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”

Presty the DJ for Nov. 16

The number one single today in 1959:

The number one single today in 1963:

Since a new Billboard Hot 100 list came out today, this was the number one single six days later, when John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy traveled to Dallas.

The number one album today in 1968 was the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Electric Ladyland”:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 16”

Steve courts controversy!

The fragile state of psyches today means that anyone who dares express an opinion risks causing someone who disagrees to have a meltdown.

This sometimes happens when expressing political opinions. “Sometimes” as only in the a.m. and p.m.
However, an online challenge from someone called Feo Amante challenges us to express 10 nonpolitical opinions that are likely to be very unpopular. Feo’s include:

3. AVATAR was not only the worst movie James Cameron ever directed, even SyFy channel has shown better work. …

5. A Matter Transmitter in THE FLY and STAR TREK sense (extraordinarily precise disassembling and reassembling of the atomic structure of living beings into the same living beings), isn’t as viably efficient a technology as transmitting matter whole from point A to point B via wormhole and String “bundling” (imaginatively launching from where we currently understand the concepts). …

7. We do not have a Bee die off Crisis, since the accuracy of research/counting of Bee populations / Colonies remains reproducible only when limited to Beekeepers and not the unknown but (in all likelihood) overwhelmingly larger populations of bees in the wild (which are virtually impossible to monitor thanks to their ever-changing nomadic lifestyle – though some scientists are trying). …

10. Extending the human lifespan more than 10 times its current limit is not only possible, but environmentally desirable.

Well … “Avatar” (not to be confused with the non-Cameron “Avatar”) was, from what I remember, entertaining. So was “Waterworld,” but neither was probably worth the hype nor the expense. The last two seem to be somewhat political comments to me, but that’s his list.

Readers may not be surprised to know that I have not shied away from expressing potentially controversial opinions. (Really? readers respond.) I once wrote a column for the Madison La Follette High School student newspaper, The Lance, that applied the concept from the book Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche for “Real Lancers,” including such opinions as that women don’t wear more than one earring per ear. That didn’t make my girlfriend of the time, who had two earrings in one year (which was not as many as the five of a classmate of mine, which prompted the idea), very happy.

Facebook Friend Mike Baron, who first posted this, got some contributions:

  • I like pineapple on pizza.
  • Star Wars bores the shit out of me. I think it’s the most overrated franchise in entertainment history. Very weak tea.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is not the best Star Trek movie. That honor belongs to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Oh, and Blade Runner is boring.
  • … there should be a five-year moratorium on anything Batman-related. No new movies, no new comics, nothing.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is an overrated movie.
  • [Steven] Spielberg is overrated.
  • James Cameron should have retired from filmmaking after T2.
  • Pink Floyd and U2 are highly overrated.
  • Bruce Springsteen sucks. Two good songs – that’s it.
  • The Rolling Stones stink.
  • The Beatles suck.
  • No one actually enjoys those new IPAs. They just like to be known as someone who enjoys them.
  • I get the most hostile reactions to non-political posts. These are the things that really get people riled up:
    1. Any challenge to complaints about “incorrect” grammar, usage, spelling, or punctuation. These complaints are invariably bogus and ignore actual language history, e.g., there never has been a commonly observed distinction between “lay” and “lie.”
    2. Common names are more useful than “scientific” names in many contexts.
    3. The metric system is no more scientific than any other system.
    4. Civilization will not collapse because children don’t learn the difference between a salad fork and a regular fork.
    5. Health appears to have very little to do with diet.
    6. It is possible to overestimate the earth-saving potential of hemp.
    7. People who flock to stores to buy gifts on Black Friday are not being selfish. Just the opposite.

OK, let’s see how I do, and whether I can stick to the politics prohibition. (Without that, one thing I would say is that no one should be a member of a political party. Another is that fewer people should be voting.)

One: I do not like (which means you should not like) any musical group’s complete body of work. Every group has mutts among its thoroughbreds, and every artist’s or group’s song should be judged based on the quality of the piece, not on whether or not you like the group. Even Michael Bolton, the dubious talent of the ’80s, recorded one good song (because it was written by Bob Dylan). Even my favorite rock group, Chicago, recorded far too many sappy crappy ballads, which are among the group’s best selling singles. Which demonstrates that …

Two: “Quality” and “popularity” are not synonyms. (In fact, no one should ever be concerned about the popularity of anything, or make decisions based on popularity, in any area. No one should ever do, watch or buy something becasue of its popularity.) Which leads to …

3A: “Change” and “progress” are not synonyms. (I question the judgment and values of anyone who claims we must embrace change.) However …

3B: … those who say that things were better in the “old days” usually have selective memory. In fact, no one ever thinks things are good today, whenever “today” is, or was.

Four: This is my printable response to people of any ideology who claim to be offended at something:

Grow up. The fact you have an opinion makes it no more important than anyone else’s. Your claim that your feelings are hurt or you are offended means you weren’t raised right. I’d add a few other words, but I’m trying to avoid obscenity. Speaking of which …

Five: There are right times and places to use obscenities, and wrong times and places. Mature people know when and where, though they may not be flawless in their use of obscenities, though we should all strive to use obscenities with correct English.

6A: Many sports fans don’t know what they’re talking about. That includes (A) those who want everyone to be fired with every loss, (B) those who don’t realize that all players have sell-by dates (as Branch Rickey put it, better to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late), and (C) those who don’t know what they don’t know because they have acquired no knowledge of the sport. However …

6B: No pro sports player, coach or executive should be beyond criticism. For that matter, no public figure — politician, entertainer, etc. — should be above criticism. What follows from that is …

Seven: Too many people who don’t know what they’re talking about express opinions. A lot of it is because of social media, but there have been people who couldn’t keep their mouths shut since speech was invented. One sign they don’t know what they’re talking about is their inability to justify their opinion by facts or logic. Such people sometimes resort to emotion (especially anger) and name-calling, which is not an argument, jackwagon.

Eight: I like roundabouts. I vastly prefer roundabouts to intersections with stoplights or, worse, four-way stops. I do not understand why people don’t like and cannot drive around roundabouts. I like roundabouts because …

Nine: … the only truly, provably nonrenewable resource is time.

Ten: Most people have the wrong attitude about work. On the one hand, I’ve never been able to understand those who claim to love their job and claim they’ve never worked a day in their life. For one thing, you should never love your job, because your job does not love you. (Bonus opinion: The word “love” is horribly overused, as is “hate.”) On the other hand, those who do the minimum to get paid are violating our duty to work, as stated throughout the Bible. You should do the maximum you can, because you’re supposed to, not out of loyalty to your employer (who is paying you the minimum he or she can pay you), but for yourself. The corollary to that is …

Eleven: People need to stop sucking at doing things. In other words, if you’re doing something, but you’re bad at it, and you’re not interested in doing it better, stop. Our world is a screwed-up mess in large part because of incompetence.

Twelve: There are at least two TV series where the original theme song was better than its more popular replacement.

Thirteen. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a life-threatening disease, but I believe that quality of life is more important than quantity of life. No one should expect perfect health, but I don’t want to spend my remaining years being useless. (Keep in mind, though, that, as economist John Maynard Keynes observed, in the long run we are all dead.)

Fourteen: Every human is flawed. Therefore, every human institution is flawed. That has always been the case, and that will always be the case. The corollary to that is …

Fifteen: People have the choice to be good or bad based on their actions. However, most people are not innately good. Most people will do the right thing and avoid doing the wrong thing only because of the consequences.

There are 15 points here, not 10. As I often say, journalism is the opposite of math.


The highest form of art, and if you don’t agree, you’rrrrrrrrre des-PICCCCC-able

Annie Holmquist:

I recently picked up Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court for the first time. Finding the plot rather amusing, I began relaying it to my father over the weekend. Because he had never read the book, I was rather surprised when he began asking informed questions about the story. In no time at all, he was the one schooling me on plot elements I had not yet reached.

“Wait a minute,” I asked. “Are you sure you’ve never read this book?”

“No, never have,” he replied, “but I saw a cartoon version of the story when I was younger and everything I know comes from that.”

His revelation was intriguing, and to be honest, not the first of its kind. Like many in the Boomer generation, my father grew up watching classic cartoons, numbers of which were produced by the likes of Warner Bros.

But those cartoons did more than mind-numbingly entertain a generation of children. They also introduced millions of young people to key facets of cultural literacy, particularly in the realm of literature and music.

Beyond the aforementioned case of Mark Twain’s novel, these cartoons introduced children to stories such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde through the medium of Bugs Bunny. Key quotations and scenes from William Shakespeare’s works were the main theme in a Goofy Gophers cartoon known as A Ham in a RoleAnd Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha was placed front and center in a Walt Disney short called Little Hiawatha.

Perhaps even more famous than the literature references are the many ways in which cartoons introduced children to the world of classical music, including both instrumental and operatic selections, one of which is the famous Rabbit of Saville. American film critic Leonard Maltin describes the situation well:

“An enormous amount of my musical education came at the hands of [Warner Bros. composer] Carl Stalling, only I didn’t realize it, I wasn’t aware, it just seeped into my brain all those years I was watching Warner’s cartoons day after day after day. I learned Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody because of the Warner Bros. cartoons, they used it so often, famously when Friz Freleng had a skyscraper built to it in Rhapsody and Rivets.”

But Maltin wasn’t the only one learning from these classical music forays. In fact, as the famous pianist Lang Lang testifies, it was Tom and Jerry’s rendition of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody in The Cat Concerto which first inspired him to start piano at age two.

These examples just brush the surface of the cultural literacy lessons which the old cartoons taught our parents and grandparents. Even if they never learned these elements in school, they at least had some frame of reference upon which they could build their understanding of the books and music and even ideas which have impacted culture and the world we live in today.

But can the same be said of the current generation? Admittedly, I’m not very well-versed in current cartoon offerings, but a quick search of popular titles seems to suggest that the answer is no. A majority of the time they seem to offer fluff, fantasy, and a focus on the here and now.

In short, neither schools, nor Saturday morning cartoons seem to be passing on the torch of cultural knowledge and literacy. Could such a scenario be one reason why we see an increased apathy and lack of substance in the current generation?

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”

Impeachment by the would-be presidents

The Washington Post:

Some Republican senators and their advisers are privately discussing whether to pressure GOP leaders to stage a lengthy impeachment trial beginning in January to scramble the Democratic presidential race — potentially keeping a half-dozen candidates in Washington until the eve of the Iowa caucuses or longer.Those conversations about the timing and framework for a trial remain fluid and closely held, according to more than a dozen participants in the discussions. But the deliberations come as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) faces pressure from conservative activists to swat back at Democrats as public impeachment hearings began this week in the House.

The discussions raise a potential hazard for the six Democratic senators running for president, who had previously planned on a final sprint out of Washington before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary.

“That might be a strategy,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said with a coy smile when asked about the possibility of a trial that disrupts the Democratic campaign. “But I’ll leave that up to others. I’m just a lowly worker.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a McConnell ally, said the Senate would try to distinguish itself during impeachment “by doing this right,” with a trial that likely lasts five or six weeks. But he acknowledged the timing could have an effect on the campaign by giving a potential boost to presidential candidates who have no official role in the process.

“Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden might like that,” Cornyn said of the mayor of South Bend, Ind., and the former vice president, who now poll in the top four in Iowa with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

There is an emerging divide among Republicans, however, over timing. While some favor a lengthy trial as a means of defending President Trump and creating problems for Democrats, others are calling for swift dismissal or final vote.

The Democratic senators who remain in the presidential race have all said publicly that the impeachment proceedings are more important than political concerns. But advisers to multiple candidates have been inquiring about the potential timing behind the scenes, and Sanders has spoken about the potential challenges of an extended trial if the Democratic-controlled House votes to impeach Trump and sends the case to the Senate.

“We will do our best to get back to Iowa, to get to New Hampshire, to get to all the states that we have to,” Sanders said Sunday at an event in Charles City, Iowa, when asked about a potential trial in January. “But there’s no question it will make our life a little bit more difficult.”

Warren said Wednesday that she has “constitutional responsibilities” and “if the House goes forward and sends impeachment over to the Senate, then I will be there for the trial.”

One top adviser to a senator running for president, who requested anonymity to discuss strategy, said the campaign was already rearranging fundraising and campaign schedules to prepare for a trial.

“We’ve been all but told that January is when we should expect not to have them,” the person said. “And that in December is when we should expect to have them.”

The issue of trial length came up during a closed-door lunch of all GOP senators Wednesday, when Republicans speculated about whether the House would hand over the process to them either before or after Christmas, according to multiple people in attendance.

Inside the lunch, McConnell had little guidance for his ranks, outside of saying the trial will go on as long as the Senate wants it to run, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details from the private meeting.

But McConnell’s top deputies, as well as most of his ranks, believe a longer trial is the likelier outcome — which they say would give Trump and his defense team sufficient time to make his case.

Cornyn said Wednesday that it would be difficult to find a majority in the Senate to dismiss the trial early on, even if the president’s attorneys request it, “before the evidence is presented.”

“I think the consensus in our conference is at least that we need to proceed and take seriously the responsibility we have,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the second-ranking Senate Republican. “How long that takes is an open question … but I suspect that, you know, it’d go on for a while.”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who has speculated publicly that a Senate trial could run as long as eight weeks, argued during the lunch that former president Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings in the Senate took five weeks but that Trump’s case was likely to take more time because he has not admitted to any wrongdoing.

Clinton “admitted that he had lied to the FBI,” Burr said before the lunch. “I figured it’s going to take longer for them to make a case, because they don’t have that.”

One White House official said the president is not yet concentrating on a trial but has spoken with McConnell, Vice President Pence and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, about the outlook in the chamber. Newly hired White House aides who are working on impeachment issues have also been meeting with Senate GOP staffers this month.

McConnell has not publicly committed to a timeline for a trial. “I think it’s impossible to predict how long we’ll be on it or predict which motions would pass,” the GOP leader said Wednesday.

But McConnell will not be able to set the schedule in isolation. The rules for an impeachment trial, including a process for calling witnesses, must be passed by 51 or more senators, since Pence is not able to cast a deciding vote on the question. That gives McConnell, who oversees a 53-seat Republican majority, relatively little room to maneuver.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has been a vocal critic of Trump’s behavior on Ukraine, and more independent-minded senators, like Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), could side with Democrats to force a process that Democrats accept as fair, according to a person familiar with Republican discussions.

A separate group of centrist Senate Republicans facing tough reelection fights next year have been telling McConnell and colleagues that they do not want the process to be rushed, arguing that any move to quickly dispense with a trial risks giving their Democratic opponents an opening to say they did not take their duties seriously.

That view has been bolstered by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who has privately told conservative colleagues they must give breathing room to Republicans running in 2020 and let the trial play out for at least a few weeks, according to two Republican aides briefed on the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations.

“This is going to require a great deal of work, and I don’t think it should be rushed through,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is up for reelection in 2020. Collins said any attempt to dismiss impeachment at the outset of a trial would be met with vocal opposition by a “lot of senators, who’d have misgivings and reservations about treating articles of impeachment that way.”

On the other hand, several Trump allies are planning to prepare a motion to dismiss that they could propose early on during a trial.

“The sooner we’re done with this, the better,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Why just have people sitting around for this partisan sham? As soon as we possibly can dismiss this or vote along party lines, especially if the Democrats in the House limit the witnesses, I’ll move to do that.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) also dismissed the prospect of a lengthy trial, saying a “week is more than enough.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been talking with Democratic senators, including those running for president, to decide the best way to approach any negotiation with McConnell about whether Democrats join in a resolution setting up the Senate process.

“Given articles of impeachment haven’t even been drafted, it’s impossible to know what either side would want a trial to look like,” said a person familiar with Schumer’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss strategy. Schumer declined Wednesday to discuss his approach but warned that a trial should not be “truncated.”

McConnell’s general template remains the Senate impeachment trial of Clinton in early 1999, which lasted five weeks and had a bipartisan consensus at its start about how it would proceed, according to McConnell’s aides and allies.

Discussions on Senate rules in 1999 broke down repeatedly before the chamber finally agreed on a compromise by a margin of 100-to-0.

An initial proposal by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) to make a full trial contingent on a two-thirds supermajority finding Clinton’s alleged offenses impeachable faced fierce objection from Republicans.

“When I presented it to the Republican conference, they did everything but stone me and throw me out in the hall,” said former senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who was then the Republican leader.

A compromise was reached later in a closed-door meeting for all senators in the Old Senate Chamber, when Sens. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) agreed they should start the trial before deciding whether witnesses would be called before the full body.

Lott said McConnell and Schumer might have a more challenging time striking a deal.

“This is a different situation,” he said. “You do have a divided Congress. You do have a president who has agitated a lot of people.”

It is amusing to think of Warren and Sanders fidgeting in their seats while the trial goes on … and on … and on … keeping them out of campaigning for president.


Our post-impeachment future

Yoni Applebaum:

Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. Ideas and policies would be contested, sometimes viciously, but however heated the rhetoric got, defeat was not generally equated with political annihilation. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed.

In October, with the specter of impeachment looming, he fumed on Twitter, “What is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” For good measure, he also quoted a supporter’s dark prediction that impeachment “will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”Trump’s apocalyptic rhetoric matches the tenor of the times. The body politic is more fractious than at any time in recent memory. Over the past 25 years, both red and blue areas have become more deeply hued, with Democrats clustering in cities and suburbs and Republicans filling in rural areas and exurbs. In Congress, where the two caucuses once overlapped ideologically, the dividing aisle has turned into a chasm.

As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.

Evers vs. open government

Wisconsin Republicans for many years have been less enthusiastic about open government, specifically the state’s Open Meetings and Open Records laws, than they should be.

Their first lesson should have been the Open Records Law requests that revealed which (allegedly nonpartisan) politicians, future candidates for office and members of the news media signed petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker in Recallarama 2011.

Those Democrats who (correctly) praise open government have an embarrassment in their own party, identified by M.D. Kittle:

Mainstream media outlets are learning what conservative news organizations have known for some time: The Evers Administration is brazenly breaking Wisconsin’s open record laws.

In a piece published Sunday, Fox6 in Milwaukee reported that Gov. Tony Evers denied its reporters’ requests for four weeks of emails to and from the governor and his chief of staff Maggie Gau. The request was denied by an administration lawyer, as was another refined request from Fox6.

“Finally, the Fox6 Investigators asked for Governor Evers’ emails from just one day. Denied,” the news outlet reported. 

Open government experts said the administration’s legal interpretation violates the spirit, and perhaps the letter of, Wisconsin’s open records laws.

Join the club, folks.

Conservative news outlets have been fighting the transparency battle with Evers from the day he took the Oath of Office.

The administration has denied multiple open records requests from Empower Wisconsin.

In an an Aug. 29 letter, Evers’ Assistant Legal Council Erin Deeley denied Empower Wisconsin requests for all communications between Gau and staff members of Protect Democracy to investigate how involved this far left organization was in the executive branch. The requests timeframe was between Dec. 10 2018 through May 5, 2019.  We also sought communications between Gau and the Public Service Commission chairwoman and her chief of staff following reports of improper practices.

Empower Wisconsin was denied because we did not identify a “subject matter,” the same specious legal reasoning others, including Fox6, have been given.

The Evers Administration has already been sued for its transparency problems.

In August, the MacIver Institute filed a lawsuit claiming Evers violated the First Amendment rights of staff members who were barred from attending a Capitol Press Corps briefing on the governor’s proposed budget.

Matt Kittle, Empower Wisconsin executive director, a former MacIver reporter, is named in the lawsuit.

A review of the Evers administration’s open government practices found a “disturbing departure from” the award-winning transparency practices of former Gov. Scott Walker. The analysis, conducted by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty found the administration to be “dysfunctional and disorganized” in handling requests for public information.

While there are guidelines requesters of government information must follow, the state’s open records law was crafted on the idea that public officials must error on the side of complete public access.

Between Evers’ bad appointments, bad ideas and now ignoring open government, Evers is creating quite a record in his first year in office.