Category Archives: Uncategorized

James Smith decides to make his stand, run for governor

James 3

Smith in 2015 speaking at a rally calling for removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds.

Well, this is good news. And here’s the notice he sent out to potential supporters (I didn’t get one, but it was forwarded to me):

All of my life I have felt the call to service. I have been grateful for the privilege to serve my community, my state, and my nation. In that spirit, after 9/11, I resigned my commission as a JAG officer, enlisted in the Infantry, and deployed to Afghanistan to fight for our country and protect our way of life. There, I was privileged to serve with the very best our State and Nation has to offer, alongside real heroes- soldiers who best represent what America stands for.

I came home a different man. With a deeper faith. More thankful for my wife and family. Less caught up in the petty politics at the State Capitol. And believing I could do even more. That I was called to do more.

And that’s why now – after a lot of thought, consultation, discussions with my family, and prayer – I’ve decided to run for Governor.

And here’s why.

I see the potential of our state. I see what we can be. But I also see what’s getting in the way.

I am running for Governor because I feel like I must do all that I can to fight for the people of South Carolina. I am running because I want South Carolina to realize her fullest potential and to do that means no one gets left behind.

I see South Carolina as she can be and ask why not? Why not more than a minimally adequate education? Why not an energy plan that works for all of us and a South Carolina prepared for the jobs of the future? Why not a South Carolina where we invest in our quality of life, support for our families, rebuild our infrastructure, reform our government to be efficient, transparent and accountable, and provide access to quality healthcare?

A South Carolina where those in power serve the people and not themselves.

If you, like me, believe in a South Carolina that works for all of us, I ask you to stand with me. If you, like me, want a better future for the next generation and know that it will take each of us working together, I ask you to join me.

I know there is a long road ahead. We will be up against powerful interests that don’t want change.

Whether in the State House or the highland deserts of Afghanistan, I have fought for you and for the values that we each hold dear and I want to fight for you as your Governor.

South Carolina’s best days can be ahead of us.

Stand with me.

James

Here’s hoping he doesn’t have Democratic opposition. It would be nice if we had one person running for governor who could start listening to those of us in the middle right away, instead of spending a primary season reaching out to the extremes of a party — the way the Republicans are having to do…

Capt. Smith writing home from Afghanistan in 2007.

Capt. Smith writing home from Afghanistan in 2007.

But sometimes, Adsense seems to really know me

DNA threeOr at least, it shows it knows what interests me.

I suppose I’m getting these ads now because I’ve recently helped a family member send off her DNA to be analyzed, and referred a friend who was thinking about giving a DNA kit as a gift.

Or maybe it’s just because I’m always boring people here by going on and on about the latest things I’ve learned about my family tree.

You know, it now has more than 5,000 people on it!…

Good riddance to bad rubbish, Sen. Graham

Oh I don’t mean you, Lindsey — I mean your execrable bill to trash Obamacare and make healthcare in America considerably less accessible, which the Senate declined to vote on today.

Remember, I generally approve of your job performance. I’ll probably be applauding something you say and do again soon — but not until, say, next week, when the deadline for you to be able to cram this thing through with 50 votes and no deliberation is safely behind us.

Graham-080106-18270- 0005

Graham-080106-18270- 0005

Until that line is crossed, I won’t breathe easy for the nation. I don’t pronounce things dead until they’re buried. And once we get to where you’d need 60 votes to pass it, it’s buried.

Watching you on this issue has not been pleasant. Of course, trying to rush through such an awful proposal, dressing it up in language about the virtues of federalism, was bad. Really bad. But you managed to make it worse by acting like you were all excited that Donald Trump, of all people, was supporting what you were doing.

Yeah, I get it. You get weary of that bunch the GOP euphemistically calls its “base” hating on you all the time. You’d like to seek your party’s nomination just once without an army of snake-flaggers coming out of the woodwork to oppose you. It’s not fun getting booed at party gatherings. And you’re right to dismiss liberals who love you only when they think you’re acting like one of them. I get it. You’re an actual conservative Republican — conservative in a sense that doesn’t insult the English language — and you’d like others to respect that.

But while I’m sure it would be peachy to be popular among your own for once, it’s not worth taking medical coverage from millions of Americans. Not to them, certainly. And it shouldn’t be to you, either.

Graham reaches across aisle on cybersecurity

That Kirsten Gillibrand is just all over the place this week — standing next to Bernie Sanders to back single-payer, and now teaming up with our own Lindsey Graham:

Gillibrand, Graham Propose Legislation to Establish National Commission on Cybersecurity of U.S. Election Systems

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced bipartisan legislation to establish the National Commission on the Cybersecurity of the United States Election Systems.

She's everywhere!

She’s everywhere!

The Commission – based on a model similar to the 9/11 Commission that investigated the terror attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania – would look into the cyber-attacks that took place during the 2016 election cycle and make recommendations on the best way to protect our nation going forward.

Cyber-attacks, in particular those from foreign intelligence services hostile to democracy, are a growing threat to candidates and political parties. They also pose a danger to nonpartisan election officials and election infrastructure, which are responsible for keeping accurate tabs on voter rolls and vote tabulation.

“There is no credible doubt that Russia attacked our election infrastructure in 2016,” said Gillibrand“We need a public accounting of how they were able to do it so effectively, and how we can protect our country when Russia or any other nation tries to attack us again. The clock is ticking before our next election, and these questions are urgent. We need to be able to defend ourselves against threats to our elections, our democracy, and our sacred right to vote. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to create a 9/11-style Commission to defend our democracy and protect ourselves against future attacks on our country.”

“Hostile governments like Russia don’t believe in democracy,” said Graham.  “They have shown an eagerness to meddle in elections in the United States and other democratic nations.  We need to ensure we fully understand the threat they pose and the best practices to protect ourselves from future attacks.  But Russia is not our only worry.  We could face future attacks from North Korea, Iran, China, and others who oppose American foreign policy and reject the values we hold dear.  This issue should be beyond partisan politics as it strikes at the heart of our democracy.  We must take steps to ensure that we protect the integrity of our elections from hostile, outside, and foreign influences.”

Members of the Commission would be selected by state election authorities and congressional leadership so that a comprehensive group of experts would be able to make recommendations to lawmakers on how to address the concerning vulnerabilities of our election systems.

The Commission would do the following:

  • Identify action steps or prevention measures which address cybersecurity vulnerabilities related to the 2016 election in the United States;
  • Document and describe any harm or attempted harm with respect to election systems in the United States in 2016;
  • Review foreign cyber interference in elections in other countries in order to understand additional cybersecurity threats, interference methods, and successful defense mechanisms;
  • Make a full and complete accounting of what emerging threats and unmitigated vulnerabilities remain and identify likely threats to election systems in the United States; and
  • Report on the recommendations of the Commission for action at the Federal, State, and local level.

#####

Was the ending of ‘The Sixth Sense’ really a surprise?

sixth sense

Yeah, I know — I’m almost two decades late on this.

But when “The Sixth Sense” came out, I was uninterested. The trailers with the terrified little boy saying, “I see dead people!” just didn’t move me to want to watch.

But recently I kept seeing it promoted to me on Netflix, and last night I was giving platelets at the Red Cross, which immobilizes me with nothing to do but stare at my iPad for a couple of hours, and I’ve heard for years that the movie is good, so… I started watching it.

And I figured out the “surprise ending” in the first scene. And everything that happened subsequently confirmed it. In fact, it was telegraphed so strongly, and so persistently, that I couldn’t see how anyone would miss it.

SPOILER ALERT!

Now, let me admit right off that I had a helping hand. I knew there was a creepy, even shocking ending. I thought I had heard that the surprise was that the little kid himself was dead. But it became quickly obvious that that explanation didn’t work, and that another premise was completely inescapable. So I had a big leg up.

What I can’t figure out is whether I would have seen exactly what the “surprise” was without that hint Maybe not. But certainly I would have had questions along the way, such as:

  • Why doesn’t the big-deal, award-winning psychologist Malcolm Crowe have an office? Why doesn’t his young patient, Cole, go to see him there? Why does their first meeting involve Crowe spotting Cole and chasing him down the street? I really think these details would have made me expect answers — and if they weren’t forthcoming, would cause me to start speculating.
  • Why does the psychologist go everywhere with the kid — to school, to the hospital, to his home, to a funeral, to his school play, which his mother doesn’t even go to because she’s holding two jobs (which raises the question of how she pays the psychologist to look after her son 24/7)? Why doesn’t such a celebrated shrink have other patients? Why does he says he used to be a great child psychologist?
  • Why doesn’t the boy’s mother ever speak to Crowe when they are together? More than that, why doesn’t his wife, who we saw in the first seen was very warm and affectionate toward him, never speak to him or even look at him? Sure, there’s misdirection intended to make you think there’s a problem in the marriage, but it’s lame and unconvincing.

If you could see all of these things without figuring it out, I guess it would create a wondering tension that would make the reveal at the end a real kick in the head. But is that possible? Did people really not figure it out?

And if it was a big surprise, I sort of feel like Shyamalan undersold it. The reveal seemed low-key for such a realization on the part of the central protagonist — nowhere near as powerful as, say, the star’s realization of the truth about himself at the end of “Memento.” Beyond that, the resolution of various conflicts seemed a bit too pat and easy. What caused the teacher to give the outcast child the lead in the school play, for instance?

Assuming you saw it, what was your experience? No big deal, I’m just curious, after having heard how effective the movie was all these years…

This guy’s never, ever going to walk ANYWHERE

wheels

Just thought I’d share with you this phenomenon I saw on the highway.

This guy’s driving a huge RV, with a golf cart riding on a lift behind. Attached to the back of the golf cart is a bicycle.

And towing behind all of it is a Jeep.

This guy has a plan — he’s never, ever going to walk anywhere, from here on out.

I wonder how it works. When he’s parked the RV and is taking the Jeep somewhere, does he tow the golf cart and bike behind the Jeep, just in case?

Thorstein Veblen might have had something to say about this. I’m not sure what, though…

In case you wondered, this is why I’m Catholic

Best Tweet of the day, or perhaps I should say best of the millennium so far:

Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! This is why I’m a Catholic, people!

I don’t just mean that the Pope said something cool, so yay, Catholics….

I mean it speaks to the whole communitarian nature of Catholicism’s appeal to me.

I became a Catholic in 1991, and over the years, when people ask me why, I generally say something like… Being a person with a strong sense of history, I wanted to join the original (in the West, anyway) church, and more than that the universal (which is what catholic means, y’all) church.Franciscus_in_2015

Before that, I had been, technically, a Baptist (I was really pretty nondenominational, but I was baptized in a Baptist church). And (please correct me if I’m explaining this wrong, Baptist friends) each Baptist church sees itself as a separate church. If you go to a Baptist church other than your home church, you are a visitor — a welcome one, in my experience, but a visitor. The universal church is the opposite of that: Wherever you go in the world, you are a communicant of whatever Catholic church you walk into. Back in the days of the Latin Mass, the language would have been the same.

I wanted to be in communion not only with all Catholics in the world today, but with all who had ever lived and ever would live. That’s the way I looked at it. That was my motivation. Not my only motivation, to be sure, but the one I was best able to articulate.

Looks like maybe the Pope is Catholic for some of the same reasons. You know, aside from being an Italian who grew up in Argentina…

One world without women, another without men

Philip falls for Rachel when he meets her because, you know, she's Rachel Weisz.

Philip falls for Rachel when he meets her because, you know, she’s Rachel Weisz.

For the first time probably in decades, I actually saw two movies on the big screen in one weekend. Seriously, I can’t remember doing that since I was the reviewer for The Jackson Sun back in the ’70s and used to spend my weekends in Memphis seeing the new releases before they came up the road to Jackson. Technically, I wasn’t employed as a reviewer — the paper was too small for that. I was a copy editor who reviewed movies for the fun of it. My only pay for that task was reimbursement for the tickets.

And it was fun — I mean, I got to review “Star Wars” in the excitement of its initial release. I still remember driving my orange Chevy Vega back to my in-laws’ house after seeing it, my nervous system still resonating to what I’d seen, and I kept having to shake the feeling that I was Luke dodging and zooming around the Death Star.

Anyway, I saw two new movies over the weekend, and they were both really good in their own ways.

First, at my wife’s instigation, we went to see “My Cousin Rachel” at the Nickelodeon. And it was excellent. I can’t really tell you what happened in it, however, because its chief feature is that when it’s over, you and the protagonist are left wondering about that.

But I think I’ve got a better idea than the guy who reviewed it for The Guardian, who started out this way:

My Cousin Rachel is a highly enjoyable mystery thriller of the sort that modern communication and the internet have made impossible to set in the present day. Based on the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier, and adapted and directed by Roger Michell, it is a fantastically preposterous psychological drama featuring a lush score from Rael Jones and a tremendous lead performance from Rachel Weisz – who is mean, minxy and manipulative. Her sheer charisma persuades you to overlook one or two plot glitches. I can only describe this film as the roistering missing link between The Talented Mr Ripleyand Far from the Madding Crowd.

Sam Claflin plays Philip, a moody young man of means in the 19th century, always grumping about the place with his dogs and his horses, pretty short-tempered with the Hardyesque gallery of estate workers. He is, moreover, disagreeable about women, whom he regards as an alien race, despite the fact that the lovely young Louise (Holliday Grainger), daughter of family lawyer Mr Kendall (Iain Glen), is plainly in love with him….

I didn’t think Rachel — the actress or the character — show even a trace of meanness. Nor would I call her a minx — beguiling, certainly, but not in a way that seemed frivolous or flirtatious. As to whether she was manipulative… well, that’s the thing we don’t know about for sure.

And that’s the whole point.

(SPOILERS!)

See, Philip was an orphan, raised by his older cousin Ambrose, whom he resembled to an uncanny degree. While Philip is still a young man, Ambrose goes off to Italy for his failing health, and in quick succession does the following: falls madly in love with a woman named Rachel, marries her, suddenly starts writing home that Rachel turned out to be a monster, gets sicker and dies. Philip suspects foul play.

Next thing you know, Rachel shows up at the estate, and although he was highly suspicious and prepared to hate her, Philip immediately falls for her at first sight, because, you know, she’s Rachel Weisz.

But then he begins to suspect her again, and even to think she’s trying to kill him, and…

Well, the movie ends dramatically but with neither Philip nor the viewer any wiser as to whether Rachel is a monster or an innocent, good-hearted woman horribly wronged by unfounded suspicion.

The reviewer in The Guardian calls her “a great villainess,” to which I object. He doesn’t know that! I tend to place great weight on exculpatory evidence unearthed (too late) at the film’s climax. Not being a du Maurier fan I have no idea whether it was clearer in the novel. Probably not.

Things are a bit more transparent in “Wonder Woman,” which I regard as one of the better superhero flicks.

A bit clearer, but as with a lot of comic book movies, if you think too hard about whether the ponderously profound ideas it tries to express add up, it can spoil the movie.

Even so, this one deserves a spot in the top rank of the genre.

Before I saw it, I was quite fed up with all the feminist and anti-feminist ranting going on. You know how dismissive I am of Identity Politics, and the way I saw it was Hey, it’s another superhero movie — or superheroine, if you insist — and the fact that she’s female is incidental. The way I saw it, some superheroes can fly, other have great gadgets, and some are girls (though most are boys). It’s not some kind of statement, and it’s silly to let your own self-concept be elevated or damaged by a comic book movie.

But then I saw it, and… well… it really matters that she’s a woman. In ways that it didn’t matter, say, that Hillary Clinton is one.

There’s an interesting parallel, or contrast, thing going on between the two films I saw: Although the first is a (very good) chick flick, the protagonist is defined by the fact that he has grown to adulthood in an all-male environment — just him, his guardian and a small army of male servants. He is ignorant of and (because he’s so ignorant) indifferent to women until Rachel arrives, which helps to explain why meeting her hits him like a ton of bricks. A young man could not possibly be less prepared for the effect of a stunning woman.

For her part, the girl who will grow to be Wonder Woman grows up in a world entirely without men — and as with Philip, her first encounter with a member of the opposite sex is what kicks off the film’s main action.

Diana, who will be called Wonder Woman, is an Amazon. I don’t mean she’s just more athletic than average, I mean an actual Amazon, from Greek myth. She lives on a magical island filled with beautiful women who happen to be warriors with mad skills that would put Ulysses to shame.

Then the First World War breaks through the mystical barrier shielding the island from our mortal sphere, and Diana decides she must go off and stop it. She believes she can accomplish this by finding Ares, the god of war, and killing him, but things turn out to be more complicated than she expects.

As to why her being a woman is important… well, that’s tough to explain, beyond the “duh” point that otherwise she couldn’t be an Amazon. I just felt like, even though it wasn’t overtly stated, this was another one of those stories about the mess men have made of the world, and how they need a woman, or women, to set it straight.

You know, like “Lysistrata.” Or Spike Lee’s update, “Chi-Raq.” Something like that. Personally, I kept thinking about something in Catch-22 that puzzled me when I first read it in high school. Remember how “Nately’s Whore” (the only way she’s ever designated in the book) reacts when Yossarian tells her Nately is dead? He’s prepared for her to be sad, or perhaps indifferent, since it never seemed like she was as infatuated with Nately as he was with her. What he’s not prepared for is her relentless, murderous attack on Yossarian. For the rest of the book, she keeps coming out of nowhere and trying to kill him.

He’s shocked, but then he decides he understands: Why wouldn’t she hate him? He’s a man, and look what men have done. And sometimes, I sort of understand it, too.

I finished writing this post, going by memory, before I could find the passage in the book, but finally I did, so I’m coming back to add this — even though I didn’t remember it fully:

Yossarian thought he knew why Nately’s whore held him responsible for Nately’s death and wanted to kill him. Why the hell shouldn’t she? It was a man’s world, and she and everyone younger had every right to blame him and everyone older for every unnatural tragedy that befell them…Someone had to do something sometime. Every victim was a culprit, every culprit a victim, and somebody had to stand up sometime to try to break the lousy chain of inherited habit that was imperiling them all…

The part I had remembered was “It was a man’s world,” and in my memory I had made that into the whole thing. But the rest sort of applies, too. Someone had to do something sometime, and Diana decided she’d be the one.

Wonder Woman doesn’t hate the man who has dragged her into all this, or try to kill him (which she could do easily), but in her quest to kill war itself (Ares), I sense some of the same dynamic.

Of course, I may be reading too much into a comic book movie.

In any case, I recommend both films.

An Amazon warrior with mad skills -- but that sword won't prove as handy as she expects.

An Amazon warrior with mad skills — but that sword won’t prove as handy as she expects.

Raging hormones. Or something…

This kind of cracked me up, and I can’t say exactly why…

If you’re a blogger, you frequently get emails such as this one from folks promoting their own content:

Hi Brad,

My name is Zoey Miller, and I am the Editor-in-Chief at The Babble Out (http://www.thebabbleout.com/). We recently released a comprehensive blog post about testosterone. Since we published it on our site, we have received over 400 social shares on this article.
While browsing your site, I noticed that you linked to a piece from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testosterone on the same topic from this page: http://www.bradwarthen.com/category/transportation/ .I believe our piece is more practical and more comprehensible to ordinary people, and I think it would be an excellent addition to your page.

If you are willing to add our link to that page, I would be happy to share it with the tens of thousands of people who follow us via social media, in order to help you gain some visibility.Here is the link for your review:

https://www.thebabbleout.com/health/testosterone/

Please let me know what you think. Thank you for your consideration!

Cheers,

Zoey Miller

Cheers back atcha, Zoey.

These messages tend to assume that I’m way more interested than I am in the subject that I touched on one time a month, or a year, or 10 years ago. Nevertheless, I sometimes click on the link to see what’s being offered, and I did so this time.

And I couldn’t get past the photo used to illustrate the concept of “testosterone:”

testosterone

Oh, my! Protect me from the scary man, Mama!

Perhaps that’s how I’m supposed to react to this… what shall I call him… raging savage hipster? But it cracked me up. I couldn’t help thinking of the “If Millennials Were Lumberjacks” video I shared recently.

I think he’s going for what The Band was singing about in “Jemima Surrender:”

Jemima Surrender, I’m gonna give it to you,
Ain’t no pretender, gonna ride in my canoe
If I were a barker in a girly show,
Tell ya what I’d do, I’d lock the door, tear my shirt and let my river flow…

But it just doesn’t quite come across that way…

Tanned, rested & ready: @dick_nixon celebrates comeback

When I saw this Tweet:

I couldn’t help but respond, “When I saw Trump defending the Comey firing while sitting next to Henry Kissinger, I knew you were back, Mr. President.”

Did you see that? Eerie:

Kissinger

Kissinger’s gotta be thinking, “Why does this keep happening around me?”

As for what is meant by this, have you seen the news of the day?

Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before firing, officials say

Last week, then-FBI Director James B. Comey requested more resources from the Justice Department for his bureau’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, according to two officials with knowledge of the discussion.

Comey, who was fired by President Trump on Tuesday, made the request in a meeting last week with Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and later briefed the chair and Democratic ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, the officials said….

Rod Rosenstein. You know, the guy who offered the justification for firing Comey, suggesting it was about the Hillary probe.

Riiiiiggghhhhttt….

Good job, lawmakers: Gas tax veto overridden

I’m glad to see lawmakers made short work of Henry McMaster’s unjustified veto of the bill that raises the gas tax and reforms DOT:

A proposal to raise the S.C. gas tax will become law after the Legislature Wednesday overrode Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto….

The S.C. Senate gave the bill final approval Wednesday afternoon in a vote of 32 to 12.

The S.C. House voted 95-18, to override McMaster’s veto after S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington and several other House members lambasted the Republican governor.

“He chose to listen, I believe, to campaign consultants, rather than the people of the great state of South Carolina,” Lucas said…. McMaster has “chosen to place politics over policy,” Lucas said. “The governor has failed to offer one single, viable solution to the state’s infrastructure crisis.”…

You got that right, Mr. Speaker. I was glad to see my own representative stand up, too:

Freshman lawmaker Rep. Micah Caskey, R-Lexington, said McMaster “chose to remain silent, he chose not to act, he chose not to lead.”

Way to go, Micah. I’m glad I didn’t run against you last year. (For this reason, and also the fact that he would have creamed me — he’s a Marine combat veteran.)

Speaking of Micah. When Bryan and I went to watch the night infiltration exercise at Fort Jackson last month, we ran into Micah. I’m still not clear on how they’re related, but here’s a picture of the two Caskeys…

Caskeys

Um… this Family Tree Maker rollout is kind of surreal

Would my ancestor Ragnar sit patiently for such frustration?

Would my ancestor Ragnar sit patiently through such frustration?

This will only interest those among you who maintain family trees on Ancestry, and back them up with Family Tree Maker.

But among that small subset, I’m wondering how many are as uneasy as I am.

As y’all know, I’m a bit… obsessed… with genealogy these days. I’ve never been much of one for hobbies, but this one has taken over almost all my leisure time, when I’m not hanging out with grandchildren.

But while I’ve continued to add people to the tree at a good clip, I’ve been uneasy the last few weeks.

Several months ago, as my Ancestry tree grew by leaps and bounds, I wanted to have a hard backup in case something catastrophic happened out there in the cloud. So I asked for, and received (for my birthday, I think) a copy of Family Tree Maker, so that I could see my tree offline.

Once I had that, I got in the habit of syncing the two versions after each session working on the tree. This gave me peace of mind that all that work wouldn’t go for naught.

But the last time I was able to sync was March 26 at 9:15 p.m. That’s when FTM stopped allowing syncs to its old software, because it was releasing an update.

Fine. Except the update still hasn’t been released, more than five weeks later.

Does this make sense to anyone?

FTM puts out an update on how things are going — about once a week! (Here’s the latest, from Friday evening.) You’d think they’d be coming at a rate of several a day. But they seem to be a lot cooler about the situation than I am.

Anyone else in this fix? And does it bother you the way it does me?

I’ve continued to add people to my tree — 327 of them since my last synch. When will I be able to safeguard those the way I have the other 3,486?

(And yes, I could become one of the beta testers, but since they were having only 89 percent success in syncing back on April 14 — it’s better now, I believe — I hesitate to join in…)

Last synced more than a month ago...

Last synced more than a month ago…

This Centrist Project sounds intriguing

This morning I received this release, which I find intriguing, as you would expect:

Centrist Project Launches Independent Candidate Recruitment Campaign for 2018 Election

San Francisco, CA – With strong funding, leadership, and grassroots momentum, the Centrist Project announced today a new “#HackTheSenate” campaign to reform America’s dysfunctional political system. The Centrist Project is recruiting independent candidates to run for U.S. Senate and state legislatures in 2018. Voters have already begun pledging their support and crowdfunding contributions online.

“Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders demonstrated that the current political environment is ripe for disruption,” said Nick Troiano, the Centrist Project’s new Executive Director, and former independent candidate for U.S. House. “But the system is still badly broken, as we can see from the vicious partisanship over such issues as health care reform and Supreme Court nominations.”centrist

The Centrist Project’s “fulcrum strategy” aims to elect a sufficient number of centrist, independent candidates to legislatures, including the U.S. Senate, to deny each of the traditional parties an outright majority. The Centrist Project will also work to persuade elected Democrats and Republicans to abandon their party affiliations. This new centrist core of independents will hold the balance of power and forge common ground solutions to address the country’s major challenges.

“The Centrist Project is a powerful and achievable ‘hack to the system’ that can truly transform American politics,” said Marc Merrill, a board member of the Centrist Project and co-founder/co-CEO of Riot Games, Inc. Magazine’s 2016 Company of the Year.

The Centrist Project has raised over $600,000 in seed funding to support its candidate recruitment activities, including from hundreds of grassroots members who are sending small dollar donations on a monthly basis.

For the U.S. Senate, the Centrist Project is targeting Utah as one of its potential states. Recent polling conducted for the organization by JMC Analytics (March 18-20) found that just 21% of Utah voters support the reelection of incumbent Senator Orrin Hatch (R) and that a named potential independent candidate, Evan McMullin, would lead him head-to-head, 33%-29%.

Joel Searby, who most recently managed Evan McMullin’s independent presidential campaign, is the group’s new Senior Strategist and leading candidate recruitment. Searby has begun traveling the country to brief former elected officials, CEOs, celebrities, and other prominent figures.

On the state legislative level, the Centrist Project has hired a campaign team in Colorado and is partnering with independent organizations in Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, New Mexico and Oregon.

###

The Centrist Project strategically recruits and supports centrist, independent candidates for office. For more information, visit www.CentristProject.org.

This group hits a lot of longtime UnParty themes. Peruse its website, and you’ll run across a lot of things you might suspect I wrote myself. Such as:

Government should be pragmatic. Solve problems. Rather than a rigid ideology, governance is a process. We ask: what’s the problem we’re trying to address, why isn’t the market fixing it, and what policy would produce a better outcome? What are the tradeoffs? Then, take appropriate action that makes us collectively better off than we are today.

I’m slightly disturbed, though, that this group that presumes to affect the national government doesn’t even mention international affairs, which of course is the main thing for which we have a national government. On its “principles” page, you find such headings as “Fiscal Responsibility” and “Economic Opportunity” and “Environmental Responsibilty.” I like the repeated use of the word “responsibility” (very Grownup Party), but I wonder that I find nothing even remotely like “Diplomacy,” “National Defense,” “Global Leadership,” or just “Foreign Affairs.”

In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking this is run by and for disaffected Democrats, who have such a habit of forgetting that international affairs are a thing.

Just a few basic lines about adhering to the post-1945 bipartisan consensus regarding America’s role in the world — which is as centrist a position as I can think of — would have been comforting.

But I am intrigued nonetheless…

Open Thread for Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Is THIS the guy who conducted Obama's terrible, awful, mean wiretaps on President Trump?

Is THIS the guy who conducted Obama’s terrible, awful, mean wiretaps on President Trump?

Very quickly:

  1. 30 years later, arrest made in ‘gruesome’ Richland County killing — Nice job, Sheriff Lott.
  2. Senators ask FBI for evidence of Trump wiretap claim — Oh, this should be good. Somebody get the popcorn.
  3. Hospitals and Doctors Reject Bill as G.O.P. Moves Ahead — Here’s how this will go: Everybody who knows anything will reject the bill. The House GOP will forge ahead, counting on the support of people whose taxes they’re cutting.
  4. Women protest in D.C. for ‘Day Without a Woman’ as area schools close — OK, so that’s where this was going on. You couldn’t tell around here.
  5. Spring Came Early. Scientists Say Climate Change Is a Culprit. — But you kinda knew that, didn’t you?

Now I need to go run to another meeting…

... Or was it THIS guy?

… Or was it THIS guy?

Open Thread for Tuesday, February 14, 2017

OOPS! I put this together last night and failed to hit “Publish!” Well, here it is:

  1. Trump knew for ‘weeks’ that Flynn misled officials, White House says — OK, so we can just skip over having the Watergate-style hearings, because we already know the answer to the big question: What did the president know, and when did he know it? This is going to save us SO much time!
  2. McConnell says Senate probe of Flynn’s actions is ‘highly likely’ — Well, all right, if you insist. Might as well dot all the i’s and cross the t’s.
  3. White House Press Secretary Says Trump Fired Flynn As National Security Adviser — Isn’t that like the third version of events we’ve heard since last night?
  4. Russia Deploys Missile That Violates Treaty, U.S. Says — So what’s POTUS going to do? Let’s hope the answer isn’t “Call and congratulate Putin.”
  5. 19 in SC arrested in immigration raids — Nineteen? That’s it? I’m pretty sure Obama was busting more than that…
  6. North Korean Leader’s Brother Killed in Malaysia — I read that they were “estranged.” I guess they were. I can identify with this. I learned over the weekend that one of my direct ancestors was apparently poisoned by his nephew. I’m not torn up about it, though, because it sounds kinda like he had it coming.

Graham & Whitehouse on probe into Russian interference

I was glad to see this today from Lindsay Graham:

 

JOINT STATEMENT FROM SENATORS GRAHAM AND WHITEHOUSE ON INVESTIGATION INTO RUSSIAN INFLUENCE ON DEMOCRATIC NATIONS’ ELECTIONS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, announced they will investigate Russian efforts to influence democratic elections, both in the United States and abroad.

They made the following statement:

“We look forward to investigating Russia’s efforts to influence democratic elections, both here at home and abroad. 

“Our goal is simple – to the fullest extent possible we want to shine a light on Russian activities to undermine democracy.  While some of our efforts will have to be held behind closed doors due to security concerns, we also hope to have an open discussion before the American people about Russia’s strategies to undermine democracy. 

“Our efforts will be guided by the belief that we have an obligation to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

The subcommittee plans to fulfill the following goals:

  • Gain a full understanding of the American intelligence community’s assessment that Russia did take an active interest and play a role in the recent American elections.
  • Learn more about the methods Russia has used to target democratic nations and elections.
  • Explore possible avenues to help prevent and deter future foreign influences from impacting American elections and institutions.
  • Assure that Congress provides the FBI the tools it needs to keep its investigative work protected from political influence.

#####

Winter is Coming

The State House -- indeed, all of Columbia -- was completely invisible this morning from the 25th floor.

The State House — indeed, all of Columbia — was completely invisible this morning from the 25th floor. All you can see out this window are pale reflections of me and a few other things in the room. The clearest thing is the mirror behind the bar.

Scout wrote yesterday:

Is the cider named for your Great Grandfather? Let’s all drink lots of it because I hear Winter is coming (technically tomorrow, but I suspect it will really set in around Jan. 20).

And indeed I’d not have been surprised to see White Walkers coming out of that phenomenal fog this morning. Weirdly, there was practically none where I live, just a block from the Saluda River. But all the way into Columbia, it got thicker and thicker, and even more so after I crossed the river and climbed away from it toward the center of downtown.

From above, you couldn’t even see the city, as you can tell in the photo I took from the Capital City Club, atop South Carolina’s tallest building.

Can y’all remember a thicker one in these parts?

While we can, let’s have a laugh at the idea that Winter is Coming…