Author Archives: Brad Warthen

NBC News report on Lexington Medical Center

Remember those pictures I posted from when I was a stroke patient at Lexington Medical Center, with the empty emergency room and everything so orderly?

Maybe that part still looks that way; I don’t know. They seem to be using only a portion of the hospital for COVID patients. But the surge has them overwhelmed enough for NBC to use my neighborhood hospital to show what it’s like here in the third-worst outbreak in the world.

When I went in on April 11 and asked them for a COVID test, they said no, we’re going to treat you for a stroke, because that’s what you have. Also, they said, if I were tested I’d have to go to the special COVID part of the hospital. Which probably wasn’t so bad back then, compared to now, but I passed on it anyway. I found the stroke floor quite fine, and they did a great job of taking care of me.

So I hate to see them having to deal with all this now…

Things were kind of peaceful when I was there, on April 11.

Things were kind of peaceful when I was there, on April 11.

Open Thread for Thursday, July 9, 2020

Can you make it out? Should I have lightened it up some?

Can you make it out? Should I have lightened it up some?

Just a few things y’all might want to comment upon:

  1. We’re Number Three! We’re Number Three! — Assuming y’all already saw that South Carolina is the third-worst place in the world for most new coronavirus cases per million. We were beaten by Arizona and Florida; Bahrain came in behind us.
  2. SC passes the 50,000-case mark — We’re just crowning ourselves with notoriety, aren’t we? Today’s total was 1,723, God help us. And did you see that “Fauci says states with major outbreaks should ‘seriously look at shutting down’ again.” Ya think?
  3. Supreme Court Rules Trump Cannot Block Release of Financial Records — Sorta kinda. And we won’t see them before the election. Kind of unbelievable, isn’t it, that the guy’s running for re-election, and we’ve never seen them?
  4. Trudeau: Canada handled coronavirus better than many countries, ‘including our neighbor’ — I hope he doesn’t think that’s some sort of accomplishment…
  5. Union County sheriff charged with sending obscene photo in lewd message — I just include this so I can ask, how can anyone be that stupid? Even if, say, you’d had a lot to drink or something? Wouldn’t you be prevented by the thought, This is probably not a good move for a sheriff? Or at least, wouldn’t you go, Hmmm, this is lewd enough. I guess I could leave out the picture
From the WashPost. Note the chart at left.

From the WashPost. Note the chart at left.

OK, so I’ve done ONE thing in the orange zone…

This morning, Mandy shared this “very helpful chart.” The guy she retweeted had said no one will catch his family “engaging in anything in the yellow or above.”

Yeah, well, I can’t quite claim that.

If y’all recall, I went and got a haircut a couple of weeks back. I investigated before going and thought it was a safe bet under the circumstances, but I think it will be awhile before I do so again. I’m thinking about ordering a barber’s clipper set from Amazon, and learning to cut my Dad’s hair as well as my own.

Anyway, I thought y’all might find it interesting, so I pass it on.

There’s one thing you’re not seeing, of course. It’s at the bottom. You just can’t see it because it’s in the infrared zone: “Attending a Trump rally.”

COVID-19_Risk_Chart_Full

 

How about if today, we celebrate liberal values?

Mount_Rushmore_National_Memorial

We need to again be a country that can celebrate these guy’s contributions to the American idea, and at the same time be fully outraged at what happened to George Floyd, which grossly violated that idea. In that space where those reactions coexist lies our hope as a nation.

We could celebrate what I have always thought, without question, was the whole idea about America.

It’s not about the majesty of purple mountains or the amber color of grain. And most of all, it’s not about a people — people this color or that color or speaking this or that language.

It’s about the ideas, and their growth toward perfection over time. It’s a majestic story. And it starts not with freedom, not exactly. It starts with liberality. With tolerance, with plurality, with openness to each other, and a fierce sense of fairness toward everyone, particularly those who don’t look or talk or even think the way we do.

And that is in profound trouble in this country.

The most dramatic example of that is embodied by Donald Trump, although he is not the cause of the problem. The problem is that there were enough people who would vote for such a person — a person who deliberately appealed to the very worst, illiberal impulses — for him to win an Electoral College victory.

The problem is, if the left in this country were clearly articulating the liberal alternative, as it has done within living memory, it would have pulled along enough people from the center to utterly repudiate Trumpism in 2016. But that’s not the case. Unfortunately, there is a good deal of illiberality on the left, and that prevents us from having a clear, American liberal alternative.

The news on this front isn’t all bad, of course. The best thing that has happened in our politics in recent years was the Democratic Party’s decision to nominate Joe Biden for president. Joe is the perfect representative — and about the only one who sought the office this year — of the kind of liberal values that have been the glory of this country from the start. If he wins the election — better yet, if he utterly crushes Trumpism in November — it make be the first step in saving this country from recent trends. And that would be wonderful — for America, for the rest of the world, and for the ideas that are the only positive way forward, and the only things worth celebrating on this holiday.

If you read this blog regularly, y’all know that I gravitate toward the opinions of “Never Trump” conservatives. They come closer to expressing what is really wrong with Trumpism, from my point of view. So I was motivated to write this piece when I saw a column today from Bret Stephens at the NYT, headlined “Reading Orwell for the Fourth of July.” After dismissing Trump as an “instinctual fascist” who is fortunately really bad at it, he writes:

The more serious problem today comes from the left: from liberal elites who, when tested, lack the courage of their liberal convictions; from so-called progressives whose core convictions were never liberal to begin with; from administrative types at nonprofits and corporations who, with only vague convictions of their own, don’t want to be on the wrong side of a P.R. headache.

This has been the great cultural story of the last few years. It is typified by incidents such as The New Yorker’s David Remnick thinking it would be a good idea to interview Steve Bannon for the magazine’s annual festival — until a Twitter mob and some members of his own staff decided otherwise. Or by The Washington Post devoting 3,000 words to destroying the life of a private person of no particular note because in 2018 she wore blackface, with ironic intent, at a Halloween party. Or by big corporations pulling ads from Facebook while demanding the company do more to censor forms of speech they deem impermissible.

These stories matter because an idea is at risk. That’s the idea that people who cannot speak freely will not be able to think clearly, and that no society can long flourish when contrarians are treated as heretics.

Frankly, I disagree with Stephens that the illiberal impulse on the left is worse than the one on the right. (Having a wannabe fascist as president of the United States is a national emergency, no matter how incompetent he is.) But I agree that it’s bad, because it distracts the left from the ideas that would save our country.

We are doomed if the largely maskless crowd who applauded Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore last night have their way. We are also doomed if the people who have tried to pull down, damage or deface statues of all four men depicted on the mountain have their way.

Trump, of course, wants people to think that you have to choose one or the other — his way, or that of the statue-destroyers (the less-discriminating sort, that can’t tell the difference between a statue of Washington and one of Nathan Bedford Forrest).

But we don’t have to choose between those extremes. In fact, if America and the hope it offers to the world are to survive, we must not.

We have to be able to applaud people who find what happened to George Floyd an outrage, a violation of all we believe in, while at the same time condemning people who would attack a statue of Abraham Lincoln dedicated with the help of Frederick Douglass.

If we can’t do that, we’re sunk, and the Fourth of July is nothing more but an opportunity to sell hot dogs.

The problem, of course, is greater than overexcited demonstrators who go off-course. When the NYT itself recasts American history itself as being about nothing but slavery and oppression — as being about 1619 rather than 1776 — we’ve got a problem. When a crowd of indignant people from the newsroom — you know, people who are not supposed to have opinions — can topple the paper’s editorial page editor for running a piece with which they (and the editor) disagree, we are losing one of the great institutions that has stood for liberal values.

Another of those anti-Trump conservatives at the NYT (and when the paper stops running such people, the institution really will be dead) had a piece that offered an examination of similar concerns. With reference to the coronavirus, David Brooks wrote:

I had hopes that the crisis would bring us together, but it’s made everything harder and worse. And now I worry less about populism or radical wokeness than about a pervasive loss of national faith.

What’s lurking, I hope, somewhere deep down inside is our shared ferocious love for our common country and a vision for the role America could play as the great pluralist beacon of the 21st century…

I hope so. And that hope is what I’m embracing on this holiday. We’ve got to stop thinking people have to choose between Trumpian populism or popular “wokeness,” and get behind a way of thinking that respects an honest and open interchange of ideas.

So THAT’S why we took up agriculture…

picked vegetables

Just got back from a few days at the beach, and our little garden of raised beds had gone a little nuts in our absence — especially, I think you’ll note from the picture above, the okra.

Yeah, those will be too big to eat. But they’re impressive, aren’t they?

Remember my okra patch? I last wrote about it at the end of March, when I had just busted up the clay under the box — by hand, being the dedicated farmer I am.

Shortly after that, I had a stroke, and my wife finished filling the box with soil and actually planting the okra. (I think that was the excuse I used for neglecting the job. In any case, it worked.) Actually, planting the little plants that my son had given us, grown from seeds he had saved from past years.

So not long after my stroke, I had the pleasure of watching the little plants grow, as everything in our neighborhood came to life as spring progressed. And, on the walks I returned to as I recovered from the stroke, we had the pleasure of seeing the little rabbits come out all over the subdivision, including in our yard. They were a delight.

Then, our pleasures combined, as the rabbits started eating my okra plants.

But they were polite about it. They only ate the plants nearest the shrubbery where some of them lived. Note the picture below. The okra patch is the box in the foreground on the right-hand side. See how lush the left side of the box is, and how denuded the starboard side is? That’s where the rabbits have been at work.

And not only rabbits. A couple of times, we’ve noticed only the tops of some of those plants had been eaten — plants a couple of feet or more tall.

Deer, you see. We saw a couple of their hoofprints in the soil one morning.

But, as my wife says, isn’t it nice that we’ve been able to feed the animals as well as ourselves. And as I say, “Yeah, OK, uh-huh…”

But seriously, I’m just glad everything survived while we were gone, instead of shriveling up or something.

If you have a garden, how’s it going?

okra patch

Open Thread for Tuesday, June 30, 2020

starfish

This shouldn’t be too hard. I could mine stuff that’s happened since my last post. It’s been a busy few days. We brought my parents down to their house at the beach a couple of days ago, and before that I was busy trying to get work done so I could do this. We’ll be back soon. Want to be away well before the Fourth:

  1. Hey, at least Henry showed himself wearing a mask — This is about the governor you people elected actually appearing, briefly, wearing a mask at his Friday briefing. And I want to thank him for that. I’ve long said if he would do that, it would be at least half the battle — it would show seriousness. And I guess if you’re Henry, and you’ve tied yourself and your everlasting reputation to Donald Trump, it took guts to do it. Of course, he won’t do the other half. The headline in the P&C says, “McMaster urges South Carolinians to ‘follow the rules’ and wear masks, but won’t mandate it.” A better way to write that hed would have been, “McMaster urges South Carolinians to ‘follow the rules’ and wear masks, but won’t make it an actual, you know, RULE”…
  2. Way to go, Mr. Clyburn! — As long as I’m handing out plaudits on the mask issue (and I’m particularly touchy on this issue today, since I’m at a place filled from people all over this country, none of them wearing masks) I need to send a big cheer to Jim Clyburn. He won’t recognize committee members who are big-enough idiots to show up at a meeting without face coverings. If only he could permanently ban them from Congress for such behavior. Anyway, this is the best thing Jim has done since he saved my main man Joe — and therefore the country — back in February. Nothing’s as great as that, but this is pretty good…
  3. Rabid bobcat found in Lexington County — Good thing I’m not there today — although this was way far from my neighborhood. I mean, seriously — don’t we have enough problems right now without bobcats going rabid on us? This probably wouldn’t have happened if the bobcat had been wearing a mask, right? The good news is that no people were exposed. The bad news is that apparently, several dogs were.
  4. Trump Got Written Briefing in February on Possible Russian Bounties, Officials Say — OK, there’s where you went wrong. You put it in writing. You know he doesn’t read; it would cut into his busy TV-watching schedule. This allows him to use the classic, “I have plausible deniability because everybody knows I’m an idiot” defense. Well, not exactly a classic, since no previous president could have used it. But it’s what we’ve come to expect the last three years or so.
  5. Fauci Warns U.S. Could Hit 100,000 Daily Cases — Completely credible, given recent numbers here in SC. It’s little wonder, then, that…
  6. E.U. Formalizes Reopening, Barring Travelers From U.S. — They’re desperate for tourist revenue over in the Old Country, but not desperate enough to let us crazy yahoos in.
  7. The End of the Alan Brady Show — OK, I know it sort of demeans Carl Reiner to reduce him to that one small role on one TV show he created, but that’s how I was introduced to him as a kid, and if he had never played anyone else, he’d still have been a genius. You kids would know him as the old guy in “Ocean’s 11”

Whoa! We got old, dude! This is most non-triumphant…

You'll note that the two stars are poorly lit throughout the trailer.

You’ll note that the two stars are poorly lit throughout the trailer.

Not to mention, it’s both bogus and heinous.

I was looking for a link for a “Bill and Ted” reference in a comment earlier, and ran across this — a trailer for the upcoming “Bill and Ted” sequel, with the original stars.

And seeing it, I’m like, whoa! They got old in the past 31 years!

I’m not entirely sure this is going to work. I mean, the comedy was driven by these guys being utterly clueless, stupid kids. Is it as funny when old guys are this dumb? (I mean, I don’t find Trump funny. Do you?)

Of course, I’ll watch it anyway. But I’ll probably wait until I can stream it for free. Which will take, what — like a week or so?

Welcome to Trump’s America, where we all live in San Dimas!

Anybody having intense stress dreams lately?

This is dream expert Sigmund Freud, whom you may recall from "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"

This is dream expert Sigmund Freud, whom you may recall from “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”

I ask because someone told me that a lot of people were having these during the pandemic. Apparently, this is a thing. Although the explanations I’ve seen don’t really work for me. I know a lot of people have been stressed by quarantining and all, but as I’ve said, I haven’t.

I was told about this when I mentioned some super-weird ones I had back after my stroke. They weren’t so much stress dreams as obsessive dreams. I found myself in different universes in which it was necessary that certain things be done a certain, specific way or else, I don’t know — the universe in question would stop operating properly.

I figured I was having them due to a change in medication. I described one or two of them to one of my kids, and was told lots of people were having stressful dreams that were being chalked up to the coronavirus.

I’m not going to describe any of them to you because they’re so weird, just explaining one would be too much trouble.

I’m just asking whether y’all are having any. If so and you want to share, and what you share is interesting, maybe I’ll try to share one, too.

If I can remember. I’ve actually sort of stopped having the unique obsessive ones — the ones that were a new experience. Lately I have had a stressful dream or two, but of the ordinary sort — the kind that are closely related to the common “it’s the last day of the semester and you’ve supposed to take an exam but you’ve never been to the class and are afraid to ask where it is” dream that everyone who’s been to college has. (For me, those particular dreams are not really symbolic, but sort of based on literal experience.)

Anyway, share if you feel like it. I’m curious…

Seeing Cindi like this is weird on several levels

crowd

So I tried yet again to read the story in The State headlined “SC Gov. McMaster takes side on Strom, but not on colleges’ push to change building names.” My point was to try again to determine what “side” he had taken on the Strom thing.

I didn’t find out. It’s a fairly long story, and it’s not in the first few inches, so I gave up again. Maybe it’s toward the end. Or maybe the person who wrote the headline didn’t actually read Maayan’s story. I did see where “McMaster’s spokesman gave the first indication of where the governor and former state attorney general stands on the Heritage Act.” But it wasn’t much of an indication. He said if trustee boards ask for changes, Henry “is supportive of them doing so and the General Assembly debating them, with public input, as they have done in the past.” And of course, we know how that has gone in the past.

I'm running this small because I know Cindi would hate it. She always hates pictures of herself.

I’m running this small because I know Cindi would hate it. She always hates pictures of herself.

Anyway, that’s not my point. I’m not even much interested in whether that building is named for Strom or not. (I was just somewhat curious as to what Henry had said about it, if anything.) My point is that I was using the maddening browser interface, and as always it urged upon me a video at the top of the story. If you have experience with this sort of thing, you know these videos tend to be two things: 1. Only marginally related to the story, shedding little light on what you came to read about, and 2. Quite old.

But I saw something on that little box at the top of the screen, and for once I didn’t just click on the little X to make it go away, but stopped and watched it.

That something was the face of my longtime friend and colleague Cindi Scoppe. As much as I enjoy seeing Cindi any time, it was weird on three levels:

  1. I still can’t get used to seeing Cindi do stuff like that. She’s a writer, a writer about South Carolina government and politics, and easily the best at it among those still paid to do it. (Actually, she was the best at it even when lots more people were thus employed.) Therefore, back when there were other people to do other things, she insisted upon sticking to writing about S.C. government and politics. She let the rest of us (actually, me, back in the day) do blogs and social media and video commentary.  But now she does those kinds of things, and as always does a good job at them. But it’s not her chosen line of work. If you think you see something like that in her expression on this video, well, congratulations. You’re right. That’s her “I’m doing a job here, dammit” look.
  2. When I still worked with Cindi, even if you HAD seen her do a video, she wouldn’t have been doing one on the flag. It would have been Warren Bolton or me. Cindi has never wanted to set herself up as the expert on something that is someone else’s beat. Of course, by the time this video was made, pretty much everything was her beat. Warren must have been gone, and I was long gone. Of course, again, she does a great job with it. It was still weird — to me.
  3. Cindi has not worked for The State for almost two years. I’m not sure on that date. I was working for James’ campaign at the time. I’m thinking it was about September 2018, although it may have been either August or October. Anyway, she’s been working at a whole other paper, a competitor, for way over a year.

That last one is probably the weirdest. At least, you don’t have to be me to get it.

But am I suggesting The State take down the old video on that basis? No. Not if they want to have a clip explaining the history of the flag that used to fly at the State House. No one who works there now has that kind of perspective. (There are good people at the paper, but I can’t think of anyone who has that kind of broad perspective on the flag, even though it wasn’t Cindi’s beat back in the day.) I suppose they could get someone else to do it and just say all the same words, but that would be a lot of trouble to go to just to achieve the same thing…

Good to see my friends connecting on Twitter

Doug and Mandy

Wonder what Doug Ross is up to during his year without blogging (due to a New Year’s resolution that he has impressed us all by keeping)?

Well, he’s doing pretty much the same stuff, only on Twitter.

I had to smile today at the exchange pictured above in a screenshot.

It’s nice to see two of my friends getting together to work on issues on Twitter.

Of course, as I reported earlier, Doug is also a contributor to Mandy’s re-election campaign. So, good for him there, as well.

As for the issue itself, of course… I’m kinda “meh” on it. Either way, whatever. I sort of get the impression Mandy feels the same way. I can’t remember whether I’ve ever discussed it with her.

I know I’ve discussed it with James, though. In fact, I went and dug up a statement I put together for him about it during the campaign. It’s not something we ran on. But a reporter in Charleston was doing a story about it, and asking various pols for statements. I wasn’t crazy about commenting on things we weren’t running on — I had ambitions of imposing message discipline — but we didn’t turn our noses up at it the way we did stupid “have you stopped beating your wife” questions like “Do you want to abolish ICE?”

Anyway… here’s what I put together on it. I have no way of knowing whether we actually put it out like this. It’s just in a random Word file, not a release or anything. So James might have had me change it before giving it to the reporter:

I’m for regulating it and getting the revenue that the state is missing out on now.

I’m not pro-gambling per se. But this is a matter of common sense, and an example of what I mean when I say it’s not about big government or small government – I’m for smart government.

As everyone knows, people are already betting on sports in South Carolina, big-time. But it’s happening in the shadows, and its an invitation to crime.

We need to regulate it, and keep criminals from controlling and profiting from it.

And the state of South Carolina can certainly use the revenue. I’ve seen figures that estimate Rhode Island could net $25 million from sports betting. If that’s correct, South Carolina would easily see quite a lot more, since we have five times the population. That’s money we could really use, for schools, for infrastructure, for healthcare, for public safety.

So, you know, we were for regulating it if you really wanted an answer. Assuming that was the official statement. I don’t think anyone but that one reporter ever used any of it.

McMaster’s position, by the way, was that he was dead set against it, as his mouthpiece said: “It flies in the face of everything South Carolina stands for.” Highly debatable, of course, but you knew where he stood.

We were much more definitely for medical cannabis, which if if I remember correctly was one of the reasons Doug not only gave to our campaign, but voted for us. Not an issue I would have chosen to back our ticket over, but then I’m not a libertarian like our friend Doug….

Open Thread for Thursday, June 18, 2020

What conclusions should we draw from the fact that not even the state epidemiologist wears a mask?

What conclusions should we draw from the fact that not even the state epidemiologist wears a mask? Oh, wait — I think the video I took this from is old. But still…

About time I gave y’all some things to discuss:

  1. 987 cases. In one day. In one state — ours. — Sheesh. The State said this amounted to “breaking” the single-day record. As I said on Twitter, this is not “breaking” — it’s more like “destroying,” “demolishing” or “obliterating.” Meanwhile, did you read the editorial the other day in Cindi’s new paper — way before this record — about how stupid Henry is being about this? Or something like that. I know that Henry, and the word “stupid,” were both in it.
  2. High court blocks Trump’s attempt to end ‘dreamers’ program for immigrants — Trump suggested this morning that he doesn’t think the court likes him. Yeah, well, what’s to like?  I doubt that any of them actually like him. Even if you’re Kavanaugh, you can’t like the fact that you go down in history, forever, as a “Trump nominee.” It’s like having an asterisk.
  3. That’s the kind of demonstration I like — old school — Sorry not to have mentioned this sooner. I haven’t posted since it happened over the weekend. It was the “Million-Man March” in Columbia over the weekend. There weren’t a million men or anything, but still. All those black men in suits and ties, saying “respect me.” Very MLK. Very Old School. I liked it. More than that, though, I see it as an effective approach.
  4. What to rename the Army bases that honor Confederate soldiers — I haven’t read all of this yet, but it grabbed me — a retired general’s ideas of names to use. He would rename Fort Hood for Audie Murphy. Good start.

I may add some more topics later, but it’s time to go eat dinner…

Hope The State doesn't mind my using this. I converted it to black and white to emphasize the Old School effect. I like it.

Hope The State doesn’t mind my using this. I converted it to black and white to emphasize the Old School effect. I like it.

Well, I went and got a haircut. Here’s what happened…

long

Over the past month, my hair was pretty much out of control. For months before the pandemic, I’d been getting it cut really short — too short to comb — so as it grew out, it grew out kind of weird.

Finally, I recognized it.

Finally, I recognized it.

But it started looking sort of familiar. Finally, I recognized it: Charlton Heston as Moses in “The Ten Commandments!” Too bad people don’t make biblical epics in the 1950s style any more. If they did, it could have been my ticket to stardom, with Heston no longer around.

Anyway, a few days ago, I heard some encouraging news: A friend told me her husband had taken their son to another outlet of the same barber shop chain I go to, and had been impressed by the COVID security — everybody in masks, people not entering the shop until it was their turn, dividers between the chairs.

For the past year, I had been taking my Dad to get haircuts at that chain. It worked for us because we could just go when it was convenient for both of us — no appointment. You sign in on an app before you leave the house, and by the time you get there it’s your turn.

And I had come up with a system that meant it didn’t matter which barber I got — use a No. 4 clipper guard on the sides, and a No. 7 on the top. My haircuts would only take a few minutes, it took almost zero time to wash it in the shower, and I never had to comb it — I just let it lie down kind of like a classical Roman cut. It was veni, vidi, vici — I had the grooming thing beat. Et tu, Brad.

So this week, I decided to give it a try — alone. If I was impressed with the procedures, I could take my Dad another time.

Here’s how it went:

  • The shop we usually go to was closed, according to the app. Fine. I went to another that I’d never been to.
  • At first, it was awesome. Although when I left the house the app said I had 15 minutes to my turn, when I arrived it said zero, and I was the only customer there. Two women were at the counter, and both had masks. One of them accompanied me to a chair. Before we got started, she explained that she used to work at the shop I usually go to, that it would be reopening Saturday (so, today), and that she hoped to go back.
  • There was some confusion before starting because the computer told her to cut all my hair with a #3. I said I couldn’t imagine where that came from. It was a 4 and a 7. No biggie. She said she’d fix it in the computer.
  • Now the real concern: She had on a mask, but it was pulled down so it only covered her mouth. Every time I looked at her, I was looking up her nostrils. I didn’t say anything. I’ll try to explain why in a moment. I, of course, was wearing a mask, properly. I asked whether it was going to be in her way, and she said no, she was used to working around them. Fine.
  • Second problem. She did the sides and back with a #4, but then started working on the top entirely with a comb and scissors. Which meant it was going to take three or four times as long as usual. She asked if it was short enough at one point, and I said I didn’t think so, and mentioned, in a nice way, that maybe she should try using the good ol’ #7! She responded by, after trimming some more, taking the #7 and holding it to my hair to make sure it was the right length. I got this vibe that she was trying to show me how careful and skilled and artistic she was — something she had time to do, since there were no customers waiting (someone came in at one point, and I think the other woman handled him). I think she thought this was a good way to make a good impression on the client. But this was not what I wanted.
  • Why was I so reticent? Well, she spent the whole time telling me what a rough time she’d been having, and was still having. She couldn’t work for two months. She was still waiting to get her unemployment (she had finally learned, several days earlier, that it had been sent to her old address). She was also still waiting for her stimulus check (I was about to ask whether she’d checked to see whether that had gone to the old address, but I got distracted and we never got back to it, so I feel bad about that — surely she’s thought of that, right?). And the whole time, her landlord was being a total jerk and threatening to evict her. How big a jerk? When she learned a new unemployment card would be sent to her current address but would take seven to 10 days to arrive, she eagerly went to tell her landlord, who said, “I don’t see why it would take that long.” So, that big a jerk.
  • Also… sometimes I don’t trust myself to say things in a nice way. I had noticed that my hands were really tensed up under the sheet they put over you. Not fists, exactly, but tense. I know myself well enough that I didn’t think I’d be able to say, “You need to cover your nose with that,” or “Could you do the haircut the usual way so we can get done?” in a tone, or in the words, that would produce a constructive result. And I was very conscious that she was pouring out how she’d had a tough time. Now that she’d finally gotten back to work, I sort of figured she didn’t need the final straw of her one and only customer telling her she wasn’t doing the job right. I didn’t want to  be another landlord in her life.

Maybe I was overthinking it.

Anyway, I got home and figured my mission was accomplished when my wife laughed at me and said, “Your beard is bigger than your head now!”

But I don’t think I’m going to go back for another cut soon. I may not wait another four months, but I can wait a while

short

 

So much for ‘the common sense and wisdom of the people’

Henry still

Last night, Mandy tweeted this:

I had to respond, “Does that mean his ‘faith in the common sense and wisdom of the people’ has been shaken?” (Y’all remember that, right? It’s the underlying idea in everything Henry has done — and especially in what he has not done.)

Perhaps it has — but only shaken, not abandoned. He’s clinging to the notion that people will spontaneously coordinate collectively to do what needs to be done to turn back the resurgence of COVID — the resurgence which daily asserts itself, with today’s total of new cases again being the highest ever — with nothing from him but occasional verbal encouragement.

Thanks, senator. It’s good to hear our votes count

text from Graham

Just got this text from Lindsey Graham’s campaign on my phone a few minutes ago.

I look forward to the day when he realizes that the support of those of us here on the blog — and millions of others who are just as disgusted by him for taking pride in attaching himself to Donald J. Trump — was what really mattered all along.

Maybe we can prove that to him in November.

Expect to see more about that in the coming months…

Well, I voted. Did you? If so, how did it go?

My polling place this morning. And no, I didn't throw Lindsey's sign to the ground. But I thought it interesting that someone had.

My polling place this morning. And no, I didn’t throw Lindsey’s sign to the ground. But I thought it interesting that someone had.

Well, that was easy enough. No lines, everybody wearing masks, walk right in and out. (I mean, as in and out as is possible when you’re as obsessively careful as I am about voting.)

Did you vote today? If so, how did it go for you?

As for how I voted: Well, y’all know that my priority was voting “NO” to that grossly devious effort by the state Republican Party to shut nonpartisans out of the electoral process. I did so, just as firmly and adamantly as my long cotton swab thingy would let me. It’s a wonder I didn’t break the stick.

By the way, I enjoyed Eva Moore’s take on the swabs:

Actually, they had me throw mine away before scanning my completed ballot. Seems to me we missed a big opportunity today. We could have had everyone test themselves for COVID with those after voting.

Anyway, so I voted “no” on that, and on the other, less consequential, “advisory question.” I don’t expect my vote to make the difference. It will probably pass, because of the shamefully deceptive way it is worded. The people who will see that question and fail to understand it far exceed the number I can reach (and persuade) with my blog, and for that matter, that Cindi and the Post and Courier can reach. We can only do so much, when parties stoop to be this sleazy.

Ditto with my votes against Lindsey Graham and Joe Wilson. I went for Joe Reynolds and Michael Bishop — both of whom I believe would do better jobs than the incumbents, if they had a chance. But the real chance — as difficult as that, too, will be — will come in November, when both incumbents have credible Democratic opposition.

I did not vote for either of the guys vying to oppose my senator, Nikki Setzer, nor in the sheriff race. I tried last night, but could not find enough information to be sure which way to go on sheriff. The challenger’s efforts to explain his candidacy were so lame that I had a slight tendency to vote for the incumbent, but I found so little information on him that I couldn’t be confident about it. (He probably has one, but I had trouble even finding a campaign website for Sheriff Koon.)

And I’m not about to ever fall into the “name recognition” fallacy of voting for somebody just because I’ve heard of him. That would be insupportable. I always have reasons — as imperfect as they may be — to vote the way I do.

Anyway, how’d it go for you? I mean, if you voted today. And even if you voted absentee like so many — how did that go?

In SC, we continue to set new records for coronavirus cases

I found this image of the coronavirus on Wikipedia.

I found this image of the coronavirus on Wikipedia./file

Just thought I’d post this, and see what y’all think of it:

Here are some more details on that.

As for what I think of it — well, I think people trying to go back to “normal” is crazy. Of course, I’m one of those people who could stand to keep going like this pretty much indefinitely — as long as I could hug my grandchildren.

Vote against S.C. GOP effort to disenfranchise you

File photo from 2018 primary.

File photo from 2018 primary.

I’m voting in the Republican primary on Tuesday. The choice of which primary, of course, was easy. Where I live, there is no Democratic primary this year. Not one contested race.

Not that the choices offered on the GOP ballot are anything to write home about. There are some candidates running against Lindsey Graham and Joe Wilson, but what do you think their chances are? I am going to look more closely into one of the candidates running challenging Graham, after Scout said supportive things about him the other day. But bottom line, on these two positions we DO have good alternatives for once in the fall, so I’m going to be voting for Jaime Harrison and Adair Ford Boroughs. Jaime is an excellent candidate and I’m really pleased to have the privilege of supporting him, and while I don’t know Ms. Boroughs as well, I can tell she’d be better than Joe. Way better.

Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon has opposition, but I know next to nothing about that. There’s the problem that the sheriff of the county I live in just doesn’t make news the way my twin over in Richland County does. He keeps a much lower profile than, say, Jimmy Metts did. So I need to try to get schooled up a bit by Tuesday. If I don’t learn enough to make an informed choice, I’ll skip that race.

But there’s one thing to vote on that I wouldn’t miss, that I would beat down doors to have the chance to have my say on: I’m going to vote against the Republican Party’s effort to take away my right to vote.

Oh, the wording seems innocuous enough, to anyone completely clueless about what’s going on: “Do you support giving voters the right to register to vote with the political party of their choice?”

Golly, who could be against that, right? Shouldn’t we have the right to back any party we want? Well, yeah — and it’s a right we already have, and one that is not even slightly endangered. There is no rule against backing a party, and no such rule is threatened.

What’s threatened here is the rights of those of us who don’t want to support a party, any party. If you know what’s going on, you read the question differently. I read it this way: “Do you support banning people like you from being able to vote?” Anyone who wishes to make his or her own decisions in future elections — rather than surrendering that power to a party — will read it that way.

Of course, what I mean is, vote in primaries. Which, the way Republicans have rigged things through the process of gerrymandering (as Democrats would have done if they’d had the chance, but they don’t, and haven’t had since the science of politicians choosing their voters got really sophisticated), are increasingly the only time we get a choice in who our legislators are.

That’s generally the case in congressional races, too — although as I said, this year is unusual in that Joe Wilson has a pretty good Democratic opponent in November. Of course, he and predecessor Floyd Spence have occasionally had other good opponents over the years (Jim Leventis in 1988, Jane Frederick in 2000) — but the district remains drawn for Republicans, so he still enjoys a great advantage in November.

As Cindi Scoppe explained in an enewsletter (let me know if you have trouble getting that link) the other day:

With obvious exceptions, primaries are probably more important than the general election. That’s because so many contests in South Carolina are decided in the primaries — a result of the GOP domination statewide along with the gerrymandering of congressional, legislative, county council and in too many places even school board district lines. (The gerrymandering sometimes benefits Republicans, sometimes Democrats and never, ever voters.)

But extremists in both parties want to make primaries private affairs, to make sure the nominated candidates are as extreme as possible. Used to be, party leaders opposed these efforts, and most elected officials still do, realizing that the way you win elections in November is by getting people bought into the candidates through the primaries. But the state Republican Party leadership was taken over a few years ago by people who want to stop the rest of us from voting in these most crucial elections unless we swear an oath of allegiance to their party, and again this year they’ve put a deceptively worded question on the GOP primary ballot aimed at locking us out….

Cindi was being rather mild there with that “deceptively worded question.” As the paper Cindi works for now put it in an editorial, it is “a grossly misleading question.” As that editorial continued:

The ballot question is designed by party officials who want to force all of us to register our allegiance to a political party — or else be barred from participating in primaries. The results have no force of law, but if a majority of Republican primary voters say “yes,” those party leaders will use it as ammunition to demand that the Republicans who control the Legislature change long-standing state policy to close the ballot to all but the most partisan among us.

That might not be such a huge problem if we had competitive elections in November, but we rarely do….

Oh, as for the business of this not being binding: Of course it isn’t. If it were an actual referendum, it would have to be worded differently to achieve its aim. But this not a legal device, it’s a political one, meant to achieve a political purpose. In this case, the purpose is to enable the party to say to its members in the General Assembly: How can you vote against our bill to close primaries? Didn’t you see how people asserted their right to partisan identity in the primary? Aren’t you, like them, proud to be a Republican?

The S.C. GOP has a long and shameful history of using this ham-handed device to bludgeon its own members into doing stupid and even terrible things. In case you’re forgotten, Cindi wrote a column a few days back to remind you how Henry McMaster, as party chairman, and other GOP leaders used their 1994 primary to wrap themselves in the Confederate flag for a generation. If you don’t remember that the way I do — as one of the most shameful things I’ve seen in SC politics in a long career — you should probably go read that piece, and be reminded.

sample

That seems a little desperate there, cable people…

My computer just made me watch this ad while I was waiting for something.

And all I could think was, “Wow, cable is really getting desperate.”

Streaming is so complicated, it’s… evil?

OK, so, if you’re very technology-averse, I suppose it’s a little complicated. But the complexity is wonderful. With cable, you watch what is “on” now. And in my experience, there is pretty much never anything “on” at a given moment that I have any interest in seeing. I don’t mind a bit of clicking around through various services to find something that interests me. I find myself watching more TV than I did in cable days. Which is not necessarily good, but I do it because the new way is much more appealing. It has a lot more to offer.

And claiming that it’s too expensive? Really? Have you actually checked out the pricing? I’ve got Netflix, Prime, Britbox and Disney+, and the monthly total is, what — about a fourth of what most people pay for cable? Maybe I’m doing the math wrong, but I don’t think so. Of course, at the moment I’m getting the Disney free because of… I don’t know… something to do with my Verizon account.

Not that there’s not the potential for things to get too messy, or too expensive. Once, there was just Netflix, and it seemed they had everything — or at least, more than I had time to watch. But now we’re moving toward every content producer pulling out their stuff and making you sign up for yet another service. And that’s not good.

But it’s still way better than cable, right?

monsters

Open Thread for Thursday, June 4, 2020 (Twitter-style)

kimmel

I’ve decided on a new way to do Open Threads. I’ll just share things I tweeted or retweeted about during the day. It seems to work better than looking at the main pages of a bunch of news sites and trying to find something that I’m interested in commenting on.

It’s not going to be balanced with a diversity of topics, the way my threads and Virtual Front Pages usually are. It’s super Trump-heavy. There’s nothing about ongoing protests (although a couple indirectly relate), and a couple of COVID items. But these are the things that randomly provoked responses or retweets from me at different points today.

So let’s try this:

  1. What on Earth is there to struggle about? — That’s part of my response to a tweet that said, “JUST IN: GOP Sen. Murkowski :”struggling” with whether to vote for Trump.” My full response was, “‘Struggling?’ What on Earth is there to struggle about? She KNOWS what the right thing to do is. Her other comments make this clear. All that is lacking is having the guts to stand up and follow through…”
  2. So… just to make sure I’m understanding… this makes all the racist stuff OK then? — That’s my response to a tweet from the White House that said, “President @realDonaldTrump provided permanent funding to historically black colleges and universities and enacted groundbreaking criminal justice reform—concrete results for underserved communities that no prior President delivered.”
  3. Yes, senator, that’s exactly what everyone thinks — That was my response (minus my original typo — I meant “that’s,” not “that”) to a clip from The Hill in which Lindsey Graham says, “You think I am in Trump’s pocket.”
  4. The Lafayette Square ‘highlight video’ — This is from Jimmy Kimmel, represented as the White House’s own highlight reel from the administration’s great victory Monday night against the harmless protesters. Be sure to watch to the end.
  5. Brazil set to overtake Italy as country with third-highest coronavirus deaths — I had no comment on this. I just thought it was worth sharing with folks. Of course, I believe the U.S. is still No. 1 on this grim ranking. That’s right, isn’t it? I had trouble finding stuff from today on that.
  6. Is Mexico paying for this fence, too? — That’s not me. That question is from retired Army lieutenant general Mark Hertling. He was responding to video of the big fence going up around the White House.
  7. Frank Bruni on why we need Achilles — My first tweet of the day, reacting to a good piece about the sad state of higher education right now.
  8. COVID-19 Can Last for Several Months — I actually haven’t even read the piece in The Atlantic that this refers to, but I thought I’d pass it on in case other people had a chance before I did. The tweet said, “I wrote about COVID-19 long-haulers—the thousands of people who’ve been struggling with *months* of debilitating symptoms. Many have faced disbelief from friends and medical professionals because they don’t fit the typical profile of the disease….”

Kind of a long list for an Open Thread, but I wanted to give you everything.

graham clip

Finally, Mattis speaks up — powerfully

mattis atlantic

I made a passing reference to this in the last post, but I’m going to elevate the profile, because since then I’ve actually had the chance to read what the Warrior Monk, James Mattis, had to say today when he broke his long silence about the Trump administration in which he once served.

I urge you to read this piece in The Atlantic, which I think originally broke the story.

And now I’m going to give you the whole statement. Because not a word of what he said should be left out:

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part.

Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.'” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

Amen to all of that. Thank you, general.