Open Thread for (late) Monday, July 23, 2018

NYT page

Yeah, I’m still here. Super, super busy is all. Here are some topics…

  1. Tariffs Imperil a Hometown Business in South Carolina: BMW — This was several days ago, but it was huge: It took up most of the NYT front page above the fold. And the Charleston paper played their own story on the subject even bigger on their front on Sunday.
  2. 17 Dead After Amphibious Tour Boat Sinks In Missouri Lake — Horrific. Something I wonder about, but haven’t seen an answer to in coverage: Are these “ducks” the same amphibious vehicles used in landings in WWII?
  3. Toronto: suspect identified in shooting that left two dead and 13 injured — And then there’s this. I wish I had better news for y’all.
  4. They Vowed to Fix the Subway. On-Time Rates Are Still Terrible. — Also from NYT. Many of y’all probably don’t care, but like Frank Horrigan in “In the Line of Fire,” I love me some public transportation. Especially the systems in NYC, London and Bangkok. And Disney World, of course. I hate to see subways having trouble.
  5. Striptease and half naked football players part of Clemson event for female fans, video shows — Because y’all always say I don’t give you enough sports news. Does this count? Speaking of which, I just finished (during my early-morning workouts) rewatching Ken Burns’ “Baseball” series, this time complete with the updates that take it through the early 2000s. They have the Red Sox breaking the Bambino Curse, but it doesn’t get as far as the Cubbies breaking their even longer one. Great stuff, though…
Frank Horrigan and I love public transportation...

Frank Horrigan and I love public transportation…

‘How to live to be 102,’ according to Samuel

Samuel 102

Years ago — probably well over a decade ago — I was having lunch with my good friend Samuel Tenenbaum, and he pulled a Ziploc sandwich bag out his pocket. It contained maybe a dozen or so pills and capsules of different colors, sizes, shapes and textures.

As he proposed to take them all, I asked about it, and he explained that they were various kinds of vitamins and minerals. He explained what each was for. He had researched each pill in sufficient detail that I was impressed, and after pondering it for awhile, started doing the same myself.

For several years, I was spending a remarkable amount at the Vitamin Shoppe, for… let’s see… vitamin C, a B complex, fish oil, calcium and vitamin D, zinc, iron (in those days, my iron occasionally fell short of the minimum when I tried to give blood), COQ 10 (someone had told me it helped brain function, which I figured I could use), some others I forget, and a multivitamin (just to cover any bases I had missed). I’d put them in a little plastic snack bag each morning, put that in my pocket as I left the house, and take them all during breakfast after I got downtown. Because they all say to “take with food.”

Then, over the last few years, I sort of fell out of the habit. I still have several bottles of various sorts in a kitchen cabinet, but only occasionally do I think even to take a multivitamin.

But some folks are more consistent than I. Samuel, for one. And then some.

On Friday morning, I was sitting down to eat at the usual place just as Samuel was preparing to leave after his second breakfast. It’s not that he’s a hobbit; if I remember correctly, he’s told me in the past he usually eats a little something at home when he gets up at 4:30 a.m. each day, then has a more sociable breakfast downtown hours later).vitamins

He joined me — so we could chat about my new job — and asked the waiter for a glass of water. Then he pulled out the bag you see at right. He had greatly expanded his vitamin-taking, to a phenomenal extent. At least, I hadn’t remembered there being that many before. He’s really pushed the envelope.

I was reminded of the time Dick Cavett took his show backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. He was chatting with Mick Jagger just before he went on stage, and someone started passing around a tray covered with various kinds of pills, which band members took as they chose. Cavett asked what they were and Jagger said “vitamins.” And salt pills. I thought that was meant as a joke. After all, it was the ’70s. But after seeing Jagger continue to shake it onstage decades longer than Jimmy Fallon predicted in “Almost Famous,” I suspect maybe they were vitamins…

Perceiving my interest, Samuel proceeded to rattle off what they all were as he took them several at a time. I wasn’t taking notes, but most of them I’d never heard of. I thought that if I start getting seriously back into vitamins, I’m going to have to study up on the latest things.

I asked him to let me take a picture of him and the pills, to share here on the blog. He said sure, and that I should tell everybody, “This is how you live to be 102!”

He could be onto something. He’s 10 years older than I am, and still going strong. So’s Mick Jagger, last I saw…

Amazingly, they’re actually getting the boys out of the cave

Ekapol and players

Ekapol Chanthawong and some of his players.

I really spoke too soon the other day when I celebrated the discovery of those boys missing in the cave in Thailand. I was far too sanguine.

Turned out their situation was still horrifically perilous. So perilous, in fact, that this just would not work as fiction. In “Lassie,” Timmy was always falling down an old mineshaft or something (this was such a common plot device in the late ’50s that as a little kid I had the impression the whole country was honeycombed with abandoned mines, all of them covered only with rotting boards that wouldn’t even hold a small boy’s weight). But all Lassie had to do was get within hearing of the shaft, hear Timmy yell, “Go for help, girl!” and the day was saved.

A fictional plot like this would be dismissed by the most credulous viewer as too contrived: It takes six hours, much of it underwater, even for an elite diver to get to the precarious shelf where the boys are, cut off by rising rainwater. It’s so difficult that a veteran diver, a former Thai Navy SEAL, died Friday just trying to place spare air tanks along the route. The boys can’t swim. Even if they could, they’re not trained SCUBA divers. Some of the passages through which they have to pass are so tight that air tanks would have to be removed for even the kids to get through them. It’s so hard to get them out that consideration was given to leaving them there for months until the rainy season is over, resupplying them for the duration. But no — the monsoons continue to fall, meaning the water in the cave will rise.

What else could possibly go wrong?

And yet, amazingly, things went wonderfully right today: They got four of the boys out! Which is just astounding as well as wonderful. But it will be hours, perhaps a day, before more get out. Imagining the terror, the physical exertion, the determination and courage it took those four weakened boys to get out makes me shudder.

But they got out!

A lot of attention has focused on the one adult with them, 25-year-old assistant soccer coach Ekapol Chanthawong, a former Buddhist monk. Some have been critical, saying he should never have gotten the boys into such a situation. But the story plays differently within Thailand itself:

But for many in Thailand, Ekapol, who left his life in the monkhood three years ago and joined the Wild Boars as an assistant coach soon after, is an almost divine force, sent to protect the boys as they go through this ordeal. A widely shared cartoon drawing of Ekapol shows him sitting cross-legged, as a monk does in meditation, with 12 little wild boars in his arms.

According to rescue officials, he is among the weakest in the group, in part because he gave the boys his share of the limited food and water they had with them in the early days. He also taught the boys how to meditate and how to conserve as much energy as possible until they were found.

“If he didn’t go with them, what would have happened to my child?” said the mother of Pornchai Khamluang, one of the boys in the cave, in an interview with a Thai television network. “When he comes out, we have to heal his heart. My dear Ek, I would never blame you.”…

During my brief stay in Thailand three years ago, I was often impressed by the straightforward piety that runs through the hearts of the people there. Just one of many illustrations: We spent two nights in the farmhouse of my daughters’ adoptive “grandparents” in the rural village in which she served her two years in the Peace Corps. In the corner of the room in which we slept on floor pallets there was a small Buddhist shrine.

On the morning we were leaving, before she would let us go, the “grandmother” kneeled before the shrine and let us know we were to kneel beside her. Of course we did, as she prayed for our safety during the rest of our journey. We were deeply touched.

And as it happened, we had a wonderful time, and our trip was remarkably free of untoward incidents.

Call that good luck if you like, but I think all good-faith efforts to reach out sincerely to the Divine have value, however you define the Divine and whatever your dogma. In any case, the presence of that spiritual young man seems to be helping to keep those boys going under the most trying of circumstances.

I don’t have a shrine in my house, but I’ll be going to Mass later today. And on this Sunday, I hope and pray the other nine boys get out as safely as the first four. And that Ekapol does, too…

We explored a cave while we were in Thailand, too. Here, our guide gives us some pointers at the entrance as we prepare to climb down into it. I don't think I'll do that again...

We explored a cave while we were in Thailand, too. Here, our guide gives us some pointers at the entrance as we prepare to climb down into it. I don’t think I’ll do that again…

A bit of news: I’m joining the Smith/Norrell campaign

One victory down, one to go.

One victory down, one to go.

Starting today, I’m joining the James Smith/Mandy Powers Norrell campaign as communications director.

In blog terms this means that, while Leo McGarry is still the guy I want to be when I grow up, it turns out that in real life, I’m Toby Ziegler.

It means a lot of other things, too. More important things.

There are other things it does not mean. For instance, it does not mean, “Brad’s a Democrat now!” Nope, as always, I’m no more of a Democrat than I am a Republican. As you know, over the years I’ve endorsed candidates from both parties in almost exactly equal numbers. I go with the best candidate, without regard to party. In this race, the better candidate is unquestionably James Smith.

This is partly because I’ve respected and admired James for the ways he has served his state and country, and I like what he wants to do for South Carolina — and because, while I’ve only recently gotten to know her, I think Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell is a tremendous positive force in our Legislature (a point on which her largely Republican constituency has repeatedly agreed).

It’s also because Henry McMaster has repeatedly failed to stand up and be a leader on the issues that matter to South Carolina — or on anything, for that matter. He’s a born follower, and he’ll follow anyone he thinks will help him hold high office. It’s almost like the office of governor is vacant, occupied by a nonentity who offers only one thing to the voters: “Donald Trump loves me.”

So what you have here is a guy who doesn’t care about party being so persuaded as to who the better candidate is in this important election that he’s quitting his day job to put it all on the line. Which should count for something among fair-minded observers.

This is weird for me. Very weird. My job will involve constantly dealing with reporters, and they are unlikely to do what I tell them to do, the way they did in my former life. (Which is just plumb unnatural.) As I step out into this unfamiliar territory, I try to reassure myself that others have successfully made the transition before me. For instance, one of my earliest mentors, John Parish — the unquestioned dean of Tennessee political writers — went to work for Lamar Alexander in 1978, and that worked out. “The Bear” remained a hero to young journos like me.

This is the second stage of my transition. As y’all know, I’ve been very frank about which candidates I prefer ever since I joined The State‘s editorial board in 1994. But that was all just words, as Doug would say. A couple of months back, I took the unprecedented step of putting campaign signs in my yard for the two candidates I most wanted to see win this year: James (this was before Mandy joined the ticket) and my Republican representative, Micah Caskey.

Micah has already won his election — he won his primary walking away, and has no general election opponent. So he doesn’t need my help.

James and Mandy have a long, tough campaign ahead of them, trying to win the governor’s (and lieutenant governor’s) office in a state that hasn’t picked a Democrat for either of those offices in 20 years.

But there are reasons to think these two candidates can win. It starts with their qualifications and positive vision for South Carolina, and ends with a factor called “Henry McMaster” — an incumbent who had to scramble like an unknown (against an unknown) just to win his own party’s nomination.

In any event, James and Mandy are determined to win. And so am I….

Top Five Movies (or TV Shows) for the Fourth of July

  1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” — Frank Capra really gets America. Or at least, he got the America of his day, and that means he got it the way I get it. (It feels like I was right there, in a previous life.)
  2. Young Mr. Lincoln” — If you don’t do anything else today, watch the clip above. You only have to watch the first minute and 18 seconds. It’s amazing, the best thing Henry Fonda ever did. I thought about Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” which is magnificent and of course has superior, modern production values. But I had another Spielberg flick below, and besides, this one’s awesome.
  3. John Adams” — Yeah, this one’s a TV show, which is why I added the parenthetical in the headline. I can’t think of anything better on how America became America. And as I keep saying, Adams is my fave Founder. He’s the one who rammed independence through the Congress. Jefferson just wrote it out — because Adams picked him to do it.
  4. Saving Private Ryan” — Yeah, I know — Bud and maybe others will say, “This isn’t Veteran’s Day, nor yet Memorial Day!” Yeah, well, freedom isn’t free. And this is the best film evocation of that ever made. I get chills, and misty eyes, during the cemetery scenes at the start and end. July Fourth message to us all: Earn this!
  5. Yankee Doodle Dandy” — Because there had to be a musical, and have you ever seen anything better than James Cagney dancing down those stairs? Particularly amazing if you only thought of him as a gangster type.

Honorable mention:

All the President’s Men” — Because America. Because First Amendment. Because scrappy newspapermen taking down a corrupt administration. Best part — the scenes in which Woodward and Bernstein interview people who do not want to talk to them. They are wonderfully ragged and awkward, which is what it’s like in real life. I really appreciate the director leaving them that way and not trying to slick them up, Hollywood-style.

"Yankee Doodle Dandy"

“Yankee Doodle Dandy”

Open Thread for Monday, July 2, 2018

thai

Some things to kick around:

  1. Happy real Independence Day — I say that because I’m more of a John Adams guy than a Thomas Jefferson guy. (So I’d be a Federalist if, you know, the party still existed.) And July 2 was the day the vote for independence happened. And if Adams had had his way, we’d have Monday off instead of Wednesday. So, yay, Adams!
  2. SCE&G files lawsuit to block 15-percent rate cut Legislature passed — You sort of saw that one coming, didn’tcha?
  3. Lizard’s Thicket closes Midlands store for renovations — Dang, man! The one on Elmwood just got reopened, and now they’re closing this one, too?
  4. Trump Criticizes NATO Allies for Not Increasing Defense Budgets — Hey, I’m with him on that one, but after needlessly trying to start trade wars with them and otherwise insult our allies, this is probably not the right time to double-down on this one. I mean, if you care at all about anything positive happening, which of course he doesn’t…
  5. 12 Boys, Missing in Flooded Thailand Cave, Are Found Alive — That gives us something to celebrate, anyway. By the way, I’ve explored a cave in Thailand. Pretty spooky…

That’s what I’ve got. Y’all may have something better, which is cool because it’s an open thread…

A reassuring fact about the U.S. Supreme Court

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just to help everybody calm down a little:

I’m not saying that a court vacancy isn’t an important thing. Of course it is. It means we’ll be choosing one-ninth of one of the three branches of our federal government, and for life. It’s critical that we find a qualified jurist with deep understanding of the law — like the ones already on the court. As evidenced by all those 9-0 decisions. There are no idiots on this court, no justices who fail to see the law clearly, just as the others do. Consensus is most common result.

From what I’ve seen, Neil Gorsuch is such a person. So, from everything I read. Was Merrick Garland. Yes, Democrats, you had every reason to be outraged at what McConnell did. To refuse even to consider a sitting president’s nominee was a gross dereliction of duty, an insult to the Constitution. It was the grossest partisan action I’ve seen the Congress take in many a year. The senators were free to reject Garland upon consideration — in fact, it would have been their duty to do so had they found him unqualified. But no one even suggested he was unqualified (because, to our knowledge, he was not). They simply refused to consider him. That was a profound sin against our republic, one that stains the reputation of everyone involved in the refusal forever.

This — Kennedy’s retirement — should have been Gorsuch’s turn to be considered.

All of that is the case. But I just can’t get as worked up about the situation as both sides seem to be — the right with excitement at the enormity of their opportunity, the left with horror at the impending disaster.

For one thing, this area seems to be the only one in which Donald J. Trump doesn’t go with his own twisted instincts. He left the choice of Gorsuch over people who actually know something about such things. Of course, they are people who will put forth potential nominees that the left would not. But they will put forth qualified individuals.

My greatest concern is that Trump — who has been more and more off the leash lately — will do so over this as well, and ignore the advice of the people who know better than he does. I don’t think that will happen, if only because of the way his warped ego works: He has received a great deal of praise — which he values disproportionately — over the Gorsuch decision, so I think he’ll stick with the process that gave him that “triumph.”

I know that nothing I can say will diminish the anxiety of people whose focus is entirely on the relatively small number of 5-4 decisions — especially my friends who, unlike me, think Roe v. Wade was a wonderful thing, to cite one issue that many think is in the balance here (which I sort of doubt, but I can’t say for sure).

But it would be a wonderful thing for the republic if folks on both ends of the spectrum could calm down. These vacancies have distorted our politics far, far more than enough.

Many cycles ago, this one small part of the job description, which usually arises only once or twice in a term, started having far too great an impact on voters’ decision-making. Think about it: We wouldn’t have Trump in the White House if not for all the religious conservatives who would never, ever have considered such a crude, vulgar, amoral person to be their chief magistrate except for one thing — the kind of justices they expected him to nominate, in contrast to the ones Hillary Clinton might have named.

So we have a guy who daily seeks new ways to alienate our allies and cozy up to dictators, a man enamored of trade wars, who pursues grossly immoral, cruel policies on our border, deliberately increases polarization in the electorate and stirs hatred against our critical institutions, from our justice system to the free press. Of course, I could go on, but you would think that list would be enough to suggest that picking a president on the basis of that one thing, judicial nomination, is a terrible and reckless course of action.

But far too many on the right do just that. And so do too many on the left.

I don’t know how we get to where everybody puts this in perspective again. But one place we might start is by considering that fact that the most likely result is that the Court will decide matters 9-0. That ought to have a calming effect. Not that I’m holding my breath…

The Roberts Court, June 1, 2017.  Seated, from left to right: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer.  Standing, from left to right: Justices Eleana Kagan, Samuel A. Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil M. Gorsuch.  Photograph by Franz Jantzen, Supreme Court Curator's Office.

The Roberts Court, June 1, 2017. Seated, from left to right: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer. Standing, from left to right: Justices Eleana Kagan, Samuel A. Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil M. Gorsuch. Photograph by Franz Jantzen, Supreme Court Curator’s Office.

Can it with the lame excuses for incivility

The president of the United States is a jerk. His loyal followers are jerks, as they eagerly demonstrate at the rallies where he laps up their adulation. His jerkiness is what they love about him, and theirs is what he loves about them — or would be, if he were capable of loving anyone but himself.download (2)

The people in his administration are, with occasional exceptions, also jerks.

And if you think that the way to defeat all these jerks — in elections, or merely in the court of public opinion — is to be a jerk yourself, then you’re an idiot.

Oops. There I go, being a jerk myself. But I’m pretty sick and tired of hearing people give stupid excuses for being uncivilized.

I sort of reached the end of my patience with the “They did it first!” argument this morning:

I don’t know about Democrats, but anybody who wants to turn back the tide of boorishness is going to have to start by acting like a grownup. That’s not all that’s required to win, of course, but it’s a prerequisite for my vote.

Poor Eugene Robinson. I normally don’t even read his columns. That headline of his just ended up being the straw on the camel’s back….

Benjamin, Kennell honored by Community Relations Council

Matt Kennell and Steve Benjamin, with their awards.

Matt Kennell and Steve Benjamin, with their awards.

It occurred to me today that I don’t tell y’all enough about the doings of the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council. Which means I’m not being a very good board member.

So, since we had our big annual luncheon today at the convention center, and I tweeted about it, I thought I’d share a couple of highlights:

For instance:

  • Matt Kennell of City Center Partnership is the 2018 recipient of the CRC’s Milton Kimpson Community Service Award.
  • Mayor Steve Benjamin received the organization’s Hyman Rubin Distinguished Service Award.
  • Jennifer Reed was installed as our new board chair, succeeding Hal Stevenson. Hal made the point that she is Jennifer Clyburn Reed, although her relationship to her famous Dad the congressman isn’t something she brings up all that much:

The awards Matt and Steve received are named for two of the first leaders of the CRC, and are given to people who have led in ways that reflect the same spirit. The Council was formed during the civil rights era of the early ’60s by black and white leaders who wanted to see Columbia integrate peacefully, without a lot of the civil unrest that occurred in other Southern cities. Just meeting to discuss those issues was a sort of radical act at the time, and the black and white leaders met on the USC campus, as the guests of then-President Tom Jones, as there was no other place in town where such a gathering would be been accepted.

Today, the Council continues to promote civil conversations about difficult issues facing the whole community.

The role I play is that I’m co-chair — with Roscoe Wilson, who is also related to someone famous, his daughter A’ja Wilson — of the Council’s Community Affairs Committee. We convene issues forums (such as this one on Bull Street) and candidate debates (such as this city council debate), and we’ll be kicking off this year’s monthly Hot Topic sessions with one on affordable housing in August.

Watch this space for more on upcoming programs.

Oh, and as I mentioned in a comment to Doug earlier, I ran into James Smith and Mandy Powers Norrell at the luncheon. No, I did not see Henry McMaster…

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The usual suspects win the runoffs in SC, mostly

usual

No, I don’t know how Keyser Söze did, but there were few surprises in tonight’s results. Let’s review:

  • Henry McMaster. This should have been the least-surprising result of all. McMaster is the incumbent after all, installed by his party’s president, who owed him big-time. Any suspense there was in this race was provided by the fact that practically every principled Republican you ever heard of — from libertarian Tom Davis to business leader Mikee Johnson, from my own well-respected representative Micah Caskey to every other Republican who had run in the primary had backed his completely unknown opponent. Which tells you a great deal about the GOP nominee. He’ll be going up against James Smith, who won his own party’s nomination in a landslide on his first try. Interesting, isn’t it, to contemplate that this matchup is the doing of Donald Trump, Henry’s only well-known Republican fan?
  • Alan Wilson. Despite the Pascoe probe — which was also a factor for McMaster — Alan easily blew by his opponent Todd Atwater. Another one that would have been predictable a year ago, but in the last few months it was a little hard to tell.
  • Paula Rawl Calhoon won the GOP nod to replace Atwater. She advertised on this blog (as did Micah Caskey), so of course she won. Smart lady. When are all those other candidates out there going to wise up (the poor saps)?
  • Sean Carrigan leading. This contest to see which Democrat will go up against Joe Wilson in the fall is the only one I got to vote in today, and I voted for Carrigan. But it’s still fairly close. With 77 percent reporting, he has a lead. (Update: The trend held. Carrigan won.)
  • Lee Bright trailing. Here’s hoping the trend continues, and this is indeed the end of Lee Bright’s political career. But he still has a chance, so he’s still a threat. (Update: The trend held. Bright lost.)
  • Joe McEachern trailing. Badly. But still undecided. Not sure what was going on in this incumbent’s 77th House district, but with 50 percent counted he’s significantly behind. (Update: The trend held. McEachern lost.)

That’s what I’ve got for now. Thoughts?

Want to laugh at media folks? Here ya go…

Well, this kinda cracked me up:

Even though we’re looking at something that’s definitely of a certain time and place — the era of smartphones and social media — I could identify. It’s not all that different from being a reporter in the distant past.

Remember that picture I ran (again) of me and Howard Baker during the Iowa caucus campaign in 1980?

That was taken by the photog who accompanied me on that trip, Mark Humphreys. I always enjoyed working with Mark because he respected my photography skills enough to hand me one of his Nikons when we were out on assignment together, so we could get different angles of the same event.

One night, we were trapped at the general aviation airport in Dubuque by an ice storm. Waiting for Baker’s campaign plane to get clearance to fly back to Des Moines, Baker — a serious amateur shooter himself — and Mark got to talking about the craft, and next thing you knew the two of them were out on the tarmac in the blizzard shooting pictures of each other.

Here’s them embarrassing part… I went out to shoot a picture of them shooting each other — figuring it would make a fun shot for our story — but it didn’t come out, according to Mark. My only excuse is that, back in the days of manual exposure, it was really, REALLY hard to get decent photos in a snowstorm with Tri-X black-and-white film.

Technology changes, but the goofy moments spent waiting for news to happen are pretty timeless…

Washington Post sees chance for Smith in SC

There were a couple of SC-related items of interest in The Washington Post today.

One was to be expected: Coverage of Trump’s visit here last night. The headline pretty much says it all:

Trump makes runoff election for SC governor about him, too

For national reporters, that makes it a same-old, same-old occurrence.

The other item is more interesting. The headline is, “Could anti-incumbent fever leave an opening for Democrats in Oklahoma and South Carolina governor’s races?,” and it begins:

Oklahoma and South Carolina don’t top the list for most competitive gubernatorial races in 2018, but Democrats hope to reach for both governor’s mansions this year anyway — especially if Republicans nominate unpopular incumbent and incumbent-tied candidates Tuesday.

The story here isn’t necessarily about President Trump.

Republicans may be victims of their own success in governor’s mansions. They hold a near-record-high number of them: 33 of 50. In states such as Oklahoma and South Carolina, the very fact they’re in power could be hurting them.

Voters in both states with elections Tuesday are incredibly unhappy with their current governors. Some of that discontent is personality-driven, such as in South Carolina, where Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is having trouble unpinning the label his opponents slapped on him as a corrupt insider. His runoff against businessman John Warren on Tuesday is expected to be close, even after Trump goes there Monday night to campaign for McMaster….

After that, the story is mostly about Oklahoma, just briefly returning to SC down in this graf:

In South Carolina, Democrats nominated a veteran and Purple Heart recipient, state Rep. James Smith, who’s been able to campaign while McMaster has been focused for the past few weeks on his runoff….

Which isn’t even entirely accurate. James has mainly left it to the two Republicans to dominate the headlines the last couple of weeks while he takes some family time. His general election campaign has yet to start — but based on a conversation I had with him today, look to hear a lot more soon.

I look forward to somebody from the Post coming down here and doing a fuller job of reporting on what’s going on down here. I’d value that outside perspective…

If the Post had checked Twitter, they'd have seen that James has been hiking in Alaska with son Thomas and dog Laffey.

If the Post had checked Twitter, they’d have seen that James has been hiking in Alaska with son Thomas.

How is Wyoming more patriotic than WE are?

This seems kinda screwy to me, but we did make the Top Five, so that’s something:

patriotic

I’m sort of wondering about the criteria that have states that voted for Donald Trump being on average “more patriotic.” I also wonder about Massachusetts — you know, the home of Paul Revere and John Adams (THE guy who persuaded the Continental Congress to declare independence) — ending up 50th. Who’s gonna tell the New England, you know, Patriots?

And what’s with Wyoming edging us out? Is it the Cowboy Factor or something?

Anyway, it’s something besides today’s runoff election to talk about, and I thought y’all could use a break…

Who's gonna tell THESE guys?

Who’s gonna tell THESE guys?

Was there anybody at YOUR polling place?

Quail

Bud reports that at 10:30, he was the second person at his polling place to take a Democratic ballot, and 53 people had voted in the Republican, which actually has hotly contested statewide races still on it.

The numbers were almost identical at my polling place — Quail Hollow — two hours earlier. I took the second Democratic ballot (with nothing on it but a low-profile congressional runoff), and 52 voters on the Republican side. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more people than had voted in the GOP primary at that hour two weeks ago, when there were a lot more signs out for candidates than there were today (see above).

How is it out there where you are?

Hidden camera footage from McMaster HQ: ‘People like that RE-form’

Oops. Wait a sec. Perhaps I should explain that this is a joke, before the cries of “fake news” start.

Anyway, I love this scene, and will use any excuse to go watch it again.

“Maybe we should get US some…”

I especially love the warning, storm-cloud look on Pappy’s face as he waits for what he just knows will be a monumentally stupid observation…

Pappy

Wow, THAT was certainly a sorry spectacle…

Trump in Cola

This was the part when he was, seemingly without end, telling us how AWESOME his victory in the 2016 election was…

I was upstairs on the elliptical tonight, doing something constructive, when my wife called to tell me the Trump thing was on WIS live.

I went down to see, curious: Surely one of our local commercial TV stations wasn’t handing over a live prime-time feed of a McMaster rally on the eve of his runoff. And in fact, that was not the case: TWO local commercial TV stations were doing that.

I watched in fascination. I had never watched a Trump rally all the way to its ignominious end (and I betrayed my inexperience when I Tweeted my surprise that he ended it with the supremely ironic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Aren’t his supporters insulted by that? I thought).

It was one of those spectacles that kinda made me feel a little embarrassed to belong to the same species. But there’s no point trying to put together focused commentary on such random rambling. I give you my real-time Tweets instead:

Sorry about not knowing about the Stones thing. My bad.

What a mess we’re in, ladies and gentlemen…

Are you voting tomorrow? If so, for whom, and why?

Carrigan

Tomorrow is runoff day. If you voted in the Democratic primary on the 12th, you may or may not have any runoffs to decide. But if you voted in the Republican, you have quite a bit of unfinished business — to start with, picking nominees for governor and attorney general.

If you’re in that latter group, I don’t envy you your choice for governor. I’d have a hard time pulling the lever for either. (The choice for attorney general is more palatable — I like both of those guys, although if you take some of the attack ads out there to heart, you may wonder why.)

All I have on my plate is a choice between two people in the 2nd Congressional District — in other words, as conventional wisdom would hold, a choice as to who will lose to Joe Wilson in the fall. Sure, it’s always hypothetically possible that a Democrat could win, but the Republicans who have painstakingly drawn and redrawn that district over the last few decades have had no intention of letting it be likely.

Still, since I broke with usual pattern to vote in the Democratic primary this time — to help James Smith along on the road to becoming governor — I feel honor-bound to go vote in this runoff, as unlikely as it is that the winner will ever be going to Washington.

On the 12th I went with Sean Carrigan. That wasn’t based on a whole lot. Once upon a time, I would have had extensive endorsement interviews with these candidates. Now, I’m dependent on the folks who are still in the working media to tell me about these folks, and I ask you: How much coverage have you seen that helps you know and understand Carrigan and opponent Annabelle Robertson and what they stand for? Yeah. I haven’t seen much either.

So I was reduced to perusing their websites. In other words, to reading what they want me to think about them. Limited as it is, that does have value, I’ve always believed. Even if it’s not true, the fact that a candidate wants you to believe X or Y about him or her is in itself revealing.

At the time, I was put off by the tone of some of the stuff on Ms. Robertson’s website. For instance, there’s this, which I thought gave off kind of a Bernie Sanders/Occupy Wall Street kind of vibe, and y’all know I wouldn’t like that:

The problem is that the gap between the super-rich and working families is greater than it’s been since the Great Depression, with the top 10% controlling 76% of the wealth in America, while the rest of us fight for the crumbs they throw down from their five-star dining tables….

Whereas I felt like Carrigan, an Army retiree, had a more centrist feel about him, seeming more like the kind of Democrat FDR would have recognized. Here he is addressing the same issue:

We could spend all day talking about tax cuts and empty Republican economic promises, but at the end of the day, a well-educated workforce and an economic system that strives to provide increased opportunities for all is THE key to Economic Prosperity.
In South Carolina District 2, we need to decide what an Economic Win looks like. One thing is for sure: when Profit trumps People, the working families of Aiken County, Barnwell Country, Lexington Country, Orangeburg County and Richland County don’t win. Due to the failed policies and voting record of Joe Wilson, more than 70,000 children and 40,000 seniors reside in low-income families. That’s enough impoverished children and seniors to overflow Williams-Brice Stadium one and a half times!

Yeah, I know — those messages aren’t all that far apart. But notice how the Carrigan one lacked that element of resenting the billionayuhs at their five-star table? Also, there’s the fact that Ms. Robertson calls herself a “Progressive Democrat.” Yeah, that’s all I need. I’m sick to death of Republicans talking about how “conservative” they are (which generally causes a sort of Inigo Montoya reaction in me). All I need to make my head explode completely is to hear the same kind of nonsense from the other side as well.

Also, she uses “fighting for you” language. Y’all know how I hate it when politicians use the “F” word.

Anyway, I grabbed at those straws, and voted for Carrigan. And I’ll probably back him again tomorrow.

No, I realize that’s not the most ringing endorsement you’ve ever heard, but I work with what the candidates give me to work with… And I’d love to hear it if you have a good argument for why I should back Ms. Robertson instead — whether I agree with you or not.

Anyway, how about you? How do you plan to vote, and why?

fighting

The ‘Famously Hot’ Trump protest

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Doug thinks that if I’m truly opposed to Donald J. Trump, I would join protesters at today’s event at Airport High School. My response echoes that of Mr. Darcy when urged to dance: “At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable.” Mr. Darcy didn’t do country dances, and I don’t do street protests. They are to me at the very least insupportable, if not indeed anathema.

But at least I can feel some small kinship with the protesters, after reading this release from the state Democratic Party:

Columbia’s #FamouslyHot Trump Protest, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Airport High School, 1315 Boston Ave, West Columbia, SC 29170. Indivisible Midlands has a protest permit that runs from 4:00 – 8:00 PM and they will be standing along the sidewalks on Boston Ave starting from the corner of Boston Ave and Greenwood Drive (between the high school and middle school) and stretching towards Airport High. Parking: Protest attendees will be allowed to park **directly across the street** in the parking lots of the SC Vocational Rehab buildings starting at 4:00 PM. The lots are large enough to fit buses if groups choose to organize them. As of writing this, Boston Ave will remain open to traffic flow, so you’ll be able to get to the lots easily. Our event plans are to demonstrate outside–even once the McMaster/Trump event begins at 6:00 PM.If you choose to leave our permitted area to venture elsewhere or choose to go inside the rally where the president will be speaking if you have tickets, Indivisible Midlands is not responsible for your safety and cannot be held liable for what occurs outside the bounds of our permit. The McMaster/Trump event won’t let you take signs or much of anything inside, so you’ll need to stow any of those in your vehicles before venturing in. Again, we aren’t necessarily encouraging or discouraging anyone from going to see the president speak if they wish–the event is open to the public if you reserved ticket online. We just have no plans as an organization to do so and any disruptions that may occur once inside should not be attributed to us as such. …

As you may or may not know, ADCO is the agency that came up with Columbia’s “Famously Hot” identity.

I suspect it will seem particularly apt at about 4 p.m. today in the vicinity of Airport High School. Yet another reason to leave the whole mess to other people. I assure you that at that hour, I will be congratulating myself on not being there

The fury directed toward migrants actually looks like ‘hate’

The "Two-Minutes Hate" in Orwell's 1984...

The “Two-Minutes Hate” in Orwell’s 1984…

A lot of the more strident folk on the left like to classify people with whom they disagree as “haters.” To disagree with them is to “hate.”

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to be called a bigot. To see a human fetus as having moral value and a claim upon our consciences, for instance, can be classified as “hating women.” Which might be great for eliciting contributions from some quarters, but not so great for increasing understanding across the gulf of disagreement.

If we’re to have civil conversations in our society, conversations with some hope of leading toward synthesis, toward solutions, “hate” is a word we need to be careful with.

But in recent days, that word has seemed more and more like precisely the right one to explain the way some of our fellow citizens regard what is going on down on our border.

What we’re seeing now, and what we’re hearing from the people who defend Trump’s actions, pretty much does seem to be… hatred.

How else to label the FURY these people direct at poor folk trying to come here for a better life?

I’ve been marveling over this for years. I guess it was the early 2000s when we started seeing this surge of anger toward people who came here to pick crops, do back-breaking construction, or work in the stench of a chicken-processing plant.

Then came the dehumanizing rhetoric — words such as “animals” and “infest” — and the jaw-dropping rationalizations: If they don’t like having their children torn from their arms, they should have thought of that before they tried to come here…

It’s the ANGER that amazes me. The folks who say those things are furious, apoplectic that these people from the South cross a line in the desert without the proper paperwork. What is it about that bureaucratic lapse, that misdemeanor committed by some migrants, that stirs such anger?

And I’m not even getting into the fact that this attitude goes beyond illegality, and has increasingly taken the form of wanting to decrease legal immigration.

I don’t know where the anger comes from. But the more I see of it, the more it seems to qualify as hatred…

Again, we see what should be obvious: Politicians are people

This is related to David Brooks’ “personalism” column I brought up the other day.

More than that, it’s an evocation of a theme I frequently bring up in my quixotic effort to foster a sort of politics that isn’t about the partisan lie that breaks everything down to an absolutist battle between angels and devils, black and white. You can find some of my future references to this by searching this blog for the phrase, “politicians are people.”hJIDR8t4_400x400

And yeah, I know it sounds dumb every time I say it, but try to bear with me anyway, because while I may seem to be saying something everybody knows, too few of us act like we know it.

I don’t know state Rep. Katie Arrington. If I’ve met her, I don’t recall. I haven’t had direct dealings with her — again, that I recall. I don’t seem to have mentioned her in the 13 years that I’ve been blogging. She follows me on Twitter, but I don’t follow her (something I may amend after I’ve posted this).

Before this morning, therefore, all I really knew about her was that she was the woman Donald Trump backed against Mark Sanford. Which was not exactly something to recommend her to me. Here was Sanford doing something I approved of for the first time in years — standing up to Trump — and she took him down for it.

In other words, I was aware of her about on the level of the description in this headline this morning on my Washington Post app:

Katie Arrington, GOP lawmaker who defeated Sanford, seriously injured in car accident

But now, suddenly, we are reminded that this symbol of the cause keeping the GOP in line behind Trump is a human being, and one whom people who know her care about. Not just her family or friends, not just Trump supporters and not just Republicans.

The first sign of this for me was from my own representative, Micah Caskey:

Now lest you think, aw, he’s a Republican and is kowtowing to the Trump crowd, note that his last Tweet before that was this:

No, no one should be surprised that Micah Caskey, whom I regard as an excellent representative in almost every way, would reach out with compassion to a colleague at such a time. It has nothing to do with political alliances.

That is supported by such tweets as these:

And finally:

Yeah, go ahead you scoffers and dismiss all that as empty, insincere posturing by politicians. But here’s the thing: I know these people, even though I don’t know Rep. Arrington. And here’s another thing: They didn’t have to do this on a Saturday morning. No one was sticking a microphone in their faces and demanding that they take a position.

And in their concern, I realize she’d not just a headline or a campaign or a position. She’s someone they’ve worked with face-to-face, day after day. She’s someone they’ve encountered as a real person.

And through the concern of people I do know as people, I am brought to a fuller understanding of Katie Arrington as a complete, three-dimensional human being, someone who exists fully and independently of the headlines about her.

And having my awareness of her thus deepened, I hope and pray for her full recovery, and that of her friend who was injured, and that the family of the driver who was killed be comforted in their loss.

Yeah, I know that on a certain level what I’m saying sounds idiotic. Of course people show their concern, sincerely or insincerely, when someone they know is seriously hurt. This proves nothing. But try to see what I’m trying to point out: that most of the time, most people don’t see these people as fully-realized human beings, but rather as caricatures. And if our system of deliberative democracy is ever to have a chance to recover and be functional, we have to see through that, and see people as whole, so we can deal with them effectively and constructively.

Dumb as it sounds, I’m going to keep saying it, because on a critical level where we need to be interacting productively, too few of us act as though we truly realize it: Politicians are people.

And this one is hurting right now…