Thoughts on the Democratic debate I didn’t watch

After a few minutes last night, I just gave up:

As y’all know, I long, long ago got sick of the Republicans and their fetish about who the real “conservative” is, to the point that I once lampooned it thusly:

As I’ve said from Day One I’m a conservative a true conservative my daddy was a conservative daddy my mama was a conservative mama I’m a bidnessman meet a payroll don’t take bailouts lazy shiftless welfare takers the key is to starve ‘em before they reproduce 100 percent rating from conservative conservatives of America my dog is a conservative dog I don’t have a cat because cats are effete I eat conservative I sleep conservative I excrete conservative I got conservative principles a conservative house and conservative clothes take back our government from the socialists even though we don’t really want it because who needs government anyway they don’t have government in Somalia and they’re doing alright aren’t they National Rifle Association Charlton Heston is my president and Ronald Reagan is my God I will have no gods before him I go Arizona-style all the way that’s the way I roll I will keep their cold dead government hands off your Medicare so help me Ronald Reagan…

But at least there are a lot of people here in South Carolina who actually want to know whether a candidate is a doctrinaire “conservative,” even if practically no one uses the word properly.

Whereas in South Carolina, being a “progressive” and $2 will get you a cup of coffee. Actually, that’s not quite right. In South Carolina, they might take the coffee back from you if you own up to being a “progressive,” even if you’ve already paid the $2.

But it wasn’t just that they were obsessing about the irrelevant. When my wife reminded me that a debate was about to come on, I groaned. I’ve just about had enough of this stuff. And I’m having trouble remembering the last time one of these debates told me something about one of these candidates, of either party, that I didn’t already know.

I did read about it this morning — The Washington Post had at least five stories on the subject — and learned that, as I suspected, I didn’t miss much.

Anyway, let me step aside, and allow any stalwart souls out there who actually watched the thing share what you got out of it…

‘The Nation’ on politics and race in South Carolina

My headline might make you cringe a bit, but the piece isn’t bad. It doesn’t really say anything about us that I haven’t said, or that you don’t already know.

After all, we are the state that seceded first, and some of us would do it again with just a modest amount of encouragement.

It’s tone-deaf in a couple of spots, though. For instance, it equates Strom Thurmond, the segregationist, with Ben Tillman, the advocate of lynching. Most of us can see the gradations of wrongness there rather clearly. And speaking of Thurmond — the writer either doesn’t know or has forgotten that the senator cleaned up his act in the last few decades of his career. In other words, he spent far more years in the Senate NOT being a segregationist than most people spend in the Senate.

That leads to confusion. After noting approvingly that Paul Thurmond says a lot of enlightened things — which he does; he’s a fine young man — the writer observes,

I leave Thurmond’s office wondering whether what I’ve just heard can be real. He seemed like a sincere man, but he, too, was eager to get beyond race. “My generation has not been taught to hate people based on the color of their skin,” the son of South Carolina’s most notorious segregationist told me.

Yet someone taught Dylann Roof and Michael Slager, the cop who shot Walter Scott in the back. The Confederate flag may finally be on its way to a museum, but the attitude of racial arrogance that the flag represented is very far from being a mere artifact. That’s a fundamental truth of our national life—though not one that’s easy to see from Iowa or New Hampshire. Perhaps South Carolina’s role in our politics is to remind us of all those parallel universes—not just Republican and Democratic, or rich and poor, but yes, still black and white—we work so hard to ignore. We always have a choice. We can carry on pretending that it’s still morning in America, that we’re all in this together. Or we can take a good hard look in the mirror.

Yep, Strom was a notorious segregationist, before he wasn’t. (Oh, and do I think it’s because he had some road-to-Damascus transformation, like Tom Turnipseed, the opponent of integration who did a 180 to become possibly the most ardent, sincerest progressive in South Carolina? No. The world changed, and Thurmond adapted. Early in his career, it was helpful to be a segregationist, so he was one. Later it was not, so he wasn’t. But it’s still true that he wasn’t.)

And the fact that Dylann Roof is a racist does in no way demonstrates that Paul Thurmond is lying when he says he wasn’t brought up that way. Possibly, Dylann Roof wasn’t brought up that way, either. I have my doubts about the old saw that children have to be taught to hate. I strongly suspect that people are capable of getting there on their own. Anyway, almost no one Paul Thurmond’s age was brought up that way, although his father certainly was. We live in subtler, politer times.

But there is no doubt that, decades after the Southern Strategy transferred the Solid South from the Democrats to the Republicans, race is always, always on the table. The article gets that right. It just misses some of the nuances…

Things seem to be lining up to create Mo for Marco in SC

The Rubio camp released the above video today.

It’s kind of minimalist — doesn’t say a lot. But then, TV ads tend to be that way; this one just seems more that way than most.

But it brings up the subject of… Things are building a bit for Marco Rubio in South Carolina, a state that he had always planned to do well in.

He won the Mainstream Republican race in Iowa… Tim Scott endorsed him… now Rick Santorum has done the same

… which national observers think won’t mean much in New Hampshire, but could mean a good bit here in the Bible Belt — specifically, in South Carolina.

Are they right? I don’t know. But I’m sensing some Mo for Marco.

No, I take that back. I’m not actually feeling the Mo yet. It’s like surfing — when you feel your board rising, it’s a bit late to start paddling to catch it. This is more like when you’re looking over your shoulder and seeing what could turn into a righteous wave by the time it gets to you…

Public transportation: To me, magic. To Doug, an insufferable hassle

My personal fave may be the London Underground. It's gear; it's fab; and all those pimply hyperboles...

My personal fave may be the London Underground. It’s gear; it’s fab; and all those pimply hyperboles…

Our brief exchange today about public transportation reminds me that I’ve been meaning to post this email Doug Ross sent me the other day:

Brad,
I’m still struggling with your love affair with public transportation.  Here’s my latest experience:  I started a new job today and had to travel to Boston for a week of onboarding.  I’m staying with my son who lives about 15 miles south of Boston.   Here’s how our journey went today:
1. Walk 15 minutes in 40 degree weather to train station (or he could drive and pay $7 a day to park)
2. Buy pass for the week for $19 (a reasonable deal, about what I pay per week now for a tank of gas in my Honda)
3. Wait 8 minutes for train
4. Board train. Luckily he is at one of the first stops so I was able to get a seat.  But I am not a small person and that means sharing personal shoulder space with the people on either side of me.
5. Train starts moving.  It doesn’t smell great in the car.   Not as funky as the night before when I spent 20 minutes beside someone who smelled like a mixture of old milk and onions, but not as pleasant as my personal car interior.
6. Next stop, a bunch of people get on.   They all are standing.  Had I seen a woman nearby, I would have given up my seat (since I am a gentleman at heart) but there were none.
7. The guy in front of me decides to stand facing me with his crotch perhaps 18 inches from my face.   This RARELY happens in my car.  In fact, it has NEVER happened.
8. Spend the next 20 minutes hunched over my phone so I don’t have to stare at crotch guy.   My neck starts to hurt 15 minutes in.
9. Arrive in downtown Boston and fight the masses to get off train, hike up stairs to sunshine, and then walk 5 minutes to office.   Imagine if it was a rainy/snowy day?
Overall it took 45 minutes to travel 15 miles.   Maybe it would be worse in a car.  Yes, the parking downtown would make it impossible to justify economically.  But if I had to do this every day, I would quit my job and move to the suburbs.
Your mileage may vary.

For Doug, his unhappy experiences with public transportation — even with those systems that are my favorites, such as London’s Tube — are closely related to his disdain of government as inherently inefficient and incompetent.

All he can see is the hassles; all he can think is how much he’d rather be in his car.

Whereas for me, having the rare privilege of getting to ride on a subway is like a magic carpet ride. I LOVE it. You walk down some steps (or ride an escalator), step onto this conveyance that emerges from nowhere out of a dark tunnel (Minding the Gap, of course), and emerge moments later miles away across a metropolis that would be a nightmare to negotiate in a car, bypassing the traffic as though it doesn’t exist.

Wonderful…

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Legislature elects to Supreme Court the guy who indicated how he might have ruled

Shortly after noon today, John Monk reported this:

To which I responded incredulously, “You mean, the guy who signaled how he would RULE?” John answered, “Yes that is who.”

Did you read John’s previous report about this?

Under questioning in a November hearing by Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, John Few, who is now chief judge of the S.C. Court of Appeals, compared the majority’s 3-2 opinion in what’s known as the Abbeville case with a newspaper editorial.

Although Few told Martin he might personally be “appalled” that children in rural schools aren’t getting a proper public school education, according to recently released transcripts, he elaborated, “If I were writing an editorial on the subject, I might say some of the very same things the Supreme Court said in their majority opinion.”

Few continued, “But when I’m writing a judicial opinion, I’m going to center my thinking on my role as a judge within the confines that are laid out for me in the constitution of South Carolina.”

At one point, Few told Martin he wanted to “tread carefully here … because this is a hot conversation here.”

In general, judges are not supposed to say how they would rule on a given case, and Few appeared to tip-toe through Martin’s questions, avoiding giving an obviously specific answer….

And well he might. Tip-toe, I mean.

So now, the guy who indicated — not said, but indicated — to lawmakers that he’s not the kind of guy to force them to do what so many really don’t want to do (give a fair shake to kids in poor, rural districts) will be our newest Supreme Court justice.

To bend way over and be charitable, we should consider that Mr. Few seems to be widely regarded as an able jurist, and perhaps lawmakers were simply more impressed by his credentials than those of his one remaining opponent.

But in a contest that was described as “a nail-biter until the final minutes,” after which “(s)ome lawmakers who voted for Few said they did so because they perceived he was the more conservative of the two,” one can be forgiven for wondering whether their motives were… less than pure…

Kristof posts his Tweets on HIS blog, too. So there.

Admittedly, his are often more thoughtful and substantial, such as:

I had that very same thought when Cruz said that, but didn’t think to Tweet it. I don’t know why. Instead, I Tweeted this within one minute of what Kristof said:

Which is OK, but not as pointed, not as helpful, as what Kristof posted. Dang. And in retrospect, it was too soft on Cruz. What Rubio said a moment later, that not only had Cruz not helped the Navy; he was part of the problem, was way better. As were Kristof’s Tweets.

But even if they were better, he WAS using up a blog post to call attention to his Tweets — something I’ve been criticized for doing.

Of course, he wasn’t doing it instead of his thoughtful, well-crafted columns. It was in addition to. And yeah, I sometimes post Tweets as a substitute for extended commentary, when I don’t have time to write a real post. Under the theory that something is better than nothing.

But in my defense, I’ll say this: Kristof still gets paid to write those thoughtful columns. I do not. He doesn’t have to find time around his job to write them; they are his job.

And though I’m envious of that, I do appreciate his commentary on all levels, from Tweet to blog post to column.

Of course, there are people who won’t pay attention to what he says because he’s a liberal, and they think they are conservatives, and they’re thick enough to think that means they should not be exposed to his views. Such as the Trump supporter and member of Congress who wrote, “We could have written them for you before you started, my friend. The bias is simply that intense and unchangeable.” (At least he said “my friend.”)

Yep, Kristof is a pretty consistent liberal, which means I disagree with him frequently. But he’s the kind of liberal who posts such things as this:

… which means he is not only a talented observer, but an intellectually honest man who doesn’t reflexively dismiss what those on the “other side” have to contribute. And we should all listen to such people more.

‘Brushfires of Liberty’: Rand Paul drops out, too

GOP chorus

A little less like a chorus line now (I don’t even RECOGNIZE the fourth guy from the right! Pataki? Is he that tall?)

First, Mike Huckabee and Martin O’Malley quit during the Iowa caucuses, so that their passing was hardly noted.

Now, Rand Paul has joined them, in true Paulista style: “Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.” (See, this is one of the things about ideologues that kind of gives me the fantods. All that talk about setting fires and extremism being no vice, etc.)

So now that they’ve joined Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb and others I’m probably forgetting, this is starting to look a presidential election rather than a revival of “A Chorus Line.”

Of course, on the GOP side, we need someone other than the undercard candidates to quit in order to help us focus. Several someones, in fact. Y’all know that I think political parties are pretty meaningless constructs, but if the mainstream Republicans still running (but not in the running) want to show that they do believe in their party (I’m picturing the Cowardly Lion: “I DO believe in parties! I DO believe in parties! I do I do I do I do…“), now would be a good time to quit and throw their support to a single rational candidate. Increasingly, as weird as that would have seemed when he first came on the scene, it looks as though that candidate would be Marco Rubio.

Or at least get it down to two, so that the Establishment has something of a chance against the two Unthinkables.

As to Rand Paul… Bob Amundson asked this morning:

Doug, who will libertarian voters support now that Rand Paul is dropping out?

Well, we sort of already have an answer from Doug (although I urge him to answer the question himself). Yesterday, he said:

Do you REALLY think your vote in the Republican primary could ever impact the results? If you’re voting for the most liberal Republican, it won’t make a difference.

I suppose I could skip the Republican primary and vote for Sanders because I’d prefer him over Hillary every day of the week and twice on Sunday… but what’s the point? I’m not voting in either because the only candidate I would ever support hasn’t got a chance – Paul.

I hope all of y’all will join me in urging Doug to pick a candidate he considers least bad (a Republican, or Sanders, or whomever), rather than surrender his franchise. Note that I’m arguing against my own inclinations here, since whoever is next on Doug’s list is likely to be last on mine, but I believe that strongly in his right and duty as a citizen.

This is the moment in the film when the crusty sergeant slaps the private back and forth across the face several times telling him, “You’re a MARINE, dammit! Snap out of it!” And the private says, “Thanks, I needed that,” and gets up and does his duty… OK, OK, so it doesn’t work with me as the crusty sergeant, or Doug as the private. I’m more the officer who taught school in peacetime and is working on his novel between battles, and is given to spontaneous lectures about Why We Fight. Doug is more the recalcitrant misfit who instead punches the sergeant for touching him and ends up in the stockade, again. (There’s a WWII B movie stereotype for everybody!)

But my point is, Doug should vote…

chorus line

Open Thread on results of Iowa Caucuses

I’m in one meeting after another this morning, so I thought I’d put this up so y’all can discuss the results without me.

There’s a lot to digest here, such as:

  • Is this the beginning of the deflation of the Trump balloon?
  • With his strong finish in Iowa and Tim Scott’s endorsement, can Rubio win South Carolina?
  • Hillary almost lost Iowa. She’s going to lose New Hampshire. Will her SC firewall be enough to stop The Bern?

Plus, a bunch of other stuff that isn’t occurring to me at the moment…

Yes, Iowa matters, and no, it should not

On the day when Iowa will caucus, veteran WashPost political writer Dan Balz raises the question, “Does Iowa really matter? And should it?

My answer is, yes, it does. And no, it shouldn’t.

And my answer has nothing to do with those white people in Iowa or their relative political value. I object to the idea of anything as idiosyncratic, and as extremely partisan, as caucuses having such an outsized effect on our nomination process.

As Balz notes:

There’s no question that both the Democratic and Republican caucuses deny some people the opportunity to participate. Unlike a primary, when polls are open from dawn to dark, there is but one window for taking part in the caucuses. There are new provisions this year to make it easier to participate for some who otherwise might be unable to do so. But it is by nature limiting and, to those not closely aligned with their party, it can be intimidating and seemingly exclusionary….

And not just “seemingly.” Ruth Marcus puts her finger on the problem, too:

Welcome to my quadrennial rant against the caucus system. The theory is Norman Rockwell heartwarming: neighbors gathered in a communal enterprise of representative democracy. The reality is jarring, as illustrated by conversations with voters I encountered during a canvassing session with Sanders volunteers Saturday afternoon.

The unforgiving demands of the caucus system serve to intensify the voice of the parties’ most committed, and therefore likely most extreme, voters, as others are deterred by the seemingly arcane and time-consuming process. Meanwhile, caucuses disenfranchise nurses, firefighters and others working the night shift, although both parties took steps this year to offer some opportunity for members of the armed forces to participate….

Yeah, I’m concerned about those nurses and firefighters, yadda-yadda. But I tend to rant against the process in large part because it disenfranchises a guy like me.

There is no way I am ever going to attend a caucus, except to cover it (which I did, way back in 1980, in Arkansas). Attending caucuses is for partisans — and not only for partisans, but for the kind who are so into it that they don’t mind standing up at a public meeting and declaring themselves so, and actively advocating for one candidate or another in front of their neighbors.

So, yeah: It’s yet another thing, alongside the way we reapportion districts, that pushes our politics more toward the extremes.

At least, that’s the usual effect. This year is weird. This is one year in which it might be a good thing for some party regulars to show up and steer the process back toward the mainstream a bit. But even the possibility that that could happen doesn’t reconcile me to the process. The fact that I would, even for a moment, think of party regulars as part of a solution to a problem just shows how far gone we are this year.

I could go on about all the reasons caucuses are horrible, but I don’t have to, because I already did, in this column back in 2008

What Bill Gates would want on a desert island

I daydream about having some small portion of Bill Gates’ fortune (say, a billion after taxes): I think about what I would do first with the money, how I would apportion the lion’s share of it among my kids and grandkids immediately so that they were provided for, how I would arrange for people to handle the remainder so that I would never have to think about the money again (which to me would be the point of having a lot of money — I hate thinking about the stuff — which is why I’m not the kind of guy to MAKE a lot of money), and so forth.

Here’s what Bill Gates daydreams about:

I generally think of people like the slackers at Championship Vinyl spending time musing about their Top Five Desert Island tracks, so it’s interesting to see what comes up when an overachiever like Gates does the same. Particularly since it involves speculating about a situation in which his money would do him no good. Think about it: Did it help Mr. Howell?

Obviously, he’s a guy who doesn’t approach music quite the way we do. We like a song, we listen to it on YouTube, create a Pandora station around it, download it, or if we’re really retro, buy a CD (or if we’re audio snobs, vinyl). Bill Gates does this:

Music also played a special role in Melinda’s and my wedding. She is a big Willie Nelson fan, and I surprised her by hiring him to play after our rehearsal dinner. I’ll never forget dancing with her as he played “Blue Skies”—it was magical….

That Tweet was a bit of a bait-and-switch. I went to the link, and found that I would have to go listen to the whole BBC show (the one that inspired all those lists in “High Fidelity”) to learn what his picks were. Fortunately, the Financial Times saved me the trouble:

  • David Bowie & Queen, “Under Pressure”
  • Willie Nelson, “Blue Skies”
  • Ed Sheeran, “Sing”
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Are You Experienced?”
  • U2, “One”
  • The Beatles, “Two of Us”
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein, “How Can Love Survive?” (from “The Sound of Music”)
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Broadway cast of Hamilton, “My Shot”

Not what I would have picked. But then, if I were stranded on a desert island, picking a soundtrack would be sort of low on my hierarchy of concerns…

 

 

Thoughts about the GOP debate last night?

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Consider this to be a sort of open thread, since I don’t have a lot to say about last night’s debate in Des Moines. I only put up 19 Tweets (not counting a couple on other topics) during the whole thing, which for me is like being unconscious or something.

But to get us started…

  • Trump’s absence did not elevate the discussion. So, you know, he’s not the whole problem.
  • Cruz started out acting like this was his personal stage and he was welcoming people to it, but then got all whiny when that turned out not to be the case.
  • I’ve decided that I know who Ben Carson is. He’s the kid who almost never gets into the game, and when he does they put him in right field, where he spends the game dreading the possibility that the ball might come to him. When a late swing by a right-hander produces a high pop fly in his direction, he’s like “Oh, no! A foreign policy question! Everybody’s looking at me, and they know and I know I’m going to flub it!”
  • Did you hear Carson say, “saber-rabbling?” Others on Twitter told me they did. Did Cruz really say “vigorousness?” That one surprised me because he likes to do impressions of JFK, whose favorite word was “vigah.” (His impressions are OK, but he confuses Jack with Bobby.)
  • I still think that Jeb Bush may be the safest bet if one of these guy has to occupy the White House, but he just cannot connect. It’s not just that the GOP electorate has gone nuts this year and is looking for crazy. Even without that, he’d be struggling. He doesn’t seem to be able to say anything in an engaging manner. He is just not good at this. As I Tweeted at one point, “As a speaker, Marco Rubio is everything Jeb Bush is not.”
  • I didn’t know who the blonde woman was until about halfway through. I thought she kinda looked like the one Trump hates, but the hair really threw me. Then I felt dumb, even though I never pretend to keep up with TV news personalities. (Also, in my defense — I don’t look at the screen much during these things. I’m busy Tweeting or reading other people’s Tweets.)
  • A writer at Salon was very impressed with Ms. Kelly’s montages of past statements by Cruz and Rubio about immigration. I zoned out of it because 1) I know Rubio has changed his tune on the subject, and 2) I don’t care whether Cruz has or not, because he’s disqualified himself from my consideration in so many other ways. After all that, I wrote, “Did anyone else start thinking about just going ahead and going to bed during that duel between Rubio and Bush over immigration?.”
  • I keep wondering when they’re going to bring out the real candidates. As Lindsey Graham Tweeted earlier this week, “The is more believable and serious than the GOP primary for president right now.”
  • I covered the GOP debate in Des Moines (sponsored by the Register) in 1980. Ronald Reagan skipped that one, just as Trump did this one. It was a better debate. The conventional wisdom on it was that Reagan lost by not being there. (And indeed, Bush won the caucuses.) Nobody was saying that last night.
  • On alternate days I like to like Chris Christie. Last night wasn’t one of those times. He says too many stupid things in stooping to conquer, such as when he said he preferred officeholder who are “from outside Washington.” I mean, hey — everybody serving in Washington is from outside Washington. I did praise him, though, when he declined the opportunity to pander about that court clerk from Kentucky. So I stretched to give him a compliment:

That’s enough from me. What did y’all think?

Henry McMaster’s shocking endorsement of Trump. Yeah, DONALD Trump…

OK, this is a stunner.

Henry McMaster — former state Republican Party chairman, moderate and modest soul, the guy who stuck by John McCain in 2007 when everybody said he had no chance at the nomination, and who is therefore not a guy to jump onto any bandwagon that comes along — has just endorsed Donald Trump.

And not in an “I surrender; we might as well cooperate with the inevitable” way, either. He used language he might well have used to describe McCain, or George H.W. Bush, or Mitt Romney:

He’s not a bomb thrower, not an impulsive man. He thinks things through. He’s very careful. He takes advice. He listens. He seeks advice. He’s very gentle, fine manners, very courteous.

Um, Henry… Could you step over here a second? I want you to meet somebody…. Henry, meet Donald Trump… Because I don’t know who it was you were talking to and thinking it was Donald Trump.

Wow. Just wow…

I mean, Bob Dole trying to talk himself into settling for Trump was bad enough, but this

ARRRGGGGHHH! Marco Rubio just lost ground with me

I’ve been struggling to figure out which candidate I’ll vote for next month, and Marco Rubio has been in the mix for consideration (since he meets the critical “not Trump or Cruz” criterion).

But he just lost a lot of ground with me.

Watch the above ad. It’s only 30 seconds.

Did you hear it? Did it grate on you as much as it did on me?

Yes, he really did say, “It’s time for a president…” (note that — A president, as in just one) “… who will put THEIR left hand on the Bible and THEIR right hand in the air, and keep THEIR promise to uphold the Constitution…”

ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!

I really don’t think I’ve ever heard it done so egregiously by any candidate for any office — three times in one sentence!

Yes, we’re a republic, but that’s no excuse for abusing the Queen’s English so…

Ed Madden’s post-flood poem

gervais street bridge

It was reported that Ed Madden, poet laureate of Columbia, read a poem at Mayor Steve Benjamin’s State of the City speech last night.

I asked Ed to share, and here it is:

At the Gervais Street Bridge Dinner

18 October 2015

And here we all are, this golden hour
on the river; on a bridge between

two cities, a bowl of blue sky
and gold light above us, the brown water

below us, behind us, beyond,
the current beneath all our conversations,

and later the lanterns all coming on

*

J. says there was this woman, Rachel,
not really affected, but needed to do

something, needed to help–there, in his
neighborhood, clipboard in hand, she made

sure that everyone got what they needed
as the floods receded down the streets,

and people assessed what was left

*

Someone makes a toast–to the first
responders walking by, a downed policeman,

to people making their way together, finding
their feet, together. A mayor says the rivers

don’t divide us, they bring us together,
and with each toast we make–all of us

gathered at the long tables, the river
threading our conversations–with each toast

a gust of wings above us, a flyover of geese
following the river home, and in the dark,

the rough voices still singing

Open Thread for Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I don’t have time today for much, but here are a few topics that might interest y’all:

  1. Senate finance panel weighs $400 million in tax cuts as part of roads deal — I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that anyone who thinks the first step in raising badly-needed road funding is to cut an unrelated tax by $400 million shouldn’t be allowed to serve on a finance committee.
  2. One Killed in Oregon as Protest Leaders Are Arrested — I’m curious to know more about exactly what happened on that road last night, but it sounds like the cops have pretty well decapitated this movement, even if not as cleanly as they might have liked. But the other occupiers are still occupying.
  3.  Zika Testing Is Urged for Some Newborns — This is the scariest thing to come from South of the Border in my lifetime. Way, way worse than Killer Bees. At least that was a threat we could laugh at.
  4. Federal jury finds 2 Midlands men guilty of operating gambling ring — These guys shoulda known: State government controls all the gambling in South Carolina, and doesn’t look kindly on anyone poaching on its turf. Why couldn’t they have shown some respect and gone in for prostitution or shylocking instead?
  5. Benjamin’s State of the City address — Thoughts on this? I missed it, but The State‘s story (linked) provides a bulleted list of what it covered.
  6. Special anti-Trump edition of National Review — I’ve meant to blog about this for days. No, I haven’t read it, but I respect the conservatives who were willing to stand up and be counted in this way.

Anyone have any other topics?

What’s with all this anti-Establishment nonsense? (Harrumph.)

Society needs an Establishment: Benedict Cumberbatch as "The Last Tory," Christopher Tietjens, in "Parade's End."

Society needs an Establishment: Benedict Cumberbatch as “The Last Tory,” Christopher Tietjens, in “Parade’s End.” A very steady and dependable fellow…

It’s really gotten ridiculous. This anti-establishment impulse on both the left and the right (to the extent such ephemeral things actually exist) has gotten almost as absurd as it was in the ’60s. (Remember “Never trust anyone over 30?” And if you are old enough to remember it, how childish does it sound to you now?)

The Establishment is that which gives shape and order to the world. It anchors us in a safe-enough environment that it makes free expression and innovation possible. You don’t have time to invent or build a business or dream in a state of nature; you’re too busy keeping your next-door neighbor from killing and eating you. A free and dynamic country needs an establishment, a core of steady folk who cling to such essential values as running a country of laws and not of men, who maintain police forces and military strength and courts and streetsweepers and keeping the Social Security checks coming so that the rest of us can get on with our lives without having to look over our shoulders and preparing to fight every second.

And the thing is, such an Establishment is nonideological. You don’t need ideology to keep things running. The postwar consensus regarding our role in the world kept us focused on containing the Soviets, whether we were led by Democrats or Republicans, and it worked. That’s why I am so encouraged when I see continuity in the essential field of international affairs when the White House changes hands. Sure, it’s frustrating to him that Obama hasn’t been able to close the Guantanamo prison, but it’s reassuring that he sees the same challenges in doing so that his predecessor did, and his successor may.

So I’m impatient with these people who make “Establishment” out to be a curse word.

I got to thinking about this the other day when I read a piece headlined, “What is the dreaded ‘establishment,’ anyway? It depends on who’s talking.

Across the board, people are running against the supposed Establishment, even Hillary Clinton. And sometimes this takes really ridiculous forms — such as when members of the Democratic Party Establishment had a cow when Bernie Sanders made a simple, honest observation:

The Democratic Party, which has seen its progressive wing grow as conservative white voters have bolted, has discovered its own family argument. On MSNBC, Sanders grouped the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood into an “establishment” that the grassroots needed to challenge. Both groups rejected the term immediately, as if Sanders had called for their offices to be demolished and replaced by Chick-fil-As…

Planned Parenthood is an entrenched institution within the Democratic Party every bit as much as, say, teacher’s unions. That’s one of the big reasons why I am not a Democrat. And because it is so holy to Democrats, because they are all required to genuflect before it, because their visceral response is to fight tooth and nail against any threat to it, it has become part of the larger Establishment. How else to explain its federal funding, which continues in the face of anything and everything thrown at it?

So yes, there are aspects of the Establishment I don’t like, and would change. But even if I could weed out such elements, I would still see the need for the Establishment overall — the ongoing, continuing, consistent core of people and institutions who know how to keep the wheels turning — because you can’t have a civilization without it.

Sir Humphrey in "Yes, Prime Minister." Politicians come and go, but the Establishment endureth...

Sir Humphrey in “Yes, Prime Minister.” Politicians come and go, but the Establishment endureth…

A local case in which armed citizens stopped a crime

The barber shop where the shooting took place. Image from Google Maps.

The barber shop where the shooting took place. Image from Google Maps.

… and killed a suspect in the process.

Bryan, our friendly neighborhood gunslinger, rings to my attention this story that was in The State (and which I admit I read right over), in which local armed citizens stopped a crime… cold:

Elmurray “Billy” Bookman was cutting hair at his barber station, the second chair from the door, when two masked men, one wielding a pistol and the other carrying a shotgun, entered Next Up Barber & Beauty, he said.

Minutes later, Bookman and one of his customers drew their weapons as the robbers were taking money from customers and employees. They fired shots that left one of the suspects dead and sent another on the run just before 7 p.m. Friday.

“The kids were crying, hollering, and their parents were hollering,” Bookman said. “I think (the suspects) were getting kind of frustrated. They started putting their hands on some of the customers.”

About 20 people, including several women and children, were at the barbershop on Fort Jackson Boulevard. It sits behind the Applebee’s restaurant on Devine Street, across from the Cross Hill Market that houses Whole Foods….

Thoughts on this, gentle readers?

Young Icelanders seem confused about God and science

Sistine

Yet another story from The Washington Post that I meant to post about over the weekend…

I was intrigued by this headline:

In this country, literally no young Christians believe that God created the Earth

The story reports that “Exactly zero percent of respondents in a recent survey said they believe that God created the Earth.”

That apparently includes the 40 percent or so of younger people in the increasingly secular country who still consider themselves to be Christian.

I tried to find out how that could be, and the explanation was confusing:

Despite the trend, the Evangelical Lutheran Church is still the country’s declared state church. Solveig Anna Boasdottir, a professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Iceland, agreed that scientific progress had changed religious attitudes in the country. But she said that about 40 percent of the country’s younger generation still consider themselves Christian — but none of them believe that God created the Earth. “Theories of science are broadly accepted among both young and old. That does not necessarily affect people’s faith in God,” she said….

Yeah. Got that. I don’t see any reason why acceptance of science would diminish faith in God — I’ve always found that simplistic dichotomy (God on one side, science on the other) — to be rather absurd, with the battle over evolution being one of the more ridiculous manifestations.

But I don’t see how it would affect people’s belief that God made the world, either.

I’ve always thought evolution is exactly the way God would create people and other species — a majestically slow, dignified, enormously complex process, rather than some Cecil B. DeMille, abracadabra “poof!”

Same with the geological eons to create the world on which all these species live.

Yeah, I get it that some people are very literal-minded, and they think that if it didn’t happen in the six days set out in the Genesis allegory, then God must have had nothing to do with it.

So if this survey is right, every single person who lives in Iceland is that literal-minded.

Which surprises me…

So basically, these folks are the opposite of deists, who believed God did create the world, but then left it alone…

The story even acknowledges what seems obvious to me, which is that “some Christians believe both in the Big Bang theory and God’s role.” So… how does that lead to no one believing God created the world?

Maybe the story’s just not well-written…

Chris Christie touts tenuous link to Lindsey Graham

Some of y’all who are always belittling my main senator, Lindsey Graham, may think he gets no respect on the national scene, given how poorly his erstwhile presidential campaign did.

But you’re all wrong, as evidenced by Chris Christie’s eagerness to connect himself to the South Carolinian, even at second hand:

 

 

Former McCain NH Chairman and Lindsey Graham Supporter Peter Spaulding Endorses Chris Christie for President

 

For Immediate Release:                                                 Contact: press@chrischristie.com

Monday, January 25, 2016

MORRISTOWN, NJ – At a press conference in Concord today flanked by several additional members of Senator McCain’s former New Hampshire leadership teams, Peter Spaulding announced his support for Governor Christie. Spaulding was chairman of Senator McCain’s successful 2000 and 2008 bids for president in New Hampshire. He had previously endorsed Senator Graham in the 2016 race.

Spaulding was joined at the press conference by Wayne MacDonald, Paul Chevalier, Sheriff Scott Hilliard, Richard Brothers, Jim Burke, Bernie Streeter, and Dan St. Hilaire who were members of Senator McCain’s 2000 or 2008 New Hampshire leadership teams.

“Chris Christie has the extensive executive and leadership experience that our country needs in these very difficult times. He is also the only candidate who has a proven record of meeting the terrorist threat to our nation head on,” said Peter Spaulding. “I am proud to support him.”

“As we get closer to the primary and we continue to see the growing momentum on the ground in New Hampshire, I am honored to receive Peter’s endorsement,” said Governor Christie. “Peter has a deep understanding of the Granite State and the qualities voters here are looking for in their next president. His support in the coming weeks will be incredibly helpful.”

Peter Spaulding was New Hampshire Chairman of US Senator John McCain’s successful presidential primary campaigns in the first-in-the-nation primary. He also served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1988, 1996, 2000 & 2008. He was Chair of the New Hampshire Delegation in 2000 and 2008.

Spaulding, currently Chairman of the Merrimack County Board of Commissioners, served as an Executive Councilor from 1983 to 2006. He previously served as a county commissioner from 1970-1992.

Spaulding is a New Hampshire native who grew up in Bradford, NH. He earned a BA from the University of New Hampshire in 1966.

View the full New Hampshire endorsement list here. 

So there…