Jeb Bush on the Veterans Administration

This release from SC Democrats reminded me of the Jeb Bush event I attended Monday evening:

SC Dems: “Jeb Bush’s Plan to Privatize Veterans Health Care Services Would Be a Disaster
Columbia, SC—The South Carolina Democratic Party released a statement from Beaufort County Democratic Party Chair and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Blaine Lotz regarding former Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush campaigning in the Palmetto State today.
“Jeb Bush’s plan to privatize veterans’ health care services would be a disaster for South Carolina veterans. As Governor of Florida, Bush proposed a similar plan that was so disastrous, it was replaced shortly after he left office. Jeb Bush continues to support outdated policies that prove as President, he would look out for his wealthy donors and special interests over our veterans and military families.”

 

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What are they talking about?

Well, Bush had released several proposals with regard to veterans’ benefits on Monday, in advance of the Concerned Veterans for America event I attended over at Seawell’s. (I went basically to take my Dad there, who as a veteran was invited. We didn’t stay for all of it, which is one reason I didn’t write about it before now.) Here’s how Military Times described the proposals, in part:

Bush’s VA reform plan, to be unveiled later today in advance of an appearance with Concerned Veterans for America in South Carolina tonight, includes expanding “choice” options for care outside the department without cutting funding for VA hospitals and medical staff.

Instead, he promises that extra funds can be found through “cutting excess administrators (not caregivers)” and eliminating “billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse.” That includes more competitive bidding for department contracts and firing poorly performing employees.

“Ample resources exist within the VA budget to improve the quality and scope of care,” Bush’s policy paper states. “In other government agencies, common-sense reforms have saved billions. The VA must get its house in order and send savings into improving veteran choice and veteran care.”

He’s also promising better online health care access systems for veterans, calling existing offerings too cumbersome and outdated….

The video clip above shows him talking about his proposals — not in any detail. I just share it to give you some flavor of the event…

Bush speaking to veterans. For those of you who notice such things, Sen. John Courson is in the red shirt on the left-hand side of the image; Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster is seen at the extreme right. McMaster is backing Lindsey Graham; I don't know where Courson stands.

Bush speaking to veterans. For those of you who notice such things, Sen. John Courson is in the Marine Corps red shirt on the left-hand side of the image; Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster is seen at the extreme right. McMaster is backing Lindsey Graham; I don’t know where Courson stands.

James Smith is among those waiting for Joe Biden to run

James Smith, shouting over the band in conversation with our own Lynn Teague at the second flag rally this summer.

James Smith, shouting over the band in conversation with our own Lynn Teague at the second flag rally this summer.

Bryan was dismissing the idea that a South Carolina Democrat endorsing Hillary Clinton was news, and I begged to differ — in South Carolina, there are a number of prominent Democrats waiting for Joe Biden to get into it.

After that exchange with Bryan, I picked up the phone to talk with one: Rep. James Smith.

James was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as someone urging the Veep to run just the other day, which was a change of pace, as it seems to me that the person most quoted on the subject by national media has been Dick Harpootlian. And of course, South Carolina was where Biden chose to get away from it all last week and ponder the matter. His ties to South Carolina, and not just to SC Democrats, are noteworthy.

As James told me, it’s not just about him and Dick. “We have a long list of Biden supporters… community faith leaders, business leaders and elected leaders.” And he said “We’re building an organization, on the chance” that he’ll jump into the race.

Why Biden? Smith starts with his broad experience, with issues both foreign and domestic. He said Biden is “the leader we need for these times,” someone “respected across the spectrum,” particularly in the Senate.

“The rest are just very polarizing figures, like something from a bad reality TV show.”

I could see why he’d say that about some of the GOP candidates, but Hillary Clinton, who will likely head up his party’s ticket next November? “She can be a very polarizing figure,” he insisted.

Smith said the time at Kiawah was “a very important week” for Biden, and he seemed hopeful.

But isn’t it too late for anyone to mount a serious challenge to Hillary’s inevitability? That’s what The Fix said yesterday, in a piece headlined, “It’s too late for Democrats to start rethinking Clinton’s 2016 viability.” Aren’t the important fund-raisers and others are taken now?

“I promise you that is not the case,” Rep. Smith said. He didn’t get into specifics, but implied that some fund-raisers have indicated their enthusiasm for a Biden candidacy.

So, there you have it — a South Carolina Democrat who is definitely not endorsing Hillary Clinton at this time. And he is not alone…

OK, let’s talk about guns in America

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson says he’ll introduce legislation to do the following in the wake of the Emanuel AME massacre and other recent mass shootings:

▪  Close a three-day loophole that allows some S.C. gun purchasers to buy and take home a gun before a background check has been completed. That rule, and errors in the federal background-checking system, allowed alleged Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to buy a gun.

▪  Require background checks to be conducted through the State Law Enforcement Division and the federal system before a gun sale can be completed

▪  Ban assault weapons, defined as semi-automatic firearms designed and configured for rapid fire

▪ Require reporting of lost or stolen guns

▪ Require state registration and permitting of all guns…

In response to Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin’s statement that there is “no appetite” in the State House for gun control legislation — which you had probably guessed already — Sen. Kimpson “said the Charleston church shootings, which killed nine African-Americans including a state senator, ‘opened people’s minds to doing things in the State House that have never been done before.'”

Which is true enough. Whether that applies to this, however, remains to be seen.

On the same day that I read that, I received a graphic from someone with a blog called CrimeWire, urging me to share it.

Actually it doesn’t tell me a lot I didn’t know, but I share it for those of you who like infographics. It’s lighter on numbers than most such efforts. For instance, I doubt many minds will be changed by such an assertion as, “The Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that there’s substantial evidence that indicates more guns means more murders.” Oh, yeah, says Jim Bob, sittin’ with the boys around the cracker barrel. I bet they’s a heap o’ hunters up at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

For those who prefer text, the facts in the graphic seem to have come from a Washington Post story, headlined “11 essential facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States,” that ran the morning after the Charleston shootings.

As for my own views… As I’ve stated before, I think the problem in America is just that too many guns exist. Everybody talks about the rights of individual gun owners, but I don’t really look at who owns the guns. Ownership is something that can change easily, through burglary for instance. There are just too many of them in existence, and it’s inevitable that some of them will be in the hands of the wrong people at the wrong time.

It’s an economic problem: Too many violent people chasing too many guns.

But while I feel like I diagnose the problem correctly, I have no idea what to do about it. I just don’t see a solution. We are so far down this road, and nothing but the mass destruction of the overwhelming majority of guns that exist would back us up. And there are far too many Americans who adamantly oppose taking a single step back. I don’t see that changing.

So I’m not terribly hopeful that any legislation I’ve seen or heard of would have a chance of significantly reducing gun violence. Anything that passes constitutional muster just tinkers with the technicalities of how guns change hands and move around.

Oh, and before the more dedicated advocates for the 2nd Amendment start hollering, “Brad’s gonna round up all your guns and destroy them,” allow me to clarify: That is NOT gonna happen. Not in this country. No one can MAKE it happen. It’s a political impossibility. So stay cool. I only mention this to underline the fact that I see no workable solution to the problem of Too Many Guns.

I usually don’t say “I give up” on an issue. I usually try to suggest a solution. But I just don’t know where to go on this.

GunsAndAmerica_IG

Dick Riley endorses Hillary Clinton

This endorsement from such a respected quarter comes at a good time for the Clinton campaign (a time when some other South Carolinians, such as Dick Harpootlian, are hoping to see Joe Biden run). Of course, it’s no surprise: Gov. Riley, who served as Bill Clinton’s secretary of education, backed her in 2008 as well, unless my memory fails me:

Former Governor and Former Secretary of Education Dick Riley Endorses Clinton

Greenville, SC – Citing Hillary Clinton’s record as a tenacious fighter for hard-working Americans, former South Carolina Governor and former U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley announced his endorsement for Clinton for President.  Riley praised Clinton’s newly released higher education plan – the New College Compact – in a letter this morning.

“Hillary Clinton has spent a lifetime getting results for women, children and families.  She will spend every day as President working to help hard-working South Carolinians get ahead and stay ahead.

“Hillary is smart, grounded and focused on the issues that matter most to South Carolinians.  Back in the 1970s, she came to South Carolina to help children.  As first lady of Arkansas, she and I worked together to reduce infant mortality rates in Southern states.  She wants to get things done and will fight for the underdogs – that’s the way she’s always been.”

Riley was Governor of South Carolina from 1979-1987 and U.S. Secretary of Education from 1993-2001.

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I suggest you just require the boys to tough it out

Well, this is a new one on me.

Different men are attracted to different things about women. For instance, wrong as he may be, Jerry Seinfeld famously declared that he is not a leg man: “A leg man? Why would I be a leg man? I don’t need legs.”

Now, there’s apparently a new kind of man, or boy, given that this is high school:

High schools often have dress codes in place to keep students from dressing inappropriately or distracting fellow classmates.

But one Kentucky school is being called out for going too far, after a girl allegedly was sent home because her collarbone was exposed. 

The photo, which gained attention on Reddit recently, depicts the student wearing a tan undershirt with a white shirt on top, complete with a pair of jeans…

A caption with the photo on Imgur said, “Female students are not allowed to show their collar bone because it’s distracting the male students.”

Sure, I can imagine this girl distracting boys her age, whatever she’s wearing. She’s quite pretty. But her collarbone? Which, I should mention, you can’t even see in the picture.

In this case, I suggest the school require the boys, particularly the “clavicle men” among them, to tough it out, as a character-building exercise. There are benefits to being a teenaged boy — such as eating anything you want, and not waking up in the morning with aches and pains. But there’s a price to pay. Deal with it.

Nostalgia interrupta: A brief Boomer rant about sampling

I really have nothing to add beyond what I said on Twitter, reflecting a Boomer’s disappointment at almost, but not quite, hearing and seeing things that bring back fond memories — repeatedly:


Here is the first sampling abomination I spoke of, and here is the second.

OK, I will add one thing: To keep my contemporaries from also experiencing nostalgia interrupta, here are the far-more-satisfying originals, including the theme from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”…

Video illustrates why Clinton team is nervous

End of last week, The Washington Post had a story headlined, “Clinton’s team went from nonchalant to nervous over e-mail controversy.”

An anti-Clinton video from the America Rising PAC helps illustrate, in a visceral way, why that might be. Imagine you’re a Clinton campaign staffer, and feel your guts tighten up as you watch.

The video was brought to my attention by Jennifer Rubin, who described it this way:

Hillary screengrab

The return of Paul DeMarco: Welcome back, Doc!

Dr. Paul DeMarco in 2006.

Dr. Paul DeMarco in 2006.

One of our regulars from the early days of this blog made an appearance over the weekend in response to this observation from current regular Jeff Mobley:

“Perhaps it is unrealistic of me to absolutely foreclose the possibility that even one person’s lifetime could have been significantly lengthened by the Medicaid expansion.”

Responding, after a long hiatus (six years!), was Dr. Paul DeMarco:

Brother (Jeff}, you can strike the “perhaps” from that sentence. I am a physician who sees patients for HopeHealth, a community health center in Florence. The majority of patients I see are uninsured and I can attest to the difference that insurance makes in their lives. Every time an uninsured patient dies suddenly, we should ask the question, did their lack of access to care contribute to their death? Sometimes the answer is no, but surely you can conceive of a patient with undiagnosed coronary artery disease ignoring it because they don’t have the funds to see a primary care physician and don’t want to run up a bill of thousands at the emergency room. If they ignore it too long, they may suffer sudden cardiac death and be found dead at home.

But helping prevent these kind of dramatic deaths is not the only attribute that Medicaid (or any insurance) provides. It provides access to expensive medications to control diabetes and hypertension to prevent coronary artery disease, stroke and kidney failure; it provides access to imaging, specialty care, and health screening services (e.g., I defy you to find me a single uninsured patient who has paid out of pocket for a screening colonoscopy); and it provides the simple peace of mind knowing that your are spared making decisions about whether to pay your rent or see the doctor.

If you are the Jeff Mobley from Columbia who ran for state senate, your profile says you work as an analyst for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. How ironic.

When you cite the Oregon study, your logic would suggest that Medicaid doesn’t change health outcomes for poor people. Then why would it change outcomes for people of means like you and I? Medicaid is good insurance, in some respects better that private insurance in its coverage (including that there is usually no significant deductible). Could Medicaid be more user-friendly and efficient? Of course. Is it subject to fraud? Certainly. But those critiques are true of BC/BS as well. See this link from 2013 https://www.fbi.gov/columbia/press-releases/2013/eight-plead-guilty-in-fraud-scheme-involving-blue-cross-blue-shield
You argument generalizes to “Insurance does not affect health outcomes.” It is interesting to me that every person I’ve ever heard make this argument has health insurance. You’ve added the caveat that “Insurance might work if the government paid private companies (coincidentally enough like the one for which I work) to do the job.”

However, private insurance offers its own set of troubles, including incentives that put profit above patients. See http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20110501/PC1602/305019922which describes the huge profits BC/BC makes and the million dollar salaries their top brass rake in.

If you are really interested in learning the practical effect of insurance on patients’ lives, I’d love for you to spend a day in my office seeing patients. I suspect that time might broaden your perspective.

Welcome back, Doc!

It would be great to have a series of posts from or about fondly-remembered commenters from years past, here in my 10th anniversary year as a blogger (first post, May 17, 2005).

Any nominees?

Open Thread for Saturday, August 15, 2015

If some of these items look old, it’s because I started collecting them yesterday but ran out of time to post a thread. But I don’t want to hear any complaining; y’all should be grateful to get a rare Saturday Open Thread — especially since I’m supposed to be out doing yard work right now:

  1. Pentagon assessing S.C. brig as an option for Guantanamo — Not a new idea, but it’s come back up. Sounds fine to me. We need to keep them somewhere.
  2. Documents confirm Apple is building self-driving car — And exclusive from The Guardian. Cool, huh? But allow me a small complaint: This story says “sooner than expected,” but we were supposed to have self-flying cars by now. The writer must not have been around in the ’60s, when the future was so limitless.
  3. US Marines who lowered embassy flag in 1961 back in Havana — I thought this was kind of a neat angle on the embassy-opening story.
  4. Japan emperor ‘remorseful’ over WW2, as 70th anniversary marked — Going a bit farther than the P.M. did.

Sorry, governor: It wasn’t me; it was Facebook

One of the things I hate about Facebook is the way it will randomly grab an image from my blog to go with a post that has no image.

People think I spend a lot of time on Facebook every day. I don’t. When I post something on my blog, the headline and link automatically post to Twitter. All of those Tweets — plus all of the Tweets I compose directly in Twitter itself — automatically post to Facebook. It’s not me; it’s the algorithms.photo (14)

If there was a picture in the post, that also shows up in the Facebook post (which up to a point is cool — I wish Twitter would do that, too).

But when there isn’t a picture in the post, Facebook goes and finds one. As often as not, it grabs one of the scores of header images that are generated randomly from my image library to display at the top of each page on the blog.

This makes for some picture appearing with posts that are wildly unconnected to the subject matter. Which is frustrating.

I particularly hate what it did last night — pairing the header image below, from Nikki Haley’s campaign appearance with Sarah Palin in 2010, with the headline “These are some bad guys. Some really, truly bad guys,” and the link to my post about ISIL.

Please allow me to apologize to Gov. Haley (and to ex-Gov. Palin, although you couldn’t really see her). I know I’ve been critical at times in the past, but I did NOT mean to say that about you.

And I wish to set the record straight with everyone else. I was not saying that about our governor.

The only good news in all this is that to the best of my knowledge, you could only see the governor in the phone version of Facebook (the iPhone app version, anyway). The iPad version and the browser version randomly cropped the image so that you couldn’t see anything but some of the granite steps. Which looks stupid, but at least doesn’t seem to say something I don’t mean to say.

Facebook can be such a pain…

cropped-HaleyPalinheader

These are some bad guys. Some really, truly bad guys

A couple of nights back, feeling nostalgic, I rewatched “Three Days of the Condor.” A fun, well-made flick, even though paranoia films can often be tiresome. In it, John Houseman, as a world-weary CIA man, is asked whether he missed the kind of action he saw in WWII fighting in “Wild Bill” Donovan’s O.S.S.

No, he says: He missed that kind of clarity.

Well, with the so-called Islamic State, there is plenty of clarity, at least on the point of who the bad guys are.

This evening, The Wall Street Journal is leading with this: U.S. Believes ISIS Used Chemical Weapon on Kurds.

Yesterday, we had the report that the group claimed to have beheaded another helpless hostage.

But the thing that is really moving the needle, the news that takes us to new levels of depravity in our understanding of these monsters, is the lede story in The New York Times at this hour:

Escaped ISIS Captives Detail a Vast System of Sex Slavery

or, as the headline on the page that link takes you to says, “ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape:”

The systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the organization and the radical theology of the Islamic State in the year since the group announced it was reviving slavery as an institution. Interviews with 21 women and girls who recently escaped the Islamic State, as well as an examination of the group’s official communications, illuminate how the practice has been enshrined in the group’s core tenets….

A total of 5,270 Yazidis were abducted last year, and at least 3,144 are still being held, according to community leaders. To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.

A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.

“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar one year ago and was sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s….

There have been in history lots of bad guys who treat women as booty, as things to reward their troops with. Such men are the scum of the Earth, and it is the duty of civilized people everywhere to stop them.

But making a religion of it? Not being satisfied to degrade and brutalize women unless you defile God as well? Seriously? Raping women — and on a massive scale — just isn’t evil enough for you?

Check out Warren Bolton’s new blog

bolton

I was talking to my longtime friend and colleague Warren Bolton today, and learned that he has started a blog himself since he left The State.

He started it right after the Emanuel AME massacre and during the debate on the flag, which makes sense. Like me, Warren wrote a good bit about the flag during our time together at the paper, and I wouldn’t expect him to be able to be silent on this sudden, dramatic turnaround any more than I could.

But he’s written about a number of other things as well, including some thing I wish I’d gotten around to myself. For instance, while I’ve read about developments on the coming race to replace Joel Lourie in the S.C. Senate, I haven’t found time to write about what Joel has meant to South Carolina. Well, Warren did.

Anyway, I wish Warren well in his new enterprise, especially as it does not conflict with my own. So far. Seriously, I’ll be following his new venture with interest.

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I had almost completed this post several hours ago, but got sidetracked and haven’t gotten back to it. Sorry. Here ya go:

  1. Richland County prevails in Green Diamond lawsuit — Talk about a blast from the past.
  2. Quidditch Cup coming to Columbia in 2016 — Yeahhh. A bunch of people running around on the ground with brooms between their legs, pretending to be flying wizards. Yeahhhh…
  3. NFL ‘Deflategate’ Saga Continues With Both Sides Back In Federal Court — Speaking of people playing silly games, this is an actual federal case, in real, grownup court, about whether someone adequately inflated a ball.
  4. How the Brat Pack got its name — and spoiled celebrity journalism forever — As silly as this topic may seem, it’s actually a fairly interesting pop culture piece. Reading it helped me catch up a bit on trends, since at the time we had three kids and our fourth on the way, I was starting a new job as news editor in Wichita, and I was a little too busy to concern myself with the existence of something called a “Brat Pack.”

Thurmond continues trend of good people leaving Senate

paul-thurmond

OK, it’s almost a trend, going by the standard set by my wise long-ago colleague Jerry Ratts, the Sage of Wichita, who often proclaimed from his throne on the metro desk, “That’s twice. Once more and it’s a trend, and we can send it to Lifestyles.” (I assure you that this is wildly funny if you ever worked at the Wichita paper. And if you didn’t, count your blessings.)

Trend or no, it’s disturbing that a fortnight after Joel Lourie announced that he was leaving the S.C. Senate after this term, Paul Thurmond announced the same:

State Sen. Paul Thurmond of Charleston, son of political legend Strom Thurmond, said he won’t run for re-election next year as his family is about to get even larger.

Thurmond said Tuesday that he and his wife are expecting their fifth child in December, meaning the demands of his family are overtaking politics.

“We’re truly blessed,” he said.

He plans to return to Columbia when the Statehouse session kicks up again in January but won’t file for the Republican primary that’s scheduled for June….

The departure of Thurmond may not be quite the blow the loss of Lourie is (especially to us in the Midlands), but the freshman has shown great promise. I refer you to his speech explaining why he would vote to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds — a speech that would have been extraordinary and inspiring even if his name were not Thurmond.

I hope the Senate doesn’t lose any more people. If it does, you won’t read about it here, because I will have turned it over to Lifestyles. Right, Ratts?

I’ll believe you when you master the Queen’s English

cheesy

Got a spam email that I opened because the headline — “office uk” — made me think someone had sent me something fun about David Brent et al.

But what I got instead was a very junky, amateurish-looking Word document that began:

We write to inform you that we head a meeting last week regarding unclaimed funds of (500,000.00 GBP) here in our office, and your file was one of them that was opened by the Bank of England Director (Mark Carney) and fine out that your winning price have not yet deliver to you or transfer to your account due to your country Government strict rules and laws in the banking system, and also your low co-operation.

Note: Bank of England is given you second opportunity to claim this amount as your file has been open again by the Director (Mark Carney). You are to contact (Mr. Adam Payment Approval Manager) (Bank of England) with your personal details and quote him your Reference code… without any further delay….

Look, whoever you are: I’ll believe you’re with the Bank of England when you master the Queen’s English.

Harrumph.

Now watch — my snobbishness just cost me half a million quid. Which I could have used…

Some tips on how to talk while female

I got a kick out of Alexandra Petri’s column in The Washington Post, which Cindi shared today in The State, headlined “13 Tips on How To Speak While Female.” It was based on advice she’d heard on how women can sound more professional and be taken more seriously. It was pretty hilarious, as a send-up (I assume) of both the givers of those advice and those who take it seriously.

The best bits:

1) Never speak in run-on sentences. Use only sentences that Hemingway would use. Speak curtly. Speak of fish and fighting, and the deep wisdom no woman can know. Speak of hills and strong liquor. Speak of Scott Fitzgerald and his fatal weakness….

Alexandra Petri

Alexandra Petri

6) Do not baby talk, not even to babies. Especially not to babies. Avoid speaking to babies in general, as they do not control the workforce and cannot offer you advancement.

7) Never apologize. Not even once. Not for yourself, and certainly not for America. Never let “Sorry” leave your lips. If you wish to play the boardgame of that name, point at it and growl….

Nice work, Alexandra — for a dame. I like your voice, no matter what the other guys say…

Rep. Beth Bernstein won’t run for Lourie’s Senate seat

Beth Bernstein at her campaign kickoff last year, with the back of Joel Lourie's head in the foreground at right.

Beth Bernstein at her campaign kickoff last year, with the back of Joel Lourie’s head in the foreground at right.

Well, it looks like Joel Lourie’s departure from the S.C. Senate won’t produce a Democratic primary contest between two House incumbents. Mia McLeod is going to run, but Beth Bernstein is not:

Bernstein: How I Can Best Serve 
Columbia, SC – State Representative Beth Bernstein released the following statement in regards to a possible bid for Senate District 22, currently held by Joel Lourie, who announced last week that he won’t run for re-election.
“Leadership.  An interesting concept and one not easily grasped.  In fact, I just concluded a 2 year-long course on this same topic through the Aspen Institute’s prestigious Liberty Fellowship Program.  In this program, we studied different leadership styles, philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Hobbes, and instrumental leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, and Margaret Thatcher, among others.  What I learned and what I am still learning is a good leader has to make tough decisions, not rash decisions but well studied and thought out decisions.

Last week, my state Senator Joel Lourie announced that he would not be seeking re-election in 2016.  For our community and state, he has exemplified the qualities of a great leader.  He will be sorely missed and we will suffer a great void without him, but while I know this decision must have been a difficult one, it was one that was not made in haste.  And I thank him for the incredible sacrifices that he has made for our community.

With his departure came the likely inquisition on whether I would seek to run for his vacant seat.  While I wish he was given at least one day before any announcement was made to replace him, allowing him the respect and deference deserved for a career of public service coming to an end, I felt pressure to quickly make a decision.  Although, I personally needed time to study and determine if filing for Senate District 22 would be the best decision for my family and me and the community that I love and cherish.

After much prayer and personal reflection, my conclusion is that while serving in the Senate would be an exciting opportunity, I believe my recent appointments to the House Judiciary and Ethics Committees allow me to be more effective in representing this community in the House of Representatives. Therefore, at this time, I do not intend to file for Senator Lourie’s vacant Senate seat.

I am able to effect positive change for my constituency through the legislative process, and I believe I can make a bigger impact for our community by continuing to serve in the House.  Many of the bills that I have co-sponsored this year have passed, including the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act, of which I was the primary sponsor.

I feel so privileged and honored to be able to serve our community at the Statehouse and intend to file for re-election for House District 78 in March.  I want to continue advocating for our public schools, road funding and ethics reform, as well as fighting for women’s health issues, the elderly, and children’s issues.  I hope you will continue to support me.”

####

So, was that a dig at Mia? I refer to the part that said, “I wish he was given at least one day before any announcement was made to replace him.” Yeah, that was kind of a dig at Mia. I think…

Open Thread for a s-l-o-w news day, August 11, 2015

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The Dog Days are definitely with us. I was looking at a relatively unfamiliar news site this morning and thinking These people have terrible news judgment! Where’s the real news? Then I looked at other respected outlets and saw there just wasn’t any.

No wonder it’s Trump all the time (yesterday, the first four items on my Washington Post app on my iPad were about The Donald). Nothing’s happening.

Anyway, here are some topics you may take an interest in. If you know of anything more interesting, please bring it to our attention:

  1. China Devalues Its Currency Amid Economic Slowdown — See what I mean? This is at least serious news; it’s just excruciatingly dull. News to take a nap by. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to run screaming in the opposite direction.
  2. Demonstrations in Ferguson lead to arrests and potential flash points — So there was a police-involved shooting in Ferguson a couple of nights back — one in which pretty much no one is alleging that cops were at fault. But unlike police-involved shootings in the rest of the country, this one is getting coverage. You know why? Because media are there for the anniversary.
  3. Jeb Bush wants to bring back the Bush doctrine — I’m just including this one to give Bud the heebie-jeebies.
  4. 100,000 people have come to recent Bernie Sanders rallies. How does he do it? — My personal theory? Everyone in America who will consider voting for Sanders has been to at least one, and possibly several, of his rallies. Some may be traveling from city to city, like Deadheads.

Come on, y’all — please come up with something better.

Explaining Donald Trump by looking at Donald Draper — and other fictional ‘mad men’

On this slow news day, The Guardian is giving big play to a fun piece that attempts to explain the appeal of Donald Trump by way of various popular fictional antiheroes:

Last week millions of Americans tuned into a cable program featuring a wealthy white male narcissist with anger management issues, a history of viciousness towards women, and a pervading sense that there’s something amiss in his homeland. But this time the character in question wasn’t Walter White, Don Draper, Tyrion Lannister or Tony Soprano, but instead a real – if strangely orange – human man named Donald Trump. The program Americans so eagerly watched him plow through wasn’t an acclaimed drama, but a presidential debate….

Think about all they have in common – Tyrion’s cynicism and cunning, Don’s scorn for weakness, Tony’s rage, Walter White’s limitless ego. They’re all scoundrels who move through the world with an inordinate amount of swagger, and Americans, going back to 1773, love scoundrels with swagger. We love people who challenge authority and convention and get away with it. Thursday night, when Chris Wallace asked Trump if he thought a man who has declared bankruptcy multiple times was well suited to running the economy of an entire country, Trump’s response was to basically blow a raspberry and brag that he simply exploited the law….

No, I didn’t understand the 1773 reference, either (why not ’75, or ’76?). But never mind.

Interesting. And fun, since I have really, really enjoyed most of those shows.

But here’s the flaw in the idea… I respect all of those fictional characters more than I do Donald Trump. Unlike him, they all have appealing characteristics (WARNING! MULTIPLE-SPOILER ALERT):

"Say my name. And no, it's not Trump!"

“Trump is not the One Who Knocks.”

Walter White at least started out wanting to take care of his family after he was diagnosed with cancer. And he truly, honestly grieved when Hank was killed. So he had some actual human qualities. And he was, you know, smart — his ego was based in something.

 

I have NO idea why people like Trump.

I have NO idea why people like the guy.

Don Draper has that characteristic that Trump seems to value, although it completely eludes him: class. At least, class as style if not as a moral quality. And occasionally, he is moved to do the right thing, if it doesn’t inconvenience him. He can be virtuous — not all over, but in spots.

 

Trump on the Iron Throne? Not even I would drink to that.

Trump on the Iron Throne? I need a drink.

Tyrion may be the most virtuous, admirable continuing character on “Game of Thrones,” with the possible exception of Lady Brienne. Admittedly, that’s not a high bar, but he was born into a singularly seamy fictional universe. He is even capable of wit, which distinguishes him rather dramatically from The Donald.

 

You're comparing me to WHO?

You’re comparing me to WHO?

Tony Soprano, being a brutal, blustering bully, comes closest to Trump. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he demanded that Trump cough up some tribute money for running gambling operations in New Jersey. But Tony is a family man, who cares about his kids and sometimes his wife. He has a human, likable quality — think about it: Would you want to sit and watch Trump’s visits with his shrink (even if she was Dr. Melfi)? I hope not.

No, if you want to find a fictional character who is as thoroughly off-putting as Donald Trump, you have to think Frank Underwood. No, wait: Frank at least is clever, and occasionally borders on being amusing.

I’m afraid the theory doesn’t hold up…

In what universe is there a South Carolina where Graham is considered ‘long-serving?’

A mere pup, a novice, a tenderfoot, a tyro...

A mere pup, a novice, a tenderfoot, a tyro…

These Yankees do have some fanciful notions about time. First, there was their confusing insistence that “dinner” was to be eaten at suppertime. (Thanks to Yankee control of mass media, we’ve all been conditioned to accept that now, but I can remember finding it confusing as a child.)

And now this…

Over the weekend, The Washington Post had a story about our own Lindsey Graham warning that Donald Trump poses a serious threat to the Republican Party, as long as he is in any way associated with the brand (once, we would have said “the name,” as in family name, but Don Draper and the rest of those mercantilists from up North now have us all saying “brand.”)

A fine story, and worth reading (he says of Trump that the point has passed “where his behavior becomes about us, not just him”), but you’ll do a double-take when you read this part:

Graham, a long-serving senator from South Carolina, was relegated to the undercard debate on Thursday because of his poor standing in national polls….

Did that jar you as much as it did me? I assumed it was a typo. In what universe does there exist a South Carolina in which Lindsey Graham would be regarded as “a long-serving senator?”

The boy just finished his sophomore term! He’s a novice, a mere pup, a tenderfoot, a tyro!

Just to state the painfully obvious: His predecessor in that seat held it for 47 years. (Fritz Hollings only served 38 years — which is why, until the very end, he was our junior senator.)

Only three senators held Graham’s seat between Ben Tillman (1895-1918 — but give him a break; he would have served longer had he not died in office) and Strom Thurmond, as long as you don’t count three or four fellas who were placeholders, just keeping the seat warm for a few months each here and there.

Anyway, I thought that was an odd choice of words, given the state that Graham represents.

Is it time for dinner yet? I’m hungry…