Here’s a good example of ‘doing smart stuff’ in the world

As we know, the Obama administration’s guiding principle in dealing with the world is “Don’t Do Stupid (Stuff).

Which, unfortunately, is the sort of mindset that can lead to not doing “stuff,” period, even when you really, really ought to.

So I’m pleased when I see us going out and taking action when it’s called for. Such as in this instance:

Late last year, as Islamic State fighters battled to expand their stronghold on Libya’s coast, ­militants came within 45 miles ­of the country’s sole remaining ­chemical-weapons site, unnerving Libyan and American officials who feared that potentially deadly chemicals could fall into extremist hands.libya_-_location_map_2013_-_lby_-_unocha-svg

In May, when the fighters struck a mile from the lightly guarded desert facility, killing two security officers at a checkpoint, they decided it was time to act.

The Islamic State’s encroachment on an installation outside the remote oasis town of Waddan, where 500 metric tons of ­chemical-weapon precursor materials were stored, set off a hurried chain of events culminating in a disarmament operation involving the United States, European countries and the United Nations.

The international effort, which concluded last week when a Danish ship unloaded the materials at a German port for destruction, is one of the rare successes that Western nations can claim in Libya since dictator Moammar Gaddafi’s ouster in 2011 pitched the North African country into lawlessness and civil war….

Well, I’m glad to hear that.

I hope even my more isolationist friends can agree that it’s a very good idea to do such stuff as this, and that we ought to in the future whenever something as obvious as this presents itself.

Right?

A little Ragnar to balance out Adaline: That’s fair, right?

I didn’t watch “The Age of Adaline,” but since the Amazon Prime account is in my name (it was a Christmas gift), Jeff Bezos et al. asked me to rate it.51jk64xwsjl-_ss300_

So I asked my wife, and she suggested 4 stars. I considered protesting — you’re sure that’s not overly generous? In my book, 4 stars is semi-awesome, like “Vertigo” or “Conan the Barbarian” or “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (the movie version — the Alec Guinness TV version is 5 stars).

After all, I only gave the first season of “Vikingsthree stars.

I don’t really know anything about “The Age of Adaline,” but the image with it scares me a bit. Starry-eyed young woman in extreme closeup with handsome young man with neatly trimmed beard? It’s got Hallmark-channel romance written all over it. Even with the sci-fi premise, do I want Amazon throwing a whole lot of these at me?51yatcl-w3l-_ss300_

But I want my wife to find movies she wants to see, too — I’m not a selfish monster, or at least not that much of a selfish monster — so I went ahead and gave it 4 stars.

Then, I went back and upgraded “Vikings” to 4 stars, too. Just to balance things out, make sure Amazon suggests stuff I like as well. “Vikings” has young men with beards, too, but the beards are wild and weird and blood-encrusted and tied into bunches for scaring those wimpy Saxons. Proper beards.

So more Ages of Adalines will come our way, but there will be leavening — with battleaxes!

A restrained, disciplined Trump is scary

On a previous post, Bud was complaining about Hillary’s “fainting spell” continuing to be a story three days later.

Well, first, it’s not a fainting spell. It’s pneumonia. She was warned by a doctor to rest, but she ignored it, went to an event sick and said stupid stuff about the opposition (“basket of deplorables”), then was seen collapsing leaving a big-deal public event.

All while trying to tough it out and keep the pneumonia a secret. Which is just too like her.

All of which made it more of a story than it might have been otherwise.

As for it continuing to be a story for days afterward — well, of course it is. Because now she IS resting, and not making new news to compete with it. What else is there to say about her right now?

You know what concerns me in this situation? That Trump is acting like a grownup and not talking about her health problem right now. He’s following the playbook and letting his opponent’s illness work against her without pulling the attention to himself. Instead, he’s sticking to complaining about the “deplorables” comment.

That shows discipline. Trump showing discipline worries me. Normally we could depend on him to blow the advantage of having his opponent out of action by saying stupid, horrible things about it.

He may still have supporters punching out 69-year-old women up in Asheville, but the loosest cannon on his ship — the captain himself — is restraining himself.

He’s playing to win now. And he could win now. And that’s just unthinkable…

Oh, and to the helpful citizen who provided video of the grandma-punching incident (screenshot below): Turn your phone sideways!

Sheesh…

sideways

Open Thread for Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Look! President Obama actually meets with congressional leaders -- including Republicans! (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Look! President Obama actually meets with congressional leaders — including Republicans! (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Another slow day…

  1. Middle-class incomes grew faster in 2015 than any year in modern history, new data show — Not mine, of course, but this isn’t about me. If her campaign weren’t such a mess at the moment, this would be good news for Hillary Clinton to tout. President Obama will probably bask in it a bit.
  2. Clinton’s impulse to ‘power through’ with pneumonia set off cascade of problems — Think about it: Had she listened to the doc and rested over the weekend, she wouldn’t have gone to the event where she talked about the “basket of deplorables,” and she wouldn’t have collapsed in public. (Extra-point question: What do you get when you cross a basket of deplorables with binders full of women?)
  3. RCSD: Teen attacks student, driver, trooper during bus fight — The alleged attacker was 13 years old.
  4. 50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat — They got a lot for their money, as I recall.
  5. Edward Snowden makes ‘moral’ case for presidential pardon — This is from The Guardian, of course, which adores the little scrub. This is one case in which I must pause to applaud British new outlets’ habit of scrupulously using quote marks in headlines rather than commit to anything. “Moral” case, my arse.
  6. Russian Hackers Leak U.S. Files From Doping Agency — First a story about Snowden, now one about his pals. Interesting how the Russians have gotten so brazen about this stuff lately…

Cruz lost the nomination, but he’s running against Hillary anyway

You know, it would be hard to explain to an intelligent alien why Ted Cruz — who decidedly lost his bid to oppose Hillary Clinton this fall — is sending out email appeals that are essentially aimed at getting voters to join him in … opposing Hillary Clinton.

Yeah, we know that politicians are always raising money, and their preferred way to do that is to generate rage in their base, and the best way to do that if you dwell on the right fringe is to mention Hillary or Obamacare… but there’s no way to explain all that to a neutral, rational observer who hasn’t live with it for decades.

Anyway, this came into my In box six days ago, and I’m just now looking at it:

Cruz For
Senate
Brad,

While the Clinton campaign and the Obama Administration may have wanted to bury the revelations from Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview over the holiday weekend, the story is even worse than any of us could have imagined.

Back during the presidential campaign, our team released a parody video about the lengths Hillary Clinton would go to hide her corruption and reckless handling of classified information. Little did we know at the time, how true this reenactment would turn out to be.

SIGN THE PETITION —–> STAND AGAINST HILLARY!

We wanted to share a recent headline with you from The Right Scoop:

REMINDER: This is how RIGHT Ted Cruz was about Hillary Clinton

What Senator Cruz said then and continues to believe now is that Hillary Clinton plays by a different set of rules than you or me, and she knows it.

< —– WATCH —–>

Even a CNN anchor reporting on the story could not hide her stunned reaction to the confirmation that Hillary Clinton aides destroyed Clinton’s old mobile phones by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.

Unfortunately for you and me, Hillary knows it’s “Good to be a Clinton”, which is why we must all stand together against this shameful double standard and for the rule of law — equally applied to everyone!

SIGN THE PETITION —–> STAND AGAINST HILLARY!

For liberty,

Team Cruz

P.S. – Despite the FBI calling her “extremely careless” Hillary Clinton has faced no consequences for mishandling classified information; please sign the petition today to send a message that the American people STAND AGAINST HILLARY!

Of course, there was a green DONATE button at the bottom.

Note that there’s no indication of how Ted plans to “stand against Hillary” with our help. There’s no indication of where this “petition” is headed, or what it is intended to accomplish, exactly — or even vaguely, for that matter.

It’s just about OPPOSING. And there you have American politics in the 21st century in a nutshell.

And no, there’s nothing remarkable or newsworthy about this email. I just think it’s important to stop now and then and note how absurd the routine has become…

Do you have questions about the penny tax?

newlogo824x180

I know some of you do, to say the least.

Maybe you’d like to go to this:

For Immediate Release

September 8, 2016

**MEDIA ALERT**

     WHERE DOES YOUR MONEY GO?  

Educational Forum Planned for Richland County Penny Tax

WHAT:    “Pennies Impacting People” Educational Forum

WHEN:    6:30 – 7:30 p.m., Thursday, September 15

WHERE:   Richland Library Main, Third Level Programming Space
1431 Assembly St.
Columbia, SC 29201

WHO:      Free & open to the public

Are you curious about how the Richland County Penny Tax works? Members of the community will have an opportunity to learn about specific projects that impact local transportation – including roads, sidewalks and greenway infrastructure. WIS News 10 Anchor Judi Gatson will lead a discussion with representatives from:

  • Richland County Council
  • Richland County Transportation
  • Richland Penny Program Development Team
  • The Comet transit system
  • Citizens for a Greater Midlands

A question-and-answer session will follow.

For questions, please contact Emily Stoll at 803-587-3637 or email estoll@richlandlibrary.com.

If I go, I might ask them to please stop using “impact” as a verb. We all have our priorities…

Open Thread for Monday, September 12, 2016

stumble2

Poor Hillary Clinton. Not only did she have her spell on a Sunday, when no one else in this country is making news, but nothing much happened today, either. But here are some topics:

  1. Clinton To Release More Details About Her Health — Yeah, that might be a good idea. At least, now that this is out in the open, she can take a couple of days to rest and recuperate. And anything that gets you out of a trip to California can’t be all bad. But I sincerely doubt she’ll be able to truly relax, under the circumstances.
  2. Syrian cease-fire takes effect amid questions over ability to fully quell violence — We’ll see. I’m not terribly optimistic, but we’ll see.
  3. Here’s What Trump Was Up To Amid News Of ‘Deplorables’ And Pneumonia — Yeah, what happened to that guy? For once, the focus was off him. And did you notice something? For once, he’s lying back and just letting this pneumonia thing play out and damage Hillary without his remarking on it. In other words, acting like a politician who knows what he’s doing. Which is scary. I prefer to see him flailing, making himself the issue.

And you know what? That’s about it. Maybe y’all can find something more interesting…

Graham: ‘Tell the administration to go F themselves’

Speaking of intemperate speech…

This is in The Washington Post today:

After long and arduous negotiations, Israel and the Obama administration have agreed on a landmark military aid package that would increase U.S. aid to Israel over the next 10 years. But the White House is reluctant to sign the deal because officials are upset one leading lawmaker won’t go along: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

graham-mug

Lindsey Graham/File photo.

The new agreement, which officials say would raise Israel’s annual package of military aid from $3.1 billion to $3.3 billion starting in 2018, is a complicated deal that both the White House and the Israeli government badly want to announce before President Obama leaves office, and preferably much sooner. A senior administration official described the deal as “the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history.” It’s Obama’s parting attempt to establish a legacy of strong U.S. support for Israel’s security. The negotiations on the memorandum of understanding (MOU), as it is known, have been finished for several weeks.

But before announcing it, the White House wants to make sure that Congress won’t undermine the deal by going its own way on aid to Israel. Graham, the chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees the foreign affairs budget, has already marked up a bill that would give Israel $3.4 billion next year, more than the number the White House negotiated.

The administration hasn’t complained to Graham directly; it told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about its problem, and he talked to Graham about it in a phone call last month. But in Graham’s view, Congress has no obligation to agree to the deal, given that it was not included in the negotiations….

I can understand Lindsey Graham being irritated at the Obama administration for enlisting Bibi to lobby him. He is right to say, “If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill.” I can also see his objection to the administration trying to steer the appropriations process, a legislative prerogative.

But I don’t appreciate him saying this to the prime minister of Israel: “Tell the administration to go F themselves.”

That’s uncalled-for, and I expect better from him.

Samuelson comes out for a wall — and actually makes a decent argument, unlike you-know-who

Robert Samuelson has joined his Washington Post Writers Group colleague Charles Krauthammer in saying that maybe a wall along our southern border isn’t such a crazy thing after all.

Of course, he does so based in facts and political realities rather than bluster and xenophobia, but that’s because he’s a rational person, and not Donald Trump. And it makes him worth listening to:

Just because Donald Trump isn’t qualified to be president — and just because much of his agenda is hateful and undesirable — doesn’t mean that everything he says is automatically wrong. Some of his ideas deserve consideration and enactment. One of these is building a wall across our southern border with Mexico….

samuelson

Robert J. Samuelson

The crucial question is: If we had a wall, what would we get for it? The answer: A wall probably represents our best chance of reaching broad agreement on immigration policy, a subject that has frustrated Congress and the two most recent presidents….

Without a wall, it’s doubtful that Republicans would enter meaningful negotiations on immigration policy — and without Republican participation, the stalemate would continue. In a recent Pew Research Center poll, 63 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters supported a wall and only 34 percent opposed it. The distrust is deep. Republicans think Democrats don’t truly care about stopping illegal immigration; they mainly want “amnesty” for existing undocumented immigrants. In the same Pew poll, 84 percent of Democrats and those who lean Democrat opposed a wall….

In other words, we may need to build the wall because the GOP, now fully in the grip of Trumpistas, will never agree to the rational parts of immigration reform without it. To put it another way, we don’t need a wall, but they’ll never stop thinking we do, and we need to move on and deal with some actual problems.

No, Samuelson hasn’t gone ’round the bend. He knows as well as the rest of us how absurd Trump’s approach is:

Let’s be clear on one issue: Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for the wall is absurd . No self-respecting Mexican president would accept it. If one did, the wall would become a subject of endless bickering between the two countries as to who actually owned and controlled it. The fact that Trump made this so central to his proposal suggests that he’s simply grandstanding….

Indeed. But Samuelson, economics writer that he is, says that the ridiculous amount of money that a wall would cost could be a good deal in the long run:

If we could buy an immigration bargain for $25 billion, or even a bit more, it would be a fabulous deal. That’s the opportunity facing the next president. But we won’t make it any easier by stigmatizing the one change — a wall — that could be the foundation for compromise….

Here we go with Hillary’s ‘health issue’

falls-ill

In the last couple of days, we’ve seen two things happen that illustrate just how fragile Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump is — a fact that leaves our nation suspended by a hair over disaster.

First, there was her “basket of deplorables” remark. Remember Mitt Romney’s “47 percent?” This could be worse, for the simple fact that it’s more quotable, more vivid. The “47 percent” needed at least a brief footnote of explanation. “Basket of deplorables” travels on its own.

And today, we have this:

Hillary Clinton left a New York memorial service marking the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks early after feeling “overheated,” according to a campaign spokesman.

“Secretary Clinton attended the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony for just an hour and thirty minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen,” spokesman Nick Merrill said. “During the ceremony, she felt overheated, so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment and is feeling much better.”

Clinton arrived at the memorial at 8:18 am and greeted Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and his wife as she exited her van, according to the pool.

Reporters traveling with Clinton became aware about 9:36 a.m that she was no longer in the place where she had been standing. By 9:48 a.m., her campaign confirmed that Clinton left the viewing area as early as 9:30 a.m.

Clinton’s daughter lives on East 26th Street, in the Gramercy neighborhood of lower Manhattan — about a 15-minute drive from Ground Zero….

The headline of that snippet, which will become a full-fleshed news story over the next hour or so, begins “Clinton falls ill…”

Here we go. Granny’s had a spell, and we will all stop remembering 9/11 and start talking about the fact that she’s a granny — and do we want Granny running the country?

Never mind that the woman has way more stamina than most of us. She wouldn’t be where she is otherwise.

While I may go on about nagging health problems here on the blog from time to time, I’m actually in pretty good shape. My blood pressure and pulse always draw remarks of approval from health care professionals. I have zero signs of heart disease, my cholesterol is OK, all major organ functions are nominal, in the astronaut sense of the word.

But I’m not perfect. For the past week, I’ve been getting these sinus headaches that I think are related to a minor cold that my grandson brought home to my wife from 4K. They start in the late morning, and by the end of the day, all I want to do is lie down and make it go away. On Friday, while everyone else at ADCO was at lunch, I lay down on the carpet of my office with my head resting on a rolled-up sweater for about 10 minutes, and got up feeling renewed for the rest of the day.

If I were a presidential candidate, and someone had seen me do that, the headlines would be “Warthen collapses on campaign trail” or some such. Everyone would be going on about my “spell” and what it said about my fitness for office.

And maybe I wouldn’t have the stamina for such a job. Most of us wouldn’t. Look at how it’s aged Obama.

But Hillary Clinton? The woman’s been running full-tilt for president for a quarter-century now. After this, the presidency itself should be breeze. She can take naps, like Reagan.

I’m not terribly concerned about Hillary Clinton’s health one way or the other. What I am concerned about is that she’s running against the least-qualified, most appalling man ever to win a major party’s nomination, and it’s so close that something like this could lose it for her.

That’s what worries me.

A couple of days back, I meant to write something about this story, which was written, I should note, before both the “basket of deplorables” remark and the “overheating” spell: “Democrats wonder and worry: Why isn’t Clinton far ahead of Trump?

As well they might. For my part, I don’t wonder. I can see the things Democrats are blind to.

But I do worry. A lot.

Voters commit this sin against democracy in election after election

Be proud of your vote. Don't throw it away...

Be proud of your vote. Don’t throw it away…

You may think the fact that Donald Trump being the Republican nominee is the worst case of serious dysfunction in the history of our representative democracy.

And you may be right. This may even be a greater indictment of the electorate than when voters chose Andrew Jackson over John Quincy Adams in 1828.

But there’s another shocking thing that occurs in election after election, and what really gets me is that too many of us accept it as normal. It’s mentioned in this story in The State today:

Most S.C. districts are drawn to favor the incumbent or that politician’s party.

Straight-ticket voting also takes a toll on the competitiveness of S.C. political races, observers say. About half of S.C. voters who show up at the polls on Election Day will push one button to vote for every member of a single party, regardless of who they are, instead of selecting candidates in every race….

The boldfaced part of that excerpt tells us that about half of S.C. voters shouldn’t be voting. Anyone who would pull a party lever (or rather, touch that option on a screen), thereby avoiding giving any thought at all to the qualities of the individual candidates, should lose the right to vote permanently.

That is an utter negation of the responsibility given us as voters. The option absolutely should not exist, and it’s a scandal that it does. Sure, people could still go through and vote for only the candidates of a single party, but at least they’d have to make individual gestures to do so, and that would create room for some thought to come creeping in. Maybe, just maybe, in one or two instances, reason might overcome partisan obstinance and cause the voter to think, “No, not this one.”

But since parties control our legislatures, there’s little chance of this problem being addressed as it should. Parties don’t want voters thinking for themselves.

So let me implore you, if you’ve chosen the party option in the past, please don’t ever do so again. Have respect for democracy, and for your rights and responsibilities as one of a sovereign people. Think, about each choice before you. Don’t throw your franchise away.

Open Thread for Friday, September 9, 2016

Burl Burlingame took my photo from earlier today, ran it through Prisma, and came up with this...

Burl Burlingame took my photo from earlier today, ran it through Prisma, and came up with this…

Some quick topics to finish off the week:

  1. North Korean Test Leaves U.S. With a List of Bad Options — Yup. Meanwhile the Post reports that North Korea is inching closer to intercontinental nuclear capability. Think on that while you try to enjoy your weekend.
  2. Congress passes Saudi 9/11 lawsuits bill — The president promises to veto. Will Congress be able to override him for the first time?
  3. Judge Rules That Construction Can Proceed On Dakota Access Pipeline — But federal agencies halt work in an area that the tribe was particularly concerned about.
  4. Three USC fraternities in hot water after misconduct allegations — Could somebody please ‘splain to me why fraternities exist, why they are tolerated? At best, they’re an unnecessary distraction from higher education, and at worst, well… fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
  5. Fired Richland school deputy wants his job back; sheriff says it won’t happen — We’re talkking about Ben Fields, who threw the student across the room at Spring Valley High last year.
  6. Facebook backs down, says it will no longer censor ‘Napalm Girl’ war photo — Young Mr. Zuckerberg that it ain’t all that easy being an editor. This was a huge deal in Norway.
Burl's effort above inspired me to do this...

Burl’s effort above inspired me to play around a bit with the app, too. I like this one…

Who are the ad wizards who came up with THIS? This year’s tasteless attempts to cash in on 9/11

mattress

Every year about this time, we see it happen — and we are freshly appalled.

Someone decides it would be a good idea to try to cash in on memories of Sept. 11, 2001 — and then quickly has to pull it down and apologize.

At first, I thought this display at a Walmart in Florida had earned this year’s prize:

But then, a colleague at ADCO showed me this 21-second spot for Miracle Mattress in San Antonio. Yikes:

Once the public started reacting with horror, the ad was quickly taken down (as was the Coke display in Florida) and the store owner issued an abject apology.

But the damage was done, and the abomination survives on social media.

There’s a lesson here, people. One is reminded of President Obama’s foreign policy guideline: Don’t Do Stupid (Stuff).

If only I had the patience to be an artist…

I posted this on Twitter this morning:

Since my Tweets automatically post to Facebook also, Kathryn responded there with this:

14212745_10210381105507657_4764071999734381166_n

… explaining that it was “A painting I have.”

I responded that the painter and I had the same impulse — but mine was easier to indulge. Kathryn responded, “True, but she got paid for hers….”

Ah, true enough. But there’s something lacking in me that prevents me from engaging in such fruitful work. Things don’t interest me long enough.

I see something like that, and for a moment I’m fascinated. In fact, I was being quite rude taking the picture at all. I was interviewing Micah Caskey, checking in to see how his election campaign is coming (I’ll write a short post about that later) … when I said, “Excuse me,” and took this picture.

But then, I’m satisfied to capture it and move on.

I sort of have the same problem with other things.

Take the Power Failure project I conceived and directed at The State back when I was in the newsroom. Just putting the plan together took a couple of months of work. I had to get the full project in my head, as one holistic thing, before I could start. Then, I closed myself in an office and spent a day writing the “budget” — newspaper term for a list of stories — all at once. In that budget I gave short synopses of a planned 92 stories spread over 17 installments.

Then, in the initial installment, I set out all the major points that would be made in the other 16. And then it was VERY hard for me to do the second installment. Because once I had it all in my head, and had explained the basic concepts, I was ready to move on to something else. I had lost interest, and doing the hard work of fleshing out all those other installments just seemed overwhelmingly tedious to me. I’d said it. Why say it again?

Anyway, the thought of turning that iPhone shot into a painting feels the same way.

I like to see something interesting, point it out, and move on. Which is why I was suited to newspaper work. Or blogging, I guess.

OK, I’m bored with this now (and you were several minutes ago). Let’s move on…

Open Thread for Thursday, September 8, 2016

This, Gary, is Aleppo. For starters...

This, Gary, is Aleppo. For starters…

Not a lot of news out there, but here are some topics:

  1. Trump and Putin, sittin’ in a tree — Everyone is expressing their shock and horror over the Republican nominee’s fondness for the Russian strongman. Here’s what his opponent had to say. POTUS weighed in as well. And our own Sen. Lindsey Graham says the bromance “unnerves me to my core.” Not that he’s ready to back the only available alternative, you understand…
  2. And what is Aleppo? — I include this in case you want to argue that there are alternatives other than Hillary Clinton. No, there aren’t. But as I said on Twitter this morning, don’t worry, Gary. You’re a Libertarian. If you knew, you still wouldn’t care…
  3. Colin Powell’s Ways Around Disclosure Detailed In New Email — Of course, he’s not running for president. Which is a shame, come to think of it.
  4. Boy stops for Pledge of Allegiance, creates buzz — I’m just including this to show you just how slow the news is today. Last week we were all worked up over a guy who did not stand for the National Anthem. Things are so desperate that now we’re “buzzing” about people who do. OK, the Pledge of Allegiance. Same thing…

If y’all have some better topics, I’d be obliged…

Kathryn on problems in university neighborhood

gal-animal-house-group-jpg

Kathryn Fenner wins the prize. I’m not sure what the prize is, but she wins it for being quoted prominently in a front-page news story headlined: “Naked college students push neighbors to breaking point.”

This is something to which I’m sure many of you have aspired, but Kathryn got there first.

But let’s shove our envy aside and soberly consider what she had to say about the problems in her neighborhood:

Aside from calling the cops and filing reports, residents like Kathryn Fenner would like to see the continued expansion of police patrols.

“USC police have extended their patrol area to include University Hill,” Fenner said. “When they started doing that, we noticed that things got a whole lot better in our neighborhood.”

Plus, she has learned that students fear the university’s disciplinary board, which if used aggressively, could help curb bad behavior by off-campus students. USC shouldn’t be so desperate to keep students that they’re willing to put up with appalling behavior, Fenner said.

Fenner said she also worries that if someday she wants to move, she’ll have to sell her home to a future landlord. It would take a special kind of person to live in her neighborhood, she said.

“You’re losing some of the in-town residents,” Fenner said. “There are people who have just had it.”…

Which the story points out is bad because the more resident homeowners who leave, the more rentals available to unruly, and possibly naked, students.

Speaking of which — the story’s opening anecdote reminds me of the situation my wife and I ran into in the area several years ago.

Anyway, it sound like USC is onto something with the patrols in the residential area. What else do y’all think should happen?

Open Thread for Wednesday, September 7, 2016

If he'll build the Navy back up, I MIGHT vote for him. No, I won't. Just kidding...

If he’ll build the Navy back up, I MIGHT consider voting for him… No, I won’t. Just kidding…

I’ve been really tired all day, after giving platelets last night. But that doesn’t seem to be a thing, from my Googling. Oh, well — tomorrow’s another day, allegedly. In the meantime:

  1. Trump pledges big US military expansion — Which goes to show ya, not even he is all bad. But one thing he consistently is is inconsistent. That’s never bothered him, or his supporters, either, apparently.
  2. Clinton should stop pretending she’s not elite — Amen to that, David Ignatius! It may be all the rage this year to be unqualified, but the thing is that she is qualified, and she should flaunt it. Enough with the populist posing! As Mr. Ignatius says, “But let’s be honest: Her strength is that she’s the voice of experienced, centrist leadership.” Absolutely. She’s a legitimate member of the responsible governing consensus, and that is her one saving grace. Harrumph.
  3. Dallas Morning News endorses Hillary Clinton, backing first Democrat in 76 years — The remarkable thing is that they endorsed her, rather than merely saying we have no alternative. I continue to hope my friends at The State are paying attention, and thinking hard about this. This is no time in our nation’s history to abdicate responsibility.
  4. Conservation group founder retiring — That’s what the headline says. They mean Ann Timberlake, who has been quite a player on the environmental front with her Conservation Voters of South Carolina.
  5. Mexico’s Finance Minister Resigns After Trump Visit — The Trump invitation? His idea. El bobo!

That’s enough for now. Bring up whatever interests you, within reason of course…

algesiras

Also, as Trump expands the military, I’d like to see him replace all the guns on our frigates with 24-pounders.

Barton Swaim on how Kaepernick fails to make his point

barton

Columbia’s own Barton Swaim has yet another nationally published opinion piece out there, headlined “Kaepernick’s symbolism misses the point,” in The Washington Post today.

And unlike Kaepernick, Barton hits the mark.

You know how I’m always blathering about how I think street protests, among other unseemly forms of expression, are generally unhelpful? That’s what Barton’s on about. And the problem, as he identifies it, is imprecision. Quite right.

Noting that Kaepernick now protests that he was misunderstood, Barton writes:

He was right. It was a misunderstanding. And that’s precisely the problem with symbols and symbolic gestures in the realm of political debate — they’re understood by different people in different ways, and not always in ways consistent with original intent. By choosing not to stand (he sat on the bench during the anthem for the Aug. 26 game against Green Bay and knelt during the anthem for the Sept. 1 game in San Diego), Kaepernick wants to say something about racial injustice. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told the NFL Network after the Packers game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

Kaepernick evidently has some strong views on this subject, but what are they, exactly? Does he believe, say, that most Americans are racists? That most police officers target African Americans for harassment? That the United States as a whole deliberately and systematically persecutes African Americans? Somehow I doubt he would agree with any of these things without qualification — and yet they are all rational inferences from his refusal to honor the flag of a “country that oppresses black people and people of color.”…

Indeed. Barton is a wordsmith, and seems to share my horror at the thought of expressing oneself without being specific and explanatory.

And yet we are surrounded by people doing precisely that, from tattoos to grand public gestures. Harrumph.

In an age when there is no barrier to blogging, for instance, there is no excuse for failing to explain oneself — especially when one has done something that shouts only one thing clearly: “Look at me!”

As young mothers tell toddlers, use your words.

Now, changing the subject slightly, Barton’s piece goes on to say:

When pressed further to explain his views after the Chargers game, he wasn’t helpful. What was he trying to convey? “The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, need to be brought to life, and we need to fix those.” President Obama reinforced that message on Monday. “If nothing else,” the president said, “what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.” Reminding Americans that they need to “talk about” and “deal with” a problem that already consumes them is not, perhaps, the wisest of political exhortations. And in any case, one wonders what nation in the history of the world has not had dire “issues” that needed to be talked about and dealt with. Has there ever been a nation sufficiently issue-free to merit Kaepernick’s reverence?

I call your attention in particular to this bit: “Reminding Americans that they need to ‘talk about’ and ‘deal with’ a problem that already consumes them is not, perhaps, the wisest of political exhortations.”

I’ve been told for all my adult life that we need to “talk” about race in America. And you know me; I have generally obliged without hesitation. I can talk all day and all night about such a thing, and on occasion can even bring myself to listen.

But I bring the point up now because, right after reading Barton’s piece this morning, I saw this other opinion item in the Post, headlined, “It’s time to stop talking about racism with white people.” Excerpts:

Why are we losing solid hours out of our day, wearing our fingertips numb on keyboards and touch screens in an attempt to explain to some dense dude-bro why “All lives matter” is a messed up and functionally redundant response to “Black lives matter”?…

If Colin Kaepernik’s decision to stand against social injustice by sitting during the National Anthem has shown us anything else, it’s that much of white America is more bothered by our methods of protest than they ever will be about the injustices we’re protesting. Let’s dispel the notion that if we only protested better, white people will miraculously become more receptive of our message and less scornful of our audacity in speaking out….

Black people, it is long past time for us to start practicing self-care. And if that means completely disengaging with white America altogether, then so be it….

Zack Linly seems to have given up on making himself understood at a fairly early age (I’m going more by the way he expresses himself in seeing him as young, but for all I know he could be as old as Brett Bursey). Which is sad. Because as Barton suggests — even though he, too, seems a bit weary of the conversation, we need to communicate better about these things.

But there’s hope! Mr. Linly and Mr. Swaim seem to have some promising common ground, judging by the cover photo the former chose for his Facebook page. They both have a sense of the futility of some street action. But then, I could be misunderstanding this message, too…

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Primero país, y después partido

At the risk of making Trump supporters’ heads spin (They’re speaking Spanish in my presence! Make them stop!), I share with you this new Hillary Clinton ad, which features Carlos Gutierrez — who was George W. Bush’s commerce secretary for four years — explaining that he’s supporting Clinton in part because, as a lifelong Republican, he can’t possibly support Trump.

For you gringos, the translation:

gutierrez-mug“Donald Trump doesn’t have the qualities necessary to be president. I know, because I served in the Cabinet of George W. Bush for four years,” Gutierrez says in Spanish. “I was born in Cuba, but this country gave me my success. I’ve been a Republican my entire life, but first I’m an American. Vote for Trump? I can’t. It’s dangerous and we don’t want to go back. Hillary Clinton has the experience and I trust her. For me, country first, and then party.”…

It’s a good ad. I especially like the UnParty sentiment: “Primero país, y después partido.”

Here’s another like it…

No vertical video! Not now, not ever! It’s WRONG!

Ride of the Valkyrie. Think how disappointing 'Apocalypse Now' would have been if Coppola had shown just one Huey.

Ride of the Valkyrie: Think how disappointing ‘Apocalypse Now’ would have been if Coppola had shown just one Huey.

It’s bad enough that amateurs are providing video content to news organizations shot with their stupid smartphones in a vertical position — thereby causing us to miss most of what is going on, and having to look at those irritating black bars where we should be seeing something that provides us with additional perspective.

Now, we have professionals telling them not only that it’s OK to do that, but it’s the right way!

And their only excuse for doing that seems to be, Everybody’s screwing up this way, so let’s just say that’s the way to do it.

Here’s the latest apologia for shooting video the wrong way, from The Wall Street Journal:

It’s more comfortable to read things when the phone is standing up. Smartphones and their software were designed to fit in our hands. So why do we turn our phones to shoot and watch video? We shouldn’t. Those of us who used to scream, “You’re holding it wrong!”—we were really the ones who were wrong.

No, we were the ones who were right. We still are. We always will be. And everything you say, every example you provide, convinces me more of that.

The WSJ piece goes on:

Mobile video is exploding. Fifty-five percent of the world’s mobile traffic is now video, according to Cisco. And U.S. adults now spend 29 minutes a day watching video on their mobile devices, says eMarketer…

Yep, I’m one of those people. Although when I do watch video on my phone, I turn it sideways to see everything that’s going on. And of course if I’m near my Apple TV at home, I project it onto the TV screen — which is way more horizontal than TVs used to be, because the TV industry finally developed a rudimentary aesthetic sense. Because horizontal is the best way to present practically anything.

Notice how much better TV is now? I don’t think it’s an accident that it got better when it went horizontal. Who wants a closeup of Walter White standing there in his silly underpants? We need to see the RV and the desert spread out around him.

breaking-bad-marithon

Vertical video is the unmistakable mark of the clueless — or of someone who’s hiding something, trying to make you look at this one thing rather than see the context in which that one thing is occurring.

Look, I can see being sympathetic. I could see writing a piece such as this one: “Defending vertical videos: They’re stupid, but it’s not your fault.

But defending them as the right way to do it? No. Never. That would be like saying reality TV is a good thing because lots of people watch it. Absolutely not.

Where am I? What's going on? Where's the rest of the picture?

Where am I? What’s going on? Where’s the rest of the picture?