Author Archives: Brad Warthen

Open Thread for Thursday, March 7, 2019

Shazam! No, wait -- that's the other one...

Shazam! No, wait — that’s the other one…

Some possible topics:

  1. Men seeking sex in SC massage parlors are likely abusing human trafficking victims, experts say — Long headline, but I’m glad to see it. Mandy has been trying to address this problem for awhile, and this should help in the cause.
  2. Megachurch had 4 alleged child predators — and over a dozen victims, SC police say — The Catholic Church has an additional scandal, having to do with the mishandling of these kinds of cases. But sexual predators are just as common in other institutions where men have access to trusting victims. And everyone needs to wake up to it, and put a stop to it.
  3. Martin Shkreli Steers His Old Company From Prison—With Contraband Cellphone — He’s back: the scumbag we all love to hate.
  4. House passes broad measure condemning hate after allegations of anti-Semitism — But will that solve the problem? Hope so. Otherwise, principled Democrats should take a hint from those across the pond who quit the Labour Party over this very problem.
  5. How Captain Marvel went from love interest to the most powerful Avenger — OK, but if she’s the most powerful Avenger, how come she wasn’t in any of the other Avenger movies? And how did she go from being a guy to a gal? Was it like a Bruce Jenner thing? And what about the DC one? Guess I’ll have to see this one to find out…

Clare offers to sacrifice herself for the Greater Good

Clare list

Y’all remember Clare Morris, don’t you? She’s our correspondent who gave us the inside reports on Mark Sanford’s political comeback several years back.

Well, I ran into Clare this morning, and she notified me that she had done a crazy thing: Applied to join the Richland County Election Commission. Making her one of the 100-plus to do so.

I told her how crazy it was. Apparently, many others had told her, too.

But I paid her homage as well. Somebody has to run for it, if it’s ever to be fixed.

I wished her luck, if she was sure she wanted to sacrifice herself in this way.

I’m not sure anyone’s going to be elected to it today. Lynn Teague reported this a short while ago:

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Tom Davis attacked by high-larious (but offensive) mailers

mailer 1

This was tweeted yesterday by my own favorite legislative libertarian, the inimitable Sen. Tom Davis:

Needless to say, it’s getting a lot of response.

First, I thought it was a hoot. Next, I had other thoughts:

  • Does the shirt indicate that Tom is holding Maui Wowie in his hands? Where did he get it? How much did it cost?
  • At first, I thought the headline was ungrammatical. Shouldn’t it be “Will Folks agrees…,” since there is only one Will Folks who is known to Tom and would agree with him on this. Then I realized it’s not a reference to Folks, but just to “folks.” In general. The fact it was in all caps prevented me seeing that right away. But that’s an indication that this was likely produced outside SC. Because people inside SC know Will…
  • Party boy Tom Davis? Party boy Tom Davis?!?!?
  • Is the dope Tom is holding in a plastic grocery bag? If so, do the producers of this thing know that Tom supports local bans on such bags? Are they saying this is inconsistent of him as a libertarian? Nah. I’m thinking about it too hard…
  • What is that girl doing down to the left of Tom? Never mind, don’t tell me. This really is a party, isn’t it? You know, there are all sorts of ways they could have put a bong in the picture without it looking like that…
  • The whole “call Tom Davis” shtick is offensive enough — public figure or not, no one should be subjected to such harassment, especially when based on a lie — but then it gets really dirty: “Tell him to stop trying to turn South Carolina into California.” Fightin’ words…
  • And finally, I get serious: These kinds of dishonest hidden-hand mailers are a scourge upon our politics, as I have said again and again. Which sets up a video I’d like y’all to watch in which our own Mandy Powers Norrell touts her dark-money bill…

And finally… here’s another such mailer (or, I suppose, the other side of this one):

mailer 2

Looking ahead: Have a nice St. Pat’s. I’ll be in Ireland

My brother-in-law, Patrick Cooper Phelan, in 2007.

My brother-in-law, Patrick Cooper Phelan, in 2007.

As long as I’m wishing you appropriate holiday sentiments, I hope y’all all have a great St. Patrick’s Day. I see tickets are available for the Five Points bash, and you get a discount if you buy them in advance.

I urge you to go to Yesterday’s and buy one, have a pint and remember me to Duncan and my other friends there.

However, I won’t be joining you on the day of. I’ll be in Ireland.

See how I just reeled that off so casually, as though going to Ireland is a small thing that I do all the time? Well, it isn’t. I’ve never been before. But my colleen and I will be boarding a plane for Dublin a week from today, and we’re kind of excited about it. We’ll spend a couple of days there, and on St. Paddy’s Day we’ll be in Waterford, which is my wife’s ancestral home. She’s a Phelan, which is to say she’s an Ó Faoláin.

We have tacitly agreed that while in Waterford, I won’t mention my descent from the guy the hard cider is named after. Although while in Dublin I plan to quietly go to the National Gallery and see his wedding picture, which depicts his taking Irish Princess Aoife Ní Diarmait as his bride. (And if anyone asks me, I’ll stress that I’m just as much descended from her as I am from the Norman. Ahem. So don’t blame me.)

And it promises to be a great St. Patrick’s Day, because my wife’s brother and his wife will be with us. And the most fun I ever had at the Five Points celebration was in 2007, with that same brother-in-law.

Having the two Phelans with me should give me all the cred I need among the Irish. Or so I hope.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to it. So much so that I started reading Ulysses a few weeks back, to get into the mood. But a couple of “chapters” in, I decided that was unnecessary, and that having read Dubliners is more than enough preparation….

 

Have a penitent, unabashed Ash Wednesday

ashes

On Ash Wednesday, I usually wait until the Mass at night to go get my ashes. Of course, I do that with any holy day that comes in the week, such as… well, I guess Ash Wednesday is the main one… because it’s convenient: Get through the working day, go to Mass, go home.

But I know that a small part of the equation is that I don’t want to go around all day with the ashes on. And this is evidence of being a bad Catholic, I think. I mean, the whole point is to spend the day wearing an outward sign of penitence, right? Show everyone you’re sorry for your sins. I think.

It’s not that I’m embarrassed to show my faith. I do that all the time. In fact, I disobey Jesus’ admonition not to pray in public, by briefly saying grace wherever I sit down to eat. If there are people who are inclined to say, “Look at the crazy Christian,” they have ample opportunity. (Which is worse — praying in public, or failing to be grateful for one’s daily bread?)

But the ashes… They call for explanation. My mind goes back to a time shortly after I first became Catholic. It was Ash Wednesday, and I went into a Chinese restaurant with my ashes on. The proprietor helpfully told me in broken English that I had something on my forehead. I told him it was supposed to be there. This perplexed him, and I started trying to explain, but there was enough of a language barrier to make that impossible. Eventually, apparently deciding that the crazy foreign devil was making fun, he laughed. I gave up.

That was 30 something years ago, and I’m pretty sure that on some level I’m still trying to avoid having that conversation again. Partly because living in the South, many Christians don’t know about Ash Wednesday, much less other folk. So you have this situation where people are looking at you, and you figure they’re wondering about the ashes, and you can’t decide whether you should assume that and offer an explanation (evangelicals certainly would, if they followed this practice), or just let them wonder.

So I go at night, which minimizes interaction with the uninitiated.

And I feel a little bad about that.

I feel especially bad on this Ash Wednesday, because at breakfast I saw the guy above on a TV set, standing in front of the world with his ashes on. The sound was off, so I don’t know if he offered an explanation of his ashes or not.

Well, good for him. I applaud him. Among other things, he’s showing the world that journalists are not all a bunch of godless barbarians. And this one is on MSNBC, no less! Take that, all you alleged Christians who voted for Trump!

Anyway, I just looked at the schedule, and while I don’t think I’m going to make it to the noon Mass, I see there’s one at 5:30! I could go to that, instead of the 7:30!

Baby steps…

Open Thread for Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019

Madman Theory? THIS guy could do Madman Theory. And I don't mean Elvis.

Madman Theory? THIS guy could do Madman Theory. And I don’t mean Elvis.

How long has it been since I’ve done one of these? Near as I can tell, I haven’t done one since July 23 — and I led that one with one of our campaign talking points (might as well kill two birds). After that, I decided I was going to have to bow out of blogging for the duration. It was just too awkward.

It wasn’t James’ fault. Whenever I said “If I were blogging, I’d write about this” in his presence, he’d say, “Aw, man, I hate for you to give up your blog.” But I had to, once I fully realized anything I said would reflect on him and Mandy. I couldn’t do that to them; they deserved better. Also, there was no time.

But let’s get this started up again:

  1. Active shooter reported near Charleston, SC cops say — Oh, God… I pray this turns out to be nothing, a mistake, a hoax, anything but deadly.
  2. Seeking North Korea Deal, Trump Seems Willing to Ease U.S. Demands — Want a win in diplomacy? Move the goal posts. We’ve already given Kim so much — two summits with a POTUS (and technically, he IS POTUS) on equal terms. What next? And in related news…
  3. Trump suggests his embrace of the ‘madman theory’ brought North Korea to the table — The startling news here is that Trump has heard of the “madman theory.” Did someone leave a book open in the White House bathroom during Executive Time?
  4. N.C. Republican At Center Of Election Fraud Case Won’t Run In New Race — That’s probably a good call. Although who knows — as fouled up as our politics are these days, he coulda won.
  5. Cohen To Detail Alleged Trump Lawbreaking. White House: He’s A ‘Convicted Liar’ — I gotta admit, the White House kinda has a point this time. You know how Woodward and Bernstein gave a nod to Robert Penn Warren when they named their book All the President’s Men? When the corresponding book about this administration is written, its title should allude to Mel Brooks: Sleazeballs.
  6. U.S. blocked Russian troll factory’s Internet access on day of midterms — Hey, something went right this time!

Oh, you mean the guy they say faked that attack?

This is "the boy who cried wolf." Not very self-explanatory, is it? Needs word balloons. Sorry. Best I could find.

This is “the boy who cried wolf.” Not very self-explanatory, is it? Needs word balloons. Sorry. Best I could find.

There’s nothing stupider in political discourse than the game left and right play in trying to catch each other out for being hypocritical, or inconsistent, or unfair. I’m talking about the kind of J’Accuse! assertions that the ones asserting them think are devastating, but are persuasive to no one but the already brainwashed. These facile, leap-to-judgment “arguments,” generally found on social media, sort of make me feel ashamed to be a human in the 21st century.

I find it doubly irritating when news media are being unjustly accused of the above sins (this is from the right 90 percent of the time). But that’s me; your mileage may vary. (Sorry, Bryan — you hadn’t used that today, so I grabbed it.)

This is not even an extreme example, but it’s one at hand, so I share it:

I had a number of thoughts in quick succession about this when it appeared the other day:

  • Who reads the print version of The Washington Post? I don’t. I can’t even get the print edition where I live, but I prefer the iPad app anyway.
  • Maybe Hume isn’t being a jerk. Maybe he’s really decrying the death — or at least rapid decline — of print. It actually is a real problem that things that happen fairly early in the evening do not make it into the print version. Back when I was in charge of the paper at night, here and in Wichita, I’d be putting breaking news into the paper at 1 a.m. and later. With the super-early press times now, I have seen things that did indeed break as early as 8 fail to make it into The State. No skin off this reader’s nose, but it means folks like my parents who depend on the dead-tree version get the breaking news two days later. Anyway, in this generous interpretation, Hume’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness” crack was a lament that things that happen after sundown aren’t in the next day’s paper.
  • Nah, that’s probably not what he meant, I decide after looking at some of his other Tweets.
  • In any case, there was way more than I was interested in reading about this absurd (according to the cops) affair — in The Post, and elsewhere. In the online editions, I mean — the place where news organizations focus most of their effort and attention these days.
  • And I gotta tell ya, Brit — the first I remember hearing about this incident, there was already doubt being cast on this guy’s story. Maybe that’s because that’s when the story got big in the biased news media you decry. (Another cause was that I’d never heard of this “Jussie” person before that coverage.) Maybe I did half-hear something about it before that, but not consciously. Having spent decades of my life having to very quickly pick the real news out from the boring background, I long ago learned to filter out “dog bites man” stuff. “TV actor you never heard of attacked” is a headline that puts me to sleep by the third word. “Cops: Actor faked attack for the publicity” is a hed that might make me read a graf or two, and maybe shake my once at the foolishness in this world before moving on.
  • Oh, wait — is this about the fact that some of the overexcited Democratic presidential hopefuls leaped to express sympathy for this guy before facts were known? Well, they made fools of themselves, didn’t they (but with kind intentions, apparently)? But that’s on them. They are not The Washington Post, and The Washington Post is not them, despite the fantasies of those who see the world in binary either-or, us-vs.-them terms. No connection.

Personally, I like what the NYT‘s David Leonhardt said about cases such as this, two days before Hume’s Tweet:

Ms. Harris said in response to the question about her use of the ‘modern day lynching’ phrase,” as Katharine Seelye of The Times reported. “After a moment, she said, ‘I think the facts are still unfolding and I’m very concerned’ about the initial allegation by Mr. Smollett. She said ‘there should be an investigation’ and declined to comment further until it was complete.”

Her final instinct there was the best one. Making sweeping pronouncements about unverified criminal allegations isn’t a good idea — not now, not three weeks ago. It’s especially problematic with matters involving race, gender and sexuality, which ignite particular political passions.

Everyone — and definitely anyone running for president — should know by now that it’s O.K. to wait before weighing in on a hot topic. As the most recent Democratic president famously said, “I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”…

Good advice, that.

Has South Carolina become for Dems what it was for GOP?

The main thing about the SC primary, of course, is that the right candidate runs and wins it. Hint, hint...

The main thing about the SC primary, of course, is that the right candidate runs and wins it. Hint, hint…

I mean in terms of the presidential primary process.

Starting in 1988, and ending in 2012, SC was in many ways the contest Republicans had to win. It was key to both of the Bushes especially. SC Republicans went around saying things like “We choose presidents,” yadda yadda. They did this because they picked mainstream, establishment candidates with appeal beyond the base, and our early primary helped tip the selection process in their favor.

Then, in 2012, it all fell apart with the rejection of Mitt Romney in favor of the fire-breathing Newt Gingrich. And we know what happened in 2016 — yeah, SC Repubs picked the eventual winner, but the whole national electorate had to go stark, raving mad in order for that to happen. At the time of the SC primary, it looked like Palmetto State Republicans were chasing off in another crazy direction alone, as with Gingrich. If decisions were still made in smoke-filled rooms by a party elite, SC would have lost its early primary by now. (In saner times, SC Republicans would have salvaged the hopes of the hapless Jeb! They had never let a Bush down before.)

Meanwhile, over the last few elections, this red state has gotten more important to Democrats. I was impressed by how many Dems we saw trooping though our editorial boardroom in 2003-4 (my own favorite being, famously or infamously, Joe Lieberman). And while he didn’t get the nomination, the execrable John Edwards’ win here helped get him the second spot on the ticket.

SC was very helpful in helping Barack Obama get the momentum he needed to pull ahead in 2008. The SC Democratic primary wasn’t really a contest in 2016, with Hillary Clinton winning hands-down as expected.

But this year, you’d think the Democratic nomination was going to be awarded right here, on the spot, next Feb. 29. They’ve been trooping through here in battalions, for months. (You’ve seen me complain about that distraction, and media fascination with 2020 over 2018, back during the campaign last fall.)

This is an interesting phenomenon. There have always been some aspects of the Democratic contest in this blood-red state that caused folks to pay attention nationally. That was largely because there are essentially no black voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, so Dems who won in those places would be told, “Let’s just wait and see how you do in South Carolina.”

But this thing we’re seeing now exceeds what we’ve seen in the past. With the huge field, and particularly with some of the chief contestants in it being African-American, we are looming large.

I’ve had a lot of occasions to note this; we all have. What kicked this off today was Vanity Fair’s “The Hive” making this observation about Bernie Sanders:

None of Sanders’s opponents are scared by those numbers, however. Because what Sanders was less good at in 2016 was spending his large pile of money to win votes. Particularly the crucial Democratic primary votes of women and African-Americans. Especially in the key state of South Carolina. And three years after being crushed by 47 points there by Hillary Clinton, with an even more challenging field of primary rivals shaping up, Sanders is showing little sign that he’s going to get it right this time around. True, in January he spoke in South Carolina on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Sanders has also taken every opportunityto blast President Donald Trump as a racist. Yet Sanders remains remarkably awkward on the subject…

The piece ends with a lengthy quote from our own Bakari Sellers.

I don’t know why that particularly grabbed me. Something about Vanity Fair of all entities calling poor li’l ol’ us “the key state.” Anyway, you’ll be reading plenty more like that.

This is deeply ironic, of course — a state that hasn’t been in play in the general election being so important to Democrats. But it’s increasingly a thing, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out going forward.

In short, will this story have a happy ending (with Joe Biden deciding to run, winning in SC, and going on to win the White House), or not? That’s my perspective, anyway… :)

The stream of Dems who came through our editorial board room in 2004 was impressive. Since that was pre-blog, this is the only photo I have from that time. It was shot by a Dean fan when my assistant Sandy Brown and I were escorting the governor from the building after meeting with him...

The stream of Dems who came through our editorial board room in 2004 was impressive. Since that was pre-blog, this is the only photo I have from that time. It was shot by a Dean fan when my assistant Sandy Brown and I were escorting the governor from the building after meeting with him…

 

The new Henry McMaster (we can only hope)

henry

I’ve been meaning to write about this, but when it was timely — on Inauguration Day, and when we had the State of the State — I was too busy to blog, and let it slide.

But now I’m thinking about it again, so…

A number of times lately, I’ve thought, Hey, at least one voter out there was listening to us during the campaign: Henry McMaster.

At least it seems that way. Everywhere we went, James and Mandy touted their plan to raise teacher pay and take other measures to make all our schools places where kids were well educated and teachers loved their jobs and didn’t want to quit. And James had a crowd-pleasing line he used with regard to his opponent that went kind of like this: The only thing Henry McMaster has offered our schools is to arm teachers with guns. I want to arm them with better pay, and with the tools they need to be effective.

The line worked, because Henry offered nothing to counter it. He didn’t talk about schools. Any reasonable person could be forgiven for assuming that he didn’t give a flying flip about schools.

Now, he’s all on fire for education reform. Which is why, after the State of the State, Mandy Powers Norrell tweeted this:

It’s great. It’s gratifying. But don’t think I think we deserve the credit (and I don’t think Mandy does, either). I don’t flatter myself that Henry is taking his cues from the Smith campaign. I do think he’s taking them from House Speaker Jay Lucas. And that’s a good thing.

(Oops, I forgot to use The State newspaper’s recent style. On first reference, and sometimes even in headlines, it’s always “powerful House Speaker Jay Lucas.” It’s become such a part of his title, I expect them to start capitalizing the “P” next. Back in the old mainframe days when we were on Atex terminals, we would have said, “they’ve got it on a SAVE/GET key…”)

Lucas has been wanting to get serious on helping our schools for several years now. Even though the Supreme Court has backed off on forcing the Legislature to provide all the state’s students with a better-than-minimally adequate education, Lucas really wants to do something about it.

And he’s willing to let Henry get in front of the parade and take credit for it.

And to his credit, Henry for once is acting like a leader and stepping out to do something, to lead, to be a governor.

His first two years in office, we saw no sign of that. In fact, when Lucas and others in the State House tried to lead, Henry lay down in front of their efforts. He only cared about the upcoming election. It was painfully evident that, on a twist of another of James’ campaign lines, Henry would rather keep the job than do the job.

The way he tried to block leadership on the roads bill was the perfect example. Rather than support the lawmakers in the risk they were taking, he vetoed the bill, and neither tried to offer a viable argument why nor made any effort to get lawmakers to sustain the veto. He knew they would override him. He just wanted zero responsibility for what happened. (Which reminds me of a postwar German phrase: Ohne mich. They could do what they liked, but without him.)

Now that he’s been elected governor for the first time, he seems to have decided he’s going to act like one. For a change.

I worked so hard to get James Smith elected mostly because of my tremendous respect for him, personally. I’d have been for James even if Henry had been a fairly decent governor. But I worked even harder for him because Henry gave no sign of being any kind of governor at all, decent or otherwise. It was an extra spur to my efforts.

And when we lost, we had little reason to hope for anything better going forward.

Which is why it’s so encouraging to see Henry accepting the mantle of leadership that the Speaker has offered him. It’s not as good as having James as governor, not by a long shot, but it’s something.

I applaud this unexpected development. And I’m daring to hope that something good will come out of it. After all, Dum Spiro Spero

Trying to keep that ol’ gray matter working

313

I accepted some time ago that I was never going to be a world-shaker on the weekly Slate News Quiz. Aside from the fact that it tends to value news that’s a little outside my areas of interest (like, you know, sports), it’s timed, which tends to rattle me. Because I never ever do nothin’ fast, to paraphrase Tina Turner.

And today, I met my own low expectations, missing five questions and scoring a miserable 313. (I did, by way of consolation, beat this week’s designated Slate staffer, but this was a feature writer, not a hard-news type, so no real honor in that.)

But as I say, I no longer expect to break records. This week, for instance, the top score was from a reader with the alias “LiberalViewer,” with a perfect 600. (How does one get a perfect score on a test in which time counts against your score? Get all 12 questions right in zero time?)

So I’ve started using the quizzes for something else — to test and train my brain. Now that I’m on Medicare and all, I suppose I should think about keeping the ol’ gray matter humming — or making whatever noise it makes.

So right after I score my usual dismal score, I go back and take the same test again, with two aims — to see if I remember all the correct answers and to see how much faster I can do it.

After all, since my annual physical last week was my first on Medicare, they gave me a mental acuity test. The nurse gave me three words to remember and asked me to draw a clock on which the hands pointed to 10 ’til 2. She left the room, and I set to work drawing my clock (the circle part was already drawn, thank goodness). Later, suddenly and without warning, she asked me for the three words. They were “sunshine,” “banana” and “chair.” I aced it — this time. (She never got back to me on the clock thing.)

Anyway, this week I did the quiz again several minutes later and got a 580. Which is good, I think. For a slowcoach like me, anyway. That’s about as fast as my fingers will click…

580

Who congratulates people on their ‘work anniversaries?’

I've blurred names and faces to protect the innocent. It's not their fault LinkedIn does this...

I’ve blurred names and faces to protect the innocent. It’s not their fault LinkedIn does this…

Several years back, I was persuaded to sign up for LinkedIn, on the premise that it would be good for me in my post-newspaper life.

I’ve given it every chance; I really have. I’ve got more than 1,500 connections without having tried all that hard. (I know a lot of people; a lot of people know me.) And I’m sure that any day now, this will come in handy. For something.

But today, as I labor to empty my IN box, I’m wondering about one specific aspect of this thing.

Who congratulates people on their work anniversaries? If you do it, why do you do it? Do you think they want you to? Does anyone have work anniversary celebrations? When you do so, do you worry whether your message will push the recipient into a state of despond, having been reminded that he or she has spent yet another year in that job?

Is this notion of work anniversaries some sort of holdover from when people actually spent whole careers in the same secure jobs, and happily counted down the years until they got that gold watch? Seems to me that the period of time in which LinkedIn has existed corresponds with the years in which more and more of us have been thrown, unwilling, into the gig economy. Is that it? Is the idea that we’re to congratulate the few, the happy (but endangered) few who still have actual jobby-jobs, like Daddy used to have?

I’m just curious whether this is a thing. Or whether LinkedIn is just trying to make it a thing (and, I’m guessing, not succeeding) in a desperate bid for relevance.

All I know is, I’m tired of the emails…

How about a graphic on who’s NOT running?

IMG_0013

It might be simpler.

Anyway, I thought y’all might be interested in seeing the interactive graphic The New York Times has published showing the Democrats, or sort-of Democrats, who are definitely or maybe or possibly running for president next year.

(And no, the image above is not interactive. It’s just a screenshot from my iPad, although it links to the real one. The interactive one is here.)

Apparently, there’s a heap of hubris out there. All sorts of folks think they’re qualified to be POTUS, many of them on the thinnest possible grounds.

Personally, I’ve decided we need a good rule of thumb for winnowing the field, and I have gone ahead and come up with one, The country can thank me later. Here it is: No one younger than I am should be allowed to be president. Sure, that young fella Obama did pretty well, but we just can’t take chances with our country. Too much is at stake.

So, let’s see… the following youngsters are disqualified among those who are running or are likely: Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Delaney, Gabbard, Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar, Yang, Bullock, Landrieu, McAuliffe, Merkley, O’Rourke.

I’ll figure out how to disqualify Sanders and Warren later. Hey, I didn’t claim my system was perfect. It’s just a starting point. I’ll continue to work on it until achieves my desired purpose of eliminating everyone other than Joe Biden.

(And no, Trump’s being older than I am doesn’t qualify him, since mentally and emotionally he’s about 3 years old.)

Anyway, as Bryan likes to say, your mileage may vary. :)

IMG_0014

 

 

Top Five ACTUAL National Emergencies

Spanish Flu Pandemic

Spanish Flu Pandemic

As the man who is, to our everlasting shame, president of the United States makes a mockery of the concept, I thought I’d start a discussion of actual national emergencies from our history.

It’s not that easy. I’m sure I’m forgetting something big, but just to get the ball rolling, here’s my quick-and-dirty list of Top Five Actual National Emergencies:

  1. Civil War — I could have said Secession or the Dred Scott decision or the Nullification Crisis, but I’m just wrapping it all together under one heading.
  2. Cuban Missile Crisis — An alternative might be “Berlin Wall Crisis,” but this seems to be the one when a nuclear exchange seemed most likely.
  3. World War II — Not sure whether this should make the short list because the United States’ existence wasn’t threatened the way Britain’s and France’s and so many other countries’ were. But for those living through it, things looked pretty dark in December 1941. In terms of response to a crisis, the nation rose to this one as it did in the 1860s.
  4. Spanish Flu Pandemic — Exactly a century ago, it killed more people than there were military deaths in both World War I and II. Of course, it was worldwide, and not just national, but I included it anyway.
  5. Stock Market Crash, 1929 — I know it was just about money and all, but it was a biggie.

Honorable mention:

  • Burning of Washington, 1814 — Kind of a low point — I mean, the president fled and the Brits burned the White House — but I went back and forth as to whether it should make the list.
  • 9/11, 2001 — We’re still kind of reeling from this one.
  • Watergate — The Constitution withstood a test, and we passed with flying colors. But Americans’ trust in their government has continued to wither.
The burning of Washington.

The burning of Washington.

Who are the ad wizards who came up with THIS one?

I don’t see TV commercials much any more, and that’s a good thing. The awful thing about TV commercials historically was that you had to watch them, unless you wanted to turn off the tube or leave the room or change the channel, all of which meant risking missing the resumption of your show, which in the days before DVRs and such could be distressing.

Who IS this simpleton? Why is he blowing stuff up?

Who IS this simpleton? Why is he blowing stuff up?

The nice thing about print ads, comparatively, was that you could completely ignore them. You didn’t have to wade through them; didn’t have to wait through anything; you just looked right past them.

And the same is true of the descendants of traditional TV ads — video ads online.

But as my eyes glided over the one you see above, I couldn’t help taking in the words, “Winner winner, berry-flavored win sauce for dinner.” And that was SO stupid that I couldn’t help wonder about the video it went with. So I watched it — first without sound, then with.

It took me to depths of stupidity previously undreamed-of.

Really, what’s this about? “Victory in a can?” Victory over what? Who is this simpleton in an imaginary vehicle? Why is he firing what appears to be a missile containing cluster munitions at a flash of light on a mountainside? What’s his target? The Taliban? A peaceful village of llama herders? Supporters of a rival football team? What is the casus belli?

And what does this nonsensical activity have to do with Mountain Dew? And why would someone wish to imbibe “pure annihilation?”

We are offered no help; we are left to wonder

Stand Up & Win – Jerry Seinfeld SNL sketch from Anonymously Anonymous on Vimeo.

Rep. Hart underlines silliness of the ‘wall’ nonissue

Here’s a release with a silly headline about a silly bill mocking something equally, you know, silly:

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I only have one beef with it: I had to show you the release as a picture, rather than copying and pasting text, because it wasn’t sent in a text form.

Which is inconvenient. And irritating. And perhaps silly as well…

As to the merits of the measure that the Democrats are filibustering — I have no idea. Don’t know why Republicans are for it; don’t know why Democrats are against it. Don’t much care. Here’s a Tweet about it; that’s all I’ve got:

I’ve just never thought of it as a good place to meet girls

Really? You lost a girl to THIS guy?

Really? You lost a girl to THIS guy?

Today is a day for wondering for me. And while I was walking across the USC campus at midday today, I finally decided to ask about something that has bugged me for decades:

And you lost her to the guy pictured above? You are evidently not favored among men. Or hobbits, either…

In Rohan, mayBE. But Mordor, never...

In Rohan, mayBE. But Mordor, never…

Why not make the appointment for the time when you actually want me to be there?

This is the best picture I could find of a waiting room that was in the public domain.

This is the best picture I could find of a waiting room that was in the public domain.

I’m not aiming this at anyone in particular. I’m just noting a trend and asking “why?”

So you have a long-standing appointment with a doctor, for say, 11 a.m. on X date.

You get a call from the doctor’s office reminding you of it, and you are told you need to be there at 10:30 for the 11 a.m. appointment.

You get an envelope full of forms to fill out in advance, and it tells you the same thing: Your appointment is at 11, but be there at 10:30.

Hey, I don’t mind being there at 10:30. But if that’s when you want me there, why don’t you just say that’s my appointment time? It’s not like I’m going to expect to see the doctor at that precise time — just as I don’t expect to see him immediately at 11 when that’s my appointment time.

That’s all. No biggie. It’s just one of those things I wonder about….

Today’s Hot Topic: Columbia taxes and ecodevo

We had a pretty good crowd, who seemed engaged.

We had a pretty good crowd, who seemed engaged.

We’ve relaunched the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council’s monthly Hot Topic discussions. Today at the Chamber offices we tackled the subject of Columbia property taxes and their effect on economic development efforts. Or, as local Chamber head Carl Blackstone said when I told him about it, “My favorite topic.”

On the panel were:

  • Mayor Steve Benjamin
  • Paul Livingston, chairman of Richland County Council
  • Henry Baskins, executive vice president, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce
  • Ryan Coleman, director of ecodevo for the city
  • Jeff Ruble, head of ecodevo for Richland County
  • Lasenta Lewis-Ellis, president/CEO of LLE Construction Group

We had a good discussion, and will probably have another to follow up before long.

Local businessman Hal Stevenson moderated.

To give y’all some idea of what was said, here are some of my Tweets from during the session:

All of that said, the mayor speaks pragmatically when he says that he imagines the chances of the Legislature undoing the damage it did with Act 388 are “slim to none.”

Local attorney Mitch Willoughby chats with the mayor after the forum.

Local attorney Mitch Willoughby chats with the mayor after the forum.

Kyle always makes First Thursday sound cool…

I did go check out First Thursday later. That's Kyle in the doorway in he garnet shirt. That's ex-Rep. Boyd Brown in the foreground with his head turned back.

I did go check out First Thursday later. That’s Kyle in the doorway in the garnet shirt. That’s ex-Rep. Boyd Brown in the foreground with his head turned back.

I don’t know if I’ll stop by First Thursday on Main Street on my way home, but I always enjoy Kyle Michel’s oblique invitations to do so:

I stood out there and watched that lunar eclipse a couple of weeks ago. Cold night, clear sky and the moon just hanging up there bright and beautiful until the shadow slowly crept across, and then it turned that eerie red. Amazing.

Then you see all those awesome pictures of it and you think, how does that big chunk of rock just sit out there like that? What’s holding it up, anyway? Wait! What’s holding us up? Why doesn’t earth just fall? I mean, we weigh A LOT! And we’re sitting on nothing – like nothing nothing.

Oh yeah, gravity. The moon’s caught in our gravitational field. And we’re in the sun’s gravitational field and the sun’s caught in the Milky Way’s gravitational field so we all just kinda sit out here, floating in space everybody circling around somebody else bigger – for a long. dang. time.

OK – so where does the gravity come from? Well, it’s generated by the mass of the celestial body. How? We’re not sure. Can you go touch the gravity? No. Where is the gravity located? It’s not really located anywhere it just happens. How do we even know this in the first place then? Truth be told, we don’t *know*, it’s just our best theory – you know Einstein and relativity and all that. And they’ve had to invent some new theories to layer on the old theories to make all the math work out. But it’s still shaky.

Some things are like those distant stars in the dark night sky – the more you focus on ’em the fuzzier they get. First Thursday, on the other hand, doesn’t require any focus at all and you can get as fuzzy as you want.

It’s just a bunch of people you forgot you knew caught in Main Street’s gravitational field circling around each other for a few hours in purely random order. No hard questions. No shaky theories. No math.

We get going around 6:30. Stop by if you’re out.

I walked by on my afternoon constitutional earlier and he hadn’t put the records out yet. As I’ve mentioned before, Kyle has the biggest collection of vintage records of anyone I know, rivaling Championship Vinyl itself, and he always puts a couple of tables laden with ones he’s willing to part with — for a modest price — out in front of his office on First Thursdays.

Check it out….

I ended up purchasing three albums from "3 for $5" bin.

I ended up purchasing three albums from “3 for $5” bin.

George Will harshes Beto’s buzz

The skateboarding man-child.

The skateboarding man-child.

One of the more interesting things about this moment in our history is watching conservative pundits writing about Democrats who — they hope — would have the potential to beat Trump in 2020.

I’m not saying it’s remarkable that they want Trump gone. Any “conservative” who knows what the word means — and too few of those who use it constantly do — would want him out of office yesterday.

I mean it’s interesting because they bring attention to substantive potential candidates who actually might have a chance of winning a general election. Which these days is something of a novelty. Most of the writing about 2020 thus far has been about this week’s shiny new toy, rather than people someone other than a Democrat might vote for.

George Will has devoted several columns lately to elevating the profiles of people who he believes have what it takes. My mentioning Will will cause Doug and bud to bristle — a lot of what I write about does that. But as guys who appreciate numbers and hard facts more than my intuitive leaps, they should pay attention to Will. He’s just as avid a student of electoral stats as he is of the ones that apply to baseball.

His latest effort praises Sen. Amy Klobuchar. He breaks it down without sentimentality or wishful thinking:

Klobuchar is from a state contiguous with Iowa, whose caucuses might, or might not, be as big a deal in 2020 as they have been since Jimmy Carter’s 1976 success in them propelled him toward the presidency. (Early voting for California’s March 3 primary, in which probably 11 percent of delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be allocated, begins the day of Iowa’s caucuses, so some candidates might slight Iowa to court California.) Minnesota also borders Wisconsin, one of the three Rust Belt states (the others are Michigan and Pennsylvania) that Donald Trump took but that had voted Democratic in at least six consecutive presidential elections. She is from the Midwest, where Democrats need help in Michigan (Trump carried it by just 0.3 percent of the vote), Iowa (Trump by nine percentage points) and Ohio (Trump by nine points).

Minnesota has voted Democratic in 11 consecutive presidential elections (since it spurned George McGovern, from neighboring South Dakotain 1972). It has more electoral votes (10) than such swing states as New Hampshire (four), Iowa (six), Nevada (six) and Colorado (nine). But Minnesota’s blueness has been fading: Barack Obama defeatedMitt Romney by eight percentage points in 2012, but four years later, Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by just 1.5 points….

He also notes that she won election last year to a third term by a 24-point margin.

Of course, you know me — I prefer the pithy statement that touches on an essential truth. So my favorite line in the column was this: “In the Almanac of American Politics’ most recent (2015) vote rankings, she was the 27th-most-liberal senator, liberal enough to soothe other liberals without annoying everyone else.” Quite.

But if Will is a guilty pleasure for you, as he is for me, you might like his lede on this one, in which he dismisses one of the Democrats’ shiny new toys on the way to speaking of the more substantial Sen. Klobuchar:

Surely the silliest aspirant for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination is already known: “ Beto ,” a. k.a. Robert Francis, O’Rourke is a skateboarding man-child whose fascination with himself caused him to live-stream a recent dental appointment for — open wide, please — teeth cleaning. His journal about his post-election recuperation-through-road-trip-to-nowhere-in-particular is so without wit or interesting observations that it merits Truman Capote’s description of “On the Road” author Jack Kerouac’s work: That’s not writing, that’s typing.

When Democrats are done flirting with such insipidity, their wandering attentions can flit to a contrastingly serious candidacy…

Ow. That is way harsh. But it hits home.

Anyway, after this, you should check out the respect Will lavishes upon John Delaney, Sherrod BrownCheri Bustos (not as a presidential hopeful, but as an example of what Dems should emulate if they want to win in general), and finally… drum roll… Elizabeth Warren.

Of Warren, he says “Democrats have found their Thatcher — if they dare.” You don’t get higher praise than that, coming from a conservative.

He’s been on something of a pragmatic roll lately…