Open Thread for Tuesday, January 9, 2018



Dang, I neglected to do an Open Thread for Elvis’ birthday yesterday. Well, here’s hoping somebody gave you a jelly doughnut anyway.

Here’s what we have today:

  1. Trump Says He Is Open to Sweeping Deal on Immigration — We’re talking about not just the Dreamers, but a path to citizenship. Hey, if he can pull off a Nixon-goes-to-China and push through real comprehensive reform like that sought by his two predecessors, I will applaud. But the heads of those in his base are likely spinning right now. For his part, Lindsey is pretty excited about this, calling it the “Most fascinating meeting I’ve been involved with in twenty plus years in politics.”
  2. As North Korea Tensions Rise, U.S. Army Trains Soldiers To Fight In Tunnels — I heard this on NPR this morning. Fascinating. It’s like we’re getting ready to do battle with the Mole People. The north has thousands of these tunnels, some of which extend under the DMZ and deep into the south.
  3. Ex-DHEC chief to run troubled Carolina Water Service — We’re talking Catherine Heigel, not Templeton. Will this help clean up CWS’ rep? I guess it depends on what she does from this point.
  4. Roman Polanski will not face criminal charges for allegations of 1975 molesting — Too bad. He’s been a fugitive from charges of having sex with a 13-year-old since 1978. This alleged victim was 10. The statute of limitations had expired on this one.
  5. Fusion GPS founder claimed FBI had Trump source during campaign — This is from transcript Diane Feinstein released, in apparent defiance of GOP members of the panel.
  6. Steve Bannon Out At Breitbart News — Like I care or something.


50 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, January 9, 2018

  1. Mark Stewart

    So basically Lindsey would rather have his name on some legislation rather than determine whether, and how, the Russians may have interfered in our electoral process. And who may have colluded with the Russians, if something substantive did in fact occur.

    Got it.

    What happened to office-holding being a service to society and our nation? I know that some majority percentage of pols are in it for the self-aggrandizing opportunities, but there have always seemed to be those who genuinely wished to serve (and I do not mean like Paul Ryan and his quest). Where are they? Especially on the Republican side; history will judge this as a dark era for America, I fear.

    1. Richard

      “than determine whether, and how, the Russians may have interfered in our electoral process”

      That’s the most carefully worded accusation I’ve read today. I come away with, “well we’re not sure if anything had been done, or how they would have done it”. But we need to continue discussion on this topic.

        1. Mark Stewart

          Absolutely astounded that Graham is so off course on this. Also, that so many in the GOP would rather attack the messenger than to expend effort seeking truth. Yeah, truth hurts sometimes. But it’s always better to have the facts, always.

    2. Doug Ross

      Or could it be that the verb “interfered” is excessive? In the grand scale of the 2016 election, some fake news tweets from Russia had little impact. Releasing the DNC emails (if they were actually involved) only served to expose the DNC for what it was. Russian “interference” was probably in the bottom 50 reasons why Hillary lost.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Two points:

        1. It doesn’t matter what measurable effect the Russians had on the election result, it’s still a security threat and we need to learn all we can about it and develop effective countermeasures — not just to what they did in 2016, but to what they’ll be doing next year, and the year after. We need to get ahead of them. What the Russians are trying to do is undermine our confidence in our democracy. And it’s working: Trump supporters think our system is hunky-dory right now, but most people do not. We have to overcome that.

        2. All of that said, the 50th reason why she lost could just about be enough to make the difference. It was that close.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And you realize the only reason we don’t have complete consensus in our government about how serious the Russian interference is (not “was,” but “is,” because it’s ongoing) is because Donald Trump won the election.

          No one else who has ever come close to the office has such a fragile ego. Addressing the problem is a huge threat to Trump and his self-esteem. If John Kasich or Jeb Bush or any normal person had won, they would be leading the charge to investigate what the Russians did. But Donald can’t separate the subject in his mind from his own legitimacy. He thinks every assertion that the Russians meddled is an attack on HIM. And we know how he feels about anything short of fulsome praise of himself.

          This is crippling our nation’s response…

          1. Claus2

            More man crush talk of John Kasich, hell even Ohio residents can’t stand the guy.

            How is the country doing under Trump’s first year? Economy is up, unemployment is down, stock market is up, seems to me things are going rather well except for those who voted for Hillary and can’t drop the idea that she lost.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              One of my friends here suggested this week that when I disallow a comment, I should offer an explanation. I’m not going to do it every time, but I’ll do it this time.

              Initially, I did not approve the comment above. I didn’t approve it because of a reason that requires some explanation. Since I seem to see more and more of this kind of thing, I’m going to explain it.

              Basically, the comment said a number of absurd things that have little to do with reality. I don’t think it’s right to post such things without taking a moment to point out that the things it says are wrong. But after having countered such things over and over and over again, I get sick of it, and see no point in engaging the topic yet again.

              If I don’t allow the comment, I feel no obligation to refute it. It saves me a lot of wasted time, and this is my blog, after all.

              Examples of things I can’t let stand if I allow them to be published:

              — The assertion that there’s nothing wrong with Donald Trump being president because “Economy is up, unemployment is down, stock market is up” — things that of course have nothing to do with him or anyone else being president, things that in no way address the hundreds or perhaps thousands of reasons why his being president is a horrifically damaging thing for this country. The reasons are legion — in fact, Claus is (if I remember correctly) one of the people who most complains at how often I point those things out. Something that I’m not going to do in this comment, because I’d be here all night.

              — This ridiculous thing that Trump supporters do, wherein each time someone points out one of the perfectly awful and irrefutable things about their hero, and since they can’t refute it, they say “Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!” Which never has anything to do with the topic at hand. They just hate her so much, or something, that they think saying “Hillary” constitutes an argument that forgives everything that’s wrong with their guy. It makes zero sense. There’s not an either-or thing going on here. There hasn’t been a choice before the nation between Donald and Hillary since November of last year. Hillary Clinton is irrelevant, a person rattling around in the dustbin of history. You might as well bring up Napoleon, or Disraeli.

              — Then there’s the deliberate ill will in saying “Hillary” in a way that is intended to offend. (So it’s a sort of indirect way of engaging in the ad hominem rhetoric that is not allowed on this blog). I refer to this: “except for those who voted for Hillary and can’t drop the idea that she lost.” Which certainly doesn’t apply to me (as any reader of this blog should know), and as near as I can tell, doesn’t apply to anyone who regularly comments on this blog. I suppose there are some people out there who just love them some Hillary Clinton — feminists of a certain age, for instance. Most people who are completely appalled that Donald Trump is president would rather the Democratic nominee last year had been someone else. A lot of us prefer that that the GOP nominee had been someone else, so we could have in good conscience voted for the Republican. That includes not only independents like me, but quite a few folks on the right, such as William Kristol, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, the Bushes, Bret Stephens and so on. (In fact, Stephens had a good column the other day explaining to his conservative friends who still don’t get it.)

              None of the things I just mentioned should be even a slight surprise to people who read this blog. But at some point, certain points should be stipulated. On many topics, it’s obvious that “Brad thinks X,” and I shouldn’t have to explain myself yet again just because a hostile witness wants to say, “Brad thinks Y,” when it’s obvious Brad does not.

              That’s the one thing I would never allow as editorial page editor at the paper. I WANTED people to argue with our positions. But I would not allow people to misrepresent our positions in order to have a straw man to argue against. If we said “up,” I was very happy to have strong argument as to why we were wrong to say it. But I wouldn’t accept rebuttals based on the false assertion that we had said “down.”

              And I see no reason to allow them here.

              See how much time I just wasted? This is why, increasingly, I’m just not going to allow comments like the above one — because I’m not going to allow them to stand without being refuted, and I’m tired of refuting them. I want to see us make progress in understanding each other, however much we may disagree. Comments like the above one take us two steps back from that goal…

              1. Richard

                But you did vote for Hillary.

                The people I know who voted for Trump don’t have any regrets up to this point. In fact most of us are happy with how things have gone so far, the whining of the left makes it that much more enjoyable. You keep telling us how bad Trump is, yet the only people who listen are also those who likely voted against him… voted for Hillary and/or preaching to the choir if you will.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “But you did vote for Hillary.” That’s right. Because there was absolutely no choice. At the end, she was the only person on the planet in a position to stop Trump.

              2. Claus2

                Is this just for me or does it also include say comments posted by bud or Mark Stewart that can be considered personal attacks. You don’t seem to have any problems letting those slide… probably because they tend to side with you politically.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  It puzzles me how you manage to continue being confused. I know them; I don’t know you. And this blog has a clearly stated double standard. People whose identities are known get more leeway than those who are unknown. I make no bones about that.

                  Mark uses his full name, and while he uses a nickname, we all know who Bud is.

                  There’s no way this should be hard for you to understand, much less cause you to invent false causes such as “probably because they tend to side with you politically.”

                  I mean, really — bud side with me politically? Have you ever read this blog?

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  But to elaborate… while they get more leeway, there’s a limit with them, too. You’ll note that just the other day, I warned both Doug and Bart they were starting to cross the line.

                  I think I’ve disallowed comments from most of my regulars at some time or other…

                3. Claus2

                  “I know them; I don’t know you.”

                  So as long as you know the person, personal attacks are okay with you. Since I no neither of these two, that’s fine because their opinion matters little to none to me. I just find it interesting that you try to come off as having the “civil” blog, yet you allow comments attacking others here.

                4. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “personal attacks are okay with you”

                  Nope, that’s not at all what I said. Did you follow the link? If that one doesn’t explain it well enough, you can find quite a few others on the subject by searching for “civility double standard.”

                  I know that Trump supporters like to repeat untrue things as though that makes them true, but it doesn’t. And as I said, if people keep saying untrue things, I’m not going to post the comments, to save myself the trouble of answering them to set the record straight.

                5. Claus2

                  “I know that Trump supporters like to repeat untrue things as though that makes them true, but it doesn’t.”

                  Such as???

                  I wrote, “Economy is up, unemployment is down, stock market is up, seems to me things are going rather well except for those who voted for Hillary and can’t drop the idea that she lost.”

                  Show me exactly where in that sentence anything that I said wasn’t the truth. What in there is “untrue”?

                6. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I couldn’t care less about the first part of that sentence, as it has nothing to do with Trump or whether he should be president. But of course (as I’ve explained, and I’m not going to type it all again), the second part of the sentence, saying only people who can’t get over Hillary Clinton’s loss have a problem with him, is untrue.

                  So are these assertions:
                  “So as long as you know the person, personal attacks are okay with you.”

                  “…probably because they tend to side with you politically.”

                7. Barry

                  “Economy is up, unemployment is down, stock market is up”

                  Happened under Obama too. I doubt you voted for him. I know I didn’t. So that reasoning is bunk.

                8. Mr. Smith

                  I’m in shock, because I find myself in agreement with “Claus2,” whose views I otherwise don’t share in the least. When you say “People whose identities are known get more leeway than those who are unknown,” it certainly sounds like, “if you’re my buddy, I’ll cut you some slack,” which comes across as nothing more than playing favorites. That isn’t a “civility standard,” because it isn’t applied equally. It isn’t a standard at all, it’s arbitrary.

                  Or if it is a standard, it’s a standard on anonymity, with little to do with civility. But even eliminating anonymity doesn’t necessarily contribute to greater civility or improve discourse. Just look at The State’s comments policy. It requires that commenters have Facebook accounts. But FB “identities” can be invented. What’s more, since they instituted this new policy, the number of comments on the site has dropped tremendously, but the level of discourse has not risen at all.

                9. Brad Warthen Post author

                  If you’re saying there’s no perfect system, you’re absolutely right. But those of us who care about civility muddle along as well as we can, trying this and that.

                  However, you’ve mischaracterized, or perhaps misunderstood, my policy. If you have the courage to identify yourself fully and accurately, you’re allowed a little more leeway — but there are still limits. The thing is, I seldom have to censor people using their full identities, because they tend to control themselves.

                  If everyone identified himself or herself, things wouldn’t be perfect, but there would be less need for moderation.

                10. Brad Warthen Post author

                  You may wonder why I don’t just bar anonymous comments. I’ve considered it. But I’m trying to be tolerant of people who are not like me. I’ve never really understood people wanting to express themselves anonymously. But not everyone is me.

                  But if you want to comment here without identifying yourself, you need to be extra careful to be more civil than the next guy. You need to be like Caesar’s wife. That’s what you give as payment for the privilege.

                11. Zorro

                  I’ve never really understood people wanting to express themselves anonymously. But not everyone is me.”

                  I appreciate the policy.

                12. Brad Warthen Post author

                  You forgot the Scarlet Pimpernel. Although I don’t recall him wearing a mask, he valued his anonymity…

                  They seek him here, they seek him there,
                  Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
                  Is he in heaven? — Is he in hell?
                  That damned, elusive Pimpernel

                13. Brad Warthen Post author

                  The Scarlet Pimpernel? Oh, man, you’ve got to check it out. The Leslie Howard version is available for free streaming on Amazon Prime.

                  By the way, how did you like “Darkest Hour?”

                14. Claus2

                  “You may wonder why I don’t just bar anonymous comments.”

                  Also because if you did, your commentators would drop down to the single digits.

                15. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Or some named people who have left would come back, once some of the more hostile people were gone.

                  If I cared that much about numbers of comments, I’d go back to no moderation at all. Back before I started moderating, I’d get 100 or 200 comments on posts as a matter of course. I got more comments in a day than the paper would get letters and emails in a week.

                  But I noticed I was losing some of the most thoughtful people, people I really wanted to keep. So I started working to make things more civil, however big a pain that was for me…

                16. Mr. Smith

                  “you’ve mischaracterized, or perhaps misunderstood, my policy”

                  I understand it perfectly well. I just find it somewhat of a joke.

                  First of all, there’s no way you can know that a person is using their real name.

                  Secondly, as I pointed out, The State’s comment policy requiring “full identities” hasn’t eliminated personal attacks or raised the level of debate. Back when they used to allow all comers, I used to see plenty of thoughtful comments. I can even name a specific “name” or two. By and large that’s no longer the case.

                  Lastly, on the issue of not wanting to use real names: there are plenty of folks who don’t use their own names as a matter of principle. It’s a stand against the tyranny of total transparency that the internet is pushing, a statement in defense of privacy.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I’m not sure I follow. There was a meeting to discuss immigration issues and the President expressed a desire, albeit somewhat incoherently, for both sides to come to an agreement on major issues. No matter what you think of Senator Graham on the issues, you can’t say he’s against compromise. Why wouldn’t he applaud the President’s desire to “get something done”?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah. Lindsey’s been working toward comprehensive immigration reform for a long time, and he’s taken a lot of beatings politically for that. Who could blame him for getting pumped about an opportunity to get it done — especially when the opportunity is coming from such an unlikely quarter?

      2. Doug Ross

        I actually appreciate Lindsey’s approach / tone on this. It sure beats calling everyone opposed to amnesty for people who broke the law to enter the country a racist.

        This is one issue that should be addressed incrementally and with compromise. For every concession on DACA, dreamers, etc. isn’t it fair to expect some tightening in other areas of immigration? I’d be fine at this point with waving the magic wand and saying everyone here right now can be made legal and have a quick path (1-2 years) to citizenship (including those here on green cards and H1B) if, at the same time, we:

        – strengthened the borders (real or virtual wall formed by drones)
        – made it very, very, very difficult for anyone who crosses the border illegally or who does not come forward NOW if they are here illegally to get any benefit for doing (no schools, tax payer funded healthcare, no sanctuary cities)
        – increased the penalties against businesses that exploit cheap illegal labor so that getting caught basically closes the business down

        I don’t even care about penalties or paying past taxes.. it would be too much of a nightmare to administer. Just let them stay, let them be legal, and then punish all the people who don’t comply with what is really a sweetheart deal.

  2. Doug Ross

    Interesting that Huma Abedin has called off her divorce from Anthony Weiner today. Now, why would she do that? Hmmm… could it be that a person cannot be compelled to testify against his/her spouse? Would that be a good legal strategy since it has been revealed that Weiner had several classified documents on his laptop?

    Huma learned well from her mentor about forgiveness of bad behavior…

      1. bud

        I’ll trade you Anthony Weiner for Lindsey Graham. With every new word out of that disgusting weasel’s mouth I become more and more ashamed to be from South Carolina.

        1. Claus2

          If it’s that bad, do something about it…. run against him, campaign for those running against him… move to another state.

        2. Barry

          Even if Lindsey seems to be Trump’s buddy now, I still like him simply because he drives people like Bud crazy. Kudos to Senator Graham. Keep driving some people crazy.

  3. Doug Ross

    This is why the death penalty should exist and be carried out swiftly.

    “Let me be clear and up front,” public defender Jeffrey Barbour told the jury hearing his case. “Mr. Bracamontes is responsible for the death of Deputy Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis. “He shot them both.” The statement came during an extraordinary opening day during which the proceedings devolved into a spectacle of the defendant threatening to kill more people, giggling as a prosecutor described his crime spree and his own lawyers once again questioning his sanity. “I wish I had killed more of the mother——-,” he boasted to the jury as prosecutor Rod Norgaard described the outbreak of violence. Smiling broadly, Bracamontes added, “I will break out soon and I will kill more, kill whoever gets in front of me … There’s no need for a f—— trial.”

    Admits guilt, no remorse, no possibility of parole or rehabilitation. Oh, and he’s an illegal immigrant. But we don’t even have to consider that.


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