Time for a new coach

From the Wisconsin Gannett Empire:

The Green Bay Packers relieved coach Mike McCarthy of his duties after a 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field dropped the club to 4-7-1 on the season.

McCarthy is the first coach in the history of the franchise to be fired before the end of a full season.

“The 2018 season has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers. As a result, I made the difficult decision to relieve Mike McCarthy of his role as head coach, effective immediately,” Packers president and chief executive officer Mark Murphy said in a statement released by the team.

“Mike has been a terrific head coach and leader of the Packers for 13 seasons, during which time we experienced a great deal of success on and off the field. We want to thank Mike, his wife, Jessica, and the rest of the McCarthy family for all that they have done for the Packers and the Green Bay and Wisconsin communities. We will immediately begin the process of selecting the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers.”

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was named the interim head coach.

McCarthy is the first Packers coach to not finish out a season since Gene Ronzani resigned with two games left in the 1953 campaign. McCarthy replaced the last Packers coach to be fired in Mike Sherman in 2006.

McCarthy, 55, signed a one-year contract extension through the 2019 season on Jan. 2 of this year.

A Super Bowl champion in 2010, McCarthy is just one of three head coaches in franchise history to win a championship in the Super Bowl era, along with Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren. Since taking over in 2006 the Packers have had just two losing seasons under his direction and reached the postseason nine times — including eight straight seasons from 2009-16.

He concludes his Packers career with a record of 125-77-2, which is the second-best win total in franchise history behind Curly Lambeau (209-104-21). McCarthy has the most postseason games (10) and wins (10) in the playoffs of any Packers coach.

McCarthy is No. 27 all-time in the NFL in coaching victories and is the fourth-winningest active coach in the league behind Bill Belichick (258), Andy Reid (192) and Marvin Lewis (130).

Under McCarthy, the Packers did not just win Super Bowl XLV 31-25 on Feb. 6, 2011, but the team also won six NFC North division titles and advanced to four NFC championship games (2007, 2010, 2014, 2016).

The only surprise here, after the Packers’ pathetic performance in their 20-17 loss to Arizona Sunday, management decided to fire McCarthy now instead of waiting until his inevitable firing after the end of the season.

This puts the Packers into limbo for the rest of the season. One assumes the Packers’ next coach will come from one of this year’s playoff teams, including currently popular Saints quarterback coach Joe Lombardi, grandson of Vince.  So the Packers can’t hire, say, Lombardi until, say, the Saints are eliminated from the playoffs, which might not be until Super Bowl LIII.

The Packers probably did a big favor for McCarthy, who is strongly rumored to be heading to Cleveland to work for former Packers executive John Dorsey and with quarterback Baker Mayfield. Given how successful the Packers were with McCarthy, regardless of what you thought of his recent work, that’s fair.

What, or who, got McCarthy fired was really former general manager Ted Thompson, whose last drafts are being exposed as being really bad, especially on defense. GM Mike Sherman got coach Mike Sherman fired for the same reason, though Thompson issued the pink slip.

SI.com last week ranked the likely coaching vacancies:

5. Green Bay Packers: Fun for the right coach, but difficult for someone who may not be used to a quarterback that pushes back and likes to run the show. Having Aaron Rodgers for the remainder of his prime is the best part of this job, but also comes with myriad stresses. Dig into Packer teams over the past decade and you’ll find that it takes a brain surgeon type to match wits with the franchise quarterback.

Does “pushes back and likes to run the show” sound like anyone familiar? If you read this blog Friday afternoon, you might have concluded that Rodgers has become Brett Favre II, complete with rocky relationship with coach and increasingly cranky personality. (Favre reportedly became quite a loner in his final season with the Packers.)

The Packers’ history and Rodgers’ presence suggests that the Packers’ next coach will be an offensive assistant (as in Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Lindy Infante, Mike Holmgren, Mike Sherman and McCarthy), not someone from the defensive side of the ball (Phil Bengtson, Ray Rhodes), most likely not a former head coach (Forrest Gregg, Rhodes), and most certainly not a current college coach (Dan Devine).

McCarthy is the third best Packers coach in the last 60 years, behind Lombardi (duh) and Holmgren. Ironically Lombardi and Holmgren were second choices behind Iowa coach Forrest Evashefski (who never coached in the NFL) and Bill Parcells, respectively,. Fans at this point will start to chime in on their favorites, forgetting that there was only one Lombardi, there is only one Bill Belichick (and his assistants have not done well as head coaches, including Josh McDaniels, another popular name), Holmgren grew an ego that led to his departure from Green Bay, etc.

 

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The close of a strange chapter in my career

Readers know that I had a fractious minute with Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino, who came to give a speech at UW–Platteville, but left after five minutes because I refused to leave.

A few people concluded based on only their own biases that I am a spawn of Satan or something. (I was also outed as a Nazi on a previous blog during the Act 10 adventure.) Some were also under the mistaken impression that I was subject to the authority of the bishop even though I’m not Catholic (though I was raised Catholic).

I got to Platteville just after what Pray Tell wrote:

I still remember when I learned the word “interdict.”

It was in high school world history class (this still pretty much meant European / Western history in the 1970s) in the public school down in Franklin, Minnesota. Pope Innocent III put the entire kingdom of England under interdict for five years in 1208, our text said, which meant for the entire populace no sacraments or rites such as Christian burial.

“Wow, that’s kinda harsh,” the sixteen-year-old thought to himself.

I recall also thinking to myself that it’s kinda cool that we Catholics were still part of this church extending back to the Middle Ages, we still had a pope today, but the Methodists and Lutherans in my class couldn’t claim that. (In this world, which looks rather small in retrospect, Lutherans and Methodists were The Other.)

I suppose our history text must have said that it was because King John refused to accept the pope’s appointment of Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, but I admit that I had to check Wikipedia just now to jog my memory.

And now I see that Innocent III also placed the Kingdom of France under interdict, but only for eight months so that’s no big deal. And the Kingdom of Norway, for four years. Busy pope. If you got it, use it, I guess.

Oh, and in 1955 white parishioners near New Orleans were put under interdict for refusing entry to a black priest. It’s a good, progressive cause, racial equality. I expect the more liberal readers of Pray Tell welcome such use of interdict, yes?

I never thought I’d get to use my newfound word in today’s Catholic Church.

But Bishop Morlino, over in neighboring Wisconsin, has provided.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the bishop has threatened parishioners in Platteville, Wisconsin with interdict if they don’t put a stop to their opposition to the conservative priests he appointed to their parish. Just as in 1208, the issue is accepting a controversial appointment.

It all started in Platteville in June 2010, not even two years ago, when Madison Bishop Robert Morlino installed three priests at St. Mary’s from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, a traditional Catholic society founded in Spain. They do not allow girls to be altar servers or allow parishioners to distribute communion. The parish website lists a daily Tridentine (pre-Vatican II) Latin Mass as well as a daily Vatican II Mass.

It didn’t take long for it all to blow up. Donations plummeted, and about 40 percent of the church’s 1,200 parishioners signed a petition seeking the ouster of the priests. The parish school was in danger of closing at midyear, then frantic fundraising made it possible to complete the school year, but now the bishop has accepted that the school will close when this year ends.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t the “mutual enrichment” between old and new which Pope Benedict envisioned when he issued the “motu proprio” in 2007 allowing any priest, any time, without bishop’s permission, to celebrate the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass. Pope Benedict wrote at the time to the world’s bishops:

The fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded.

It looks as if the Bishop of Madison is on solid grounds canonically. Priests have every right to use only male servers, to disallow lay eucharistic ministers, to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. Canon law is clear that parish councils are merely advisory, and authority remains vested in the priest. Bishops appoint priests, and parishioners have no right to remove them.

The pastoral disaster in Platteville brings to a point what has and has not been accomplished through the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. At the level of admonition we have ringing conciliar statements about collegiality, ordained ministry as service, church as people of God, the important role of the laity in the Church, and so forth. At the level of legal reform, to large extent, power remains firmly in the hands of the clerical authorities – pastor, bishop, curial official, pope.

The clergy may and even should act with pastoral sensitivity, but they are not legally required to do so.

At the level of pastoral sensitivity, there is much to talk about in Platteville, wide range for differing opinions. The priests themselves have admitted that they have made some mistakes and moved too quickly with their reforms.

But the parishioners have no right to remove their priests, no matter how insensitive the priests are. The law is clear on this point, and so is the bishop. As he wrote in his letter to the parish, “There can be no ‘firing’ of priests by the parish community in the Diocese of Madison.” And there you have it.

Pope Innocent appointed Stephen Langton, and Bishop Morlino appointed the priests of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest.

I’m trying to conceptualize how an interdict might look in pastoral practice.

“Dear friends, we regret to inform you that our wedding celebration has been postponed during this time our parish is under interdict.”

Or at the end of an obituary: “Funeral services will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Platteville as soon as the interdict is lifted.”

I predict it won’t come to that. Watch this space.

Indeed, it did not come to that, but that’s because those who objected the most to the more conservative direction of the parish left. The church’s school closed, although it reopened earlier this year.

I bring all this up because Morlino died Saturday night. The outstanding weekly newspaper linked in this paragraph chronicles all of Morlino’s interesting interactions with the local Roman Catholic parish.

I came to cover Morlino’s speech. I suppose I could have sneaked into the Catholic Newman Center and covered his speech, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to put them (though they were not exactly welcoming) in the position of having to eject me, possibly loudly, because I was never the point of the story; Morlino was. 

Sometime after this I got an email from the diocese acknowledging that Morlino may have been legally incorrect in his seeking to have the speech out of public eyes. I also got an invitation to meet with the bishop, which I never followed up on. I wish I had.

The truth then and now is that the Catholic Church is not now, has never been, and most likely will never be, a democracy. (My adopted Episcopal Church is to some extent, though it has certainly demonstrated the flaws of democracy over the  years.) Indeed, since the bishop assigns priests, members of a Catholic church basically have no say in the operation of “their” church, beyond voting with their feet.

What will be most interesting is who replaces Morlino, who was appointed by Pope John Paul II. Pope Francis seems likely to appoint a much less conservative bishop than Morlino, which will probably be popular in Madison (to the extent anything religious is popular in the officially atheist People’s Republic of Madison). That will mean, however, no more counterpoint to those who think their church should adhere to their own beliefs, whether those beliefs are based on sound theology.

Presty the DJ for Nov. 22

Today in 1963, the Beatles released their second album, “With the Beatles,” in the United Kingdom.

That same day, Phil Spector released a Christmas album from his artists:

Given what else happened that day, you can imagine neither of those received much notice.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 22”

Presty the DJ for Sept. 10

Today in 1962, the BBC banned playing the newly released “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett on the grounds that it was offensive. To use vernacular of the day, uncool.

Eleven years later, the BBC banned the Rolling Stones’ “Star Star,” but if you play the clip you can hear why (really):

The Kinks had the number one song today in 1964:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Sept. 10”

Sermon of the weekend

Rev. Mike Donahue of Speed Memorial Church in Sellersburg, Ind.:

Recently I had a Facebook discussion about the Bible … well at least my interpretation of it. Now before I go further, however you believe is fine with me as long as it gets you to Christ. My discussion began after a relative posted Bible verses from the Old Testament. I came back with be careful because there are passages in the Old Testament we can not follow, because if we did we would be in jail.

Now I will give you my concern over what is happening in some churches concerning the Bible. Joel Osteen (televangelist) after every broadcast says, “get into a Bible believing church.” I have no problem with him saying that, but I believe to many churches are elevating the Bible above Christ. That concerns me on so many levels. First and foremost, the Bible is our guide to Christ … it is a love story from beginning to the end. I am familiar with people who can quote the Bible like a machine gun, but (you can tell) do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

As most of you know we can not follow everything in the Bible. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 talks about taking your stubborn and rebellious son to the elders of the city and “All the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die; so shall thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear”

Well, I don’t know about you, but there would be a lot of “men” going to jail if we did that today. Now does that invalidate the Bible … of course not. In seminary we did what is called exegesis a passage. What that means is when you read the passage you determine who wrote it, the time it was written and who his audience was we he wrote it. We can see that it was a specific audience the author was writing to.

The good thing is that it is easier to follow the New Testament then the Old Testament. I always tell anyone who wants to read the Bible for the first time start with the New Testament. If you read the Old Testament first you are going to be saying, “God really!”

Let us not forget John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” To me this means that we need to concentrate on what became the flesh … Jesus Christ.

Yes, we need to read the Bible; just don’t stay in the “Word,” but rather have that relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember none of Jesus’ disciples were seminary educated or Torah (Bible of Jesus’ time) scholars.He said, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And they did!

Here’s my point: I would rather have a church say they were “Christ centered” then “Bible centered.” If you are always in the Word, then how do you have a relationship with a risen savior … who is a live and well in each one of us. So let’s be careful and not use the Bible as a club (to new Christians or anyone else), but rather a hug to get people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Every day I am thankful that the Jesus Christ of the New Testament believed in me enough to call me into the ministry (for 30 years). I pray to Him everyday and read the Bible to make sure I am understanding the man, the son of God, named Jesus.

Rev. Donahue married us in 1992, by the way. His belief is that with one exception, a Bible verse requires a repeat reference somewhere else in the Bible to be valid for the purpose of Bible study. My favorite Bible verse, Psalm 146:3 — “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help” — is repeated in four other Psalms, as well as in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel.

The exception is John 3:16 — “For God gave the world his only begotten son, that those who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting live.”

Tax billionaires and millionaires! Oh wait …

Eleven months ago Jake Gambino wrote:

As the left and right battle atop the D.C. throne, our country passed $20 trillion in debt. I wanted to take a little bit of time and put this number into perspective. Hopefully, it will become all too clear just how much this debt is and why the BS crowd’s strategy of taxing the 1% won’t come close to addressing the problem.

I should have clarified above, BS is the acronym for Bernie Sanders… potayto potahto, I guess.

According to Forbes (2017), there are 2,043 billionaires on the planet with a total worth of $7.7 trillion. That’s a whole lot of money. Let’s steal it-all of it.

If we seize 100% net worth of every billionaire on the planet, we can take our national debt down to $12.3 trillion. Now we are being responsible! But we still need more money, so what about those greedy millionaires?

In 2017, CNBC stated that there are 10.8 million millionaires nationwide. I’m already getting excited to take their money. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the total net worth of those millionaires. However, they stated:

“In 2016, there were 9.4 million individuals with net worth between $1 million and $5 million, 1.3 million individuals with net worth between $5 million and $25 million, and 156,000 households with more than $25 million in net worth.”

I’m going to calculate the numbers with something in the middle to give a basic picture.

9.4 million Americans X $2.5 million = $23.5 trillion
1.3 million Americans X $12.5 million = $16.25 trillion
156,000 X $100 million = $15.6 trillion (estimated low, because this would also include the billionaires in the US, some of which were counted in the billionaires’ $7.7 trillion)
Total = $55.35 Trillion + $7.7 Trillion = $63.05 Trillion
Now, let’s be good socialists and pay off all our debt with that $63.05 trillion (heh)

-$20 trillion + $63.05 trillion = +$43.05 trillion

Like magic, America suddenly has a $43.05 trillion slush fund!

What do we do with this slush fund? Let’s do the socialist generous thing and divide it up evenly among all 320 million Americans. We could pay every American almost $135,000!

Socialists Economic egalitarians rejoice! We just toppled the bourgeois billionaire class, furthered our commitment to the “greater good,” and gave everyone in America a $135,000 paycheck.

Now, back to reality. The reality is that this tactic of seizing every dollar from every millionaire and billionaire is unrealistic and a “best” case scenario. It ignores several facts.

First, we don’t have the authority to tax billionaires outside of the US, yet (looking forward to the return of military imperialism).

Second, much of that wealth is in the stock market. It relies on combined and continual contributions to keep the value high. Once we start taking millions of dollars out, the value of the remaining pool decreases unless new money is coming in to keep it elevated.

Third, that $63.05 trillion was accumulated over many, many decades. This makes it a one-time deal. There is no continuing Utopia to be had.

Fourth, and most importantly, this doesn’t even address the hundreds of trillions (literally) in unfunded liabilities.

All that money has been stolen for a measly one-time payout of $135,000 per American.

Let that really sink in. That money sounds like a huge amount to a socialist college student, but now what? Good luck making $135,000 last more than a handful of years.

The reality is that we cannot just tax ourselves out of debt. We must address spending,sooner rather than later. Every time a budget is proposed in Congress that cuts spending, the status quo lose their collective mind. Or… at least I believe it would, it is hard to remember a budget that proposed any significant cuts.

Or… at least I believe they would lose their minds; it is hard to remember a budget that proposed any significant cuts.

Until we get a Congress bold enough and principled enough to stand for the future of our nation and generations yet to be born, we will continue to dig the hole deeper and deeper. The Republicans use a shovel, and the Democrats use a bulldozer.

Neither of those options appeal to me.

John Doe and Russia

Dan O’Donnell:

The smirk was unmistakable; the defiant, self-satisfied smugness of a man who knew the extent of the abuse of his power and dared the world to punish him for it. FBI agent Peter Strzok’s performance in last week’s joint hearing of the House’s Judiciary and Oversight Committees was less fact-finding than it was character-revealing.

And in Wisconsin, it was all too familiar: The arrogant disregard for the proper function of law enforcement and bitter condescension toward those who dared stand up to it. The Badger State has seen its share of Peter Strzoks before, and its experiences with them stand as an example of how to remove them from power.

The parallels between Strzok’s contempt for the man he was tasked with investigating – Donald Trump – and the disdain of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office and Wisconsin Government Accountability Board for the man they took it upon themselves to investigate – Scott Walker – are downright eerie, and the level to which that hatred fomented the systemic abuse of investigative authority is downright chilling.

Both the FBI’s Russia investigation and Milwaukee DA’s John Doe probe were launched with ostensibly noble objectives but rather quickly devolved into partisan inquisitions.

The FBI has been trying to determine whether the Trump 2016 campaign had illegally colluded with Russia.  The John Doe investigation tried to determine whether the Walker 2012 recall election campaign illegally colluded with conservative political action groups.

The Russia probe has been ongoing for 18 months without a single shred of evidence tying the Trump campaign to any criminal conspiracy with Russia, yet what appears to be a campaign of steady and selective leaking to the press has left the public with the impression that it’s only a matter of time before Trump is led out of the White House in handcuffs.

In both February and on Friday, when the Justice Department announced indictments directly tied to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, it was clear that this activity occurred without any American cooperation or even knowledge. In order to prove “collusion” (which isn’t in the sense it’s colloquially used actually even a crime), investigators would have to demonstrate the existence of a criminal conspiracy; that is, they would need to show that someone connected to Trump worked with the Russian hackers to break into the Democratic National Committee servers and/or coordinate the release of the stolen emails.

They did not. However, because of the seemingly endless nature of the investigation and the near-constant leaks and innuendo stemming from it, the public is left to believe that the evidence of so-called collusion is right around the corner when it fairly obviously is not.

The John Doe investigation not only failed to produce any evidence of criminal wrongdoing whatsoever, federal and state courts alike unanimously ruled that the alleged crime the investigators were probing wasn’t actually a crime at all.  The secret nature of John Doe proceedings didn’t preclude selective leaking to the press, however, as details of the investigation found their way into near-daily Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stories, and secret documents formed the basis of Guardian article published just days before the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ended the investigation for good.

Perhaps most nauseating of all, both investigations seem centered around political opposition research, giving rise to the very real and very terrifying fear that both were perpetuated to advance electoral and not investigative ends. The FBI has for months been stonewalling Congressional inquiries into the role of the so-called Trump dossier, a sensationalistic and unverified piece of opposition research commissioned by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in both launching and furthering the Russia probe.

In Wisconsin, investigators were so brazen as to store illegally obtained emails from Republican politicians, activists, and media personalities in a filing cabinet marked “opposition research.” Ironically, the cabinet was in the basement of the Government Accountability Board, which was the agency tasked with policing campaign and ethics laws.

It had, however, morphed into a hyper-partisan attack dog for the Democratic Party that operated with such zeal that its attorney, Shane Falk, emailed colleagues reminding them that Walker’s perfectly legal and permissible actions were in fact “a bastardization of politics and our state is being run by corporations and billionaires.”

“The cynic in me says the sheeple would still follow the propaganda even if they knew,” Falk continued. “But at least it would all be out there so that the influences on our politicians is clearly known.”

This righteous anger and obvious pre-judgment might have been the most clearly known example of investigative bias until Strzok started texting his mistress promising to “stop” a Donald Trump presidency while investigating…the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

There he sat on Thursday, though, sneering at Congressional Republicans who dared to challenge him on what exactly he meant by texts such as “Trump is a f***ing idiot” and whether expressing such sentiments meant he had a vested interest in the outcome of politically charged investigations.

Strzok, like Falk before him, oozes disdain for such “sheeple” who will follow politicians like Trump and Walker even though the investigators just know they’re wicked – despite what the evidence fails to show.

Herein lies the threat to nothing short of the Rule of Law itself when the Peter Strzoks and Shane Falks of the world target their political enemies: The power of the investigator in this country is immense, and there are precious few checks on its misuse.

Wisconsin’s experience with a corrupt John Doe investigation, though, should be America’s guide. The targets of that investigation (which included the MacIver Institute) fought back, defying gag orders to tell their stories of persecution and paramilitary-style raids and eventually suing to stop the investigation in its tracks. Not content with victory in the judicial branch of government, Wisconsin’s Legislature disbanded the Government Accountability Board and changed the state’s John Doe laws to make them tougher to abuse.

While no one could credibly suggest disbanding the FBI, legislative and judicial checks on what appears to be the widespread misuse of its investigative authority for political ends are perhaps long overdue. It’s time for the rest of the country to, like Wisconsin, start really watching the watchmen and seeing them for what they have become.

Peter Strzok is the smirking, defiant face of what is in fact a form of wannabe tyranny – the deep-seated belief that the law doesn’t apply to those who decide how (and, more importantly, against whom) to enforce the law.

Remember when liberals were suspicious of law enforcement, especially the FBI? Good times.

 

Presty the DJ for July 5

Today is the anniversary of the Beatles’ first song to reach the U.S. charts, “From Me to You.” Except it wasn’t recorded by the Beatles, it was recorded by Del Shannon:

Five years later,  John Lennon sold his Rolls–Royce:

Sharing my daughter’s birthday are Smiley Lewis, who first did …

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for July 5”

Obama, Trump and Iran

Michael Graham:

It’s the first day back at work in 2018 for us pundit types, and already one of last year’s biggest memes is back too, courtesy of the Iran protests: #ThatsHowYouGetTrump.

The premise of the meme is that, while intellectual elites might be smart in a general way about broad political issues, they failed to see their practical impact on real people—particularly blue-collar, lower-middle-class people—here at home. So, for example, while elites write 5,000 word articles about the evils of building a border wall, many Americans are more moved by stories like the shooting of Kate Steinle, allegedly carried out by an illegal immigrant, or the diversity lottery terrorist who hit New York City on Halloween.

On foreign policy, President Obama offered a nuanced argument for refusing to back up his “red line” on Syrian use of chemical weapons against children, while President Trump later offered arguments—just a missile barrage that so far has brought the attacks to an end.

And so it is with the street protests in Iran, a story that’s impossible to view apart from the Iran Deal, the centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy.

The anti-regime protests, the Rouhani government’s violent crackdown and the resulting deaths all feed the notion that liberal elites have “an inability to see the forest through the trees,” as Mideast analyst Michael Rubin puts it—on Iran, or on the world as a whole. It’s another argument for the pro-Trump view that, while Barack Obama had a patina of egghead-ism and elegance, the current president at least knows the good guys from the bad guys.

And for most Americans, Iran has long been the bad guys. More than 80 percent of Americans have had an unfavorable view of Iran for decades, with more than 70 percent consistently describing its Islamist government as a “critical threat” to the US.

And with good reason. After all, the Iranian regime has:

· Funded Hezbollah terrorists.

· Backed the chemical-weapon using Assad regime in Syria.

· Humiliated US sailors when a damaged ship drifted into Iranian waters.

· Repeatedly tested ballistic missile technology in violation of UN resolutions.

And they’ve done all this after striking the Iran Deal with President Obama. No wonder most Americans opposed the deal at the time (though support has picked up since Trump took office, likely a symptom of anti-Trump partisanship). In other words, this is how the Iranians behave when you’re nice to them.

As former Ambassador John Bolton wrote on the one-year anniversary of the Iran Deal: “Tehran has disproved any idea that acceding to its nuclear demands would cause basic shifts in its international conduct.” Obama defenders argue that changing their behavior was never the goal, it was merely, as President Obama put it when he announced the agreement, “preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This deal does exactly that.”

Except it doesn’t. The Iran Deal allows Iran to do whatever it wants when restrictions “sunset” in seven years. In the meantime, Iran has rejected “any time, anywhere” inspections that were promised by the Obama administration and continues to test new, more advanced centrifuges. As a result, says Michael Rubin, “Iran would have access to an industrial-scale nuclear program, fully-funded, with few restrictions and the most advanced centrifuges as soon as the sunset clauses within the [Iran Deal] came into effect.”

That’s bad. What’s worse is recent reporting of what it cost America to make Obama’s deal in the first place. In 2016, many Americans were horrified to learn that the Obama administration had secretly flown pallets of cash—literally millions of dollars— to the Iranians as part of a prisoner swap to sweeten the deal for Iran. Dangerous actors from the Iranian regime were either released or had their criminal cases dropped, along with a total payout of $1.7 billion in contested money, in exchange for the release of four Americans wrongly held by the Iranian regime.

Since then, Politico has reported that the Obama administration shut down an investigation into drug dealing and gun running by Hezbollah—Iran’s terrorist allies—in the lead up to the Iran Deal. Obama officials acknowledge that cases were dropped but deny that these decision were in any way linked to appeasing Iran. Members of Congress are now calling for an investigation.

The American people now see the same regime that the Obama administration strengthened shooting its own people in the streets. The average American never would have trusted the Iranians, and they know Donald Trump agrees.

When Obama administration smart guys like Ben Rhodes and John Kerry describe Trump as a simpleton, many Trump supporters would agree: Simple, yes. But right. As opposed to smart but wrong. That’s the political force Trump has tapped into.

Interestingly, the protesters in Iran appear to have a similar view. Among the slogans reportedly being shouted in the streets are “Let go of Syria. Put your thoughts on us,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, We Will Give Our Lives to Iran,” and “We are Iranians, we don’t worship Islamism.” These protesters hoped the financial benefits of the Iran Deal would reach them. Instead, the regime continues to fund terrorism abroad and their citizens are angry. You could almost translate their message to “Make Iran Great Again.”

Betting on Iran abandoning terror or becoming an ally was always a bad bet. Barack Obama and the Washington elites made it. And #ThatsHowYouGetTrump.

Presty the DJ for Nov. 22

Today in 1963, the Beatles released their second album, “With the Beatles,” in the United Kingdom.

That same day, Phil Spector released a Christmas album from his artists:

Given what else happened that day, you can imagine neither of those received much notice.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 22”