Presty the DJ for Feb. 10

The first gold record — which was only a record spray-painted gold because the criteria for a gold record hadn’t been devised yet — was “awarded” today in 1942:

The number one British album today in 1968 was the Four Tops’ “Greatest Hits”:

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Presty the DJ for Feb. 9

The number one single today in 1963:

Today in 1964, three years to the day from their first appearance as the Beatles, the Beatles made their first appearance on CBS-TV’s Ed Sullivan Shew:

The number one single today in 1974 could be found for years on ABC-TV golf tournaments:

The number one single today in 1991:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Feb. 9”

Game nights

Readers know that I have covered, either in print or on the air, high school sports since I first got into journalism for pay (such as it is).

Frederick M. Hess and Amy Cummings:

In the long shadow of this week’s Super Bowl, high-school football drew some unflattering attention, including headlines such as “As the Super Bowl Approaches, Is High School Football Dying a Slow Death?” (the Guardian) and “Rams’ Run to 2019 Super Bowl Reveals Cracks in Football from High School to the NFL” (Forbes).

Such stories are hardly surprising. In recent years, high-school sports have had a tough go of it. Football’s concussion problem has spawned headlines such as CBS’s “Young Athletes Abandon Football as Concussions Rock High School Teams.” But it’s not just football. The indefensible actions of some pro athletes, especially with regards to domestic violence and sexual misconduct, have colored views of sporting culture more generally. Meanwhile, for many progressives, sports are seen as celebrating problematic notions of competition, toxic masculinity, and gender segregation.

Indeed, school sports have served as a convenient punching bag for advocates and academics who tend to regard athletics as a cultural backwater. Amanda Ripley, a senior fellow at the “social change” organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, has made “The Case against High-School Sports” in The Atlantic, blaming sports for mediocre U.S. performance on international tests. And Brookings Institution education scholar Mike Hansen has lamented that sports are “distracting us from our schools’ main goals.”

The manifold benefits of school sports can too readily get lost, especially the crucial role that athletics can play in supporting academic success and building character. Given all the negative attention, it might surprise you to learn that participation in high-school sports has actually risen steadily over the past four decades. The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that participation in high school athletics has risen from 40 percent of high schoolers in 1980 to 52 percent in 2015.

Given the pervasive gloom and hand-wringing, the question arises: Why is participation in sports growing? Well, for one thing, a look at some of the most widely cited scholarly studies on high school sports tells a story very different from the popular narrative of violence and misbehavior.

Despite assertions that sports distract from academics, there’s evidence that they can just as readily complement the scholastic mission of schools. A widely cited 2003 study by Oxford University’s Herbert Marsh and the University of Sydney’s Sabina Kleitman in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology reported, using nationally representative longitudinal data, that participating in high-school sports had a positive effect on academics in high school and college. Students who played high-school sports got better grades, selected more challenging courses, had higher educational and occupational aspirations, were more likely to enroll in college, and had higher levels of educational attainment. What’s more, these results held up across socioeconomic status, gender, race, and ability.

A decade ago, in the Economics of Education Review, Mathematica’s Stephen Lipscomb used a fixed-effects strategy to test whether participating in high-school sports affected academic performance. He found that sports participation associated with a 2 percent increase in math and science test scores and a 5 percent increase in bachelor’s-degree attainment expectations. Other scholarship has reported that participating in high-school sports significantly reduces a student’s likelihood of dropping out of high school and, for young women, that it is associated with higher odds of college completion.

None of this is remotely new. Three decades ago, Alyce Holland and Thomas Andre published an influential review of the research on high-school extracurricular participation in the American Educational Research Journal, reporting that participation in sports was associated with higher self-esteem and feelings of control over one’s life. In a finding that won’t surprise many who’ve participated in sports, they found that athletics participation was also correlated with improved race relations and heightened young-adult involvement in political and social activities. Educators and reformers who are seeking ways to promote values such as self-control, responsibility, and good citizenship should keep in mind that schools already house programs with a track record of doing just that.

Sports also provide the opportunity for young athletes to interact with an adult role model in a shared endeavor outside of the home. Especially given that more than a third of school-age children live in single-parent households, sports afford athletes a chance to forge relationships that they might otherwise lack. This can be especially pivotal for young men who don’t have a father or other male authority figure in the home.

The point is not to make outsize claims about the restorative powers of school sports. These studies all have methodological limitations, and we should not treat the results as gospel. Meanwhile, there are real physical risks in some sports, some of the benefits are due to self-selection, some poorly run sports programs do breed destructive behavior, and there are times and places when school sports can clash with education’s academic mission.

Democrats vs. Catholics

New York Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan (formerly of Milwaukee, and I attended one of his Masses once upon a time):

It’s been a rough time for faithful Catholics recently in our state government’s frantic rush for “progressive” ideas.

I’m thinking first of the ghoulish radical abortion-expansion law, which allows for an abortion right up to the moment of birth; drops all charges against an abortionist who allows an aborted baby, who somehow survives the scissors, scalpel, saline and dismemberment, to die before his eyes; mandates that, to make an abortion more convenient and easy, a physician need not perform it; and might even be used to suppress the conscience rights of health care professionals not to assist in the grisly procedures. All this in a state that already had the most permissive abortion laws in the country.

As if that’s not enough, instead of admitting that abortion is always a tragic choice, and that life-giving alternatives should be more vigorously promoted, the governor and his “progressive” supporters celebrated signing the bill. At the governor’s command, even the lights of the Freedom Tower sparkled with delight.

Those who once told us that abortion had to remain safe, legal and rare now have made it dangerous, imposed and frequent.

Then our governor insults and caricatures the church in what’s supposed to be an uplifting and unifying occasion, his “State of the State” address.

The bishops of this state have long supported a reform of the inadequate laws around the sexual abuse of minors. Yes, we and many others expressed reservations about one element, the retroactive elimination of the civil statute of limitations, but urged dramatic reform that, in many ways, was tougher than what was being proposed by legislators. A month ago we renewed that stance, and even dropped our objections to the “look-back” section if all victims would benefit. The governor was aware of all this.

Why, then, would he use his address to blame the church, and only the church, for blocking this bill? Why would he publicly brag in a political address about his dissent from timeless and substantive church belief? Why would he quote Pope Francis out of context as an applause line to misrepresent us bishops here as being opposed to our Holy Father? Why did he reduce the sexual abuse of minors, a broad societal and cultural curse that afflicts every family, public school, religion and government program, to a “Catholic problem?”

I’m a pastor, not a politician, but I feel obliged to ask these questions, as daily do I hear them from my people, as well as colleagues from other creeds. I’ve been attacked in the past when I asked — sadly and reluctantly — if the party that my folks proudly claimed as their own, the Democrats, had chosen to alienate faithful Catholic voters. Now you know why I asked.

As an American historian, I am very aware of our state’s past record of scorn and sneers at Catholics. It used to be called “know-nothings.” Now it’s touted as “progressivism.”

Genuine progressives work to pass a “DREAM act,” a “voters rights act,” a “prison reform act,” and we pastors of the church pitch in to support them. That’s government at its best. I pray that spirit returns.

The New York law that allows abortion up to birth should disgust even those who consider themselves to favor abortion rights.

 

United Socialists of America

The Wall Street Journal:

Now that Donald Trump has criticized the “new calls to adopt socialism in this country,” Democrats and the media are already protesting that the socialist label doesn’t apply to them. But what are they afraid of—the label or their own ideas? The biggest political story of 2019 is that Democrats are embracing policies that include government control of ever-larger chunks of the private American economy.

Merriam-Webster defines socialism as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”

The U.S. may not be Venezuela, but consider the Democratic agenda that is emerging from Congress and the party’s presidential contenders. You decide if the proposals meet the definition of socialism.

• Medicare for All. Bernie Sanders’ plan, which has been endorsed by 16 other Senators, would replace all private health insurance in the U.S. with a federally administered single-payer health-care program. Government would decide what care to deliver, which drugs to pay for, and how much to pay doctors and hospitals. Private insurance would be banned.

As Senator Kamala Harris put it recently on CNN, “the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require. Who of us has not had that situation, where you’ve got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, well, I don’t know if your insurance company is going to cover this? Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”

If replacing private insurance with government control isn’t socialism, what is?

• The Green New Deal. This idea, endorsed by 40 House Democrats and several Democratic presidential candidates, would require that the U.S. be carbon neutral within 10 years. Non-carbon sources provide only 11% of U.S. energy today, so this would mean a complete remake of American electric power, transportation and manufacturing.

Oh, and as imagined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, all of this would be planned by a Select Committee For a Green New Deal. Soviet five-year plans were more modest.

• A guaranteed government job for all. To assist in this 10-year transformation of society, the Green New Deal’s authors would “provide all members of our society, across all regions and all communities, the opportunity, training and education to be a full and equal participant in the transition, including through a job guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one.”

This is no longer a fringe idea. The Center for American Progress, Barack Obama’s think tank, supports a government job for everyone “to counter the effects of reduced bargaining power, technical change, globalization,” and presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted her support for it as an alternative to tax reform.

• A new system for corporate control. Senator Elizabeth Warren wants a new federal charter for businesses with more than $1 billion in annual revenue that would make companies answer to more than shareholders. Employees would elect 40% of directors, who would be obliged to consider “benefits” beyond returns to the owners. This radical redesign of corporate governance would give politicians and their interest groups new influence over private business decisions and assets.

• Vastly higher taxes. These ideas would require much more government revenue, and Democrats are eagerly proposing ways to raise it. Mr. Sanders wants to raise the top death tax rate to 77%. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez wants a new 70% tax rate on high incomes, which is supported by the Democratic intelligentsia. The House Ways and Means Committee is working on a plan to raise the payroll tax to 14.8% from 12.4% on incomes above $400,000.

Never to be outdone on the left, Ms. Warren wants a new 2% “wealth tax” on assets above $50 million and 3% above $1 billion, including assets held abroad. France recently junked its wealth tax because it was so counterproductive, and such a tax has never been levied in America. This is government confiscation merely because someone has earned or saved more money than someone else. Socialism?

These are merely the most prominent proposals. There are many others, such as Ms. Warren’s plan to set up a government-owned generic drug maker that would inevitably put private companies out of business because its cost of capital would be zero.

***
Some readers might think this is all so extreme it could never happen. But presidential candidates don’t propose ideas they think will hurt them politically. The leftward lurch of Democratic voters, especially the young, means the party could nominate the most left-wing presidential candidate in U.S. history. If other Democratic candidates oppose any or all of this, we’d like to hear them.

The American public deserves to have a debate about all this, lest it sleepwalk into a socialist future it doesn’t want. Credit to Mr. Trump for teeing it up.

Richmond > Madison

The Associated Press has more to report on the soap opera that is Virginia state government:

The political crisis in Virginia exploded Wednesday when the state’s attorney general confessed to putting on blackface in the 1980s and a woman went public with detailed allegations of sexual assault against the lieutenant governor.

With Gov. Ralph Northam’s career already hanging by a thread over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, the day’s developments threatened to take down all three of Virginia’s top elected officials, all of them Democrats.

The twin blows began with Attorney General Mark Herring issuing a statement saying he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party as a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia.

Herring — who has been among those calling on Northam to resign — said he was “deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.” He said that in the days ahead, “honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general.”

Then, within hours, Vanessa Tyson, the woman whose sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax governor surfaced earlier this week, issued a detailed statement saying Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Tyson, a 42-year-old political scientist who is on a fellowship at Stanford University and specializes in the political discourse of sexual assault, said she was not motivated by politics to come forward, writing: “I am a proud Democrat.”

The Associated Press typically does not identify those who say they were sexually assaulted, but Tyson issued the statement in her name.

Fairfax — who is line to become governor if Northam resigns — has repeatedly denied her allegations, saying that the encounter was consensual and that he is the victim of a strategically timed political smear.

“At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past 15 years,” he said in a statement.

Herring, 57, went public after rumors of a blackface photo of him had circulated at the Capitol for a day or more. But in his statement, he said nothing about the existence of a photo.

The disclosure further roils the top levels of Virginia government, which has been hit with one crisis after another since the yearbook picture came to light last Friday. Herring would be next in line to be governor after Fairfax. …

Herring made a name for himself nationally by playing a central role in getting Virginia’s ban on gay marriage lifted, and he had been planning to run for governor in 2021.

The chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Del. Lamont Bagby, said its members need time to process the news about the attorney general: “We’ve got a lot to digest.”

Democrats have expressed fear that the uproar over the governor could jeopardize their chances of taking control of the GOP-dominated Virginia legislature this year. The party made big gains in 2017, in part because of a backlash against President Donald Trump, and has moved to within striking distance of a majority in both houses.

In his statement, Herring said he and two friends dressed up to look like rappers they listened to, including Kurtis Blow, admitting: “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it.”

“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others,” he said.

But he also said: “This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since.”

Northam has come under pressure from nearly the entire state and national Democratic establishment to resign after the discovery of a photo on his profile page in the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook of someone in blackface standing next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Northam admitted at first that he was in the photo without saying which costume he was wearing. A day later, he denied he was in the picture. But he acknowledged he once used shoe polish to blacken his face and look like Michael Jackson at a dance contest in Texas in 1984, when he was in the Army.

Herring came down hard on Northam when the yearbook photo surfaced, condemning it as “indefensible,” ″profoundly offensive,” and “shocking and deeply disappointing.” He said that it was no longer possible for Northam to lead the state.

Herring earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of Richmond, and served as a county supervisor and a state senator before getting elected attorney general in 2013 by just 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast. He won re-election by a more comfortable margin in 2017.

Shortly after taking office for his first term, Herring announced he would no longer defend the state’s ban on gay marriage, saying it was time for Virginia “to be on the right side of history and the right side of the law.”

A federal judge overturned the ban, citing Herring’s opposition, and Virginia began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2014, nearly a full year before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

By Democrats’ own standards all three should resign. The reason none will comes in the paragraph I deleted to emphasize it here:

After Herring comes the speaker of the state House, Kirk Cox, a conservative Republican.

 

A response to Tony the Taxer

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce sent this news release Tuesday:

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) defended small businesses, manufacturers and their employees by supporting Assembly Bill 4 and Senate Bill 18 on Tuesday, which would provide $340 million in tax cuts to middle class Wisconsinites.

The Assembly Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions held a public hearing on the bills, and WMC testified in favor saying that “allowing Wisconsinites to keep more of their own money will stimulate our state’s economy. Increasing the amount of wages workers get to take home means more disposable income, which can be spent on everything from groceries to snow blowers.”

Unfortunately, Gov. Tony Evers vowed to veto the bill that would provide much-needed tax relief, and instead offered his own plan that included a tax increase on Wisconsin’s largest industry. After Gov. Evers announced his plan to only offer a tax cut if he could also hike taxes somewhere else, WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer released the following statement:

“Wisconsin’s economy is the best it has been in a generation. We have had year after year of budget surpluses. And because of smart budgeting, our state has the distinct opportunity to return that surplus to the hard-working taxpayers.

“While Gov. Evers claims he must raise taxes because Wisconsin has a deficit, the facts show Wisconsin will actually have $2.4 billion more in tax revenue for the next state budget. The numbers don’t lie. We do not need to raise taxes on one group to cut taxes for another.

“What is especially worrisome is that Gov. Evers is targeting the nearly 500,000 people who work in manufacturing with a tax increase. This is Wisconsin’s largest industry, and has literally been the bedrock of our state’s middle class. The irony of raising taxes on manufacturers and their workers to provide a separate middle-class tax cut should not be lost on anyone.

“This should be a bipartisan plan, and we hope both sides can come together to provide Wisconsinites with real tax relief without negatively impacting our state’s economy, our state’s job creators and our state’s workers.”

The nearly 500,000 people who work in manufacturing aren’t the only people Evers is targeting with a tax increase. Evers and his pick for secretary of transportation are hellbent on increasing gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, which as regressive taxes hit those with the least money the worst. As is always the case a Democrat wouldn’t recognize fiscal discipline if he or she was hit in the face by a budget book.

 

Presty the DJ for Feb. 6

The number one British album today in 1965 was “The Rolling Stones No. 2”:

The number one single on both sides of the Atlantic today in 1965:

The number one single today in 1982 …

… from the number one album, the J. Geils Band’s “Freeze Frame”:

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