Category Archives: Open Thread

Open Thread for Monday, April 12, 2021

Remember Nikki being so happy to have Sarah Palin's endorsement? Just thought I'd mention that...

Remember Nikki being so happy a while back to have Sarah Palin’s endorsement? Just thought I’d mention that…

Just a few random things…

  1. SC attorney tells court how he ‘misread the case’ and got Michael Slager 20 years — A couple points to make. Counselor, it wasn’t you. It was your client. You see, he shot a defenseless, fleeing man in the back five times. Tried to shoot him eight times, but missed three times. Killed him, as you would expect would happen. Why would we ever want this guy out? I just can’t believe time in our overloaded criminal justice system is being wasted on this nonsense. It’s an outrage. If I were a Black Lives Matter protester — I’m not, but if I were — I’d look at this and see one thing: Part of the system saying to another part of the system, “Whoa! I know we didn’t mean to give this white cop 20 years! All he did was shoot a black fella!” And the other part of the system deigning to listen to it.
  2. Minnesota Officer Who Shot Daunte Wright Meant to Fire Taser, Chief Says — Oh, come on! This had to happen in Minnesota? Right now? Let’s talk about something else: I used to work with a guy in Wichita. He was an editor on the sports desk. He’d be minding his own business trying to get the paper out, like all of us, and something would go wrong, and he would cry out, with pain, but also with the comic sense of a guy doing standup in the Catskills, “Do I need THIS?!?!?” He did this a lot, usually late in the night when things were quieter, after the daytime people had gone home. And it would crack me up. You had to be there. Anyway, right now I’m hearing America say, “Do I need THIS?!?!?” Only it’s not funny, at all. It’s horrible. Because, to answer the question, we most assuredly do not need this.
  3. The term ‘vaccine passports’ pushes every button on the political right — I heard this on the radio today. “The term ‘vaccine passports’ pushes every button on the political right,” a source explains. Sheesh. As I said on Twitter today while listening to this, “too bad we don’t have an anti-lunacy vaccine…” Sheesh again. These people.
  4. SC’s Nikki Haley says she won’t run for president in 2024 if Trump seeks reelection — I see Maayan Schechter wrote this. I need to ask her: How do you get your fingers to type “Nikki Haley,” and soon after type “run for president,” without your fingers having a seizure? I’ve seen quite a few reporters do it, and I always wonder. Anyway, I don’t care whether she runs or not, for at least three reasons: 1) She’s Nikki Haley, and I know Nikki Haley. I have a pretty good grasp of her lack of qualifications. 2) Even if she were qualified, I’d cross her off my list the moment I saw she would decide based on what Donald Trump would do. 3) We have a president. A really good one. A qualified one. Why on Earth would I, or any sane person, be interested in anyone else?
  5. Prince Philip: William and Harry pay tribute to grandfather — Glad to see Harry could make time for it. No, really, I am. Good to see family and duty outweigh all that other stuff for a moment.

Enough for now. I’m tired.

Prince Phillip

Very quick Open Thread for Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Who knew the era of the Mercury Program was such a bummer? I was there, and didn't notice.

Who knew the era of the Mercury Program was such a bummer? I was there, and didn’t notice.

Been super-busy lately what with Lent, Easter, and basketball — not to mention work — but here are some items I’ve meant to do separate posts about:

  1. America Has a Ruling Class — And that’s a good thing, if I remember correctly from reading this way last week. An excerpt: “There are good reasons to be skeptical of career politicians and entrenched elites. Even when they don’t have all the answers, outsiders can draw attention to unrecognized problems. That skepticism becomes dangerous, though, when it pits an unconventional affect and good intentions against the practical demands of governing. The defining task of politics isn’t to speak truth to power. It’s to use power to achieve shared goals.” Yep. And thank God Joe Biden is now our president. It’s worth a read.
  2. When the Pandemic’s End Means the Return of Anxiety — Yep. I happily — but briefly — hugged some of my grandchildren on Easter. But beyond that, I can do without a return to “normal,” and all that hurrying about, going places, having to eat out (which to me is a burden), go to social events, and such. I haven’t had time to put the post together, but maybe this NYT item can kick off a conversation. Oh, dang. It’s WSJ. Huge firewall. OK, I may have to post about it later, but it’s much on my mind now.
  3. The Right Stuff Grounded After One Season on Disney+ — Hey, I’m surprised it made it this far. I am a fanatic for Wolfe’s book, and for the original movie, which utterly stunned me by so effectively putting on film something that was mostly about Wolfe’s narration style. By contrast, I don’t think anybody affiliated with this depressing TV series — which doesn’t even have Chuck Yeager in it! — ever so much as glanced at the book. Watch this, and you won’t ever get the sense that we were once an amazing country that did amazing things. You’ll just be bummed out. Who knew the Mercury program was such a downer?
  4. The woman being blamed for blocking the Suez Canal — Look, I’ve read the Aubrey-Maturin books, so I know that every British sailor during the Napoleonic Wars knew there was nothing more unlucky than having a woman on board a ship, except maybe leaving port on a Friday. Might as well have a Jonah aboard. Oh, it’s OK to bring along the gunner’s wife maybe, as long as she doesn’t look like Mrs. Horner in The Far Side of the World. And here the Egyptians went and put a woman in command of a ship! (And she even looks kind of like a Mrs. Horner, to me — see below.) What did they expect? How powerful is the bad luck generated by such a mistake? I’ll tell you: This woman commands a completely different ship, and it was hundreds of miles away from the Ever Given at the time, and this bad thing still happened. So now you know why it happened. So, lesson learned.

That last one will probably get me in enough trouble, so I’ll just stop now….

The captain being blamed -- even though she wasn't there.

The captain being blamed — even though she wasn’t there.

Open Thread for Monday, March 29, 2021

real suez

Still from Suez Canal Authority’s YouTube video of the freed ship under way.

A few things to chew on:

  1. That lubberly ship is free — Nice going there, Egypt. Right now, I’m picturing being the captain of a ship that has already decided to go all the way around the Cape of Good Hope, and now has to decide whether to keep going or turn back. Of course, nowadays, it’s unlikely he’d be the one to decide. Anyway, I doubt anyone will seriously consider my solution for this problem: Stop building ships that carry 200,000 tons of cargo.
  2. Loony Georgian Lin Wood wants to be SC GOP chairman — Apparently, he decided that not enough attention was being paid to the allegation that, when he voted in his home state of Georgia, he was living over here in SC. Which, when you think about it, is a lot of selfless bother to go to to prove to the world that there was indeed voter fraud in Georgia in 2020.
  3. Chauvin trial gets underway — Not much to report yet, so again I’m thinking about how fascinating it is that this guy’s name is the one from which we derived the term for an “irrational belief in the superiority or dominance of one’s own group or people, who are seen as strong and virtuous, while others are considered weak or unworthy.” Probably not relevant to the court case, but that’s what the name always makes me think of.
  4. Reagan was shot 40 years ago tomorrow — This was brought to my attention by an interesting piece in the WSJ by the FBI agent who was first on the scene, and led the investigation. This got me to thinking about how all the culture warriors, on both sides, seem to know why that guy in Atlanta shot all those people a couple of weeks back. And yet the guy who shot Reagan was motivated by something no one would ever, ever have guessed: Jodie Foster. Check out the photo below, which ran with the WSJ piece.
  5. Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same. — Who cares about Manhattan? (Sometimes, the NYT can be so parochial.) It will never be the same anywhere. At least, that’s what one would hope. Which one? This one. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to go to work in an office again, except my home office, of course. (There is one thing about this Manhattan angle that worries me, though — the potential threat to the New York subway system, which, as y’all know, I love…)
  6. But this poor guy thinks movie theaters are poised for a big comeback — No, I don’t think they’re going away entirely. But speaking as a guy who used to love going to the movies (I became the movie reviewer at my first paper purely for the chance to see new releases with the paper paying for the tickets), and has zero interest in taking out a loan to go watch a film while wedged in with a bunch of talkative, fidgeting strangers, I wouldn’t want to be in this guy’s business.
This was just before the Reagan shooting. Hinckley stands out because of his expression.

This was just before the Reagan shooting. Hinckley stands out from the crowd because of his expression.

Open Thread for (late) Wednesday, March 10, 2021

NYT front page

Only five shopping days left until the Ides! Let me throw a few topics out there to keep the plebs and patricians entertained…

  1. The humongous COVID relief bill — Anything else to say about that? Then say it. Let me just throw this in: You know how not one, single Republican voted for it, even the few allegedly moderate ones? (As I’ve said, the role of Republicans in this debate was played by moderate Democrats.) Well, one Republican is already bragging on something the bill does for folks back home. Really.
  2. Merrick Garland confirmed — Very good news. But when I heard the vote was 70-30, my first reaction was that I wanted the names of all who voted “nay,” “so I can make sure they’re all on my Never Forget List.” (One good note: Lindsey Graham voted for him. Occasionally, he still does something that reminds us he’s the guy who believes elections have consequences. But while he’s quietly doing that, he’s cranking out pooge like this. So yeah, he’s still on the list. As his hero would say: Sad.) I’ve always liked this guy, and following this process has made me like him more. I don’t know of any negatives. So, good news. We’re back on the track of having a Justice Department we can respect.
  3. The “ex”-royals — Anyone have anything to say about this? I really don’t, except that I was appalled at all the news stories building up to that interview, and all the ones I’ve seen since. Why do we care? As I said in a Tweet, I’m not being anti-royal here. I’m an anglophile, and the monarchy is part of what makes Britain Britain. But at the same time, I don’t get people’s fascination with the whole celebrity soap-opera thing. People are weird. I didn’t get Diana, either. You know how in “The Queen,” Blair had to badger Her Majesty into responding emotionally to the way the people felt about Diana? One of the few times I disagreed with Tony. She’s not a soap opera star. She’s the sovereign.
  4. What about that Cuomo guy? — I’ve never paid much attention to this guy, which was probably wise on my part. I’m not hearing anything good about him. And I don’t just mean the nursing-home deaths. I mean, who hires a 25-year-old “health adviser?” This guy does, if he likes her looks. Wow. Have you seen the picture included with this story about the gov making his unwelcome moves on a tiny, vulnerable, appalled young woman? He looks like Dracula with his latest victim. What a jerk. By the way, I have a problem with the hed to that Gail Collins column I linked to above: “Sex and the Single Governor.” He married Kerry Kennedy in 1990 and they have three kids. Yeah, they divorced in 2005. But he’s Catholic; she’s Catholic. He’s not “single.”
  5. The Most Popular Shows You’ve Never Seen — This is an interesting piece in the WSJ. I hope you can get past the paywall to read it. The subhed is “Even when TV was a ‘vast wasteland,’ it brought us together.” Basically, it makes a point I’ve made many times here about popular music and other aspects of popular culture in our society: We have a lot more we can choose from, but we share fewer cultural experiences. As this piece says, “TV is a metaphor for what ails, or at least divides, society. With fewer shared experiences—even trivial ones—we find ourselves in smaller social and political groups.” Yep.

spring

Open Thread for Tuesday, February 16, 2021

sunny

Looking out the window of my home office: Where’s the snow?

Just a normal, quiet day — the kind I was looking forward to when I voted last year. Which is nice. But here’s some stuff to talk about…

  1. What? It’s Mardi Gras already? — So tomorrow’s Ash Wednesday. What to give up? Or maybe I should say, what else should we give up?
  2. Cayce could be among SC’s first cities to designate a COVID-19 Memorial Day — Good idea, Mayor Elise.
  3. So… what did Nikki say again? — Over the weekend, Nikki Haley said of Trump, “We need to acknowledge he let us down.” Um… who was actually counting on him for something? You know what? These politicos who have ambitions far, FAR above their abilities would do better to try speaking to the whole country, not to deluded minorities. OK, I take it back… This is what Republicans who seek to lead should be saying. Instead of kowtowing to the crazies — as those 43 senators did on Saturday, they should be exerting leadership by explaining to the base the many ways it is wrong. And I suppose this gentle, Golly, maybe we were wrong approach is the way to go about it. But it still sounds bizarre…
  4. Bitcoin Trades Above $50,000 for First Time — I don’t even know what that means. I just started subscribing again to The Wall Street Journal, which is leading with this at the moment. I enjoy reading the normal parts of the paper (politics, book reviews, opinion), but the stuff that the paper is historically known for is still unintelligible to me. Those words are nonsensical. So… a Bitcoin costs $50,000? I guess I’ll never buy one. Not that I intended to, anyway. I mean, stories about money bore me to tears, and this isn’t even about real money….
  5. At least 12 dead in 4 states as power outages, record cold strike South — That’s terrible, and I’m not complaining or anything, but why aren’t we getting any of this? Someone ADCO works with in Texas has no power. My wife’s relatives keep posting pictures of iced-over foliage in Memphis, where the snow has fallen repeatedly. And last night, we had a thunderstorm and the temperature went… up to 58. Are we on the same continent?

That’s enough for now. I’m going to go take a walk, since the sun’s shining. Let me know what other topics y’all are seeing….

Open Thread for Thursday, February 4, 2021

Captain Tom

I don’t have time for it today, but dang it, I’m going to post something. And even though it seems my readers are only interested in arguing over whether schools completely reopen or D.C. becomes a state, I’m bringing up other stuff. Here you go:

  1. We lose Captain Tom — He made it through the Burma campaign in WWII, but this hero of the current global struggle against a deadly threat fell in battle this week. God Bless and keep you, Captain Tom.
  2. The Attention Economy — This is a different way of grabbing ahold of the problem I’ve been writing about lately, having to do with the way the internet has done nasty things to our brains for which evolution had not prepared us. It’s about Michael Goldhaber, who in the ’80s predicted “the complete dominance of the internet, increased shamelessness in politics, terrorists co-opting social media, the rise of reality television, personal websites, oversharing, personal essay, fandoms and online influencer culture — along with the near destruction of our ability to focus….” And other stuff.
  3. We don’t have enough Walmarts now — This may seem unlikely to you, but I assure you it is a problem now. Remember how, a month ago, they announced the one on Bush River would close (as of tomorrow)? Well, this has messed with my life. That was my Walmart, the one closest to me. And now the next closest one is already overcrowded. I think I’ve been to it four times  since the announcement of the closing (assuming the one they were closing would be even more poorly stocked than usual — which, by the way, is why I suspect it has been less successful), and on two of those occasions, back to back, they were completely out of shopping carts. I did not need this new hassle. I don’t like having to go out for supplies to start with, and now this…
  4. THEN WHY DID YOU VOTE FOR HER? — Sorry about the shouting. I’m just reacting to this NYT story that tells us of the discomfiture of people who voted for Marjorie Taylor Greene. We are told that “Now the revelation of past social media posts has unsettled some who backed her.” Really? REALLY? Sorry. I’m shouting again… Here’s the thing: Even after all these decades of closely following politics, I continue to be amazed and appalled by people who vote for candidates about whom they know basically nothing. It’s one of the greatest flaws in our system, and it keeps getting worse instead of better. By the way, I didn’t finish reading the whole piece. It quotes Real People at some length, you see, and stories that go on like that tend to depress me.
  5. So I guess I’m going to have to deal with this now — SC is now going to let people over 65 get the COVID vaccine. I’m still not through deal with this with my parents — they get their second shots on the 17th — and now you say I’ve got to go through it all again? Never mind the fact that I’ve never really gotten what you’d call 100 percent assurance that I’m not allergic to it. But I suppose I need to get started… although I have no idea how or where…
  6. Frank Bruni makes me almost interested in the Super Bowl — I’ve come to really enjoy Frank Bruni’s columns over the last year or so. So when he wrote something about the Super Bowl — which, as I understand, is coming up soon — I decided to read it anyway. And something surprising happened: He made me slightly interested in his wish that this person named Tom Brady should win. That’s remarkable, Frank, and I congratulate you.

1st Open Thread of the Restoration, Friday, January 22, 2021

Hank_Aaron_1974

So here we go:

  1. Over bourbon, former SC senators launch new political podcast — Hey, that’s great news, Joel and Vincent! Y’all know, don’t you, that I held the record for most times as a guest on Pub Politics, right? But when you have me on, could we make it dark rum instead? I’ve got a great recipe. Bryan helped me name it. It’s called a “Hugo.” It’s like a Dark and Stormy, except you use Blenheim Ginger Ale instead of boring ginger beer. Because South Carolina. Way better than that Kentucky stuff.
  2. Senate confirms Austin as first Black defense secretary — No, actually, if you check, the Senate confirmed him as defense secretary, not “black defense secretary.” The white guys will report to him, too. Anyway, bottom line, this is good news. I’m looking forward to hearing similar news about Anthony Blinken. Things are taking shape.
  3. Hank Aaron, Baseball’s Legendary Slugger, Dies At 86 — Even on a good week, we have sad news. 715, Hank!
  4. Coronavirus: UK variant ‘may be more deadly’ — This is from the Beeb, and we didn’t really need our friends across the pond to tell us this.
  5. Impeachment Article Against Trump to Be Delivered to Senate Monday — No, no, no, WSJ! We’re going to avoid using that name in headlines this year, OK? Banks are avoiding doing business with him; you can avoid using the name, OK?
  6. Columbia lawyer to represent You-Know-Who at impeachment trial — Oh, come on, Butch! Must you? Can’t you leave it to Giuliani or somebody like that?

Open Thread for Monday, January 4, 2021

This person does not exist.

This person does not exist.

Just a few little somethings to kick-start the year. Another fairly random list, mainly consisting of things that have grabbed my attention in recent days:

  1. Designed to Deceive: Do These People Look Real to You? — I’m deliberately starting with something other than politics. Y’all have got to follow the link and check this out. Over the last 25 or 30 years we’ve all seen some remarkable things done with digital images, but this is truly freaky. Now that I’m in the marketing game, I’m regularly exposed to the “fake people” that various clips services provide for websites and such. But those are real people, models, trying to look like real people and failing at it. These images are completely fake, but they all look like real people you might meet on the street — until the writer of the piece explains what to look at to see the flaws. This is amazing, and ominous…
  2. Soon, we can finally ignore Georgia — Of course, our priority is getting to where we can ignore You Know Who, who is still doing everything he can to make sure we can’t. His latest spectacular instance of impeachable thuggishness was over the weekend, and it of course involved… Georgia. (Which makes you wonder how many other state secretaries of state he’s harassing without The Washington Post knowing about it — managing to steal Georgia would do him little good without stealing the votes of several other states). But after the runoff Tuesday, and the insanely pointless demonstration by Joe Wilson and others that we expect on Wednesday, this should all start fading away. And I can’t wait.
  3. Joe Wilson must go — Of course, there is another dozen or so whose names will be forever blackened on Wednesday when they express their contemptible wish to overthrow our democracy. But Joe Wilson is my congressman, so I’m focused on him. I mean, I voted against him in November and all, but his latest step goes so far beyond the pale of civilized behavior that he must be ostracized by decent people in all he says and does from now on.
  4. Zorro at 100 — An interesting piece, marking the century that has passed since the release of “The Mark of Zorro,” starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. El Zorro looms large in my personal legend — while other kids went with Mickey Mouse, my first watch was a Zorro watch (also licensed by Disney of course, based on the Guy Williams version). I also had a Zorro sword — a plastic foil or epee or whatever, with a piece of chalk on the end, so I could practice making the “Z.” What I like about this piece is the way it charts how Zorro was the progenitor of the whole superhero thing in American culture, what with his secret identity and all (although it gives proper credit to the Scarlet Pimpernel, which came some years before).
  5. Linda Greenhouse’s Joe Biden Story — There’s nothing remarkable about it. Just an experienced journalist remembering encounters she has had with Joe over the years. We’ve all got stories like that, especially those who, like Ms. Greenhouse, have spent our careers in Washington. But it’s something that illustrates why Joe was the One for 2020 — the one person who had everything it took to bring rationality and decency back to our national government, when we needed it most.
  6. My perfect year — I’ve remembered to take those two pills they put me on after the stroke — the platelet-suppressor and the statin — four days in a row now. Which is a significant improvement. Perfect record all year! Anyway, I thought I’d share some real news…
The Zorro I remember best -- Guy Williams, the Disney version...

The Zorro I remember best — Guy Williams, the Disney version…

Open Thread for New Year’s Eve Eve, 2020

How was your Christmas?

Did you get anything this cool for Christmas? No, it’s not from the hotel…

It’s almost over. Here are some thoughts or things I’ve run across that I found briefly interesting in recent days, while I was busy doing other stuff:

  1. First, how’s your Christmas going? — I’m hanging in there, with the first six days under my belt now. Been trying to catch up with paying, day-job stuff when I haven’t been busy doing Christmas things. And of course, I’m not going anywhere tomorrow night because a) I’d rather stay safe, and b) I don’t want to — I don’t get the whole going-out thing, especially on holidays.
  2. Socialist view of John le Carre’s work — You know how I prefer reading opinion to news, and don’t much care what the point of view is, as long as a case is made effectively? Anyway, I was glad Google showed me this, from the World Socialist Web Site, because it gave me the perspective on le Carre, George Smiley and the Circus from the point of view of Moscow Centre. Well, not really, since the writer doesn’t seem to consider Stalinism to be real socialism (and you know how picky socialists can be about that sort of thing), but it was interesting. Of course, now that I’ve read it, MI5 has probably put me on a list.
  3. No more Niekro, and no more knuckleballs — Just thought I’d note the passing both of Phil Niekro, and of a particular, esoteric American art form. It caused my wife to ask me what a knuckleball was, and I told her what I knew, and then went and read up on it to see if I had been right (I had been). Did you know that Eddie Cicotte, ace hurler of the Black Sox, may have invented it? I did not…
  4. The dusty old op-ed page still getting folks worked up — The op-ed page is gone in most communities — The State hasn’t had one for years — but the few that are still around stirred up some trouble in 2020. A perspective on the year a little different from the usual “movies of 2020” story…
  5. Dave Barry’s review of the year — You don’t want the year to end without the perspective of Mr. Language Person himself, do you? I don’t. And I need to get back to reading it, because I haven’t finished. My favorite bit so far was about Prince Harry and his bride, who “are sick and tired of being part of the British royal family and want to just be regular normal everyday hard-working folks making millions of dollars solely because one of them was born into, and the other one married into, the British royal family.” The way Dave relates it, Her Majesty made short work of this, sorting them out good and proper. It didn’t really happen that way, and normally I don’t really dig dark humor, but it got a snort out of me, I’ll confess. Even though, from what I hear from South Carolinians who served with him in Afghanistan, Harry is a decent sort.
  6. ‘Mary Ann’ dies of COVID — Or rather, of course, Dawn Wells. This is the only actual news from today. Very sad. Something as innocent at “Gilligan’s Island,” and someone from my childhood, running smack into the hard reality of 2020, and being done in by it. Never mind the fact that her character was the nicest one on the show. This isn’t an appropriate time to bring up the whole “Who was hotter, Ginger or Mary Ann?” thing, so I won’t, except to say that Mary Anne was definitely the more appealing.

Dawn Wells as Mary Ann

 

 

Open Thread for the past week (Dec. 14-21), more or less

The most recent picture I had in my files of Don and Carol Fowler. This was at a reunion of Don's old Reserve unit, the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade.

The most recent picture I had in my files of Don and Carol Fowler. This was at a reunion of Don’s old Reserve unit, the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade.

Yeah, I know it’s been a few days. I’m still learning how to ration time, interest and my physical/mental energy in the wake of my stroke (still dealing with some fatigue), and what with the holidays and day-job work to do, I’ve fallen behind on the blog. But here are some things I’ve thought about posting in the last week or so, and I decided I’d throw them out and see if any of it interests you:

  1. George Shultz on Trust, from a century of perspective — Possibly the best piece I read last week was in the Post, headlined “The 10 most important things I’ve learned about trust over my 100 years.” Saying “Trust is the coin of the realm,” he explained that “When trust was in the room, whatever room that was — the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room — good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details.” Absolutely. Long ago (as in, a quarter-century ago), I wrote a column on that subject, which seems quaint now. Things are so much worse today. But the fact remains: We can talk about partisanship, ideology, or Donald Trump, but bottom line, our biggest problem and challenge remains a lack of trust.
  2. Closing religious services — There was another Supreme Court development on this front last week — actually it was about a religious school, but it reminded me of the topic. And I’m wondering a couple of things: First, those of you who, like me, normally attend religious services — how long has it been since you’ve been to one? Second, what observations do you have on the many issues involved — the Constitutional issue, the personal one of how not attending services (or attending them with or without social-distancing protocols) affects your spirituality? Or anything else you want to say about it. For my part, I haven’t physically been to a Mass since March. But we stream Mass every Sunday. And it’s… different.
  3. The passing of Don Fowler — I don’t know how well-known he was to my readers, but for those in the political/media universe, he was a giant. I first met him when I covered the Democratic National Convention in 1988. I remember chasing him down a staircase in Atlanta to get a question answered and thinking as he turned to face me, “This guy’s too busy for me to be bothering him with this.” He was always busy, in Democratic politics on the state and national level (most notably as national chairman during the Clinton administration), and he did his best to lead the party forward productively during an age of sad decline in his home state. Over the years, I interacted with Don through many roles — as party leader, as a consultant, as a former National Guard colonel, as a college professor (on one or two occasions, I took over his class for him when he had pressing business in Washington or somewhere). We often disagreed — after all, he was a party man and I was not — but I always had great respect for him. Don will be missed.
  4. ‘Latinx’ hasn’t even caught on among Latinos. It never will. — That’s for sure. I was recently shocked to hear Dr. Fauci use this odd term — obviously created by people who do NOT speak Spanish — on the radio. Out loud, not just in writing. No one who speaks or understands Spanish, or has any kind of respect for the language or the culture it represents, would use such a neologism. Anyway, this opinion piece explains some of the reasons why you will seldom hear a Spanish speaker using it. I thought the headline was a little weird, though. “Even?” Latinos would be the last people I’d expect to use it.
  5. Farewell to Lamar Alexander, one of the vital few — I’m very sorry to see Lamar leave politics, and was glad to see George Will take the time to honor him on the way out. Of course, Lamar is closely linked with my youth and the early stages of my career — the week I spent traveling with him in 1978 was my first experience of covering a statewide political campaign (it was his first successful run for governor of Tennessee). He became my favorite Republican of that era. And I guess, in spite of his disappointing me last year, he’s my favorite of this era as well, although partly because of the lack of competition (with John McCain gone, and Lindsey Graham’s conscience gone). And now Lamar, too, will leave the scene.
  6. Graham a ‘personal disappointment,’ says Biden — To say the least, Joe — to say the least.
  7. Serbian Elevators — Someone used this phrase in a tweet the other day, and I immediately added it to my list of possible band names. Just to keep you posted on the progress of my band, which I’ve been intending to get together since 1971, once I get the details sorted out. You gotta get the details right — like, you know, deciding who will be in the band…
  8. Cunningham for governor? — OK, this is technically something I just saw this morning, but I’ve added it to the list. Anyway, good luck with that. Joe’s a pleasant young man, but seriously — if we couldn’t elect a war hero and respected (across the political spectrum) lawmaker such as James Smith as a Democrat statewide, this seems unlikely. And we tried awfully hard, I assure you. Anyway, that’s my first reaction. Perhaps someone will talk me out of it.
From a Charleston event in 2018.

From a Charleston event in 2018.

Open Thread for Wednesday, November 25, 2020

EnoFXcwW4AAARS_

Here’s something to be thankful for.

Just a quick one to toss some possible discussions out there:

  1. What are you doing for Thanksgiving? — I’ve been asking this of people I speak to about unrelated things. Mostly, there is some concession to the resurgence of the plague, and the danger the holidays pose — but it varies greatly, from families gathering on screened porches to not gathering at all. Everyone in our fam is dining in their own home pods — except my two single kids who live in town, who will eat with us, but spread out in the house. Then, if weather permits, we might all go have dessert out in my parents’ spacious back yard. We’ll see.
  2. Biden’s national security team — Talk about something for which to be thankful — tomorrow, and every day for the foreseeable future. This is exactly what I wanted. As the Post’s editorial board put it, this group “ought to encourage anyone who values experience, expertise, integrity and fundamental competence in U.S. government leaders.” Amen. This is such a wonderful change from what we have unfortunately grown used to. For a slightly more fun approach to the same point, I recommend Dana Milbank’s column, headlined “Biden’s win brings new hope for peace deals with Denmark and Canada.”
  3. Ex-SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh pleading guilty to fraud charges — To start things off, I’ll cite the reaction of one of the most illustrious members of our little blog community. In reaction to the news that Marsh “is facing prison time and fines worth more than $5M after pleading guilty to defrauding S.C. ratepayers who paid billions for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear power plant,” our own Lynn Teague tweeted two words: “Richly deserved.”

You know what? That’s enough for now, just to get things started. I need to get back to some work, and then go bake a cake…

Open Thread for Thursday, October 8, 2020

From comments I saw, the most 'likable' was the fly.

From comments I saw, the most ‘likable’ was the fly on Pence’s head.

Told you I was going to do more of these. Here we go:

  1. High court slaps down McMaster on giving millions to private schools — This was the worst thing Henry McMaster has tried to do as governor — it’s right down there with the things he doesn’t do, like try to fix our roads — and it was nice to see the state Supremes say so unanimously. This time, the system worked
  2. Fly wins veep debate — I missed the beginning of this, and then missed a good bit more because I wasn’t what you’d call riveted. Congrats to both for being more civil than Trump. A low bar, of course. And is it civil to completely ignore time limits and refuse to shut up, but do it in such boring voice that people fall asleep and don’t notice? Someone should ask Miss Manners.
  3. The likability trap — Maybe this should be a separate post. Anyway, here’s one of the things that keeps me from being a feminist. Feminists believe there’s some “likability” standard that applies only to women. There isn’t. The fact that they keep saying there is makes me not like them. For instance, Donald Trump is the least likable S.O.B. (we can have a separate discussion later about the “B.”) in living history of American politics, which would be enough to keep me from voting for him for anything. We just don’t talk about it much because it’s such a bigger deal that he is both stupid and evil. Joe Biden is one of the most likable people ever to run for president, and it’s a real asset for him. Even though he doesn’t drink beer, you want to have one with him. We don’t know whether Mike Pence drinks beer, but we don’t care because we don’t want to have one with him. Although he’s less unlikable than Trump, we just don’t want to hang with him. Kamala Harris has many assets, but no, being likable isn’t one of them. But she wasn’t particularly unlikable last night, because she didn’t say stuff like “That little girl was me.” So have we got it all straight now? Have I mansplained it enough? Stop making me do this. I don’t, you know, like it.
  4. Trump pulls out of debate over plan to hold it virtually — Maybe he’s scared he can’t talk over everybody in that format. Or maybe he’s just scared, having seen polls after the first debate. Or maybe he suddenly wised up, realizing a COVID patient shouldn’t be debating… naaahhhh.

I’m tired of looking for stuff. You want to talk about something else, bring it up. I’m in enough trouble already with the “likability” thing…

Open Thread for Wednesday, October 7, 2020

balcony

With the election coming up and all, I should do more of these — even on a slow day like today:

  1. Trump’s erratic tweets on economic relief leave strategy unclear — Or, we could headline this one, Trump Yadda-Yadda. I think he must be somewhere around Barstow — the drugs are kicking in. You notice that we’re having a bit of a lull? Which is nice, after the crisis-every-day of last week. This is the lull between Trump’s helicopter ride back to the White House, and the upcoming one back to Walter Reed. But maybe not. I hope not. I want him healthy. I don’t want him having an excuse when he loses. The message of repudiation by America needs to be as clear as possible.
  2. Heading into second debate, race between Graham, Harrison now a toss up — Which is also nice, although I’ve about had enough debates. Can’t believe the veep debate is tonight. Dang. But I suppose this would be a good time to hear from y’all as to how you think Jaime and Lindsey did in their first debate, since I didn’t post about that. I thought Jaime did fine. Here’s how I think Lindsey did.
  3. Supremes say SC absentee voters must get witness signature — This is way old, but hey, The State led with it this morning as though it hadn’t happened way back on Monday. And we haven’t talked about it. Maybe we don’t need to. Let’s use this one as a departure point for anything you want to say about absentee voting, which opened with a bang this week.
  4. Stephen Miller gets COVID — I’m going to confess something here, so y’all can give me a hard time about it. Which I deserve. I was walking last night, listening to NPR on my earbuds, when I first heard this news. And for a split-second, I felt my face start to smile. I stopped it immediately, because I think that is inexcusable. I really believe the things Bret Stephens said in his column yesterday, “Wish a President Well Who Doesn’t Wish You Well.” That applies to Miller, too. Maybe if he didn’t look like a movie villain (specifically, a young Jonathan Banks). Or better yet, if he didn’t act like a movie villain. But those excuses are inadequate. I should not have felt that impulse.
  5. Islamic State ‘Beatles’ charged in US over hostages’ deaths — Just to say, this stuff is still out there. Our inward-looking insanity isn’t the only thing in the world. A quick point about this: Is it a weakness, in the sense of a flaw in the system, that it takes liberal democracies this long to get around to processing something like this? These monstrosities took place in 2014.
  6. Eddie Van Halen dies — Wow, now even the kids are dying. Yeah, I know, he was almost as old as I am. But the ’80s were when my kids were kids, so after my time. Anyway, I hate to see it.

Open Thread for Monday, August 10, 2020

Sister Nancy

Let’s get the week off to a start here:

  1. Let’s talk about which candidate might ‘hurt God’ — E.J. Dionne’s column this morning reminded me I wanted to share Sister Nancy Hendershot’s Facebook post (see above) offering calm witness about Joe Biden’s relationship with his faith — in contrast to the guy who waves a Bible around like a weapon but doesn’t read it.
  2. 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…
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.”
  6. We’re not at 100,000 cases yet — But we should get there today. Meanwhile, of course, we’ve hit the 5 million mark nationally.
Sister Nancy talking about church got me to go grab a picture of mine. I took this after Mass one day in 2017...

Sister Nancy talking about church got me to go grab a picture of mine. I took this after Mass one day in 2017…

Open Thread for Thursday, July 16, 2020

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?

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?

Some possible topics:

  1. SC parents torn over sending children to school this fall amid coronavirus pandemic — Yes, they are torn, and for good reasons. Pediatricians back up the idea that school is good for kids, but how on Earth do we send them back safely? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had elected leaders we could actually trust to provide wise guidance on this, people we’d trust to care more about the kids than their own political position?
  2. Georgia’s Governor Issues Order Rescinding Local Mask Mandates — OK, so a lot of us are kind of frustrated with Henry these days (see, for instance, previous item), but at least he’s not as bad as this idiot. Not yet, anyway. Check out the picture on that link, showing this doofus meeting with his hero, Donaeld the Unready. He has a mask dangling from his ear, but has apparently taken it off his face in deference to his master. Wow. I’m really, really hoping Henry won’t stoop this low, especially since Alan Wilson has given him some cover on the issue.
  3. 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.
  4. Coronavirus trace found in Charleston County dog, Clemson reports — The dog was euthanized, but don’t tell Trump — he might think that could be another miracle “cure.”
  5. 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…

Open Thread for Wednesday, July 15, 2020

REAL ID

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:

  1. 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.
  2. ‘Irresponsible and dangerous.’ SC teachers push back on governor’s plan to reopen schools — Hey, don’t look at me. I tried hard to get y’all to elect somebody else. But seriously, folks, this looks more like a mess each day.
  3. 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…
  4. 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.
  5. Twitter accounts of prominent figures, including Biden, Musk and Obama, compromised — We’ve got a LONG way to go in figuring out how to live with so much of our lives being virtual. It’s so convenient. And there are so many jackasses out there trying to take advantage of us.

That’s enough for now. I need to go take a shower…

An unused station at the DMV.

An unused station at the DMV this morning.

Open Thread for Tuesday, June 30, 2020

starfish

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:

  1. 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”…
  2. 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…
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Fauci Warns U.S. Could Hit 100,000 Daily Cases — Completely credible, given recent numbers here in SC. It’s little wonder, then, that…
  6. E.U. Formalizes Reopening, Barring Travelers From U.S. — They’re desperate for tourist revenue over in the Old Country, but not desperate enough to let us crazy yahoos in.
  7. 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”

Open Thread for Thursday, June 18, 2020

What conclusions should we draw from the fact that not even the state epidemiologist wears a mask?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. High court blocks Trump’s attempt to end ‘dreamers’ program for immigrants — Trump suggested this morning that he doesn’t think the court likes him. Yeah, well, what’s to like?  I doubt that any of them actually like him. Even if you’re Kavanaugh, you can’t like the fact that you go down in history, forever, as a “Trump nominee.” It’s like having an asterisk.
  3. 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.
  4. What to rename the Army bases that honor Confederate soldiers — I haven’t read all of this yet, but it grabbed me — a retired general’s ideas of names to use. He would rename Fort Hood for Audie Murphy. Good start.

I may add some more topics later, but it’s time to go eat dinner…

Hope The State doesn't mind my using this. I converted it to black and white to emphasize the Old School effect. I like it.

Hope The State doesn’t mind my using this. I converted it to black and white to emphasize the Old School effect. I like it.

Open Thread for Thursday, June 4, 2020 (Twitter-style)

kimmel

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:

  1. 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…”
  2. So… just to make sure I’m understanding… this makes all the racist stuff OK then? — That’s my response to a tweet from the White House that said, “President @realDonaldTrump provided permanent funding to historically black colleges and universities and enacted groundbreaking criminal justice reform—concrete results for underserved communities that no prior President delivered.”
  3. Yes, senator, that’s exactly what everyone thinks — That was my response (minus my original typo — I meant “that’s,” not “that”) to a clip from The Hill in which Lindsey Graham says, “You think I am in Trump’s pocket.”
  4. 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.
  5. Brazil set to overtake Italy as country with third-highest coronavirus deaths — I had no comment on this. I just thought it was worth sharing with folks. Of course, I believe the U.S. is still No. 1 on this grim ranking. That’s right, isn’t it? I had trouble finding stuff from today on that.
  6. Is Mexico paying for this fence, too? — That’s not me. That question is from retired Army lieutenant general Mark Hertling. He was responding to video of the big fence going up around the White House.
  7. Frank Bruni on why we need Achilles — My first tweet of the day, reacting to a good piece about the sad state of higher education right now.
  8. 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.

graham clip

Here’s why I don’t do more Virtual Front Pages now

Actually, I almost forgot: I'm kind of interested in THIS. Maybe I'll post about it later.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

You get the idea. There’s a sameness out there that is stultifying. And I just haven’t been inclined to post about it. Which is why you get posts like the long one obsessing about a small news item from 1911. I just find those things more interesting. Sorry.

Oh, wait: Just remembered that I’m kind of interested in the subject reflected in the picture I just put at the top of the post. Maybe I’ll post about that later. If it happens