgatory that is now Kansas City before the trade deadline.

“We play like a family,” Aguilar said. “We don’t got like a specific hero. The most important thing is to win games.”

And win games they are, 12 in a row — thus, the free hamburgers from local institution George Webb.

The team that wins Game 1 of the NLCS is an overwhelming favorite to reach the World Series. Since the NLCS expanded to seven games 32 years ago, the Game 1 winner has gone on to clinch the pennant 23 times. The last team to buck that trend was the San Francisco Giants back in 2012.

Which means the whole country could be seeing more of the Brewers, like it or not.

“It’s something different,” Shaw said. “The three teams that are left besides us have all been there, done that. We haven’t been … so it’ll be a nice change.”

If you don’t enjoy what the Brewers are doing, then you don’t really enjoy baseball.

And you sure don’t enjoy fun.


The Democratic definition of “democracy”

James Wigderson:

Who are you going to believe, your eyes or the mainstream media? The latest discussion is whether Democratic “mobs” are behaving badly.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is almost chased out of a restaurant. Protesters pound the Supreme Court doors and attempt to pry them open while chanting “shut it down!” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) can’t even get on an elevator without an angry mob chasing him and preventing the elevator from moving. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted and had to leave a DC restaurant. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was harassed by a mob of leftists at a movie theater that was showing a film about Mr. Rogers. And so on…

Democratic hecklers and, yes, a few Republican hecklers, have always been a problem at political events. And before I get the “whatabout” emails from a few liberal readers, no, it didn’t help political discourse when President Donald Trump said during the 2016 campaign he wouldn’t mind seeing a few hecklers roughed up.

Nor did it help matters when an angry mob prevented a Trump rally in Chicago. It was a sign of things to come.

But the situation has gotten worse. When Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called for Republicans to be harassed wherever they are, only a handful of Democrats condemn her statement. Her call for harassment was echoed elsewhere on the left, and now even Hillary Clinton is calling for mob confrontations of Republicans.

“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Clinton said on CNN. “That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”

In other words, politics has become a protection racket. She could have just said, “That’s a nice republic and constitution you have. Would be a shame if anything ‘happened’ to it. Perhaps if you see things from our point of view, we can reach a civil arrangement.” It would have had the same meaning.

Of course, as state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) pointed out recently, we have been through this before in Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012. There were no limits to the left, and they cheered when one protester threw a beer at Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). Governor Scott Walker couldn’t even speak at the Special Olympics without protesters disrupting the event. The Capitol was occupied, aided by someone who opened up the office window of then-state Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) for the protesters who attempted to shut down debate in the state legislature. Members of the legislature and the governor’s family received death threats. Protesters even marched at the governor’s family home in Wauwatosa.

Democrats, enabled by the media, have objected to the word “riot,” but that’s what the rest of the state saw. Now Democrats are objecting to the word, “mob,” even claiming that it can only be used to describe the alt-Right protesters in Charlottesville. (No word yet on how we should describe the Antifa mob described by the Charlottesville Daily Progress as preparing for battle before the protests.)

Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and perhaps Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is right. Someone will be successfully assassinated. Paul knows. He was assaulted by his neighbor over politics, and he was also there when Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was seriously wounded when a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) opened fire on a Republican Congressional softball team practice field.

Early in the Trump Administration, a theater company in New York couldn’t help itself and put on a version of Julius Caesar with an actor portraying Trump as Caesar, complete with the assassination scene. Let’s pray that Democrats recover their senses before they lead us into the ensuing civil war.

When will it “get better”? After someone gets killed. Maybe.


Presty the DJ for Oct. 15

The number one single today in 1964:

The number one single today in 1966:

Today in 1971, Rick Nelson was booed at Madison Square Garden in New York when he dared to sing new material at a concert. That prompted him to write …

If I told you the number one British album today in 1983 was “Genesis,” I would have given you the artist and the title:

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Presty the DJ for Oct. 14

The number one song today in 1957 was the Everly Brothers’ first number one:

The number one British single today in 1960 was a song originally written in German sung by an American:

The number one album today in 1967 is about an event that supposedly took place on my birthday:

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Presty the DJ for Oct. 13

The number one British album today in 1973 was the Rolling Stones’ “Goats Head Soup,” despite (or perhaps because of) the BBC’s ban of one of its songs, “Star Star”:

Who shares a birthday with my brother (who celebrated his sixth birthday, on a Friday the 13th, by getting chicken pox from me)? Start with Paul Simon:

Robert Lamm plays keyboards — or more accurately, the keytar — for Chicago:

Sammy Hagar:

Craig McGregor of Foghat:

John Ford Coley, formerly a duet with England Dan Seals:

Rob Marche played guitar for the Jo Boxers, who …

One death of note: Ed Sullivan, whose Sunday night CBS-TV show showed off rock and roll (plus Topo Gigio and Senor Wences) to millions, died today in 1974: