Category Archives: Blogosphere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Thread for Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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

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

Anyone have any other topics?

Open Thread for Friday, January 22, 2016 (3 days late)

This is weird — I would have sworn I posted this Friday. But apparently not. It wasn’t all that interesting then, but I share it now just to show I was thinking about you Friday. Apparently, it was so dull that I lost interest before hitting “Publish”:

  1. It’s the end of the world as we know it — That is to say, it’s expected to snow somewhere within 200 miles of us (perhaps even closer!), and so everyone’s getting very excited. Here’s the song if you want to listen to it. But just to make you feel better as a South Carolinian, they’re going WAY more ape over the weather in New York and Washington. Of course, they’re expecting an actual blizzard, so…
  2. Debate Sharpens Over Single-Payer Health Care, But What Is It Exactly? — It’s wonderful; that’s what it is. But unattainable. Kind of like Marilyn Monroe was, unless you were Joe DiMaggio.
  3. Obama’s offshore drilling plan meets heavy resistance along Atlantic coast — Thoughts on this? I don’t think we’ve had a discussion of it here. As head of the Energy Party, of course, I have to be for it… although… with oil prices low, and the U.S. actually exporting the stuff again… maybe it’s not that urgent that we hunt for more right now… On the other hand, rising oil prices helped lead to a gain in the market this week, so…

OK, I’m going to stop straining. There’s just not much news out there today…

“Bloggers are we, born to be free…”

Did you see Rep. Mike Pitts’ proposal that journalists be registered?

To his credit, Mr. Pitts apparently did this ironically. The intention, apparently, is to mount a facetious attack on the First Amendment to make a point about the Second, which doesn’t really make sense, but don’t stop him; he’s on a roll.

Anyway, last night Bryan asked, via Twitter, whether this would also apply to bloggers.

No way, I responded defiantly:

Graham endorses Bush, which makes sense for him

You’ve probably heard about this by now:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday endorsed Jeb Bush for president, a major get for the former Florida governor who has struggled to gain traction in the contest.

In a press conference here, where the two stood side-by-side, Graham praised Bush, calling him a thoughtful and pragmatic figure who, unlike many of his rivals, had the experience to be president. At one point, Graham offered harsh criticism of Sen. Marco Rubio, saying that he wasn’t ready for the White House.

“I think Marco Rubio will be president of the United States someday,” Graham said. “I like him. But I wasn’t ready to be president at 44.”

Bush, Graham said, “is ready to be a commander-in-chief on Day One.”…

Umm… that doesn’t sound all that “harsh” to me. It’s not even inconsistent with the big pat on the head he gave Rubio last year, calling him a “son of Ronald Reagan.” That spurred speculation that he might back Rubio. But sons are not necessarily always ready to fill the roles of their fathers.

This makes sense for Graham. The only choices for him were Bush, Rubio, Christie and maybe Kasich. And of them all, Bush comes closest to the kind of traditional conservatism that would appeal to Graham and to South Carolina Republicans — or would have, before they lost their collective mind when Donald Trump started running.graham mug

It’s like Graham is saying to fellow Republicans — this is the guy I prefer, and he’s the one y’all would prefer if you weren’t under the influence of red kryptonite, or whatever’s gotten into you.

As for the first objection most people will have — But Bush can’t win! He’s out of it! He’s missed his chance! — that wouldn’t bother Graham. As he said at his availability in Columbia last week, there are two ways to approach choosing someone to endorse, or vote for — getting onto the bandwagon of someone with momentum, or choosing the person you honestly think would do the best job if he did get elected.

And I was thinking during the debate last night, as Bush failed yet again to get the sort of traction that would help him gain lost ground, he was the one guy on the stage who didn’t say anything really strongly objectionable. He plays the quiet, Father Knows Best role in the crowd — maybe not the most fun guy, but somebody you could trust to run the government while you’re busy living your life. The sober, stolid type who may be boring but isn’t alarming.

Which is saying something these days.

Open Thread for Thursday, January 14, 2016

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Some very quick options before I run into a meeting:

  1. For The First Time Since 1938, A January Hurricane Has Formed In The Atlantic — Yeah… I don’t know about global climate change, but it sure seems to be changing in the Atlantic…
  2. Senators propose 5 percent pay hike for state employees — Senators were Jackson and Courson. There were other things in the proposal too, I believe, but I guess the pay increase grabs attention.
  3. 2016 Oscar Nominations Are Announced: ‘The Revenant,’ ‘Mad Max’ Get Most Nods — OK, I saw “Mad Max” in the theater. Please tell me what was so awesome about it. Maybe it was something subtle, although believe me, the folks who made this one weren’t really into subtlety…
  4. Ahead of the Debate, Seven Goals for Seven Candidates — So we’ve got that coming up tonight.
  5. Jakarta attacks: Islamic State says it was responsible — They mean ISIL. Those jerks will claim responsibility for anything, if it’s horrible enough.
  6. Alan Rickman, Actor Known for ‘Harry Potter,’ Dies — Bryan sent me an IM via Twitter to say, “Alan Rickman died, and I’m in Court today. You should blog about this because I can’t. Consider it a guest blog that you do, yourself. Great actor.” To me, he was the one bright spot in the embarrassing “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”

And if you’ve got something else, let’s hear it…

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Thoughts about the State of the Union, Haley’s response?

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Y’all, I’ve really been backed up today and having technical problems and just haven’t been able to stop with day job stuff to reflect on last night’s State of the Union, or Nikki Haley’s response.

But what did y’all think? I’ll jump in there with you as I can…

haley vid

Your Virtual Front Page for Thursday, January 7, 2016

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Or call it an Open Thread and bring up your own topic, if you prefer. We haven’t had a really good, in-depth conversation about anything yet this year. Let’s see if one of these topics has the magic:

  1. China Market Woes Reflect Pessimism Over Economy — They shut down their exchange today right after it opened, and sent markets tumbling around the world. I’m beginning to suspect the ChiComs just don’t get capitalism. Not that we’ve been doing all that great with it lately ourselves… Meanwhile, right next door…
  2. Why Experts Doubt North Korea Tested a Hydrogen Bomb — Let’s hope the boffins are right on this one.
  3. Newman gives up $398,000 contract, steps down as lawyer for penny tax program — They say he did this voluntarily. You mean, he was allowed a choice in the matter? Now, that’s shocking…
  4. Syrian government ‘to let aid into besieged Madaya’ — If those pictures of hungry babies don’t crack your heart, nothing will.
  5. The Oregon occupation — Anyone have any thoughts to share about this, such as the back-and-forth on whether these guys are “terrorists?” Here’s one side on that point and here’s the other. My own preliminary take: Don’t you have to actually commit violence to be a terrorist? These guys are armed (which is what disqualifies them from the same category as students who take over the administration building), so it seems the most we can say is that they are potential, or maybe even incipient, terrorists. Or terrorist wannabes, perhaps…
  6. Graham: Any viable GOP candidate must challenge Trump, Cruz — Seeing the electoral viability of his party as on the line, our senior senator says mainstream Republicans can’t just kick back and wait; they need to confront the extremists. Watch the video below from The Greenville News.

Or don’t. You know what? I can’t stand the way that video keeps autoplaying, so I’ve removed the embed code. If you want to view it, here’s the link. Anyway, I’ve got my own, more recent, Graham clip up now.

Open Thread for Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Finally, I can type “2016” in these open thread headlines, and it’s actually right!

Some topics:

  1. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley To Give GOP’s State Of The Union Response — Why am I only seeing this on the NPR site? Is it old news, and I just missed it?
  2. Seth Rose suggests changes to penny tax program — On the same day as his fellow councilman turned himself in on tax charges. Seth continues to establish himself as a voice of accountability on Richland County Council.

You know what? This isn’t a Virtual Front Page. I’m going to stop at those two suggestions, and leave it to y’all to come up with any other topics you want to talk about. This is, after all, an open thread…

Open Thread for Monday, December 21, 2015

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Man, the day goes by fast when you have an office Christmas party, as we did at ADCO today. But here’s some stuff for y’all to chew on. If y’all know of any better topics, please share:

  1. 6 U.S. Soldiers Are Killed by Taliban Attack in Afghanistan — Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the Taliban is “close to taking” the town of Sangin in Helmand province.
  2. WATCH: Obama Says Trump ‘Exploiting’ Anger, Fear Among ‘Blue-Collar Men’ — No wonder they cling so to God, guns and anti-immigrant sentiment. Don’t you love it when Obama explains the white working class to us? It’s like he’s looking at ants under a magnifying glass or something…
  3. Christian conservatives coalesce around Cruz — I think The Washington Post is just leading with this at the moment because the editors are so proud of the alliteration. The copy desk chief is probably sitting at his computer working on the next story and repeating it to himself over and over in a soft chant.
  4. The Risks of Long-Term Regular Drinking — Yeah, like you really wanted to know about that this particular week
  5. Graham drops out — Well, y’all already knew about this. But to see something new, here’s a “heartfelt” video tribute Slate did to the senator’s failed campaign. Check it out below. Slate notes that “Graham, by the way, was one of the only Republican candidates with an actual plan to defeat ISIS that differed from what the U.S. is already doing.”

Your Virtual Front Page for Friday, December 18, 2016

Some items that may start some conversation, although this being a Friday so close to Christmas, perhaps not:

  1. Syria war: UN Security Council unanimously backs peace plan (BBC) — One thing to note before we get all excited: It doesn’t address what happens with Assad.
  2. Congress Approves $1 Trillion Spending Bill, Opening Wallet (NYT) — That new boy Paul Ryan is flat gettin’ it done, isn’t he? One thing, though: I doubt he’ll be thrilled with that headline.
  3. Obama Commutes Prison Sentences For 95 Nonviolent Offenders (NPR) — And bringing it home a bit, three of them were from South Carolina.
  4. Who’s going to see Star Wars this weekend? (thestate.com) — Personally, I’m going to wait a bit; I don’t like crowded theaters. A weekday matinee, perhaps, sometime after Christmas. But I’m curious: How many of y’all have tickets for tonight, for instance?
  5. Asteroid flamed out passing over Lake Murray (thestate.com) — That was what caused that flash in the predawn sky over the lake. It was most certainly not an alien spacecraft. I’m quite sure about this because I and other local journalists were told this by some very official-seeming guys in black suits, right after they flashed their own bright light in our eyes. Now everybody go see Star Wars and don’t bother thinking about this.
  6. Sainthood for Mother Teresa (WSJ) — Pope Francis checks off on a second miracle. You go, girl!

Open Thread for Tuesday, December 15, 2015

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Some quick topics:

  1. Threat that closed down L.A. schools appears to be a hoax, congressman says — That’s according to the L.A. Times.
  2. New SC license plate coming out next year — I think they’re an improvement, although nothing to write home about. I’d prefer the Latin: Dum Spiro Spero. Why can’t license plates be educational?
  3. Fed Poised to Mark The End of an Era — Wow, the WSJ is really excited about the expected interest-rate increase.
  4. Huckabee calls for greater monitoring of mosques — This is from the undercard debate. If you’d like to engage with me on the grownup-table debate later, go to @BradWarthen.

… or whatever else interests you.

 

Open Thread for Monday, December 14, 2015

Soon, I can type “2016,” as my fingers have tried to do all year, and it will be right!

Meanwhile, some possible topics:

  1. Bergdahl

    Bergdahl

    Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, freed in prisoner swap, to face court-martial — I thought they’d decided against that. Oh, well — this thing was always so fishy, the matter should probably be adjudicated. So if we decide swapping for him was a bad deal, do we get those Taliban guys back? No, I guess not…

  2. State agency questions Richland County’s handling of penny sales tax — This is Doug’s cue to say, “I told you so!”
  3. US hitting IS harder than ever, says Obama — Yeah, but “harder” is kind of a relative thing, right? Still, he’s talking tough now, telling ISIL, “You are next.” Scoff at that if you like, but remember this guy’s got a list, and no end of drones. He may not be much of one for going to the mattresses, but he’s whacked a lot of guys by remote control.
  4. ICYMI: White supremacist groups see Trump bump — This story is several days old, but somehow I missed it until today. Pair this with Ross Douthat applying Umberto Eco’s definition to assert that Trump is, indeed, a fascist, and it gets really interesting.
Oh, yes... and The Force Awakens in just four days.

Oh, yes… and The Force Awakens in just four days.

Open Thread for Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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Just a quick one to make up for not posting all day:

  1. San Bernardino Couple Spoke of Attacks in 2013, F.B.I. Says — But wait! Edward Snowden says we live in a “surveillance state” in which even our most intimate thoughts are known to Big Brother! So how come we didn’t know about this? The weird headline of the day is on the BBC version of this story: “California pair ‘plotted before dating’.” That seems unlikely. You’re going to share a secret like that with someone you haven’t even gotten to first base with?
  2. The Tipping Point: Most Americans No Longer Are Middle Class — It seems that the lower and upper classes have taken share away from the middle.
  3. Franklin Graham sides with Donald Trump on barring Muslim immigration to U.S. — Starting to think that he’s not the man his father was. Billy was all about the Invitation.
  4. Man accused in Planned Parenthood shooting: ‘I’m a warrior for the babies’ — Yeah, right. Like that’s really going to do the unborn a lot of good. You know what he said that I do believe? “I’m guilty.”
  5. The Baby Whisperer — This pediatrician has a foolproof method for calming crying newborns:

The NYT’s front-page editorial about guns

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We knew that the New York Daily News was conducting a rather lurid campaign against guns on its tabloid front, but things have taken a significant new turn in a more respectable direction.

The Gray Lady, The New York Times itself, has published its first front-page editorial since 1920, headlined, “End the Gun Epidemic in America.”

This is a profound development, folks. The editors of the Times have resorted to a step that they did not see as necessitated by anything going on during the Great Recession, World War II, the turmoil of the 1960s, Watergate, 9/11 or anything else that happened during the past 95 years.

I suppose that’s because, while those other things were huge news events, none involved such difficult questions about what sort of nation we want to be as does this. More to the point, none of those things were likely to run into such adamant opposition as this initiative. If we’re really, truly, after all these years, about to have a serious national discussion about guns, it may be our toughest disagreement since slavery.

An excerpt from the editorial:

All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism….

Bryan and I have already been having a discussion about this today, via Twitter. This post is intended to broaden the discussion:

These days, apparently, you ARE entitled to your own facts

We now know, as a result of an FBI announcement late this morning, that one of the San Bernardino attackers had “pledged… allegiance” to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

That’s the first piece of information we’ve had indicating that the killer couple had any sort of connection, direct or indirect, to radical Islamic groups.

That news broke about 6 hours ago. But before that, there was a remarkable number of people in this country who were so sure that this was indeed an act of Islamist terror that they were contemptuously dismissive of anyone who expressed anything other than absolute certainty on that point.

For instance, take a look at some of the Twitter reactions to a story that was in The Washington Post this morning (meaning that it was probably written last night, long before that FBI disclosure). The story was headlined, “Motive elusive in deadly San Bernardino rampage as FBI takes over probe.”

Which was certainly true when the story was posted. This was a weird case, and not only because it was the first potential terrorist attack that we had seen involving a married couple with a young child (so much for the stereotype of sexually frustrated young men). This couple had taken the trouble to amass a modest armory, had taken their child to relatives for safekeeping — and yet had not left the world any obvious message as to why they were doing what they did. It fit no known pattern.

But there are a lot of people out there these days who just know things without any evidentiary support, such as these:

… and so forth.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Oh, how quaint.

Today, people are adamant that they are so entitled to their own facts. That’s why Donald Trump doesn’t implode no matter how many stretchers he may defiantly utter. There is a natural constituency that believes that truth is whatever they choose to forcefully assert.

I find myself suspecting that this is related to the rise of the Web. Since there are no barriers to publication, there are no standards. Anyone who believes anything can find an audience of people who believe him — and stand ready to amplify him — and that’s the only test one has to meet. The hordes of people who embrace this new state of affairs have been waiting for a man like Trump, and the moment has found its man.

Anyway, back to actual reality…

This case remains perplexing. Why would this woman have “pledged allegiance” to ISIL’s leader, but done so in such a backhanded manner? One of the cardinal rules of terror is that you kill and/or sacrifice yourself to send a clear political message.

Why has ISIL not leaped to claim even indirect responsibility, given the way they did so so quickly after Paris?

I’m interested to learn more so that I can understand what happened and why, and learn valuable lessons for heading off this kind of thing in the future. Yeah, I know. I’m hopelessly old-fashioned. I like facts…

Open Thread for Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Here’s what I have:

  1. 14 Die in California Rampage, Police Say — Three gunmen still at large. “Domestic terrorism” mentioned, although no one really knows yet what it was about.
  2. Spurrier banner removed from Williams-Brice — And now, from the world of far-less-consequential news… But I will say, I wondered when they were going to get around to this. And I wonder how much the thing cost. A tidbit from The State‘s story: Spurrier’s won-loss record was 77-39 before the banner went up, and 9-10 after. And they say he never wanted the banner.
  3. Private memo lays out how GOP would deal with Trump as nominee — From a quick scan of the story, it appears to outline a total capitulation to Trumpism. That is, going along with the guy who said today that he’d deal with ISIL by going after their families. You know, this could be the death of the Republican Party. It would certainly guarantee a Clinton victory. If there’s to be a GOP, Rubio needs to get his young behind in gear. Or Jeb!, but that ship may have sailed… I see what he’s put out lately, and it just seems weak
  4. Iraqis think the U.S. is in cahoots with the Islamic State, and it is hurting the war — The normal, grownup thing to do would be to ignore such insanity, but we can’t because of the “it is hurting the war” part. I read the story and tried to understand the reasoning of people who think this, but I can’t. There’s just no place to grab hold of it that makes sense. Wow. Just wow…

Open Thread for Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A cartoon from my oldest friend in the newspaper game, Richard Crowson.

A cartoon from my oldest friend in the newspaper game, Richard Crowson.

A few things y’all might want to discuss:

  1. SecDef Carter: U.S. sending combat troops into Syria — This time, there’s no tiptoeing around and talking about a noncombat role; these special forces guys are going in to fight — specifically, to conduct raids on ISIL targets. I’m not sure why none of the major news outlets are leading with this; perhaps they will later in the day. Meanwhile, Obama defends his strategy in Paris. (I guess his strategy is to sneak into a ground combat role gradually, like the proverbial frog in the boiling water, and hope his base doesn’t notice.)
  2. Obama On Climate Change: ‘I Actually Think We’re Going To Solve This Thing’ — What he said in Paris about a subject he’d rather talk about, as opposed to ISIL.
  3. Why the U.S. Pays More Than Other Countries for Drugs — Hope y’all can get past the WSJ paywall and read this. If not, the short version is, because the drug companies make most of their profits off of us. Which is kinda what you thought, right?
  4. Chicago Police Superintendent Fired; Force Faces a Review — Rahm Emanuel just announced this. This is leading major sites now; I guess they haven’t focused on Syria.
  5. To feel the true force of ‘Star Wars,’ George Lucas had to learn to let go — You know what helped? They paid him enough to build his own Death Star. And then build another one when that one blows up. And then still be outrageously rich. I mean, I love Star Wars and all, but in that position I’d have been all Han Solo: Show me the money.