Meanwhile, Graham steps up with Dream Act

graham dreamers

Even as I was saying that with his particular friend John McCain out of action, the country really needed Lindsey Graham to step up… he was doing so.

Today, he and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin announced they were introducing the Dream Act. Here’s a release about it:


WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced the Dream Act, which would allow immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship.  These young people, known as Dreamers, have lived in America since they were children, built their lives here, and are American in every way except for their immigration status.  However, under current law they live in fear of deportation and have no chance to ever become citizens and fulfill their potential.

“These young people have lived in America since they were children and built their lives here,” said Graham.  “There is support across the country for allowing Dreamers — who have records of achievement — to stay, work, and reach their full potential.  We should not squander these young people’s talents and penalize our own nation.  Our legislation would allow these young people – who grew up in the United States – to contribute more fully to the country they love.  They have a powerful story to tell and this may be an area where both parties can come together.”

“Hundreds of thousands of talented young people who have grown up in our country are at risk of deportation to countries they barely remember.  I’ll do everything in my power as a United States Senator to protect these Dreamers and give them the chance to become American citizens so they can contribute to a brighter future for all Americans,” said Durbin.  “I first introduced the Dream Act 16 years ago and I’ll continue fighting until it becomes the law of the land. I thank Senator Graham for partnering with me in this bipartisan effort.”

The Dream Act would allow these young people to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship if they:

  • Are longtime residents who came to the U.S. as children;
  • Graduate from high school or obtain a GED;
  • Pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military;
  • Pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee;
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and
  • Have not committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to our country.

A one-pager of the Dream Act is available here.  A section-by-section of the Dream Act is available here.


We’ve needed both Graham and McCain’s leadership on immigration, which had waned somewhat in recent years. Because if they don’t step up, who among the majority will?

Here’s video of Graham’s and Durbin’s announcement (It doesn’t actually start until 23 minutes in.):

This country cannot afford to lose John McCain

File photo from an interview with McCain in The State's editorial board room in 2007.

File photo from an interview with McCain in The State’s editorial board room in 2007.

I don’t just mean in terms of whether he lives or dies — although I hope and pray he recovers. We can’t even afford to have him on the injured list.

The Washington Post had a good piece this morning that got into why John McCain matter so much to this country, particularly at this dicey moment in our history. Some excerpts:

McCain’s significance inside Congress is hard to overstate — and his absence, however long, will reverberate across the Capitol.

The Arizonan’s illness leaves Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — and by proxy President Trump, who has openly mocked the Arizona senator — with 51 votes, the barest of majorities at a time when Republicans are divided on such issues as health care, taxes and defense spending.

McCain’s absence would also deprive the Senate of its moral conscience on many key issues, particularly in the ongoing investigation of the Trump campaign’s potential involvement in Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign….

McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam and a two-time presidential candidate, is known for his unfiltered opinions and willingness to buck Republican Party orthodoxy. Along with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), perhaps his closest friend in the Senate, McCain has become one of Trump’s leading Republican critics, particularly on issues of foreign policy and national security….

McCain has staunchly defended Trump’s national security team — he has particular respect for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. But McCain has criticized the president for campaigning on a promise to fortify the country’s defenses without, in his view, devoting enough money to the task.

McCain has also criticized Trump’s apparent affinity for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, warning that Russia is an enemy that should not be trusted and becoming one of the earliest Republicans to lend his support to a congressional investigation of Russia’s ties to the election….

We need this guy. We really need him…

Who spends $100 at Starbucks?

starbucks tote

Starbucks keeps making me these offers that cause me to wonder.

Yesterday, I got an email offering me a “free” tote bag.

That is, it was “free” if I spent $75 or more at the Starbucks online store.

A few days back, I got another sweet offer of 20 percent off! To get that, all I had to do is spend $100 or more at the same online store. This was an “exclusive” for a limited time only. It was so exclusive that it had a special code word. Since the offer has expired, I’m going to go ahead and violate security and tell you the code word: “QUENCH.” Print that out, memorize it and then burn it.

The thing I wonder is this: Who spends $100 at a time at Starbucks? Who needs or wants that much Starbucks stuff at any given moment? How many people got excited and took them up on these deals?

By the way, I can get a perfectly adequate “tote bag” (you know, one of those reusable shopping bags) from any local supermarket for about a buck. So…

Oh, and Starbucks: If you want to promote yourself, I’ve told you before how to do it. Advertise on this blog. I’m starting to lose patience with you on this point…



Check out program about Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark! Now!


Dang! I had meant to tell y’all about this in advance:

But it’s on right now! It’s the first of three episodes.

I’ve told y’all about Joel and his amazing project before. He and I worked together at the Wichita paper back in the ’80s, and he’s been a photographer for National Geographic for the past 25 years.

For the last 11 of those years, he’s been working on his magnum opus, the Photo Ark: He has undertaken to photograph every endangered species on the planet. He figures it will take the rest of his life. May he live far more than long enough to accomplish it…

This may be the most hateful thing I’ve ever seen in politics

Forget what I said about people hating on David Brooks. That was nothing next to this:

FYI, John McCain is the only guy in Washington calling on the parties to drop the partisan posturing and try to draft healthcare legislation that will benefit the whole country:

“One of the major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party-line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote. As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure. The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care.”

So of course he’s hated. That’s how it works.

Of course, the stupid woman who did this is trying to walk it back. But there is no explaining away something that hateful. It just is what it is…

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Add Khrushchev and Nixon to the list of people who were NOT in the Trump Jr. meeting...

Add Khrushchev and Nixon to the list of people who were NOT in the Trump Jr. meeting…

Y’all, I might not be able to post beyond this today — I’m super under the gun all week (as I was last week) — so let’s see if there’s anything good out there. Mostly, I sense that the Dog Days have arrived early:

  1. The anti-health bill’s failure — At least, we hope it’s completely failed. The stupid mess keeps rising from the dead. As for McConnell’s (and Trump’s) even stupider idea for a “clean” vote on repeal only — just go away, OK?
  2. Lindsey Graham hopes his Senate bill could replace Obamacare repeal effort — He’s going to have to do lots of ‘splainin’ for me to like this. Personally, I’d like them all to go away and not bother us anymore until they’re ready to do one of two things: 1) Fix problems with Obamacare that actually need fixing, so it works as intended, and just shut up about repealing, or 2) Single-payer. Otherwise, go on to other issues.
  3. 8th person at meeting between Trump Jr. and Russians identified, name sent to Mueller — You know what might be easier? Let’s make a list of who wasn’t in the meeting. Let’s see: Stalin, Khrushchev, Nixon, Ivan the Terrible…
  4. U.S., Russian officials meet as Kremlin accuses U.S. of ‘robbery’ over dachas — They just won’t shut up about this. Makes me wonder: What’s in those properties that they want back so badly? If we haven’t already ripped out the walls and pried up the floorboards checking it out, we need to. The intel crown jewels must be hidden there somewhere.
  5. ‘Bleeding heart’ judge? Not so fast — Solicitor Dan Johnson sticks up for Allison Lee.
  6. Expand the West Columbia chicken plant? — Apparently, that’s going to be before the West Columbia Zoning Board of Appeals tonight. I don’t know it I’ll make it, but I wonder: Am I the only person who has been noticing the smell a LOT more over the past month? I hadn’t smelled it in a while, and now, it hits my nose pretty hard every night that I drive home via Jarvis Klapman…

Red Cross says I’m tapped out; y’all need to step up and give

They showed me the numbers, and it just added up to too much plasma...

They showed me the numbers — two pages like this — and it just added up to too much plasma…

Well, it finally happened: The Red Cross says I’ve given them too many platelets, and I need to take some time off.

And you know what that means: It means some of y’all need to step up and give, because the need is still there. In fact, over the weekend I received this message in an email reminding me of my appointment today, and telling me how badly it was needed:


Yeah, they say that a lot, but here in SC, we’re generally in a shortage situation. I used to think that was a Midlands problem, but it seems wider than that. For instance, the two units I gave June 19 (that was two donations ago) went to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach and Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg. Just think of me as the Scarecrow, and this is the Tin Man’s cue to say “Well, that’s you all over!

You can give platelets again after six days; they come back that fast. But I’ve generally been giving every two weeks. Last month, to keep them from calling me so often, I decided to go to a standing appointment — every other Monday afternoon.

And today was that Monday, but when I showed up, and started going through the usual series of questions that precede the donation, the young lady saw something on her computer screen that made her jump up, excuse herself and run for help. A moment later, someone came in and said that was it for me: I’d given too much in the past year, and I wouldn’t be able to give again until after Aug. 2. Which nixes my appointment on the 31st as well.

It’s not the platelets, though — as I said, they come back pretty quickly. It seems that over time they’ve taken too much plasma from me for my weight — 12,000 ccs. And I won’t be starting over in August, either — it’s cumulative, so this is likely to happen again if I keep giving at the same rate.

This respite will be a relief to my family and friends, who are always asking why I, personally, have to give so often. This is always my cue to go into my Gary Cooper routine and explain, “I’ve got to; that’s the whole thing.” I’m just that kinda guy, ya know. Man of action. Few words.

(Don’t look at me like that. For too many years, I was too scared to do this. Having overcome that fear, I’m going to milk this for all it’s worth.)

But now I’m out of action. And the need is still there. So it’s time for you to be the hero.

You just gotta.

Here’s where to sign up.

That's the thing: You just gotta...

That’s the thing: You just gotta…

Avoiding ‘Game of Thrones,’ or trying to for the moment

Last season's climactic battle.

Last season’s climactic battle.

Hey, did you watch the season premiere of “Game of Thrones” last night? If so, Don’t tell me about it!

Everyone seems to be trying to do that. The newspaper apps I read each morning now include coverage of the show as though it were an actual news event. It’s a new news category: There’s local, national, world, politics, sports, business and Westeros.

At least they’re not putting spoilers into the headlines I’m seeing. Not yet, anyway.

I do want to see it, but I haven’t figured out how or when.

For the last couple of years, I watched it via HBO Now. But eventually I admitted to myself that I wasn’t using the service for anything but this one show, so after last season ended, I cancelled it — saving myself $14.99 a month.

And I’m loathe to start it up again. I mean, the season will take more than a month, and is it really worth 30 bucks for me to be up on what everybody’s talking about? I mean, $14.99 is more than I spend a month on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and I get so much more out of those services.

Here are the options, as I see it:

  • Go ahead and cough up the 30 bucks over this month and next, and watch in more or less real time, and not worry about inadvertently reading a spoiler Tweet or something.
  • Delay gratification drastically and just wait a couple of years until it’s all on Amazon Prime at no additional cost, the way other completed HBO series such as The Sopranos and Band of Brothers are.
  • Scam the system. Wait two weeks and sign up for the free trial month of HBO Now, and then cancel after the last episode on Aug. 27. If they’ll let me (I’m not sure whether former subscribers are eligible for the deal). This option seems sleazy to me. It’s like something Littlefinger would do.
  • Act like a grown man and stop letting myself be manipulated by the hype. Live the rest of my life without seeing Season 7, and have no regrets. Even though I think maybe this is the season when Winter finally comes. And I’ve got so much time invested already.

I haven’t decided.

How about you? What’s your strategy? Are you subscribing just for Game of Thrones, taking the grownup route and not caring, or something in-between? And how’s it working for you?

Open Thread for Bastille Day — Friday, July 14, 2017

No, I don't have any stories about Bastille Day, but here's a picture.

No, I don’t have any stories about Bastille Day, but here’s a picture.

I think I’ll lead off with a change of pace, paying attention to the kinds of stories I normally pass over — if only as a way to cite more local stories:

  1. SC man left children home alone with no power to visit girlfriend, police say — Yeah, another Parents Who Do Awful Things To Kids story. This one’s actually relatively mild compared to the horror stories I’ve turned my head away from lately (because they’re so painful to read). Are these kinds of things proliferating, or are police just intervening more?
  2. Kershaw sheriff slams ‘bleeding heart’ judge — I’m going to recuse myself on this one, since Judge Allison Lee goes to my church and all. Besides, I don’t know enough about her work on the bench to pass judgment; I just know she’s been criticized this way before.
  3. Across Beaufort County, monkeys once terrorized dogs, rode mules — This is just here as Odd Headline of the Day. You don’t actually have to go read the story to appreciate that.
  4. Ex-Soviet counter-intelligence officer says he attended Trump Jr meeting — Next thing you know, we’ll learn that Stalin was at the meeting. With Mata Hari. And Ernst Blofeld.
  5. New Health Bill on Knife’s Edge as Republican Support Wavers — Heads up: While we’re distracted with all of the above, Senate Republicans are still trying to pass their “No Healthcare For You!” bill. They haven’t succeeded yet, thank God.
Yoo-hoo, Trump Jr.! Sorry I couldn't be at the meeting! Turns out I'm dead...

Yoo-hoo, Trump Jr.! Sorry I couldn’t be at the meeting! Turns out I’m dead…

Why do people hate David Brooks so much?

This is a puzzle to me: Why do people hate David Brooks so much?

Sure, anyone who writes opinion for a living is going to get his fair share of abuse daily, without taking the trouble to go down to the demonstration.Brooks_New-articleInline_400x400

But David Brooks? Among pundits, he is the most inoffensive of men. He both writes and speaks (in his appearances on PBS and NPR) with a reasonable, somewhat deferential, even self-deprecating tone. He’s thoughtful, not haranguing. He’s fair. You’ve got your views and he’s got his, and that all seems fine with him.

But man the way people (mainly on the left, I think, but I haven’t kept score, so I’m not positive) tee off on him! I’ve read screeds aimed at him that suggest a screw being loose somewhere, or perhaps a personal animus with roots of which I am unaware. They tend to be mostly written by people I’ve never heard of, and I find myself wondering if that’s it — are these people who just can’t stand that this (sort of) conservative has a gig they’d love to have at the ultimate “liberal” newspaper?

Or is it that he’s a type they can’t stand: The successful, middle-aged, moderate white guy who seems fairly comfortable with his role in life — kind of like me, you might say, before I got laid off — and is so low-key that his very imperturbability is a constant goad to them? Are the slings and arrows about trying to, for once, get a rise outta this guy?

I don’t know, but it seems to defy reason.

Take the latest.

Yesterday, Brooks had a column headlined “How We Are Ruining America.” Here’s its premise:

Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks….

There’s no bait-and-switch here. The whole column is about this class division, with most of it devoted to the ways, both overt and subtle, that the folks in the privileged class make sure “the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.”

Wow, I thought. I almost wrote a post about this column, with a headline like, “Whoa! David Brooks is feeling the Bern today!” And because it was coming from Brooks, rather than the usual suspects, I gave the thesis particular attention.

It was a pretty decent, thoughtful, and empathetic column. I was bothered by one graf in it, though, where Brooks was talking about the subtle class cues that keep the uninitiated in their place:

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican…

That bothered me for this reason: How on Earth is he to know for sure that the “friend” won’t read the column? And if she does, how is she not going to recognize the anecdote and feel even more humiliated than she would have been had they stayed in the gourmet joint?

But it didn’t ruin the column for me (although it certainly would for her).

This morning, I saw that the Web sort of went ape over that paragraph, and used it as a club to beat Brooks about the head and shoulders, with an occasional knee to the groin thrown in.

This bit from Slate sort of encapsulates the way others read that graf:

One thing that has happened in the past 40 years or so in the United States is that (inflation-adjusted) income for most people has stagnated while the price of housing, health care, and education has risen. Income for high earners has also continued to increase. Meanwhile, middle-class and working-class Americans are now less likely to “move up the income ladder” than they used to be—i.e. we’ve collectively become less likely to have rags-to-riches American dream trajectories during our lifetimes.

New York Times columnist David Brooks asserts Tuesday that this reduction in social mobility is not the result of aforementioned trends but because menus that involve foreign ingredients are too confusing to simple folk who don’t have college educations…

To which I have to say, no, that’s not what Brooks is saying. He’s saying that the very real barriers to upward mobility extend beyond the obvious, even down to small cultural signals that the privileged take for granted.

Which strikes me as coming from a guy who not only cares about this inequality, but thinks about it a good deal, and goes out of his way to look for ways that he might be part of the problem.

But boy, that’s not the way it plays in pieces such as this one (which calls him “the lunch date from hell”) or this one (“such an obnoxious snob”) or this one (“off the rails”).

To quote more extensively from that last one, to give you the flavor:

Come on in, I said. Moral Hazard, the Irish setter owned for photo op purposes by New York Times columnist David Brooks, stood dripping and shivering in my foyer. I half-filled his dog bowl with Jameson and he took it down in several big gulps.

“I had to get out,” he said. “It was starting to get crazy down there. Master’s off the rails and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. He walks around, day and night, mumbling to himself, saying weird stuff about community and prosciutto. People are starting to wonder. Douthat, the former houseboy, jumps into closets now when he sees him coming and Stephens, the new one, hides behind the sofa. Nobody wants to listen to 15 minutes on how Edmund Burke’s Reflections warned us against radicalism and balsamic vinegar. I mean, OK, hear it once and it’s interesting but around the third time, you want to talk about hockey.”…

And it wasn’t just the liberals who seem to make a fetish of trashing this guy. RedState got in on the act, too:

Brooks, the living equivalent of a Brooks Brothers store mannequin whose display rod was removed from his colon so he now thinks he walks around as “one of the people”, has long been oblivious to the working of those operating in a strata below his own. (He once referred to the Belgian beer Stella Artois as a “working class” brand.)

There’s something going on here that goes beyond the tone-deafness of that one paragraph. Whatever it is, it’s visceral, and it’s been out there awhile. I’ve been reading pieces like this one, and, to descend deeper into the gut, this one for years now…

No, I don’t! Stop saying that!

This is from the Bugs Bunny “He don’t know me very well, do he?” department…

I keep getting the Google Adsense ad you see below. I just now refreshed like four times, and it wouldn’t go away.

I guess it’s because some of y’all brought up birth control on the previous post. You’ll notice that I didn’t engage. That was mainly because I wasn’t interested in doing so, but now I have an additional reason not to — at some point, I’d like to stop seeing this ad…



Open Thread for Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Yo, Paul! How are those predictions coming?

Yo, Paul! How are those predictions coming?

In no particular order:

  1. Trump Jr. on Russians’ Offer: ‘I Love It’ — This is a pretty big deal — meeting with a Russian after being told what the Russians were trying to do. And yet, I haven’t focused on it that much yet. I care more about what the boy’s daddy does. But yeah, this could be significant.
  2. Repeal of Obamacare without a replacement not ‘politically palatable,’ Sanford says — Wow. If Mr. Never-Met-A-Government-Program-I-Liked is saying that, I guess it’s pretty much of a non-starter.
  3. Paul Ehrlich is still around and peddling the same stuff! — In this case, it’s in a column in The Guardian. Yo, Paul — how are the predictions coming? That Population Bomb go off yet?
  4. Shark attack on nude beach! — Sorry about the second exclamation point. I just couldn’t resist this. I did learn one thing about it: I didn’t know there were nude beaches in America, probably because it’s something I don’t keep up with. I just figured it was some sort of decadent French thing. Oh, as for the attack on the nude swimmer: First, it was a guy, so get this scene out of your heads. Second, don’t worry about him, guys — he didn’t lose anything important.
  5. Christie Blasts N.J. Caller: ‘I Love Getting Calls From Communists In Montclair’ — This guy’s just really losing it, isn’t he? Whatever; I just hope we can keep him off those nude beaches…


A running list of all the ways this is not normal

As I’ve said over and over, it is critically important that we don’t let our guard down and “get used to” Donald J. Trump being president of the United States.

Amy Siskind

Amy Siskind

This situation is not normal, and we must not for a moment act as though it is. We must remember that for 240 years this country had qualified leaders who were, to varying degrees, worthy of our respect. We must keep our expectations high so that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we can return to normalcy, and get back to being an example for other nations, rather than a country that other countries are embarrassed to be seen with.

Because I believe that, I’m grateful to Amy Siskind, who right after the election started publishing a weekly list of all the things happening that are not normal.

Each week, she kicks off the list with the same headline:

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

Over the weekend, she posted the list for Week 34. She started this way:

This is arguably the most alarming weekly list so far. A plot that has played out week-by-week as Trump alienated our allies while cozying up to authoritarians, followed by his embarrassing behavior at the NATO and G7 meetings, culminated this week at the G20 with US isolationism. This video, which traces weekly not normal items, explains why Putin is the winner in this new world alignment.

This week Trump amped-up his assault on the media, including encouraging violence. With this, Trump has distracted the country and media, and taken back the narrative. In the atmosphere of chaos, this week also stands out for the number of important stories that received little or no media coverage.

The list follows. So you’re probably thinking there will be three or four items, with things like the CNN-bashing video and Ivanka taking her Dad’s seat at a summit.

No. There are 96 items on last week’s list, and she’s right: Many of them will have escaped your notice. So those among us who wish to be good, vigilant citizens should probably make a note to check in on her list regularly, in order to stay informed, and avoid complacence.

Here are some of the 96 items. Some of them make note of what is different about things you’ve already heard about. Other items may be new to you:

1. As more and more states refused to comply with what Trump described as his “very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL”, he questioned, “What are they trying to hide?”

9. On Sunday, Trump tweeted a video created by a Reddit user from both his personal account and the official @POTUS account, showing him violently wrestling down a person whose face is the CNN logo.

10. The Reddit user was named “HanAssholeSolo” and his posts were full of anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and other white supremacists materials.

11. The Reddit user later apologized, but Trump did not. The parents and wife of the CNN reporter who covered the story received around 50 harassing phone calls. Allegedly, CNN did not defend the reporter.

13. Following Trump’s tweet, three media watchdog groups have started to do something they never imagined: documenting violent threats and actions against the media in the US.

14. Maine’s Governor LePage said he makes up stories to mislead the press. LePage also called the media “vile” and “inaccurate.”

18. Maddow reported that TRMS was sent a forged NSA document. Maddow speculated this was an attempt to trick her show into reporting a false story, and hence weakening her credibility and dulling that storyline.

20. POLITICO reported on the Trump regime’s obsessive crackdown on leaks from the intelligence community, which has led to an “increasingly tense and paranoid working environment” in the national security community.

22. NBC reported that in Trump’s first 168 days in office, he spent 50 days at Trump properties and 36 days at Trump golf resorts.

23. NYT reported that while working with industry players, not EPA staff, Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or block 30 environmental rules, a rollback larger in scope than any other in the agency’s 47-year history.

32. Female journalists were banned from the Speaker’s lobby, a room area where reporters speak to members of Congress, because their sleeveless dressed were not viewed as “appropriate attire.”

33. In a 53 page memo to the court, Trump attorney Kasowitz argued for the dismissal of a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump, claiming Trump cannot be sued in state court while in office.

36. The KKK plans a rally in downtown Charlottesville today, and warned that many of its 80–100 members and supporters will be armed.

40. On July 4, NRP tweeted the Declaration of Independence, and was attacked by Trump supporters who called it “propaganda” and “spam.”

43. While his predecessors Clinton, W. Bush and Obama celebrated July 4th by visiting troops, Trump spent the day on a Trump-branded golf course. McCain, Warren and Graham visited troops in Afghanistan.

44. Despite his recusal, Sessions spoke to Fox & Friends about the Trump-Russia probe, offering advice to Mueller on hiring practices and tempo.

45. WSJ reported the OGE will release an additional two dozen ethics waivers just filed for Trump regime members working on issues they handled in their private-sector jobs. Trump has already granted as many waivers to WH officials as Mr. Obama did in his eight years in office.

47. In a survey of 35k employees in the State Dept and USAID, workers said they were concerned about the future of their agencies and the lack of support from the Trump regime and Tillerson.

50. One of the DOJ’s top corporate crime watchdogs, Hui Chen, resigned, saying holding companies to standards the Trump regime wasn’t living up to was “creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome.”

53. CREW filed an ethics complaint against Kushner, saying he failed to make the required disclosure of his ownership interest in Cadre. The online real estate investment company has a value of $800mm.

58. Matt Tait, who is cited in the WSJ story on possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia on Hillary’s deleted emails, wrote an op-ed, “The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians,” to tell his story.

63. CNN reported that Russia is stepping up spying efforts in the US post the US elections. Officials cited said Russia feels emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response by Trump and Obama.

71. In their campaign for the upcoming election, Merkel’s party has dropped the reference to the US as a “friend.” Four years ago, her party referred to the US as Germany’s “most important friend” outside of Europe.

73. Pew Research found that 17 of the 19 G20 countries in their survey look to Merkel, not Trump, to lead in world affairs.

74. Guardian reported Trump considered a sneak visit to Downing Street in order to avoid massive UK protests en route to or from the G20 summit. After the story broke, the WH said Trump would not visit.

78. At a news conference in Poland, Trump said he thinks meddling in the US election was done by Russia, but “it could have been other people in other countries” and that “nobody really knows for sure.”

79. Also on his trip to Poland, Trump continued to dismiss and belittle US intelligence, saying, “Do we even have seventeen intelligence agencies?

82. LA Times reported that in preparing Trump for his meeting with Putin, aids had written a list of “tweet-length sentences,” which summarize the main points.

84. Friday, without provocation or reason, Trump tweeted a random lie about Podesta: “Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!”

85. At the G20, Trump and Putin met for 2:16 hours off-camera, behind closed doors. The meeting was originally scheduled to last 30 minutes.

95. The US abstained from signing onto the G20 communique on climate-related issues, the sole country at the summit to do so.

96. As the summit came to a close, leaders feared for that the G20 summits may be ineffective while Trump is in office. President Macron said, “Our world has never been so divided.”

Yeah, that’s a lot, but I left out some pretty important things as it was…

How did Putin keep from laughing in Trump’s face?

Just a thought I had this morning while reading a Kristof column; I thought I’d share it here:

That Putin’s good, you know that? He’s the pro from Dover when it comes to this kind of thing. That KGB training wasn’t wasted on him.

He and his buddies at the Kremlin have to be pinching themselves constantly, so delighted they must be that, against all the odds, the thing they tried to bring about — sure as they must have been that it was a hopeless task — actually came to pass. There’s no way to know to what extent their interference contributed to the result, but they tried, and it happened.

And it’s working out so beautifully for them, far beyond their dreams…

That KGB training wasn't wasted on THIS čelovek...

That KGB training wasn’t wasted on THIS čelovek…

Remember: You only get one mother!

only one of each

That may sound like a Mother’s Day message, and indeed, it’s a good thing to remember: Be good to your Moms, folks.

But I’m posting it in a spirit of celebration over having solved a problem that’s been worrying me no end the last week or two.

Any fans of Catch-22 out there? Remember The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice? Well, when looking at my family tree — or portions of it — that was me.

First, I noticed with puzzlement that my father was on the tree twice. Not as duplicates, so I couldn’t merge the two Dads using the Ancestry tool for that. The database saw him as just one person, but displayed him twice, with a twist: One version of him showed up alone, with no wife or family. The other showed him in relation to my Mom, my brother and me.

Ditto with all four of his siblings: One version of each alone, another version with their families.

Then, I saw with alarm, the weirdness had spread to my father’s father and his siblings. Then, to his father and his siblings. Finally, to my great-great grandfather Nathan Benton Warthen and his siblings!

I needed to fix this, because I badly needed to back up the tree on my hard drive by syncing with Family Tree Maker, but I didn’t want to infect my offline tree with… whatever this was.

I had some anxious chats with people at Ancestry about this. They kept saying there must be someone — in one of those four generations, or maybe a generation or two before or after — who was listed as being married to a close relative, or had some other irregularity in his or her close relationships. That would cause all those people to be “related” to me in more than one way, hence the duplication.

Do you realize how many people that meant I had to check, tediously, one by one? I mean, Nathan Benton Warthen had 10 kids — nine with my great-great grandmother, and one with his second of three wives. I had to check each of them and all of their descendants that were on my tree.

Unfortunately, I started with the present day and worked back. I’ve been doing this during spare moments for days…

But finally, eureka! Finally, I checked Augustus Thomas Warthen, the one child of Nathan Benton and that second wife, Emma Augusta Adams, to whom I’m not related. (Nathan’s third wife was also named “Emma.” I guess that simplified things for him.) Bingo! It showed him with two mothers — Emma Augusta, and my great-great grandmother, Rhoda Ann Etchison.

Apparently, I was careless in copying some information from another Ancestry tree, maintained by someone who was mistaken about who Augustus’ mother was. So the correct datum and the wrong one were at war with each other, causing nasty ripples in the continuum.

I severed his link to Rhoda, and a miracle occurred — I no longer saw everybody twice.

Yeah, I know y’all don’t care. But it made my week. And I pass it on for those of you who have trees on Ancestry as well.

Remember: You just get one mother.

Nice baseball story. You should read it…

There's nothing like having some room to stretch out at the ballpark...

There’s nothing like having some room to stretch out at the ballpark…

Hey, I read a sports story this morning! Don’t know why. I couldn’t tell from the headline what I was going to find, but it implied something delightful, so I plunged in.

Here’s the story, and here’s an excerpt:

At Nationals Park, an embarrassing fiasco and an absolute joy

Two events were held at Nationals Park Thursday night. The first was a rain delay that lacked much in the way of rain, and it was an abomination, a self-inflicted black eye and a disrespectful affront to thousands of fans.

That the Nats screwed up is obvious: Their decision-making was suspect (much of the delay was conducted without benefit of a tarp, a crucial clue that something was amiss); their communication was inadequate (fans weren’t told what was going on until 9:35, about five minutes before the tarp was removed); and their response to the misfire unsatisfactory. By the time the teams started playing ball — after a delay that lasted as long as a typical game — most of the crowd was gone, and justifiably so: Kids had bedtimes, Metro was closing and the information void offered no particular reason to remain….

It goes on like that for several paragraphs. More about management’s stupid handling of the situation, families who’d wasted three figures without seeing a pitch thrown, etc.

Then, you get to the good bit.

After almost everyone is gone, a tiny remnant of fans remaining — the unattached, the people with nowhere to go, and here and there families with kids who had neither school or work the next day — a few others hear that the game has yet to start, and they go to the ballpark. The writer of this piece changed out of his pajamas to go.

And they found… $5 tickets. No lines to go through metal detectors. Free hot dogs and ice cream — one kid the writer encountered on the way in was lining up for his third Rocket Pop.

And the management let them sit anywhere they wanted. Once they did, there was plenty of room to stretch out. You could hear individual cheers from the crowd. Everything was relaxed, intimate, friendly and easygoing.

The way baseball is supposed to be.

It made me think of when I lived in Florida from 1968-70. In the spring, we’d go see the Reds, the Cardinals and others there in the Tampa Bay area. It cost almost nothing to get in. Everything was laid-back. You could talk with the players, or at least get their autographs — Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Joe Torre, all those guys.

I didn’t get an autograph from Tim McCarver because I couldn’t get him to turn around when he was signing for some other kids, then he had to run out on the field. When he later turned out to be my wife’s first cousin, I gave him grief about it.

After that same game (I think), my brother and I went up to a guy in his street clothes outside the locker room and asked him to sign our programs. He said, “Aw, you don’t want mine,” he said. He signed them anyway. Then we looked at the name: “Steve Carlton.” He was right. We’d never heard of him. It was his rookie year.

Those were the day. And apparently, they had one of those days in Washington late last night.

To me, such casualness is the essence of baseball, properly appreciated. Remember that scene in “The Natural” during a practice, when Pop and Red are sitting in the dugout while the players on the field are shagging flies and tossing the ball around? They’re leaning back on the bench, playing a game of “Name that Tune,” no worries in the world…

Now that’s baseball…

Red and Pop in the dugout.

Red and Pop in the dugout.

Open Thread for Thursday, July 6, 2017

"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids..."

“Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids…”

Some quick topics; I’m kind of snowed today:

  1. SC won’t release voter info to Trump panel. SC GOP will get it instead — Say what?!?!? I mean, good on the first part — SC is joining most states in this — but as to the second: How is that better, especially since the state GOP head says he’ll turn it over to the Trump Fantasy Election Committee? I mean, if he’s going to do that, what’s the point of the initial refusal? And how is it that a private entity, a political party, has any standing in this? This is nuts, and the Election Commission needs to revisit the decision. Do like the secretary of state in MIssissippi, and Just Say No.
  2. Trump wonders whether Western civilization has ‘will to survive’ — I dunno. I mean, we elected him to be president, which is definitely not a good sign of our republic’s health. Of course, he brings up a good topic to ponder, as I’ve suggested more than once lately — except his notion of what the West is about differs from that held by those of us who actually believe in liberal democracy.
  3. Majority Of Americans Believe Trump Acted Either Illegally Or Unethically With Russia — In other words, they hold uninformed opinions. Did he act illegally with regard to Russia? We don’t know yet. Did he act unethically? Well, yeah — but “ethically” in the sense of violating actual ethics laws? I dunno. It’s a profound dereliction of duty for the POTUS to completely dismiss the fact that our intelligence agencies are certain that Russia interfered in our election, and particularly unethical — in a moral sense — to dismiss it considering that Russia interfered on his behalf. What we know is that a man who would do that has absolutely zero business being president of the United States. Whether laws were broken — we’ll see, if he stops trying to hinder the investigation (by things like, you know, firing the head of the FBI).
  4. Mars covered in toxic chemicals that can wipe out living organisms, tests reveal — So don’t invest in Arean real estate just yet. Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids…

Editing the Declaration of Independence

I spent part of the long holiday weekend rewatching an episode or two of HBO’s John Adams.

Of course, being me, I love the scene that depicts the editing of the Declaration of Independence.

If you’ll recall, Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were appointed as a committee to draft the Declaration. Then, Adams had talked Jefferson into doing the actual writing, citing his skill with the written word and the fact that Adams himself was far too busy (aside from sitting on various committee, Adams was bearing the greatest share of the burden of arguing for independence, while Jefferson never opened his mouth during the debate).

In this scene, Adams and Ben Franklin are getting their first look at what Jefferson has written, and reacting to it, and offering changes. Having been in this situation myself so many thousands of times with writers who sometimes regarded their words as perfect, I enjoyed watching the dynamics.

First observation: Adams starts out by praising Jefferson’s work to the skies — a fitting approach given the document he’s editing, but one that is wildly at odds with my own approach. As Dave Moniz used to say when he worked for me, the highest praise I ever offered of writers’ work was “pretty good.” Maybe I should have tried this approach; it seems to have led to a good result.

Then there is Jefferson’s unnerving passivity through most of the process — an almost autistic lack of emotion. I’ve had writers fly off the handle at my changes, or be philosophically diplomatic about it. But never anyone with this staring, shrugging apathy. Change to “self-evident?” Yeah, whatevs…

Even when Adams says some of it might not be the way he would have said it, but he will still defend every word, Jefferson has no gratitude, but shrugs, “Well, it’s what I believe…”

Nevertheless, Jefferson proves he’s not an automaton when Franklin (being a newspaper editor himself, Ben had a knack for this) finally gets a rise out of him, and Jefferson says, still in that cold-fish voice, “Every single word was precisely chosen. I assure you of that, Dr. Franklin.” To which Franklin, unfazed, essentially says yeah, that may be the case, but you don’t get the final word; we’ve got to get this thing through Congress.

Adams was (in an unaccustomed role for him) cheerleading the document, while Franklin was determined to edit it. Normally, I’m an Adams fan, but in this case, it’s Ben I identified with. You can’t let writers get an exaggerated sense of their own importance. What do they think they are, editors?

Anyway, this is my belated Independence Day post…


It’s not the CNN-bashing; it’s the pro ‘wrestling’ thing

I don’t know about y’all, but I took off Monday and had a lot to do over the long weekend, so I more or less disconnected from the madness, aside from an occasional Tweet.

So I was just barely aware of the Trump tweet that pushed out memories of his Morning Joe childishness last week:

It is now, by the way, his most reTweeted post ever. So you think he’s going to stop doing stuff like this? Not likely.

But here’s the thing for me: Of course, of course, this embarrassment provides further proof — as if anyone needed it — of Donald J. Trump’s utter and complete unfitness for the job he defiles each day he holds it.

But it’s not because it shows him cartoonishly beating on CNN. There’s nothing new about that sort of anti-media demagoguery, or about Trump inciting violence, or about Trump-affiliated politicians actually committing violence against the press.

What this does for me is forcefully remind us that we have a president of the United States who is in the professional wrestling Hall of Fame — and is not even slightly embarrassed by that fact.

Trump Tweeting out a clip that reminds us of his affiliation with pro “wrestling” — something anyone with any sort of position of responsibility would want to bury — is like… it’s as if George W. Bush had Tweeted old video of himself on a bender before he sobered up and started demonstrating the kind of seriousness that used to be a prerequisite for the office.

The Tweet says, How low has America sunk? This low…

All hail President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho!


It’s getting harder and harder to believe Trump doesn’t drink

The most powerful man in the world feels so picked on by these people that he lashes out like a middle-schooler writing in a slam book.

The most powerful man in the world feels so picked on by these people that he lashes out like a middle-schooler writing in a slam book.

A guy is up at 3 a.m. spewing out Tweets that are nearly or completely incoherent (covfefe!), filled with offensive vitriol, lashing out at everyone who has ever — in his surly, dim perception — done him wrong. Especially if they’re women. The next day, everyone who knows him is in an uproar. The whole world, including some of his friends, says this must stop! The next night, he does it again.

This is a classic pattern, right? So how is it possible that there’s not alcohol, or some other intoxicant, involved?

And yet, we are so often reassured, the man who Tweeted that gross effusion about Mika Brzezinski — just the latest in a sickening, unending series (it still blows my mind that a president of the United States finds time to tweet more than I do) — does not touch strong drink. There’s a compelling, tragic backstory to this — Trumps older brother, an alcoholic, died at 42.

And I continue to believe it.

But how, then, do we explain the Tweets? Or the rest of his behavior, for that matter? But the Tweets seem the perfect distillation of all this other unhinged behavior, set down in writing and shared with all…

What grown man who is sober would write about a woman, “She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” (Especially when there’s no truth in it.) A sober 12-year-old might. But not a sober grownup, under any circumstances.

Oh, and by the way — I cited above the pattern of middle-of-the-night Tweets. This wasn’t even that. The two Tweets leading to the latest uproar went out at 8:52 a.m. and six minutes later. You know, at a time you’d expect a POTUS to be getting his morning intelligence briefing, or making calls to Congress to try to pass his agenda, or meeting with foreign dignitaries, or something other than watching a TV show and obsessing about how much he hates the hosts, and publishing rude, crude comments about them — the sort of childish, mindless insults that kids wrote in “slam books” when I was in middle school.

If Trump were a guy who started drinking at breakfast, like Winston Churchill, this would make some kind of sense.

But once you take alcohol out of the mix, how do you explain it?