Open Thread for Thursday, June 7, 2018

This was the best pic I could find of a U-2. Unfortunately, it doesn't really show you how weirdly shaped the aircraft is...

This was the best pic I could find of a U-2. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really show you how weirdly shaped the aircraft is…

Why do I always provide you with specific topics on a hypothetical “Open Thread?” I don’t know. It just seems the way to do it, even though it’s contradictory:

  1. Democrats get boost in fight for control of House, but may fall short of a blue wave — In other words, those of you (bud, for instance) who think the solution to all our problems is to elect a heap o’ Democrats might want to wait a bit before you start celebrating.
  2. The future is African — and the United States is not prepared — By the end of the century, 40 percent of the world’s population will live there. Something we should all probably be thinking about, but probably won’t. It’s hard enough to get anyone to think rationally about Europe — or even Canada, or Mexico — in Trump’s isolationist, nativist, xenophobic America.
  3. Richland County gets sued over $1M payment to Seals — It’s one of those Average Joe lawsuits (although they generally involve an “average Joe” who has the resources to bring a lawsuit in order to make a point, which I could never do — of course, maybe Joe McCullough is doing it pro bono; the story doesn’t say). I assume he’s claiming standing as a taxpayer, or whatever. Anyway, they were certainly asking for it. How many more ways could they screw up?
  4. The U-2 Spy Plane Is Still Flying Combat Missions 60 Years After Its Debut — And 58 years after Francis Gary Powers was shot down. Which, if you think about it, is even more remarkable than the fact that some people are still using MySpace. Here’s a better image of this weird aircraft than the one above. (I picked the one above because it was the best one I found that I knew was in the public domain.)
  5. Dan Johnson losing fundraising battle to challenger — Which, I’m afraid, isn’t the right metric for predicting the outcome of next week’s primary. It’s just a vibe thing, but I have this creepy feeling that Johnson’s going to get re-elected. Which of course is highly disturbing. I hope I’m wrong.
  6. Kate Spade’s husband: Apparent suicide a ‘complete shock’ — OK, I don’t want to sound uncaring or anything — I feel for this woman’s loved ones, and for her — but I’m just curious. Did all of y’all know who she was? I don’t think I’d heard of her. The name rang no bells. I’m not sure whether my ignorance is a guy thing or a don’t-watch-TV thing.

29 thoughts on “Open Thread for Thursday, June 7, 2018

    1. Norm Ivey

      I think it was a response to social media. Some fan campaigned to get them to cut it. I was underwhelmed. I don’t like the original all that much either.

    2. Phillip

      Never mind Toto vs. Weezer. Dude, you link to an article about we should be thinking more about Africa its growing importance, then your chosen musical illustration is Toto? C’mon, how about some music by actual Africans, like the great Afropop artists from Mali or Senegal? Here’s something to get the ball rolling.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I had the Weezer thing on my mind… but your point is taken. I don’t think I’ve ever had any Afropop performers on my mind. In fact, the only African musicians I can name are Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and even with them I always want to say “Ladyship,” which I suppose is about as Eurocentric as one can get…

        1. Phillip

          Mali is, or was, the hotbed of so much fantastic music…worth delving into the music of not just Oumou Sangare as in the clip above but Salif Keita and Habib Koite and Ali Farka Toure and so many many more.

          There used to be an annual “Festival of the Desert” in Mali and it had been a dream of mine to travel someday to attend it, but then those $#%&*$#%-ing radical Islamic nutjobs took over that whole part of northern Mali, and as is the case everywhere with this fundamentalist kooks, they seek to eradicate ALL secular music…they tried to ban concerts, radio broadcasts of music, everything. It’s a hard thing to “stop the music” in a country like Mali, but they certainly tried. I guess the French helped kind of recapture that part of the country, but the festival is no more, sadly.

          I’m not totally up to date on what is going on in internal Mali politics right now, but it always seemed like it must be a remarkable place, to produce so many interesting musicians.

  1. Norm Ivey

    #6: I didn’t know who she was, but my bride was really taken aback by her suicide. We had a long discussion about how hard it was to understand when someone has the resources to seek help but chooses not to. And I think she had kids, too. That’s some deep depression.

    Not knowing who she is is a guy thing, I suspect.

    1. Lynn teague

      Guy thing, although I think some of the analyses of her supposed meaning for women is badly overblown. A good designer.

    2. Mark Stewart

      I found it disingenuous that her husband, who had just filled for divorce, said her death came as a complete shock. He isn’t any more responsible than her daughter is, but come on; that is some patently false statement.

      The older I get the more it seems the one major thing people engage in – like whoever the guy is, M somebody, who has the theory of the hiarchy of needs – is serious effort to avoid taking responsibility for one’s speech and actions. It seems almost endemic…

  2. Norm Ivey

    #2: Interesting, and another example of how the the world economy is becoming more globalized. Nixon’s visit to China in the early 70s was a big deal–at least in part a recognition of the growing economic influence of that country. I can’t locate the exact quote, but Nixon (or was it Kissinger?) said something to the effect of, “We can’t continue to ignore a country of 800,000,000 people.” The same is true of the continent of Africa.

    One of best things that Bush 43 did is create the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief which has done far more social good in Africa than all of the military spending we’ve done there, and has the best return on investment. Not necessarily in monetary terms, but in respect and reputation. We need more programs like this.

    1. Claus2

      2. 40% of the world’s population, but they won’t be before long. They’re already destroying the landscape and killing everything that moves that would sustain them. How are these people going to feed themselves without support from other continents? Half of them right now starve to death, and what’s the 5 year survival rate for a newborn in Africa… 10%?

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    When I was a kid living in Ecuador, we didn’t have access to the cornucopia of toys available back in the States. But we made do.

    There was this good-sized tienda downtown that I suppose was kind of like a dime store back home. They sold these tiny toy airplanes — about three inches or less in wingspan, made of soft, flexible plastic. They were just one molded piece in a random color — red, green, whatever, but the shapes were of actual aircraft — civilian airliners to military bombers, all sorts. They probably cost the equivalent of a penny or two apiece. So my friends and I would collect them and show them off to each other. The one I remember best was a U-2. Strangest-looking thing I’d ever seen, it sat like a spider in the palm of my hand with those impossibly long, thin wings…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I was pretty interested in aviation at that moment. That was where I first flew — in an Andes-hopping Air Force C-47 (for all I know, one that had delivered paratroopers into France less than 20 years before), to such destinations as Panama and Peru. A super-noisy, uncomfortable conveyance — but exciting.

      Dangerous, too. On one such flight that we were lucky to miss, the plane went down in the mountains after being caught in a downdraft. The pilot — the first person I actually knew (although slightly) to die in such a sudden way — died a hero. The survivors said the way he managed to land the plane on a narrow, flat shelf on the mountain — with sheer rock face on one side, and a sheer drop of thousands of feet on the other — was miraculous, showing superb skill and coolheadedness. The plane caught fire upon the landing, but everyone got out safely except the pilot — as he disengaged his harness and stood to leave, an oxygen tank behind his seat exploded. They managed to pull him out through a hatch at the top of the cockpit, but he died waiting for rescuers…

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s an update on the lawsuit against Richland County…

    Joe McCullough isn’t the only attorney involved in bringing it. Our own Bryan Caskey is co-counsel.

    Our very own crusading attorney, striking a blow for transparency and fiscal accountability!

    I’ll let him elaborate to the extent that he feels he can…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      It’s a suit that needed to be brought, given the way the County Council handled it. The amount and speed of the settlement is suspicious, and council has refused to answer questions about how they are spending our money.

      Justice Brandeis famously said, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants”. It is our goal in this suit to shine light on what the council is doing with our taxpayer money.

  5. Doug Ross

    Can anyone list some differences that make James Smith a better candidate than Vincent Sheheen was TWICE? He seems to be running his campaign from the same playbook. Safe, boring, same issues, same support from the same groups. How does he gain the crossover votes he must have? Hope for a McMaster indictment or assume that Templeton would be a bad candidate (i.e. the Hillary method)?

    I’m just wondering why they think it’s going to work the third time around.

    1. Scout Cotham

      They are similar. They are both decent people who can work well with others. My gut impression is that James is a bit more pragmatic and less wonkish than Vincent and might connect with people a bit better. But those are quick impressions, not sure.

      But even if they are very similar, the context is different now. I don’t know if you can draw absolute conclusions from those elections about this one. I’d like to think that certain voters might be more receptive to this message now. But who knows – it could be the context is worse for this sort of candidate now. I guess we will see.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      That campaign hasn’t fully started. He’s anxious to GET to that campaign, as you can see from what he says and does. But first he has to get past the two people who are most determined to make sure a Republican is elected this year — Phil Noble and Marguerite Willis.

      Then he can concentrate on facing Henry McMaster (or, shudder, Catherine Templeton)…

      1. Doug Ross

        So what makes him different than Sheheen? Are people going to vote against McMaster rather than FOR him? He will be a weak governor if he’s seen as a alternate rather than winning on his own.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “So what makes him different than Sheheen?”

          Not a whole lot. I like him for some of the same reasons I like Vincent. The two of them, with Joel Lourie, have been the Three Musketeers for a long time (until Joel retired — to be replaced to some extent by Beth Bernstein), folks I can usually count on to be on the right side of most issues.

          Sure, there are differences. Sheheen is opposed to abortion, which makes him remarkable among Democrats. James has his dramatic veteran story. But on the whole, they are very similar. Both would be good governors if they could get past white South Carolinians’ compulsion to vote for the person with the “R.”

  6. Doug Ross

    Gee, the gas tax isn’t funding road and bridge repairs. Maybe somebody lied.


    As of the end of April – 10 months after the gas tax increase and other related tax and fee increases went into effect – $219 million had been collected in a specially created state fund known as the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund (IMTF), and only 8 percent of it had been spent, records show.

    By law, the IMTF “must be used exclusively for the repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the existing transportation system.” But no bridge repair or replacement projects are specifically identified on the current IMTF project list, which totaled $309.2 million as of April 30, a review by The Nerve found.


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