Open Thread for Monday, January 22, 2018

shutdown

Not all that much going on:

  1. Senate passes spending bill, clearing way to end shutdown — For three week. Whoopee. Lindsey Graham sent out a release encased in the usual exclamation points: “! Graham Votes To End Government Shutdown !” But as he acknowledged, this is no win for the country. Personally, I think I’d be tempted to hide that I had anything to do with what’s happened up there.
  2. Who drops everything to watch such boring news live? — Admittedly, I’m not a fan of getting news via video. But I often wonder, when I see live feeds like the one pictured above, I have to wonder who stops everything to watch the Senate or the House vote on ending the stupid shutdown. It’s certainly not historic. We’ll be doing this again in three weeks. I’d as soon watch paint dry…
  3. Amazon Go: convenience and concern at new checkout-free corner shop — Technology is going to have to get better and smarter for me to trust a gimmick such as this. I mean, I love Alexa; she’s a lot of fun. But she’s not playing with a full deck. Last night I asked her to “play some Memphis soul,” and she had no idea what to do (even though Google and Wikipedia know exactly what I mean). To make it easy, I told her to play anything from Stax Records. She was totally flummoxed. Meanwhile, Netflix still doesn’t know what kind of movies I like.
  4. The State has a new editor — based in Raleigh — Newspapers are not what they used to be, and you can hardly point to more dramatic evidence of that than the fact that our own daily newspaper will be overseen by an editor in Raleigh. Someone who thinks “Carolina” is located in Chapel Hill. You know, like the paper was a Starbucks or something. At least that’s the way they make it sound. Yet there is still someone here with the title of executive editor. We’ll see what this all means as time passes. It will be extremely helpful when The State puts something on the front page explaining it all. That will be a start.

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67 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, January 22, 2018

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Also in the news:

    1. We know it will be Patriots/Eagles in the Superbowl. New England vs. Philadelphia. John Adams vs. Ben Franklin. A very American football game. I dig it. I also hope the Eagles win.

    2. Today in History (I love “Today in History”) the following things happened.

    A. Queen Victoria died in 1901. She had a 63 year reign, and most of her subjects had known no other monarch. Very similar to the current monarch. with QEII being crowned in 1953, there aren’t too many subjects who have living recollections of her father, George VI.

    B. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 (Roe v. Wade). And thus every Supreme Court nominee thereafter has been subjected to this litmus test.

    3. There is six feet of snow in Davos, as the world leaders are trapped in a snowbound Swiss town.

    4. Trump went forward with tariffs on washing machines and solar panels.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      All good topics. But you know how worked up folks get here when I mention abortion. But I might break that rule today, based on that thing you and I discussed via Twitter this a.m.

      John Adams would have been a baseball fan.

      I did take a picture of something football-related that I may post later…

      Reply
  2. bud

    1. The Democrats need a new mascot to replace the Donkey. How about a “cave”man. The fate of DACA is pretty much sealed at this point. There will be some token, face saving concession by the Dems but they have no shot at anything useful.

    4. WOLO tried broadcasting out of Charlotte for a while. That was a huge mistake. Not that WOLO was a big ratings success in Columbia but at least try to make a go of it. The State is really trying hard to completely become a non entity.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Does anyone know who watches WOLO news? Most people I know watch WIS or WLTX. How WIS remains above either one is beyond me, their crew now focuses too much on their cheesiness.

      Reply
  3. Norm Ivey

    I’ve got no problem with the Amazon Go store. Wal-Mart’s been working on similar technology for years. My money’s on Wal-Mart to make it feasible. It works at the library, doesn’t it? But then, I’m also one who would jump into an autonomous car without a concern. If technology is going to make my life easier, then bring it on.

    Reply
    1. Claus2

      How does this work if you don’t have the app on your smart phone? It looks like everyone who went into the Amazon store had to scan their phone as they entered the store.

      Reply
        1. Richard

          How soon before we see the lawyer behind the class action lawsuit for those without smart phones? CAL ads have over taken boner pill ads.

          Reply
  4. Karen Pearson

    It will be interesting to see if a long distance editor can improve on the current direction of The State. Right now it’s mostly the gamecock-sports-and-local-crime rag, so he could hardly do worse.

    Reply
  5. Karen Pearson

    Bud, I hope you are wrong, but I think you’re right. I don’t trust our current republican congress and/or administration to keep their word about anything.

    Reply
    1. Bart

      At this point, what does it matter anyway? Any political party that uses any issue that is not integral to approving the budget to keep the government funded is irresponsible and a betrayal to the citizens of this country. I don’t care if it is a dumb border wall or DACA, neither one is critical to keeping the government operating. This is a clear indication of what the politicians think of us and what so many consider more important that keeping the government funded. When it reaches that point, the question then becomes, “exactly what is the point of it all?” Peggy Lee’s song, “Is That All There Is?” may be very appropriate for this downright stupid series of events leading up to the shutdown.

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Modest proposal: How about if we have a constitutional amendment holding that if Congress can’t pass a budget by a certain date each year — not a continuing resolution, not a three-week stopgap, but an actual annual budget — every member loses his or her seat and special elections are held to replace them?

        Doug, who likes term limits, should like this proposal.

        Of course, if there were a chance of it becoming reality, I would balk. Making everybody in Congress a freshman would hand too much power to the executive — a particularly horrifying thought at this moment in our history.

        There’s a way you could sweeten it for me — elect the new members in top-two open primaries, like in California. But before that could work right, you’d have to un-gerrymander the districts.

        So a lot of ifs would have to click into place for me to go for it…

        Reply
        1. Bryan Caskey

          I’m good with that. Along those lines you could also have:

          1. Congress doesn’t get paid when there’s no budget, and there’s no retroactive pay for passing a late budget.
          2. Rather than having each member lose his or her seat, they’ll just have some percentage deducted from their vote totals. Longer without a budget means higher percentage deducted.
          3. No budget, no air conditioning or heat in either the US Capitol and Congressional offices.

          Reply
        2. Bart

          A clean budget without any provisions other than what is necessary to fund the government is the only acceptable move forward for me. No border wall unless Congress approves it. No funding for an EO unless Congress approves it. DACA is not a budget issue and should never be tied to one. And restrict any pork barrel adds to the budget unless it is something tied to an already existing budget line item and only then if it is voted on and approved.

          This shutdown left me feeling as if a gun was held to the heads of the citizens of this country who want an honest budget, not one that includes anything not essential. DACA and a border wall are not essential to funding the government.

          Reply
          1. Claus2

            No putting EBT/SNAP/WIC benefits into agriculture budgets. I don’t see how riders are allowed, a bill for raising the speed limit nationwide to 80 mph and here’s Sen. Bumpkin’s rider for a $2 billion museum for his state’s official rock.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Why wouldn’t those be in the ag budget? They’re ag programs, right? Not that they have to be. But you’d have to give them to some other department to take them out of the ag budget, it seems to me…

              Reply
              1. Richard

                When I think of EBT I think of John Deere tractors. When I think of WIC I think of Massey Ferguson combines. When I think of SNAP I think of Case IH cultivators.

                How about DHHS… you know Human Services… welfare… call me crazy.

                Reply
              2. Claus2

                Why are welfare programs in an agriculture budget? That’s like putting the interstate funding in the Defense budget… because military vehicles can use the roads and some stretches can also be used as runways.

                Reply
                1. Claus2

                  I agree with Richard, Department of Health and Human Services is probably where welfare programs need to be. It’s not about growing or raising food, it’s about distribution. I’m sure there isn’t a farmer or rancher out there worried about how the EBT program is doing, but there are probably a few in DHHS that are.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I don’t care where it resides. I was just explaining to you why food stamps were historical part of the Dept. of Ag. You keep calling it a “welfare program.” Other people saw it as a food program.

                3. Norm Ivey

                  And Ike probably wouldn’t have thought it at all strange to run the Interstate money through Defense…
                  Surely, this is truth. The proper name of the Interstate system is the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

              3. Norm Ivey

                I believe the food stamp program was program was originally conceived as a way of surplus farm food production to the people who would most benefit from it. It was, in effect, a subsidy to farmers.

                Why would it be anywhere other than Ag?

                Reply
                1. Claus2

                  ” surplus farm food production”

                  Which has blossomed from staples like flour, sugar, cheese and milk into Oreo’s, Hawaiian Punch and Pop-Tarts. If it needs to be an Ag. department let’s go back to basic commodities.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Yeah, I thought that was the case — I sort of associate it with those programs you used to see when there would be a giveaway of, say, surplus cheese at certain locations.

                  But I wasn’t sure of the details….

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            But see, my way is conditional. Term limits boot people out of office whether they’re doing a good job or not.

            Far as I’m concerned, they can stay in office forever as long as they’re doing their jobs — and the voters want to keep electing them.

            I wouldn’t toss them out unless they fail to do the job. And passing a budget on time each year is BASIC to the job…

            Reply
      2. bud

        Can’t disagree with that sentiment Bart. Just wish there was a sensible solution to DACA. Thousands will be hurt for no damn reason.

        Reply
        1. Bart

          bud, I agree that thousands will be hurt or might be. I do believe that in the end, Republicans and Trump will agree to a compromise on DACA to allow most if not all to remain here. What irritates me is that the issue is used as a wedge to further divide us. I am not a politician but considering the fact that so many who had no control over coming here but have lived most if not all of their lives here, it is incumbent on any politician to at least try to work it out to the satisfaction of the majority. Naturally there will be some who will object no matter what but I am no longer paying attention to the dissenters over a humanitarian issue that involves innocents.

          When the budget issue comes up again, I do intend to let my congressman and senators know if they don’t work toward a budget that is central to keeping the government funded without all of the hostage issues clouding the picture, I will not support them or their opposition if they engage in a similar manner. Either a no vote on the ballot for either or vote for a third party candidate.

          Reply
          1. Richard

            Do you think your letter will get past some 19 year old page who’s job is to open the mail and sort mail that contains contributions and those who don’t contain contributions? You’ll get a boilerplate response while asking for you to contribute to their re-election campaign.

            Reply
            1. Bart

              So, what is your point? Think I am not aware of the way complaints are handled by members of Congress? Been there done that too many times and have learned one thing. Do it enough and sooner or later they will listen. And if I don’t at least keep trying, what is wrong with that?

              Reply
              1. Richard

                I think you just made my point, that nasty letters to Congress are statistically a waste of time. But knock yourself out, at least you’ll get it off your chest and it only costs you the price of a stamp. Throw a couple bucks in it and maybe someone will read it.

                Reply
    2. Claus2

      ” I don’t trust our current republican congress and/or administration to keep their word about anything”

      Did you trust them prior to yesterday?

      Reply
  6. Karen Pearson

    I think you have something there, Brian. Or we could do as the vatican does when a pope dies; put them in a room and lock the door until they have resolved the problem.

    Reply
  7. bud

    We can come up with solutions, facetious or otherwise, til the cows come home. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, qua sera sera, the voters pick these guys and gals.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      and in SC, pick, repick, repick, repick, repick the same people they complain about. How many more decades do you think Lindsey Graham will be in office?

      Reply
          1. Claus2

            Released or not, it’s only a matter of time before someone who just happens to work for a major media outlet finds a copy of this memo in a “subway trashcan”.

            Reply
  8. Bart

    Last comment on the shutdown and subsequent vote on the budget. Trump, put your damn phone down and quit tweeting about your so-called victory. Keep your fat mouth shut for once and don’t gloat over something that shouldn’t have come about in the first place. You don’t need a border fence and DACA should be a congressional issue, not a budget issue. In other words, act like the POTUS should act and show some civility and restraint – if you are even remotely capable of doing so.

    Reply
      1. Bart

        Congress did its job and Trump signed the bill on his desk. Now please tell me where I was angry at Trump for doing what he is supposed to do. My comments are about his behavior and nothing else. Got anything else to add that is irrelevant?

        Reply
    1. Bart

      bud, we may be in deeper trouble than the first time. Schumer has caved and the $25 billion for the border wall is off the table. Seems like both sides have caved to the extremist element and have forgotten the people in the middle who do make up the majority, not the minority who seem to have more influence over politicians on what are basically single issues. Border wall vs. DACA is a damn joke but not a funny one at all. All the two issues are doing is, forgive my use of adages, add fuel to the fire and further divide the nation.

      When a state is petitioning to separate and become two states, California and New California, we know the divide is much deeper than realized.

      Reply
  9. Norm Ivey

    Since it’s an open thread–Ursula K Le Guin, author of one of my favorite books, The Lathe of Heaven, died today.

    Reply
  10. Doug Ross

    In the absence of a recent Open Thread, I’ll put this here:

    “Three corporate giants are teaming up to combat what billionaire Warren Buffett calls a “hungry tapeworm” feasting on the U.S. economy: health care. Amazon.com Inc., Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. said they plan to collaborate on a way to offer health-care services to their U.S. employees more transparently and at a lower cost. The three companies plan to set up a new independent company “that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” according to a short statement on Tuesday.”

    Damn you, PLUTOCRATS!!! Why can’t you do it the right way and allow the Federal government to take all your wealth and redistribute it?!

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Wow, you really missed the point there. They are essentially creating what the federal government has failed to create, thanks to the government-hating ideologues who control it.

      You have it exactly backwards. Did you miss the part about “that is free from profit-making incentives.” The report is sketchy on details, but it looks like they’re creating a National Health plan for their employees.

      If so, this is good news. If these huge companies manage to show the way, maybe the politicos on the right will drop their ideological garbage and follow suit, for the sake of all the country…

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        We have Medicaid, Medicare, VA hospitals now. Government run healthcare covering millions of people. The only ones who are relatively happy with that are the Medicare folks who get a greatly reduced cost that is shifted to taxpayers and other insured people.

        I also seem to remember a program called The Affordable Care Act from eight years ago that was going to solve so many of the problems with cost and access. Yeah, and then the government actually tried to implement that monstrosity and it has collapsed on its own bureaucracy and poor design.

        My point was more about those who find rich people to be the worst people in the world. Here we have Bezos and Buffett – two of the richest – trying to solve a problem that the government cannot. Liberals think the best solution would be to tax them even more… I’ll put my money on Bezos and Buffett doing a better job of it and faster— until the government comes in to clamp down on them with regulations.

        Imagine if Amazon offered Amazon health with discounted prescriptions, virtual doctors, wellness programs, and urgent care clinics? All for $30/$50/$100 a month. That would be a good thing.

        Reply
        1. Doug Ross

          The fundamental issue is that government is incapable of thinking efficiently or moving rapidly. Incremental improvements are not even considered — that’s how Obamacare should have been implemented instead of trying to get Obama a defining moment for his legacy.

          Quick fixes:

          Drop Medicare age to 60 and increase tax by 1%

          Expand Medicaid to cover all children up to age 21. Cut other spending to accomplish this.

          All that’s left is the people in the 22-59 range — when they (or a spouse) should working and getting coverage through an employer. And if they can’t, then offer a single national insurance program (not thousands of different ones across the states) with the same coverage as federal employees get for the same cost.

          Piece of cake for someone who doesn’t think like a politician and is on the take from lobbying groups.

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Doug, all of that is quite sensible and worth discussing. But the problem isn’t someone “thinking like a politician” or being “on the take.”

            The problem is that we’ve got this strain of government hatred infecting our politics. We’ve got too many people who start screaming “socialized medicine!” and having a severe allergic reaction to ANY sensible ideas put forth.

            We got Obamacare because the Democrats bowed down before the brick wall of opposition they faced in doing the things we SHOULD do.

            Again, you put forth some good ideas. But surely you can see that the barrier to those ideas is the way a certain strain of libertarianism manifests itself in our politics…

            Reply
            1. Doug Ross

              No, it’s not libertarianism at all. It’s the people who want the government to control all healthcare and want the “rich” to pay for it. It’s watching the government screw it up over and over that generates the negative response — the response is to the performance. It’s politicians who want loopholes and special interest groups who want breaks. It’s unions and insurance companies. It’s class warfare warriors.

              What it is absolutely NOT is libertarians. Libertarians want simple solutions, not bureaucracies. Libertarians want free markets and less regulation. That doesn’t describe our healthcare system at all.

              Reply
                1. Doug Ross

                  Obamacare rollout was a disaster.. and its legacy has ended as I expected… they made sure to push the hard stuff beyond Obama’s re-election and second term.,

                  VA hospitals are an unequivocal joke with poor service and long wait times.

                  Medicare wastes billions on fraud and abuse – more than the combined salaries of all the CEO’s of Fortune 500 healthcare companies.

                  Medicaid is a safety net that too many jump into voluntarily.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Obamacare is in no way a disaster, except in Trumps alternative universe. It’s done what was advertised, effectively providing coverage to millions who didn’t have it before.

                  It’s not single-payer, and it should be. But it’s in no way a failure, much less a disaster…

                3. Doug Ross

                  From The Economist:

                  “Health care is a tempting target for thieves. Medicaid doles out $415 billion a year; Medicare (a federal scheme for the elderly), nearly $600 billion. Total health spending in America is a massive $2.7 trillion, or 17% of GDP. No one knows for sure how much of that is embezzled, but in 2012 Donald Berwick, a former head of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Andrew Hackbarth of the RAND Corporation, estimated that fraud (and the extra rules and inspections required to fight it) added as much as $98 billion, or roughly 10%, to annual Medicare and Medicaid spending”

                  98 billion would pay for a lot of healthcare for people who need and deserve it.

                4. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “Health care is a tempting target for thieves.” Yes, it is, for the same reason Willie Loman robbed banks — there’s a lot of money there.

                  So the government has to work hard — all those “extra rules and inspections required to fight it” — to catch all those private citizens out there who keep trying to rip it off. And it catches a lot of them, which is why you know about it.

                  Do you actually, truly, hand-on-your-heart believe all those people are trying to rip us all off because the programs are run badly, and that they wouldn’t try to rip it off if it was run by the private sector? Like, “Golly, I’m a crook and all, but that organization is just so darned efficient that I don’t have the heart to try to steal from it…”

                  People embezzle BECAUSE THE MONEY’S THERE, not because of who’s running it…

        2. Claus2

          “Imagine if Amazon offered Amazon health with discounted prescriptions, virtual doctors, wellness programs, and urgent care clinics? All for $30/$50/$100 a month. That would be a good thing.”

          I can see this happening sooner than you think, telemedicine for things that you now only get to see a nurse practitioner or physicians assistant to handle. Get a link to an Amazon biometric monitor that attaches to your smart phone, download the link, stream the results to the doctor you’re connected to and with a series of questions he’ll have Amazon send out a prescription from the Amazon Pharmacy to your Prime account location.

          They already have a medical grade, Bluetooth, $99 EKG device that attach to your smart phone.
          https://store.alivecor.com/products/kardiamobile

          Reply
          1. Doug Ross

            Exactly. But just wait and watch the lobbying groups for hospitals and insurance companies and drug manufacturers start throwing money at shutting this down. You’ll hear a lot of scare tactic language… and the politicians will jump right on board to keep the campaign funds flowing.

            Reply
              1. Doug Ross

                Yeah – because they know the politicians and corruptible and spineless. They put the money where they know it will work. They also spend more on the ones who have been in there the longest thanks to no terms limits.

                Reply

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