Open Thread for Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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Some possible topics:

Whoa! I need to run out and vote for sheriff — This totally snuck up on me, which never would have happened when I was still at the paper. Any of you who also live in Lexington County, please share any thoughts you have on the subject. I’m probably going to follow my colleagues’ advice (they’ve met with and quizzed all of these guys; I have not) and vote for Jay Koon, even though the governor backs him.

Netanyahu Criticizes ‘Bad Deal’ — Don’t know whether he’s right or not. But I agree with Susan Rice (for once) that “A bad deal is worse than no deal.” Hope she means it. But now that it’s done, what do y’all think? Should Bibi have spoken to Congress, or not?

House passes legislation to fully fund DHS — I know it was silly of me to worry, but I seldom travel by air, and I’ve never traveled as far from home as we’re about to, and it was stressing me just a little bit to think of having to deal with ticked-off TSA workers who are not getting paid to work. After all, I went to all that trouble to buy a backpack that I was assured was the right size for carryon, and what if I get somebody who arbitrarily announces it isn’t? I don’t want to check it and lose all my stuff somewhere between here and Southeast Asia…

Y’all have any other ideas?

And just for a little something extra to talk about: Do you suppose even Robin Hood could have done this?

OK, let’s talk about ‘House of Cards,’ Season 3

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Some of y’all brought up this topic on a previous thread, so I thought I’d start a separate one.

Like many of you, I’ve at least gotten started on the new season of “House of Cards.” I’ve watched four episodes so far. Don’t know whether I’ll continue.

I managed to slog through last season, and was actually missing it a little when someone suggested I try watching “The West Wing,” which I had never seen. As you know, I really, really loved that show, and went on and on about it here. And now that I’ve watched a show about Washington that is that enjoyable, it’s hard to sit still for something that doesn’t have a single likable character.

Perhaps I will go back and finish watching the original, British version — even though M. just gave away the ending (I won’t link to that spoiler, on the previous thread). I did like it a little better — although I only saw the first series, or season…

In these few episodes so far of the new season, I feel like the writers have run out of ideas, and are getting frustrated trying to think of new, more shocking ways for Frank Underwood to show how thoroughly rotten he is.

Slight spoiler: Take the opening scene of the first episode. You sort of knew what he was about to do standing at his father’s grave. And one’s credulity is strained. Frank is supposed to be smart. What if the request of one of the journos to get closer and observe Frank at the grave had been granted? It could have happened. And that would have been it for F.U.

Slightly worse spoiler: And what about the end of the fourth episode, which I saw last night? You can almost hear the writer thinking, What could Frank do, face-to-face with a nearly lifesize crucifix, that would still be shocking? And yes, it manages to shock (or at least offend), even though something very like it is anticipated. What’s not credible about the scene is how Frank got there. We are led to believe that Frank has a conscience and that it’s nagging at him, so he goes to the church sincerely seeking moral guidance (and if he’s not sincere, what is he doing there, since there’s no audience to perform for) — but then recoils at the central Christian message. Love is what causes him to back away and revert to type. Which is true to his character. It’s just not credible that he would have been there in the first place.

Anyway, what do y’all think so far?

My favorite Leonard Nimoy tribute item

I really enjoyed learning about the Jewish roots of Mr. Spock’s “live long and prosper” gesture.

Nimoy was a guy who deserved to be known for more than that one rather cheesy (no, really, I’ve been watching it on Netflix) TV show. But at least he was loved for it, and I’m glad he became reconciled to that later in life….

Oh, and my second favorite Nimoy tribute was the one below, by Astronaut Terry Virts:

Open Thread for Monday, March 2, 2015

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In five days, I’ll be on the way to Thailand, so I’ve got a lot on my plate, but will try to keep the blog going. That’s going to be tough while I’m gone, because I’m not taking my laptop.

So let’s make the most of what we’ve got now:

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham heads to New Hampshire next week to test 2016 waters — I can tell him right now, any water up there is likely to be solid.

Iraq ‘seizes districts from IS’ — While the U.S. sits back and watches. Forget the Chinese. Maybe this will end up being the Iranian Century…

Gov. Nikki Haley on economic trip to undisclosed location — Maybe she can say hey to Dick Cheney for us. Seriously, I hope the trip goes well for SC.

Turns out Obama loves us after all…

As you’ve heard, Rudy Giuliani recently said, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me.”

Well, speak for yourself, Mr. Mayor.

We had kinda wondered whether he loved us here in South Carolina — as of when I wrote this post, we were one of only three states he had not visited as president — but now all our concerns are assuaged:

President Barack Obama will visit Benedict College in Columbia on Friday for a youth event, The White House said.

Obama has not visited South Carolina since winning the state’s Democratic presidential primary on Jan. 26, 2008….

Details about the president’s visit will be released later this week, The White House said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, has worked to bring Obama back to South Carolina.

“I’m pleased to welcome President Barack Obama back to South Carolina,” Clyburn said in statement provided to The State. “I thank President David Swinton and the Benedict College family for hosting President Obama’s event with students and youth leaders.”…

Don’t open that email! I’ve been hacked…

I just went out to pick up some lunch, and on the way there and back, I heard from two people via text and two by phone that they had received an email from me that said something about a Google Doc.

Well, I did not send ANY such message. Apparently, my ADCO account has been hacked.

DON’T open it!

I apologize for any inconvenience…

Obviously, it’s blue and BROWN

I was rather puzzled reading this story in The Washington Post this morning, about some huge social media controversy over whether this dress is white and gold, or blue and black.

When, of course, it’s obviously blue and a particularly muddled sort of brown.

Here’s the only explanation the story offered:

The answer involves how light enters the eye and the split-second decisions your brain makes upon discerning that information — without your even noticing. When confronted by an ambiguous situation like this dress, your brain may eliminate one color and focus on another. “Our visual system is supposed to throw away information,” University of Washington neuroscientist Jay Neitz told Wired.

And for whatever reason, whether it’s a skewed white balance or the lighting behind the dress, this image hits people in different ways. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black,” Bevil Conway of Wellesley College told Wired….

I was SUCH a good boy this morning

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I resisted temptation, but I DID take a picture. So does this qualify as food porn?

 

So here it is the second Friday in Lent, and this morning, for the first time in a couple of weeks, the breakfast buffet at the club had those lovely, juicy, fat sausages that I like so much.

But… I… did… not… indulge!

So I expect you all to be terribly impressed at my virtue and self-discipline…

Tony Keck: The pro from Dover who turned out just to be another hired gun

Just want to make sure you don’t miss Cindi Scoppe’s column today. The headline in the paper was “The anti-Medicaid argument unmasked.” It’s a bit more descriptive online: “What does it mean that SC Gov Nikki Haley’s chief anti-Medicaid lobbyist has changed his tune to match his new job?” (Which, of course, would not have fit in the paper.)

An excerpt:

THE POST and Courier had an article the other day about the conversion of Tony Keck, who served as Gov. Nikki Haley’s chief Medicaid-expansion opponent before he left last year to take a job with a Tennessee hospital system that, like pretty much any hospital system in the country, supports the Medicaid expansion that he worked so hard to block on this side of the border.

Under the headline “Former Haley health care adviser says Medicaid expansion might work elsewhere,” the article noted that Mr. Keck’s new employer supported the recent attempt to expand the program in Tennessee, and it quoted Mr. Keck as saying that expanding Medicaid to cover more people under Obamacare “might be the best choice for some states, and it might not be in other states.”

And you could just feel Medicaid supporters in our state rising up in smug unison to cry out “Hypocrite!” Sort of like they did when he first landed his new gig, only louder…

You have to understand that Keck was important to selling the completely bankrupt notion that South Carolina shouldn’t expand Medicaid, and get a huge windfall from the feds to provide medical care to South Carolinians — not to mention providing a lot of good jobs at hospitals.

Keck was portrayed as this whiz kid who could back up the Tea Party article of blind faith (and blind hostility to anything branded “Obama”) with what sounded to a lot of people like compelling fact.

But now that his bread is buttered on the other side, he has discovered that Medicaid expansion is a good thing for “some states.” Such as the one where he’s working now.

Yep, it’s a good thing for “some states,” all right. Such as South Carolina, and the other 49. And it always was.

“Some states” and not others? Really? What a bunch of hooey. Another excerpt:

… Mr. Keck was the respectable face of Gov. Nikki Haley’s purely partisan, and tea-partian, opposition to a program that, by any honest analysis, would be good for our state. Maybe not for our nation — and maybe that’s how we ought to look at it — but clearly good for our state, which is how our legislators normally look at such things.

Mr. Keck was the outside expert, the wunderkind our governor wooed away from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, who understood public health and public-health finances. The person who could make a respectable argument that didn’t sound like warmed-over talking points from the National Republican Committee or FOX News. Certainly that’s why I always liked and respected him, even though I disagreed with him.

But it turns out that for all of his expertise, he was, first and foremost, a hired hand. The guy hawking Big Macs not because he liked them best but because he worked for McDonalds. The guy waving the pom-poms for Medicaid rejection not because that was what was best for our state — or at least not primarily because of that — but because that’s what the boss was selling….

But that’s not the bad part. You know what the bad part is? That now that there is no pretense about the fact that the anti-Medicaid emperor never had on a stitch of clothing, we are still stuck with no Medicaid expansion.

Why? Because Nikki Haley, and too many of her allies, don’t care what the facts are. They don’t want South Carolinians receiving this benefit, and that’s that.

Open Thread for Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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You ever go to type “2015,” and think, “What happened? How did I get transported so far into the future all of a sudden?” Drat that Doc Brown

Anyway, here are some possible topics. You may have some others in mind:

DHEC board chair defends Kitzman hiring process as new search begins — Talk about defending the indefensible. Yet, “In an email Tuesday evening to The State, board chairman Allen Amsler answered ‘no’ when asked if the eight-member panel made any mistakes in the process of choosing Kitzman as director….” Wowee.

Haley: SC should not borrow $500 million — And as is her wont, she’s talking about Brian White as though he were some wild-eyed, free-spending liberal or something (as if we’d seen anyone like that in leadership positions in the Legislature in the past decade or two): “We got an issue of a chairman of Ways and Means who wants to … run up the credit card debt just because he can.”

Marijuana set to be legalized in D.C. at midnight — You mean, those people up there weren’t already stoned the last few years? Their judgment is going to be further impaired? Maybe it’s a good thing I’m about to leave the country for awhile. Speaking of which…

DHS shutdown: Boehner says House in ‘wait-and-see mode’ as deadline looms — Yeah, they would go messing with the agency that handles airport security right when I’m about to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Far East. Sheesh.

Y’all have anything better to bring up?

OK, now I’m starting to get a little interested in this net neutrality thing

On one level, I’m posting these videos purely for the enjoyment of Doug and others who think the government exists to screw things up.

On another…

Well, I’ve never really gotten into this net neutrality debate because a) honestly, I’ve never read enough about it to confidently say I fully understand it, and b) I can’t tell from what little I know which side is right, so I don’t really have a position on it.

But wow — these heavy-handed “government is stupid and malicious” videos are telling me maybe I’d better get hip to this issue. These videos are entertaining, until you realize they’re not really kidding. These folks want you to think that net neutrality is a menace.

That makes me think maybe the other side has a point, and that maybe somebody needs to stand up for it.

But I still don’t know enough to say for sure…

Would a Haley endorsement be helpful in 2016?

Forgot to pass this on yesterday…

The Washington Post writes that Nikki Haley, while committing to no one, seems likely to support Jeb Bush in 2016:

Back in 2010, when the governor of South Carolina was merely “Nikki Who?,” running behind in a four-person Republican primary with her top supporter mired in scandal, Jeb Bush gave her some advice.

“Everything had blown up and I was trying to figure out what to do,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in an interview Saturday with reporters from The Washington Post. “I just asked what he thought I should do, and he said, ‘You know, consultants are going to tell you to stay on the phone and raise money. But what I’ll tell you is go out and touch every hand you can.'”

Haley followed Bush’s counsel, and the rest is history. Later that year, after she was elected, she called Bush, a former Florida governor, for advice on setting up an administration. Then when she tackled education reform, she called again. “Can you save me a couple of steps?” Haley recalled asking Bush. “He said, ‘If you do anything, make sure your kids can read.'”

Now it’s Bush who will be seeking Haley’s help. As he weighs a run for president in 2016, South Carolina is poised to again be the first primary in the South, and Haley figures to be one of the state’s prized endorsers.

In the interview, Haley said she has no plans yet to back any candidate. “I think what I’ll do is watch,” she said. But Haley was particularly complimentary of the governors in the emerging field, including Bush….

Our governor backed the Establishment candidate last time around, and it didn’t turn out so well — which MAY have had something to do with her support.

While I was worried that something weird was in the air, when I had to get up in front of a bunch of people in Key West and predict what was going to happen in the 2012 SC primary, I said SC would do what it always does, and back Mitt Romney (the closest thing we had to a Bush in that contest).

Well, I missed it, which may be why I haven’t been invited back to speak to that particular group since then.

South Carolina did something I had not seen it do in the past six election cycles, that is to say, the ones I had been in position to observe closely: It went with a red-meat-throwing insurgent rather than the Establishment guy.

Before that happened, I had noticed that an unusually large number of leading GOP figures had been lining up behind Newt Gingrich. When I asked one of them, after the vote, how that happened, he gave me a number of reasons for it. And one of them was that a number of top Republicans didn’t want to see the governor be “queen of the May,” reflecting in glory from having her guy win.

All of that said, I think the ground has shifted since then. More Republicans than ever seem reconciled to having Nikki Haley as their leader, and most profess to like the situation. And some of her greatest detractors — think Bobby Harrell — are gone from the scene.

So I’m thinking the Haley endorsement might be a good thing to have this time…

About Giuliani calling Obama ‘anticolonial’

Tout le monde is distancing itself from Rudy Giuliani’s recent comments about POTUS at the 21 Club, including fellow Republicans.

And let me display my right-thinking bona fides by saying, Bad Rudy — BAD!

But I think he probably hit the mark, in one small respect, when defending himself later:

We are at risk of running out of dead horse to flog, but there’s one more aspect of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s anti-Obama comments that’s worth isolating. Speaking with reporters from the New York Times, Giuliani denied that his statement that President Obama doesn’t love America was related in any way to the president’s race. “This isn’t racism,” Giuliani said. “This is socialism or possibly anticolonialism.”…

Not on the “socialism” part, but on the “anticolonialism” bit.

We’ve been here before. We had one heck of a lively discussion of this point back in 2010.

And on another occasion, I referred to it in the next-to-last bullet of this list I composed explaining all the ways that Obama is different, way different, from any previous president (in a piece headlined, “It’s not just that he’s black, because he isn’t“):

  • His name. “Barack Hussein Obama.” It’s extremely foreign. Set aside the connection with Islam and Arabic, and all the freight those carry at this point in history (such as the uncanny closeness to the name “Osama”), for a moment. Just in terms of being different, it’s easily light years beyond the name of anyone else who has even come close to occupying the Oval Office. The most exotic name of any previous president, by far, was “Roosevelt.” I mean, “Millard Fillmore” was goofy-sounding, but it sounded like an English-speaker. And I don’t think it was a coincidence that the first Catholic to receive a major party nomination had the vanilla/whitebread name “Al Smith.”
  • His father was a foreigner, regardless of his race. He was a man who spent almost none of his life in this country. He came here briefly, fathered a child, and went home. Show me the parallel to that in the biographies of former presidents.
  • While he never really knew his father (he had to learn about him at a distance, the way we learn about figures in history), he did know his stepfather, who was Indonesian. Young Barry spent a goodly portion of his childhood in Indonesia. In my earlier column I drew a parallel to my own childhood sojourn in South America, but I was there undeniably as an American. Barry Obama lived in SE Asia as an Indonesian, or as close to it as someone of Caucasian/African heritage could.
  • The fact that, to the extent that he is connected to African roots, it is a heritage that is totally divorced from most presidents’ sense of connection to Europe. I didn’t fully realize that until the Churchill bust episode, which caused some Brit to note something that hadn’t fully occurred to me: This is the first president the modern UK has had to deal with who doesn’t have the Special Relationship hard-wired into his sense of self, if not his genes. In fact, quite the contrary: Unlike any previous president (except maybe Kennedy, who spent his adult life living down his father’s pro-German sympathies leading up to WWII), Obama’s grandfather actually experienced political oppression at the hands of British colonialists.
  • His unearthly cool. His intellectual detachment, the sense he projects that he takes nothing personally. Weirdly, this takes a trait usually associated, in most stereotypical assumptions, with Northern Europeans, and stretches it until it screams. He looks at problems the way a clinical observer does. Probably more maddeningly to his detractors, he looks at his fellow Americans that way — as though he is not one of them; he is outside; he has something of the air of an entomologist studying beetles with a magnifying glass.

When I say different, I’m trying to explain the visceral response that so many have on the right to this president. You can see their brains going, he’s not one of us, and it’s something that goes way beyond his being biracial. He just has a really, really different background from any other American who has risen up to lead the country. And people who have more conventional, staid, less-interesting, dare I say boring, backgrounds can be put off by it. (Actually, much of Obama’s background causes me to identify with him — see, “Barack Like Me.” But my personal story isn’t nearly as interesting and unusual as his…)

Back to anticolonialism… While many top American political leaders may look askance at the colonial era, and sympathize with the colonized, none before now had VERY recent ancestors who were colonized, and therefore an identification with the nonEuropean point of view. And I think that makes a difference, for good or ill.

So I don’t think Giuliani was off the mark on that point, however bad what he did with it may be…

Eleanor Kitzman out; the Senate played its proper role

We seldom find startling state political news in the paper on a Monday, because things don’t work that way in South Carolina. (Actually, not all that much happens on Sundays in Washington, either, although the Sunday talking-head shows sometimes create an illusion of activity.)

So it was a pleasant surprise to see this on the front page of The State today:

Eleanor Kitzman withdraws her name as DHEC agency head candidate

sfretwell@thestate.comFebruary 22, 2015 Updated 14 hours ago

The search for a new S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control director will be reopened now that Eleanor Kitzman has chosen not to seek the position.

Kitzman withdrew her name Sunday from consideration as DHEC director, just three days after being grilled by Democratic state senators about her lack of experience and conflicting statements they said she had made….

Actually, in a sense, the search won’t be “reopened.” It will begin for the first time, since the DHEC board conducted no search — it simply went with the governor’s pal without seeking other resumes.

It will be interesting to see whether the board does its job this time. And of course, I’m defining “do its job” as something other than saying “how high?” when the governor says “Jump!”

Oh, and I’m also anxious to find out the answer to this lingering question:

It was not clear Sunday night whether Kitzman would keep a temporary $74-per-hour job given to her by the agency’s acting director until the confirmation process was completed…

There were a number of weird things about this situation, and that was one of the weirdest. Or “is” one of the weirdest, if she doesn’t quit that job…

These crazy kids today: They prefer to read dead trees

I spoke to the newsroom staff of The Daily Gamecock on Friday, and learned a surprising thing: While older folks (alumni and parents) tend to read the online version, most actual students don’t. They prefer to read it on paper.

In a couple of ways that makes sense — the students can pick up the paper for free as they go into and come out of classes, so it’s just convenient to pick one up and peruse it. Meanwhile, alumni and parents don’t have such easy access to the print version.

But it still surprised me. I mean, I have easy access to The State and The Wall Street Journal, as I get both at home. But I almost never read them on paper. I prefer the iPad apps. It’s just easier to flip through the paper on a tablet while sitting at the breakfast table than to unfold the paper, turn the pages, try to fold it back into a convenient size and shape for continued reading, and so forth. And it always seems like the section you want has walked away somewhere. That doesn’t happen with a tablet.

And I never see the print version of The Washington Post, to which I also subscribe, at all.

So what’s with these wacky kids today?

I learned of this seeming anomaly from Sarah Scarborough, the advertising manager for Student Media. She told me about it before I met the news staff. Then it came up again while I was talking with the students, as they asked whether I had any ideas for making the online version more appealing to their fellow students.

But this is not just a USC phenomenon. One of the things I read on my Washington Post app this morning was this:

Why digital natives prefer reading in print. Yes, you read that right.

February 22 at 7:27 PM

Frank Schembari loves books — printed books. He loves how they smell. He loves scribbling in the margins, underlining interesting sentences, folding a page corner to mark his place.

Schembari is not a retiree who sips tea at Politics and Prose or some other bookstore. He is 20, a junior at American University, and paging through a thick history of Israel between classes, he is evidence of a peculiar irony of the Internet age: Digital natives prefer reading in print.

“I like the feeling of it,” Schembari said, reading under natural light in a campus atrium, his smartphone next to him. “I like holding it. It’s not going off. It’s not making sounds.”

Textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer print for pleasure and learning, a bias that surprises reading experts given the same group’s proclivity to consume most other content digitally. A University of Washington pilot study of digital textbooks found that a quarter of students still bought print versions of e-textbooks that they were given for free.

“These are people who aren’t supposed to remember what it’s like to even smell books,” said Naomi S. Baron, an American University linguist who studies digital communication. “It’s quite astounding.”…

Anyone else find this surprising?

I knew Strom Thurmond. And Joe Biden is no Strom Thurmond (yet)

Washington is abuzz with how Joe Biden has apparently devolved from good ol’ Uncle Joe to the “Creepy Uncle.”

The latest cause of these musings — and perhaps the last straw, some are indicating — is the incident in which the veep was all over the wife of Ashton Carter while the new SecDef was being sworn in:

This has led the media, both new and old, to recall similar incidents. New York magazine has put together a slideshow. Enjoy.

The Washington Post has run a fun piece imagining an intervention in which everyone Joe knows — “Jill, Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia, John (Kerry), John (McCain) and several women he recognizes only from having told them, once, in passing ‘No dates ’til you’re 30!'” stage an intervention to put an end to his pawing and whispering. An excerpt:

“Do any of these women look comfortable?” Sasha asks. She produces the most recent picture.

Joe squints at the picture. “Looks pretty comfortable to me,” he says. “Jill, that’s a comfortable face, right? That face says ‘I’m comfortable around this suave man.’”

“No,” Jill says….

Then there’s the Top Ten list of what Biden may have whispered to Stephanie Carter, courtesy of David Letterman:

10. “Let me know when this gets weird.”
9. “What is that, Pert Plus?”
8. “You have the clavicle of a much younger woman.”
7. “Have you seen ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?”
6. “Is that the necklace I gave you?”
5. “I haven’t heard a word your husband said.”
4. “You look like young Jeanne Kirkpatrick.”
3. “Ever heard of a second Second Lady?”
2. “I don’t have a time machine but I do have a hot tub.”
1. “In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, ‘I’m not 100 percent sober.'”

Not everyone is taking it lightly, though. Here’s a more serious piece setting out why our gregarious vice president should “probably” cut it out.

Yet Joe is a piker, a paragon of 21st-century Proximity Correctness, compared to his old friend Strom Thurmond, whom he famously eulogized so eloquently right here in Columbia.

Just to give you an idea of the difference, let’s turn again to the pages of New York magazine, which, in a piece about Sally Quinn, quoted from a book about Strom by our own Jack Bass:

Washington writer Sally Quinn told of a 1950s reception where: “My mother and I headed for the buffet table. As we were reaching for the shrimp, both of us jumped and let out a shriek. Senator Strom Thurmond, grinning from ear to ear, had one hand on my behind and the other on my mother’s. As I recall, we were both quite flattered, and thought it terribly funny and wicked of Ol’ Strom.”…

Perhaps we should stage the actual intervention sometime before Joe reverts to that standard of groping…

 

Steve Benjamin’s new look

Since relatively few of y’all follow me on Twitter (which you should, because that’s kind of where I’m blogging when I’m not here), I thought I’d share this Tweet from last night:

This was taken as the mayor was leaving a reception honoring local attorney and former city councilman Luther Battiste, upon the addition of his papers to the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library at USC. Luther is a notorious packrat. Like me. But unlike me, he has managed to save some pretty interesting stuff from over the years.

And truth be told, this isn’t really a “new look.” He hasn’t turned a sartorial page, as it were. The mayor explained that he’d been home all day, and this was his first event outside of the house, so he just didn’t bother to get all gussied up.

His second event of the day was the Solomon-Tenenbaum lecture, which I also attended.

Open Thread for Thursday, February 19, 2015

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Some possible conversation-starters:

The Kitzman confirmation hearings begin — It will be interesting to see whether the Senate really holds the governor accountable on this one. The story at thestate.com doesn’t say much so far, but you might want to peruse Jamie Self’s Twitter feed. Here are some items that interested me:

On to other topics:

Senate bill calls for ousting SC State trustees — The lurid saga continues. By the way, I saw an interesting headline in the NYT this morning, but haven’t had time to read it: “How to Hold Colleges Accountable.”

No, it doesn’t matter that Hillary Clinton is a woman — I just thought I’d take a second to argue with this piece in the WashPost this morning headlined, “Why it matters that Hillary Clinton is a woman.” The writer notes that three-fourths of voters say it doesn’t matter, and goes on to explain why they’re wrong and don’t even know their own motivations. Well, I’m a pretty introspective guy, and I can say with confidence that it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll neither vote for her (if I vote in the Democratic primary, which seems unlikely this time, since the only contest in doubt will be on the other side) nor against her because she is a woman (if I vote against her in the general, it will be because the Republicans have nominated someone I like better; if they don’t, I’ll vote for her). And if anyone else is going to vote for or against her because she’s a woman, then I wish they’d stay home. Choosing the president of the United States calls for deeper thinking than that.

Or, whatever y’all want to talk about…

Join me at the Solomon-Tenenbaum Lecture tonight

poster

I’m planning to go to this lecture tonight at USC. Here’s the PDF of the image so you can read it better. And here’s a description:

Dean Nirenberg will discuss how Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Christians and Muslims of every period, and the secularist of modernity have used Judaism in constructing their visions of the world. Do these former and modern ways of life have any relationship to each other? Do past forms of life and thought affect later ones? If so, how does past perception about Judaism influence the ways in which we perceive the world today? In the 2015 Solomon-Tenenbaum Lecture, Dean Nirenberg will examine these important questions and will discuss what, if anything, the history of anti-Judaism has to do with the present.

This is the annual lectureship that Samuel Tenenbaum funds. It’s usually pretty good. Frequently, these events give us on the Bernardin lecture committee a high bar to shoot for.

I hope to see you there.

Perry’s happy with the judiciary, not the executive, taking action where the legislative branch should

Had to raise an eyebrow when I saw this:

I mean, Perry’s happy with the courts acting on something that the Congress won’t act on? True, this may fall short of judicial activism since it’s the court saying the President can’t do something, rather than doing something itself that it shouldn’t.

But still. If the Congress would just pass a sensible comprehensive immigration reform package — something Obama has essentially begged it to do — we wouldn’t be in this situation.

The really sad part is, now nobody’s doing anything about the problem. And that’s not good at all.