Category Archives: Blogosphere

Updating my blogroll: Any suggestions?

Push HARDER

I neglect my blogroll. In fact, I think about it so little that it occurs to me: Do people still do blogrolls, or look at them, or are they just too 2005?

Did you even know I had one? It’s located almost at the bottom of the rail at right.blogroll

Anyway, I noticed today, belatedly, that Wesley Donehue had started blogging again — way back in February, it seems. So I added his new blog, “Push HARDER,” to the mix.

And I removed some links that are now defunct — or at least, I fixed them so they don’t show, just in case they come back sometime.

So, since I’m in updating mode, are there any blogs out there I’m missing, that you think I should include?

I’m particularly interested in blogs by South Carolinians, and of a political nature. If you know of any. I’m talking, of course, about good stuff like our own Bryan Caskey’s “Permanent Press.” Check out his latest, about the “Jerk Quarterback” who won’t stand for the national anthem. (This counts as a sports reference!)

Oh, for those halcyon days of SC political blogging, with Laurin Manning, and Tim Kelly, and Adam Fogle’s TPS Reports!

There are so few of us left…

shop tart

Open Thread for Monday, August 29, 2016

e55531c0-2c15-0134-0af4-0629623c6db9

Some quick topics before I leave the office:

  1. Gov. Haley directs SC agencies to plan possible budget cuts — WTF? (by which I mean “What The Fiscal?”) I know we’re expecting less of a windfall in additional money this year, but I fail to see how that leads to this unless we used ‘massive’ amounts of nonrecurring money for recurring expenses. Which I don’t think is the case. She can call this mere contingency planning, but leadership would be to talk about how in the future we might stop grossly underfunding essential government functions. Let’s talk big picture, instead of issuing random edicts to please the Grover Norquist crowd.
  2. McCain is in the fight of his political life in the age of Trump — Sad situation. I’d hate to see him end his career with a defeat. And all because his party has run mad, led by a man who does not see McCain as a war hero.
  3. Cayce man imprisoned for having more than 1 million child pornography images — So if you have fewer than a million, you just get a fine? Sorry; I’m in a pedantic mood this week. Bottom line, here’s someone who, if guilty, needs to go under the jail. I can’t believe they plan to let him out in 15 years, even if he is 66.
  4. Alien life, or noise? Russian telescope detects ‘strong signal’ from sun-like star — So apparently, now they’re hacking aliens, too…
  5. Gene Wilder, Star Of ‘Willy Wonka’ And ‘Young Frankenstein,’ Dies — You can leave out the “Willy Wonka” as far as I’m concerned; I never got the appeal of that. But to consider the brilliance of his performance in “Young Frankenstein,” Dammen und Herren, we must enter, quietly, into the realm of genius…

Open Thread for Friday, August 26, 2016

The underpaid Augusta Greenjackets take the field against the Fireflies in Columbia Monday night. The home team won, 7-4.

The underpaid Augusta Greenjackets take the field against the Fireflies in Columbia Monday night. The home team won, 7-4.

Wrapping up the week:

  1. A top French court overturns the burkini ban — Good for them. So maybe France can now rejoin the ranks of liberal democracies.
  2. The shadowy corner of pro baseball, where minor leaguers live below the poverty line — Interesting piece by Kent Babb, formerly of The State. It features salary info about the team in Augusta, which I saw play the Fireflies just the other night. The Fireflies’ salaries are not mentioned.
  3. First case of Zika reported near Myrtle Beach — OK, you’ve got me worried now.
  4. Guess How Many Zika Cases Showed Up At The Olympics? — Hint: Fewer than in the Myrtle Beach area. This was the Y2K of health scares.
  5. Multi-million grant to fund cutting-edge brain research at Clemson — Sorry. I couldn’t resist being reminded of the classic Ariail cartoon below.

11_Clems_Son

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Busy day today, so talk amongst yourselves:

  1. Turkish Military Storms Syrian Border in Major Assault on ISIS — They are being supported by U.S. air assets and special forces.
  2. Earthquake in central Italy leaves dozens dead — It happened last night, and the death toll, as usual, is expected to rise.
  3. Democrats Have 60 Percent Chance of Retaking the Senate — First time I’ve seen a number like that. Of course, I don’t care. Let the Whigs take the Senate, as long as Trump loses. (Although I’ve prefer the Federalists, so I do have preferences.)
  4. ‘This is not a photo-op issue’: Obama tours flood-damaged Baton Rouge — “The President say, “Little fat man, isn’t it a shame…?”
  5. U.S. lawmakers demand investigation of $100 price hike of lifesaving EpiPens — I think mine are out of date, but there’s no way I’m buying new ones until this is straightened out.
  6. How will Spurrier’s autobiography compare to these coaches’ memoirs? — Alas, I will never know. I must learn to live with that.
coolidge flood

President Coolidge may well have said “Isn’t it a shame.” But it’s not like he was going to go overboard helping…”

We’ve come to this — a ‘reporter’ delivering an editorial

There’s nothing special about this example I’m sharing with you. It’s just a fairly clear-cut one of the blurring of news and editorial functions in the New Normal.

In today’s Open Thread, I shared this item about where we stand 20 years after the End of Welfare as We Knew It.

Later, I glanced at the above video that appeared on the same page with it.

Most of the way through it, I didn’t think much of it until the very end, when the young woman on camera says, “I’m Emily Badger, reporter for Wonkblog.”

Did she really just say “reporter?” I ask because if you take every word she just said and put it on an opinion page, you have an editorial. Or an op-ed column, but it was largely spoken in the truth-from-above, ex cathedra tones of an editorial. Only by an engaging young woman, rather than some gray, disembodied, royal “we.”

Which I expect from a blog. I mean, really, how many blogs do you go to for straight news? And as I say over and over to any who remain confused, this is an opinion blog. I don’t have the resources — reporters, and editors to guide and read behind them — to publish a news blog. All I can do here is comment on the information provided to us by organizations that still do have such resources. (Sure, there are exceptions — I occasionally attend some news event and share what I saw and heard — but generally I’m not set up to inform so much as to engage with information obtained elsewhere.

And I certainly don’t call myself a reporter. I haven’t been a reporter since the spring of 1980.

That’s what grabbed me — her title.

I have no problem with blogs offering opinion. That would indeed be the height of hypocrisy

But it’s an adjustment for me seeing and hearing it coming from a “reporter.”

Reporters who unapologetically spout editorials. O brave new world, That has such people in ’t!

Badger

Open Thread for Monday, August 22, 2016

Who would he need blocking for him to achieve THIS goal?

Who would he need blocking for him to achieve THIS goal?

Some quick glimpses of what’s out there…

  1. Former USC star Lattimore interested in running Richland Recreation Commission — All I can say is that I doubt he could do a worse job. Beyond that, I’m not sure what to say. Maybe you football fans will know.
  2. Trump, Shifting Tone, Says He Will Be ‘Fair’ on Immigration — Yeah, that would definitely be a shift. This is worrying me. Ever since Manafort was pushed out, he’s been doing the stuff that Manafort tried to get him to do — stuff he would have to do to win the election.
  3. Carolina Band is tuned; are you ready for Gamecock football, too? — When I saw that headline, my response was, “Would it do any good if I said, ‘No!’? Would it delay the inevitable?”
  4. Speedo Cancels Its Sponsorship Deal With Ryan Lochte — Sounds OK to me. I mean, I’d rather see Speedo dropping Lochte than Lochte dropping his Speedos…
  5. How welfare reform changed American poverty, in 9 charts — With the reform 20 years old and another Clinton running for president, it makes sense to take stock.

Note that I just gave you three sports-related topics. Do I win a prize?

A thumbs-up from Chuck Yeager!

Chuck Yeager X-1

OK, technically it was Mike Fitts whose Tweet got a “like” from the Man at the Top of that ol’ Pyramid. Not me.

But my name was mentioned!

Mike sent this to my attention this morning:

Which I of course immediately reTweeted. After which I saw this, to my delight:

yeager tweet

All right! I have been in contact, however indirectly, with the man with the most righteous stuff in the Twitterverse

Yeager Twitter

Open Thread for Thursday, August 18, 2016

Yeah, I know I showed you this before, but I just can't get over the image...

Yeah, I know I showed you this before, but I just can’t get over the image…

Only one more day in the week, and so much to deal with. So let’s distract ourselves, with everything from tragedy to farce:

  1. Justice Dept. says it will end use of private prisons — Well, it’s about time. If we as a society are going to take people’s freedom away, we have the obligation to run the prisons ourselves, not delegate that to the lowest bidder.
  2. U.S. Acknowledges Cash Payment to Iran Was ‘Leverage’ in Prisoner Release — So, yeah, ummm… there was a connection.
  3. Amnesty International: Over 17,000 People Have Died In Syrian Detention Centers — Oh, and have you seen the picture of the little boy?
  4. U.S. swimmers ‘invented robbery story’ — So, is this what we send these people down their for?
  5. Naked Donald Trump statues pop up in cities across the US — From what I could tell, it seems the sculptors made his… hands… look quite small…
nekkid

Photo supplied to WashPost by Jason Goodrich

Meanwhile, in Aleppo, a child sits — silent, staring and bloody

Yesterday, I Tweeted out the headline of an editorial in The Washington Post: “As Aleppo is destroyed, Mr. Obama stands by.”

Today, the above video went viral around the world. It shows a tiny boy, covered in dust and blood after being pulled from rubble, sitting in an ambulance seat that’s far too big. He’s quiet. He seems stunned. He wipes his face, sees the blood, tries to wipe it off his hand onto the seat, then goes back to staring ahead.

This, my friends, is what “as Aleppo is destroyed” looks like. The boy is Omran Daqneesh. He’s 5 years old.

And here’s a Tweet that puts things into perspective:

When I Tweeted that editorial headline yesterday, someone responded on Facebook, “What would you suggest he do, Brad?”

Now? I suppose it’s more a question of what he should have done the last few years (such as some of the things Hillary Clinton urged him to do when she was Secretary of State). I don’t know enough about the details of the current situation even to know what is still possible.

I know what he should NOT have done. He should not have spoken of red lines. He should not have said we would have the Syrian people’s backs in this horrible time. Not if he didn’t mean it…

But I guess my short answer is, SOMETHING. Not that any answers are easy…

All I know is that I look at that child, and see my grandson…

I hereby dub Sen. Nikki Setzler my 3,000th follower

Nikki Setzler

Just thought I’d make note of this modest Twitter milestone….

Sometime during the past week, I passed 3,000 followers on Twitter. I’m not sure who put me over, because of the ebb and flow of followership. At one point I was at 3,002; now I’m back down to 3,000 even — followers come and go pretty quickly. It’s dynamic.

But I passed the 3,000 mark about the time Nikki Setzler started following me. So, since I know Nikki and he’s a good guy and all, I’m just going to attribute the achievement to him. Because, you know, I’d rather not call attention to the pretty, sweet-looking young woman who wants me to look at porn sites — and who started following me at about the same time.

Way to go, Nikki!

Since I made that editorial judgment rather capriciously, I should note that Nikki and I have two things in common. First, he and his wife celebrated their anniversary on Tuesday, while we had ours on Wednesday. Congrats to us all!

Also, my lawyer daughter recently started working part-time in his law office. So there’s that. But to my knowledge, that has no bearing on Nikki’s decision to start following me…

By the way, you may not be terribly impressed by my 3,000 followers. Fair enough. Obviously, I’m not Justin Bieber, and I hope you’re as happy about that as I am. But I find it respectable, especially since I’ve strictly kept the number I follow under 600, which feels about right for what I use Twitter for.

The way I look at it, I’ve got a five-to-one ratio going for me, which is nice…

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It doesn’t look good for me having time to blog much today — and the day’s half over — so I’ll go ahead and start an Open Thread, with some possible topics. Talk amongst yourselves:

  1. Trump shakes up campaign, demotes top adviser — Basically, the message from here on out is “Let Trump be Trump.” Which I suppose is excellent news for those of us who think it’s fine that he be himself, as long as he isn’t also president. Jennifer Rubin has a pretty good take on it. She says it’s time for Republicans to cut their losses and concentrate on down-ballot.
  2. Sweeping fed indictment targets SC ‘Irish Travelers’ — Yeah, that’s why I posted the clip above from “Snatch.” The feds allege that the folks in Murphy Village have gone way beyond selling shoddy caravans.
  3. SC tax agency can’t sue private companies over penny tax, judge rules — I don’t know all the ins and outs of this, but my gut is that I hate to see the courts preventing DOR from trying to inject some accountability. I mean, if they legally can’t, they can’t. I just hate to see it.
  4. Release of Code Raises Fears That N.S.A. Was Hacked — Great. First Snowden, now this.

That’s all I’m seeing in a quick sweep over the news. Maybe y’all can suggest something better.

snatch

Open Thread for Friday, August 12, 2016

Still from a video Tweeted by the Clinton campaign, showing Republicans saying candidates should release their returns.

Still from a video Tweeted by the Clinton campaign, showing Republicans saying candidates should release their returns.

Some topics as the week winds down:

  1. Clinton tax return shows couple made $10.7 million in 2015 — Meanwhile, someone else — I’m not saying who — is still sharing nothing.
  2. Clinton Widens Lead Over Trump in Battleground States — That’s in the WSJ. The NYT reports that since the conventions, “instead of attracting a surge of new admirers, Mr. Trump has been hemorrhaging support among loyal Republicans, anti-establishment independents, Clinton-loathing Democrats and others…”
  3. Lawyers for ex-N. Charleston officer say video defends shooting — The lawyers here know what Carl Sandburg said: “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, argue total B.S.”
  4. The Trump we saw: Populist, frustrating, forever on the make — This is from a book a couple of Washington Post reporters are writing.
  5. Have we detected an alien megastructure in space? Keep an open mind — And now, for something completely different… It’s probably a space bypass being constructed by the Vogons, as part of a stimulus package pushed by President Zaphod Beeblebrox.

3755

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I don't know about you, but I intend to be mentally prepared. Maybe it's time I went back to school...

I don’t know about you, but I intend to be mentally prepared. Maybe it’s time I went back to school…

A few topics for consideration:

  1. USC classes you won’t believe actually exist — OK, you made me look, and it was interesting, but it did not strain credulity. Yeah a class treating the Hunger Games as literature is ridiculous, but don’t you think higher education should be preparing us psychologically for the Zombie Apocalypse? Look how traumatized Rick Grimes and the others were. You know why? Because they were not prepared mentally! As for the other courses… Suddenly I’m flashing on some dialogue from “Ghostbusters” (the real one). Dean Yeager: “Your theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy, and your conclusions are highly questionable! You are a poor scientist, Dr. Venkman!” Peter Venkman: “But the kids love us!”
  2. Costco opens Columbia store today — Seriously, did any of you consider for an instant going there today? I’ll look at the traffic density function on Waze a couple of months from now and see if it’s safe, and maybe check it out then. Meanwhile, let me know if you hear we’re getting an Apple store.
  3. US government blasts Baltimore police over race — And race isn’t the only problem. I saw “The Wire.”
  4. Even under oath, Trump struggled with the truth — The Donald, deposed. In a 2007 case.
  5. Is split-ticket voting making a comeback? With Trump on the ballot, some Republicans hope so. — It’s not “ticket splitting.” It’s being a rational, responsible voter. Anyone who votes exclusively for one party or the other and doesn’t consider that SOME candidates in the other party may be superior to those who oppose them should lose the right to vote. Voters have an obligation to think about each and every choice on the ballot. Harrumph.

There are other topics out there. Bring them up if you like.

This letter is great, fantastic and YUGE!

Bill Castronuovo brought my attention to this letter that ran on the editorial page of the Sunday editions of the Tampa Bay Times (which was previously known and lauded as The St. Petersburg Times, making it one of the few newspapers I can think of that have expanded their focus area in recent years):

letter

I don’t really see Trump as a letter-writer, or letter-reader for that matter. But if he did write them…

See the most amazing models you’ll ever see

Burl is making sure we notice that the sign says he is "renowned."

Burl is making sure we notice that the sign says he is “renowned.”

So you built a few model planes when you were a kid. A Spitfire, a P-51, an Me 109 — if you had the room, maybe a B-17. You glued all the pieces in the right places, applied the decals, even painted them. If you were like me, you heated the point of a needle and poked staggered machine-gun holes in the wing or fuselage.

And to top it all off, you got some fine plastic fishing line and hung them in mid-dogfight from the ceiling of your bedroom.

Whoop-tee-do.

No model you ever built or even saw in your life can possibly compare to what’s on display right now at the International Plastic Modelers Society 2016 National Convention & Contest at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

I’m confident in saying that because these guys are the best in the world — the guys who make models for museums and for the movies (I ran into a guy who made models for one of the Star Wars movies) and the detail and realism of their work will take your breath away.

Just don’t touch anything.

I learned about it because one of the featured attractions is my high school friend Burl Burlingame, ex-newspaperman and present historian at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor.

In fact, he will be leading a seminar entitled “Pearl Harbor Revisited: 75 Years Later” at the convention center Saturday morning at 8:15. You should go try to catch it. Burl is an expert on so many things it’s ridiculous. Not just aviation — he’s the world’s leading authority on Japanese midget submarines. And he designed some of the more amazing stuff on display at the convention — such as unbelievably tiny brass railings for model ships, etched by a process that I do not understand.

And stay to look at the models. It costs $10 to get in ($15 for a family). And if you want to do more than look, and aren’t too intimidated by what you see to ever try building another model yourself, there’s every kind of kit conceivable for sale, from the Revell kits you bought from the dime store as a kid to specialized products for customizing at the professional level — everything for painting, muddying, rusting or whatever else you might want to do to emulate real life.

There are vintage dime-store kits on sale for as little as $5. But if you’d like to buy the new Do 335 A-O Pfeil kit unveiled just this afternoon by Zoukei-Mura (they had a whole team there from Japan; one rep Burl and I talked with kept bowing to us while we chatted), that’ll set you back about $185.

And no, it’s not just airplanes. There are cars, tanks, ships, every kind of military vehicle on wheels, fantasy figures, anything you can think of from Star Wars, and even a display of that monster series Aurora put out in the ’60s (I remember building the Dracula model, and there it was).

And while most of the models are small, this confab is big — I’ve never seen one event take up pretty much all of the Convention Center like this, upstairs and downstairs. (And yet, the modelers tell me there’s an event that happens in England that’s three times as big.)

So you should check it out. Saturday is the last day.

Here are some pictures. Forgive the crudity of these model… pictures. The smallness of the subjects, and the white background on the tables, made it tough for my iPhone:

Open Thread for Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dwayne Stafford, the jail inmate accused of attacking Roof.

Dwayne Stafford, the jail inmate accused of attacking Roof. Not a hero, but still…

You know, it’s a bit of a misnomer that I call these “Open Threads,” and then give you a bunch of specific topics. Basically, in reality, it’s a Virtual Front Page that I don’t put as much thought into — in terms of picking a lede, worrying about the mix, etc.:

Anyway, here are some topics:

  1. Sheriff: Security snafu led to inmate assault on Dylann Roof — Three points to make: One, man is it hard to work up any sympathy, although of course, inmates should be protected from violence. Two: The story says he attacked him for “no reason.” Really? Because most of us wouldn’t have trouble thinking of one if we did it. Three: So is “snafu” an OK term now in a family newspaper? That’s kind of FUBAR. Wait… can something be “kind of” FUBAR?
  2. Ryan Stands by Trump but Says Endorsement No ‘Blank Check’ — Really? Because so far, it pretty much looks like it is just that.
  3. Swing-state polls show Trump trailing Clinton by wide margins — Yeah, well… I’m not breathing easy until it comes out that way on Election Day.
  4. NIH Plans To Lift Ban On Research Funds For Part-Human, Part-Animal Embryos — As my grandson has taken to saying, What the what? Where are we, the island of Dr. Moreau?
  5. Virginia officer found guilty of manslaughter — Again, The Guardian leads with a story about gun violence in America that you have to hunt for on U.S. sites. But it’s a worthy story. This is about an 18-year-old kid shot when he was suspected of shoplifting.
  6. Egypt ‘kills head of Islamic State’s Sinai branch’ — But maybe it didn’t really happen, right, since the BBC puts it in quotes…

Meanwhile, as I type this, the president is having a live presser at the Pentagon:

Pundits execute pincer movement on Trump & GOP

E.J. Dionne, on a visit to Columbia in 2011.

E.J. Dionne, on a visit to Columbia in 2011.

They’re closing in from the left and right.

E.J. Dionne went further than he has to date in a piece headlined, “The Republican Party has lost its soul.” An excerpt:

Let’s focus on the most revealing aspect of this week’s turmoil within a party now aghast over the unstable egotist at the top of its ticket.

Trump could falsely claim that Obama was born abroad, but that wasn’t enough to disqualify him. He could call Mexican immigrants “rapists,” but that wasn’t enough to disqualify him. He could lie repeatedly — about, for example, whether he had met Vladimir Putin and whether he had opposedthe Iraq War — but that wasn’t enough to disqualify him. He could call for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, but that wasn’t enough to disqualify him. He could make degrading comments about women and mock people with disabilities, but that wasn’t enough to disqualify him.

No, it seems, all this and more were sufficiently within the bounds of acceptability for House Speaker Paul Ryan to tell delegates to the Republican National Convention that “only with Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance at a better way.”

So what really set off the crisis in the Republican Party this week? Trump suddenly became unacceptable because, in an interview with Philip Rucker of The Post, he refused to endorse Ryan and John McCain in their Republican primaries.

No matter what Trump said, Reince Priebus, the Republican national chairman, was willing to bow and scrape before Trump for months in trying to pull the party together behind him. Now, and only now, is Priebus reported to be “furious” and “apoplectic” at Trump. The message: Trump can say anything he wants about women, the disabled, Mexicans and Muslims, but how dare The Donald cause any trouble for Priebus’s friend Paul Ryan?

The corruption of a once-great political party is now complete….

Attacking simultaneously from the right, George Will wrote that “Trump’s shallowness runs deep.” An excerpt from that:

His speeches are, of course, syntactical train wrecks, but there might be method to his madness. He rarely finishes a sentence (“Believe me!” does not count), but perhaps he is not the scatterbrain he has so successfully contrived to appear. Maybe he actually is a sly rascal, cunningly in pursuit of immunity through profusion.

George Will

George F. Will

He seems to understand that if you produce a steady stream of sufficiently stupefying statements, there will be no time to dwell on any one of them, and the net effect on the public will be numbness and ennui. So, for example, while the nation has been considering his interesting decision to try to expand his appeal by attacking Gold Star parents, little attention has been paid to this: Vladimir Putin’s occupation of Crimea has escaped Trump’s notice.

It is, surely, somewhat noteworthy that someone aspiring to be this nation’s commander in chief has somehow not noticed the fact that for two years now a sovereign European nation has been being dismembered. But a thoroughly jaded American public, bemused by the depths of Trump’s shallowness, might have missed the following from Trump’sappearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

When host George Stephanopoulos asked, “Why did you soften the GOP platform on Ukraine?” — removing the call for providing lethal weapons for Ukraine to defend itself — Trump said: “[Putin’s] not going into Ukraine, okay? Just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want.”

Stephanopoulos: “Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?”…

I deeply appreciate Will’s efforts recently to try to focus our attention on international affairs, and Trump’s utter and complete lack of preparedness or inclination to properly address them.

Sure, you can dismiss my friend E.J. as a consummate liberal, and wave away Will as a supercilious snob who doesn’t think Trump’s supporters are of the right sort.

So how about something closer to home? Check out this piece by a South Carolinian who has long admired Pat Buchanan, which is as conservative — as down-home, no-frills, paleoconservative — as anyone can get. Jeff Quinton writes:

Trump is wholly unqualified for the job of president. On top of that, his character is so fundamentally flawed that he cannot be trusted. On the character issue, I feel the same way about Hillary Clinton so I will not be voting for her either.

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

As a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the military, I will not vote for Trump based on national security and foreign policy issues. As a former soldier, Trump’s assurances that the troops will follow his orders, even if they are illegal ones to target civilians just because he says so are troubling. Trump’s vow to violate our treaty obligations to NATO are a major problem as well. I have concerns about Trump and his campaign manager’s connections to the Russian government—whether it was the Republican platform plank that hangs Ukraine out to dry or the Russian connections to Trump corporate finances. That doesn’t include the investigation of the DNC email leaks and where that might lead. Another foreign policy issue that bothers me relates to immigration and religious intolerance.

Trump’s immigration policies play to the basest fears in society. Whether it is his proposed Muslim ban or his criticisms of Pope Francis, it brings out the worst in his supporters online. From Ann Coulter tweeting that the Founding Fathers were right to distrust Catholics to Trump’s own proposal to keep a registry of Muslims in the country, it reminds me of one of the worst parts of American history for religious freedom—the Know Nothing era.

Trump’s appeals to the “alt-right” are nothing but a dog whistle for the fringes of the Republican Party. I have seen them get caught up in questionable conspiracy theories. They post about “false flag” theories after mass shootings that were supposedly were arranged in support of gun control. Jewish critics of Trump have been threatened and ridiculed for daring to question anything the man says. Polls show self-identifying evangelical Christians largely support him—a fact that leaves many observers scratching their heads.

As a faithful Catholic, I have also been active in the pro-life movement both locally and nationally. I do not trust Donald Trump’s pandering on pro-life issues. Being around the conservative movement in Washington for the past few years, I should not have been surprised to see so many conservatives and pro-lifers in the capital who were dead set against Trump in the primaries roll over for him as soon as he became the presumptive nominee. It is about nothing but being team players for access, power, and fundraising purposes….

And so forth. Go read the whole thing at The Daily Beast.

As a lagniappe, I’ll close with this, the first in a series of seven Tweets from Bill Kristol yesterday:

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 3, 2016

President Barack Obama meets for lunch with formerly incarcerated individuals who have received commutations, at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., March 30, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama meets for lunch with formerly incarcerated individuals who have received commutations, at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., March 30, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Some things out there at this hour (feel free to bring up your own):

  1. SC resident infected with brain-eating amoeba with 95 percent death rate — They’re hoping to get a potentially life-saving drug to the patient in time. I don’t know know what to say about it other than God help this poor person.
  2. GOP reaches ‘new level of panic’ over Trump candidacy — After he refused to endorse Ryan and McCain, GOP leaders are in meltdown mode; even Reince Priebus has found the self-respect to become “livid.” Meanwhile, Mike Pence pointedly did endorse Ryan. Meg Whitman is going to vote for “her.” And what else? Oh, yeah — while not completely tired of attacking the Khans, he switched gears and lashed out at a baby. I’m guessing he’s been told you’re supposed to kiss them, not attack them, but does he listen?
  3. Trump Edges Close to Clinton With Flood of Donations — Yeah, that’s right. Even as every Republican with a clue is desperate for a way out of the situation, his base is investing in him more than ever. Which reminds me of this item from The Takeaway…
  4. A policy expert explains how anti-intellectualism gave rise to Donald Trump — It’s an interview with Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former foreign policy adviser to the presidential campaigns of John McCain, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio. And author of a New York Times op-ed, “How the ‘Stupid Party’ Created Donald Trump.”
  5. Clinton, Kaine Driven By Their Faith In The ‘Social Gospel’ — Yep. First they stole flag-waving from the GOP; now this. Presumably, they’ll let the Republicans keep guns. Or maybe not.
  6. President Obama Commutes the Sentences of 214 Additional People — He’s commuted more sentences than the previous 9 presidents combined, according to the White House.

commutations_chart_0

Here’s what I mean when I say I’m a ‘centrist’

I’m trying to blog smarter by converting long comments into separate posts. Here’s the latest.

In this case, I had — in the interest of using words economically — referred to myself as a “centrist,” as I frequently do. Both Bud and Harry Harris took exception to the reference.

I replied

Dang, dang, dang! I wrote this somewhat involved, extremely insightful comment a little while ago on my iPad, and lost wifi in the middle of saving it. Let me see if I can reconstruct…

Of course I’m a centrist, to the point that the term has meaning (more on that in a second). I’m an adherent of the postwar governing consensus, the area that Clinton and Blair tried to get us back to in the 90s. I disagree with those who would pull us way from it.

That said, “left,” “right” and “center” are fairly silly terms. I really don’t HAVE a comfortable place on the artificial left-right continuum, and trying to place me, or anyone who THINKS about issues rather than buying them off the shelf prepackaged, on that line can present problems. But since I’m not “left” or “right,” “center” is a convenient term to use.

It’s also convenient because I am for CORE values, not those on the fringes. Here’s what I mean by that…

Government is about solving problems together, or at least efficiently providing those basic functions that we have general agreement government should handle. So I’m interested in areas where the parties overlap, not the areas where they pull away from consensus. We need to identify and build upon those areas where we can work together. And if we get good enough at that, maybe we can branch out to some of the tough subjects.

For that reason, I generally don’t like dealing with Culture War stuff, and get upset when it looks like an election is going to be about such things. Bud says, for instance, he assumes I “still advocate” for traditional marriage. I wasn’t aware I HAD been advocating on that subject. At all. He also mentioned Blue Laws. At one point some years back I made a gentle, passing reference to the fact that opposition to blue laws is one of the sillier overinterpretations of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment clause. Having a sensible agreement to have a day without commerce and hustle-bustle is hardly thrusting a particular form of religion on anyone. It’s just a gesture to basic human sanity. And I say that whenever Doug and Bud bring it up, which they do a LOT, because such a sensible suggestion is DEEPLY offensive to their libertarian reflexes. But I can’t recall advocating or campaigning for such. The most I’ve said is that it’s a shame to see such a life-calming custom go away.

Seriously, when I start campaigning for something, everyone can tell. (See: Confederate flag.)

But back to my point — I don’t see it as productive to invest a lot of political capital in those things, because the fights over them drive us apart and make it harder to agree on the things that should be easy.

The problem these days is that the parties and associated interest groups have polarized us so much that the area of consensus has gotten smaller and smaller.

Bud thinks this is a GREAT year. Well, in a couple of ways it is, but not the ways he thinks.

First, among thoughtful, informed participants and observers, there’s a greater willingness to step out from the stupid left-right, Democratic-Republican dichotomy and consider candidates on their merits. Once people do that, you see the Bushes (whom Bud despises so much), Graham, Sasse, Romney, et al., distancing themselves from Trump or opposing him outright. The latest encouraging manifestation of that is Meg Whitman declaring for Hillary, and the formation of a PAC to encourage Republicans to vote for the lesser of two weevils.

Sure, there are still plenty of Republicans out there who think this is a normal, left-v.-right election and anyone who would support anyone but Trump is a liberal Democrat and therefore the enemy. But I prefer to celebrate the people out there who GET IT.

Also, with Trump as their standard-bearer the GOP has so abandoned the flag-and-country ground that the Democrats were able to co-opt it and position themselves as the party of traditional patriotism last week. In other words, the Dems celebrated the things that used to unite us all, rather than just concentrating on differences (the usual Identity Politics and class warfare stuff).

Of course, this deeply offended the centrifugal forces of our politics, who want to see us fly apart. For instance, Gen. Allen’s speech offended both the military-hating portions of the left and the Democrat-hating elements on the right.

But these are positive developments, to a “centrist” like me…

allen

Open Thread for Monday, August 1, 2016

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I’m back from vacation, although I’m still stubbornly refusing to shave. Here’s what we have today:

  1. Obama goes after Trump: ‘I’m tired of folks trash-talking America’s military’ — Don’t you love the way Trump’s GOP has ceded the rah-rah flag-waving stuff — normally their forte — to the Democrats? I love me some irony, and this is Grade A. Oh, and the criticism from Republicans that I wrote about this morning is currently leading the NYT (see above).
  2. Pope Francis Says It Is Wrong To Identify Islam With Violence — Just so you know…
  3. Looking ahead to the Rio Olympics — There was a thing about this on public radio today and I missed it, but we can have our own discussion here. One important health warning, though: Comment all you want, but keep your mouths shut while doing so…
  4. His friend disappeared while tubing; he had a ‘couple of beers’, then called police — That’s all. Just thought I’d share that headline. It’s stuff like this that caused Mark Twain to want to give up on humans.
  5. U.S. Targets ISIS With New Round of Airstrikes in Libya — I mentioned this earlier today, but thought I’d give you another crack at it. Somewhat to my surprise, the WSJ is the only paper leading with it at this hour. (See below.)

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