Open Thread for Monday, October 16, 2017

What's this? I don't know. The category was "Any other meritorious vegetable," which cracked me up.

What’s this? I don’t know. The category was “Any other meritorious vegetable,” which cracked me up.

Some random topics:

  1. I recommend the pork chop-on-a-stick — Have you been to the Fair yet? What did you eat? I tried the pork chop-on-a-stick, and it was really good, once I removed the stick — about 3/4 thick, nicely grilled and tender. It may have been the most normal Fair food I’ve every tried. Goes well with Fiske Fries…
  2. Scientists detect gravitational waves from new kind of nova, sparking new era in astronomy — This is pretty old news: It happened 130 million years ago. Still, the science boffins are excited.
  3. Iraqi Forces Seize Kirkuk, in Blow to Kurdish Separatists — This is a real mess. For whom should we root? Normally, I abhor separatism. But the Kurds have been worthy allies, and they’ve taken a lot of grief from their neighbors. Should they have their own homeland?
  4. Deserter Bergdahl pleads guilty — And what a long, strange trip it’s been.
  5. Trump stumps for McMaster in Greenville — This hasn’t happened yet as I write, but I put it on here in case y’all want to talk about it.


62 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, October 16, 2017

  1. bud

    I know people like Doug don’t care about stuff like this but Trump’s soul-sucking, insulting, juvenile comments that just keep on coming are such a disgrace to this once great nation. Why is it so easy for Trump’s ardent supporters to ignore this stuff? Here are Trump’s words in response to criticism that he did not call the families of fallen soldiers in Niger: “The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents ― most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it,” Trump said. That is just a flat, bald-faced lie. And for NO reason at all other than to dis his predecessors. Hey I’m glad that, for now, we’re enjoying a low unemployment rate and a soaring DOW, but seriously an important part of a president’s job is to bring us together for the common good. But with insults like this how is it even possible for any non-Trump voter to ever get behind this guy.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, Doug’s not ever going to get that. Just words, to him.

      Last night, making my way through “The West Wing” (again), I got to that special episode that interspersed clips from past scenes with interviews with past presidents and West Wing officials — Jerry Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Marlin Fitzwater, David Gergen, Peggy Noonan, Leon Panetta, Dee Dee Myers and others.

      And there was this passage in which someone — Peggy Noonan, maybe — was talking about how a president has to be conscious at all times that he carries the dignity of the presidency with him everywhere, and the people who work for him have to be equally cognizant of it…

      And I was hearing this on the same day that I’d read the story headlined “Inside the ‘adult day-care center’: How aides try to control and coerce Trump,” based on multiple interviews with current denizens of the West Wing.

      Our nation has fallen so far, and it’s just such a tragedy…

      1. Doug Ross

        The ratio of time spent analyzing, parsing, complaining, and whining about whatever Trump says for some people is about 10000:1. Three sentences generate thirty thousand blog posts. How many hours in a day do you spend thinking about what Trump said versus reading the executive orders he signed to understand the content, the impact, and the rationale behind them? I know – they are all just hate filled screeds that are intended to kill people.

        1. Doug Ross

          I’m just tired of the hysteria that some people present regarding Trump. Every day it’s the same thing… excessive hyperbole and doom-and-gloom because they can’t psychologically deal with someone who doesn’t match their world view. So the rhetoric gets ratcheted up, again and again, over and over… Trump’s a white supremacist, Trump’s a racist, Trump’s about to be removed from office due to mental instability. Anyone who calls Trump a white supremacist is borderline insane. That label devalues the actual meaning of the word.

          Meanwhile, our state Senator goes golfing with Trump and comes away from that with nothing but positive statements… .and plays again with him five days later. It doesn’t fit the narrative of “Trump is evil”.

            1. Doug Ross

              ” I know you don’t get it. ”

              I get it. I see what people are doing very clearly. When someone calls Trump a white supremacist, I get why they do that. To call him someone with some personal biases just doesn’t have the same effect. Calling him a misogynist is also required because just saying he’s got some chauvinistic attitudes doesn’t pack the same impact. Calling him mentally deranged gets more attention than calling him an oafish boor.

              When the attacks don’t seem to be working, the only alternative is to turn the intensity up.

              it won’t be any different when/if Pence takes over. And it won’t be any different when/if a Democrat takes the White House back in 2020. We’re in feeding frenzy mode for some people who have nothing better to do with their time.

              1. bud

                Trump IS a racist. Period. That’s not just a gratuitous throw-away comment by a partisan Democrat, that’s an observation by someone who actually looks at what he says and how he behaves. His actions starting with violating fair housing practices back in the 70s and continuing through his outrageous attacks against black NFL players proves it beyond any reasonable doubt.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Omarosa would disagree.

                  His NFL stance has nothing to do with the race of those protesting. And if you have to go back 50 years to find “evidence” I’d say you’re reaching pretty hard.

                2. Scout

                  But the Producer of the Apprentice wouldn’t.

                  “MCEVERS: But then Bill Pruitt says Donald Trump started saying inappropriate things on the set. You might remember; Bill Pruitt is the guy who tweeted about all this right after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape last October of Trump saying grab women by the you-know. Pruitt tweeted, I assure you, when it comes to the hashtag #TrumpTapes, there are far worse. And now is the first time Bill Pruitt has talked about what’s on those tapes, though he can’t go into too much detail. He did sign a non-disclosure agreement. He says it happened when Trump and the producers would talk about who to fire.

                  Was it just about women…

                  PRUITT: No.

                  MCEVERS: …Mostly about women.

                  PRUITT: Very much a racist issue.

                  MCEVERS: It was about race…

                  PRUITT: Yeah.

                  MCEVERS: …About African-Americans, Jewish people, all of the above.

                  PRUITT: Yep. When you heard these things, there’s the audible gasp that is quickly followed by a cough, kind of like (gasping), you know, and then (coughing) – yes, anyway, you know? And then you just sort of carry on.”

                  From Here:

                3. Doug Ross

                  Oh. well that settles it then. A guy says Trump said something racist but doesn’t say what it was. That makes Trump a white supremacist. Got it.

                4. Scout

                  Actually what makes it more than likely (rather than settled) is the preponderance of many data points that show a clear pattern. Yes, I cited what one guy, who was in a position to know, said to counter because you put forth one person’s perspective, as if that settled it.

                  But it doesn’t. Omarosa is the outlier here.

                  The most convincing evidence is the man’s own behavior and words many times over, but there are enough other corroborating accounts like the one from this producer and like his company’s documented discriminatory rental policies in the 70’s that make it more than likely.

                5. Doug Ross

                  So to be clear, you believe that Donald Trump is a white supremacist. Not just a run of the mill racist. A white supremacist.

                6. Doug Ross

                  And that he has been a white supremacist going back to the 70’s when his company was charged with unfair practices when it came to renting/selling homes. Since then he has been a practicing white supremacist.

                7. Doug Ross

                  You know how you can identify a white supremacist? He will tell you he’s a white supremacist. Gladly.

                8. Claus2

                  “and like his company’s documented discriminatory rental policies in the 70’s that make it more than likely.”

                  Got anything more current than 45 years ago?

          1. Bob Amundson

            I understand the concept of disruption to force change in both business and government; much is written about both (about 5.4 M hits for “disruptive innovation in business” and about 1.6 M hits for “disruptive innovation in government”). IMHO, disruptive innovation that forgets the “Pottery Barn” rule (you break it, you own it) is harmful, while disruptive innovation that occurs without breaking “stuff” is often a great way to change/innovate.

            POTUS has succeeded in business with the former (it seems he has bullied his way to the top); he seems intent on succeeding as President by breaking “stuff.” We need a leader that understands the latter …

        2. bud

          Doug, I can’t speak for anyone but bud but I spend far more time agonizing over Trumps horrible policy stuff than his juvenile insults. But the 2 things are not unrelated. It is especially cringeworthy that he’s provoking the North Koreans. W did a great deal of unnecessary provocation, remember the axis of evil nonsense. (North Korea ended up with nukes as a result) But Trump is a whole order of magnitude more dangerous. The odds of war with North Korea and/or Iran are now at least 50/50. Given your passivist nature this should be very disturbing. At the minimum we’re already getting more involved by the day in military actions. It’s been quiet but real. North Korea won’t be so quiet.

          1. Doug Ross

            Things would have been pretty similar with Hillary in the White House. Kim would make some bold threats, Hillary would say “we won’t tolerate it”… sabres would rattle… and then we’d repeat everything that has been going on for years. Obama did nothing to control Kim.

            Kim doesn’t want to die. He knows any actual act of aggression would be met with the decimation of his country and him along with it.

  2. Mark Stewart

    I’m curious, how is your bot issue these days?

    It seems like maybe there is an explanation for it, beyond someone seeing an easy target for a nonsensical, nonproductive, pointless attack – but I couldn’t imagine what it might be – beyond that proverbial 400 lb teenager isolated in his rooom.

    But then the pieces fell into place. You have here something of interest given your content and, especially, your location. I mean in the heart of a red state…

    So last night listening to the news of Bannon’s declaration of a GOP “civil war” I thought, no, this isn’t that at all. It’s a proxy war, too. That’s what we are facing; not all of this is internal social/political impulses at play. And the quicker we uncover and discredit the treasonous parties the better – the calculating as well as the witless tools…

      1. Mark Stewart

        No, I meant the politicians that seem to not get what’s going on. Like Devin Nunes and all those apologists. Lindsey Graham, even. Certainly the current SC Governor has lost his wits…

        I was curious. The extent of the Russian meddling in our political process and discourse – in one for or another – seems to be breathtakingly extensive at this point. FB, Twitter, Google search, 21 states (at least), etc. The idea that your blog was hit by bots to drive that to such a substantial portion of your host’s total content volume just seemed odd. I didn’t really get it. But then in the context of a skeptical blog in one of Trump’s earliest Red State wins it sort of made more sense. Not much, but did seem to fit more into an explainable pattern. Maybe?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I thought you meant “witless” in the sense that people in the intelligence world speak of “witting” and “unwitting” — as when a former acting CIA chief asserted that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation”…

          It doesn’t mean you’re necessarily stupid (although it MAY mean that); it just means you’re unaware of how you are being used…

          1. Mark Stewart

            Right. That’s what I meant. I wasn’t calling them morons. Just dupes, stooges… something like that.

            Mentioning Henry might have been a bit gratuitous.

            1. Mark Stewart

              Unfortunately, we are on the path to finding out just how witting Trump himself actually was. Given his personality and self-conception I think unwitting is not at all likely…

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            That was in August 2016. Veteran intelligence officer Michael Morell also said a that time that Trump “would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief” based on his “obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law.”

            He had a really good read on him….

            1. Bart Rogers

              A very good indication of how Trump responds to criticism was again evidenced by his reaction to the criticism about the soldiers killed in Niger and Trump not calling the families. He said “his generals” told him that the POTUS doesn’t always call the families of fallen soldiers and that he wanted to give the families time before contacting them. He mentioned Obama and originally said he didn’t call or contact the families. This was a blatant lie or the repetition of one if indeed “his generals” told him what he claimed.

              GWB and Obama made it a point to contact or call fallen soldiers’ families on a regular basis. Obama visited many families and attended many functions honoring the fallen soldiers. GWB and Barbara made it a point to meet soldiers returning from duty during his presidency and well afterwards. If correct, they still do.

              Doug is correct on one point, the 24/7 obsession with anything Trump is becoming tiresome. I think by now everyone in the world with the exception of his hard core supporters understands he is not anywhere near the “prototypical” POTUS we have become accustomed to. He never has fit the mold and never will. All too many believe we needed a “businessman” in the White House. Well, we have what is supposed to be a “businessman” but one that is a total flake when it comes to executing the protocol and diplomatic requirements and expectations of the office. His usual practice is to “shoot first, aim later” and even then, his aim is still off.

              But, I stand by my position that Trump may very well be re-elected in 2020.

              1. Doug Ross

                “But, I stand by my position that Trump may very well be re-elected in 2020.”

                It will all depend on the economy. If unemployment remains in the 4-5 range and consumer confidence remains high (highest since 2004), Trump will have a shot.

                Anyway, what are Democrats going to run on in 2018 in the midterms? More “We Hate Trump”? If the economy is still cooking, how do they say they can improve it? They have no leadership, no ideas, no cohesive set of issues to run on. They can’t even get on board with single payer.

              2. bud

                Perhaps but I think the odds are against it.

                . It seems extremely unlikely that Hillary voters will ever vote for him. That puts him in minority status from the get go.
                . Trump voters were older and more likely to be dead than Hillary voters.
                . The proportion of white voters, the vast majority of Trump voters, continues to decline.
                . Trumps approval rating, even with a 17 year low unemployment rate, remains below 40%. Even a small downturn in the economy will begin to alienate even his base.
                . The ongoing sexual misconduct allegation will catch up with Trump among female voters.

                Mitigating against these headwinds are the continued voter suppression efforts which cost Hillary Wisconsin an NC. Also, the right wing smear machine will ramp up the lies against the dem nominee as they did with Hillary. And we have the unfortunate electoral college to deal with again. All things considered Trump has to be regarded as a serious underdog. But much can happen in 3 years. Comey II?

                1. Doug Ross

                  And what (or whom) do the Democrats have to offer in response? It has to be a woman or other minority, right? Who is on the bench ready to lead the nation (all of it, not just the various splinter groups that make up the Democratic Party).

                  As long as Pelosi and Schumer are the faces of the Democratic Party, Trump has a chance.

                2. Mark Stewart

                  Adam Schiff is making a pretty compelling argument that he ought to be in the running for the democrats.

                3. Doug Ross

                  The fact that I, someone who pays pretty good attention to what’s going on, don’t have any idea who Adam Schiff is means he is unlikely to be President in three years.

                4. Doug Ross

                  Ok, so now I see he is a white middle aged Jewish lawyer congressman from California.

                  Good luck with winning the rust belt back.

                5. bud

                  Doug what you fail utterly to see is that it may not even be necessary to win back the rust belt. Given that Trump is just never going to make inroads into Hillary voters, as evidenced by approval ratings, all Adam Schiff has to do is gain a tad with Hispanic voters in places like Florida, Arizona and North Carolina. The rust belt states will be in play of course but they are not essential for a Democrat to win.

                  If Trump can’t get more that 38% approval with a 4.2% unemployment rate what happens when that goes to 5 or 6? When have we ever gone 15+ years without a recession? Anything is possible of course and maybe this will be that time. He will have zero chance with a 6% unemployment rate. On top of that Trump is so incredibly unlikable, with Hillary being the only person in America even close to being as unlikable, I suspect he’ll shed at least some of his voters once the election rolls around. He can no longer be regarded as the outsider candidate which is really what his only appeal was last year.

                6. Doug Ross

                  You have to have a candidate, bud. That’s how it works. Hillary was a lock 18 months ago and brought more experience to the table than ANYONE on the Democrat bench right now.

                  If you think any generic Democrat beats Trump, good luck with that. The dynamics of the 2020 election are going to be a lot different than 2016 when it was Hillary’s coronation with Bernie just a sideshow and Obama in the White House to help out where he could. 2020 is a blank slate right now. No viable candidate exists. No platform (except NotTrump) exists. You’ve got a splintered group of “what about me?” factions who all want their own personal issues addressed. How many candidates will be on the first debate stage? 10?

                  Actually the best shot the Democrats have is a TV personality – Mark Cuban. I’d seriously consider voting for him.

                7. Mark Stewart

                  Actually, all the Democrats – or the Republicans for that matter – need is a well-spoken, thoughtful leader with something positive to say that is not divisive, petty, self-aggrandizing or a lie. Anyone with the competency to be President, and to act Presidential, can beat Trump at this point.

                  Mark Cuban is certainly NOT that person. But I see why you would like him.

                8. Doug Ross

                  “Mark Cuban is certainly NOT that person. ”

                  Why? I’d like to hear what disqualifies him. Because he yells at referees?

                  I like him because I’ve been following him through his blog and through Twitter for many years – long before Shark Tank. He’s got a great rags to riches story.

                9. Doug Ross

                  Whoever the nominee must also be able to withstand a level of media attention that they have never experienced before… times 1000. Who out there can withstand the social media deluge that will be even worse in 2020? Can the nominee run without Obama’s support? What about Hillary? Does the 2020 candidate want Hillary out there (if she’s able) rallying people? Who can generate the billion dollars of campaign contributions that will be required? Kamala Harris? Elizabeth Warren? Tim Kaine? Corey Booker?

                  Try to deal with reality and not hopes and dreams.

  3. Doug Ross

    From Ron Aiken’s Quorom:

    “Two women, one currently indicted and the other under Attorney General and FBI investigation, together have received $1.2 million in public funds since 2010 from Richland County Councilman Norman Jackson either directly or through his advocacy, including 98 percent of the $350,000 in hospitality-tax money Jackson personally has allocated since 2015, financial records obtained by Quorum show.

    Through her two separate two LLCs — Carolina Consultants Group and the Pinewood Lake Park Foundation — Liewendelyn Hart has received $730,000 from Richland County from 2013 through this fiscal year, $255,000 of which has come from Jackson’s direct allotment. Since 2010, SCALE, Inc.’s Patricia “Pat” Ford has received $420,000, $195,000 of which went to MoBay Restaurant to organize and run the Carolina Sunsplash Festival from 2014-2017 with SCALE acting as a fiscal pass-through agent since hospitality-tax money cannot go to private businesses.

    The concentration of such large sums to just two individuals over the past three years especially was a “big red flag” to investigators who spoke to Quorum on condition of anonymity.

    With more than 70 groups across Richland County receiving hospitality tax awards last year and Richland County Council members exercising direct personal control over approximately $373,000 apiece since 2015, Council members spread that wealth to an average of 13 different groups last year with a high of 27 (Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson), records show.”

    Why should ANY single member of the Council have the ability to direct funds to any organization? That’s like having a slush fund either to buy votes or route into their own pockets. Every expenditure of H-TAX funds should be voted on by the entire council. Well, actually, there shouldn’t be any H-TAX funds to start with… it’s a way to funnel money to organizations based on political connections . It should be abolished.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I agree — on requiring a vote to spend the funds.

      I don’t agree on doing away with the tax — not until the Legislature lets local governments enact whatever taxes they choose.

      The state should get out of the way of local governments, and let local councils tax and spend in accordance with the wishes of their constituents.

      The H-tax is just another example of the Legislature saying, OK, we’ll let you raise this little tax to be spent on this particular purpose approve by US…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          It’s not entirely that simple. I think the law allows for paying for a lot of basic functions that might bear on tourism — such as increased police presence, which is certainly a basic governmental function.

          But I may be remembering wrong. That might be the accommodations tax. I get them confused.

          In any case, I don’t like these special little taxes allowed by the state. Lawmakers should get out of the way and let local elected officials pay for local services as they see fit, and let local voters decide what they think of the decisions.

          As it is, local officials can claim with credibility that their hands are tied by the restrictions that the state places on the funds…

          1. Doug Ross

            “and let local voters decide what they think of the decisions.”

            Except it doesn’t work that way. How many voters even know that Norman Jackson funneled money to two questionable charities? How many care? The State newspaper has abdicated its role in informing the public on these kinds of activities (but they do have time to waste on a story about a stolen camper).

            Who is going to run against Jackson that can beat him? The decision for 95% of incumbents has already been made once they get in.

            1. Claus2

              Do you live in Lexington County? Do you really want to get rid of it so your property taxes can go up? Remember a few years ago when they dropped by almost 50% because of the hospitality tax? Is that a bad thing now?

              1. Mark Stewart

                388 is an abomination and it is only hamstringing the state more and more as the years pass.

                BTW – the only people who really benefit reside on the coast. I used to say around Lake Murray and so forth, too, but really it’s only a few coastal locations that continue to see strong and steady price appreciation. Most of the state is up, but relatively speaking flat. So if you’re cool with subsidizing Yankee retirees then no point in expecting you to read up on the issue to any depth.

                1. Richard

                  Got any ocean front property in Lexington County?

                  I’m sure you convinced any South Carolinian who’d listen once you said “Yankee retirees”. Do you own a Rebel flag?

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “Do you own a Rebel flag?”

                  I don’t know about Mark, but I do. Real nice one, too.

                  It used to fly over the State House, before the “compromise” of 2000.

                  It was given to me by… wait for it… Sen. John Courson…

                  It’s somewhere in my home office, in the box in which he presented it to me….

        1. Doug Ross

          Sad is reserved for tragedies. This is self-inflicted unethical behavior. It’s a great day when it can be exposed and the perpetrators are held accountable. I’ll reserve saying it’s sad until they are either acquitted.

          Now if they want to admit their guilt and seek forgiveness now before dragging out a long court battle, maybe that would deserve some sympathy. But John Courson and his lawyer are doing a disservice to the people of the state by trying to find some technicality to prevent a trial. If he’s innocent, dispute the evidence, not the process.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            You misunderstand me. Sure, it’s an unhappy situation for those involved, but I mean sad for South Carolina.

            As I pointed out a moment ago, this isn’t like Lost Trust. That went after the Fat and Ugly Caucus, a bunch of guys who reveled in their own sleaze. While there were some surprises in those indictments, I think the only real shock was the guilty plea of John I. Rogers.

            This is bringing down trusted people like Courson. And when things like that happen, it’s a sad day. That is, it is for those of us who aren’t complete cynics who think people who serve in government are by definition a bunch of crooks…

            1. Doug Ross

              “This is bringing down trusted people like Courson. ”

              Maybe you just were mistaken in your trust of Courson. He brought himself down. Not in a momentary lapse but in a series of transactions. You can’t be a little bit unethical.

              I’ll stop being a cynic when they stop indicting so many legislators for bad behavior. My view is validated every day.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                “My view is validated every day.”

                No, Doug, it isn’t. Because every day, most officeholders go out there and do the best they can according to their own lights. Most people are not crooks, and that goes for most politicians.

                The total sleazebags — Trump, for instance — stand out from the crowd. And yeah, I know you believe otherwise, which is why you delude yourself that Trump is no big deal.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Where’s the indictments of Trump? Any day now, right?

                  People in positions of power in politics rarely get there without doing something unethical. I don’t think all politicians are crooks, just many of those who have been in office for more than a decade. The office offers too many incentives to cheat.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Who said anything about indictments of Trump? Do you actually believe that you have to break the law to be completely unfit for office?

                  And this is not true: “People in positions of power in politics rarely get there without doing something unethical.”

                  I’ll tell you what IS true: People seldom accomplish anything in life without doing things I disapprove of, things I wish they hadn’t done. You think that makes them automatically unacceptable people, whom should never be endorsed or supported. I know that it simply makes them human.

                  I think I’m somewhat more inclined than some people to see that because I don’t EXPECT to agree with everything someone does. Partisans expect that (and they go through mental gymnastics to make themselves agree with folks of their party), but I don’t. I know I’m going to be disappointed, so when I am, it doesn’t rock my world view…

                3. Claus2

                  “People seldom accomplish anything in life without doing things I disapprove of, things I wish they hadn’t done.”

                  Okay, you start… what did you do? Or did you not accomplish anything in life? This sounds a lot like guilty until proven innocent.

                4. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Most of the things I regret doing would take a lot of explaining.

                  Let me see if I can think of a simple one…

                  OK, I wish we hadn’t been so supportive of Mark Sanford when he ran for governor in 2002. That’s one everybody should understand without telling a long story.

                  Although, even on something like that, I can make excuses…

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