Open Thread for Thursday, November 16, 2017

Apparently, Al Franken thought this was funny.

Apparently, Al Franken thought this was funny.

Some possible topics — but as always, feel free to introduce your own:

  1. Wal-Mart Posts Strongest U.S. Sales in Nearly a Decade — So that’s who’s been doing so well in this economy. Sorry if you can’t pull up the story; I don’t have access to WSJ these days, either. But what I could see said this was the retailer’s “strongest quarterly U.S. sales growth in nearly a decade” and that it was “boosted by a big jump in ecommerce and strong store traffic.”
  2. After Tokyo Commuter Train Leaves 20 Seconds Early, Company Apologizes — Yeah, we get it — yours is a very conscientious culture. But come on; lighten up. You’re forgiven (even though, in my book, leaving early is way worse than waiting a minute).
  3. Senate bill would cut taxes for millionaires but hike them for the poor, working class — That’s according to the official assessment by the Joint Committee on Taxation.
  4. Senator Al Franken Apologizes After Groping Accusation — You know, I still haven’t adjusted to the idea of this guy being a U.S. senator. The above photo fits more closely to the way I think of him than his serious senator photos.
  5. Four Women Accuse Moore as Campaign Pushes Back — Four more that is, bringing it to nine. Who knew there were so many lyin’ women in Alabama? That Bernie Bernstein must be running out of money about now, huh? Of course, this leaves Moore WAY short of Donald Trump’s 16, but then, Trump is the Man… I guess I shouldn’t joke, since there are people reading this blog who actually think that way, which is no laughing matter.

102 thoughts on “Open Thread for Thursday, November 16, 2017

  1. Doug Ross

    It’s not just Wal-Mart. Amazon, Apple, hotel chains like Marriott are all doing well. When hotel chains do well, that is a sign that the economy is cooking. High occupancy rates combined with higher room rates = huge revenues. If you want a leading indicator of when the economy is turning down, watch those stocks.

    Reply
    1. Mark Stewart

      And before watching those stocks, watch the room rates oscillate.

      The hotel industry is tough to figure out though; high barrier to entry areas are the ones most sensitive to economic change (since they are usually where business gets done), while on the other hand, hotels in easy to compete with locations constantly fight new construction vacancy pressure for their more steady occupancy loads.

      Reply
  2. bud

    1. Ironic isn’t it? Republicans can’t get anything passed and the economy prospers. Perhaps doing nothing is a good strategy when nothing needs doing.

    Reply
  3. bud

    4. Sad to see Franken has a creepy side. No Democrats will defend this. Not even Franken. Not too many defending Moore any longer. Ditto Cosby, Weinstein, Weiner, Spacey or any other creeper out there. The lone exception seems to be Donald Trump. Why is that?

    Reply
  4. JesseS

    Franken should go. He tongue kissed her without her consent after objections. There is literal photographic evidence of him sexually engaging an unconscious woman (even if it was meant as a joke, there was an obvious fixation there). If the left is going to take a zero tolerance stance, it has to take a zero tolerance stance here. Not taking that stance would be hypocrisy.

    If it were a case of slapping a woman’s bottom in 1974 I could give it a pass. It was a different time, right? Instead it was 2006, the same year as the Abu Ghraib photos. It was a time when the world clearly knew better.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Who, oh who would those people in Minnesota vote into office next? Is PeeWee Herman from Minnesota? Maybe Jesse Ventura would be available.

      Reply
    2. bud

      JesseS I’ll trade you Al Franken for Donald Trump. Given the allegations against Trump are worse than against Franken that is a just outcome.

      Reply
      1. JesseS

        I get the feeling you think I’m looking at this from a left/right standpoint and I’m just regurgitating right-wing talking points. Here is my deal, modern progressivism takes a 100% zero tolerance stance on things like unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and rape. I’d say it can be a scorched earth view at times with a very sharp and very broad sword getting flung around, but whatever –it’s the way we’ve culturally decided to move forward on this.

        Granted I think the near future isn’t going to be terribly comfortable for straight white men, but in the long term it will be worth it. We have a long way to go until this starts to get stupid and someone claims sexual harassment in the public sphere when a man clicks the “like” button on a woman’s dating site profile without getting her written permission first (though I’d imagine the alt-right and 4Chan are already working on that sock puppet and the cultural far-left will be more than happy to assist with gasoline and matches). Until then there is a lot of really, really messed up stuff we men need to be taken to task for.

        Now isn’t the time to say, “This reaction is too much”. Now is the time to say, “Heads must roll, even if it’s my own”. The price of that very sharp and very broad sword is that it can just as easily be wielded by the right to take down any kind of misconduct on the left. I can live with that. No mercy. No quarter.

        Is this an obvious hit on Franken by the right? Of course! Does that matter? No.

        Do I wish progressivism hadn’t have forged such a deadly weapon, in much the same way a racist deserves no quarter in the modern world (and it’s very easy to define anyone as racist)? That’s irrelevant at this point.

        Franken should resign. Moore should be in prison. Trump should be impeached. It’s that simple.

        Reply
  5. Captain of the Train

    “(even though, in my book, leaving early is way worse than waiting a minute)”

    The Blue Peter had been hoisted, and we were about to miss our tide. There was not a moment to lose, for all love’s sake. We could not tarry a moment longer for stragglers.

    Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        The Blue Peter, as people familiar with naval history know, was a flag that ships would fly, back in the days of sailing ships, to let everyone ashore know that the ship was about to weigh anchor and depart. It was a signal to any crewmen still ashore that they needed to come aboard RIGHT NOW…

        Reply
  6. Bryan Caskey

    On the Franken thing, it’s really in poor taste, but it’s not a real grope, it’s a pretend grope. She’s wearing a flak vest which has an armor plate in it.

    But yeah, he shouldn’t have done that. Luckily, he’s a Democrat, so it won’t be a big deal. It’s not like he said “Binders full of women” while being a Republican.

    Reply
    1. Claus2

      “On the Franken thing, it’s really in poor taste, but it’s not a real grope, it’s a pretend grope. She’s wearing a flak vest which has an armor plate in it.”

      Okay… she’s your daughter, wife, sister… still feel the same way? He may not have felt anything but she did.

      Reply
      1. Bryan Caskey

        Right, that’s why I said it’s in poor taste. It’s using bad judgment and not thinking about the consequences of actions, which is something I expect out of teenagers. But it’s not something I would get that bent out of shape over.

        Caveat: If this was a family member of mine, my indignation would be proportional to the level of anger felt by my family member.

        And as a wise man once said: Never take sides against the family.

        Reply
    2. bud

      Seriously? Donald Trump has been given a free pass for his numerous groping incidents. I could elaborate for many paragraphs on how the Democrats catch far, far more flak than Republicans in scandaland. But what’s the point, conservatives prefer alternate fact over reality.

      Reply
  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    Y’all, I feel bad I didn’t have any local items for this thread. Maybe y’all can suggest something.

    I mean, I made the effort the last couple of posts, but no one was interested.

    But I wasn’t just doing affirmative action there. Those posts — about McMaster clinging to Trump, and Ms. Templeton to Bannon — reflect a serious concern.

    These people are not by nature extremists — at least, they didn’t used to be. McMaster was THE establishment Republican in the 2010 race, long before he went Trump. In that same year, Catherine Templeton voted for Vincent Sheheen.

    And yet they’re both running so hard out into right field — and beyond, up into the cheap seats in the bleachers — that the Republicans simply don’t have a viable mainstream option.

    And since Republicans generally win these elections, that’s very bad news for South Carolina…

    Reply
  8. Claus2

    “And since Republicans generally win these elections, that’s very bad news for South Carolina…”

    Brad, your Democrat is showing…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Nope. I just stated a fact. Since Republicans usually win elections here, it’s very bad for us if all the Republican candidates start going off the deep end. We need some Republicans like Carroll Campbell, and look at what we’re getting now…

      Reply
      1. Richard

        Well you could reach out to “Tumpy” Campbell, didn’t he try to run for office but was humiliated because he had absolutely no political experience?

        Reply
  9. Bill

    The fake sex scandals have gone over the top; who cares…It’s like Carlos Castenada or something, gee whiz…, but Mea Culpa to Doug for that time on the bus…

    Reply
  10. Richard

    Steve Benjamin banning bump stocks from city limits. So does this mean I can now shoot rifles within city limits as long as they don’t have a bump stock?

    Reply
  11. bud

    The biggest story of the week by far is the Trump administration lifting the ban on the importation of elephant heads. There needs to be a special place in hell for people that encourage the senseless slaughter of these semi-endangered animal.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      Well that’s a lot of fake news. They lifted the ban from one country under specific guidelines that were established years ago based on the conservation measures in place. Zimbabwe met the guidelines. Hunting to control animal population is valid. And the money that goes into the poorest countries in the world to provide safari services is welcomed there.

      Always predictable in your utter bias.

      Reply
      1. bud

        What an absolutely disgusting thing to defend. There are far better ways to manage elephant populations, if that is even a problem, than to allow spoiled rich kids like Donald Jr. to cravenly slaughter these magnificent animals in order to satisfy some sick kind of fetish. There has been a substantial black market for animal tusks of all kinds that needs to be discouraged. Anything that imbues this kind of activity with some sort of false validation is both inappropriate and counter to proper conservation efforts.

        Reply
        1. Doug Ross

          It’s done in the U.S. for wolves, bear, and bison… are you suggesting those programs for controlling the size of packs and herds are also disgusting?

          If you want to blame anyone, don’t blame Trump. Blame the bureaucrats in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who have established the policies that allow it. Unless you seriously think that Trump sits around in his spare time coming up the endangered species regulations.

          Reply
        2. Richard

          bud you don’t have the first clue as to how this works. The animals selected for culling are ones that are old, of no use to the maintenance of the herd, animals kicked out of the herd, troublemakers that hurt others in the herd, etc… They don’t just let a hunter come in and pick and choose which one they want to shoot… well they may for things like water buffalo or zebras where there are hundreds of thousands. For animals like elephants, lions, giraffes, etc… they tell you which one to shoot. I know a guy who went on a lion hunt (not the shooter), he said it was more like putting it out of it’s misery than hunting. The tens of thousands of dollars are put back into the preservation, to hire guards who keep poachers out and the meat is used to feed locals.

          You state there are far better ways to manage these populations… please elaborate.

          Reply
      2. Bryan Caskey

        Yeah, Doug’s right about this. Managed hunting reduces the pressure on land being converted from its natural state to cattle ranching or agricultural cultivation. If you want to preserve Africa in its natural state, rather than having it converted to farmland, you need to provide incentives to do so.

        In the absence of any regulated and managed hunting, landowners and the local population see wildlife as threats and are going to kill them. Without any stake in the conservation of wildlife, there’s no reason that the locals are going to conserve the population of lions and tigers. You know, because wild tigers and lions are sort of dangerous.

        However, managed hunting puts money in the pockets of landowners and probably also raises the standard of living for nearby rural people who will see ancillary economic benefits. It also encourages the conservation and incentivizes the managed growth of the wildlife population. If people are going to pay $50,000 – $60,000 to come hunt a lion or tiger, it’s going to encourage the African government and population to protect these animals.

        In a well-managed system, money from the hunting licenses would go towards managing the animal population, paying game wardens to protect against poachers, and otherwise benefit the country without hurting the animal population. For example, if you have an older lion that is no longer breeding, that would be an appropriate animal to issue a license for.

        You’ve got to get a handle on corruption in the licensing system, and manage the amount of licenses given, but if done correctly, it can be a benefit for the people, the animals, and the hunters.

        The right answer is smart policy and good management.

        Reply
        1. bud

          The problem isn’t too many elephants but too many people encroaching on their habitat. The African elephant population is perhaps 10-20% what it was in 1900. What is desparetly needed is an aggressive birth control program for Africa. We don’t need to return to the barbaric days of importing elephant heads.

          Reply
          1. Richard

            “What is desparetly needed is an aggressive birth control program for Africa. ”

            You do know that making that statement in these days could be considered a racist statement.

            Reply
  12. Harry Harris

    Grope, grope, harass all over the headlines. Plans to stiff the main body of citizens in the tax bill, obliterated by the distractions. I’m not a groper; I’ve never been a groper, but it doesn’t rise (or sink) to the level of hoodwinking the country to fatten the already fat cats. Of course, the country and press will continue to neither seek out the facts nor prominently expose the facts regarding the tax bill as long as there’s sex to talk about.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Hey, I had the tax bill on the list! Have to admit, though, I didn’t care much about it until, totally gratuitously, they threw in the thing about removing the healthcare mandate. They must have sat around thinking, “How can we completely tick Brad off?” Well, they had to reach; they had to go completely off the rails, but they found a way…

      Reply
      1. Richard

        I’ve lived in the area for nearly 25 years, this has been going on the entire time I’ve lived here… why is it suddenly a problem now?

        Reply
          1. Richard

            I thought there were laws on the books where a train couldn’t block an intersection for a period of time… like an hour. If they blocked it for two hours, then issue a ticket to the railroad.

            Reply
    1. bud

      That’s one of big pet peeves. We go on and on about widening some road but the trains continue to plague traffic around Williams Brice Stadium. The ultimate solution would be expensive but well worth it.

      Reply
        1. Mark Stewart

          Actually, the roads are state highways. You’ll chip in your share; just as it should be.

          Does that change your opinion of the need to deconflict the rails?

          Reply
          1. Richard

            Assembly Street is a state highway? Well I guess I learned something today. The thing I know is the engineer who designed this is an idiot for not putting in an overpass on one of the busiest streets in the city.

            So what was there first, the street or the track?

            Reply
    2. Mr. Smith

      I don’t live in Columbia. But in multiple visits there, I’ve always found it strange that trains still rumble right through downtown the way they do. You don’t see that in Greenville or Spartanburg or, so far as I know, Charleston. Even most of the small towns that used to have tracks running right through the middle of them don’t any more. Why is Columbia still so small town that way?

      Reply
  13. Harry Harris

    I remember remarking to my wife back in the 1970’s that if those trains were in a city up north, somebody would blow up the tracks. It’s a shame to disrupt traffic in a major city the way they do. Glad some officials are getting involved at least in the complaining. It’s likely a part of a grossly underdeveloped infrastructure in a tax-averse state.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      This reminds me of the developers whining about the chicken plant in West Columbia. Who was there first? The railroad tracks or the developers around the tracks?

      Reply
  14. Doug Ross

    Secretary of State office in South Carolina “forgot” to attach state seal to bills for years making them constitutionally invalid.

    Cue bud saying this level of incompetence goes on in the private sector in 3..2..1

    Reply
    1. bud

      Not to disappoint, of course it does. Doug do you have nothing better to do than sit around finding anything wrong about government? In my own personal experience I can say the list of incompetence I come across daily in the private sector far exceeds that of government.

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        Give me a comparable situation to this major screw up that resulted in government employees from being fired. The Secretary of State should resign for this mistake made over YEARS on his watch. And whoever was responsible for affixing the seal to the laws should be fired. Think it will happen?

        And I don’t have to sit around looking for these stories. They happen every day with pretty much every government agency I come in contact with. At least in the private sector, I get a mix of good and bad.

        Reply
      2. Richard

        The only difference, is in the private sector these people get fired and the business goes under when this type of stuff happens. In government, it gets swept under the rug and the guy gets promoted.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          You mean like with the nuclear plant mess, where the head of the public utility was pushed out immediately and the private utility guys managed to hang on for another couple of months? Like that?

          Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Harvey Weinstein.

              Lillian McBride is a perfect example of a serious flaw in governmental structure — one I’ve been going on about, specifically, since 1991.

              You know why it doesn’t change? Because the public doesn’t demand it. Why? Because the public doesn’t understand the issue. So lawmakers say, “Not one of my constituents has ever said a word to me about getting rid of special purpose districts. My constituents want me to do something about X or Y or Z, and THAT’S what I’m going to apply myself to…”

              And the public gripes and moans, and think this is just “the way government is.” But that’s not right. With the election commission and the recreation district, we’re talking about a specific design flaw that could be fixed if we just did away with all single-county SPDs. (Multi-county ones, such as the one that runs the zoo or an airport, can actually make some sense, since there’s a need to administer them across jurisdictions.)

              There ARE things wrong with our democracy. And one of them, in certain instances, is that it’s become too democratic. Lawmakers run around trying to address whatever stupid thing the public is upset about today, and it never has to do with the basic structure of governmental entities.

              That’s why I’m really pleased when I run across a lawmaker, or a candidate, who seems to get it. It’s why I was so pleased with my new representative, Micah Caskey (and why I decided not to run against him). For that matter, the guy he beat in the primary runoff would also have been good — Tem Miles. If anything, Tem was even more interested in addressing fundamental structural problems in government than Micah.

              I don’t know why it works that way, but it’s something I noticed almost every election cycle when I was doing endorsement interviews at The State: A small handful of districts seem to attract more than their share of good candidates, while others struggle to come up with even one….

              But I digress…

              Reply
          1. Richard

            “the private utility guys managed to hang on for another couple of months”

            You mean 30-60 days? OMG!!! The outrage!!!

            Reply
              1. Richard

                Public, they’re civil servants servicing the public… or at least that’s what they like to tell us. Just one level below sainthood.

                Reply
  15. Karen Pearson

    I would have been trapped in here (the Olympia area) for those 2 hours had I been in here at that time. We had trouble getting back in around 9:15. What if there had been a fire, or a medical emergency? Perhaps someone could have gotten in by taking I-77 to Bluff, and coming in that way, unless of course the train that runs by Olympia school was stopped and waiting for the tracks to clear. Maybe they’ll do something once they realize that they now have a whole bunch of college kids who could be trapped.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Assembly street isn’t the only route into the Olympia area. Also if necessary the police/fire department can notify the train crew and require them to uncouple to let emergency traffic pass.

      Reply
      1. Karen Pearson

        Try having Huger, Assembly Whaley, and Rosewood all blocked at once. If you were having some type of CVA would you care to wait until they uncounted cars to get help?

        Reply
            1. Bryan Caskey

              One train blocking another train? Barring some sort of emergency/breakdown, that seems like some poor planning on the part of the train people.

              Caveat: My train experience is limited to setting up the model train that goes around the Christmas tree.

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                My grandson could show you how to set it up so that one blocks the other. You have to do that if you’re going to do any “crashing and booming,” which he’s definitely going to do.

                My understanding is that two trains left their separate yards at about the same time, and there was no traffic coordination…

                Reply
                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Here’s what The State reported:

                  Two trains that departed around the same time from their yards were the cause of the gridlock in Columbia that nearly paralyzed traffic around several neighborhoods for more than hour.

                  Tracks from CSX and Norfolk Southern cross over each other in Columbia, officials said. And on Wednesday, trains from each company met each other in the middle of morning rush hour, snarling traffic for commuters.

                  Usually trains are schedule to leave at separate times, said Susan Terpay, spokeswoman for Norfolk Southern. But that was not the case on Wednesday.

                  “This situation was unusual, and we are working to make sure that it does not occur again,” Terpay said. “Norfolk Southern apologizes to the community for the delays and will work to avoid inconveniences in the future.”…

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I’m not sure. I know my Dad’s already gotten him something I think he’ll like. I don’t know if he’s totally focused on the Christmas thing yet. First there’s his sister’s birthday in early December, then I guess they’ll be thinking more about Christmas…

              2. bud

                One train blocking another train? Barring some sort of emergency/breakdown, that seems like some poor planning on the part of the train people.

                In Doug world someone will surely get fired since these are private companies.

                Reply
                1. Barry

                  If you think it’s hard to fire family members working in the same state agency, try watching the fiasco that is trying to fire family members working for the same private company- wowza……………

  16. Doug Ross

    88 year old John Conyers, the longest serving Democrat member of the House, has now been exposed as another serial sexual harasser.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/11/21/conyers-sexual-misconduct/883902001/

    The story reveals numerous payoffs – including paying one woman as a staff member who didn’t work rather than pay her out of funds set aside by Congress for harassment claims.

    He should be gone from office TODAY. But instead all we will hear is “Trump”.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “But instead all we will hear is ‘Trump’.”

      Really? Where have you been? To whom are you listening? All I’ve been hearing about the last couple of days has been Al Franken and Charlie Rose. Oh, and Glenn Thrush.

      I’m not following what you’re saying at all.

      Of course, if we WERE hearing more about Trump (also, incidentally, a “serial harasser” by his own word) that would be appropriate, since he’s in far more of a position to do harm in this world than this Conyers guy.

      Oh, and you meant “DemocratIC,” as in “longest-serving Democratic member of the House,” or if you prefer, “longest-serving Democrat in the House.”

      When you misuse “Democrat” that way you sound like a Republican — it’s almost like a password they use to recognize each other — and I know you’re not one of those…

      Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Sorry, but I’m going to point that out every time I run across it. It’s one of those things I hate like using “impact” as a verb — which, by the way, The State did today in a headline on the front page. Arrrggghhhh!

          Reply
            1. Claus2

              Well me and Brad do have a disagreement on how me don’t care, as long as he doesn’t do it to I, me doesn’t care.

              Reply
          1. Claus2

            Like… like why don ‘t you like do a story on that word and like how it’s used in like today’s everyday conversation.

            Reply
    2. Claus2

      He thought if Strom Thurmond could get away with it he could too.

      Why do we have 88 year old people running this country?

      Reply

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