Presty the DJ for March 19

Today in 1965, Britain’s Tailor and Cutter Magazine ran a column asking the Rolling Stones to start wearing ties.  The magazine claimed that their male fans’ emulating the Stones’ refusal to wear ties was threatening financial ruin for tiemakers.

To that, Mick Jagger replied:

“The trouble with a tie is that it could dangle in the soup. It is also something extra to which a fan can hang when you are trying to get in and out of a theater.”

Jagger is a graduate of the London School of Economics. Smart guy.

Today in 1974, Jefferson Airplane …

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for March 19”

The other side

David French:

I want to begin this piece with a word of praise for Nancy Pelosi. In an interview with the Washington Post , she rejected (for now, at least) calls to impeach Donald Trump. But it’s not just what she decided that’s important; it’s also how she explained it. Here were her key words: “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”

After Trump is …?

Daniel McCarthy asks a good question:

The normally sober Associated Press is reporting the Senate’s vote to overturn Trump’s declaration of emergency in the southern border as ‘a stunning rebuke’ and ‘a remarkable break between Trump and Senate Republicans.’ But it isn’t.

The 12 Senate Republicans who joined forces with every Democrat in the vote to annul Trump’s declaration did so for predictable ideological reasons. Libertarian-leaning Republicans such as Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Pat Toomey voted to overturn the emergency on ‘constitutionalist’ grounds, seeing the National Emergencies Act of 1976 as constitutionally dubious or worse and rejecting the mechanism by which it allows the president to appropriate funds.

Most of the rest of the Republicans voting to put a stop to the president’s declaration represented the party’s establishment wing — the likes of Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski on the party’s left or Rob Portman, Roy Blunt, and Lamar Alexander in its dying center. Mitt Romney’s vote with this group isn’t a surprise: he’s set out since his election last November to be every liberal’s favorite Republican and a champion of the NeverTrump cause. Marco Rubio, who still courts the right, nonetheless voted the way his rather liberal record on immigration would have suggested.

In short, this vote expressed old divisions in the GOP, not a sudden turn against President Trump. The important thing to note is that these divisions are persistent — there remain libertarian/constitutionalist, moderate/establishment, and basically neoconservative factions in the party. Together with the Democrats they still can’t stop Trump’s emergency declaration: a two-thirds majority in both chambers would be needed to overturn Trump’s inevitable veto of the cancellation bill, and a veto-proof majority isn’t available in either the House or the Senate, let alone both.

Trump remains the strongest force in the GOP, and this vote doesn’t suggest he’s losing ground, even if the defection of Jerry Moran or Tom Wicker on this vote wasn’t a forgone conclusion the way Rand Paul’s or Susan Collins’s was. Ben Sasse, a Republican who talks a lot about his principles and independence, didn’t break with the president, and neither did Ted Cruz, who keeps close track of how the right is moving. If a revolt were really underway, they would have been part of it.

The trouble for Trump’s agenda lies in the future: whenever he leaves office, who will lead his coalition? His mix of immigration restrictionism, trade protectionism, and foreign-policy restraint is accepted by congressional Republicans, but few of them seem as committed to it as the smaller factions are to their alternative positions. Yet those smaller factions have their own limitations — the establishment Republicans are not replenishing their ranks, Mitt Romney notwithstanding, and the constitutionalists may have had their ‘libertarian moment’ five or ten years ago, when the Tea Party was the expression of the populist right and Rand Paul seemed poised to be a top-tier 2016 contender.

The perseverance and ideological focus of the constitutionalists with the right-wing visceral appeal of Trump would make for a formidable combination. Either alone, however, leaves the GOP’s future in question — a return to establishment Republicanism or neoconservatism 1.0 seems implausible, but a drift into inertia is all too likely if there’s not more to Trumpism than Trump. The obstacle for those who want to see something like Trump’s agenda prevail isn’t the handful of Republicans who openly oppose it, but the large number who only passively support it.


Presty the DJ for March 18

Today in 1965, the members of the Rolling Stones were fined £5 for urinating in a public place, specifically a gas station after a concert in Romford, England.

Today in 1967, Britain’s New Musical Express magazine announced that Steve Winwood, formerly of the Spencer Davis Group, was forming a group with the rock and roll stew of Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason, to be called Traffic …

… which made rock fans glad.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for March 18”

Sermon of the weekend

Prof. Donald DeMarco:

In his book Religion and the Modern State, the eminent Catholic historian Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) may have startled many readers when he made the comment that “European culture had already ceased to be Christian in the 18th century.”

To be sure, Christianity was not extinguished at that time. Rather, it lingered on, not as a dominant cultural force, but nonetheless influential in the lives of individuals and in the commitments of small communities.

For Dawson, the dominant faith of the succeeding century was liberalism, which lived off the capital it inherited from Christianity. It emphasized rights but not duties, freedom but not responsibilities, justice but not truth, conscience without principles, sex without procreation and compassion without real love. But liberalism, one-sided as it is, cannot sustain itself and inevitably tends toward a form of uniform or monolithic secularism.

In Dawson’s words, “Once society is launched on the path of secularization it cannot stop at the half-way house of Liberalism; it must go on to the bitter end, whether that end be Communism or some alternative type of ‘totalitarian’ secularism.”

Liberalism, as we observe it in the contemporary world, stretches what were once Christian values to the point where they begin to war against themselves. The legalization of homosexual practices and same-sex “marriages” offer illuminating examples. The present consortium of what were once considered sexual deviants represent a liberalization of sexuality on the one hand, but an intolerance toward traditionalists on the other, sometimes to the point of violence.

By refusing to capitulate to such intolerant demands, many employers have been heavily fined, and several bakeries, florists and bed-and-breakfast establishments have been driven out of business. Individuals have lost their jobs simply for defending traditional marriage. Hate speech is virtually defined as speaking against the new mores.

In Canada, the issuance of postage stamps and coins to promote same-sex “marriage” is a strong indication of a rejection of any opposition and the cultivation of a totalitarian movement. Asserting that same-sex “marriage” is “equal” means that Christian marriage is no longer distinctive.

The famous Catholic convert Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) has made the comment that whenever there is “some drastic readjustment of accepted moral values” and they become the law of the land, the “consequent change in mores soon becomes to be more or less accepted.”

The change to which Muggeridge is alluding is profoundly significant, for it is a change from moral values that are anchored either in the natural law or in the word of God to the arbitrary mores of the people.

The moral values that are part of Christianity have an intelligibility that allows them to be explored, discussed and understood by people of good faith. By contrast, lacking this intelligibility, mores are what people simply demand. Mores must be upheld through intimidation or force, since that cannot be validated through reason.

Feminism provides a good example of this drastic shift from moral values to mores. Rebecca Todd Peters, who is a professor and a Presbyterian minister, has published a book entitled, Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice (2018).

The book is remarkable since it is neither “progressive,” “Christian,” an “argument” or in the least concerned with “justice.” It is flagrantly pro-abortion, without any real concern for the nature of the unborn or the consequences of abortion. The direct implication of trusting women is not trusting men or not trusting those women who disagree with the author.

Abby Johnson, who left Planned Parenthood and became a pro-life Catholic, was taken to court in a failed attempt to silence her. Johnson, since she revealed what was going on at Planned Parenthood in her book Unplanned, presumably is not one of those women who could be trusted. Rev. Peters wants a culture that is controlled by feminist will. It is a culture without dialogue because, in such a view, there can be no basis on which dialogue could take place.

It is illustrative of the march of liberalism toward a totalitarian society in which there is but one opinion. Fiorella Nash’s recent book, The Abolition of Woman (Ignatius Press, 2018), however, is the perfect antithesis as well as the logical contradiction of Peters’ effort. In addition, society will find it difficult to suppress the voice of New Wave Feminists: “When our liberation costs innocent lives, it is merely oppression redistributed.”

A culture in which no opposition to the “LGBTQ” agenda or to abortion or to secular feminism is permitted clearly epitomizes totalitarianism.

Nonetheless, like liberalism, neither can a totalitarian regime sustain itself indefinitely, for it lacks the realism that is needed to nourish the souls of its citizens.

The true Christian wants to remain a Christian. He finds himself in a culture that is increasingly Christophobic. He wants to honor the moral rights of the individual, to practice virtues that are based on the natural law, to be charitable toward the poor, to establish loving marriages and to raise children in the faith.

The Christian’s task in the present climate where liberalism is slouching toward totalitarianism is particularly difficult.

Christopher Dawson’s book does not leave the reader without hope: “The only thing that can stand against such forces is the spiritual vitality of the Christian community. If every Christian has an intellectual grasp of Christian principles and a living interest in his religion, it will be impossible to suppress Christianity even in a Communist State.”

The Christian can no longer rely on culture to support his Christian life.

He must be more assertive, both as an individual and within his community. He is at odds with an environment that is essentially anti-religious, one that abides no rival to liberal secularism.

Nonetheless, he has God’s indelible word on his side. Therefore, his prayer life must be strong and his faith must be sturdy enough to withstand the slanders and injustice that will come his way. In a word, he must be more capable than his enemy.

The best drummer you never heard of


Drummer Hal Blaine, who propelled dozens of major hit records during the ‘60s and ‘70s as a member of the “Wrecking Crew,” Hollywood’s elite, ubiquitous cadre of first-call studio musicians, died Monday, according to a statement from family members on his official Facebook page. He was 90.

“May he rest forever on 2 and 4,” read the statement. “The family appreciates your outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Hal from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning. No further details will be released at this time.”

According to a 2017 Modern Drummer feature by Dennis Diken (himself the drummer of the New Jersey band the Smithereens), Blaine appeared on more than 35,000 recordings, including some 6,000 singles.

“Blaine’s drumming could be found on all reaches of the Hot 100 — usually near the top,” Diken wrote.

The murder of comedy

Who is Bubba Clem? Read on:

I host a comedy-driven radio show for guys. Until Sunday, no one confused it with something that should be taken seriously. Given my on-air name, “Bubba the Love Sponge,” I assume most people get the joke. We are rude, sometimes profane.

Tucker Carlson called into my satellite radio show regularly from 2006-11, and like all my guests, he adopted an edgy comic persona for the broadcast. He said really naughty things to make my audience laugh, and they did. The 100 or so shows we made with Mr. Carlson weren’t a secret.

Do I really need to go into the rich history of insult comedy? Lisa Lampanelli, Andrew Dice Clay, Rodney Dangerfield, even Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. Comedy breaks taboo subjects that release the unspoken into the air in ways that are, dare I say, funny.

To be sure, we say really mean things on my radio show, and we laugh instead of getting mad. Why do we allow things to be said in comedy that wouldn’t be acceptable elsewhere? Believe it or not, scientists have studied comedy for an answer, and they found one. It’s called benign violation. We laugh when social norms are exceeded—the violation. But it’s not permanently harmful—it’s benign. No one called into my show authentically outraged about what Mr. Carlson said—not once—because everyone knew we were goofing in the spirit of the show.

To understand the mood of today, the only name you need to know is Lenny Bruce. A brilliant and shocking comic, Bruce was arrested over and over for obscenity—jailed for saying the wrong words. In New York he was convicted and died before his appeal could be heard.

Mr. Carlson is being smeared by a new generation of speech police for a new crime—refusing to give in to a small group of political activists who love all forms of “diversity” except of political thought. They take his comic words of a decade ago, reframe them as hateful, and require adherence to their demands. They attack the advertisers that simply want a chance to sell things to his audience, and threaten them with reputational destruction by public shaming unless they repudiate him. In the marketplace of ideas, these guys are shoplifters.

This is not only unfair but makes the world a sadder and angrier place. It’s a violation. There is nothing benign about falsely calling a good man a misogynist or a racist to force your politics on the half of the American public that rejects them.

If Mr. Carlson’s detractors think the way to counter his wit is to close him down by blacklisting him, I am afraid they’ll be disappointed. The chest-beating of the thought police will only help him grow. Americans love the underdog, and we love the unfairly maligned. Most of all, we love to be entertained. The people who hate Tucker Carlson are elevating him.

Did you hear the one about the political activists who decided to win on the strength of their own ideas, rather than smearing those they opposed? Me neither—and that’s no joke.

Presty the DJ for March 15

Since today is the Ides (Ide?) of March, let’s begin with the Ides of March …

… an outstanding example of brass rock.

Today in 1955, Elvis Presley signed a management contract with Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk, an illegal immigrant from the Netherlands who named himself Colonel Tom Parker.

The number two single that day:

The number one British album today in 1969 was Cream’s “Goodbye,” which was, duh, their last album:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for March 15”

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