The SC 5th Congressional District election — I’m somewhat more interested in this one, although it’s apparently not as competitive as the one in Georgia (it would be nice to be surprised, however). Mostly what I know about this is the ads I’ve seen (which is always a lousy basis for making an electoral decision). And while I think Parnell’s have been rather silly, at least they show an original approach and don’t make me crazy the way Norman’s mindless “Ah’m a bidnessman and ah’m agin’ that Obama” approach. (Dang. There’s a particular ad I kept seeing last night that illustrated my point, and I’m not finding it…)
Donald Trump Poisons the World — Sorry about three Trump items, but after the last few days, dare we look away? This is one of David Brooks’ best columns in awhile, and I didn’t see it until Cindi ran it in the Sunday paper — with the Krauhammer piece mentioned above, as it happens — and if you haven’t yet, I urge you to read it.
Anybody get a threatening email from Microsoft? — Check out the email at the top of this post. I don’t recall ever asking Microsoft for cloud space, much less going over my supposed allowance. Anybody else get a threat like this? I’m not even entirely clear on what “One Drive” is, except that I’ve ignored it whenever it tried to get my attention. Sort of like Cortana. Who needs it?
Have you seen the Wonder Woman movie?— And if so, is it worth my going to see on the big screen? I ask because, while I’ve heard a good bit about it, it’s mostly been cast in What This Means in Feminist Terms (Et tu, Rolling Stone?), and frankly, that’s not what I go to see superhero (or superheroine) movies for. I mean, how does it compare to, say, “Doctor Strange” or “Captain America: Civil War?” Should I just save my money and go see the new Spiderman next month?
Grieving SC parents shed light on addiction in 2 obituaries — We owe a debt of gratitude to these parents for their frankness. We need to know what’s going on in our communities. I’ve got a peeve about obits that don’t list the cause of death. Sometimes, disclosing that provides a public service.
Trump tells NATO allies to pay up — Which we all say, but of course we must keep NATO going whether they do or not. Maybe this is one of those cases where the Madman Theory will actually work — the one instance in which Trump is useful. I’m not betting on it, though.
Trump threatens to prosecute over Manchester attack leaks — Here, he’s standing by Theresa May, as he should. But I wonder if he thinks this is a way of achieving his own goals of stopping leaks back home? I’m thinking of the Trump/GOP narrative that the problem isn’t the awful stuff Trump’s doing, but the fact that we keep hearing about it…
Trump said what?!? — That’s the headline on a Jennifer Rubin column — one she could use at any time these days, but here she specifically marvels at what Trump said in denying he had revealed the source of code-word intel he gave the Russians: “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel in that conversation.” This puts Trump on the level of my granddaughter when she was about 2. One day her baby brother started crying suddenly and my wife asked her what had happened, since he couldn’t talk. Her reply: “I didn’t kick him in the head!” (He’s fine, by the way. We celebrated his 5th birthday over the weekend. She’s 7 and, unlike our president, way too smart now to incriminate herself that way.)
Officials: Visitor releases boa constrictor in Congaree park — But that’s not the good part. The good part’s in italics here: “A visitor who thought boa constrictors were a native snake species in South Carolina released one in a Midlands park.” Really? Really? Who would own a boa constrictor and not know where they come from?
SC House passes gas-tax hike — Both chambers have passed it with enough votes to override McMaster’s outrageous promise to veto. I still have questions about this bill — especially the pointless tax breaks in it — but on the whole this looks like it’s a good bit better than I would have expected from this General Assembly even a couple of weeks back. So good for them. I think…
And you know what? I’m going to stop there, because everything else looks so uninteresting by comparison…
Mug shots from crime story in The State. Note the way the “whites” of her eyes are totally dark. Is she a Fremen? If so, Fremen are scary.
Sorry I haven’t posted much. Here are a few topics:
Congress passes spending deal to keep government open another week — Woo-hoo! Talk about leadership! These statesmen for the ages can’t get it together to actually DO anything (even stupid things, like repealing Obamacare), but they’ve gone all out and avoided shutting down the government for a whole week! If you see your congressman, be sure to pat him on his overburdened little head.
SC needs money for roads, so senators pass tax cuts — Yeah, they did it while increasing the gas tax, but I just can’t stop focusing on the insanity of — when faced with a need for revenue, and you have a tax dedicated to that purpose, it’s lower than the national average, and you haven’t raised it in 30 years — refusing to raise it without cutting totally unrelated taxes? It’s just completely nuts. You say “Hello, good morning” to these guys, and their response is “Yes, let’s cut taxes!” And don’t even get me started on Henry McMaster’s role in all this…
Turn her about, boys, and give ’em a good look at our stern chasers!
Busy day today folks, and tomorrow will be the same. Basically, we’re producing a video for the S.C. Association of Counties annual meeting. It’s their 50th anniversary, and we’re talking with folks about the highlights of that period from a county government perspective, which means we’re talking a lot about the Home Rule Act of 1975. This morning I interviewed Jean Toal, who was on that legislation’s conference committee as a freshman legislator. We had a couple of other interviews with key officials, both here in Colatown and up in Lancaster. More interviews tomorrow, ending with former Gov. Dick Riley up in Greenville.
So, fun stuff if you’re me and love to talk about Home Rule. (With Chief Justice Toal today, I even got to talk a bit about how Home Rule is subsidiarity in action, although that part won’t make the video.)
Here are some other things y’all might want to talk about:
Senate Republicans use ‘nuclear option’ to break filibuster on Gorsuch (WashPost) — Yeah… You know what? In light of Syria and the pictures of children killed by WMD, maybe we’d better dial back the hyperbolic language used to describe bloodless parliamentary maneuvers, OK? Here’s my question: Since they knew this would happen, what do Democrats think they achieved by voting as a bloc against a qualified nominee?
Nunes to Step Aside From House Russia Investigation (NYT) — With this coming on the heels of Gen. McMaster getting Steve Bannon off the National Security Council, it seems we’ve got a tiny streak of good news going on the national security front — except, of course, for that going-to-war-in-Syria thing.
Comedian Don Rickles, Merciless ‘Merchant Of Venom,’ Dies At 90 (NPR) — I hate to say it at this particular moment, but I never liked this guy. Yeah, I know — he was supposed to be a sweetie in real life, kind to friends and dogs, but I just never enjoyed his brand of humor. He was like a pre-internet troll. I found it grating. You?
The American presidency is shrinking before the world’s eyes — Yep. And it shrinks more every day. This is what I keep saying to those of you who ask why I don’t wait to complain when Trump does something “horrible.” The answer is that he’s already doing it, every day. Worldwide respect for American institutions went into free fall the moment this guy captured the GOP nomination, and it hasn’t stopped falling yet…
Trump is under investigation for ties to Russia. What happens now? — This is a day old, but still worth examining. This is a place where we’ve never been — in the first days of an administration, we learn officially that it’s being investigated for ties with the Russians, and the head of the FBI says under oath that the president’s attempt to deflect with wild accusations about his predecessor is a load of horse manure. Where, indeed, do we go from here?
Bill allowing carrying firearms without permit advances in House — Because we just want everybody to carry guns everywhere, and we don’t even want to know anything about them. Yeah, this story’s four days old, but we hadn’t talked about it yet. Sometimes I think this stuff comes up on a dare. It won’t be long before they’ll be considering a bill to require everyone to carry, and to draw and brandish their weapons about while drinking.
I’m really busy today and will be here at work for quite awhile more, but I wanted to give y’all something else to ruminate over (not that I’m saying y’all are actual ruminants or anything):
WikiLeaks Files Describe C.I.A. Tools to Break Into Phones — And why are they doing this? Well, because they hate the United States of America and wish to weaken it as much as possible. No indication of Russian involvement on this yet (that I’ve seen), but they have to be happy to get their hands on this material.
SC House passes moped bill — I didn’t even know there was such a bill out there. Anyway, it’s apparently been watered down to where it just offers some minimal safety rules and administration regulation.
George Smiley will soon be back! — Coming in September! So I’m pretty pumped. Technically, an elderly Peter Guillam seems to be the protagonist, which indicates present-day, which means George is probably no longer among us (he’d be close to 100 if he were). But he’s bound to appear in flashbacks. If only he could be with us in the flesh, in the West’s dark crisis of faith…
Happy Mardi Gras! The holiday is huge in Dominica in the Caribbean, where my youngest daughter teaches ballet under the auspices of the Peace Corps. This is from her Facebook page, “Ballet in Dominica.”
Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds — A depressing piece in The New Yorker on how our brains work, or don’t work. It makes some good points — the ones that say things I already believed. The rest of it is fake news. Sad.
Trump Learns That a Health Overhaul Is ‘So Complicated’ — Specifically, he said, “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” I hope that didn’t shake him up too much, just before his big speech. You know what else is complicated? Stuff. Way more stuff than he has ever realized…
Today, most of the leading news is Trump-free! And no artificial additives!
Scientists discover seven Earthlike planets orbiting a nearby star — This is very cool. And they’re only 229,261,492,590,000 miles from here, as a crow would fly if he could fly through space and wasn’t inclined to get tired after a few hundred billion miles. Hey, maybe there’s an alternative Earth where Kasich won the election! A lot of us would like to go to there! (I didn’t say the news was entirely Trump-free.)
Benjamin Netanyahu met with Trump at the White House.
Some quick takes:
Mideast Peace Doesn’t Require 2-State Deal, Trump Says— Remember in “Mr. Mom” when Michael Keaton tries to impress Martin Mull by boasting that he’s rewiring his house himself, and Mull asks whether he’s doing everything as 220, and Keaton looks blank before saying, “220, 221, whatever it takes…?” I thought of that when I read Trump’s quote: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state.”
Labor nominee withdraws amid rising GOP concern — Apparently the standard is, if really bad stuff is said about you on “Oprah,” you’re toast. It’s good to know there IS a standard. I think maybe she needs to bring back the show, and help America vet these nominees.
Meet the WWII computer programmer whose name will replace white supremacist’s at Yale — All those words, when the headline could have said “Grace Hopper” and “John C. Calhoun.” (And “white supremacist?” Seems kind of anachronistic for Calhoun. Like saying Attila the Hun had self-esteem issues.) We know who those people are, right? I may have told this story before, but: My Dad was sent to take a course taught by Adm. Hopper back in the 1950s. He kept thinking, I’m a naval officer. Why do I need to know about computers? How will they ever affect my life?