Author: Steve Prestegard

Presty the DJ for Oct. 10

Proving that there is no accounting for taste, I present the number one song today in 1960:

The number two single today in 1970 was originally written for a bank commercial:

Britain’s number one album today in 1970 was Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Oct. 10”

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We’re number four!

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recently issued this news release:

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) released a new memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau that analyzed the tax law changes since 2011. The analysis reveals Republicans cut taxes by more than $13 billion since 2011. In income tax rate cuts alone, a typical Wisconsin family will save $2,000 over the ten year period. This news comes as Democrats across the country are proposing ways to increase taxes on American families.

“One of our top priorities has been to allow Wisconsin families to keep more of their own hard-earned money,” said Speaker Robin Vos. “Republicans have proven we can cut taxes, fund essential state programs and grow the economy.”

The review looked at statutory changes that directly reduce a person’s tax liability. As illustrated in the memo, the current budget grows the annual tax cuts to more than $2.3 billion, which includes reductions by more than $1.2 billion in income and franchise taxes and economic development surcharges, $18 million in other general fund taxes and $1.1 billion in property taxes.

“I’m proud that Republicans led the way in the recent budget process and reversed Governor Evers’ plan to increase taxes by more than $1 billion,” said Speaker Vos. “In the end, the taxpayers in Wisconsin win with a stronger economy and a smaller tax burden.”

Even before the latest round of tax cuts in the current budget, the Wisconsin Policy Forum found that the tax burden in our state dropped to the lowest level in nearly 50 years. Its report examined state and local taxes as a share of income.

There also has been progress in the national tax climate index. In 2011, Wisconsin was in the top ten worst taxed states in the country. The Tax Foundation currently ranks the state at #32, a marked improvement over the last eight years of surveys.

“Assembly Republicans have followed through on our promise to reduce taxes whenever possible,” said Speaker Vos. “Since 2011, we’ve lowered taxes every session that we’ve held the majority in the Wisconsin State Legislature.”

Wisconsin Republicans hold a 63-36 seat majority in the state Assembly.

From #NeverTrump to never mind

Jeremy W. Peters:

In 2016, Erick Erickson could not have been clearer. Donald Trump was “a racist” and “a fascist.” It was no wonder, Mr. Erickson wrote, that “so many people with swastikas in their Twitter profile pics” supported him. “I will not vote for Donald Trump. Ever,” he insisted, adding his voice to the chorus of Never Trump Republicans.

Last week, Mr. Erickson, a well-known conservative blogger, titled one of his pieces “I Support the President.” In three years, he had come completely around, a transformation that is a testament to President Trump’s remarkable consolidation of support inside the Republican Party. The effort to impeach the president, Mr. Erickson wrote, was a desperate move by people “who have never come to terms with him.”

“Never Trump” no more, conservatives have largely resigned themselves to a more accommodating state of mind: “Never mind Trump.” And their change in attitude helps to mute the much smaller group of conservative voices who remain highly critical of the president and have questioned his conduct.

Glenn Beck, the radio host who once called Mr. Trump “an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity,” now says that his defeat in 2020 would mark “the end of the country as we know it.” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who so bitterly feuded with the president during the 2016 primaries that Mr. Trump gave out Mr. Graham’s cellphone number on national television, declared last week that impeachment was nothing but “a political set up.”

It can be difficult to remember that indignation and contempt for Mr. Trump once simmered in every corner of the conservative world. In August 2016, dozens of the most senior Republican national security officials signed a letter warning he would “put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

Women leaders of the anti-abortion movement joined together before the Iowa caucuses in 2016 and issued a joint statement declaring themselves “disgusted” at his behavior, saying he had “impugned the dignity of women.” National Review published an “Against Trump” issue that featured essays from 22 prominent conservatives who all made a case for why he should be not be the Republican nominee.

At least half of those writers are now on the record making supportive comments about the president. Some, including Mr. Erickson and Mr. Beck, now fiercely defend Mr. Trump, joining many former foes who are speaking out loudly against the impeachment inquiry. Others who contributed to the issue like Ed Meese, the attorney general under Ronald Reagan, has helped Mr. Trump plan his transition and build his administration.

The “Never Trump” taint still lingers three and a half years later. National Review’s editor, Rich Lowry, said that, regrettably, that week’s magazine was remembered as the “Never Trump” issue. “I wish they’d never come up with that phrase,” he said. Mr. Lowry, who spent three weeks recruiting and assigning writers for the issue, still does not shy away from publishing or writing pieces that are harsh toward the president. But he acknowledges that Mr. Trump has helped conservatives like him “stress test your assumptions,” and has forced him to rethink issues like the need to take a tougher approach with China.

“Had I known this was going to be perceived as the bible of the anti-Trump movement, I never would have written it,” said L. Brent Bozell III, who in his National Review essay wrote, “Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all.” He now counts himself as a Trump convert.

There is significant exposure in airing even the most mild criticism of the president, as Mr. Bozell was reminded the other day when he pointed out on Twitter that China, whom Mr. Trump had just congratulated on its 70th anniversary as a communist republic, was a repressive regime.

“The fury is absolutely there for anyone who criticizes this president,” he said. Still, he offered nothing but scorn for the few remaining Never Trump Republicans, whom he accused of being self-righteous and politically shortsighted. “For a lot of the purists, they would rather go down in flames than look at any political equation,” he said. These are the people who supported George W. Bush when he did nothing for conservatives, and they don’t have any leg to stand on when it comes to passing judgment on Trump.”

Mr. Bozell has also discovered that there is a significant market for defending Mr. Trump against impeachment. Through the organization he founded, the Media Research Center, he has helped provide the Trump-friendly news media with a steady stream of videos and articles alleging bias in the mainstream news media’s coverage of impeachment. He has also co-authored a book this year on a similar theme: “Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump.”

In the Republican national security community, many still openly criticize Mr. Trump. But some of the most prominent signatories of the 2016 letter have taken a more charitable view of the president today, like Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security secretary, and John Negroponte, the former director of national intelligence, who said earlier this year: “I certainly don’t think his presidency has been catastrophic.”

And at least one of those officials who signed the letter, James Jeffrey, now works for the Trump administration. He has a high-profile posting in the State Department as the special representative dealing with Syria.

The motivations for getting on board are considerable: a job, a bigger audience, a white knight-like belief that you can change things from the inside. “Some of this is pure opportunism and careerism,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a State Department official in the second Bush administration who signed the letter and also helped recruit like-minded Republicans to join an earlier anti-Trump letter that called the then-candidate “fundamentally dishonest.”
“Some people have an inflated notion of the good they can do from the inside,” Mr. Cohen added. “One of my pet hobbies is the study of the technocrats of Vichy, and there were a lot of people like that — some of them indeed making things less bad. And sometimes they were getting seduced by power.”Few changes of heart have been as head-spinning as the social conservatives and evangelical Christians who now consider Mr. Trump a hero. Many of the conservative women who once saw him as a boor have come to believe that for too long they were focused on the wrong qualities in presidential candidates. They wanted someone pious when they should have been looking for someone who could throw punches.

“I endorsed Rick Santorum in 2012. And Mike Huckabee,” said Penny Young Nance, who signed the statement in 2016 of anti-abortion activists opposing Mr. Trump. “But at the end of the day, I’m not sure those guys I love and admire would have had the guts to do what Trump has done,” she added.

Among the other considerations of “late adopters,” as Ms. Nance called herself, is how Mr. Trump relentlessly and savagely attacks the left and its leaders. “American women want a street fighter,” she said, “and this is the guy who puts the knife in his teeth and swims the moat.” She called Mr. Trump, “a gutsy New Yorker,” resisting the urge to use a less polite term that Mr. Trump might have used himself. “I could use a different word, but I won’t.”

For the few remaining holdouts, the willingness of so many conservatives to support Mr. Trump’s behavior is troubling. “I’ve heard from countless people who argue and believe that this is an existential moral moment and if a Democrat wins, darkness will descend on the land,” Peter Wehner, a speechwriter in the second Bush White House, said. “If that’s your mind-set, then of course you’ll engage in a lot of unholy alliances to defeat Satan.”

“I’m trying to determine what’s the limiting principle for a person when it comes to casting a vote for Donald Trump,” Mr. Wehner added. “And I’m not sure there is one.”

One way to prevent yourself from becoming a self-hypocrite is to have decided, as I did after Trump’s election, to support Trump when he does the right things (tax cuts) and oppose Trump when he does the wrong things (trade war, Second Amendment squishiness). How hard is that?

Presty the DJ for Oct. 9

My favorite Ray Charles song was number one today in 1961:

Today in 1969, the BBC’s “Top of the Pops” refused for the first time to play that week’s number one song because of what singers Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin were supposedly doing while recording “Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus”:

According to a classmate of mine, Madison radio stations play Britain’s number one single today in 1971 too often:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Oct. 9”

What our cultural civil war is about

Joel Kotkin:

The intellectual class across the West—encompassing its universities, media, and arts—is striving to dismantle the values that paced its ascendancy. Europe, the source of Western civilization, now faces a campaign, in academia and elite media, to replace its cultural and religious traditions with what one author describes as a “multicultural and post-racial republic” supportive of separate identities. “The European ‘we’ does not exist,” writes French philosopher Pierre Manent, assessing the damage. “European culture is in hiding, disappearing, without a soul.”

The increasingly “woke” values of the educated upper classes reflect, as Alvin Toffler predicted almost half a century ago, the inevitable consequence of mass affluence, corporate concentration, and the shift to a service economy. The new elite, Toffler foresaw, would abandon traditional bourgeois values of hard work and family for “more aesthetic goals, self-fulfillment as well as unbridled hedonism.” Affluence, he observed, “serves as a base from which men begin to strive for post economic goals.”

The driving force for these changes has been the ascendant clerisy, which, reprising the role that the Church played in medieval times, sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of the “oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven,” in the words of the great French historian of the Middle Ages, Marc Bloch. Traditional clerics remained part of this class but were joined by others—university professors, scientists, public intellectuals, and heads of charitable foundations. This secular portion of society has now essentially replaced the clergy, serving as what German sociologist Max Weber once called society’s “new legitimizers.” The clerisy spans an ever-growing section of the workforce that largely works outside the market economy—teachers, consultants, lawyers, government workers, and medical professionals. Meantime, positions common among the traditional middle class—small-business owners, workers in basic industries and construction—have dwindled as a share of the job market.

The educated, affluent class detests President Trump, whom many in the Third Estate support, and has rallied to its preferred candidate, Elizabeth Warren, who emerges from the legal and university communities and voices the progressive rhetoric common to this class. (Warren’s less brainy left-wing rival, Bernie Sanders, fares better among struggling, often younger workers.) Warren’s clerisy supporters represent what French Marxist author Christophe Guilluy calls the “privileged stratum,” which operates from an assumption of moral superiority that justifies its right to rule. They are the apotheosis of H. G. Wells’s notion of an “emergent class of capable men” that could “take upon itself the task of “controlling and restricting . . . the non-functional masses.” This new elite, Wells predicted, would replace democracy with a “higher organism” of what he called “the New Republic.”

For generations, the media embraced an ideal of impartiality and the validity of diverse viewpoints. Now, as Andrew Sullivan recently noted, it’s almost impossible to consider the mainstream news as anything other than a partisan tool. Perhaps nothing illustrates this more than the media role in the resistance to Trump; however awful he may seem, no president, even Richard Nixon, has suffered such total opposition from powerful media, with an estimated 92 percent negative coverage from the networks, even before he assumed office.

The media’s anti-Trump lockstep reflects broader changes in the industry. Reporters rarely come, as in the past, from the working class but instead from elite universities. They tilt overwhelmingly to the progressive side. By 2018, barely 7 percent of U.S. reporters identified themselves as Republicans; some 97 percent of journalist political donations go to Democrats. The ongoing media takeover by tech leaders is certain to accelerate this trend. Nearly two-thirds of readers now get their news through Facebook and Google, platforms that often “curate,” or eliminate, conservative views, according to former employees. It’s not just conservatives who think so: over 70 percent of Americans, notes a recent Pew study, believe social media platforms “censor political views.”

Similar patterns can be seen in Hollywood, once divided between conservatives and liberals but now heavily slanted to the left. Liberal columnist Jonathan Chait, reviewing the offerings of major studios and networks, described what he called “a pervasive, if not total, liberalism.” Virtually all mass-media cultural production follows a progressive script, from the music industry to theater—and now including sports, too.

Perhaps nothing has so enhanced the power of the clerisy as the expansion of universities. Overall, the percentage of college graduates in the labor force soared from under 11 percent in 1970 to over 30 percent four decades later. The number of people enrolled in college in the United States has grown from 5 million in 1964 to some 20 million today. Universities, particularly elite institutions, have emerged as the primary gatekeepers and ideological shapers for the upper classes. A National Journal survey of 250 top American public-sector decision-makers found that 40 percent were Ivy League graduates. Only a quarter had earned graduate degrees from a public university.

Orthodoxy of viewpoints in contemporary higher education is increasingly rigid. In 1990, according to survey data by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, 42 percent of professors identified as “liberal” or “far-left.” By 2014, that number had jumped to 60 percent. Another study of 51 top colleges found the proportion of liberals to conservatives ranging from at least 8 to 1 to as much as 70 to 1. At elite liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore, and Williams, the proportion reaches 120 to 1.

These trends are particularly acute in fields that affect public policy and opinion. Well short of 10 percent of faculty at leading law schools, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and Berkeley—schools that graduate many of the nation’s leaders—describe themselves as conservative. Leading journalism schools, including Columbia, have moved away from teaching the fundamentals of reporting and adopted an openly left social-justice agenda.

Once largely a college phenomenon, progressive ideology is now being pressed upon elementary school students, a development that could transform our politics permanently. As authoritarians from Stalin and Hitler to Mao all recognized, youth are the most susceptible to propaganda and most easily shaped by the worldview of their instructors. This process has been most apparent in the environmental movement, which has elevated as its ideological battering ram the unlikely figure of Greta Thunberg, a seemingly troubled Swedish teenager. With her harsh millenarian rhetoric about the end of the world, she reprises the role played by youthful religious fanatics during the “children’s crusade” of the thirteenth century or, more recently, the Red Guards, whom Mao mobilized to silence his critics.

The politicization of basic education, particularly concerning American history, is notable throughout the country but most entrenched in liberal regions such as New York City and Minneapolis. In California, schools are scrapping measures such as exit exams for more ideologically correct policies. Once a leader in educational innovation and performance, California now toils near the bottom of the pack, ranked 40th on Education Week’s composite score of school performance. These poor results mean little to progressives in places like the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has banned “willful defiance” removals and suspensions in the name of racial equity. A bill that would do the same statewide is moving through the legislature, along with a massive campaign to weaken the state’s charter schools. Nothing has been more illustrative of our educational establishment’s far-left, racialist agenda—tinged with a strong dose of anti-capitalist indoctrination—than the draft proposal for an “ethnic studies” curriculum for the state’s schools. The program has provoked fierce opposition and is unlikely to be adopted in its present form, but activists will surely keep trying.

Ethnic-studies programs are aimed at high schoolers who often lack even the most basic understanding of American history. Incapable of meeting national standards for basic grade-level English language arts and mathematics, many of these students would instead learn academic jargon like misogynoircisheteropatriarchy, and hxrstory—which ethnic-studies advocates, such as R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a member of the advisory committee that worked on the draft, defend in the name of legitimating the discipline. “AP Chemistry, for example, has some very complex academic terms, difficult to pronounce, but it’s expected because it’s AP Chemistry,” Cuauhtin explains.

The clerisy is working to undermine basic liberal democracy. In the years ahead, technology will help shape attitudes on everything from the environment to the existence of “unconscious bias” against racial and sexual minorities. China’s efforts to control and monitor thought, sometimes assisted by U.S. tech firms, are likely a hint of things to come in Europe, Australia, and North America. Already we see the rise of a new political generation with little use for the Western political tradition or the cultural values that shaped it. American millennials—despite, or perhaps because of, their high educational attainment—are increasingly inculcated with the idea that America is hopelessly racist and oppressive. Their worldview includes embracing limits on free speech. Some 40 percent of millennials, notes Pew, favor limiting speech deemed offensive to minorities—well above the already-depressing 27 percent among Gen-Xers and 24 percent among baby boomers. Among the oldest cohorts, though—those who likely remember fascist and Communist regimes—only 12 percent support such restrictions. European millennials also display far less faith in democracy and fewer objections to autocratic control than Americans or previous generations. Young Europeans are almost three times as likely to see democracy as failing than their elders, and many in countries as diverse in Sweden, Hungary, Spain, Poland, and Slovakia embrace the far Right, while others, notably in Great Britain and France, favor the far Left.

With lower levels of cultural literacy and reduced interest in history, the new generation could reprise the intellectual deterioration of the Middle Ages, when, according to Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, “the very mind of man was going through degeneration.” Just as the feudal prelates disdained classical culture, today’s clerisy seeks to unmoor liberal culture and the Western political tradition; nearly 40 percent of young Americans, for example, think that the country lacks “a history to be proud of.” Far smaller numbers than previous generations prize family, religion, or patriotism.

If one does not even know about the complex legacy underpinning democracy, including the drive for individual freedom and open discussion, one is not likely to understand when it is in peril. If we are to save our uniquely open civilization, we must counter the clerisy’s efforts to discredit our past and demolish our future.

Postgame schadenfreude, Which Jones Owns the Cowboys edition

This may be hard to believe for those of us who watched the Packers regularly lose to the Cowboys in Texas Stadium, but in AT&T Stadium Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are 4–0.

Win number four was Sunday’s 34–24 victory that keeps the Packers in first place in the NFC North. Even Cowboys fanboy Skip Bayless feigned being impressed:

Jean-Jacques Taylor found out 10 things, including …

— For now, the Cowboys are frauds — masters of the blowout win over inferior opponents and losses to the good teams they play such as New Orleans and Green Bay. These Cowboys no longer get the benefit of the doubt, and a win over the New York Jets next week isn’t going to change that. The Cowboys need a win over the Eagles heading into the bye week for us to feel good about this team. Anything less than 5-2 is a disaster.

— The front office believes in Dak Prescott. So do the coaches and players. Well, we’re about to see how he fights through the adversity of the last two losses. He’s not solely responsible for the losses by any stretch, but the quarterback gets the credit and the blame. His decision-making must be beyond reproach. It wasn’t Sunday. He could’ve thrown as many as five interceptions. He needs to fix that ASAP. …

— Green Bay running back Aaron Jones has five career 100-yard games. Two have come against the Cowboys. He has 20 career rushing touchdowns, and five have come against Dallas. The 2017 fifth-round pick from UTEP via El Paso Burges High School owns the Cowboys.

— Dak Prescott threw for a career-high 463 yards, including nine completions of 20 yards or more, against Green Bay. The 44 attempts were tied for fourth most of his career. That’s not how the Cowboys want to play. Dallas is 8-11 when Prescott throws more than 32 passes in a game. The Cowboys want to play a ball-control style and throwing it more than 40 times doesn’t allow them to do that. …

— The Cowboys sacked Aaron Rodgers twice. A less mobile quarterback may have gotten sacked three times as much. The Cowboys hit him five times and pressured him much of the first half but couldn’t quite tackle him. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 238 yards and an 85.2 passer rating. It was his worst passer rating against a Garrett-coached team. Surprise. …

— Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball just 12 times, tied for the second lowest of his career. The Cowboys fell behind 31-3 in the third quarter, ending their ability to run. Elliott carried the ball just three times in the second half. Against New Orleans, he had the third-worst output of his career. He’s running well, but the way the game has played out has rendered him ineffective. He would’ve easily run for 100 yards in a normal game with the way the Cowboys were gashing Green Bay’s defense.

— Brett Maher must go. He missed a key field goal with 1:44 left that robbed the Cowboys of an opportunity to try an onside kick. He also missed a 54-yard attempt at the end of the first half. He’s supposed to be a long-distance specialist — and he was kicking in a dome. The Cowboys can’t have much confidence in him. If it affects in any way how Garrett coaches, then Maher needs to get released.

It’s hard to figure out why Maher is struggling. The Packers’ Mason Crosby probably would love to kick at AT&T all the time, given his proclivity at 50-plus-yard field goals that turn out to be a DAGGER! for the home team.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. found out five things, including:

IS DAK PRESCOTT REGRESSING?

Quarterback Dak Prescott’s outstanding play was one of the league’s biggest stories through the first three games of the season. The Cowboys were 3-0, and he was putting up numbers that had him in early MVP conversations.

It was especially notable since the Cowboys are in negotiating a long-term contract extension with Prescott and his agents.

But that was before the last two outings, losses to the Saints and Packers that may cause some to wonder.

Prescott had no touchdowns and an interception in the 12-10 loss to the Saints before throwing a season-high three picks against the Packers.

The Cowboys trailed 31-3 before he rallied them back to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter. His third interception resulted in a Packers field goal to make it 34-17 and all but killed the Cowboys’ comeback.

Prescott’s overall numbers were spectacular, and give him credit for leading the Cowboys back, but this was not one of his better performances.

THE LOST FIRST HALF

The Cowboys trailed 17-0 at halftime to the Green Bay Packers, largely because a slew of mistakes by the offense and a lack of plays on defense. Amari Cooper dropped a pass that hit him both hands and turned into an interception. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw another interception that was a late throw to a crossing Randall Cobb. The defense didn’t tackle and helped drives with penalties. Kicker Brett Maher missed a 54-yard field goal.

The Cowboys offense moved the ball but just couldn’t get anything done. Prescott led the offense in Green Bay territory on four of six first-half possessions. Two ended with interceptions, another with a sack and another with the missed field goal. Cowboys fans booed them as they left the field, and the Packers fans in attendance chanted, “Go Pack Go.”

RUN DEFENSE AND POOR TACKLING

Green Bay running back Aaron Jones had 19 and 21 yards rushing in the Packers’ last two games, against the Eagles and Broncos. The Packers entered Sunday with the 26th ranked rushing offense, averaging 86 yards per game.

So what Jones did to the Cowboys was shocking. His first touchdown run of 18 yards was the longest run by the Packers all season. He added three more touchdown runs, becoming the first Packer to have at least three in a game since 2002.

That he waved goodbye to cornerback Byron Jones on his third score only added insult to the embarrassment. Jones ran untouched for much of the day, and when he didn’t, he broke tackles, ran through tackles and made the Cowboys’ vaunted linebacker corps miss, namely Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee.

Jones had 107 yards rushing on the day. His four touchdowns were most ever by one running back against a Cowboys defense in team history.

In fact, based on the Packers radio broadcast, the Packers fans were louder than the Cowboys fans, particularly after the last missed field goal.

Part of the Cowboys’ problem is their quarterback, according to Tim Cowlishaw:

Even on an afternoon when he throws for 225 more yards than the opposing quarterback, Dak Prescott still has much to learn from Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. The game was also a reminder to all of us who might think Prescott or Rodgers are showing themselves this season to be something other than what they have always been.

Not. So. Fast.

Rodgers didn’t even have to be the most productive Aaron in the Green Bay backfield Sunday, leaving running back Aaron Jones to score four touchdowns while rushing for 107 yards, but Rodgers still did all the significant things — mainly no interceptions and no costly sacks until the game was about out of reach but also some insane improvised throws — to lead a 34-24 upset win over the Cowboys.

Prescott did all the wrong things, even while throwing for a career-best 463 yards. It’s fair to mention that his first of three interceptions bounced off of Amari Cooper into the defender’s arms and that one could have argued for interference on the third interception. Then again, Prescott had another interception in the end zone overturned by penalty and there were at least two other up-for-grabs throws that Packers could have brought down.

In short, Dak Prescott is no Aaron Rodgers. That’s not exactly a sin and barely even a shortcoming, but with so many months having been exhausted discussing whether Prescott might become the game’s highest-paid quarterback, Sunday’s loss was instructive.

Five games into the season, the Cowboys are nothing more than a mystery. They beat two of the league’s worst winless teams — Washington and Miami — along with a 2-3 Giants team that’s likely to finish with a losing record. Against New Orleans, the Cowboys lost a tight defensive struggle on the road. Sunday’s defeat was far worse. Playing a team missing Rodgers’ security blanket, Davante Adams, the Cowboys fell behind 31-3 before they even thought about getting involved in the game.

“You have to play winning football,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “You can’t turn the ball over three times. You have to do a better job defending the run.”

We can debate whether or not Garrett actually won over some of his many detractors by not just showing emotion, but getting flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while spiking his challenge flag after officials missed a Cooper catch on the sidelines.

“All I can tell you is there was abusing language toward an official,” referee Ron Torbert told pool reporter Calvin Watkins. “That’s all I’m prepared to tell you.”

Prescott threw a 27-yard pass to Ezekiel Elliott on the next play, so it’s not as though Garrett’s penalty hurt the team. In fact, they might have played with more energy beyond that point, although, trailing 31-10 to start the fourth quarter, a team is expected to show at least a little something.

But if this team remains a mystery, it’s largely because the same can be said of its quarterback. He checks all the boxes when it comes to career record and most statistical measures. Still, the last two Sundays have at least suggested this team’s probably more closely related to the 10-6 or 9-7 clubs of the last two years than the 13-3 team that took the league by storm in Dak and Zeke’s rookie season.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was quick to point out that Prescott uses setbacks well, that he bounces back quickly and will lose no self-confidence over these last two defeats. But he was also quick to mention that Dak has thrown five interceptions against the Saints and Packers. One might question whether an overabundance of self-confidence is such a great thing under the circumstances.

Before halftime, trailing 17-0, it looked like Prescott might lead the Cowboys on a scoring drive. With Dallas set to receive the second-half kick, it was conceivable the club could cut Green Bay’s lead to 17-14 before Rodgers got back on the field to encourage more chants of “Go Pack Go” from the cheeseheads. But the drive bogged down at the Packers’ 36 and Brett Maher missed a 54-yard field goal.

Maher would basically put the wraps on this game by missing a 33-yarder just inside the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.

It was a game that showcased more weaknesses than the Cowboys thought they possessed. But on consecutive Sundays, in vastly different situations against good teams, the quarterback has been unable to pass or run the Cowboys out of trouble.

 

The I word

George S. Will:

If President Trump were to tweet that nine is a prime number, that Minneapolis is in Idaho, and that the sun revolves around the Earth — “Make Earth Great Again!” — would even five Republican senators publicly disagree with even one of the tweets? This matters in assessing the wisdom of beginning an impeachment process against the president. If every senator in the Democratic caucus were to vote to convict Trump in an impeachment trial concerning articles voted by the House, 20 Republicans would have to join them to remove him from office. So, the likelihood that he will not finish his term is vanishingly small.

What, then, can be accomplished by the impeachment inquiry that was announced just 406 daysbefore the next presidential election? Three things.

First, and not least important, it would augment the public stock of useful information and harmless pleasure to make Senate Republicans stop silently squirming and start taking audible responsibility for the president whom they evidently think they exist to enable. Second, it would affirm Congress’s primacy.

We have heard too many defensive assertions that Congress is “co-equal” with the executive and judicial branches. It is more than that. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Jay Cost notes, Congress is involved in the other branches’ actions by determining the size and scope of the other branches. (All federal courts other than the Supreme Court, and every executive department and officer except the president and vice president, are Congress’s creations.) And by confirming or rejecting nominees to executive and judicial positions. And by stipulating those nominees’ salaries. And by overriding presidential vetoes. And by exercising the power — unused since June 4, 1942 — to declare war. And by ratifying or rejecting treaties, and shaping the military’s size and mission. And by initiating constitutional amendments. As Cost says, the other branches are largely incapable of interfering with Congress, which sets its own pay and rules. Yet today’s Republican-controlled Senate, Trump’s sock puppet, will not consider legislation that he disapproves — as though the Senate expressing its own judgment about the public good would be lèse-majesté.

Third, articles of impeachment might concern his general stonewalling of congressional inquiries. This obduracy vitiates Congress’s role in the system of checks and balances, one purpose of which is to restrain rampant presidents. An impeachment proceeding could strengthen institutional muscles that Congress has allowed to atrophy.

These three benefits from impeachment would not be trivial. But even cumulatively, they probably are not worth the costs of impeachment — costs in time, energy and political distraction. This is so because, regardless of the evidence presented, there is approximately zero chance of an anti-Trump insurrection by 20 of his vigorously obedient Senate Republicans. So, a Senate trial might seem, to the attentive portion of the public, yet another episode of mere gesture politics, of which there currently is too much. And it would further inflame the president’s combustible supporters.

As this column has hitherto argued (May 31), impeachment can be retrospective, as punishment for offenses committed, and prospective, to prevent probable future injuries to society. The latter is problematic regarding Trump: What is known about his Ukraine involvement reveals nothing — nothing — about his character or modus vivendi that was not already known. This is unfortunate but undeniable: Many millions voted for him because he promised that the loutishness of his campaigning foreshadowed his governing style. Promise keeping is a problematic ground for impeachment.

Assumption College’s Greg Weiner understands what he calls “the politics of prudence,” and this truth: “That an offense is impeachable does not mean it warrants impeachment.” Impeachment is unwarranted, for example, if the reasonable judgment of seasoned political people is that impeachment might enhance the political strength and longevity of the official whose behavior merits impeachment.

This might be a moment in this nation’s life when worse is better: The squalor of the president’s behavior regarding Ukraine, following so much other repulsive behavior, is giving many Americans second thoughts about presidential power, which has waxed as Congress has allowed, often eagerly, its power to wane. Impeachment, however dubious, might at least be a leading indicator of an overdue recalibration of our institutional equilibrium.

Nevertheless, the best antidote for a bad election is a better election. The election the nation needs in 400 days would remove the nation’s most recent mistake and inflict instructive carnage — the incumbent mistake likes this noun — on his abjectly obedient party.

Will argued that George H.W. Bush should not be elected in 1992 because Bush’s second term would most likely be worse than his first. That brought us eight years of Bill Clinton and permanent damage to American politics. In fact, much of what we have now — permanent campaigns and scorched-earth win-at-all-costs politics — is directly attributable to Clinton. Was that a better choice?

Essentially, to buy Will’s argument, you have to believe that reversing every political improvement that has taken place, whether attributable or not to Trump, is preferable to four more years of Trump and all that he is.

 

The Trump divide

David Brooks imagines a conversation to explain support for Donald Trump:

Urban Guy: I hope you read the rough transcript of that Trump phone call with the Ukrainian president. Trump clearly used public power to ask a foreign leader to dig up dirt on his political opponent. This is impeachable. I don’t see how you can deny the facts in front of your face.

Flyover Man: I haven’t really had time to look into it. There’s always some fight between Trump and the East Coast media. I guess I just try to stay focused on the big picture.

The big picture is this: We knew this guy was a snake when we signed up. But he was the only one who saw us. He was the only one who saw that the America we love is being transformed in front of our eyes. Good jobs for hard-working people were gone. Our communities in tatters. Our kids in trouble. I had one shot at change, so I made a deal with the devil, and you’d have made it, too.

Nothing in this impeachment mess makes me rethink this bargain. If people like you are unable to acknowledge my dignity and see my problems, I’ll stay with Trump.

Presty the DJ for Oct. 7

Today in 1975, one of the stranger episodes in rock music history ended when John Lennon got permanent resident status, his “green card.” The federal government, at the direction of Richard Nixon, tried to deport Lennon because of his 1968 British arrest for possession of marijuana.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that trying to deport Lennon on the basis of an arrest was “contrary to U.S. ideas of due process and was invalid as a means of banishing the former Beatle from America.”

The number one British single today in 1978 came from that day’s number one album:

The number one album today in 1989 was Tears for Fears’ “Seeds of Love”:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Oct. 7”