Open Thread for Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Y’all can probably come up with a better topic than I can, but here are some possibilities:

GOP contenders try to bolster their foreign policy cred — I’m encouraged to see Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker taking trips abroad. Makes me think that maybe the 2016 election won’t be all about domestic issues (which to me are generally secondary with regard to the presidency), as I have feared. Which might undermine the rationale of Lindsey Graham’s campaign…

And what about that vaccination stuff? — Speaking of Christie, is it now a prerequisite for GOP candidates to cater to medical paranoia? On the one hand we have these potential candidates broadening themselves with travel, on the other hand we have this…

What were your favorite Super Bowl ads? — This is entirely self-serving. I need to write a blog item on the subject for the ADCO blog, and I could use some input. (I’m always a bit handicapped in this, since I don’t watch the game and therefore have to find time during the working week to track them down and watch them.)

Below is one of my favorites so far:

111 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, February 3, 2015

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Re: vaccinations. The conservative position seems to be that science is a matter of personal opinion, rather than statistically validated conclusions. Evolution, climate change drastically accelerated by humans, and now vaccines….

    1. Silence

      Yes, somehow this anti-vaxxer thing has gotten spun in the media as a bunch of libertarian nut-jobs, but I think that ignores a lot of facts.

      1) Both Candidates Clinton and Obama alluded to the (imaginary) potential link between vaccinations and autism in 2008. See the article in Vox from Feb 2, 2015.

      2) The anti-vaxxer movement has long been associated with liberals of the crunchy/organic (Prius driving) variety. Here’s a quote from a January 2011 story in Science Magazine:
      “Q: But why liberals?
      S.M.: I think it taps into the organic natural movement in a lot of ways. I talked to a public health official and asked him what’s the best way to anticipate where there might be higher than normal rates of vaccine noncompliance, and he said take a map and put a pin wherever there’s a Whole Foods. I sort of laughed, and he said, “No, really, I’m not joking.” It’s those communities with the Prius driving, composting, organic food-eating people. ” link:

      3) An article from Sept 2014 in “The Atlantic” is titled “Wealthy L.A. Schools Vaccination Rates Are as Low as South Sudan’s”. LA (and the West Coast in general) is hardly a hotbed of conservatives, libertarians or Republicans. It’s pretty much the epicenter of liberalism, though.

      4) Here’s an article from the noted right-wingers at Mother Jones from March/April 2004 re: the CDC, FDA and other health agencies covering up a potential link between childhood vaccines, mercury and autism.
      At least they have the integrity to add an editor’s note mentioning that the idea was now disproven and thorougly discredited.

      Anyways, the idea that this is a right-wing issue is laughable. Unfortunately, dumb-ass parents come in all political stripes, but it seems that this anti-vaxxer stuff is pretty well at home on the left, at least as much as on the right.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      I hate for facts to get in the way of a good narrative and all, but most of the people who aren’t vaccinating their children are liberals, but as Paul Giamatti once said “Facts are stubborn things.”

      Exhibit 1 (Marin County) – From the New York Times 1/29/15. “Over all, about 7 percent of the children at Rhett’s school, Reed Elementary, are unvaccinated — a rate that is higher than the statewide average but far lower than at some other schools in the county, where fully half of the students are not vaccinated/p>, according to Dr. Matt Willis, the county health officer.”

      Exhibit 2 (Mississippi has best vaccination rate in the country) From the WaPo 1/30/15 “Mississippi has the highest vaccination rate for school-age children. It’s not even close. Last year, 99.7 percent of the state’s kindergartners were fully vaccinated. Just 140 students in Mississippi entered school without all of their required shots.

      Compare that with California, epicenter of the ongoing Disney measles outbreak, where last year almost 8 percent of kindergartners — totaling 41,000 children — failed to get the required immunizations against mumps, measles and rubella. In Oregon, that number was 6.8 percent. In Pennsylvania, it was nearly 15 percent, or 22,700 kindergartners.”

      Sooo….Marin County and Oregon would be the heartland of anti-vaxxers, while the Magnolia State is where you can count on everyone pretty much being vaccinated.

      Your witness, counselor.

        1. M.Prince

          Let’s allow the other shoe to drop, shall we?
          The reason MS has such a great vaccination rate is because of STATE action mandating it. As the WPost reports:

          “Since the 1970s, the state has required parents to vaccinate any child attending public or private schools, and it’s very difficult for anyone to claim an exemption . The state Supreme Court ruled in 1979 that religious exemptions violated the state constitution, and Mississippi is one of 32 states that don’t allow exemptions for philosophical reasons.”

          Another little piece of freedom bites the dust, as our libertarian fundamentalist friends would say.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Yes, but now the GOP is taking up the cause.

        Lefties, especially hippie-types, can be just as nutso. Herbal supplements, juicing, cleanses, raw diets that include unpasteurized stuff that should be pasteurized….

  2. Doug Ross

    How many non-vaxxer children are there compared to the number of children and adults who have entered the U.S. illegally without being vaccinated? If the latter group is larger, shouldn’t that have been an issue for all the years the preceded the anti-vax cult?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Unvaccinated undocumented immigrants are unvaccinated because they have no choice, not because they eschew science. Not because they think autism is worse than polio, or because they are trying to freeload on herd immunity.

      1. Doug Ross

        Are the viruses carried by illegal immigrants different from those of anti-vaxxer children? You didn’t answer my question – which group is larger and does the fact that the measles breakout occurred at Disneyland in a state with a very high number of illegal possibly be related?

        As for the PC term “undocumented”, please describe what documents they don’t have that they are eligible to have legally.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I dunno, not having been in that situation. Whatever they’re supposed to produce when someone says “Deine papiere, bitte.” Whatever it is you want them to have that they don’t have. (I want them to have it, too, whatever it is; I’m just not as concerned about it as you are…)

          Probably something like the stamp they put in my passport at Heathrow several years back. A fairly easy process, in my case. I suppose I didn’t look like I wanted to build houses in Britain, or work in a chicken processing facility, so I was no threat.

          Which reminds me. I had to go and get a new passport before this Thailand trip, and that ticked me off. All I had in the other one was my stamp from going to England. Now this one has nothing in it until I get to Thailand (I’m assuming I won’t have to get a stamp in Tokyo, since I’m not leaving the airport).

          How am I ever going to have a passport that makes me look like a world traveler at this rate?

          1. Doug Ross

            So there is a valid document that they can possess right now but do not have? If so, then, great, let’s give them that legal document and talk about the people who do not have the legal right to be here currently. Let’s call them “illegals”.

            1. Bill

              I think we should have an immigration exchange program.Pop quizzes for Americans who can’t pass the citizenship test are traded for good Hispanic cooks or Indians who’re good w/computers;2 dumb Americans for each immigrant.
              I’ve had nothing but good experiences with both groups,and have learned a lot.I was at the gas/convenience store,and the regular Indian guy wasn’t there.He was in India having surgery.It’s cheaper to fly there and back and get your procedure ,than have surgery in the US…
              I will often go out of my way,to avoid many white people…

            2. Norm Ivey

              Hispanic cooks or Indians who’re good w/computers

              And if they possess other skills? Like medicine or law or running a business or simply working an honest job to raise a family? Can we admit them as well?

            1. M.Prince

              Nowadays it’s “Ihr Ausweis, bitte.” (or, Germans being such an efficiency-minded lot, the “Ihr” is often omitted).
              And they still have “papers”: national personal identity cards.

            2. Kathryn Fenner

              Electronics are supposedly the popular item burglarized because they are hard to track and easy to convert to cash.
              I could live without my stuff–i could replace whatever got stolen, but the idea that someone had invaded my space would bother me a lot!

            3. Kathryn Fenner

              “Fahrkarte, bitte!” said with that weary musicality of official Germany–we got kontrolliert a few times on Ulm buses.

        2. Kathryn Fenner

          “Undocumented” does not refer to “eligible” documents. It refers to a visa valid for what they are doing here and the length of time they are here, in particular.

          The point is that you are comparing apples and oranges. Illegals, if you will, would gladly be vaccinated if they could without being deported, and no doubt many are at clinics that treat them. Stupid people who make up their own facts and CHOOSE to refuse, who could easily and safely vaccinate their kids, are threatening not only their kids, but all the people around them who either have compromised immunity or cannot be vaccinated.

          1. Doug Ross

            Are the illegals vaccinated BEFORE they cross the border illegally? If not, how do they not present the same risk as an “unvaccinated by choice” kid? And if there are more of them, why weren’t they considered a risk before the anti-vaxxers hype?

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              As Rose points out, they are more likely to be vaccinated before entry. Even if they are not, they do not mix and mingle much with the populace.

            2. Doug Ross

              Really? You don’t think they go to Disneyland? I would bet a million dollars that on any given day there are more unvaccinated illegal immigrants (adults & children) in Disneyland than unvaccinated American kids.

            3. Doug Ross

              What percent of American children are not vaccinated?

              What percentage of illegal immigrants are not vaccinated? Adults and children.

            4. Doug Ross

              What percent of residents within a 50 mile radius of Anaheim are illegals?

              Give me one estimate of how many non vaccinated American kids would be in Disneyland on any one day. 1000? 10?

            5. Mark Stewart

              Doug, it’s like this:

              Assume 1,000 Disneyland visitors.

              Then assume 8% are “illegals” – because that seems awfully high as a percentage of the US population; to say nothing of the population likely to go to Disneyland.

              Now assume 50% of those are unvaccinated, which also seems absurdly high.

              So that would imply 40 unvaccinated illegals at Disneyland that day.

              Then, of the remaining 920 visitors (we will just have to assume they are all “Americans” if you’ll accept that caveat) let’s also assume 7% are unvaccinated – which again seems high. Therefore, 64 (64.4, but I’m not going to butcher babies) of these Americans are unvaccinated.

              64 > 40, so you loose.

              For you to win, the percentage of illegals would have to be 10% of the total (still with the ridiculously high 50% vaccination rate) and the number of unvaccinated Americans would have to be at less than 5%.

              If we assume 5% were illegals, these illegals had an immunization rate of 70%, and that Americans have an unvaccinated rate of 5% your bet would be a crushingly bad one – 15 unvaccinated illegals to over 47 unvaccinated Americans.

              Let’s play poker sometime!

      2. scout

        Are you sure it is so hard for undocumented kids in SC to get vaccinated. I think they do. If they come to school they do. We have a lot of hispanic kids. I don’t know their status. Schools can’t ask or turn them away based on that. But schools can insist on vaccinations. Assuming at least some kids are illegals in public school in SC – parents seem to find a way to get it done.

  3. Doug Ross

    I’m more interested in how Henry McMaster’s chief of staff is allowed to keep his job despite a DUI charge and having a handgun in his car. Why do there have to be two different sets of rules – those that apply to politicians and those that apply to everyone else?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      B/C a certain wing of the SC populace seems to believe that DUI prosecutions are an infringement on personal liberty.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Populace. Voters, elected officials, appointed officials…..

          The whole keep your government hands off my Medicare bunch, and the people they elect, and the people those people appoint.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Aw, he offered up the gun willingly. Not like he tried to shoot it out or anything. 🙂

      The thing to watch in this case, I think, is whether his license is suspended as long as other people’s — for refusing the test…

  4. Phillip

    I liked the same ad you did—Bryan Cranston is such a great actor, love the way he pops out from under the counter. (Still hard for me to believe he’s Tim Watley the dentist from Seinfeld.

    I know car ads are usually somewhat ridiculous, but this year seemed (with many of the ads, not just automobiles) to lay on the pomposity and pretentiousness extra-thick (sign of the late-stages, declining American Empire, perhaps?). I loathed the Toyota Camry ad that used paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy and the words of Muhammad Ali, like we’re supposed to believe that buying a Camry is an act equivalent to pushing the boundaries of human limitations like those individuals? How stupid do they think we are? (no need to answer that question).

    Not enough funny ads, not enough animals (though I did like that “first draft” ad) , and way too much “epic-ness.” Even the #LikeAGirl piece, laudable though the sentiment is, confuses me on some level, as though how you “run, throw, and fight” are the key ingredients to positive self-image, self-worth. Music, as is often the case, is pivotal to the effectiveness of that piece.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I think that might be changing as more girls toss balls around. Running like a girl is more a matter of anatomy for many of us, but throwing is just inexperience.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I cherish the moment I first noticed, really noticed, the way girls run. It was in P.E. in junior high, and for some reason one day they had the boys and the girls play softball together. (Normally, the coaches dumped out a bunch of footballs in front of the boys and went back into the office to smoke and watch the film of last week’s game. While we boys went out on our own and played unsupervised, Lord of the Flies style.)

          I can’t remember that one girl’s name, but I remember the way she ran. It just made you want to put down your glove, have a seat and WATCH. Hey, let’s do that play over — I want to see that again…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Nowadays, when I’m in Shandon especially (a hotbed of this sort of activity), I see girls and young women RUNNING (like lunatics), not jogging, and doing it pretty much the way men do.

            I don’t know what happened to them. Maybe they had some kind of special surgery or something…

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              Women who run a lot almost always have fairly narrow hips. Those of us with wider ones have knees that are not running friendly.

        2. Doug Ross

          No, not really. I had a daughter go through softball and a son who played high school baseball. There is a big difference and there always will be. There’s a lot of physical components to throwing that are not as easy for girls to replicate. Arm strength, shoulder and elbow musculature, hip rotation.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Well, as one who cannot run, throw or fight nonverbally, I guess I need to go curl up on the couch with some junk food and watch reality TV.

  5. Silence

    How is relying on “herd immunity” by being an anti-vaxxer any different than relying on “herd immunity” and not owning a personal firearm? I think they are the same. Discuss.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Ha. Interesting thought. I guess I’m providing immunity for others on both of those fronts if you think about it that way.

      I think it’s hilarious that people can send un-vaccinated children to school, but it’s almost a felony to send your kid to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

      And when I say “hilarious” I mean absurd.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Well, for kids with peanut allergies, it is life-or-death. They stand a better chance against the vaccine targets…but it should not be either/or.

        and how about all the herbal supplements being found to be wheat starch and other more or less inert but potentially allergenic ingredients, instead of the herbs? Placebo effect? Why not just sell sugar pills and be done with it?

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah, Brian, I gotta tell ya — when I was a kid, I didn’t know anybody who had food allergies but me. So the other kids had an excuse for not knowing any better, and considering my problem “absurd,” and saying I was just trying to attract attention. When that was the LAST thing I wanted; I would have given anything to be like the other kids. (To this day, I make my friends nervous by not asking a lot of questions when I eat out. But I just hate making a fuss about it.)

        But now, there’s no excuse for this backlash I see from people who aren’t afflicted with allergies or celiac. A lot of folks think celiac is something people made up. I guess that’s because they never had to take my precious granddaughter to the ER in the middle of the night screaming with pain before she was diagnosed.

        I’m slightly allergic to peanuts. It means I get a sinus headache and indigestion every time I eat some. But I love them so much I do it anyway, and suffer for a day or so.

        These kids with the life-threatening allergy to peanuts — I really feel for them. And I’m glad to do anything I can to keep them from going into anaphylaxis on my account…

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I’m not saying that we should be sending peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into schools. I understand the rule. I’m fine with the rule.

          What I find “absurd” is NOT that we have this common-sense rule about peanut butter, but that we’ve decided to go completely the other way for polio, measles, smallpox, et al., and allow children who aren’t vaccinated into the schools.

          It boggles my mind.

          You want to not vaccinate your child? Ok. That’s cool. That means you have to home-school them, they can’t use any public accommodations, use mass transit, or really otherwise be around people. That’s my proposed trade off.

          I’m not ready to impose jail sentences on people for not vaccinating their kids, though. Are y’all?

          1. Norm Ivey

            RSD2 does have strict requirements abut vaccination and attending school. Every year we have a number of students who are not allowed to attend classes until they catch up their vaccinations. In the middle schools, that usually means the TDAP vaccine. I thought that was a matter of state law, but I suppose it could be district policy.

        2. Kathryn Fenner

          I think most people who have an issue with the gluten-free fad always except those who really have celiac or even true gluten sensitivity from those who merely believe going gluten-free is beneficial to their health in some way. A medical diagnosis is respected.

      3. Norm Ivey

        What schools don’t allow PBJ? RSD2 elementary schools serve it regularly for lunch.

        Peanut allergies are a real issue in schools. A few years’ back I had a girl in class who had life-threatening allergies to peanuts. There was a diabetic in the same classroom who had to eat a snack during my class to maintain his blood sugar levels–often it was some sort of peanut butter cracker thing. Stressful for me trying to remember they couldn’t sit near each other or work together, but even more so for them.

        These are very real, serious ailments for these kids–ones they did not choose.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      Because I don’t know of too many non-gun owners who “rely” on gun owners. We’d be happy if you all turned yours in and relied on professional law enforcement. Statistically, I am far more likely to be shot be your gun than protected by it….but there I go with statistics again.

      But people like Brad who cannot be vaccinated, and people whose immunity from being vaccinated is less than total, ought reasonably to be able to rely on the herd immunity of those who can be vaccinated.

      and even if, IF, autism can be caused by vaccines, autism is better than polio, or a severe case of measles, which can have permanent, devastating side effects.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah, I don’t rely on people around me to be packing. I prefer it if they are not. I consider the likelihood of them shooting me by accident to be WAY higher than the chance that one of them will come to my rescue.

        It’s kind of like copyeditors. Copyeditors like to remind writers and assigning editors that they’re the last line of defense, and that they save us all the time. But in my experience — and I say this as someone who started out as a copyeditor (not by choice; that’s the opening I found) — the likelihood that a copyeditor will introduce an error to my copy always seemed way higher.

        We’re not supposed to say stuff like that, but there it is…

          1. Kathryn Fenner


            My brother, the copy editor, (note correct use of commas, as I have but one brother), I believe turned out the lights at the Philly Inquirer sports copy desk when he left for Vanguard…..

        1. Silence

          Here’s the thing – A robber is much more concerned with running into an armed store-owner or homeowner than he is concerned about the unlikely event of running into a cop in mid-theft. Since the criminal does not know which house has Kathryn in it, and which one has Bryan “Bernhard Goetz” Caskey, they are less likely to burgle a home. Instead maybe they’ll just break into your car, or something like that. Anyways, since Bryan is vaccinated against burglary, he is pushing down the overall burglary rate and all the liberal anti-gunners are free riding, based on his action. It’s the same exact thing as not getting your kid vaccinated. If everyone else is vaccinated, you can get away with skipping it.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Any rational burglar would be deterred by the eye-level dog snot. Besides, most burglars burgle in the day time when they assume people are not at home, or when the people appear to be on vacation. Then they steal the guns.

      2. Mark Stewart

        Yeah, I am far more concerned that my child is going to get shot playing at a careless friend’s house or that a neighbor will discharge a firearm – maybe after chilling out after work with a few beers – and send a bullet into my house.

        I like cops having guns. I don’t mind people owning them. It’s all about responsibility. But I feel absolutely no sense of herd immunization knowing that the guy three doors down carries a handgun in his glove compartment and is the kind of guy who “hides” his truck key over the visor. It would be interesting if someone would review all of the auto burglaries inSC in a given year and see what percentage involve a stolen firearm. That would be some sobering statistic.

        Same with drunk driving. It isn’t acceptable. If you want to see me bristle and kill your buzz, ask me for a “to go” cup. South Carolina excuses drunk driving to a degree which is absolutely bizarre. Look at how this chief of staff knew just the loopholes to take to minimize his criminal liability. Channeling Juan, do lawyer/lobbyist/politicians conduct penalty avoidance seminars for politicians and their staffs or something?

        1. Silence

          You might start by asking: How many law enforcement officers in South Carolina had firearms stolen from them, or from their automobile?

    3. Norm Ivey

      Herds don’t provide individual protection. Herd animals run in herds for, among other reasons, protection from predators–immunization, if you choose. However, the herd defense only serves the general population. Predators identify and hunt the weak, aged, and infirm animals. It actually serves to make the general population stronger.

      Guns, it seem to me, provide protection to the individual. My choosing not to own a gun or not doesn’t alter the risk level for my next door neighbor, and even if it did, the effect would be limited to a very small group of people.

      Vaccines fit the herd metaphor a little better. My choosing not to vaccinate my children does increase the risk for others, particularly those who cannot be vaccinated for some reason (like auto-immune system diseases). And since my children go out into the world and interact with others, the impact would be multiplied.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        As much as I would like to agree with Silence on the gun/herd issue, I have to come down more with Norm, if I’m honest with myself. Any criminal bold enough to break into a house when they think people could be at home (i.e. not cat burglars) are not evaluating targets based on where they think there might be armed homeowners. They’re likely going for high value property.

        (Kathryn also raises a good point – dogs are a good deterrent, and and excellent alarm system.)

        In fact, Mark and Kathryn make another good point – guns are often stolen. Mainly, because they have a high street value relative to other household items. As a corollary to Mark’s point, if you keep your gun in your car, you’re a moron.

        Your car is about the least secure place to leave anything. 99% of the time, guns should be on your person or in a gun safe. Fortunately, smart people realized that responsible people carrying were being forced to leave their sidearms in their cars if they went into Applebee’s or Moe’s. Consequently, SC passed a law so people don’t have to do that.

        By the by, I remember a bunch of wailing and dire predictions of SC turning into the “wild west” if that law was passed. Anyone know how that all turned out? I can’t seem to find any news stories about it.

        1. Silence

          1) Agreed that a dog is a great alarm system. A good one might give you a few extra seconds to get to your iron out. Me, I’ll still be trying to open my gun safe.
          2) Plenty of people get burgled at night – while they are asleep in the house. Sure, it’s not as common as being burgled while you aren’t home, but it still happens. Criminals are generally lazy, they’ll go for whatever they think is easiest, but they also go where they think they are less likely to be apprehended, or shot.
          3) The only times you should leave a firearm in your automobile are as follows:
          a) You have a pickup truck with a proper gun rack.
          b) You are drunk, and work for Henry McMaster.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Number two negates number one. Lazy criminals are going to the house without the dogs.
            As Bryan says, they are going for high value targets. Unless you have something extremely valuable, known to the burglars, a dog is great deterrent. Most of us are not targets of mastermind criminals seeking our priceless treasures. We are targets of opportunistic slugs.

            1. Silence

              I keep nothing particularly valuable in the house. A couple of LCD TV’s, not huge, though. A cheap laptop. A couple of iPads. Some collectible coins. Some silver that was my grandmother’s. A handful of firearms, a few thousand rounds of ammunition, in case TSHTF.
              The real items of value are the equity in the house itself, my retirement savings, and of course my family. Everything in the house I could walk away from – so quickly I wouldn’t even notice. I’ve never understood why people would keep valuable items at home, or even own them in the first place.

            2. Kathryn Fenner

              Electronics are supposedly the popular item burglarized because they are hard to track and easy to convert to cash.
              I could live without my stuff–i could replace whatever got stolen, but the idea that someone had invaded my space would bother me a lot!

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        It’s herd immunity, not a herd. The fact that enough of your co-species members are immune (through vaccination or otherwise) means a species-specific disease cannot survive in sufficient quantities to create an epidemic. It may infect a few, but it cannot spread easily if enough are immune.

  6. Mark Stewart

    My favorite Super Bowl ad was the completely unexpected Fiat blue-pill ad. Granted, they lucked out with deflategate being the talk of the nation, but it was sharp, funny, irreverent, and visually compelling.

    So much better than the Doritos flyIng-pig ad.

  7. Brad Warthen

    And now, slacker that I am, I’m having a grog at Cap City. Rum and water, no ice (an invention of the colonials), and a wedge of lime as an antiscorbutic.

    My drink of choice these days.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I just read something horrible — turns out the Royal Navy’s grog ration was abolished in 1970!

      Stephen Maturin would be pleased, and Jack Aubrey appalled.

      For my part, my taste for grog evolved in stages over the past year. My daughter, a former bartender at Yesterday’s, made some Dark and Stormies (dark rum and ginger beer) at home awhile back, which I really enjoyed. This was when I was going paleo and couldn’t have beer (rum is approved for the paleo diet). I even developed my own SC twist on the drink, consisting of dark rum and Blenheim ginger ale. (Bryan has suggested that this be called a “Hugo.” You know, tying “stormy” and SC together.)

      But when I’m out at a place that doesn’t have Blenheim, I’ll order just a rum and ginger ale.

      Then, two or three weeks ago, still fighting the cold that has never gone away since the week of New Year’s, I started coughing after trying to drink something cold at a reception. So I went back to the bar and asked for rum and water, no ice, with a slice of lime (I figured ginger ale would be weird at room temp). It calmed my cough down wonderfully.

      So that’s what I order now…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Then we’ll have to call it something else… Bryan?

          The Blenheim version of the Dark and Stormy has a crispness and clarity that the ginger beer version lacks — with all the bite, and then some…

      1. Bob Amundson

        If it’s just the “government,” why do all other 49 states have the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) IT system in place? I moved from “red state” Utah over 12 years ago, and I was shocked how badly government was run in SC. I audited the Utah CSE IT System in 2001, and a primary finding was using expensive contractors that had high programming error rates.

        I have dealt with so many contractors that “skim the cream” of the system. Contractors do not always have an incentive to deliver “quickly or with quality.” I agree many government services can be privatized, especially “hard” services such as garbage collection. But soft services that involve people, such as child (and adult) protection, are easily outsourced.

        Too much government is bad, too little government is bad. The key is finding the right balance.

        1. Doug Ross

          I’ve also worked directly on government IT projects at the federal and state level. If there is skimming going on it is because it is allowed to happen – why? because those in charge of procurement and spending don’t treat the money like it is their own.

          I’ve seen where money was spent unnecessarily at the end of a budget year in order to secure the same funding for the next year. I’ve seen where government union programmers intentionally put bugs in their code so they could be paid overtime to fix them. I’ve personally been paid to babysit a federal government project and not allowed to do any work because it would cut into the work of another contracting company that was overbilling.

          The difference between private companies and government IT projects is that cost overruns and poor quality have consequences in the private sector. In the public sector, they just go get more funding from a source (taxpayers) who have no ability to stop the bad behavior.

          1. Bob Amundson

            Doug, we agree much more than disagree, as I have seen the same waste in government that you have. However, instead of limiting government, we need to improve it. I did say contracting some public services make sense, but even then, a government employee needs to monitor the contract and initiate corrective action as necessary. BECAUSE private companies don’t always do what they are contracted to do.

            Xerox is the latest private firm to assist South Carolina with their CSE IT system. Perhaps Xerox will be the last in a long line of contractors trying to help the state build a federally mandated IT system.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          It seems to me the key is finding the right incentives and disincentives. People (whether they have a government job, a private job, or no job at all) respond to incentives.

          People are not angels. People working in private industry do what is in their self-interest. The same applies to people who work in government. People who work in government are not God’s angels on earth by virtue of their job. No one is.

          1. Bob Amundson

            Agreed Bryan. A challenge in Public Administration is ridding government of poor performers, so at-will versus just cause termination is an issue. I do feel the proper termination standard for public employees is just cause, but too often meaningful employee evaluations are not done. Throughout government, we must tie pay to performance (incentive), evaluate public employees honestly, and fire poor performers.

            A few bad apples spoil the whole bunch. If government employees want to maintain just cause as the termination standard, it is time to make performance evaluations meaningful. If that does not happen soon, it may be time to make public employee termination at-will.

            1. Doug Ross


              When I consulted at the USPS back in the late 90’s there was one older man in the IT department who came in every day, sat in his cube, ate some applesauce, and then stared at his computer every day until it was time to go home. The IT manager gave him spreadsheet to track a few printers we had in the office. At then end of the year, when it was review time the manager asked HIS boss what he should write. The high level boss said “just give him a meets expectation… he’s retiring in a couple years any way”. That went on for 4-5 years before the guy retired. He died shortly afterward. I haven’t seen anything that blatant in all my years consulting in private companies.

          2. Doug Ross

            When you have a monopoly, incentives are not easy to implement. For government, it’s typically an oversight committee or Office of Inspector General that is required to keep government agencies honest.

            I’ll give you an example of something I find is bizarre – try to find out the email address of an IT worker in the SC DMV. I was made aware of an opportunity in the DMV involving converting software from a program that I used back in 1997 at the Post Office to a new application that I am using now. I wanted to find out more information but could not find the name or email address of any employee in the department. Why should that be the case?

            1. Bob Amundson

              USPS and South Carolina State government; two great examples of highly ineffective government entities. Utah is very libertarian, but they do have government. Gosh I miss Utah . . .

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