Presty the DJ for Nov. 17

The number one single today in 1958:

The number one British single today in 1966:

Today in 1978, one of the most awful things ever foisted upon the American viewing public was shown by ABC-TV:

The number one British single today in 1979:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 17”

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Dividin’ Biden

David French:

The Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooting presents a serious problem for those who claim that the government offers the answer for gun violence. After all, the government failed at every turn, and it was up to a private citizen to stop one of the worst mass shootings in American history. The shooter was disqualified on multiple grounds from legally owning a gun, yet he obtained his weapons anyway. The police were apparently nowhere near the church (they can’t be everywhere in rural America) and couldn’t intervene for many long, agonizing minutes. It took a brave citizen with an AR-15 to match the shooter’s firepower and bring his rampage to an end.

So, what’s a gun-controlling politician to say here?

[Tuesday] the Internet lit up with claims that former vice president (and possible 2020 Democratic front-runner) Joe Biden told a young questioner that the Texas hero who stopped the Sutherland Springs shooting never should have owned the gun he used to engage the killer. I think the better description of his remarks was that he gave an utterly incoherent response about gun control, a response that tells us a great deal about the inadequacy of Democratic talking points about mass shootings. You can watch the clip for yourself below:

First, a young woman asks Biden, “With the tragedy that just happened in Texas, how do you justify the Democratic view on gun control, when the shooter was stopped by a man who was legally licensed to carry a gun?” Biden’s first words in response are generating headlines. He immediately said, “Well first of all, the kind of gun being carried, he shouldn’t be carrying,” and then he went on to boast about his role in authoring the now-lapsed “assault-weapons ban.”

Watching it charitably, I believe the “he” Biden is referring to is the shooter, not the man who stopped him (after all, it’s barely been reported that the Texas hero used an AR-15), but it’s obvious that if we reinstituted an “assault-weapons ban,” law-abiding citizens wouldn’t have access to the weapons while criminals would have no qualms disregarding the bans or imitating the San Bernardino killers by modifying legal weapons to violate the law. Moreover, even if the shooter complied with a so-called assault-weapons ban, he’d still have access to pistols that can inflict equivalent carnage — just as they did at places like Virginia Tech or a Luby’s Cafateria in Killeen, Texas.

But that’s not all Biden said. His next words were puzzling:

It’s just rational to say certain people shouldn’t have guns. The fact that some people with guns are legally able to acquire a gun and they turn out to be crazy after the fact, that’s life. There’s nothing you can do about that, but we can save a lot of lives, and we’ve stopped tens of thousands of people from getting guns who shouldn’t have guns.

Well, yes. Certain people shouldn’t have guns. That’s why we have laws banning people exactly like the Texas shooter from owning his gun. And yes, we have stopped “tens of thousands of people” from purchasing weapons. But it has also become clear that the government is less competent than we thought at enforcing existing law. Is the right response to a shooting like the Sutherland Springs massacre to implement new laws that wouldn’t have stopped the shooter? Or should the government more effectively enforce the laws that banned his gun ownership entirely while also protecting the civil liberties of the man who saved so many lives?

While Biden can be famously incoherent, it’s telling that one of the Democratic party’s most charismatic standard-bearers doesn’t have a better answer on gun control. For all the Twitter heat and rage after each shooting, it’s clear that we’re reaching a point of political futility. It’s all culture war now.

Would so-called common-sense gun control make a difference? As Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post outlined in painstaking detail, none of them would have stopped any recent mass shooting. In fact, all of the proposals would serve mainly to inconvenience law-abiding citizens, and none would imposing any material obstacle to determined criminals. It’s nibble-around-the-edges stuff that’s meaningless in addressing actual gun crime in the United States.

And what about the occasional calls to repeal the Second Amendment and follow repeal with actual gun confiscation? In addition to fracturing the nation and initiating massive civil conflict, it would be effective mainly at leaving guns solely in the hands of criminals. A government that’s not competent at implementing a simple background-check system is utterly incapable of physically pulling more than 300 million guns out of private hands. It would be impossible.

And that leaves us with the last and potentially most important effort — culture change. Many on the left obviously want to stigmatize gun ownership, to make gun ownership as culturally gross as, say, opposition to gay marriage. If a critical mass of people didn’t want guns and thought that gun ownership was fringe nonsense, then gun control and even outright confiscation would be easy. It would represent the American consensus.

The problem, however, is that the Left keeps losing the cultural argument. When they were advocating for greater tolerance on sexual matters, they were arguing for more permissive moral norms. Lots of people like more permissive norms, especially when it comes to sex.

The effort to stigmatize gun ownership is fundamentally different. Rather than seeking to expand liberty, the Left is asking Americans to relinquish their freedoms. Yet the further one is removed from upscale urban neighborhoods that are saturated with police, the less appealing the argument becomes. There is a reason that people who purchase weapons or obtain concealed-carry permits become evangelists for gun rights. Once you obtain the means to defend yourself, you don’t want to ever be more vulnerable again. Gun ownership is empowering.

The policy argument will rage on. As it does, look for Biden-like incoherence to be the rule rather than the exception. Democrat politicians have to say something to stay on the right side of the culture war, but that something will almost always fall apart under close scrutiny. But no matter, when it comes to gun-control arguments, it’s the sentiment that really counts.

I eagerly await to hear how Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Vinehout will explain to people on her rural campaign stops (she represents Alma in the state Senate) why her party favors taking guns away from law-abiding gun owners.

 

State of the stadium

At 10 this morning (Central Standard Time) I will be calling the 2017 WIAA state Division 7 football championship here.

This will be the third state football championship game I’ve called. The first two were losses — Platteville to Winneconne in the 2013 Cinderella Bowl (both teams ended up 9–5, which is an unusual record for the top two teams in a division), and Shullsburg to Edgar last year. That doesn’t really minimize the experience because I got to announce the last game of the year (in their enrollment divisions) those years. I’ve also done state basketball championship games where the right team won.

The worst game to lose is not the state championship game, though you might think that. The worst game to lose is the game before state — Level 4 in Wisconsin football and the sectional final in other sports. That’s because if you lose that game, regardless of what you accomplished, it won’t include the state tournament experience — having entire communities wound up for you, having your games on statewide TV, being on Camp Randall’s field or the Kohl Center or Resch Center’s floor, and having your name reverberate through those stadiums when introduced.

 

The Democratic war on women

The Atlantic, not known for sympathy to conservatives, brings up this inconvenient truth about the Democratic Party:

Believing women about assault—even if they lack the means to prove their accounts—as well as understanding that female employees don’t constitute part of a male boss’s benefits package, were the galvanizing consequences of Anita Hill’s historic allegations against Clarence Thomas, in 1991. When she came forward during Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing and reported that he had sexually humiliated and pressured her throughout his tenure as her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it was an event of convulsive national anxiety. Here was a black man, a Republican, about to be appointed to the Supreme Court, and here was a black woman, presumably a liberal, trying to block him with reports of repeated, squalid, and vividly recounted episodes of sexual harassment. She had little evidence to support her accusations. Many believed that since she’d been a lawyer at the EEOC, she had been uniquely qualified to have handled such harassment.

But then something that no one could have predicted happened. It was a pre-Twitter, pre-internet, highly analog version of #MeToo. To the surprise of millions of men, the nation turned out to be full of women—of all political stripes and socioeconomic backgrounds—who’d had to put up with Hell at work. Mothers, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, wives—millions of women shared the experience of having to wait tables, draw blood, argue cases, make sales, all while fending off the groping, the joking, the sexual pressuring, and the threatening of male bosses. They were liberal and conservative; white collar and pink collar; black and white and Hispanic and Asian. Their common experience was not political, economic, or racial. Their common experience was female.

For that reason, the response to those dramatic hearings constituted one of the great truly feminist events of the modern era. Even though Thomas successfully, and perhaps rightly, survived Hill’s accusations, something in the country had changed about women and work and the range of things men could do to them there.

But then Bubba came along and blew up the tracks.

How vitiated Bill Clinton seemed at the 2016 Democratic convention. Some of his appetites, at least, had waned; his wandering, “Norwegian Wood” speech about his wife struck the nostalgic notes of a husband’s 50th-anniversary toast, and the crowd—for the most part—indulged it in that spirit. Clearly, he was no longer thinking about tomorrow. With a pencil neck and a sagging jacket he clambered gamely onto the stage after Hillary’s acceptance speech and played happily with the red balloons that fell from the ceiling.

Yet let us not forget the sex crimes of which the younger, stronger Bill Clinton was very credibly accused in the 1990s. Juanita Broaddrick reported that when she was a volunteer on one of his gubernatorial campaigns, she had arranged to meet him in a hotel coffee shop. At the last minute, he had changed the location to her room in the hotel, where she says he very violently raped her. She said that she fought against Clinton throughout a rape that left her bloodied. At a different Arkansas hotel, he caught sight of a minor state employee named Paula Jones, and, Jones said, he sent a couple of state troopers to invite her to his suite, where he exposed his penis to her and told her to kiss it. Kathleen Willey said that she met him in the Oval Office for personal and professional advice and that he groped her, rubbed his erect penis on her, and pushed her hand to his crotch.

It was a pattern of behavior; it included an alleged violent assault; the women involved had far more credible evidence than many of the most notorious accusations that have come to light in the past five weeks. But Clinton was not left to the swift and pitiless justice that today’s accused men have experienced. Rather, he was rescued by a surprising force: machine feminism. The movement had by then ossified into a partisan operation, and it was willing—eager—to let this friend of the sisterhood enjoy a little droit de seigneur.

The notorious 1998 New York Times op-ed by Gloria Steinem must surely stand as one of the most regretted public actions of her life. It slut-shamed, victim-blamed, and age-shamed; it urged compassion for and gratitude to the man the women accused. Moreover (never write an op-ed in a hurry; you’ll accidentally say what you really believe), it characterized contemporary feminism as a weaponized auxiliary of the Democratic Party.

Called “Feminists and the Clinton Question,” it was written in March of 1998, when Paula Jones’s harassment claim was working its way through court. It was printed seven days after Kathleen Willey’s blockbuster 60 Minutes interview with Ed Bradley. If all the various allegations were true, wrote Steinem, Bill Clinton was “a candidate for sex addiction therapy.” To her mind, the most “credible” accusations were those of Willey, who she noted was “old enough to be Monica Lewinsky’s mother.” And then she wrote the fatal sentences that invalidated the new understanding of workplace sexual harassment as a moral and legal wrong: “Even if the allegations are true, the President is not guilty of sexual harassment. He is accused of having made a gross, dumb, and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took ‘no’ for an answer.”

Steinem said the same was true of Paula Jones. These were not crimes; they were “passes.” Broaddrick was left out by Steinem, who revealed herself as a combination John and Bobby Kennedy of the feminist movement: the fair-haired girl and the bare-knuckle fixer. The widespread liberal response to the sex-crime accusations against Bill Clinton found their natural consequence 20 years later in the behavior of Harvey Weinstein: Stay loudly and publicly and extravagantly on the side of signal leftist causes and you can do what you want in the privacy of your offices and hotel rooms. But the mood of the country has changed. We are in a time when old monuments are coming down and men are losing their careers over things they did to women a long time ago.When more than a dozen women stepped forward and accused Leon Wieseltier of a serial and decades-long pattern of workplace sexual harassment, he said, “I will not waste this reckoning.” It was textbook Wieseltier: the insincere promise and the perfectly chosen word. The Democratic Party needs to make its own reckoning of the way it protected Bill Clinton. The party needs to come to terms with the fact that it was so enraptured by their brilliant, Big Dog president and his stunning string of progressive accomplishments that it abandoned some of its central principles. The party was on the wrong side of history, and there are consequences for that. Yet expedience is not the only reason to make this public accounting. If it is possible for politics and moral behavior to coexist, then this grave wrong needs to be acknowledged. If Weinstein and Mark Halperin and Louis C. K. and all the rest can be held accountable, so can our former president and so can his party, which so many Americans so desperately need to rise again.

If what Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore did in the late 1970s is important today (and that will be up to Alabama’s voters to decide since Alabama’s criminal and civil statutes of limitations have passed), then what Bill Clinton (and Hillary aided and abetted) in the 1990s is important too.

Hey Zuckerberg: Your Facebook (insert pejorative term here)

You are probably not reading this on Facebook, at least not initially.

I was suspended from Facebook due to what the left-wing millennial idiots who run Facebook considered a photo that violates its community standards, despite the fact that I didn’t post that photo. The photo was on this blog Sunday. That meant that, for 24 hours, I was unable to access Facebook for my various roles as blogger, newspaper editor, church member or anything else.

That photo, which relates to a day in music history (which means it comes up yearly), has never been flagged before this. The photo could be described as PG-13. It was good enough for a record company to use on Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” album cover, though (which was the point of the Presty the DJ entry). I would say that it shows less than other photos on Facebook, except that it might make the reader think I troll Facebook for porn when I do not. (However, remember what Avenue Q says about the Internet.)

Time.com produced a list two years ago of things that it claims can’t be posted on Facebook. At least three of the four are demonstrably false assertions. As conservatives on Facebook know, Facebook violates its own rules, refuses to allow posts that criticize Facebook, allows posts of hate speech as long as the speech is targeted at whites (so does Twitter and YouTube), allows online harassmentbans conservative posts (and others), violates its users’ privacy, believes that statements of a president of the United States should be considered hate speech, and violates the principles of free speech in wildly inconsistent ways. And one of Facebook’s new targets appears to be me.

I am unaware of any successful business model that produces satisfactory financial results by alienating one-third of its target audience. (Assuming that liberals, moderates and conservatives are in roughly equal numbers in the U.S.) Unfortunately the middle school detention room that is social media does not have alternatives for Facebook and Twitter that anyone reads. That may make liberals happy, though it should not, because the censors could be coming for them next.

There is Gab, which describes itself as “a social network that champions free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online. All are welcome.” I’m going to see if I know anyone there.

My suggestion to those who read this blog on Facebook is to click on the subscription link so it can be delivered to your email more reliably than the U.S. Postal Service each day, not just on days that are not government-employee holidays. My suggestion to Facebook might get me not just permanently banned, but visited by the police, since the former clearly doesn’t believe in free speech and the latter sometimes considers words to be threats.

 

Presty the DJ for Nov. 15

Today in 1925, RCA took over the 25-station AT&T network plus WEAF radio in New York …

… making today the birthday of the original NBC radio network:

Today in 1965, the Rolling Stones made their U.S. TV debut on ABC’s “Hullabaloo”:

Today in 1966, the Doors agreed to release “Break on Through” as their first single, removing the word “high” to get radio airplay:

The number one single today in 1980:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 15”

Tuesday’s votes, one week later

David Leonhardt begins with conventional wisdom about Tuesday’s votes in the few states that had elections …

The Democratic Party certainly did well in last week’s elections. In one place after another, voters seemed to reject President Trump’s hateful, lawless politics. The results have further energized progressives for 2018, which will be a vastly more important referendum on Trump than 2017.

… and then brings the reader to reality:

But if Democrats are going to succeed next year and beyond, they can’t focus only on last week’s positive signs and start believing their own spin. They also need to think about the warning signs. There were more of those than many people realize.

The reality is, the Democratic victories occurred almost entirely in areas that had voted for Hillary Clinton last year. In Trump country, Democrats continued to struggle.

Outside of highly educated suburbs and racially diverse cities, Democrats still do not have an effective response to Trumpism. And they need one. To build a national coalition — one with the power to pass policies that can help the middle class, protect civil rights and combat climate change — Democrats have to do better in whiter, more rural areas.

Virginia — the focus of attention last week and a blue-leaning state — highlights both the good and the bad. The Democratic margins in suburbs and cities were smashing, thanks to a surge in turnout. Elsewhere, though, the situation was very different.

Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor-elect, didn’t only lose outside of the big metropolitan areas, and badly. He lost by more than the previous Democratic nominee, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, had in 2013. Of Virginia’s 133 counties and cities, Northam fared worse than McAuliffe in 89 of them.

True, Northam did better than Clinton had, but only modestly so, as The Times’s Nate Cohn noted. That’s another way of saying that Trump’s success with the white working class now looks almost like the norm.

Patrick Ruffini, a savvy conservative pollster, made a similar point when analyzing Virginia’s House of Delegates results. On first glance, those results look fantastic for Democrats. They flipped 15 of the 100 delegate districts, including a few inspiring long-shot wins. Yet only a single one of those 15 districts had voted for Trump. Republicans largely held the Trump districts, which let them keep control (pending recounts), 51 delegates to 49.

I know that many progressives are tired of hearing about the white working class. They would rather stop obsessing over small-town America and instead pursue a coalition of minorities and highly educated whites, like the coalition that won Virginia last week.

But giving up on the white working class would be a terrible mistake. Whites without four-year college degrees make up fully half of the adult population, and they tend to be dispersed, rather than packed in small geographic areas, which increases their political power.

Accepting landslide defeats among the white working class effectively forfeits many state legislatures — like those in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, all of which are now Republican. State legislatures don’t just make policy. They are also in charge of gerrymandering.

Without the white working class, Democrats will need everything else to go spectacularly well to retake the House of Representatives next year. Virginia itself has four Republican-held seats that analysts think will be in play. Northam won only two of those four districts, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Or consider the Democrats’ four special-election House losses earlier this year, including the high-profile Georgia race. All were in Trump-won districts that Democrats couldn’t quite flip.

How can the party can do better? It’s not an easy problem, and I wouldn’t trust anyone who claims otherwise. But the crux of the matter is clear enough: Democrats have to get the white working class to focus on the working-class part of their identity rather than the white part.

Most voters don’t make decisions by doing a cost-benefit analysis of candidates’ proposals. They instead tend to vote for candidates who instinctively seem to get their lives. Voters are attracted to candidates with whom they can identify.

Trumpism focuses people on the white part of identity. The Virginia campaign, for example, revolved around talk of immigrants and old Confederate heroes. When those are the topics, Democrats are going to struggle (however frustrating that may be).

But race isn’t the only part of people’s identities. When voters instead focus on class, Democrats thrive. Think back to Barack Obama’s populist-tinged 2012 re-election campaign. Or look at the senators, like Sherrod Brown and Claire McCaskill, who hold their own outside of metropolitan areas. Or the landslide victories for ballot initiatives on Medicaid and the minimum wage.

The best news for Democrats is that they don’t turn off many suburban and urban voters by focusing on class. Most of them are struggling with slow-growing wages, too.

Leonhardt doesn’t mention, however, the biggest single issue that divides Republican voters and Democratic voters — gun rights — which is really the worst news for Democrats.

How federal taxes affect state taxes

The Badger Institute (the former Wisconsin Policy Research Institute):

The House Republican tax reform bill unveiled last week offers a $1.5 trillion (that’s trillion, not billion) tax cut, most of which redounds to the benefit of businesses. The top corporate tax rate would be slashed from 35 percent to a flat 20 percent rate, whereas small businesses would see their pass-through income taxed at a maximum 25 percent, down from 39.6 percent. Also, the tax structure for companies doing business abroad would be completely revamped — for the better.

For individuals, the bill is more of a mixed bag, with winner and losers. It would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to four, increasing the income range within each bracket. At the same time, several tax breaks that taxpayers in high-tax states such as Wisconsin have come to rely on would be eliminated or reduced.

The real showstopper is that state income taxes would no longer be deductible. That’s fine for people who live in states that exact no or very little income tax. But what about here?

Consider that Wisconsin’s top state income tax bracket is 7.65 percent, among the highest in the country. According to Urban Milwaukee’s analysis of Internal Revenue Service data, in 2015, more than 800,000 Wisconsin taxpayers claimed deductions for state income taxes, totaling $6.22 billion. You don’t have to be a CPA to understand the effect that denying such deductions could have on Wisconsin’s taxpayers.

That’s not all. The reform bill also would cap real property tax deductions at $10,000. Although the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that across the state there are relatively few homeowners with property tax bills in excess of $10,000, a closer county-by-county analysis tells a different story. For example, Milwaukee County ranks 42nd out of 3,143 counties nationwide for property taxes imposed as a percentage of median income.

This means a lot of Milwaukee County residents do pay over $10,000 per year in property taxes. Residents of Dane County and certain other Wisconsin counties also feel the brunt of high property taxes. Up until now, being able to deduct all of one’s property taxes has served as a palliative of sorts for many homeowners in these counties.

But perhaps not so much in the future. The consequence of capping property tax deductions, along with eliminating the state income tax deduction, would effectively punish a large swath of Wisconsin residents just for living where they do.

To be sure, the House bill would almost double the standard deduction. That would reduce the number of people itemizing deductions (including state income and property taxes), since the only reason to do so is if those deductions combined exceed the standard deduction. Nonetheless, there is no question that Wisconsin taxpayers who continue to itemize (and there will be plenty of them) would get dinged.

The first impulse might be to contact House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) or one’s congressman to make a plea for putting things back to the way they have been. Before doing that, however, we should ask ourselves whether the answer lies there or, instead, with our own state tax system.

As already noted, several states have little or no income tax, and most have property taxes far below our own. Why should the federal government continue to subsidize Wisconsin taxpayers via the tax code because we can’t figure out a more equitable way to raise revenue — or cut spending?

Instituting open-road tolling on major highways as a way to fund roads, instead of resorting to income taxes, or consolidating local government as a belt-tightening measure are both worth a closer look than they have been given so far.

Almost everyone agrees that simplifying federal tax laws is necessary, and eliminating state income tax deductions and capping deductions for property taxes are small steps toward that end. As Todd Berry, president of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, told the Journal Sentinel the other day, “I hope people realize there are … good reasons to try to clean up and simplify a pretty hard-to-justify tax system.”

There is a ways to go before the House bill or anything like it becomes law. Still, the smart money says that change is a coming and Wisconsin better be ready.

Whether or not one agrees with all the particulars of the House Republican tax bill, give Congress credit for at least starting to fix a longstanding problem. Wisconsin ought to “clean up and simplify” its own tax system.

If it does, that could help make our state more competitive in the marketplace — and help a lot of its residents who otherwise might take a hit under federal tax reform. The moment is upon us to act.

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