Did y’all feel the earthquake? — Twitter tells me that Synithia Williams did. I did not. I was asleep at 8:07 a.m. Sunday. But my wife came and woke me up to tell me about it. She said she heard some rumbling upstairs like a heavy person was walking around, then she heard the wind chimes at our back door. She later seemed a bit concerned that I slept through it. But hey, I used to live in the Andes, so I’m all like, Call that a quake? I was, however, impressed that it would be felt so far away from the epicenter…
Jaime catching up to Lindsey — This is very encouraging, although I won’t feel like it’s real until Jaime gets several points ahead. Actually, I won’t feel like it’s real until Election Day. I’m avoiding getting excited about polls these days. Things are too squishy and vulnerable. I have practical experience in the last election reminding me about most white South Carolinians’ physical disability that prevents them pulling the lever for a Democrat, no matter how good the Democrat or embarrassing the Republican.
In case you want to talk about football — I notice from Bryan’s Twitter feed that football fans are talking about college football being on the verge of being cancelled. Of course, if you’re me, you’ve kind of amazed that anyone was even considering it this year. But, you know, football fans are as inscrutable to me as those white South Carolinians who can’t figure out how to vote for a Democrat (something that would absolutely amazed their grandfathers — so we know it’s not genetic).
Linda Bell won’t back Henry’s foolishness any more — State epidemiologist Linda Bell has had enough of being used as a prop by the governor’s office, and says, “I will not ‘stand next to the governor’ anymore without speaking to what the science tells us is the right thing to do, particularly as his staff intend to portray that as my complicity with his position.”
This may be my thinnest excuse for a picture ever: This post mentions Marian Wright Edelman, and this is the library named for her in Bennettsville. I took it during the campaign. It works, don’t you think?
Russia Is Trying to Steal Virus Vaccine Data, Western Nations Say — Let’s look at the bright side. If it helps them enough that they actually develop a working vaccine, and do it before we do, we can steal it back. But I doubt they will. If they thought they could, they wouldn’t have to steal it. Not that they don’t outdo us sometimes. There’s Sputnik. And the Kalashnikov. And the T-34. Oh, and remember that for the last decade or so, we’ve been having to cadge rides to space from them.
15 women accuse then-Redskins employees of sexual harassment — Hey, these guys just can’t seem to catch a break, can they? I mean, they change the name after refusing to all those years, and before people are done patting them on the back (and before they even think of a new name), there’s this. Not that I’m saying they deserve a break. I’d have to care more about what football teams do before taking a stance like that. I’m just saying they can’t seem to stay out of trouble. And I’m holding myself back from suggesting that hey, maybe this has something to do with the NFL being what it is.
We Interrupt This Gloom to Offer … Hope — I offer this mainly for the headline. It’s a Nicholas Kristof column. Also, it quotes Marian Wright Edelman. She’s from Bennettsville, so you know she’s smart. So, be hopeful…
I got up at 6:30 this morning to get a head start so I could go all the way to Lexington and get my real ID. I should probably do a post about that. Anyway, despite getting a head start on the day (hard for me these days), I didn’t get done nearly what I wanted to today.
But here’s an Open Thread:
Did you get a Real ID yet? — More to the point, have you done it during COVID? It was interesting. On the one hand, they really had it organized. My wife and I got in and got the job done in record time. And all the members of the public had on masks. However… not quite all of the DMV workers did. I mean ON. Some had their noses uncovered, and one lady we had to deal with for several minutes, passing papers back and forth, had her mask draped under her chin. So there was that. Oh, and I got my Real ID picture done with my Santa Claus beard. Not sure that’s going to help me much when getting on an airplane after this is over and I start shaving again. Guess I should keep using the passport. Anyway, I don’t suppose I need to do a separate post on this now.
Trump replaces campaign manager — Well, that took several minutes longer than we thought it would. Or maybe several minutes less. I don’t know. I just mean it’s no surprise with a guy who is loyal to no one. Somebody else be snarky about it… You know, once they start coming after the Brads, you could be next…
Walmart Will Require Shoppers To Wear Masks — For months now, I’ve had to go to Walmart and I see the signs that say something about requesting people wear masks, or suggesting it, or whatever, and I’ve bristled at the wussiness of it. I mean, y’all are Walmart! TELL THEM. And now they have.
This shouldn’t be too hard. I could mine stuff that’s happened since my last post. It’s been a busy few days. We brought my parents down to their house at the beach a couple of days ago, and before that I was busy trying to get work done so I could do this. We’ll be back soon. Want to be away well before the Fourth:
Hey, at least Henry showed himself wearing a mask — This is about the governor you people elected actually appearing, briefly, wearing a mask at his Friday briefing. And I want to thank him for that. I’ve long said if he would do that, it would be at least half the battle — it would show seriousness. And I guess if you’re Henry, and you’ve tied yourself and your everlasting reputation to Donald Trump, it took guts to do it. Of course, he won’t do the other half. The headline in the P&C says, “McMaster urges South Carolinians to ‘follow the rules’ and wear masks, but won’t mandate it.” A better way to write that hed would have been, “McMaster urges South Carolinians to ‘follow the rules’ and wear masks, but won’t make it an actual, you know, RULE”…
Way to go, Mr. Clyburn! — As long as I’m handing out plaudits on the mask issue (and I’m particularly touchy on this issue today, since I’m at a place filled from people all over this country, none of them wearing masks) I need to send a big cheer to Jim Clyburn. He won’t recognize committee members who are big-enough idiots to show up at a meeting without face coverings. If only he could permanently ban them from Congress for such behavior. Anyway, this is the best thing Jim has done since he saved my main man Joe — and therefore the country — back in February. Nothing’s as great as that, but this is pretty good…
Rabid bobcat found in Lexington County — Good thing I’m not there today — although this was way far from my neighborhood. I mean, seriously — don’t we have enough problems right now without bobcats going rabid on us? This probably wouldn’t have happened if the bobcat had been wearing a mask, right? The good news is that no people were exposed. The bad news is that apparently, several dogs were.
Trump Got Written Briefing in February on Possible Russian Bounties, Officials Say — OK, there’s where you went wrong. You put it in writing. You know he doesn’t read; it would cut into his busy TV-watching schedule. This allows him to use the classic, “I have plausible deniability because everybody knows I’m an idiot” defense. Well, not exactly a classic, since no previous president could have used it. But it’s what we’ve come to expect the last three years or so.
The End of the Alan Brady Show — OK, I know it sort of demeans Carl Reiner to reduce him to that one small role on one TV show he created, but that’s how I was introduced to him as a kid, and if he had never played anyone else, he’d still have been a genius. You kids would know him as the old guy in “Ocean’s 11”…
What conclusions should we draw from the fact that not even the state epidemiologist wears a mask? Oh, wait — I think the video I took this from is old. But still…
About time I gave y’all some things to discuss:
987 cases. In one day. In one state — ours. — Sheesh. The State said this amounted to “breaking” the single-day record. As I said on Twitter, this is not “breaking” — it’s more like “destroying,” “demolishing” or “obliterating.” Meanwhile, did you read the editorial the other day in Cindi’s new paper — way before this record — about how stupid Henry is being about this? Or something like that. I know that Henry, and the word “stupid,” were both in it.
That’s the kind of demonstration I like — old school— Sorry not to have mentioned this sooner. I haven’t posted since it happened over the weekend. It was the “Million-Man March” in Columbia over the weekend. There weren’t a million men or anything, but still. All those black men in suits and ties, saying “respect me.” Very MLK. Very Old School. I liked it. More than that, though, I see it as an effective approach.
I’ve decided on a new way to do Open Threads. I’ll just share things I tweeted or retweeted about during the day. It seems to work better than looking at the main pages of a bunch of news sites and trying to find something that I’m interested in commenting on.
It’s not going to be balanced with a diversity of topics, the way my threads and Virtual Front Pages usually are. It’s super Trump-heavy. There’s nothing about ongoing protests (although a couple indirectly relate), and a couple of COVID items. But these are the things that randomly provoked responses or retweets from me at different points today.
So let’s try this:
What on Earth is there to struggle about? — That’s part of my response to a tweet that said, “JUST IN: GOP Sen. Murkowski :”struggling” with whether to vote for Trump.” My full response was, “‘Struggling?’ What on Earth is there to struggle about? She KNOWS what the right thing to do is. Her other comments make this clear. All that is lacking is having the guts to stand up and follow through…”
The Lafayette Square ‘highlight video’ — This is from Jimmy Kimmel, represented as the White House’s own highlight reel from the administration’s great victory Monday night against the harmless protesters. Be sure to watch to the end.
COVID-19 Can Last for Several Months — I actually haven’t even read the piece in The Atlantic that this refers to, but I thought I’d pass it on in case other people had a chance before I did. The tweet said, “I wrote about COVID-19 long-haulers—the thousands of people who’ve been struggling with *months* of debilitating symptoms. Many have faced disbelief from friends and medical professionals because they don’t fit the typical profile of the disease….”
Kind of a long list for an Open Thread, but I wanted to give you everything.
Actually, I almost forgot: I’m kind of interested in THIS. Maybe I’ll post about it later.
… or Open Threads, for that matter.
I tried to do one yesterday, but I just could not bring myself to be interested in anything that was in the news.
So instead, here’s a brief list of the kinds of stories I’m NOT interested in right now, so maybe you’ll understand:
The latest idiocy from Trump — You know — not wearing a mask, firing yet another inspector general, pushing through an embarrassingly unfit nominee to head up U.S. intelligence, “Obamagate,” insulting various women’s appearance on Twitter. It gets tiresome.
Joe Biden’s running mate choice — In particular, all the opinion pieces saying he’s GOT TO pick some lefty, or pretty much anyone except Amy Klobuchar. When the truth is, Klobuchar is the one truly suitable candidate whose name is being mentioned. That’s been the case for a long time now. I just want to get to the election, and get a new president. The prelims are boring me.
Features on how to cope with the stress of quarantine — Because, as I’ve explained, I have trouble identifying with all that because I find this state of affairs to be just fine — personally. I feel terrible about people who are truly suffering — those who have the disease, and the loved ones of those who’ve died, the people who have lost jobs that aren’t coming back, and the people of Hong Kong who are seeing their hopes of freedom dim. But please, enough about how tedious this is and how we can find creative ways to distract ourselves. Oh, I’ve also had enough reporting on the idiots who are resuming gathering in crowds as though this were over.
Graham expects recurrence of coronavirus cases in the fall— I only posted this for one reason: Doesn’t everyone expect this? I mean, I’ve been hearing this as long as I’ve been hearing about the “novel” coronavirus, so since… I don’t know… maybe January? I’ve heard, over and over, that we should get ready for a pattern like the Spanish Flu, where it landed for a while, went away, and then hit much harder in the fall of 2018. But since I don’t see a lot of headlines saying this, and sometimes I see things that seem to be obviously avoiding it, maybe it’s news to some people. So I include it here, in case…
And you know what? I’m tired now. And that one’s enough for a conversation. And I need to save energy for work, of which I need to do some today. If you have other subjects, bring them up…
… since it’s a bit late to call it a Friday thread. Sorry to be so chary with the posts. As I’ve explained, this crisis has me busier working at home than I was at the office. One thing after another, as clients try to communicate their way through it all.
As I’ve also said, I expect it to slow down at some point, and to start feeling the lack of economic activity out there. It just hasn’t happened yet. And I’m glad to have the work.
Here are some topics. Maybe you’ll have some better ones:
An outbreak of incompetence — Jennifer Rubin riffs on Jared Kushner’s stunningly ironic statement that “when you elect somebody” you should “think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis.” As she notes, down here on the state level (the level that Jared doesn’t want touching any of his federal stuff), we see the stark difference between competent governors, and those who take their cues from Jared’s father-in-law. Ahem. Hey, I did what I could to elect a good ‘un. And Mandy, too. Wasn’t enough, I guess.
Explore your family history for free on Ancestry while cooped up at home — I’m jealous. I’m cooped up at home but am too busy to spend the time on my own tree. But yeah, if you’re idle, or relatively so, this is a great time to form a new obsession. My own tree now has 8,120 people on it. Yeah, I know. Maybe it’s time I rested on my oars and let someone else have a chance…
Want something to make you smile? Check out the bears — I figure I’m at least a Yogi, striving to be a Berenstain. That’s all. Nothing else to say…
Did you get one of these? Did it kinda scare you for a second?
Yeah, another late-in-the-day post. I continue to be really busy with my day job. Hope to stay busy, but who knows?
McMaster orders closing of nonessential SC businesses — Holy Moly! Did you get one of those bulletins (above) on your phone? Made it seem really dramatic, didn’t it? My wife said it startled her for a second. Well, it’s not an order for everybody to stay home, but he’s inching in that direction. Henry’s problem, I fear, is that he’s way overly concerned about the opinions of people like this.
But… don’t a lot more people than that actually have it? — Notice there is no link on this one, because I can’t find an answer to my question. When we read that 1,000 people have it in SC, we know that the real number has to be higher than that. Tests are scarce, and generally only people who are symptomatic are tested — right? And people often have it for a couple of weeks before feeling symptoms and therefore getting tested. So… the real number of people walking around and infecting other people could be WAY more than these grim numbers we’re hearing, right? Someone out there must be trying to do the math to make an educated guess of how many really have it. But I’m finding it. Maybe I’m searching wrong. Surely thousands of other people are thinking the same thing…
Isn’t this gorgeous? I don’t even LIKE the color orange, but this drew me from quite a distance on my walk today. I’ve never seen azaleas this color.
Sorry not to have posted today. I’m drawing to the close of one of the busiest weeks I’ve had with ADCO since the end of the 2018 campaign. I expect things to slow down some (maybe a lot) now, but these last few days at home have been pretty packed. A lot of clients communicating about the coronavirus — letting their clients know what they’re doing, how to do business with them from afar, those kinds of things.
I still get out and take walks, hence the pictures above and below, showing nature is continuing to do its thing despite all.
Here are some topics, starting with the worst news:
The coronavirus took our friend Karen Pearson today — We sort of had warning of it yesterday, but this sad news is still hard to take. Karen was one of the vulnerable, with previous health problems. And we have a lot of friends and loved ones like that. Karen had been a member of this blog community since at least 2007 — when I looked back at her comments just now, there were 133 pages of them. So we all knew her. She was always a thoughtful and considerate commenter. She was a kind lady. This will not be the end of such tragedies that strike close to home. I think Mandy was talking about Jack West, son of Gov. West, late yesterday when she tweeted, “A friend of mine died today from COVID19. I would love for this to be the last time I type that sentence. Please isolate … and take care of yourselves.” Amen.
Henry still won’t tell us to stay home — But cities are doing it. I can’t decide what is causing his hesitation. Can it be as simple as wanting to play to the Trump crowd? I hope not. I hope he’s really trying to do his best by us.
Is anyone having a worse allergy season than usual? — Speaking of nature. This may seem silly to mention in the face of a deadly pandemic, but for me it actually is kind of related. Bad allergy days can make me feel like I’ve got some sort of bug, just crappy all over, and I can’t help thinking, “Is this how it begins…?” But mostly it’s just my eyes itching worse than in many a year. Are any of y’all experiencing the same?
Joe Biden reminds us: Help is on the way — Yeah, we’re still having an election this year — maybe. I mentioned this Jennifer Rubin column in a comment yesterday, but I thought I’d share it more prominently, because she does a good job of setting out the reasons that we can take some comfort from knowing Joe is out there, ready to take this guy’s place.
It’s not as awesome as the orange azalea, but it’s impressive. This volunteer tulip popped up spontaneously, 3 or 4 feet from the nearest flower bed in our yard. We didn’t plant it. And we’ve lived her more than 22 years and never seen it before.
A retired Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh) working in his garden…
I didn’t post yesterday because I was too busy with work — all of which I’m doing from home, of course. A number of clients are hurrying to get out various communications related to coronavirus. But I’m not sure what will happen when they’ve said all they can about that. We’ll see.
What about all those partying punks? — I don’t have a link with this one, because I’m not talking about the kids on spring break in Florida. I heard this morning from someone who lives around the USC campus (no, not Kathryn Fenner — someone else) who is really fed up with the students around her constantly partying. A neighbor keeps calling the cops, and they quiet down momentarily, then resume making jackasses of themselves. (I find myself idly wondering whether any of them are our governor’s tenants, but I have no knowledge that they are.) I guess there’s no cure for stupid at that age.
Senate nears passage of $2 trillion stimulus deal — I’ve got to ask: Are any of y’all paying much attention to this? Are you hanging on every word? Are you heavily invested (other than financially, which I suppose we all are) in whether the Democrats or the Republicans get their way on this? Does it seem like this debate is going on in another universe, one where it’s still 2019 or something? Apparently, some people on Wall Street care, though. News that they’re nearing agreement has caused stocks to recover somewhat today.
Trump says he may soon push businesses to reopen — This is one of those “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” moments… And if reminds me of a separate post I’m thinking about writing, posing the question, “Do you ever get the sense that we’re devolving as a species?”
Seen anything good on TV? — I saw an interesting movie my wife had borrowed from the library (which of course is now closed, so no more of those). It’s called “All Is True,” and it’s about the last three years of Shakespeare’s life, when he retired to Stratford after the Globe burned down. It stars Kenneth Branagh (although it’s hard to recognize him) and Judi Dench. It was interesting. I was particularly fascinated to think that at 49, Shakespeare did actually stop writing. How could he — a guy who had always been so prolific? Had he just said everything he wanted to say? Oh, and last night I started watching that Netflix series about the origins of British football — “The English Game.” Not bad so far…
A variety of things we can yammer about as we sit at home:
The breakdown of our food distribution system?— Last night I tweeted the above picture from Walmart with the words, “The deli meats section at Walmart tonight. Every item, gone. This is insane, people. Cut it out…” I was actually getting kind of a creepy feeling walking around the store. No sugar. No rice (except in those microwaveable single-serving packs). What if our food distribution breaks down to where we actually can’t get what we need to eat? But in spite of the specter of imminent starvation, I had to smile when I got Mandy Powers Norrell’s reply to my tweet: “Food Lion in Lancaster didn’t have tofu vegetarian dumplings. I thought I was the only person who ate them.” I’d have thought she was the only one, too, in Lancaster anyway…
Is selling off your stocks really the worst thing a person can do? — This is one of those things where I’m tone-deaf, because it’s about money. But I’ve had trouble getting shocked at Sen. Richard Burr selling off his stocks before the market tanked. Yeah, I get that he sort of had access to extra information, but anyone could have gotten a gut feeling any time this year, and dumped his stocks. But Tucker Carlson says “There is no greater moral crime…” Even if I grant that it’s wrong — and I suppose it is — I think I can think of some worse ones. What do y’all think?
Kirsten to the rescue! — Did you see that Kirsten Gillibrand has stepped out on a limb and endorsed Joe Biden? Bryan Caskey tweeted that it was “Like Jeb Stuart showing up late at Gettysburg.” I replied “No, because Lee was actually DEPENDING on Stuart…” People stopped thinking about, much less expecting anything from, Sen. Gillibrand months ago.
Earworm of the Day: Elenore, by the Turtles — I’ve actually had this one stuck for a couple of days. Had to look it up. I learned that it was intended to be a bad song, a sarcastic reply to the record company execs who kept pestering the Turtles for another song like “Happy Together.” From Wikipedia: “The band recorded “Elenore” as a parody of the type of happy-go-lucky pop songs they themselves had been performing, but with deliberately clichéd and slapdash lyrics such as: “Your looks intoxicate me / Even though your folks hate me / There’s no one like you, Elenore, really’…” But as a joke, it failed. Turned out to be another hit.
It’s been a long couple of days for me, helping ADCO clients with various coronavirus-related communications needs. It’s been affecting members of my family far more directly. For instance, one of my daughters works at the Richland County courthouse. Others are dealing with other shutdown-related challenges at their places of work, or figuring out how to keep working with the challenges presented by the virus.
I’d be interested in hearing from y’all as to how you are affected, even if it’s just inconvenience. Meanwhile, here’s some news:
Trump declares ACTUAL state of emergency this time — But let’s not look upon him as the boy who cried wolf, just because he previously declared a state of emergency in order to divert billions from national defense to his border wall. This time it’s real, and the only thing wrong with his doing it now is that he didn’t do it sooner. Of course, he’s not taking responsibility for not doing it sooner. But just how much do you expect from this guy? We take what we can get. He’s done it, and we need to pitch in and do what we can to help each other get through this.
Henry follows suit — Closes schools in Kershaw and Lancaster counties, among other measures.
Stocks bound back, big time — I was going to say that maybe we should all give the president a pat on the back for finally getting serious — but he actually got a bigger thank you than any of us could give him. You know how important a booming stock market is to him. And not only to him, of course.
Learning to Live With the Coronavirus — This is Friday’s edition of the NYT podcast, “The Daily.” I don’t know if y’all have been listening to the shows theyve been doing with Times science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr., but they’re well worth your time. He’s very good at putting it all into perspective, and giving practical advice for dealing with the situation. If you don’t have time to listen to it, there’s a transcript. But it’s better if you listen.
The “possible live updates” is because I might post some additional stuff about the primaries today, if I feel like it. I might not, though. It’s really an awesome feeling to be able to say that, after all those decades when the paper had to come out every day no matter what, or else… or else… well, I don’t know what else, because we always got the paper out.
Today is a relatively mild news day, one in which the NYT is answering the question “Is Your World Safe?” with a “Yes, relatively so.” You can tell this by the fact that the lede story — the “Coronavirus Updates” one, is just one column(well, one wide column, more like a column and a half), with a small-font headline. (I explained the theory behind all of this in my very first Virtual Front Page post, back in 2009. Before I started calling it that.)
Coronavirus Updates: Stocks Rebound as Washington Moves to Bolster the Economy — They led with it; I’ll lead with it. Here’s something you might find interesting: When stocks recover, the NYT sees it as worthy of one column. The WSJ sees the same news as worth two extra-wide columns. But before you jump to the conclusion that this is a liberal-vs.-conservative thing, I don’t think so, for two reasons: First, the WSJ has a totally different philosophy of front-page play, having nothing to do with ideology. You’re not comparing apple to apples. Second, financial news is the WSJ’s thing. They will always overplay it (from my perspective). Just as The Washington Post will always overplay stuff inside the Beltway.
Apparently, I shouldn’t have come in to work today — Have you seen the advisory from the CDC saying people over 60 should stay home, and prepare to stay there a really long time? Oh, come on. I mean, few of us like to think we’re old, but this is ridiculous. My parents, whom I’m about to go check on on my way home, are elderly and I worry about them — although you’d never guess it of my mom the way she gets around, and my dad always seemed closer to my age than his until the last couple of years. But come on. Does this mean I shouldn’t do my 10,000 to 15,000 steps every day? Or is it OK if I do them outside?
Biden, Sanders duel in six states on another key day of voting — This is what I might add live updates about. Actually, it will probably be more like Tweets turned into comments. If I feel like it. This is an awkward, blah day of voting for headline writers. When we had the South Carolina primary, they could say “S.C.” A week ago today, they could say “Super Tuesday.” This time, it’s “another key day of voting.” Not much of a ring to it. Doesn’t really get your blood going, does it?
Question: Who got the most votes ON Super Tuesday? — As see, no link on this one. I’m sort of hoping y’all can find one for me. This is something I’m curious about, but I can’t seem to find what I keep Googling for. In particular, I want to know how Joe did in California if you don’t count early voting. Has anyone seen any figures along those lines? Or is it impossible? Do they not report voting results that way?
Biden will pick a woman as his running mate. But who? — This is a Fred Hiatt column. Of course, y’all know what I think: Amy Klobuchar all the way. None of the others who ran would do. This column widens the field by citing some female governors and mayors. But I don’t know them. At least those who ran for president have had some vetting…
Max von Sydow, Star of ‘Seventh Seal’ and ‘Exorcist,’ Dies at 90 — OK, which are your favorite von Sydow movies? I’ve got to say that while I’ve seen him in such highbrow stuff as “The Seventh Seal” and found them good, my favorite performance is as the freelance assassin in “Three Days of the Condor.” Best scene: When he and Redford are trapped on an elevator together. Redford knows he’s there to kill him, and von Sydow’s character knows he knows, but they’re both trying to act like everything is normal. The tension is made greater by some smart aleck kids who hit all the buttons before getting off. Von Sydow smiles wryly at Redford and just says, “Kids… probably the same everywhere…” Here’s where you can stream some of his best films.
You know, after this weekend, I just feel better about the whole world, and I’m in a generous mood. So instead of a Virtual Front Page, let’s go with an Open Thread, because they’re more fun:
Klobuchar dropping out of 2020 race and endorsing Biden — You go, girl. Pete showed her the right thing to do, and she did it — and then went Pete one better. She remains my top choice for veep. What else can I say, except what David Leonhardt had to say today (see item No. 3.)
Bernie or Biden. Period. — That’s the headline on David Leonhardt’s column today, and that’s where we stand. There are no other real choices. So it’s time to decide, Democrats: Go down the tubes with Bernie, or take back the White House with Joe. As Joe said Saturday night, after South Carolina had done its bit to make everything devastatingly clear, “win big or lose, that’s the choice.” At this point, the only likely role of Bloomberg would be to continue to split the moderate vote, and deliver the nomination to Bernie. So he needs to get out, too.
What popular chain businesses is Columbia missing?— The State raises this question, and offers a lot of silly answers, but to its credit includes the one that matters: an Apple store. It raises doubt that we’ll get one, but come on, gimme a break: Augusta’s got an Apple store…
What America needs now is a really nice guy. Fortunately, we’ve got one.
I almost did a Virtual Front Page, but that would have been the third in just eight days! I don’t want to spoil y’all, so we’re going for an Open Thread instead. They’re easier: I don’t have to come up with a lede and rank the items in importance, and I can pull in opinion, which is more in my wheelhouse anyway. (I was the front page editor at two papers in the ’80s, but that was a long time ago — or so everyone keeps telling me and Joe Biden.)
A Dishonorable Senate — This is an NYT editorial, and my only beef with it is that “An.” What, like we have an array of Senates, like multiple universes, and there’s just this one bad one? No. Until we work out the quantum inter-universal travel thing, this is the only Senate we get. And it has shamelessly, blatantly, without any pretense of doing anything else, completely abandoned its constitutional duty. More than abandoned, spat upon it. Look, we knew they were going to acquit, but we did have a right to expect an actual trial first. Is this it, folks? Is the loss of our republic now inevitable? Has it happened already? I didn’t think I’d live to see this…
Why don’t we all just ignore Iowa and New Hampshire? — Not a bad idea, particularly given that Iowa is caucuses, not even a primary. Have you READ the rules of this insanity? People standing around in groups, and then if their group is less than 15 percent of the total in the room, they regroup and the losers gravitate to second choices? It’s like ice-breaker games at that team-building retreat the soulless corporation you work for made you go to. (See what I did there? Two dangling prepositions in one sentence! Can I write, or what?)
Joe Biden: A Really Nice Guy for President— This is a column by Frank Bruni, which means it’s the third opinion piece in a row from the NYT. But hey, they had some good pieces today. There’s only one cure for Trump, one thing to set this nation back on course: Replace him with a really nice guy. Last thing we need is to replace him with another one of those angry people out there — you know, the ones who can’t string two sentences together without saying “fight” at least once?
Senate hears closing arguments — Switching over to news now… and can you imagine that they’re still going through the motions as though this were still an actual trial being conducted by an actual credible deliberative body. I don’t see how the House managers made themselves get up this morning and do this. But at least they are doing their duty, so my hat’s off to them.
Earth Fare grocery chain closing all stores, including in Columbia — This just in, and it kind of blew my mind. It suggests a lot of questions: Why now, instead of back when Whole Foods opens? Do we think Whole Foods will last since Amazon has taken it over and corporatized it? Couldn’t Earth Fare have hung on a little longer to see what happened there? How do small local shops like Rosewood Market and 14 Carrot hang on while Earth Fare can’t? Business and the way it works is just such a mystery to me…
I started putting this Open Thread together on Saturday at a Barnes & Noble in Memphis where I had gone to do some work while my wife was otherwise engaged. (Actually, she was at a soup kitchen downtown where her brother and sister-in-law volunteer, helping them out. I felt bad about not being with them, but I did get some work done.)
Anyway, when I realized they were back at the house, I dropped the blog post (I had only started it because I’d run out of work things I could do without reaching clients on the phone) and went and joined them.
It was an eclectic Thread I had in mind, just based on stuff I’d found interesting in that day’s Washington Post. Here you go:
We need a major redesign of life — This is a provocative piece about how our expectations of life are built around the assumption that people wouldn’t live much past 65, if that. “Long lives are not the problem. The problem is living in cultures designed for lives half as long as the ones we have.” What sense does it make, for instance, for people to retire in their 60s or even 50s if they’re going to live to 100? It’s interesting even though I look askance at some of the findings such as: “To thrive in an age of rapid knowledge transfer, children not only need reading, math and computer literacy, but they also need to learn to think creatively and not hold on to ‘facts’ too tightly.” Really? I think one of the problems we have today is that too many have abandoned belief in facts altogether. But maybe that was just awkwardly worded. Of course, if you mean people need to be flexible and learn new facts as they arise, I’m with you…
Whaddya mean, I’m funny? — This was a nice little profile on Joe Pesci, whom I’ve enjoyed in so many movies in the past. Remember John Travolta’s line in “Get Shorty” about wanting to get into movies, and someone says, but you’re a loan shark, and he replies that “I was never that into it…”? Well, it turns out Joe Pesci was never that into acting — which is why Martin Scorsese had such a hard time talking him into coming out of retirement. Ironic, given how good at it he is. Anyway, I haven’t had the time to watch “The Irishman” yet, but this further whetted my appetite.
Facing impeachment, the president strives to look hard at work — This was mildly interesting, although not as much so as the other pieces. Basically, it answers the question (which frankly had not occurred to me), Why is this man popping up in Afghanistan and going to see the Queen? Basically, it says Trump is taking a page from Bill Clinton’s playbook: “Then-President Bill Clinton survived his 1998 impeachment in part because the economy was roaring and because he appeared to many voters to be relentlessly focused on doing the business of the American people.”
So which is it, Charlie or Charley? — This rather stupid topic does not come from The Washington Post, so don’t blame them. Being a lifelong editor, things like this really bother me, whereas probably no one else cares. While I was at that Barnes & Noble, I was listening to some Spotify to drown out the noises of the cafe. And I happened to look at that screen as this number came on (see picture below), and I immediately wondered, “So which is it? Charley Musselwhite or Charlie Musselwhite?” I decided the album cover, which says “Charley,” was more likely to be right than the Spotify text — but then, Wikipedia has “Charlie!” Does Musselwhite himself even care? Probably less than I do. I need to relax; after all, it’s not his official given name, right? It’s not like they spelled his surname “Musclewhite” or something. Oh, and don’t even get me started on “Charly,” which should have been called “Flowers for Algernon,” which by the way was an awesome book.
As a postscript… I went looking for a photo for this post among what I shot in Memphis over the last few days, and settled on the above shot of an aisle in a Kroger. All the years I lived in Tennessee, it was illegal to sell wine in grocery stores. Since that changed (and this is the first time I’ve been back since that happened), the grocers have been making up for lost time. The picture doesn’t even show the whole aisle. There’s about six feet more of wine shelves behind me…
… and he is wroth, very sore, at his Chosen People — The way our first Transactional President thinks, he has done things to pander to supporters of Israel, so Jews should be slavishly loyal to him. You know, like the evangelicals. Every day, we learn more about the depths of this man’s ignorance. As one pro-Israel Jew put it, “In reality, what matters most to us are the exact values that the president is spending his term trashing. We care about equality and justice, and we embrace the notion that this is a nation of immigrants and opportunity for all.”