Category Archives: Uncategorized

I think I like Karen Bass. As always, I’d like to know more

Karen Bass

As y’all know, I’m a huge Joe Biden fan. From the beginning, he was the one guy the country most needed to win the Democratic nomination for president, and he did it, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I agree with everything he does. I’ve never in my life encountered a candidate like that. There are people I think are awesome, like Joe Riley. But there have been times when I didn’t agree with the Charleston mayor, either. If you’re honest, if you really think about all the issues, perfect agreement is impossible.

I’m not going to offer a list of things where I think Joe’s wrong right now (maybe later), but I say all that to mention one that is relevant to this post: I wish he hadn’t promised several months ago that his running mate would be female.

And no, it’s not just because that mean ol’ white guy Brad hates Identity Politics, although yeah, I’d prefer that someone who would be president would always promise to choose the best candidate, period, without regard to demographics. But here’s the real reason in this case:

We just had a small army of Democrats run for president. Quick, how many was it? Wikipedia says 29 “major” candidates sought the nomination, with as many as 25 running campaigns at any one time. I paid close attention. And at no time did I see or hear anything that in any way challenged what we knew at the start: Joe Biden was far and away the one candidate best prepared and suited for the presidency. He was ready for the job. Finally, an overwhelming proportion of the electorate agreed.

So while I watched to see if anyone presented evidence or arguments that challenged that fact — and no one did — my mind ran on a second track: As long as we’re looking so closely at all these other folks, which one would make a good running mate?

At some point, I — and a lot of other people — decided that would be Amy Klobuchar. I don’t remember when I first decided that, but here’s something I wrote back in October:

Oh, and I came close to a decision last night. I think I’d like to see Amy Klobuchar as Joe’s running mate, assuming everything goes right and Democrats decide they actually want to beat Trump. It would probably be Mayor Pete if he weren’t so young and inexperienced, and if he didn’t keep reminding us of it (But that happened five minutes ago, and as I may have mentioned previously, I wasn’t born yet…). I don’t see Sen. Klobuchar as quite ready to be president yet, but she comes close, and would be a good understudy….

From that point on, I became more and more certain of that. I had a feeling that Joe Biden did, too, to the extent that he had time to think about it.

In fact, I keep telling myself that the reason Joe announced that his running mate would be a woman, he thought it would be Amy Klobuchar. Which is one reason why I didn’t go around loudly complaining when he did it. Because I couldn’t think of anyone of any gender who would be better, or as good.

But here’s the thing: That wasn’t a done deal. And as things have turned out, she’s not the one. But Joe is stuck with his promise. He can’t go, “OK, who else looked good in that process? What about Cory Booker? How about Pete Buttigieg?” Which is a shame, because looking back, perhaps those were the best options after Sen. Klobuchar.

So now we’re in kind of a fix, because his running mate is going to be someone from one of two categories:

  1. Unfamiliar candidates who have not been vetted enough to inspire confidence. As y’all know, I’ve written a lot over the years about the importance of experience. It’s certainly one of Joe Biden’s top strengths. But as I’ve also explained, it’s not just about how experience prepares the candidate for the job. There’s also the fact that people who are experienced in public life have been out there performing in those jobs long enough for us to assess how we think they might perform in the future in public office. So even people with great resumes could fall down if we the voters haven’t been in a position to form impressions of their performance over time.
  2. Candidates who have been more or less thoroughly vetted and found wanting. That would include, say, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about why I’ve written them off in this post because this post is going to be long enough without that. We can argue about their relative merits another day, if necessary. But I had enough information about Warren eight years ago, when I wrote this. Nothing I’ve seen from her since then has changed that assessment. I went into the season with an open mind on the lesser-known Harris, but was disappointed in debate after debate. And other voters seemed to agree with me, which is why she didn’t even last until the first primaries. She was vetted, and did not hold up.

This is not a good situation. The only hope is that Biden will choose someone from the first category — and that person will hold up well under the tidal wave of examination that will wash over her when the time comes. Which would be astounding, the odds seem so strongly against it happening. But the country needs it to happen.

So I’ve found myself looking hard at previously unknown (to me, at least) potential candidates whose names pop up. Some of the best I’ve seen, making me momentarily hopeful, have been:

  • Val Demings — The former police chief of Orlando, and member of Congress since 2017. I like what I’ve seen, but I just haven’t seen enough. I like her 27 years of working in the vineyards of law enforcement — but hey, if the mere accident of being from Minnesota excludes Klobuchar, how well will a career cop do with the Democratic electorate in its current mood? And I really want to see more experience on the federal level.
  • Tammy Duckworth — I like all sorts of things about her. Of course, there’s the fact that she’s only in her first term in the Senate, but she did serve a couple of hitches in the House before that. But I really want to see a lot more than I’ve seen. So I’ll keep watching her. Tucker Carlson seems to be an ass (I say “seems” because I’ve never watched him, but only heard about him), but handing him the George Washington thing was a political misstep that is worrisome. We don’t need someone who will hand the opposition clubs to beat Biden about the head and shoulders with. But, as I say, I continue to watch her.

Which brings me to someone I’ve heard less about, and I wish it were more.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife casually mentioned having read about a woman who sounded good. She told me it was an African-American woman about our age, and she’d heard really good things about her. But she couldn’t remember her name. My reaction? Well, the fact that you can’t remember her name is a problem. Again, the point I make so often — we’re talking about a person who could become president of the United States. It needs to be someone we’ve been watching for years.

But it won’t be, will it? So, I get interested in any lesser-known person who sounds good, because that’s the situation we’re in.

I was pleased to read George Will’s column the other day headlined, “The woman Biden should pick to lead us to calmer days.” It was about U.S. Rep. Karen Bass from California. I mentioned the piece to my wife, who said, “Yes, that’s the woman I was talking about before.” Well OK, then.

Here are some of the things I liked:

  • First, that headline. “Calmer days” are exactly what this country needs. When I’m in a hyperbolic mood (which happens), I tend to think that my fondest wish for a future with Joe Biden as president would be that I would then live in a country in which I could completely ignore the White House for days and even weeks at a time, while feeling that my country was OK. I’d really like to stop thinking about the POTUS for awhile, at the same time knowing there’s someone qualified, decent and normal in charge. And a qualified, decent and normal person is in the backup position.
  • Second, she’s in her fifth term. While I may not have been in a position to vet her during that time, she’s held up under the examination of her constituents, over and over. Five terms isn’t what you’d call a long time in Congress, but it beats the other candidates I’ve been looking at.
  • Her elective service isn’t limited to Congress. She also cut an impressive swath on the state level: “Elected to the state assembly in 2004, in three terms Bass became majority whip, then majority leader, then speaker.” That doesn’t happen to people with sub-par leadership skills.
  • She’s from a district that has probably seen as much racial unrest in the streets as any in the country — the site of the Watts riots, and the Rodney King situation that “engulfed a swath of Los Angeles, killing 63 and injuring 2,383.” She brings history and understanding to this moment.
  • Our own Jim Clyburn, who helped us get to Joe Biden being the nominee, has good things to say about her, based on Will’s interview with her.

Well, I could go on and on, but there are a lot of things I liked. And I really didn’t see anything I didn’t like. Which is unusual, when you’re talking about the acerbic George Will. (Oh, and if someone jumps in with a “who cares what George Will thinks?,” I’ll address that. But once again, this piece, at more than 1,700 words, is already too long.)

That doesn’t mean I won’t find something that worries me. But hey, as long as it’s not disqualifying, that would be reassuring. As I said at the top, there’s nobody I don’t disagree with about something — especially if I know enough to consider the person as a backup president.

Maybe y’all can help get me started. I want to know a lot more about her…

NBC News report on Lexington Medical Center

Remember those pictures I posted from when I was a stroke patient at Lexington Medical Center, with the empty emergency room and everything so orderly?

Maybe that part still looks that way; I don’t know. They seem to be using only a portion of the hospital for COVID patients. But the surge has them overwhelmed enough for NBC to use my neighborhood hospital to show what it’s like here in the third-worst outbreak in the world.

When I went in on April 11 and asked them for a COVID test, they said no, we’re going to treat you for a stroke, because that’s what you have. Also, they said, if I were tested I’d have to go to the special COVID part of the hospital. Which probably wasn’t so bad back then, compared to now, but I passed on it anyway. I found the stroke floor quite fine, and they did a great job of taking care of me.

So I hate to see them having to deal with all this now…

Things were kind of peaceful when I was there, on April 11.

Things were kind of peaceful when I was there, on April 11.

Open Thread for Thursday, July 9, 2020

Can you make it out? Should I have lightened it up some?

Can you make it out? Should I have lightened it up some?

Just a few things y’all might want to comment upon:

  1. We’re Number Three! We’re Number Three! — Assuming y’all already saw that South Carolina is the third-worst place in the world for most new coronavirus cases per million. We were beaten by Arizona and Florida; Bahrain came in behind us.
  2. SC passes the 50,000-case mark — We’re just crowning ourselves with notoriety, aren’t we? Today’s total was 1,723, God help us. And did you see that “Fauci says states with major outbreaks should ‘seriously look at shutting down’ again.” Ya think?
  3. Supreme Court Rules Trump Cannot Block Release of Financial Records — Sorta kinda. And we won’t see them before the election. Kind of unbelievable, isn’t it, that the guy’s running for re-election, and we’ve never seen them?
  4. Trudeau: Canada handled coronavirus better than many countries, ‘including our neighbor’ — I hope he doesn’t think that’s some sort of accomplishment…
  5. Union County sheriff charged with sending obscene photo in lewd message — I just include this so I can ask, how can anyone be that stupid? Even if, say, you’d had a lot to drink or something? Wouldn’t you be prevented by the thought, This is probably not a good move for a sheriff? Or at least, wouldn’t you go, Hmmm, this is lewd enough. I guess I could leave out the picture
From the WashPost. Note the chart at left.

From the WashPost. Note the chart at left.

See, I TOLD you we were all getting stupider

Just moments ago, in my previous post, I wrote the following:

We know, thanks to the clever people who figured out stuff like quantum foam, that the universe tends toward entropy. Well, this one also tends toward stupidity…

Right after that, I proved my theory by taking the Slate News Quiz:

stupider

You see? Not only am I, apparently, now dumb as a rock (and more so than I was in the past, in keeping with my theory), but that person at Slate is even dumber.

Oh, you’re going to say that the fact that the average was higher proves that not the whole ‘verse is as dumb as Molly and me?

Well, that just makes me chuckle condescendingly and tell you that that is evidence of another universe — one where people are slightly smarter — interfering with this one. I’d quote from Timeline to ‘splain to you how that works, but since you live in this downward-spiraling universe, you wouldn’t understand it….

We gotta get outta this ‘verse, so let’s get busy developing that quantum gadget

Moderns seek to escape a universe that's gone all medieval on 'em.

Moderns seek to escape a universe that’s gone all medieval on ’em.

In recent days, I’ve found myself picking up and rereading Michael Crichton’ sci-fi novel Timeline, which is not a great book, but modestly diverting.

(It was made into a movie — the above photo is from that — that somehow, through the special magic of Hollywood, managed to make the story even more disappointing than the original.)

No, it’s not a time-travel story, as the characters keep protesting (but sometimes they speak as though they’ve forgotten it, and act like it IS time travel). Basically, the premise is that a tech company has come up with a way to transport people and objects to other universes in the multiverse (by sending them through holes in quantum foam, or something). And since there is an infinity of them out there, and gazillions of those are almost-but-not-completely exactly like our own, you can travel to one that is exactly like this ‘verse back in the 13th century.

So the protagonists do that, and have adventures — most of them having to do with trying to get back to our own here-now, because the denizens of that other ‘verse keep going all medieval on their a__es.

So this has me thinking about how in such a multiverse, butterfly effects might cause every ‘verse to keep splitting into ones that will be henceforth forever different from each other. (Or something like that; I admit it’s hard to think coherently about this stuff because it’s so batty.)

Which gets me to thinking about how I’m in the wrong ‘verse now. I’m supposed to be in the rational, enlightened, Madison-Hamilton one in which it would be impossible for someone like Donald Trump to become president, and in which even if something so outrageous happened, the Congress would soon (like, way before now) rectify the situation through the process of impeachment.

I’m not sure how this happened to the creature I think of as “me.” Maybe I ate the wrong thing for breakfast one morning, or got up a few seconds too late (being the me that lives in this universe, it’s highly unlikely I got up too early). But I’m pretty sure this is not the ‘verse I’m supposed to be in.

And things are getting worse in this here-now. We know, thanks to the clever people who figured out stuff like quantum foam, that the universe tends toward entropy. Well, this one also tends toward stupidity. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but that tendency has been accelerating ever since we took that wrong fork in 2016. As I write this, the erstwhile “greatest deliberative body the world has known” is about to acquit Trump, facilitating the process by preventing the presentation of witnesses and evidence, because even they have enough residual intelligence to understand that facts would condemn him.

We’re just spinning off into Idiocracy at an alarming rate.

The head of that tech company in the novel is a prize jerk, but maybe some Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos or someone like that in this world should get busy on the quantum technology so we have a chance to get outta this madhouse of a universe and get over to one that makes sense….

THIS is what political exploitation of gun tragedies looks like

Twitter home

I get up in the morning, I work out, I skim Twitter, I peruse several newspapers, and I get ideas that could be blog posts, but I fritter them away in Tweets before breakfast is over, and the blog lies fallow for much of the day.

So I’m going to start turning more Tweets into posts, so the conversation can occur here as well as there.

Let’s start with this one:

In case the Tweet I was retweeting doesn’t show up, here’s what I was talking about:

Of course, I was far from the only one to react this way. A couple of other Tweets on the subject:

To which Tyler Jones responded, “Egg, meet Phil Noble’s face.”

And an American Party candidate for the House had this to say:

OK, that should be enough to get y’all started…

When he gets overridden 40-0, does the governor ever think that maybe, just maybe, he might be wrong?

F4906019-98FA-0573-FFE7587092030DAE_headerimage

That’s what I was thinking when I read this:

More than 200 of South Carolina’s oldest, most fire-prone school buses will be replaced by the next school year.

The state Senate voted 44-0 Tuesday to override Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto of $20.5 million to cover the cost of buying 210 new school buses. The House voted to override the governor’s veto last week.

That money will help the state cut the number of fire-prone 1995 and 1996 buses in operation to 349, better ensuring the safety of thousands of S.C. students who take the bus to school each day….

Not a single vote to sustain, in a body dominated by his own party — and containing some senators who don’t like the gummint spending money no way, nohow. Yikes.

At least he got eight votes last week in the House last week. Of course, 107 voted to override…

The Rutles: The Legend That Will Last a Lunchtime

Today while I was working on website copy for an ADCO client, I kept myself sharp by listening to the Pre-Fab Four — The Rutles! — on Spotify.

If you don’t remember The Rutles and their breakout film, “All You Need is Cash,” then you’re probably too young to be allowed out of the house alone.

They were incredible. I don’t know enough about music to understand how Neil Innes could write songs that sound SO much like Beatles songs without actually being Beatles songs.

It sort of cheapened the Beatles a bit for me seeing how easy it was to mockingly sound like them, but I managed the mental acrobatics necessary to be a fan of both groups. I ran out and bought The Rutles’ first album immediately.

If you don’t dig the Rutles, well, all I can say is that you’re so pusillanimous

R-1197593-1325511319.jpeg

Here’s why I applaud the ‘bump stock’ ordinance

I said this in a comment back on this thread, but I think it’s work elevating to a separate post. When our elected representatives do a good thing, however small, and do it in a way that is prompt, mature and respectful, that is worth a bit of applause, however much some of my friends here may scoff.

It’s easy to have contempt for the minimalist action action taken by Columbia City Council Tuesday regarding bump stocks. After all, what possible practical effect can it have? If someone uses a bump stock in a mass murder in Columbia, what will happen as a result of this ordinance? He’ll get a ticket?

But it’s hardly fair when you realize how little a municipality can do, and that other levels of government are doing nothing. I think you should consider the following:

  • There was widespread, bipartisan sentiment for banning bump stocks right after Las Vegas. It was remarkable, because all calls for limiting anything having to do with firearms on the federal level generally lead to nothing but a liberalizing of gun laws. Still, nothing happened this time, either.
  • Between the 2nd Amendment and a Legislature determined to keep local governments from making decisions for themselves, a municipal government’s power to act is extremely limited.
  • Within those extreme limits, Benjamin and the council decided to do what they could, in contrast to the paralysis in Washington.
  • They didn’t make an entirely empty gesture. They took an action, to the limits of their power, without trying to overstep that power.
  • They did so in an orderly, mature, deliberate manner, exhibiting reason and restraint that too many of us no longer expect from government. They did it without finger-pointing, name-calling, or bloviating. In other words, they set an example for how other levels of government should function. By doing so, they made a case for a good cause — subsidiarity. They suggest by their mature, restrained actions that maybe MORE decisions should be made on the local level. (Note this headline: “<a href=”https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/columbia-south-carolina-passes-a-bump-stock-ban-since-congress-wont-pass-even-minimal-gun-control.html” rel=”nofollow”>Columbia, South Carolina, Bans Bump Stocks, Since Congress Won’t</a>.”)

In this degraded, hostile, dysfunctional political atmosphere in which nothing good happens but a lot of ill-will is created along the way, I think the way this was handled was admirable.

Bud and Doug will scoff: Form instead of function! Mere words! But this is the stuff of civilization, without which we descend to the level of deranged beasts. And I think that makes it worth giving the mayor an attaboy.

A shorter version of the above:

The council has said, “We can’t do much, but we’re going to do what we can, and we’re going to act like grownups doing it.” These days, that’s progress…

Maybe Garrison Keillor shouldn’t have written that op-ed piece

Garrison_Keillor_6190507095

This morning, there was a column in The Washington Post by Garrison Keillor sort of sticking up, in his own tongue-in-cheek way, for Al Franken.

I wondered at the time, Is that a good idea?

Now, the AP is reporting this:

MINNEAPOLIS — Garrison Keillor says he’s been fired by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of inappropriate behavior….

Yikes! You suppose there’s a connection? You suppose someone read that op-ed piece and decided, “That it! I’m gonna tell the world about this guy…”

This morning, I overheard someone saying this in reaction to the Matt Lauer thing: “I ain’t putting nothing past nobody now!”

No kidding…

SC Supreme Court dumps poor school districts’ case; will no longer press lawmakers for improvement

Something historic just happened.

Three years after ordering the Legislature to start doing right by children who live in poor, rural school districts, in connection with a landmark 24-year-old lawsuit brought by those districts, the SC Supreme Court has just said, “Never mind.”

Kittredge

Justice Kittredge

At least, that’s the way it looks at first blush.

The justices who joined Justice John Kittredge in voting to abandon the monumental, decades-long case were elected to the court since the 2014 ruling.

The court in 2014 ordered the Legislature to come up with ways to bring poor, rural districts up to snuff — without specifying how. We’re still awaiting lawmakers’ action on that front. Now, Kittredge writes that continuing to breathe down lawmakers’ necks on this “would be a gross overreach of judicial power and separation of powers.”

But hey, don’t worry, because he also writes, “Does the dismissal of this case reflect a lack of appreciation for the critical importance of public education in South Carolina? Absolutely not.”

So is that it for the poor districts? Well, Speaker Jay Lucas (from Darlington County) has often expressed his interest in doing right by them, while at the same time asking the court to get off his back.

So we’ll see, I guess…

What a disgusting headline about Lindsey Graham

Remembering wistfully the days of the Three Amigos.

Remembering wistfully the days of the Three Amigos.

Somehow I missed this story when the NYT ran it four days ago, but my attention was drawn to it when The State ran it this morning.

The NYT’s hed was particularly disgusting:

As Other Republican Senators Bolt, Lindsey Graham Cozies Up to Trump

Kinda makes you want to hurl, doesn’t it?

An excerpt:

“He’s very popular in my state,” Mr. Graham continued. “When I help him, it helps me back home. And I think it probably helps him to be able to do business with an old rival who’s seen as a deal maker.”

To Republican critics of Mr. Trump, Mr. Graham is risking his reputation with such a calculus.

“Lindsey Graham knows better,” said Peter Wehner, who advised former President George W. Bush and is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. “Deep in his heart, he must know that Donald Trump is fundamentally unfit to be president, and he has to pretend that Trump is. And when you engage in a game like that, there’s often a cost to it.”

Mr. Graham is willing to take the risk….

It’s really a shame to see this. Especially when Lindsey’s best buddy John McCain, as sick as he is, is determined to go down swinging against the guy Graham once quite rightly termed “the world’s biggest jackass.”

Because the thing is, he does know better. And therefore, he owes us better…

Lindsey Graham doesn’t understand why he’s there

So I ‘splained it to him….

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.

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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…