Author: Steve Prestegard

Presty the DJ for Jan. 17

The number one album today in 1976 was Earth Wind & Fire’s “Gratitude” …

The number one British album today in 1999 was Fatboy Slim’s “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby,” and if you like it you have to praise it like you shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oould:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Jan. 17”

Must-read for Saturday

Packers tight end Robert Tonyan:

Let me just say right off the bat: This isn’t a typical thing for me.

I’m not ordinarily someone who does a ton of talking or opens up about himself for the whole world to read. But this season has been special — and meaningful to me. I felt it was the perfect time to share a little bit of myself and give our amazing fans an inside look into this incredible team and organization.

Before I dig in and talk about what makes us tick, and the playoff journey we’re about to undertake, I’ve got a little story for you.

Flash back to three years ago. First week of December, 2017.

I’d just signed on with the Pack’s practice squad after having gone undrafted as a receiver out of Indiana State and being cut by the Lions in preseason. It’s my first day on the job, new guy in Green Bay, low man on the totem pole.

So I get to the facility early, check in, and immediately — like as soon as I get there — the quarterback comes right up to me and shakes my hand.

“Hey, I’m Aaron. Welcome!”

For a split-second it was like, Whoa! But I hold it together and manage to get out something basic like: “Hi, I’m Robert. Really excited to be here.”

And Aaron, he’s just being totally on-point and welcoming, but the funny thing is, for whatever reason, right off the bat.…

I notice that he’s calling me “Bobby.”

It’s like he’s known me for years and that’s just what he calls me. Like we were buds from middle school and that’s what he knows me as.

Which is cool, obviously. But at the same time, it’s kinda throwing me for a loop because … no one has called me Bobby since, I don’t know … kindergarten? First grade? Next thing I know he’s introducing me to people as Bobby.

And, I mean … I’m just rolling with it. Right? Like of course. Lettin’ it ride. Just sitting there smiling and nodding away like, I’ll be Bobby … why not.

So anyway we get out onto the practice field and, like clockwork, as soon as things ramp up and we get ready to go, it starts snowing.

And it’s one of those perfect winter snowfall deals, too. It’s like something out of a movie. Lambeau in the background, snow coming down, a crisp chill in the air. It’s just perfect. I look around and take it all in and just kind of think to myself: Well, it couldn’t get much better than this.

But then … it does.

I’m on the scout team, and we’re getting set to do red zone stuff, and it turns out on that particular day, get this … first set of downs, guess who comes jogging into the huddle?

“What’s up, Bobby? Let’s go score some points, what d’ya think?”

Unreal.

Aaron was in the process of rehabbing the collarbone injury he’d suffered against the Vikings earlier that season, and he was working his way back when I came to Green Bay. So now … that’s my scout team QB.

Aaron frickin’ Rodgers.

Not too shabby, right?

And, to top it off, dude ended up throwing me three touchdown passes that day, too. Perfect passes. Textbook throws.

It was definitely one of the coolest days of my life.

But then, at the same time, it was also like … I guess Bobby it is!

Looking back on it, it really does seem to me like maybe Aaron saw something in me that day because from then on he’s held me to an extremely high standard. He wouldn’t let even the tiniest mistakes slide. He’d explain things to me and coach me up, but he’d also get legit mad when I screwed up.

And to me, I always took that as such a compliment. It was like, Hey man, this guy really cares about you and wants you to reach your full potential.

Every single day I’ve been a Packer, Aaron has pushed me and helped me get better. And as a result a good friendship has developed that I think is paying dividends on the field. You go the extra mile for the people you truly care about, and that’s what it’s become with Aaron and me, for sure.

And, honestly, the more I think about it, it’s like that with literally everyone on this team right now. The support and trust and love we show for one another really is off the charts. We’re all on the same page. And that’s one of the things that I believe makes this team truly special and ready for these playoffs.

Because of how focused we are on winning, we all push each other constantly. As a tight end, from Day One, I was so fortunate to be able to learn from true pros like Jimmy Graham and Lance Kendricks and Marcedes Lewis.

And man, let me just say, Marcedes….

That’s my guy right there. He’s like my big brother, and he truly embodies everything I hope to be. Year 15, healthy, still doing it at a high level, still loving the game, so wise, and just the best, nicest dude you’ll ever meet. When we’re on the field together, it’s almost like we feel this extra, I don’t know what to call it … almost invincibility. When you have a best friend on the team — someone you look up to and respect — and you’re lined up right next to him ready to make something special happen, there’s no better feeling in the world.

And I’m pretty proud to say that, thanks in large part to Davante, I’ve now gotten to a place in my career where I have total confidence in myself during those big moments. That guy, he’s just always drilled into me that you need to believe in yourself and that you should never set any limits on what you can do. He’s taught me to develop and harness that … I guess you would call it raw confidence, or inner belief that all great athletes possess.

The week in Atlanta when Davante was out and I had that big game on Monday night, the first thing he did afterward was pull me aside in the weight room and tell me, in no uncertain terms, that when he got back on the field he wanted to see me acting exactly like I did that night against the Falcons.

Not playing like I did … acting like I did.

I didn’t really get it at first, so I asked him what he meant.

“Acting like you were unstoppable,” he said. “Like no one on the planet could stick with you. Knowing that you had reached another level.”

Coming from a guy of that caliber? I mean, It was one of the coolest moments of my career to have him say that to me.

“I need you to be like that,” he said. “We all do. This team needs you to be like that every single game.”

That type of honesty, that directness, is one of the things I love most about being a Packer. We’re a player-led team, so we’re all just completely real with one another. There’s no bulls*** when you come into the Packers’ locker room. And everyone knows it.

Hell, even outside the locker room we’re like that with each other.

I’ll never forget Thanksgiving in 2019 at Aaron’s place, when David Bakhtiari leaned over to me at the dinner table for a word. (Literally at the dinner table. And, keep in mind, this is two Thanksgivings ago … before I was anything at all. Before I was really even playing.)

“Listen,” he says, “I don’t know what’s up with you in the passing game, or how you do things when the ball’s in the air … but when we’re running the ball, in the run game, what you’re doing … it’s not good enough. You need to be better.”

He wasn’t smiling as he said this. Trust me.

He was … mad. Like mad mad. Here I am thinking dude was gonna ask me to pass the gravy or something and David, he’s pissed off … and leaning in to talk to the fourth-string tight end about his run-blocking skills.

Dude was not messing around.

To this day, David’s fiancée, when she sees us together she’s still like: “Man, you were sooooo mean to Bobby that one Thanksgiving.” (Of course, I’m “Bobby” to everyone now. Thanks, 12.) But I actually really loved the talking-to he gave me that afternoon.

When he came at me like that, I remember there was this pure emotion that rose up inside me. It wasn’t anger. It was desire.

It was inspiration.

I looked him dead in the eye, and I was like: “I cannot wait until practice tomorrow.”

A few years later, David’s one of my very best friends on the team. We joke about that conversation all the time, and how stern he was. But the really cool thing about it is that when we talk about it now, do you know what he says?

“Dude, you went and made me look like a damn fool after that.”

David helped me more than he’ll ever know. And you damn sure better believe that we’re gonna do everything in our power to help bring that guy a Lombardi Trophy this year. We’re all heartbroken for David, obviously, but I’m truly hopeful that we’re about to do something special for him over the next few weeks.

For me, these playoffs are going to be the most fun thing imaginable. And running onto that field for these games is definitely going to take me back to when I was a little kid.

I grew up in Northern Illinois, not too far from Wisconsin, and the first football game I ever went to was at Lambeau. It was us against the Bears. And I was really little, maybe five or six. So I only remember blips and flashes. But, I gotta say: They’re some pretty damn good blips and flashes.

I remember our angle to the field, and the scoreboard, and then I remember the bright yellow railings and steps, just all that yellow paint, and the light reflecting off that yellow. I mean, what an image. What a memory.

And to this day it still takes my breath away when I look around Lambeau. When it’s noon on Sunday in October, and there’s dew on the ground and the sun hits all that yellow and reflects off the bleachers at the same time? It’s just … wow. There’s this golden tint to the field. And it just looks like football, man. It’s just beautiful. There’s really no other way to put it.

So to me, getting the chance to play in these playoffs on that field now, that hallowed ground … I just feel extremely fortunate.

It’s a dream come true.

Ever since I was young — and I’m talking really, really young, like two or three years old — I feel like what I’ve been put on this Earth to do is to play football and compete. That’s just how I’m wired. That’s what I was put here to do. And at this point, thanks to this team and this incredible community….

I know the exact place where I was meant to do it.

That big G, and everything it stands for? It’s unlike anything in all of sports. And that’s not me being disrespectful in any way to any other team. It’s just that Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers … that’s NFL royalty right there. The frozen tundra, all those historic games, that yellow and green. It speaks for itself at this point.

We all know what this is about. We all get it.

This is what we all live for. It’s what we’re all here to do. Players, coaches, fans … all of us.

This is what it’s all about.

And it all starts right now. It’s gonna be one hell of a ride!

Go, Pack, Go!

Presty the DJ for Jan. 15

Today in 1967 was not a good day for fans of artistic freedom or the First Amendment, though the First Amendment applies to government against citizens and not the media against individuals.

Before their appearance on CBS-TV’s Ed Sullivan Shew, the Rolling Stones were compelled to change “Let’s Spend the Night Together …”

… to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together”:

The number one British album today in 1977 was ABBA’s “Arrival” …

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Jan. 15”

Presty the DJ for Jan. 12

It figures after War and Peace-size Presty the DJ entries the past few days, today’s is relatively short.

The number one album today in 1974, a few months after the death of its singer, was “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim”:

The number one single today in 1974 introduced the world to the word “pompatus”:

Today in 1982, Bob Geldof was arrested after a disturbance aboard a 727 that had been grounded for five hours:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Jan. 12”

A GOP alternative, or what the GOP should have been all along

Neal B. Freeman:

On April 15, 1943, tens of millions of Americans sat down at a broad mahogany desk or, many more of them, at a rickety kitchen table, and wrote out checks to the federal government. Most of those Americans wrote checks in the four or five figures, a few of the wealthiest in the six figures.

That day was a bonding moment for a chesty, prosperous nation, a moment when citizens from all stations came together and divvied up the bill for public services. It was also a republicanizing civic experience. Every taxpaying American, from the lawn guy to the industrial mogul, found the same two questions at the tip of his tongue. The first was, “Wow! How did my tax bill get so high?” And the second was, “Wow! What did I get for all of that money?” Both of those questions were potent, small-r republican questions. April 15, even more than religious holidays or the Fourth of July, had become the most conservative day of the calendar year.

That would never happen again, of course. The statists of all parties, as Hayek might have put it, made sure that it wouldn’t. Soft statists from the stupid party and hard statists from the evil party conjured up a swift, sure, bipartisan solution to a problem that no citizen had to that point detected. For all subsequent years, the tax bill for every American would be sliced into 52 bite-sized pieces, after which employers would be coerced into stripping tax revenues off the top before cutting an employee’s weekly paycheck. Never again would an American citizen feel the sandpaper scrape of hard-earned tax dollars passing through his fingers. Never again would an American taxpayer add his voice to the deafening chorus demanding answers to those two questions. The stealth phrase “take-home pay” would soon infiltrate the language and, as between the citizen and his government, it was now manifestly clear who would get paid first.

In the Museum of Modern Statism, which will one day break ground on the Washington Mall, an alcove should be reserved for the man or woman, or quite possibly, the committee that came up with this ingenious scheme to separate more Americans from more tax dollars with less resistance. (For the alcove, my mind’s eye suggests a bust of a man bearing close resemblance to Andrew McCabe. Just a thought.)

Another political development of like consequence rolled out over several decades, beginning with First Lady Hillary Clinton and consolidating under President Barack Obama.
For reasons now forgotten, I spent a few years helping to build a political organization in Nassau County, a big, fast-growing suburb of New York City. We were pretty good at it. With Nassau running up huge GOP majorities, New York State was led for a time by a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and two U.S. senators, all of whom were elected Republicans. (Our county committee proudly passed around a story describing ours as a “political machine led by one Jew, two WASPs, and ten thousand Italians.” For us political machinists, this story fell into the category of “too good to correct.”)

Our secret sauce was to recruit for leadership in every town, of which there were dozens sprawled across the vast county, a prominent family physician. “Prominent” because he saw lots of patients, all of whom had invested in him both financially and psychologically. “Family” because as a general practitioner he would come to know not only mom and dad but the kids, too. “Physician” because he was one of the most trusted men in town, the only man in a prim suburb whom neighbors would allow to poke and prod their naked bodies.

More salient than these surface attributes, the town doctor was a fiercely independent businessman. He did responsibility-accepting, BS-rejecting, profit-seeking, result-based work. He didn’t know it yet, but he was a born Republican leader.
Soon thereafter, predictably, he became a target. Mrs. Clinton, in her role as the overperforming spouse of an elected official, tried to run town doctors out of business. Health care for all, as she proposed to contrive it, meant private practice for none. Despite her tireless efforts, or perhaps in some measure because of them, Mrs. Clinton managed to scare the bejesus out of the American people and her campaign to nationalize health care came up short. But all, alas, was not lost. After unleashing the shock troops of Left activism — the tort lawyers — Mrs. Clinton secured a significant political victory: She softened up the doctors. Her tort lawyers distracted them with malpractice suits, squeezed them with rising insurance premiums, and intimidated them with reputational attacks. Staunchly Republican doctors began to appreciate the subtle charms of bipartisan solutions.

Barack Obama finished the job. After disarming the pharmaceutical companies, he demobilized the doctors. Obama, again, failed to deliver on his stated goals of universal health care at basement prices, but, again, he achieved substantial political gains. Consult your own experience. If it coincides with mine, your primary-care physicians, one after the other, went to work for a hospital, folded into a multi-practice consortium, or hired themselves out to some large health-care bureaucracy: The compliance python had crushed the prominent family physician. These doctors were soon converted from independent businessmen into nonprofit executives. Over time, and in thousands of towns across the country, the most trusted man in the Freedom Party became a stalwart of the administrative state.

Now to COVID-19, yet another crisis that Left activists are determined not to waste. This past year has been a radicalizing civic experience. Families have splintered, breaking down along generational lines. Church attendance has plummeted. Voluntary organizations have withered. In many communities, private services for the young and the old, the weak and the halt, have simply vanished.
Beyond these incalculable social costs — costs borne disproportionately by the Freedom Party — there have been huge and ominous financial costs. The decline of the dollar in international markets tells us that we have spent too much; that some smart people think we will be unable to pay our bills; and that — here’s the ominous part — it’s time to consider swapping out the dollar for the renminbi as the world’s reserve currency. That would be the tipping point of all tipping points. (The radical wing of the Democratic Party, the loud wing, has been silent in this matter. They profess to believe that some redundantly modernized monetary theory will float the boat.)

Beyond these widely distributed costs of the pandemic, consider the targeted measures implemented by blue-state Democrats and complicit Republicans. Have the authoritarians imposed harsh lockdown measures on tech executives, teachers unions, debtors, rioters, media organizations, government bureaucrats, Hollywood producers, academic types, talking heads, tort lawyers, and tax-advantaged activists? No? Well, have they imposed harsh measures on merchants, savers, working couples, amateur athletes, salesmen, churchgoing Christians, synagoguegoing Jews, police officers, parents, students, clergy, and senior technophobes? They have?
Indeed, so. The groups hit hardest by the lockdowns happen to be the constituent elements of the Freedom Party and, to those of you who choose to see this division as the work of coincidence, we say that you are sweet souls and you have our concern.

Take the egregious case of restaurants. Immigrants who come to America for the right reasons open restaurants for good reasons: (1) they can leverage their intellectual property (Mom’s recipes); (2) the kids will never go hungry; (3) it is still in some measure a cash business; and (4) they can launch and grow their business with a loyal, hardworking, and underpaid staff — the kids and their cousins. Immigrant restaurants have been for more than a century a first-class ticket to the American dream.

Here in Florida where I live, we are blessed not only with the legacy restaurants — French, Italian, Chinese, and Mexican — but with more recent arrivals, including Cuban, Haitian, Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, and most recently of all, Venezuelan. These restaurants are run by independent businesspeople, who ripen over time into prime prospects for the Freedom Party. (The Puerto Ricans present a special case. Since the turn of the century, a million Puerto Ricans have settled in the Orlando area. That’s more than New York, more than San Juan. It’s been a veritable diaspora from an island with three million people. To overstate but accost the central point: The early arrivals came for opportunity and started their own businesses. The later arrivals, after Hurricane Maria, came for social services and became welfare clients. To read the national press, you would think that “Hispanics” are a fungible lot.) The Associated Press reports that, across the country, 110,000 restaurants have closed during the pandemic. That’s an astounding number, a tragic number. Not one of those families came to America aspiring to become government dependents.

I recount these episodes to drive home the obvious point. It is not only in war — when the patriotic citizen cedes ground carelessly to the national-security state — that individual freedoms shrink and shrivel. It is not only in bursts of ideological exuberance — the New Deal, the Great Society, the Biden Infrastructure-Boondoggle-To-Be-Named-Later — that the state advances. As every American knows in his hips, to borrow Willmoore Kendall’s timeless phrase, the state never sleeps. Sometimes slowly, sometimes with gathering speed, sometimes on cat’s paws, sometimes with the banging of rhetorical pots and pans, the state advances. The era of big government is never over.

Which makes it surprising, and troubling, to hear the conversation rising in Zoom confabs, and extended in political journals, to the effect that conservative writers, even “conservative leaders,” have lost patience with libertarians. The contention is that our cause has been damaged or even contaminated by libertarian excess, as if libertarians were a problematic faction in need of ideological cleansing. I’m not clear as to precisely what “cause” is referenced here, but some of this talk is surely disingenuous: It is no more than strawman-swatting to conflate healthy libertarian impulses with the handful of capital-L voters who march to the polls with perverse intention to tip close elections from the slightly less statist candidate to the slightly more statist candidate. To the extent that the current talk is substantive, however, and seeks to drive libertarians from our coalition, it is both amnesiac and misguided.
I have spoken here of the Freedom Party, by which I mean to denote that once dominant, now receding community of Americans who cherish individual liberty: those Americans who have been willing to defend the tiny but sacred space within which we are permitted to exercise our God-given rights as promised by the Declaration and secured by the Constitution; those Americans whose philosophical yearnings have been fire-started by the clarity of Locke, the passion of Jefferson, the poeticism of Oakeshott.

Freedom-loving Americans. We share a long and honorable tradition. At the very birth of our nation, the 56 brave men who pledged their lives and their fortunes — assuming, correctly, that many of them would lose both — did not take on mortal risk in the cause of a levelling statism, or some form of socially engineered equality. They took on the certain perils, and hoped for the uncertain rewards, of a robustly free society pursued in the cause of individual liberty.

As of course did the founders of the conservative movement. Russell Kirk may have begun with his quirky individualism, William Buckley with his Nockian anti-statism, and Frank Meyer with his hard-shell ex-communism, but they all took it as a given that conservatives would begin by layering their own fusionist priorities atop a foundational commitment to personal freedom.

The hour is late, but we are still the Freedom Party.

Presty the DJ for Jan. 10

The number one British single today in 1957 was the same single as the previous week …

… though performed by a different act:

The number one British single today in 1958:

The number one album for the fifth consecutive week today in 1976 was “Chicago IX,” which was actually “Chicago’s Greatest Hits”:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Jan. 10”