Author: Steve Prestegard

Meanwhile, back in my home town …

David Blaska:

Over at Isthmus, Dylan Brogan has committed some excellent journalism on Madison’s public schools. We’ve linked to his piece on the chaos at Jefferson middle school, where parents and public wonder why a 13-year-old student who shot another student with a BB gun remained in school after 25 previous, serious disciplinary incidents. We know about that sorry history only because a whistle blower released the disciplinary file to Channel 3000.  

His news story is headlined “A rotten semester.” It is the No. #1 trender at Isthmus on-line and has attracted considerable comment, including this brilliant insight from Blaska:

Behavior education plan

The late Milt McPike is revered as an educator because for 23 years as principal (and 5 years as vice principal before that) he ran a tight ship at East high school. The man was known to frog march a miscreant student outside to the waiting squad car. The WI State Journal reports a revolving door of principals at 9 of MMSD’s 12 middle schools in the last 3½ years.

Not coincidentally, that followed the bureaucratic behavior education plan that Jennifer Cheatham imposed on the district, removing control of the classroom from teachers and schools from principals. Cheatham was supported by a school board invested in “white privilege” and “implicit bias” to excuse the chaos in the schools.

This trenchant observation drew a response from one Stan Endiliver, who (contrary to his intention) betrays why virtue-signaling progressives like himself are piping at-risk kids to disaster by playing the victim dirge on the blame-someone-else fife of victimhood. (Whew!)

MMSD teacher here; relax

1. If you are a parent of a student in MMSD, you have nothing to fear.[Blaska: as long as you stay out of the line of fire.] There are many caring teachers and principals that are doing great things. Our district is not perfect, but we are doing our best to serve all kids …

3. If you are looking to Blaska as a saviour, just move. [Blaska: Which is why Sun Prairie is building a second high school] He has no idea what he is talking about. I am in a MMSD school every day, and have been for 15 years, and his vision of us is ludicrous. Leading kids out of school to squad cars is exactly why we are in the position we are in. We have a lot of kids dealing with real trauma and there are a lot of problems that are rooted in mental health issues. Give the district more resources to heal, and that would be a great place to start. 

5. It all comes to back to race. Have you done your homework on Madison? The zoning? The fact that our schools were only fully integrated in 1983? The days of blindly complying with your teacher are over, but many people would love to go back to the time when it was like that.

I hear teachers say things like “when I was in school, you would never…” well guess what, when we were in school we were being socialized into a white supremacist system. That system is coming down, and this worries a lot of people, whether they consider themselves woke or not. — Stan Endiliver

That system is coming down

Yes, Mr. Endiliver, the days of blindly complying with your teacher are, indeed, over. Now we have 15 to 20 middle school students trashing Lakeview branch library and taunting the first responders, “We don’t have to listen to the police” and “You can’t touch us.”

Progressives like Endiliver might call that progress. We do not. At some point, these kids will have to blindly listen to someone, some place: if not the teachers or the librarians, if not the police — then whom? Certainly not an employer or a customer. At what point are they — and you, Endiliver — going to quit blaming the past for the present? These kids’ parents were out of school by 1983! And do not tell me that Madison 1983 resembled in any way Selma, Alabama 20 years earlier. 

I do not know where you were schooled, Endiliver. But my schools in Sun Prairie, public and Catholic, did not socialize anyone “into a white supremacist system.” To the contrary, it reinforced our responsibility to family, community, and our God. But you are correct on one point, MMSD teacher, that system is, indeed, coming down.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: This quote attributed to America’s unofficial poet laureate, Bob Dylan: “A hero is someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.” 

But wait, there’s more!

As if proving MMSD teacher Endiliver’s pont about the system coming down:

NBC TV-15 reports: Five school-aged teenagers were arrested Tuesday afternoon (01-21-2020) following a high-speed pursuit that wound through several Dane Co. cities before the suspects abandoned the vehicle on the Beltline.

Three of them, Ashanti Freeman (age 17), Toneice Horne (17), and Reginald Sexton (18), were booked into the Dane Co. jail on multiple counts, while the other two teens, ages 15 and 16, were taken to the Juvenile Reception Center. The 16 year old had seven active arrest warrants.

According to the Monona Police Department, all five were piled into a GMC Acadia as it raced away from a Dane Co. deputy around 1 p.m. January 14 along the Beltline. Town of Madison officers laid stop sticks along the road, near Rimrock Rd., that punctured its tires, but the suspects kept going.

Monona Police say its officers joined the pursuit near South Towne/West Broadway and followed the SUV until it stopped near Monona Drive.

About that kid nabbed with a gun at West high

From Madison police blotter: South District detectives have developed probable cause to arrest a teen, arrested earlier this week at West High for having a gun at school, for armed robbery and disorderly conduct after connecting him to a drug-related holdup.

Tyrese T. Williams, age 18, Madison, is accused of pointing a handgun at two other teens, both acquaintances, after the victims picked him up under the premise that Williams was going to purchase a small amount of marijuana from one of them. The trio drove to the 1900 block of Post Rd. where the crime was committed around 2 p.m. Saturday.

Instead of providing cash, Williams pulled out the gun and ended up fleeing on foot with one victim’s backpack.

Blaska’s second Bottom Line: Yes, teacher Endiliver, the days of blindly complying with your teacher are over, but many people would love to go back to the time when it was like that.  Blaska is one of them.

Greta är en hycklare

Paul Joseph Watson:

Historian Niall Ferguson has slammed Greta Thunberg’s climate change hypocrisy at Davos, asking why “I don’t see her in Beijing or Delhi.”

Teenage environmentalist Thunberg gave another hysterical speech at the global confab yesterday in which she claimed, “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else.”

“We don’t want these things done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021,” Thunberg said. “We want this done now.”

Ferguson, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, questioned why Thunberg isn’t directing her message to the biggest polluters on the planet.

“60% of CO2 emissions since Greta Thunberg was born is attributable to China… but nobody talks about that. They talk as if its somehow Europeans and Americans who are going to fix this problem… which is frustrating because it doesn’t get to the heart of the matter,” said Ferguson.

“If you’re serious about slowing CO2 emissions and temperatures rising it has to be China and India you constrain,” he added, noting that while Greta travels to New York and Davos, “I don’t see her in Beijing or Delhi.”

Ferguson is right. Take the UK for example.

“Britain’s CO2 emissions peaked in 1973 and are now at their lowest level since Victorian times,” reports the Spectator. “Air pollution has plummeted since then, with sulphur dioxide levels down 95 per cent. Britain’s population is rising but our energy consumption peaked in 2001 and has since fallen by 19 per cent.”

This global pollution map published by the WHO perfectly illustrates Ferguson’s point.

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Even if you believe wholeheartedly in the decidedly shaky science behind man-made global warming, the west is more than doing its part. But we’re the ones being lectured to not travel, not eat meat and not have children despite already being in massive demographic decline.

Meanwhile, Africa, India and China continue to wantonly pollute and none of Greta Thunberg’s fury or the attention of the media is ever directed their way.

On top of this, Greta continues to have her message amplified by the likes of Prince ‘4 private jet trips in 11 days’ Harry and Arnold ‘garage full of tanks and muscle cars’ Schwarzenegger.

Presty the DJ for Jan. 26

The number one single in Great Britain today in 1961 included a Shakespearean reference:

Eight years later came the live version …

… which included, instead of “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there,” Presley’s impromptu “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair.” Which prompted a front-row concertgoer to remove his toupee and start swaying to the music.

Then backup singer Cissy Houston, mother of Whitney and aunt of Dionne Warwick, cracked up Presley further with singing what she was supposed to sing. Afterward Presley said, “Fourteen years down the drain right there.”

Five years after Presley’s death, the live version reached Britain’s top 30.

The number one single today in 1965 included Jimmy Page, later of Led Zeppelin, on guitar:

Today in 1970, John Lennon wrote, recorded and mixed a song all in one day, which may have made it an instant song:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Jan. 26”

I say, what’s on the telly?

The Decades channel apparently carries old TV, which remains increasingly popular the farther away we get from those old shows’ original broadcast dates.

That includes shows that weren’t produced in the U.S. (Or North America, given how often Toronto and Vancouver substituted for U.S. locations in the 1980s, apparently a tax thing.)

Decades lists several British TV shows that came here in the ’60s, including a few I watched. Unlike the many British shows that showed up on PBS, including “Upstairs Downstairs,” these showed up on CBS, NBC and ABC.

The British Invasion went beyond the Beatles and Herman’s Hermits, beyond music in fact. Perhaps more so than any other time, the 1960s saw Americans devouring British pop culture, from Mary Quant’s miniskirts to Mary Poppins. James Bond was the king of the big screen and MG advertised its cars in magazines.

Naturally, this carried over to television. The spy craze led to an influx of British television productions on American networks. Here were shows produced in the U.K. on the Big Three networks in primetime. Often, the imports were plugged in as summer replacements. Some of these shows were so massive — or used American actors — it’s easy to forget they were English.

Here are nine British shows with their American network and year of U.S. premiere. They were all action series. No comedies made it over the pond to network primetime, because some things just don’t translate culturally, despite the fad. In fact, the only thing that didn’t seem to click with 1960s Americans (at first) was Monty Python. The comedy troupe’s Flying Circus premiered on the BBC in 1969, but would not turn up on PBS for half a decade.

The Avengers

ABC, 1966

Though it now struggles against Marvel blockbusters in Google searches, the Avengers were once popular enough to merit its own (and admittedly regretful) cinematic remake in 1998. The sexy, tough Emma Peel and the posh John Steed made for a perfect pair, first appearing together in the fourth season in 1965. ABC paid a handsome $2 million for 26 episodes in 1966, affording the series high production values.

I actually watched the decade-later sequel, “The New Avengers,” before the original. Both were on CBS after the 10 p.m. news before David Letterman left NBC.

The Baron

ABC, 1966

Novelist John Creasey cranked out hundreds of books, page-turning adventures with characters like Gideon of Scotland Yard and the Baron. The latter earned a television adaptation with American actor Steve Forrest in the title role as John Mannering, an antiques dealer and undercover agent. Filmed in the U.K., the dialogue was overdubbed to change terms like “petrol” to “gas,” etc. Like any good agent, Mannering had an enviable car, a Jensen CV-8 Mk II.

The Champions

NBC, 1968

Why did the title have to cover up Alexandra Bastedo’s face in the opening? (Not to mention the other two.) The stunning blond would at least get to show her features on the cover of a Smiths album in 1988. Bastedo, Stuart Damon and William Gaunt starred as a trio of agents for Nemesis, a United Nations intelligence agency based in Geneva. The three trotted across the globe, taking down Nazis and madmen.

Journey to the Unknown

ABC, 1968

Iconic horror house Hammer Film Productions Ltd. turned out this deliciously dark anthology series that featured American stars such as George Maharis and Patty Duke. In the episode “The Last Visitor,” Duke plays a woman stalked at a resort. It fits nicely alongside series like Thriller and Night Gallery.

Man in a Suitcase

ABC, 1968

When Patrick McGoohan jumped from Danger Man (a.k.a. Secret Agent) to The Prisoner, much of the Danger Man crew shifted to this espionage thriller. Like The BaronMan in a Suitcase featured an American actor in the lead. Unlike the jet-setting spies of the era, this show’s hero, McGill, was pushed into the shadows, a disgraced CIA agent forced to resign and take work where he could find it. With its gray morality and increased violence, this Man was ahead of his time.

The Prisoner

CBS, 1968

The brilliant blend of spy thriller and science-fiction became a cultural touchstone despite lasting a mere 17 episodes. The premise — an agent being held on a mysterious resort island — has been repeated, parodied and referenced countless times over the last half-century. Some fans theorized that McGoohan’s character, No. 6, was in fact his earlier character John Drake of Secret Agent/Danger Man. The actor denied it, yet the debate rages on. It is fascinating to view The Prisoner as a Secret Agent sequel.

The Saint

NBC, 1967

Before Roger Moore slurped his shaken martinis as James Bond, he was another dapper secret agent, Simon Templar. The adventures were based on the Templar novels originally written by Leslie Charteris in the 1920s and ’30s. In the early black and white episodes, Moore breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience, though the gimmick was given up when the series went color. In 1997, Val Kilmer starred in a Hollywood remake.

“The Saint” also had a decade-later sequel.

Secret Agent

CBS, 1965

Sing along now: “Secret… AY-gent Man! Secret… AY-gent Man!” The twangy Johnny Rivers theme song helped popularize this American retitling of Danger Man, and the tune was later covered by Devo and stuck in the first Austin Powers movie. But this was far more than a catchy song, with McGoohan’s John Drake taking on realistic Cold War threats.

Thunderbirds

Syndicated, 1968

Puppet action! Just how popular were these marionettes? In 2015, Amazon Prime launched a new Thunderbirds Are Go series, though sadly it was computer animated, not controlled by strings. The inventive creation of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson was the Voltron for 1960s kids, mixing the family dynamics of Lost in Space with the low-budget thrills of playing make-believe with dolls. There was some serious special effects talent at work here. Effects director Derek Meddings went on to work on James Bond and Superman films. Miniature models beat CGI every time.

“Thunderbirds” was preceded by …

… both of which were on TVs all over the U.S. in the 1970s.

There were other series that didn’t make it over here, either because they wouldn’t translate well (or were already here in a different form) …

… or because Americans couldn’t understand the thicker British accents:

PBS viewers got to see “Inspector Morse” …

… who looks an awful like DI Jack Regan of “The Sweeney.” In a neat touch, the sequel put Morse’s young partner in a series of his own …

… with a young partner of his own.

Happiness, and not

Last year I was at work when a woman walked into the office and wanted to talk to me about the Gross National Happiness project.

At the time, I wrote that it looked to me like an effort to make that which is subjective and personal objective and societal. It was certainly communitarian as well, something I don’t buy in a country founded on individual freedom.

Dennis Prager tackles the subject:

Here are some unhappy statistics:

— In America between 1946 and 2006, the suicide rate quadrupled for males ages 15 to 24 and doubled for females the same age.

— In 1950, the suicide rate per 100,000 Americans was 11.4. In 2017, it was 14.

— According to Grant Duwe, director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, in the 1980s, there were 32 mass public shootings (which he defines as incidents in which four or more people are killed publicly with guns within 24 hours). In the 1990s, there were 42. In the first decade of this century, there were 28. In all the 1950s, when there were fewer controls on guns, there was one. Fifty years before that, in the 1900s, there were none.

— Reuters Health reported in 2019, “Suicidal thinking, severe depression and rates of self-injury among U.S. college students more than doubled over less than a decade, a nationwide study suggests.” The study co-author Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, said, “It suggests that something is seriously wrong in the lives of young people.”

This data is not only applicable to Americans. As social commentator Kay Hymowitz wrote in City Journal in 2019: “Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. … Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians — the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report — are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a ‘Minister of Loneliness.’ … consider Japan, a country now in the throes of an epidemic of kodokushi, roughly translated as ‘lonely deaths.’ Local Japanese papers regularly publish stories about kinless elderly whose deaths go unnoticed until the telltale smell of maggot-eaten flesh alerts neighbors.”

Though people have more money, better health care, better health, better housing and more education, and live longer than at any time in history, they — especially young people — are unhappier than at any time since data collection began.

Why has this happened?

There are any number of reasons. Increased use of illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse, and less human interaction because of constant cellphone use are two widely offered, valid explanations. Less valid explanations include competition, grades anxiety, capitalism and income inequality. And then there are young people’s fears that because of global warming, they have a bleak, and perhaps no, future.

But the biggest reason may be the almost-complete loss of values and meaning over the last half-century.

Let’s begin with values.

America — and much of the rest of the West, but I will confine my discussion to America — was founded on two sets of values: Judeo-Christian and American. This combination created the freest, most opportunity-giving, most affluent country in world history. This is not chauvinism. It is fact. And it was regarded as such throughout the world. That is why France gave America — and only America — the Statue of Liberty. That’s why people from every country on Earth so wanted to immigrate to America — and still do.

Chief among American values was keeping government as small as possible. This enabled nongovernmental institutions — Kiwanis International, Rotary International and Lions Clubs International; book clubs; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; bowling leagues; music societies; and, of course, churches — to provide Americans with friends and to provide the neediest Americans with help. But as government has gotten ever larger, many of these nongovernmental groups have dwindled in number or simply disappeared.

Another set of values is what is referred to as “middle-class” or “bourgeois” values. These include getting married before one has a child; making a family; getting a job so as to be self-sustaining and sustain one’s family; self-discipline; delayed gratification; and patriotism.

All of these have been under attack by America’s elites, with the following results:

One in 5 young Americans has no contact with his or her father (not including fathers who have died).

In 2011, 72% of black children were born to unmarried mothers. In 1965, it was 24%. In 2012, 29% of white children were born to unmarried women. In 1965, it was 3.1%.

The majority of births to millennials are to unmarried women. Yet, according to a 2018 Cigna study, single parents are generally the loneliest Americans.

Marriage and family are the single greatest sources of happiness for most people. Yet, the percentage of American adults who have never been married is at a historic high. More Americans than ever will not get married, or they will marry so late they will not have children. In 1960, 9% of blacks ages 25 and older had never been married. In 2012, it was nearly 40%.

And I haven’t even mentioned the biggest problem: the loss of meaning in young people’s lives.

Which Prager intends to address in his next writing.

All of what Prager asserts is despite, or maybe because of, what Marian L. Tupy writes:

Judging by a 2016 poll of close to 20,000 people in some of the world’s richest countries, you could barely overstate the extent of the gloominess.  In response to the question “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”,  just 10 per cent in Sweden, 6 per cent in the US, 4 per cent in Germany and 3 per cent in France thought things were getting better. Why? Because, it turns out, we are pessimists by nature.

Over the last 200 years or so, the world has experienced previously unimaginable improvements in standards of living. The process of rapid economic growth started in Europe and America, but today some of the world’s fastest growing countries can be found in Asia and Africa – lifting billions of people from absolute poverty. Historical evidence, therefore, makes a potent case for optimism. Yet, pessimism is everywhere. As the British author Matt Ridley noted in The Rational Optimist:

The bookshops are groaning under ziggurats of pessimism. The airwaves are crammed with doom. In my own adult lifetime, I have listened to the implacable predictions of growing poverty, coming famines, expanding deserts, imminent plagues, impending water wars, inevitable oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, mad-cow epidemics, Y2K computer bugs, killer bees, sex-change fish, global warming, ocean acidification and even asteroid impacts that would presently bring this happy interlude to a terrible end. I cannot recall a time when one or other of these scares was not solemnly espoused by sober, distinguished and serious elites and hysterically echoed by the media. I cannot recall a time when I was not being urged by somebody that the world could only survive if it abandoned the foolish goal of economic growth. The fashionable reason for pessimism changed, but the pessimism was constant. In the 1960s the population explosion and global famine were top of the charts, in the 1970s the exhaustion of resources, in the 1980s acid rain, in the 1990s pandemics, in the 2000s global warming. One by one these scares came and (all but the last) went.

Ridley raises a more specific point that general pessimism: Why are we as a species so willing to believe in doomsday scenarios that virtually never materialise?

The Chairman of the X Prize Foundation, Peter H. Diamandis, offers one plausible explanation. Human beings are constantly bombarded with information. Because our brains have a limited computing power, they have to separate what is important, such as a lion running toward us, from what is mundane, such as a bed of flowers. Because survival is more important than all other considerations, most information enters our brains through the amygdala – a part of the brain that is “responsible for primal emotions like rage, hate and fear.” Information relating to those primal emotions gets our attention first because the amygdala “is always looking for something to fear.” Our species, in other words, has evolved to prioritise bad news.

The Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker has noted that the nature of cognition and nature of news interact in ways that make us think that the world is worse than it really is. News, after all, is about things that happen. Things that did not happen go unreported. As Pinker points out, we “never see a reporter saying to the camera, ‘Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out.’” Newspapers and other media, in other words, tend to focus on the negative. As the old journalistic addage goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

To make matters worse, the arrival of social media makes bad news immediate and more intimate. Until relatively recently, most people knew very little about the countless wars, plagues, famines and natural catastrophes happening in distant parts of the world. Contrast that with the 2011 Japanese tsunami disaster, which people throughout the world watched unfold in real time on their smart phones.

The human brain also tends to overestimate danger due to what psychologists call “the availability heuristic” or a process of estimating the probability of an event based on the ease with which relevant instances come to mind. Unfortunately, human memory recalls events for reasons other than their rate of recurrence. When an event turns up because it is traumatic, the human brain will overestimate how likely it is to reoccur.

Consider our fear of terror. According to John Mueller, a political scientist from the Ohio State University, “In the years since 9/11, Islamist terrorists have managed to kill about seven people a year within the United States. All those deaths are tragic of course, but some comparisons are warranted: lightning kills about 46 people a year, accident-causing deer another 150, and drownings in bathtubs around 300.” Yet, Americans continue to fear terror much more than drowning in a bathtub.

Moreover, as Pinker also points out, the psychological effects of bad things tend to outweigh those of the good ones. Ask yourself, how much happier can you imagine yourself feeling? And again, how much more miserable can you imagine yourself to feel? The answer to the latter question is: infinitely. Psychological literature shows that people fear losses more than they look forward to gains; dwell on setbacks more than relishing successes; resent criticism more than being encouraged by praise. Bad, in other words, is stronger than good.

Finally, good and bad things tend to happen on different timelines. Bad things, such as plane crashes, can happen quickly. Good things, such as the strides humanity has made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tend to happen incrementally and over a long period of time. As Kevin Kelly from Wired has put it, “Ever since the Enlightenment and the invention of Science, we’ve managed to create a tiny bit more than we’ve destroyed each year. But that few percent positive difference is compounded over decades in to what we might call civilisation … [Progress] is a self-cloaking action seen only in retrospect.”

In other words, humanity suffers from a negativity bias or “vigilance for bad things around us.” Consequently, there is a market for purveyors of bad news, be they doomsayers who claim that overpopulation will cause mass starvation, or scaremongers who claim that we are running out of natural resources.

Politicians, too, have realised that banging on about “crises” increases their power and can get them re-elected. It may also lead to prestigious prizes and lucrative speaking engagements. Thus politicians on both Left and Right play on our fears – whether it is a worry that crime is caused by playing violent computer games or that health maladies supposedly caused by the consumption of genetically modified foods.

The negativity bias is deeply ingrained in our brains. It cannot be wished away. The best that we can do is to realise that we are suffering from it.

One reason I am somewhat skeptical about these two points of view is the reality of American life when our ancestors arrived from other countries. Unless your family became Americans after World War II, your ancestors’ lives were a daily struggle for survival. Those of you reading this are descended from people who survived infections before antibiotics, fatal illnesses without hope of treatment, commonplace workplace accidents, commonplace accidents of other sorts, unsafe-by-today’s-standards vehicles and roads, and two world wars. They were also people who, at least before the next generation was born, didn’t answer unfortunate events or despair with suicide.

(Personal example: My mother got very seriously ill with pneumonia as a child during the very early days of antibiotics. Also before I was born, my father almost died in a car crash when the car he was in was hit by a drunk driver. I have an older brother who died at 23 months old of a brain tumor, something that wasn’t found until after his death. Our existence is more tenuous than you might think.)

I highly doubt anyone trying to survive in a strange land spent much time pondering whether or not they were happy. That is a curse of sorts of prosperity, given that today we don’t have to hunt for or gather that day’s food, among other improvements of today.

This could be called “affluenza,” or “First World problems” — the idea that the world is supposed to make us happy. The Founding Fathers specified in the Declaration of Independence our “inalienable rights” including the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” which, again, is obviously an individual, not collective, thing.

Whether or not there is a political cause, it seems logical that the fading of religion in our culture is tied to an increase in societal malaise. Among other things, religion teaches gratitude for what we have (except for those who preach the irreligious “prosperity Gospel”) and thinking of and serving others.

Religion has been replaced in some areas by politics, which is a guarantee of unhappiness, because (1) there are winners and losers, and everyone will lose at some point, (2) no one ever has as much power as they want, and (3) no one can accomplish as much as they want.

I’m not sure whose fault it is (probably parents and schools at minimum), but ultimately whether we are happy or not is our own responsibility and no one else’s. Consider how many big lottery winners turn out to have unhappy lives after they win. The fact that all of their money troubles are answered (until the money runs out) doesn’t mean that all their troubles are answered. In contrast, think about people you know who either have very little in terms of wealth or material possessions, or have horrible personal tragedies, and yet press on with their lives.

 

Presty the DJ for Jan. 24

The number one British single today in 1958 was the first in British chart history to start at the top:

Today in 1969, New Jersey authorities told record stores they would be charged with pornography if they sold the John Lennon and Yoko Ono album “Two Virgins,” whose cover showed all you could possibly see of John and Yoko.

The number one album today in 1976 was Bob Dylan’s “Desire”:

The number one single today in 1976:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Jan. 24”

The corrupt phony moderate

Daniel J. Mitchell:

Given their overt statism, I’ve mostly focused on the misguided policies being advocated by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But that doesn’t mean Joe Biden’s platform is reasonable or moderate.

Ezra Klein of Vox unabashedly states that the former Vice President’s policies are “far to Obama’s left.”

The rhetorical clash between “leftists” and “moderates” is obscuring the deeper truth: This is the most progressive Democratic primary in history, and even if, say, Biden won the nomination, he’d be running on a platform far to Obama’s left. https://t.co/x3CMj5XqAn

— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) December 20, 2019

This is an issue where folks on both ends of the spectrum agree.

In a column for the right-leaning American Spectator, George Neumayr also says Biden is not a moderate.

Biden likes to feed the mythology that he is still a moderate. …This is, after all, a pol who giddily whispered in Barack Obama’s ear that a massive government takeover of health care “was a big f—ing deal,”…and now pronouncing Obamacare only a baby step toward a more progressive future. It can’t be repeated enough that “Climate Change” Joe doesn’t give a damn about the ruinous consequences of extreme environmentalism for Rust Belt industries. His Climate Change plans read like something Al Gore might have scribbled to him in a note. …On issue after issue, Biden is taking hardline liberal stances. …“I have the most progressive record of anybody running.” …He is far more comfortable on the Ellen show than on the streets of Scranton. He has given up Amtrak for private jets, and, like his lobbyist brother and grifter son, has cashed in on his last name.

If you want policy details, the Wall Street Journal opined on his fiscal plan.

Mr. Biden has previously promised to spend $1.7 trillion over 10 years on a Green New Deal, $750 billion on health care, and $750 billion on higher education. To pay for it all, he’s set out $3.4 trillion in tax increases. This is more aggressive, for the record, than Hillary Clinton’s proposed tax increases in 2016, which totaled $1.4 trillion, per an analysis at the time from the left-of-center Tax Policy Center. In 2008 Barack Obama pledged to raise taxes on the rich while cutting them on net by $2.9 trillion. Twice as many tax increases as the last presidential nominee: That’s now the “moderate” Democratic position. …raising the top rate for residents of all states. …a huge increase on today’s top capital-gains rate of 23.8%… This would put rates on long-term capital gains at their highest since the 1970s. …Raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. This would…vault the U.S. corporate rate back to near the top in the developed world. …the bottom line is big tax increases on people, capital and businesses. There’s nothing pro-growth in the mix.

And the ever-rigorous Peter Suderman of Reason wrote about Biden’s statist agenda.

Biden released a proposal to raise a slew of new taxes, mostly on corporations and high earners. He would increase tax rates on capital gains, increase the tax rate for households earning more than $510,000 annually, double the minimum tax rate for multinational corporations,impose a minimum tax on large companies whose tax filings don’t show them paying a certain percentage of their earnings, and undo many of the tax cuts included in the 2017 tax law. …as The New York Times reports, Biden’s proposed tax hikes are more than double what Hillary Clinton called for during the 2016 campaign. …Hillary Clinton…pushed the party gently to the left. Four years later, before the campaign is even over, the party’s supposed moderates are proposing double or even quadruple the new taxes she proposed.

The former Veep isn’t just a fan of higher taxes and more spending.

He also likes nanny-state policies.

Joe Biden says he is 100% in favor of banning plastic bags in the U.S. …let’s take a quick walk through the facts about single-use plastic bags at the retail level. …the plastic bags typically handed out by retailers make up only 0.6% of visible litter. Or put another way, for every 1,000 pieces of litter, only six are plastic bags. …They make up less than 1% of landfills by weight… 90% of the plastic bags found at sea streamed in from eight rivers in Asia and two in Africa. Only about 1% of all plastic in the ocean is from America. …Thicker plastic bags have to be used at least 11 times before they yield any environmental benefits. This is much longer than their typical lifespans. …Though it might seem almost innocuous, Biden’s support for a bag ban is symptom of a greater sickness in the Democratic Party. It craves unfettered political power.

Let’s not forget, by the way, that Biden (like most politicians in Washington) is corrupt.

Here are some excerpts from a Peter Schweizer column in the New York Post.

Political figures have long used their families to route power and benefits for their own self-enrichment. …one particular politician — Joe Biden — emerges as the king of the sweetheart deal, with no less than five family members benefiting from his largesse, favorable access and powerful position for commercial gain. …Joe Biden’s younger brother, James, has been an integral part of the family political machine…HillStone announced that James Biden would be joining the firm as an executive vice president. James appeared to have little or no background in housing construction, but…the firm was starting negotiations to win a massive contract in war-torn Iraq. Six months later, the firm announced a contract to build 100,000 homes. …A group of minority partners, including James Biden, stood to split about $735 million. …With the election of his father as vice president, Hunter Biden launched businesses fused to his father’s power that led him to lucrative deals with a rogue’s gallery of governments and oligarchs around the world. …Hunter’s involvement with an entity called Burnham Financial Group…Burnham became the center of a federal investigation involving a $60 million fraud scheme against one of the poorest Indian tribes in America, the Oglala Sioux. …the firm relied on his father’s name and political status as a means of both recruiting pension money into the scheme.

I only excerpted sections about Biden’s brother and son. You should read the entire article.

And even the left-leaning U.K.-based Guardian has the same perspective on Biden’s oleaginous behavior.

Biden has a big corruption problem and it makes him a weak candidate. …I can already hear the howls: But look at Trump! Trump is 1,000 times worse! You don’t need to convince me. …But here’s the thing: nominating a candidate like Biden will make it far more difficult to defeat Trump. It will allow Trump to muddy the water, to once again pretend he is the one “draining the swamp”, running against Washington culture. …With Biden, we are basically handing Trump a whataboutism playbook. …his record represents the transactional, grossly corrupt culture in Washington that long precedes Trump.

I’ll close by simply sharing some objective data about Biden’s voting behavior when he was a Senator.

According to the National Taxpayers Union, he finished his time on Capitol Hill with eleven-consecutive “F” scores (hey, at least he was consistent!).

 

And he also was the only Senator who got a lifetime rating of zero from the Club for Growth.

 

Though if you want to be generous, his lifetime rating was actually 0.025 percent.

Regardless, that was still worse than Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

So if Biden become President, it’s safe to assume that America will accelerate on the already-baked-in-the-cake road to Greece.

P.S. Of course, we’ll be on that path even if Biden doesn’t become President, so perhaps the moral of the story is to buy land in Australia.

Presty the DJ for Jan. 23

Today’s first item comes from the Stupid Laws File: Today in 1956, Ohio youths younger than 18 were banned from dancing in public unless accompanied by an adult, the result of enforcing a law that dated back to 1931.

The number one single today in 1965:

The number one British single today in 1971 was the first number one by a singer from his previous group:

Today in 1977, Patti Smith broke a vertebra after falling off the stage at her concert in Tampa, Fla.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Jan. 23”