In praise of Ebola heroes

As one who never had the opportunity to serve in the military, much less in a combat capacity, I really identified with the opening of Richard Cohen’s column today:

A man my age grows up wondering: Could I have hit the beach at Normandy? How would I have handled being trapped near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, thousands of Chinese pouring over the border and a bitter winter coming on fast? What about Vietnam, or later Iraq and then Afghanistan and Iraq again? I come not from the Greatest Generation but the Wondering One — lucky, a reaper of what others have sown…

By the way, I suspect that the answer for me to the first question is, Yes, I could have hit the beach at Normandy, although I don’t know that. I like to think I could work up the momentary physical courage to do that, just running on pure adrenaline. I might have even made it to the top of the bluff, assuming I survived and could keep the presence of mind to remember why I was there. What I very much doubt I could have done was get through the whole Normandy campaign — much less the fighting across Europe, especially the frozen siege of Bastogne — without cracking. The living-in-foxholes thing would have done me in.

Of course, I don’t know, do I? I might have shot myself in the foot on the day before D-Day.

But that’s not the point of his column. He was leading up to this:

…and now, jaw agape, I wonder about health workers who leave the comforts and certainties of the United States and go to Africa to treat Ebola patients. Who are these people?

Some of them, it seems, are deeply religious. Certainly this is the case with Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola in Liberia and was flown back to the United States for treatment. He survived, testified before Congress, waswelcomed to the White House by President Obama and aw-shucked his considerable courage by invoking God. I envy his faith. I am in awe of his courage….

The piece ended:

“Giving back” has become a trite cliche, uttered by celebrities coached by their PR aides. But there are people who actually do it — not just with money or a photo op playing ball with some kids but by giving their time and, even, their very lives. I want all of them assembled at the White House, as is done for the Super Bowl champs, or marched down Broadway in a blizzard of ticker tape, or merely remanded to our individual places of honor — nagging consciences asking nagging questions: Why them? Why not us?

Amen to that. I’m reminded of this passage from Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court:

There was a slight noise from the direction of the dim corner where the ladder was.  It was the king descending.  I could see that he was bearing something in one arm, and assisting himself with the other.  He came forward into the light; upon his breast lay a slender girl of fifteen.  She was but half conscious; she was dying of smallpox.  Here was heroism at its last and loftiest possibility, its utmost summit; this was challenging death in the open field unarmed, with all the odds against the challenger, no reward set upon the contest, and no admiring world in silks and cloth of gold to gaze and applaud; and yet the king’s bearing was as serenely brave as it had always been in those cheaper contests where knight meets knight in equal fight and clothed in protecting steel.  He was great now; sublimely great.  The rude statues of his ancestors in his palace should have an addition—I would see to that; and it would not be a mailed king killing a giant or a dragon, like the rest, it would be a king in commoner’s garb bearing death in his arms that a peasant mother might look her last upon her child and be comforted…

 

Open Thread for Tuesday, October 21, 2014 — Ennui Edition

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Ferris: Cameron, what have you seen today?
Cameron: Nothing good.
Ferris: Nothing – wha – what do you mean nothing good? We’ve seen everything good. We’ve seen the whole city! We went to a museum, we saw priceless works of art! We ate pancreas!

I thought about doing a Virtual Front Page. It’s been awhile. But I looked around, and it just didn’t seem like there was enough going on out there to warrant one.

I’m not exactly flush with suggestions for an Open Thread, either. Perhaps y’all will be. I seem afflicted with a certain ennui regarding the news, especially on the local level. I try to put my finger on just why that is, and the first thing that occurs to me is this: We’re about to have an election — an important one, in which we will choose this state’s leadership for the next four years.

And… there’s nothing in it to get enthusiastic about, even slightly. It continues to appear, as it has appeared all year (so nothing new there), that we will have another four years of Nikki Haley. Not the end of the world, but not the beginning of one, either. Nothing changes. After eight years of one governor who didn’t believe government should do anything, we’re about to repeat the experience. And I find it very hard to believe that anyone, including Ms. Haley’s most stalwart supporters, is enthusiastic about the prospect.

Things will stay the same. As they always do in South Carolina. One is hard-pressed to think of anything that has happened to dramatically affect our lives in this state since Gov. Fritz Hollings persuaded Sen. Edgar Brown to institute our technical college system over a bottle of bourbon. Oh, wait — I’m forgetting the eventual integration of our schools in 1970, 16 years after Brown v. Board. That has had a gradual, but dramatic, effect  on our state. It has, for instance, led to the long, slow strangulation of support for public education among the white middle class, with such byproducts as the “school choice” movement.

But we have nothing as good as good as the tech schools and integration, or as dramatically devastating as white flight, on our horizon. Just… more of the same. So many things that need to change if we’re to catch up to the rest of the country, but we’re looking at more of the same.

But hey… as I said… maybe y’all can think of something good to talk about…

And maybe I’ll snap out of my Cameron Frye mood. Let’s hope so, because this makes for dismal blogging…

Maybe we should ask Toby Ziegler about the military shuttle

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Today, The New York Times sort of scoffed at its own report, 25 years ago, about the National Aero-Space Plane, which was to boldly go where no man had gone before, spacecraftwise:

In his 1986 State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan promised “a new Orient Express that could, by the end of the next decade, take off from Dulles Airport and accelerate up to 25 times the speed of sound, attaining low-earth orbit or flying to Tokyo within two hours.”

On Oct. 3, 1989, an article in Science Times, “Designing a Plane for the Leap of Space (and Back),” reported frenetic activity at NASA and the Defense Department.

“Scientists and engineers are making rapid progress in developing technologies needed to build a 17,000-mile-an-hour ‘space plane’ that could escape earth’s gravity and circle the globe in 90 minutes,” the article began….

But the whole project was abandoned in 1994, and experts say it remains technologically beyond our reach.

Or does it?

Just this week, the U.S. Air Force’s unmanned X-37B space plane returned to Earth after a mission lasting almost two years.

Or, at least, they say it was unmanned. And they’re not telling us much more about it. Apparently, our government is still capable of keeping some secrets, even in the Edward Snowden era. This leads to speculation:

Theorists speculate the spacecraft is a space bomber, a spy plane against such targets as the Chinese space station, or merely an experiment as the government states, according to a Popular Mechanics story in 2012.

Maybe we could get former White House aide Toby Ziegler to tell us what he knows about it…

Oscar the Grouch is in grave danger

Oscars

I assume you’ve noted the disturbing pattern:

  1. (CNN) — Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who spent half a century putting high society in haute couture, has died. He was 82…
  2. South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has been given five years in jail for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp….

On the chance there is some sort of twist on the Rule of Three in operation here, if you’re Oscar the Grouch, you’ve got to be worried…

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Tearing down the Townhouse

Townhouse

Or rather, the hotel formerly known as the Townhouse. It’s called the Clarion these days.

Once, it was the home of the notorious card games that starred Sen. Jack Lindsey and lobbyist Ron Cobb. The old Townhouse became a familiar part of the tales that made up the Lost Trust epic. There were other local houses of accommodation where inappropriate relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists thrived, but the Townhouse seemed to pick up most of that dubious cachet in the imaginations of those of us who followed such things.

But those days are long gone, and it’s been a generation since the establishment was said to be associated with such goings-on. Or even since it was called the Townhouse.

Now, current management is remaking the place yet again, and much of the old structure is being razed to be replaced. They’re making rapid progress. A few yards more, and I’ll have to move my car (the Clarion is right behind ADCO, and I park against one of its walls).

Interesting that this is happening just as the Bobby Harrell era ends, and we have a good chance of the first meaningful ethics reform since that that followed Lost Trust

Some things I will NOT look at on the Web

This news

Jennifer_LawrencecroppedGoogle has removed two links to a site hosting stolen nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence after requests by the actor’s lawyers.

The takedown requests were filed under the digital millennium copyright act (DMCA), with her lawyers Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp stating that the stolen photos impinged on Lawrence’s copyright….

… reminds me of this new category of Web content that I have gradually become aware of recently.

The Internet grants us access to almost anything that can be digitized. This is both a wonderful blessing and a terrible affliction. Once, I just had to avoid the dictionary to stay on task — if I looked up one word, I’d get sidetracked by fascination, as I’d inadvertently run into one interesting word that led to another that led to another.

Now, I never wonder about anything. No matter what I’m going at the time, if the thought begins to form, “I wonder…,” I stop and look it up — which in turn is likely to lead to link after link, because scratching that itch releases something in my brain, something related to what makes addicts act the way they do… hang on… dopamine. Dang, I could have sworn it was “endorphins,” but it turns out it’s dopamine. “Endorphins” would have given me an excuse to link to that clip in which Annette Bening says, in such a sexy way, that she digs “the endolphin rush.” Which, it turns out, is not that easy to find…

See what I mean?

But there are some things I won’t look at on the Web. There’s been a rash of them lately. They include:

  • The aforementioned nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence. I still agree with Ricky Gervais when he said celebrities should make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of them from their computers by not putting nude photos of themselves on their computers. But I have a responsibility in this, too, which is not to look when celebs fail to exercise that most basic form of good judgment.
  • The ISIL videos of the beheadings of Western journalists. I hear that they’re out there if you look, but I’m just not going to cooperate with the terrorists to the point of looking. I don’t need to get whipped up by viewing these atrocities; I’m fully committed to the “degrade and destroy ISIL” agenda without it.
  • The video of that football player beating up his girlfriend. Everybody has something that turns his stomach, and one that that does that to me is the very thought of a man hitting a woman. I have a very deeply conditioned response of revulsion at such a thing. I don’t ever want to see it. Just knowing it’s out there is bad enough.

What do you pointedly avoid online?

 

No, Nicholas Kristof is NOT putting you on; he doesn’t do that

Nicholas Kristof is a serious, earnest journalist who writes about serious, earnest topics.

So I thought, when I looked at the graphic that appeared with this Tweet, that somebody from The Onion had hacked his Twitter account:


But no, the piece he was linking to was sober and earnest, and no one was trying to make game of the lightly educated. It was just an unfortunately funny example of a sad phenomenon…

Showing a noble, inspiring faith in the possibility of politics

Sue and Jim Rex, at the American Party booth at the SC State Fair.

Sue and Jim Rex, at the American Party booth at the SC State Fair.

I went to the fair today, and saw the usual booths for the Democrats and Republicans, and stayed away from them.

But I stopped to chat at the American Party booth, because one of the founders of the party was there — Jim Rex.

Jim invited me to sign the petition to get a recall power onto the ballot — a measure that would allow voters to dump politicians who have broken the law.

I told him no, I don’t hold with recall petitions. I think elections come soon enough. Although I admit that allowing recall only in cases of illegality is a lot less objectionable than the kind they have in California and other places, which allow voters to dump pols between election on a whim if they choose (thereby eliminating even the rare glimpses of political courage that we occasionally see in non-election years).

Then, we segued into a polite argument about term limits, with me getting on a rhetorical high horse and saying I just have more simple faith in politics than he does. I trust the voters to decide for themselves whether they want somebody for one term, two terms, three terms or 20 terms.

I said that if he wanted to do something about cynical incumbents, noncompetitive elections and apathy, then go to work on a federal constitutional amendment that would end the way we apportion districts in this country. THAT is the cause of all the ills he deplores.

Anyway, looking at the picture I took above of the Rexes causes me to check myself — I shouldn’t have said I have more faith in politics.

There is no greater faith in our system than stepping out and starting a new party, and sticking to it and working as hard at it as the Rexes have, along with Oscar Lovelace and others.

Frankly, I find it inspiring, even when I disagree on policy proposals

As always, #walkraceforlife2014 made for a beautiful morning

I don’t know how the organizers do it, but the weather was once again perfect for Walk for Life.

And for those of you who missed it, here are my Tweets from during the Walk, with photos…

More newspapers have stopped doing endorsements, and their excuses for this cop-out are as lame as ever

Politico notes that more and more newspapers are announcing that they’ll no longer do candidate endorsements.

And as usual with such cop-outs, their excuses for this are completely lame:

Papers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine and Texas have all announced this year that their editorial boards will no longer print the traditional candidate endorsements.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette said they are discontinuing the practice in order to be “an independent voice amid the growing clamor of voices espousing hyper-partisan views.”

Yes, that’s right. You are supposed to be “an independent voice.” And if you, the independent voice, won’t state a preference between the candidates, then the only people out there expressing a preference will be the “growing clamor of voices espousing hyper-partisan views.”

To continue:

It’s a trend that’s been spreading throughout the country, CJR reports. In 2012, the Halifax Media chain said they would stop endorsing ” because endorsing candidates could “create the idea we are not able to fairly cover political races.” The Chicago Sun-Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have also ceased endorsing candidates.

Guess what? People will still accuse you of not fairly covering political races. As has always been the case and always will be the case, people will try to read a bias into every word you write. They will always be looking for an indication that you’re really for the other guy, and in their minds, they will find the proof in every news story.

That’s why, as an institution, you should be honest about any preference you do have. So at least readers can take that institutional preference into consideration in assessing the fairness of your coverage. It makes you more transparent, rather than forcing readers to guess about the biases that they assume you have.

Fortunately, there are still some editors out there who understand what newspapers, and especially editorial pages, are for. As CJR reports:

As for movement in the other direction? The Los Angeles Times, which gave up endorsements in presidential campaigns after 1972, in part because of conflict over its support for Richard Nixon, returned to the practice in 2008. The Times’ reasoning tracked pretty closely with the Chicago Tribune’s 2012 statement on why it plans to keep endorsing: Editorial boards take stands on political issues every day, and it would be odd or even irresponsible to go silent at such a key moment.

Amen to that. I’ve said the same many times: Every day of every year, newspapers publish their opinions on every policy issue under the sun — which is a fine thing in theory, but the fact is that in a representative democracy, a newspaper’s readers can’t do anything about most of those issues. The one time they all get a say is at election time, when they choose the people who actually will act on those issues.

To opine about these issues the rest of the time (and if you don’t think newspapers should express opinions at all, then that’s another issue for another day), and then fail to point out which candidates are most likely to enact the policies one favors, at the critical moment when readers all have a decision to make, is both lazy and cowardly.

Cowardice has always been a factor because close to half of the people reading any endorsement are going to get mad at you about it. So has laziness, as endorsements are labor-intensive. The “lazy” factor is playing a bigger and bigger role as newspaper staffs keep shrinking.

And so it is that I’ve been proud to see Cindi and Warren cranking out endorsements this week, here and here and here and here. I know how much work they’re putting into the process, and I appreciate it.

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Joe Wilson says Hamas could attack U.S. with Ebola

Joe Hamas

Today, our own Rep. Joe Wilson is enjoying his biggest splash on social media since his “You lie!” glory days. A sampling:


Here’s a link to video of the congressman setting forth this theory.

Sen. Tim Scott: Ban travel from Ebola-stricken countries

And now, we have this proposal from U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC:

Charleston, SC – U.S. Senator Tim Scott released the following statement regarding travel restrictions from Ebola-stricken nations in West Africa. Senator Scott is a member of both the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees.Scott,Tim

“First and foremost, my heart goes out to those infected with Ebola and their families both in the United States and in West Africa. This is a terrible virus, and one the world must come together to stop.

As infections continue to spread here in the United States, the trust of the American people has been shaken by the administration’s response thus far. It is clear that a temporary travel ban for foreign nationals traveling from Ebola-stricken nations in West Africa should be put in place. The President has the authority to do so, and we have seen that airport screenings and self-reporting simply are not enough.

While both the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health state that patients without a fever are not contagious, recent studies from West Africa show that almost 13 percent of confirmed cases did not present with a fever. Screenings have also only been initiated at five airports, and even at airports travelers’ symptoms can be masked by over-the-counter medications.

This is about the safety of the American people, and nothing more. As the fight against Ebola continues, a temporary travel ban for foreign nationals traveling from the epicenter of the outbreak is a necessity.”

###

I find myself wondering: Did he decide independently to join the voices advocating this, or did Republicans get together and decide that his was the most sympathetic face they had for advancing such a proposal?

I say that in part because, although a number of Republicans have said it, it has tended to be those in tight races, such as Scott Brown and Thom Tillis. Sen. Scott, of course, is in the opposite of a “tight race.”

Ebola bridesmaids: First the ugly dresses, now THIS…

As if bridesmaids didn’t have it bad enough already:

Health officials say five bridesmaids of a Texas nurse with Ebola are among at least nine people voluntarily quarantined in northeast Ohio.

The Akron Beacon Journal (http://bit.ly/1oecJic ) reports Summit County Health Commissioner Gene Nixon identified the others as a bridesmaid’s husband and three children of bridesmaids who didn’t have direct contact with 29-year-old Amber Vinson.

Nixon said the bridesmaids and Vinson were at an Akron bridal shop last Saturday….

Fortunately, none are showing symptoms…

The funny thing is, this time things actually ARE that desperate for the Democrats

Among the “end of the world as we know it” emails I’ve received today from the Democratic Party is this plaintive lament:

We’re out of people to email you.

In the last week, you should have received an email from:

— President Obama
— Nancy Pelosi
— And every other Democrat on the planet

But it just wasn’t enough. The Koch Brothers’ last-minute ad blitz just made it too tough to catch up before last night’s deadline.

We’re not making this stuff up. Control of Congress is at stake. We’re dangerously behind. And we just fell short on the final public fundraising deadline of the election.

So here’s our last ditch effort: we’re extending the triple-match TODAY ONLY. We need 9OOO more donations in the next 12 hours if we want any shot at giving President Obama a Democratic victory in this election.

We’re begging, Brad. Can you chip in right now?…

As you know if you’ve ever found yourself on one of these email lists, all of them sound like that. The world’s about to end, you’ve been reached out to by people pretending to be various famous party members, and there’s a demon on the other side. With Democrats, the demon is usually the Koch Brothers or Karl Rove or their imaginary War on Women.

Basically, they’re always freaking out.

But as I read this particular cry for help, something struck me: This time, the Democrats really are in dire straits. Not that that matters, of course — I wouldn’t give two cents for either party to come out on top. But for once, all their moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth actually has a foundation.

Every indicator out there shows that Republicans are going to win pretty much across the board. They’re going to keep the House, and win the Senate. All the energy and enthusiasm is on the GOP side, all the depression on the Democratic side.

Things are looking so bad for the Dems, such tectonic forces are at work, that it really doesn’t matter whether you give them money or not. (And of course, I would urge you not to.)

The Democrats are in the same situation Mr. Posner was in when Billy Jack told him he was going to take THIS foot and kick him on THAT side of his head:

There’s not a damn’ thing they’re going to be able to do about it.

Join us on Twitter tonight to talk about Walk for Life!

As you know, this Saturday is the Walk for Life, the Palmetto Health Foundation event that raises money and awareness to fight breast cancer in our community.

As you also know, each year I walk in the event with my wife, a breast cancer survivor, and several of my children and grandchildren.

And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the following for having contributed money to the bradwarthen.com Walk team’s effort (in addition to some of my family members, not listed):

  • Debra Brooks
  • Dianne Chinnes
  • Doug Ross
  • Mr. Canute Magalhaes
  • Mr. Jeff Miller
  • Mr. Mark Stewart
  • Trip DuBard

Thanks so much, everybody! And if you have not contributed and would still like to, just go to this page and click on “Donate.”

Now, you may not know that I and several others will be Tweeting about Walk for Life from 7:30 to 8 p.m. this very night.

Come join the conversation!

Ebola in the U.S. has now reached the critical ‘WTF?’ stage

800px-Ebola_virus_virion

So, let’s review the chart here, shall we?

  • Patient presents at Dallas hospital with symptoms consistent with Ebola. He tells ER staff that he’s been in a country affected by the outbreak. They send him home.
  • He comes back to the hospital days later, is finally diagnosed and treated, but dies — which of course is going to happen in far too many cases with this horrific disease.
  • It takes DAYS for anyone to take it upon themselves to put on hazmat suits and go clean out the apartment where this guy was sick before going into the hospital. Human beings are living in that apartment during that time.
  • We learn that a nurse at the hospital that treated the deceased has contracted the disease. This shatters our hubris about how, here in the U.S. we know how to treat infectious diseases safely.
  • Today, we learn that a second nurse who treated this patient is sick with Ebola. Which makes us wonder what in the world kinds of procedures were in place at that hospital. And whether Ebola transmits a LOT more easily than we had been told.
  • Between being infected and showing symptoms, the second nurse flew to Cleveland and back, the return trip on the day before coming down with the disease. Authorities are now trying to reach the 132 people who were on board  Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas with her on Monday. She was supposedly being monitored for signs of Ebola during the period in which she took this trip.

OK, so maybe the proper, professional reaction to these developments isn’t “WTF?,” but a more dignified, “Really?”

But a great deal of incredulity is a natural reaction, along with more than a little alarm.

As we speak, all over the country, hospitals and government health officials are (one hopes) reviewing plans and procedures. Which is good, because Ebola is horrible enough, and enough people are going to suffer and die, without committing boneheaded errors that help it along…

Before the last few weeks, everything I knew about Ebola came from Tom Clancy novels — specifically, Executive Orders (in which a fictional Iranian regime launches a deliberate germ-warfare attack on the United States using the virus, infecting thousands) and Rainbow Six (in which a super-radical environmental group, backed by a billionaire businessman, attempts to wipe out the rest of the human race using the disease).

Ever read a Tom Clancy novel? He was a great respecter of expertise, of whatever type — military, medical, what have you, his tales were filled with calm, super-competent professionals who always knew exactly what to do in a dangerous situation, and usually did it flawlessly. He was a great admirer not only of technology, but of procedure. When a patient came in with a high fever, nausea and petechiae, the staff swept into action sealing off the area and instituting ironclad safety procedures, making sure none of the medical professionals contracts the disease, and even if they do, that they don’t take it out into the world with them.

Apparently, it doesn’t always work that way in the real world. To say the least…

Did you see last night’s debate? I missed it…

I was traveling back from Memphis and missed last night’s gubernatorial debate. I do have these two releases from the SC Democratic and Republican parties. But somehow, I don’t think I’m getting the full story.

First, the Democrats:

Harrison: Sheheen Clear Winner of Debate As Haley Caught in Multiple Lies

Charleston, SC — SCDP Chairman Jaime Harrison released this statement following tonight’s first gubernatorial debate in Charleston:

“Sen. Sheheen was the clear winner of tonight’s debate. Vincent Sheheen made a compelling case for his plan to bring honest leadership and real accountability to South Carolina. Nikki Haley got caught in multiple lies about her jobs numbers, her record of repeatedly violating our ethics laws, and her failure to lead on roads, education, and helping hardworking families. There is a clear choice this November, and Vincent Sheheen is the only choice for South Carolinians who want a governor they can trust.”

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Now, the Republicans:

Press Release: SCGOP Chair Moore congratulates Governor Haley on Debate Victory

North Charleston, S.C. – South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore issued the following statement tonight following Governor Haley’s gubernatorial debate victory:

“Tonight’s debate was a resounding victory for Governor Nikki Haley. Governor Haley is the only candidate with a clear, conservative record of results and a positive vision for South Carolina,” said SCGOP Chairman Matt Moore. “Vincent Sheheen’s mud-slinging debate performance, coupled with his full-on embrace of President Obama’s failed policies, shows why his campaign is failing and he’s the wrong choice for South Carolina.”

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Reading stuff like that is SO dispiriting. Makes me depressed about the whole process, and glad that I missed the debate, if it was anything like those descriptions.

It also reminds me of why I wanted to switch from news to editorial years ago. The “objective news” model holds that if someone tells you the sky is white, you dutifully write that down and then run to somebody else who tells you the sky is black, and you write that down carefully. Then you write a story that reads like this:

Joe Blow today said the sky is white. However, John Jones insisted that it is black.

And you dust your hands and congratulate yourself for having written a balanced story. Trouble is, you haven’t told your readers the truth about the sky, which you can see for yourself. Opinion writing allows you to say that the sky is, indeed, blue.

So how about it? Any opinions about last night’s debate?

Open Thread for Monday, October 13, 2014

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First, happy birthday to my Uncle Woody.

Now, here are some possible topics:

  1. CDC: Unclear how many in Dallas were exposed to Ebola — First, we heard about how this got out of control in Africa because those poor, benighted folk lack the medical care we have in the developed world. Then, we tsk-tsked about how Spain couldn’t even protect its health care workers. Now, it turns out we can’t, either.
  2. Vatican Signals More Lenient Stance on Gays and Divorce — I read this, but didn’t see any news in it. I think this, and the Pope’s previous comments, seem like big news to people who didn’t understand the Church to start with. It’s all a matter of emphasis. I applaud what Pope Francis has chosen to emphasize, but it’s no radical departure.
  3. Kim Jong-un reappears after absence — Oh, well. It was too much of a good thing to last.

I tried to find something local, but I didn’t see much but crime and sports. But maybe there’s something good that I missed. In any case, y’all talk about what interests you

Haley, Sheheen SHOULD join together to call for a ‘yes’ vote on adjutant general reform

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On Nov. 4, South Carolina voters have the chance to put an end to an embarrassing anomaly — we have the power to cease to be the only state in the union that elects its adjutant general, the leader of the state’s National Guard.

The reasons why it’s a horrible idea to have a popularly elected general are many; Cindi Scoppe goes over some of them in her column today. It’s something I’ve never had to think about very hard, because when I was a kid, I lived in a place where it was accepted that that military officers got mixed up in politics.

In fact, it was far from an abstraction to me. We lived in the upstairs of a large house that was owned by a captain in the Ecuadorean Navy. One day, the captain asked if he could borrow our part of the duplex. My parents went out, and my brothers and I went downstairs to stay in the captain’s part of the house, while the captain and an Ecuadorean admiral met upstairs in our home. The next day, the president of the country had been put on a plane to Panama, the admiral was the head of the new military junta running the country, and our landlord was the minister of agriculture.

Actually, given what a disaster el presidente had been, Ecuador was no worse off. But in a country such as hours, with it’s deeply treasured culture of constitutional government and subservience of the military to legal authority, such a development would be catastrophic. Fortunately in our national history, such events have remained the stuff of political fiction such as “Seven Days in May.”

Except in South Carolina, where we require our top general to be a politician first (and really don’t even require him to have any military background at all).

Fortunately, our current adjutant general, Bob Livingston, is a well-qualified officer who also understands that we need to do away with this anomaly. That’s a very good thing, since his predecessors resisted reform, and the Guard followed their lead, and the electorate followed the Guard.

But now we have the opportunity to change the situation. We also have two people running for governor — the incumbent, Nikki Haley, and Sen. Vincent Sheheen — who are both known for advocating this reform (as well as doing away with other unnecessarily elected constitutional officers). In her column today, Cindi put forth a great idea:

Most of all, we need to hear from the most visible advocates of empowering governors to act like governors: Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Vincent Sheheen. This is a signature issue for both of them. It’s not too much to ask them to set aside their bickering for long enough to make a joint appearance — or to cut a TV ad together — asking voters to vote yes for the military meritocracy.

If they’re not willing to put some skin in the game, they’ll have no one but themselves to blame if we keep electing the adjutant general — and all of those other constitutional officers who ought to be appointed.

That would be wonderful on so many levels — including the first level, which is that it would make this long-awaited reform all that much more likely to occure.