Happy real Independence Day — I say that because I’m more of a John Adams guy than a Thomas Jefferson guy. (So I’d be a Federalist if, you know, the party still existed.) And July 2 was the day the vote for independence happened. And if Adams had had his way, we’d have Monday off instead of Wednesday. So, yay, Adams!
Trump Criticizes NATO Allies for Not Increasing Defense Budgets— Hey, I’m with him on that one, but after needlessly trying to start trade wars with them and otherwise insult our allies, this is probably not the right time to double-down on this one. I mean, if you care at all about anything positive happening, which of course he doesn’t…
Thoughts on the last GOP gubernatorial debate? — Again, personal commitments kept me from catching all of it (7-8 hasn’t been a great time for me to drop everything lately), but my general impression is that while Henry often made sense, with the GOP electorate as it is currently constituted, Warren probably gained ground on him. What did you think?
Our Real Immigration Problem — Bret Stephens writes that we need more immigrants — a lot more — not fewer. This seems obvious to me, for the reasons he cites — our record low fertility rate, our aging population (in case this point isn’t as obvious to you as it is to me, think Who’s going to be out there working to pay for my Social Security?), the fact that there are now more jobs out there than we have people looking for jobs, that population is plunging in the heartland, and “Finally, immigrants — legal or otherwise — make better citizens than native-born Americans. More entrepreneurial. More church-going. Less likely to have kids out of wedlock. Far less likely to commit crime.” You should read this.
David Brooks: The Rise of the Amnesty Thugs — Its not just about families separated at the border, Brooks writes. “What’s most significant is this: The Trump administration immigration officials have become exactly the kind of monsters that conservatism has always warned against.”
There are more guns than people in the US, according to new study — This is according to something called the Small Arms Survey. The story says “With an estimated 120.5 guns for every 100 residents, the firearm ownership rate in the United States is twice that of the next-highest nation, Yemen, with just 52.8 guns per 100 residents. In raw number terms, the closest country to the United States is India, with 71.1 million firearms in circulation.”
The future is African — and the United States is not prepared — By the end of the century, 40 percent of the world’s population will live there. Something we should all probably be thinking about, but probably won’t. It’s hard enough to get anyone to think rationally about Europe — or even Canada, or Mexico — in Trump’s isolationist, nativist, xenophobic America.
Richland County gets sued over $1M payment to Seals — It’s one of those Average Joe lawsuits (although they generally involve an “average Joe” who has the resources to bring a lawsuit in order to make a point, which I could never do — of course, maybe Joe McCullough is doing it pro bono; the story doesn’t say). I assume he’s claiming standing as a taxpayer, or whatever. Anyway, they were certainly asking for it. How many more ways could they screw up?
Dan Johnson losing fundraising battle to challenger — Which, I’m afraid, isn’t the right metric for predicting the outcome of next week’s primary. It’s just a vibe thing, but I have this creepy feeling that Johnson’s going to get re-elected. Which of course is highly disturbing. I hope I’m wrong.
Kate Spade’s husband: Apparent suicide a ‘complete shock’ — OK, I don’t want to sound uncaring or anything — I feel for this woman’s loved ones, and for her — but I’m just curious. Did all of y’all know who she was? I don’t think I’d heard of her. The name rang no bells. I’m not sure whether my ignorance is a guy thing or a don’t-watch-TV thing.
Anybody still want to talk about the Roseanne Barr thing? — I don’t especially, but maybe y’all do. I never liked her. I saw her “humor” as being based in her consistent unpleasantness — one sour comment about life after another — and that sort of thing doesn’t appeal to me. So ABC has canceled a show I would never have watched anyway…
Candidates for SC governor are making promises they can’t keep — Yep. Catherine Templeton, Marguerite Willis and that John Warren guy seem to be the ones most confused about the governor’s powers, from what I’ve seen. You expect that sort of thing from people with zero political experience, but their depth of ignorance (or lying) on this point is remarkable.
Students performed sex acts in SC classroom, board says — This allegedly occurred during something called “power hour.” Nope, not making that up. Hey, my high school spanned the late ’60s and start of the licentious ’70s, and teachers wouldn’t even let us rehearse sex, much less perform it. Oh, and this supposedly occurred in the straitlaced Upstate, not the Lowcountry…
Since I’ve only had two comments on my last five posts (anybody out there?), I wonder whether it’s worth the trouble. Oh, well, I guess that means I can say whatever I want without anybody arguing with me…
Apparently, Al Amir is struggling — I’m sorry to hear that, because I like the place. Bryan and I ate there just a couple of weeks back. Maybe we should go again. The place used to be packed when it was down south of the State House; I guess it’s just a bit more out of the way now…
The Risky Business of Speaking for President Trump — Why is this interesting? Because the central character in this lengthy NYT Mag piece is South Carolina’s own Hogan Gidley. Y’all remember Hogan. You know, “Chuckles?“… Anyway, that’s him in the middle of the fancy graphic below, which I hope the NYT doesn’t mind me sharing on account of he’s our homeboy…
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief — I hadn’t posted about this before because I was so ambivalent about her. On the one hand, I was for her confirmation on the basic principle I almost always prefer promoting professionals from within for such jobs (Robert Gates being a perfect example) and that is particularly important as a way of mitigating the harm Trump is doing to our country. (Steve Bannon would say I’m depending on the “Deep State.” To the extent that I understand the phrase, yes I am.) On the other hand, John McCain said she doesn’t meet his standard. McCain isn’t my guide on every moral question, but he definitely is on the subject of torture. So I was torn.
Donald ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ Trump threatens to whack Kim — He didn’t quite understand what Bolton meant by “Libya model,” which he interprets as “The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation.” I’m also guessing he doesn’t understand what “decimation” means, but I could be wrong, I suppose. Maybe he knows way more about Roman history than he does about American.
Call It ‘Crossfire Hurricane’: The Start of the Trump Inquiry — Read about the Trump thing if you want, but I’m more interested in a lyrics problem. Yes, we know that code name comes from the first line of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” But what’s the second line? I had always thought it was “and I howled at the moon in the driving rain.” The Web offers three alternatives: “And I howled at the morning driving rain,” And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,” and “And I howled at the maw in the drivin’ rain.” Listening to the original with headphones and an open mind, I think it might be the last one. Either that, or he’s saying “Laurel.” But definitely not “Yanny…”
James Smith releases campaign ad — Here it is below. What I’d like you to do is contrast its calm, mature, positive tone to the nasty, petty, childish, backbiting ads we’ve been seeing from the other folks out there…
I actually have a request for an Open Thread today — from Doug. So y’all can blame him if you don’t like it:
Tom Wolfe dies! — When I went looking for material for this post, this was the first thing I learned and it deeply shocked me. I’m a huge fan. And I’m kind of irritated that the WSJ headline says “‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ Author Tom Wolfe Dies at 88.” I didn’t like Bonfire, or any of his novels, nearly as much as his earlier nonfiction stuff. The Washington Post got it right with “Tom Wolfe, apostle of ‘New Journalism’ who captured extravagance of his times, dies at 88.” He was the best practitioner of an exciting form of journalism, or literature, or whatever you want to call it that came along in my youth and made deep impressions. While I loved Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, my all time favorite was The Right Stuff. It was unusual in that it combined his usual tone of ironic detachment with something that nevertheless communicated what heroic figures those guys were. No one could have told that story the way he did.
Fired Richland administrator Seals to get more than $1 million settlement — This was what prompted Doug to want an Open Thread. Have at it, Doug — this is rich material. The crazy saga continues. But at least we know how it happened: “Council members voted 5-4 on the settlement payment after a roughly four-hour… special-called meeting Monday.” No, wait; I left out some words: “Council members voted 5-4 on the settlement payment after a roughly four-hour, closed-door, special-called meeting Monday.” So, we don’t know. You know, I started my journalism career in Tennessee, where there were no “executive sessions” of public bodies. It’s still incredible to me that they’re allowed in South Carolina four decades later…
‘I don’t know what he’s going to tweet about,’ Haley says of Trump — Why on Earth would she? Who does? What interested me was her description of speaking to Trump as one might do to an unbalanced child before he addressed the U.N.: “OK now, Mr. President, you need to understand this is a serious crowd. They’re not going to rally. They’re not going to cheer. That’s just not who these people are. So don’t take it the wrong way. I said, ‘Just think of it as church.'” Because, you know, he needs someone to tell him that stuff. I just can’t believe we live in a world in which this guy is POTUS.
In bid for SC governor, Smith touts better teacher pay, new state energy policy— While Catherine Templeton was talking about making people stand for the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and pushing Nullification — in something her campaign characterized as a major policy speech — Smith was talking to Rotary about actual, you know, state policy. It sounds like he was addressing her directly when he said high-profile hot-button battles over cultural issues “don’t educate a child or pave a road or move our state forward.”
There’s just no end of weirdness in this world — I hope I don’t get in copyright trouble for sharing the picture below (I’ll take it down if told to), which is from a big Moonie religious ceremony last week celebrating marriage and semi-automatic weapons. But I felt you had to SEE it to fully feel the weird…
White House, Lindsey Graham go to war over immigration — Not literally war, of course, but they’re definitely not BFFs any more. Lindsey blew his stack over a truly puerile memo from Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. It said his bill “would effectively make the United States a Sanctuary Nation where ignoring the rule of law is encouraged.”
Who drops everything to watch such boring news live? — Admittedly, I’m not a fan of getting news via video. But I often wonder, when I see live feeds like the one pictured above, I have to wonder who stops everything to watch the Senate or the House vote on ending the stupid shutdown. It’s certainly not historic. We’ll be doing this again in three weeks. I’d as soon watch paint dry…
Dang, I neglected to do an Open Thread for Elvis’ birthday yesterday. Well, here’s hoping somebody gave you a jelly doughnut anyway.
Here’s what we have today:
Trump Says He Is Open to Sweeping Deal on Immigration — We’re talking about not just the Dreamers, but a path to citizenship. Hey, if he can pull off a Nixon-goes-to-China and push through real comprehensive reform like that sought by his two predecessors, I will applaud. But the heads of those in his base are likely spinning right now. For his part, Lindsey is pretty excited about this, calling it the “Most fascinating meeting I’ve been involved with in twenty plus years in politics.”
These numbers could shake up the SC governor’s race — A poll shows Phil Noble edging out James Smith. This tells us that so far Dems are paying zero attention, or they’ve kind of gone nuts. Noble’s beef about Smith is that he’s too “Republican.” (You know, someone with potential appeal in the fall. I suppose Noble would hate to see the party break its streak.) The news that Kevin Bryant is ahead of Catherine Templeton is almost as weird. I find myself wondering how accurate this poll is…
Note the weirdness of the seven identical microphones. In a free society, an important person might be seen with multiple microphones, but they would be different, placed there by an array of news organizations. This is Kim trying to look important without the freedom part…
Happy New Year! Here’s what we’ve got at this hour:
In 347 days, Trump has made 1,950 false and misleading claims — In case you were wondering whether someone is keeping score, the answer is yes — the Post‘s Fact Checker is. Of course, this won’t impress Trump supporters, because they believe “They all do it.” Well, they don’t all do this. The White House has never been held by someone with such complete disregard for reality. Ever.
Been busy. Eating a lot. Training the Echo Dot I got for Christmas (or perhaps Alexa is training me). And I got Call of Duty WWII for my PC, and I’ve been having a lot of trouble with this one German in the fifth bunker on Normandy Beach.
I.R.S. Warns That Prepaying Property Taxes Is a Risk — What I want to know is this: Who has the cash to run out and pay their property tax for the whole next year just sitting around? If I had that, the last thing I’d be worrying about is saving a few bucks on my income taxes. Don’t people have other things to think about? Interesting things?
On their heads be it — Congressional Republicans seem poised to pass, as their signature (let’s face it, their only) accomplishment of 2017, a completely unnecessary tax plan that is only favored by a third of the electorate. Democrats must be hugging themselves at this point, with visions of 2018 dancing in their heads.
Russian Team Barred From 2018 Winter Olympics — Yeah, OK. Get back to us when they get barred from the real Olympics. But I will say this is a better way of punishing Russia than the last time we did it, when we stayed home instead. Y’all know I like me some Jimmy Carter, but that was a huge disappointment to a friend of mine who was coaching our boxing team.
Yeah, it was dopey, but back in the century when I was a kid, we watched ‘The Time Tunnel.’
When you type the date “2017,” do you ever, just for a second, think you’re living in, or writing, a science-fiction story? I do, every once in a while. How can that date belong anywhere but in the future? Of course, I’m still adjusting to 1984 being in the distant past, instead of the distant future the way it was when I first read it. In fact, it’s farther in the past now than it was in the future then — which seems impossible. Maybe time travel really IS a thing, only instead of jumping over years to get to the future, you just fast-forward, which mean you store “memories” of the intervening years as though you had lived them, when you really haven’t. Maybe I’m onto something. Or not.
Here are some more down-to-Earth things to talk about:
Some possible topics — but as always, feel free to introduce your own:
Wal-Mart Posts Strongest U.S. Sales in Nearly a Decade — So that’s who’s been doing so well in this economy. Sorry if you can’t pull up the story; I don’t have access to WSJ these days, either. But what I could see said this was the retailer’s “strongest quarterly U.S. sales growth in nearly a decade” and that it was “boosted by a big jump in ecommerce and strong store traffic.”
Four Women Accuse Moore as Campaign Pushes Back — Four more that is, bringing it to nine. Who knew there were so many lyin’ women in Alabama? That Bernie Bernstein must be running out of money about now, huh? Of course, this leaves Moore WAY short of Donald Trump’s 16, but then, Trump is the Man… I guess I shouldn’t joke, since there are people reading this blog who actually think that way, which is no laughing matter.