Presty the DJ for Aug. 10

Today, this would be the sort of thing to embellish a band’s image, not to mention provide material for an entire segment of VH1’s “Behind the Music.” Not so in 1959, when four members of The Platters were arrested on drug and prostitution charges following a concert in Cincinnati when they were discovered with four women (three of them white) in what was reported as “various stages of undress.” Despite the fact that none of the Platters were convicted of anything, the Platters (who were all black) were removed from several radio stations’ playlists.

Speaking of odd music anniversaries: Today in 1985, Michael Jackson purchased the entire Beatles music library for more than $45 million.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Aug. 10”


Starr, Favre and A-Rodg

This season marks 100 years since the creation of the Green Bay Packers, who have won more National Football League titles than any other team in the NFL.

One of the Packers’ greatest traditions is its quality quarterback play, at least when they’ve had that. (And they have not always had that.) The Packers have three NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks — Arnie Herber, Bart Starr and Brett Favre — and undoubtedly will have a fourth after Aaron Rodgers retires.

Elsewhere in the NFC North, Detroit has two, Earl Clarke and Bobby Layne, but neither spent most of their careers with the Lions. Chicago has four, Jimmy Conzelman, John Driscoll, Sid Luckman and George Blanda, but only Luckman spent most of his career (all of it, in fact) with Da Bears. (In essence the Bears have been trying to replace Luckman ever since he retired in 1950. Da Bears might have won more than zero NFL titles with Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus on the roster had they not let Blanda go to the American Football League.) Minnesota has two, Fran Tarkenton and Warren Moon, and Moon didn’t play long with the Vikings. (And, for that matter, the Vikings traded away Tarkenton, and then traded to get him back.)

Other teams have Hall of Fame quarterbacks — for instance, San Diego’s Dan Fouts, Miami’s Dan Marino and Buffalo’s Jim Kelly — who never won Super Bowls. Teams are lucky to have one Hall of Fame QB in their history, let alone more than one. (Miami has Bob Griese and Marino, and Dallas has Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. San Francisco has Y.A. Tittle, Joe Montana and Steve Young. The Cleveland/L.A./St. Louis/L.A. Rams have Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin and Kurt Warner, though Warner also counts as a Giants and Cardinals QB.)

Jason Wilde writes about the three QBs in the headline:

Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers eventually lost count. That’s how often the two Green Bay Packers star quarterbacks received handwritten notes from the man who set the standard — in every possible way — for them in Green Bay: Bart Starr.

“How many he wrote? I mean, hundreds,” Favre recalled this summer, several weeks after attending — and, along with Rodgers, speaking at — a private memorial service for their quarterbacking role model after Starr passed away at age 85. “Not only after good games, not even necessarily after a game. A tough game, a tough loss, maybe I didn’t play too well. …

“One of the letters I got from Bart was after we had won the Super Bowl in New Orleans (after the 1996 season). This letter starts off like basically all of them did from Bart: ‘Hey Brett, congratulations. What a great season, what a great win. I could not be happier for you and your team. …’ So on and so forth.

“But, you know, Bart was a perfectionist in so many ways, and a true gentleman and professional. This is typical Bart. Then he (writes), ‘I am a bit concerned about how you wore your hat during media day.’ I think it was turned backwards or something like that. You couldn’t help but get a chuckle out of it. But that was Bart, he was always quick to congratulate and commend and say all kinds of nice things, but he would also point out things that he felt in his eyes were unprofessional and he just wanted you to be aware of it.”

For the past three decades, Favre and Rodgers have done their best to live up to Starr’s ideals. And while that’s not always the easiest thing to do — as a human being, or as a quarterback — their success has given the Packers something no other NFL team can claim in the past century: three Pro Football Hall of Fame-level quarterbacks.

“Here’s a guy who won more championships than anybody. And people talk about the kind of person he (was),” Rodgers said. “I think there’s no greater compliment than a guy who’s accomplished so much on the field and the first thing people talk about is the kind of person that he is.

“I met him back in 2006 at Fan Fest, and I remember the feeling of excitement meeting him. I used to watch him on an old VHS (tape) — highlights of him from the first couple Super Bowls and knowing the stories.

“He lived a fantastic life. He impacted so many people. He did so much for people that you probably will never know about. I think he taught a lot of us great lessons about what it means to be a Packer.”

Starr, of course, led Vince Lombardi’s legendary Packers teams to five titles in a seven-year span, including victories in the first two Super Bowls — earning Super Bowl MVP honors in each game. His teams were 9-1 in postseason play, and his playoff passer rating of 104.1 remains the best in NFL history. A 17th-round pick from Alabama in the 1956 NFL Draft, he became the starter in 1959 and played 196 regular-season games (153 starts) in 16 seasons in Green Bay.

His playing career, which individually included the 1966 NFL MVP award and four Pro Bowl selections, ended when he retired in February 1972, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

While the Packers weren’t completely devoid of quality quarterbacking during the two decades between Starr’s retirement and Favre’s arrival in a February 1992 trade with the Atlanta Falcons — if not for a host of injuries and a pitiful defense for much of his career, Lynn Dickey might be rightfully mentioned in the same breath as Favre and Rodgers as Starr’s successors — it was Favre’s arrival that led to the 1996 team’s Super Bowl XXXI title, the organization’s first since Starr led the 1967 team to the Super Bowl II championship.

Favre also played 16 seasons in Green Bay before finishing his career with one season with the New York Jets and two with the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. A three-time NFL MVP and 11-time Pro Bowl pick, Favre started 253 straight games in Green Bay, led the Packers to the playoffs 11 times and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, after he and the franchise reconciled several years after the trade that sent him to New York.

That trade, of course, paved the way for Rodgers, the team’s 2005 first-round draft pick who served a three-year apprenticeship behind Favre until becoming the starter in 2008. In his third season as the starter, Rodgers led the 2010 team to the Super Bowl XLV title, winning the game’s MVP award. He enters his 12th season as the starter with two NFL MVP awards (2011, 2014), seven Pro Bowl selections and the highest career passer rating in NFL history (103.1). The 35-year-old is a shoo-in to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer five years after he someday retires, although he intends to play into his 40s.

The 2019 season will mark the 28th of the Favre-Rodgers Era, starting with Favre’s first season in Green Bay in 1992. Over the last 27 seasons, the duo started a remarkable 411 of 432 games the Packers played (95.1%). Add in their combined 38 playoff games (including three Super Bowl appearances) and it’s 449 of 470 games.

According to Packers official team historian Cliff Christl, no NFL franchise has had such an extended run of quarterbacking greatness — or can boast three Pro Football Hall of Famers, with Rodgers ticketed for Canton eventually.

The San Francisco 49ers had Joe Montana and Steve Young for 18 years (1981-98). The Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams had back-to-back Pro Football Hall of Famers with Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin for 13 seasons (1945-57) and later had Kurt Warner, who led the franchise to the Super Bowl XXXIV title, won two NFL MVPs and was inducted into the Hall in 2017.

Over their histories, the 49ers had Montana, Young and John Brodie, as well as Y.A. Tittle, although Tittle was better known for his stint with the New York Giants; the Dallas Cowboys had Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman and Tony Romo; the Washington Redskins had Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theismann and Sammy Baugh; the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts had Johnny Unitas, Bert Jones, Peyton Manning and now Andrew Luck.

But it’s hard to argue that any franchise had a better history at the position than the Packers, who before Starr also had Arnie Herber, a pass-throwing halfback from 1930 to 1940 who entered the Hall in 1966, and Cecil Isbell, who ended his playing career abruptly after five seasons but was still a member of the NFL’s 1930s all-decade team alongside Herber.

“When you live in Green Bay, you know about the Lombardi years and Bart Starr and all the guys that made those teams special, and you’d like to be a part of something special yourself,” Rodgers said. “We have to raise our level of play, obviously. We need to win some more championships.”

Presty the DJ for Aug. 9

Today should be a national holiday. That is because this group first entered the music charts today in 1969, getting three or four chart spots lower than its title:

That was the same day the number one single predicted life 556 years in the future:

Today in 1975, the Bee Gees hit number one, even though they were just just just …

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When what you (think you) know is wrong

Christopher J. Ferguson:

When 22 people were killed in El Paso, Texas, and nine more were killed in Dayton, Ohio, roughly 12 hours later, responses to the tragedy included many of the same myths and stereotypes Americans have grown used to hearing in the wake of a mass shooting.

As part of my work as a psychology researcher, I study mass homicides, as well as society’s reaction to them. A lot of bad information can follow in the wake of such emotional events; clear, data-based discussions of mass homicides can get lost among political narratives.

I’d like to clear up four common misconceptions about mass homicides and who commits them, based on the current state of research.

By Monday morning after these latest shootings, President Donald Trumpalong with other Republican politicians had linked violent video games to mass shootings.

I’ll admit my surprise, since only last year the Trump administration convened a School Safety Commission which studied this issue, among many others. I myself testified, and the commission ultimately did not conclude there was sufficient evidence to link games and media to criminal violence.

Long-term studies of youthconsistently find that violent games are not a risk factor for youth violence anywhere from one to eight years later. And no less than the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2011 that scientific studies had failed to link violent games to serious aggression in kids.

A 2017 public policy statement by the American Psychological Association’s media psychology and technology division specifically recommended politicians should stop linking violent games to mass shootings. It’s time to lay this myth to rest.

Early reports suggest that the El Paso shooter was a white racist concerned about Latino immigration. Other shooters, such as the perpetrator of the Christchurch, New Zealand, attack, have also been white supremacists.

Overall, though, the ethnic composition of the group of all mass shooters in the U.S. is roughly equivalent to the American population.

Hateful people tend to be attracted to hateful ideologies. Some shootings, such as the 2016 shooting of police officers in Dallas, were reportedly motivated by anti-white hatred. Other shooters, such as the 2015 San Bernardino husband and wife perpetrator team, have espoused other hateful ideas such as radical Islam.

Most mass homicide perpetrators don’t proclaim any allegiance to a particular ideology at all.

Of course, mass homicides in other nations—such as several deadly knifeattacks in Japan—don’t involve U.S. race issues.

As far as gender, it’s true that most mass homicide perpetrators are male. A minority of shooters are female, and they may target their own families.

Whether mental illness is or is not related to mass shootings—or criminal violence more broadly—is a nuanced question. Frankly, proponents on both sides often get this wrong by portraying the issue as clear-cut.

As far back as 2002, a U.S. Secret Service report based on case studies and interviews with surviving shooters identified mental illness—typically either psychosis or suicidal depression—as very common among mass homicide perpetrators.

As for violence more broadly, mental illness, such as psychosis as well as a mixture of depression with antisocial traits, is a risk factor for violent behavior.

Some people suggest mental illness is completely unrelated to crime, but that claim tends to rely on mangled statistics. For instance, I’ve seen the suggestion that individuals with mental illness account for just five percent of violent crimes. However, that assertion is based on research like one Swedish study that limited mental illness to psychosis only, which is experienced by about one percent or less of the population. If one percent of people commit five percent of crimes, that suggests psychosis elevates the risk of crime.

It’s also important to point out that the vast majority of people with mental illness do not commit violent crimes. For instance, in one study, about 15 percent of people with schizophrenia had committed violent crimes, as compared to 4 percent of a group of people without schizophrenia. Although this clearly identifies the increase in risk, it also highlights that the majority of people with schizophrenia had not committed violent crimes. It’s important not to stigmatize the mentally ill, which may reduce their incentive to seek treatment.

So improving access to mental health services would benefit a whole range of people and, by coincidence, occasionally bring treatment to someone at risk of committing violence. But focusing only on mental health is unlikely to put much of a dent in societal violence.

Mass homicides get a lot of news coverage which keeps our focus on the frequency of their occurrence. Just how frequent is sometimes muddled by shifting definitions of mass homicide, and confusion with other terms such as active shooter.

But using standard definitions, most data suggest that the prevalence of mass shootings has stayed fairly consistent over the past few decades.

To be sure, the U.S. has experienced many mass homicides. Even stability might be depressing given that rates of other violent crimes have declinedprecipitously in the U.S. over the past 25 years. Why mass homicides have stayed stagnant while other homicides have plummeted in frequency is a question worth asking.

Nonetheless, it does not appear that the U.S. is awash in an epidemic of such crimes, at least comparing to previous decades going back to the 1970s.

Mass homicides are horrific tragedies and society must do whatever is possible to understand them fully in order to prevent them. But people also need to separate the data from the myths and the social, political and moral narratives that often form around crime.

Only through dispassionate consideration of good data will society understand how best to prevent these crimes.

Here’s another one: The murder rate in the U.S., even with all our access to guns, ranks 83rd in the world.

John Lott adds:

The logic goes that President Trump is a right winger and a racist, and that therefore he is in league with and responsible for mass public shootings by white supremacists. Supposedly, there has been a flood of these mass public shootings because Trump has engendered a culture of hatred.

But Trump’s political views are worlds apart from those of the El Paso and New Zealand killers. Both were extreme environmentalists who opposed immigration because they thought that overpopulation would damage the environment.

The El Paso killer’s environmentalism was clearly the basis for his anti-immigrant views: “Our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources. This has been a problem for decades. . . . If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.” …

The Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) collected data on the race and ideology (political and religious) of mass public shooters. Since 1998, 58% of these killers have indeed been white, but this percentage is smaller than the white share of the US population (64%, as of 2015). Middle Easterners are by far the most overrepresented among mass public shooters, given that they represent about 1% of the US population and 8% of mass public shooters. Blacks, Asians, and American Indians are also overrepresented. Hispanics are the most underrepresented, committing attacks at a rate that is little more than a third of their share of the population.

Environmental extremism is on the rise, and doomsayers on the left should take some responsibility for the unhinged frame of mind that many young Americans now occupy. Trump certainly didn’t inspire this strain of environmental fanaticism. But instead of having an honest conversation about where such fanaticism comes from, the media would rather just stereotype all angry white males as “right-wingers” and warn of a “white nationalist terrorism crisis.”

When the loner replaces the bully

Terry Newman:

Remember when the scariest kid in your neighborhood was the football jock who terrorized the high school with his minions in tow, and got bailed out by his rich parents when he went too far? Or it was the gothic malcontent with the switchblade and the swagger. Either way, what made these high-status alphas so terrifying was that they came at you in numbers. They travelled in packs. This has been our narrative, in the stories we tell—from Henry Bowers in Stephen King’s It, to Biff Tannen in Back to the Future, to Billy Hargrove in Stranger Things, central-casting bullies attracted followers. They belonged.

As any grade eight schoolgirl who’s been bullied off Instagram can attest, this stereotype still holds. But when it comes to the most dangerous and sociopathic actors, the opposite is true. All three of the young mass shooters who terrorized the United States in recent nationally reported scenes of carnage—Connor Betts in Dayton, Ohio; Patrick Crusius in El Paso, Texas; and Santino William Legan in Gilroy, California—acted alone. The old image of the bully as locker-room alpha or goth leader now seems passé. Often, it is the kid who used to be the fictional protagonist, the social outcast, the member of the Losers Club from It, whose face now appears on our screens with a nightmarish empty stare.

These recent shooters fit a similar profile. They were outsiders, all seemingly socially awkward, who became emboldened through fringe online communities that act as mutual-support societies for violent malcontents. This phenomenon is fuelled by hate, guns, mental illness and ideological extremism. But there is another factor at play here, too. Before a youth makes the decision to murder, before the gun is stashed in his backpack, before his state of mental health is so deteriorated that he commits the unthinkable, what has happened to him? It’s important to remember that these murders are also, in most cases, suicides.

In his 2008 article School Shooting as a Culturally Enforced Way of Expressing Suicidal Hostile Intentions, psychiatrist Antonio Preti summarized existing research on school shootings to the effect that “suicidal intent was found in most cases for which there was detailed information on the assailants.” The research also indicated that “among students, homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as their victims to have been bullied by their peers, and also were described as loners and poorly integrated into school activities…In most of the ascertained cases, perpetrators prepared a well-organized plan, and often communicated details about it to acquaintances or friends, who failed to report threats because they did not consider them serious or were embarrassed or ignorant of where to go for help. The most antisocial peers sometimes approved the plan, sharing the same anger against the stated target of violence.”

Preti’s article predated the rise of some of the most notorious web sites—including 8chan, which was shut down this week after several mass shootings were linked to its users. But the nihilistic phenomenon these killers represent predates modern social-media culture. Indeed, it predates digital communication, and even broadcast media more generally.

In 1897, French sociologist Émile Durkheim noted that suicides overall were increasing in society. But there were differences among the affected populations, he noticed. Men were more likely than women to commit suicide—though the chances decreased if the man was married and had children. Durkheim observed that social groups that were more religious exhibited lower suicide rates. (Catholics were less likely to commit suicide than Protestants, for instance.) Durkheim also noted that many people who killed themselves were young, and that the prevalence of such suicides was linked to their level of social integration: When a person felt little sense of connection or belonging, he could be led to question the value of his existence and end his life.

Durkheim labelled this form of suicide as “anomic” (others being “egoistic,” “altruistic” and “fatalistic”). Durkheim believed that these feelings of anomie assert themselves with special force at moments when society is undergoing social, political or economic upheaval—especially if such upheavals result in immediate and severe changes to everyday life.

Durkheim came from a long line of devout Jews. His father, grandfather and great grandfather had all been rabbis. And so even though he chose to pursue an academic career, his experiences taught him to respect the mental and psychological support that religious communities supplied to their members, as well as the role that ritual plays in the regulation of social behavior. In the absence of such regulation, he believed, individuals and even whole societies were at risk of falling into a state of anomie, whereby common values and meanings fall by the wayside. The resulting void doesn’t provide people with a sense of freedom, but rather rootlessness and despair.

Durkheim’s thesis has largely stood the test of time, though other scholars have reformulated it for modern audiences. In his 1955 book The Sane Society, for instance, Erich Fromm wrote that, “in the nineteenth century, the problem was that God is dead. In the twentieth century, the problem is that man is dead.” He described the twentieth century as a period of “schizoid-self alienation,” and worried that men would destroy “their world and themselves because they cannot stand any longer the boredom of a meaningless life.”

In her 2004 book Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings, Katherine Newman described findings gleaned from over 100 interviews in Arkansas and Kentucky. The male adolescent shooters at the center of her study, she concluded, “shared a belief that demonstrating strength by planned attacks on their respective institutions with (too) easily available guns would somehow mitigate their unbearable feelings of inadequacy as males and bring longed-for respect from peers.” Ten years later, in a 2014 article titled The Socioemotional Foundations of Suicide: A Microsociological View of Durkheim’s Suicide, sociologists Seth Abrutyn and Anna Mueller set out to update Durkheim’s theory about how social integration and moral regulation affect suicidality. “The greater degree to which individuals feel they have failed to meet expectations and others fail to ‘reintegrate’ them, the greater the feelings of shame and, therefore, anomie,” they concluded. “The risk of suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completions, in addition to violent aggression toward specific or random others, is a positive function of the intensity, persistence, and pervasiveness of identity, role, or status-based shame and anomie.”

Writing in the 1890s, Durkheim was highly conscious of all the ways that industrial capitalism corroded traditional forms of social regulation in society, often at the expense of religious—and even governmental—authorities. (“Depuis un siècle, en effet, le progrès économique a principalement consisté à affranchir les relations industrielles de toute réglementation. Jusqu’à des temps récents, tout un système de pouvoirs moraux avait pour fonction de les discipliner…En effet, la religion a perdu la plus grande partie de son Empire. Le pouvoir gouvernemental, au lieu d’être le régulateur de la vie économique, en est devenu l’instrument et le serviteur.”) But if he were to visit us in 2019, Durkheim would be surprised at the extent to which once-dominant ideas with no connection to economics have been marginalized as regressive and hateful—such as nationalism, patriotism and even masculinity.

This is one reason why so many people now feel unmoored. As Canadian science fiction writer Donald Kingsbury eloquently put it in his novel Courtship Rite, “Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems. Throw away the solution and you get the problem back.” Faith in god, country and manhood might be seen as regressive by modern lights. But insofar as they were holding back male anomie, we perhaps neglected to consider what damage would be done if we discredited those ideas before finding replacements.

In the history of our species, there has never been (to the knowledge of modern scholars) a human society that did not express belief in some sort of supernatural force—which suggests that we are programmed by a need to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Sociologist Max Weber warned in 1919 that “science deals with facts. It can’t tell us what to do or what’s important.” This is to say that while the scientific revolution did a good job of helping us explain and harness the natural world, it did nothing to fill the god-shaped hole that Blaise Pascal identified in the 17th-century: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

If we are to resign ourselves to the fact that “God himself” isn’t going to intercede any time soon, then we are left with the ordinary tools of policy, such as Robert Putnam outlined in his famous 2000 book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of the American Community, in which he pointed to the value of “the connections among individuals’ social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them.” These connections could be strengthened, Putnam argued, through improved civics education, more extra-curricular activities for youth, smaller schools, family-oriented workplaces, a more enlightened approach to urbanism, technology that reinforces rather than replaces face-to-face interaction, as well as a decentralization of political power. These recommendations were written 19 years ago, before Facebook, Twitter or 4chan existed. It would be interesting to know how he would revise his recommendations now that we have a better appreciation for the massive effects of digital culture on our social dynamics.

In a 2017 article I wrote, titled Towards a Theory of Virtual Sentiments, I argued that real-time empathy generation often requires some degree of eye contact—which is hard to generate through online interaction. Moreover, it is shockingly easy to get worked up into a rage when you are interacting with an online avatar of a person you have never met. Simply put, the more we physically see each other, the less likely we are to be awful to each other. As Louis CK said in an interviewabout youth and technology, “They don’t look at people when they talk to them and they don’t build empathy. You know, kids are mean, and it’s cause they’re trying it out. They look at a kid and they go, ‘You’re fat,’ and then they see the kid’s face scrunch up and they go, ‘Oh, that doesn’t feel good to make a person do that.’ But when they write ‘You’re fat’ [online] then they just go, ‘Mmm, that was fun, I like that.’” Even putting aside the extreme cases of forums that cater to homicidal shooters, I remain unconvinced that any community that exists primarily in online form can be a force for long-term good. Perhaps more time offline is a good start for anyone seeking to enhance “the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness.”

Do we need a new nationalism? A new religion? What common human project can we collectively embrace that gives a sense of mission to everyone, regardless of skin color, religion, economic class or ideology? It would be presumptuous for me to suggest I have the answers. All I know is that men who see human life as meaningless are symptoms of a larger sense of anomie that, in less dramatic and destructive form, increasingly grips us all.

Trump’s supporters

It is somewhat amazing that The Atlantic printed this:

Donald Trump’s supporters would like to be clear: They are tired of being called racists.

Leave it to the president’s eldest son to set the tone. Last night at the 17,500-person-capacity U.S. Bank Arena downtown here, Donald Trump Jr. strode onto the stage two hours before the president was scheduled to speak. The venue was already brimming.

It had been a rough week for his father. On July 28, President Trump was once again deemed racist after lashing out at House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, whose district includes part of Baltimore. Trump referred to the city 40 miles north of Washington as “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” in which “no human being would want to live.” Those comments came shortly after the president suggested that four progressive congresswomen of color “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” prompting the crowd at his July 17 rally in Greenville, North Carolina, to chant, “Send her back!” Trump—though he later disavowed the chant—did nothing to stop it.

Last night, Trump supporters in Cincinnati were eager to defend their man.

“It’s amazing that when Donald Trump makes a comment about Baltimore, it’s racist, it’s terrible, it’s this. But when the mayor of that town, when the congressman from that town, says the exact same thing, ‘Oh! No problem!’” Trump Jr. boomed, referring to a statement that Cummings made in 1999, calling Baltimore “drug-infested.”

“It’s sad,” he continued, “that using ‘racism’ has become the easy button of left-wing politics. All right? Because guess what? It still is an issue … But by making a mockery of it by saying every time you can’t win a fight—‘Oh! We’re just gonna push the button! It’s racist’—you hurt those that are actually afflicted by it. People hear it, they roll their eyes, and they walk on. And that’s a disgrace, and that’s what you’ve been given in the identity politics of the left.”

The crowd erupted in jeers and boos. It was a segment of Jr.’s speech that in many ways echoed that of a speaker who’d appeared before him, Brandon Straka, a gay Trump supporter who founded the WalkAway movement to encourage people to leave the Democratic Party. “Insinuations of bigotry and racism,” Straka claimed, were “divisive tactics” used by the “liberal media to control minorities in this country.” “This is a president who serves minorities,” he said, “because he loves minorities.”

As speakers mounted their defenses of the president, it seemed apparent that supporters were cheering them on as a means of affirming not just Trump, but also themselves. Because to accuse a politician of holding virulent racist beliefs is also, if only implicitly, to condemn his or her voters of harboring those same tendencies.

And that’s what the rally-goers I spoke to last night seemed most nonplussed by—not so much that Trump had been roundly condemned in recent days as a racist, or a bigot, but that they, by virtue of association, had been as well. But rather than distancing them from Trump, the accusations have only seemed to strengthen their support of this president. To back down, they suggested, would be to bow down to the scourge of political correctness.

“We’re all tired of being called racists,” a 74-year-old bespectacled white man named Richard Haines told me. “You open your mouth, you’re a racist. My daughter is a liberal, and she’s [using the word] all the time. We don’t talk politics; we can’t—all the time she always accuses me of hate.”

Haines, who told me he had just returned to the United States from Thailand, where he had done missionary work for 15 years with impoverished children, said that he knew what real racism looked like—that his father was a “bigot” who “didn’t like black people.”

“Donald is not racist, you know?” Haines said. “He makes a statement, and they take the words out of context and try to twist everything so that he’s a racist. And I think it’s gonna backfire.”

Before the rally began, I sat down on the floor of the arena with two women—Roseanna, 50, and Amy, 48—who felt similarly. (Neither woman was comfortable providing her last name for this story.) Roseanna, who wore a red T-shirt, white shorts, and a MAGA hat adorned with multiple buttons, including one featuring the likeness of Hillary Clinton behind bars, had driven an hour and a half from Lexington, Kentucky. She defended Trump’s statements about Baltimore. “He didn’t say nothing about the color of somebody’s skin,” Roseanna said, yet it seemed like everyone was “wishing him toward ‘He’s a bigot.’

“I’m sick to death of it. I have 13 grandchildren—13,” she continued. “Four of them are biracial, black and white; another two of them are black and white; and another two of them are Singapore and white. You think I’m a racist? I go and I give them kids kisses like nobody’s business.”

When I asked Roseanna and Amy whether they would join in a “Send her back!” chant were it to take place that night, both women said no, but out of deference to Trump. “He apologized for that, so I think us as Trump supporters will respect him for that,” Roseanna said. She then shared her thoughts on the chant’s target, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who came to America as a refugee from Somalia.

“Look, but she is gonna get—you know, I don’t want her stinkin’ Muslim crap in my country,” Roseanna said.

“Sharia law,” Amy chimed in. Her iridescent CoverGirl highlighter glinted under the stadium lights. “Sharia law.”

“That’s not America,” Roseanna said. “She is a Muslim through and through …She wants that all here.” She wondered aloud whether Omar had come to the U.S. illegally. (There is no evidence this is true.)

After a pump-up playlist that included Elton John, The Sundays, and Céline Dion, and after a brief speech by Vice President Mike Pence, the president himself took the stage. It wasn’t long before Trump brought up “the four congresswomen” and bemoaned the conditions of inner cities after years of Democratic leadership. He said he could name one city after another that’s “failed,” “but I won’t do that.” He flashed a grin. “I don’t want to be controversial.” (Multiple rally-goers shouted, “Baltimore!”)

The president’s speech was ultimately more memorable for what wasn’t said than for what was. The rally included its share of greatest hits—a “Build the wall” demand here, a “Lock her up” chant there, a rant about windmills as bird killers, among other things—but there were no deafening incantations about ejecting American citizens of color from their home.

Robert Morris, a 72-year-old man who was fixing his van outside the arena before the rally started, had predicted as much to me. “We’re not that kind. They got a little carried away there,” he said of the Greenville crowd. Morris, too, said he was tired of being called a racist. Just yesterday, he said, he’d given a stranger $20 to help his foster child, who was black. And he sends money as often as he can to a school charity in the Dominican Republic. So if anybody started a chant like that, Morris said, “I’ll tell them, ‘Shut it down. You’re acting like them. We’re not them.’ The Democrats—they call names, they accuse, they’re always slandering, they always have a negative.”

“Send her back?” No, he said, that wouldn’t happen again, because “we’re positive.” He chuckled a bit. “But I’d buy her a ticket so she can go on a cruise back.” Omar was, he said, “a very ungrateful person.”

Imagine if the news media tried to understand Trump supporters instead of merely denigrating them as racist hicks, as I’m sure most of The Atlantic’s readers did upon reading this.

Presty the DJ for Aug. 8

Two anniversaries today demonstrate the fickle nature of the pop charts. This is the number one song today in 1960:

Three years later, the Kingsmen released “Louie Louie.” Some radio stations refused to play it because they claimed it was obscene. Which is ridiculous, because the lyrics were not obscene, merely incomprehensible:

Today in 1969, while the Beatles were wrapping up work on “Abbey Road,” they shot the album cover:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Aug. 8”

Tony Evers, enemy of the First Amendment

The MacIver Institute proves that anyone who claims that only Republicans hate the news media are lying:

The MacIver Institute is suing Gov. Tony Evers for excluding its journalists from press briefings and refusing to provide them with press material that is shared with other news outlets.

Since Gov. Evers took office in January 2019, his administration has refused to include MacIver News Service reporters on invitations to press events, which makes it harder for the news outlet’s reporters to stay up-to-speed on the governor’s activities. The Evers administration also blocked MacIver journalists from participating in a budget press briefing that was open to other journalists.

The Evers administration’s actions violate the journalists’ constitutional right to free speech, freedom of the press and equal access. While no press outlet has a constitutional right to an exclusive interview or off-the-record tidbit, government officials may not target certain journalists that they disfavor for discriminatory treatment. The First Amendment prohibits government from discriminating against certain news outlets based on their editorial viewpoint. The Constitution also says state governments cannot treat people unequally, which the governor’s office does by targeting MacIver for exclusion while inviting numerous other journalists to these events.

The case, MacIver Institute v. Evers, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on Tuesday.

“Gov. Evers should not block MacIver journalists from public press briefings and limit their access to government activities. Our reporters have the same constitutional rights as every other journalist in Wisconsin, and we have a duty to keep the public informed about what’s happening in state government,” said Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute. “While we hoped Gov. Evers would do the right thing and treat our journalists they way they treat others, the administration has refused. We now have no option but to sue. A free and vibrant press is critical to democracy, and to ensuring the people of Wisconsin are informed and engaged on what’s happening in their state. We hope to quickly resolve this issue, not just so that our journalists can go about their important work but to ensure no future governor engages in the same unconstitutional practices.”

The MacIver Institute is represented by the Liberty Justice Center, a public interest law firm based in Chicago.

The MacIver News Service has approached the administration numerous times in attempts to rectify the situation amicably, but its efforts have been ignored. On April 4, MacIver News Service hand-delivered to administration officials a letter from attorneys for the journalists, demanding that the MacIver reporters receive the same access to public press events and information as journalists from other news outlets. Even after the letter, the Evers administration has persisted in its course of conduct, continuing to exclude the MacIver journalists from media advisories and press briefings.

That’s despite prominent left-leaning contacts being included on those very same lists, such as The ProgressiveMagazine, Devil’s Advocate Radio, The Capital Times newspaper, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Democratic legislative offices and left-wing advocacy groups such as One Wisconsin Now.

“The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press. Courts nationwide have held this means government officials can’t pick and choose which reporters cover their public events. Gov. Evers has spent the past six months excluding the MacIver journalists from his press conferences and briefings. That’s wrong,” said Daniel Suhr, associate senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “Our country relies on vigilant watchdogs from the news media, and government officials can’t duck hard questions by barring anyone who might ask those questions in a briefing.”

The lawsuit seeks to guarantee access for MacIver News Service journalists to all Gov. Evers’ press announcements. It is available online here.

It will take a higher-level judge to tell Evers that politicians do not get to pick and choose who covers them and who can’t.


A purpose of the Second Amendment

David French:

Few things are more frustrating than watching members of the media, politicians, and activists who often know very little about guns, have the resources to hire security when they face threats, and don’t understand the weapons criminals use telling me what I “need” to protect my family. And what they invariably tell me I “need” is a weapon less powerful than the foreseeable criminal threat.

Or, let me put it another way. My family has been threatened by white nationalists. Why should they outgun me?

Few things concentrate the mind more than the terrifying knowledge that a person might want to harm or kill someone you love. It transforms the way you interact with the world. It makes you aware of your acute vulnerability and the practical limitations of police protection.

If you’re wealthy, you have a quick response: Hire professionals to help. Let them worry about weapons and tactics. If you’re not wealthy, then your mind gets practical, fast. You have to understand what you may well face. And despite the constant refrain that semi-automatic weapons with large-capacity magazines are “weapons of war,” if you know anything about guns you know that what the media calls a large-capacity magazine is really standard-capacity on millions upon millions of handguns sold in the United States.

This means it’s entirely possible that a person coming to shoot you is carrying something like, say, a Glock 19 with a standard 15-round magazine.

So, how do I meet that threat? Unless you’re a highly trained professional who possesses supreme confidence in your self-defense skills, you meet it at the very least with an equivalent weapon, and preferably with superior firepower.

In a nutshell that’s why my first line of defense in my home is an AR-15. One of the most ridiculous lines in yesterday’s New York Post editorial endorsing an assault-weapons ban was the assertion that semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 are “regularly used only in mass shootings.” False, false, false. I use one to protect my family.

Why? The answer is easy. As a veteran, I’ve trained to use a similar weapon. I’m comfortable with it, it’s more powerful and more accurate than the handgun I carry or the handgun an intruder is likely to carry, and, while opinions vary, multiple self-defense experts agree with me that it’s an excellent choice for protecting one’s home.

What’s more, like the vast, vast majority of people who own such a weapon, I use it responsibly and safely. Don’t believe me? It’s the most popular rifle in the United States — one of the most popular weapons of any kind, in fact — and it’s used in fewer murders than blunt objects or hands and feet.

Here is the fundamental, quite real, problem that gun-control advocates face when they try to persuade the gun-owning public to support additional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms: The burden of every single currently popular large-scale gun-control proposal will fall almost exclusively on law-abiding gun owners.

Even in the case of our dreadful epidemic of mass shootings, the available evidence indicates that so-called “common sense” gun-control proposals popular in the Democratic party (and the New York Post) are ineffective at stopping these most committed of killers. As my colleague Robert VerBruggen pointed out yesterday, a large-scale RAND Corporation review “uncovered ‘no qualifying studies showing that any of the 13 policies we investigated decreased mass shootings.’”

It’s one thing to ask millions of Americans to sacrifice their security for the sake of the larger common good. It’s quite another to ask for that same sacrifice in the absence of evidence that the policy will accomplish what it is designed to accomplish.

The criminal who seeks to harm my family has already demonstrated that he has no regard for the law. He doesn’t care about magazine-size restrictions or rhetoric about “weapons of war.” He doesn’t care that he evaded a background check or that he placed his girlfriend in legal jeopardy by using her as a straw purchaser. He doesn’t care if a previous felony conviction renders his gun possession unlawful.

By contrast, I care about the law. I want to remain law-abiding, and I want my family to remain law-abiding. I have immense respect for our nation’s legal system and its political processes. And so, as a person who has that respect and who also feels the keen anxiety of real threats aimed at the people I love the most, I’m making a simple request: Don’t give the white nationalists an advantage. Don’t give violent criminals the edge in any conflict with peaceful citizens.

In your well-meaning ignorance, you seek to provide greater security at the price of liberty. In reality, you would sacrifice both to no good end.

As the phrase goes (and police officers I know do not deny this), when help is needed in seconds, the police are there in minutes.