Virtual Front Page for Thursday, September 17, 2015


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Just to take a quick run around the bases…

  1. Fed Stands Pat, Wary of Global Tumult — WSJ — As I understand it (from having tortured myself listening to commentary on NPR), this is bad news because the Fed isn’t optimistic about our economy, and it’s good news because businesses are likely to invest more and wages might finally rise a bit. I think.
  2. Girlfriend: Roof friend Joe Meek hauled in by FBI — — I already told you about that. Meanwhile, here’s The Guardian‘s version of this South Carolina story.
  3. Croatian PM says country cannot stop migrants — BBC — 11,000 more have come in since Hungary closed the border.
  4. Fiorina takes subdued victory lap after debate performance — WashPost — Meanwhile, giving with one hand and taking away with the other, the Post also reports that her star could be dimmed if many people see the ad below from when she ran for the Senate five years ago.
  5. Cleveland Sellers stepping down from Voorhees College — — The survivor of the Orangeburg Massacre and father of Bakari cited health problems.
  6. Pope to find renewed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York — NYT — A neat infographic on a pretty awesome church.

71 thoughts on “Virtual Front Page for Thursday, September 17, 2015

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Hello! Anybody out there? Is this post showing up on anyone’s devices?

    I just don’t think I’ve ever had a Virtual Front Page go almost 17 hours without a comment before…

  2. Jeff Mobley

    It’s interesting, if not surprising, that very soon after the debate, I began to see on Twitter, as well as from news sources like the ones you linked above, various things about Carly Fiorina, and some of the questions that she’ll have to address now that she’s getting more attention. Things about her time at HP, and also positions she has taken in the past while associated with the National Republican Senatorial Committee that might irk conservatives. It should all be very interesting. I’m going to try to make it over to Hudsons BBQ at noon next Wednesday to see her.
    Also, I’m interested in what comes out of the forum in Greenville that’s going on this afternoon.

  3. bud

    I felt kind of in need of a shower after watching the GOP debate. It is simply astonishing that a major party stoops to the level of attacking each others looks and criticizing them for speaking Spanish or just flat out making stuff up. And some of it was dangerous. Trump suggests vaccines cause autism and the 2 doctors offer only tepid refutations. Republicans definitely have a problem with science. There was surprisingly little about the ACA and zero on climate change and only a token discussion of taxes. I’m really concerned for out country right now.

    But until the country implodes entirely I’ll update the odds:

    Rubio – 25% (He has to be the favorite. All the other elected guys are in a free fall)
    Fiorina – 15% (She’s sharp but as others have mentioned, ads attacking her in the CA senate race could come back to haunt her. Should be the favorite of GOP women)
    Bush -14% (The plutocrats are likely to bail on him soon. But not sure where they’ll go. Probably Rubio since he may be regarded as pliable)
    Cruz – 9% (He’s got the whole tea party whacko thing down pretty good so he’ll pick up Trump’s folks soon)
    Walker – 8% (He’s in decline but somehow I think he’ll may manage a comeback)
    Kasich – 6% (Could eventually rally the handful of somewhat moderate Republican support)
    Carson – 6% (Waaay too soft spoken but the theocrats seem to like him)
    Christie – 5% (Consensus is he had a good night)
    Trump – 4% (I had him at 5% last time. His collapse seems imminent)
    Huckabee – 3% (Not enough theocrats this time around to float two candidates)
    Paul – 3% (Not sure where his young objectivist supporters from 2012 are but they may give him a boost eventually)
    Graham – 1% (I’m starting to think he’s the favorite from the JV group. Perhaps if he scares people enough he can cash in on his imperialist mania)
    Others -<1% (These guys just need to throw in the towel)

    1. Juan Caruso

      Bud, you were a champion of the ACA before its passage. Now, you say, “There was surprisingly little about the ACA”. It is now law. What more discussion do you desire before hospitals are consolidated as a cost savings measure?

  4. Lynn Teague

    Since comments are in short supply, I’ll throw in a correction of something that I believe was mentioned on the blog some time ago (last week? can’t remember) about the Wall St. Journal article alleging that Bernie Sanders’ proposals would cost $15 trillion. The author of the study that the WSJ referenced has since rebutted the article, saying that the WSJ author badly misrepresented his research. His response can be found at:

    And no, Carly Fiorina didn’t see a video of a fetus on a table with beating heart and kicking legs while Planned Parenthood staff discussed keeping it alive to harvest the brain, contrary to her sensationalist lies in the presidential debate.

    Whatever one’s position on either health care funding or abortion, or on anything else, we should all be deeply disturbed that serious departures from reality don’t seem to bother a lot of folks in the political parties or the press. They will throw any red meat out there that they think they can get away with.

    Let’s hear it for the old “reality-based community” that W’s minions whined about.

    1. Pat

      Re Fiorina’s Planned Parenthood remark, I saw on a CNN analysis that there was a stock video inserted into one of those videos. Perhaps she saw that and thought it was a real part of the discussion. Anyway, that was what the woman taking part of the analysis suggested.

      1. Lynn Teague

        If you’re going to use something in a presidential debate there is a responsibility to know what you are talking about and present it accurately. Yes, this standard is often violated, but Fiorina went above and beyond with her comments.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      My pro-choice friends go on about the accuracy or the fairness of that Planned Parenthood video, none of which touches upon the real takeway that seemed to impress people across the spectrum — the utter callousness of the way the PP person spoke of harvesting human organs, a moral numbing that comes from abortion simply being a big part of what you do…

      1. Lynn Teague

        Okay, I’ll comment on the tenor of the discussions. I found the tone unacceptable, and was shocked at the poor judgment of someone meeting to discuss transfer of fetal tissue for medical research over what appears to be a glass of wine in what appears to be a public place.

        However, that IS what they were discussing – the legal transfer of fetal tissue for public benefit through medical research. That tissue is obtained from abortions that are legal because the law recognizes that prior to viability outside the womb this decision is between a woman and her doctor. Despite intensive efforts, no one has found the slightest evidence that there has been any profit from these transfers or any illegality.

        I get it that you believe life that requires legal protection begins at conception, Brad. I don’t agree. To me a zygote is some cells with reshuffled DNA, not a person. It is worthy of respect that you act out of your religious convictions, but I shouldn’t have to do so.

        So, my response to your comment is that the PP staff showed poor judgment in the way that they discussed tissue transfers, but they were neither morally bankrupt or criminal. As to the accusation that they were callous – I don’t think they could ever rise to the level of callousness demonstrated by John McCain’s cute little “bomb bomb Iran” ditty, in which he is talking about destroying decidedly post-fetal human persons.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          “Despite intensive efforts, no one has found the slightest evidence that there has been any profit from these transfers or any illegality.” (emphasis mine).

          Here, I think you mean “proof”, not “evidence”. There’s plenty of evidence. For instance, they’re supposed to simply cover costs, not make profit. So when PP specifically negotiates with the third parties in order to get higher rates of payment, that is “evidence” that they are acting illegally. You don’t negotiate when you’re merely covering costs. You just say “These are my costs, so this is what you owe”.

          I notice Hillary does this with her e-mail server investigation. She keeps saying there is no “evidence” she broke the law. Again, I think she means “proof”.

        2. Doug Ross

          They aren’t harvesting organs from zygotes. That’s the red herring that is always thrown into the discussion. Why won’t Planned Parenthood release data on the sale of the organs? The price list should be open to the public if it is truly not-for-profit. I’d also like to know what the average and maximum gestational age of the fetus is when the harvesting is performed. It’s well beyond zygote. Does it have a beating heart?

        1. Doug Ross

          Counting “services” is a lot different from counting revenue and complexity of the services. If you want to equate handing out a condom to terminating a pregnancy and harvesting the organs and delivering those organs, you’re being very misleading. It’s like saying the Columbia Heart Center provides more blood pressure checks than bypasses.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          If it’s such a small part of what they do, then all they have to do is stop doing abortions and the controversy goes away.

          I mean, why let it threaten their ability to provide “women’s health” services, if that’s really core to them, if that’s really what they’re all about?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And the answer is that abortion is central to the way PP defines “women’s health.” To them, you’re not providing for women’s health without abortions.

            So to them, abortion is core. So it’s pointless to try to dismiss it as “a small part” of what they do.

  5. bud

    Objectivism in it’s purest form is a philosophy that abhors religion and values the pursuit of self interest as the highest moral goal. Laissez-faire capitalism without interference from either government or belief in God are sufficient to bring about a utopian world where the real creators of wealth can easily be identified by their net-worth. Morality and wealth are essentially synonymous.

    This thoroughly abhorrent philosophy, absent the critical atheist component, has managed to find it’s way into Republican DNA. The consequence is an ever-widening income gap between the “creators” ie the rich, and the “lazy” ie working class. Rand Paul has tried to carry on his father’s legacy in this philosophy but fortunately seems to be failing. Perhaps word has gotten out that atheism is a huge part of Ayn Rand’s misguided worldview.

    1. Doug Ross

      So what do you do that is not in your own self interest? Describe your sacrifice for others. Do you eat food you don’t like? Do you reject raises at work? Do you have any ego or just self loathing?

    2. Pat

      The problem with objectivism is its unbridled self-interest with no regard for anyone else’s needs. Bud, you are absolutely right about the atheist connection with objectivism. A biblically based self-interest would be tempered with wisdom and also look out for the needs of others. The Republican DNA has mutated seemingly without awareness of the atheist component.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “A biblically based self-interest would be tempered with wisdom and also look out for the needs of others.”

        Liberals always like to invoke religious faith when defending welfare programs, spending on the environment and education. But suddenly, they say faith has no place in politics when it proves inconsistent to their political agenda. Then, they don’t think the government should be imposing religious values on others. I think what they really mean is that no values should supersede the liberal agenda.

        On a related note, all this controversy about a hypothetical Muslim running for President is beyond dumb.

        If a Muslim wants to run for president, super! Good for him. He can throw his taqiyah (hat) in the ring and explain how his faith informs his agenda (or doesn’t). The rest of us have to do it, so should a Muslim. If his answers are no good, he won’t get elected.

        Of course a Muslim can be President. So could a Hindu, a Devil-Worshiper, or a Jedi (assuming they’re naturally born here). Probably not a cyborg, though. I think when you get into machines, it’s tricky. Accordingly, if you had your heart set on RoboCop Administration, don’t get your hopes up. Someone with Darth Vader-like machine accessories is a closer call, but Vader isn’t a natural born citizen, so he’s out.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          However, a Canadian cannot throw his toque into the ring.

          I just said that because of the similarity of “taqiyah” and “toque.” I wonder if they have a similar root?

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Related Trivia Question: Name the famous US aviator whose squadron had the “Hat in the Ring” as their emblem.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                I’ll admit that I looked up the image, and saw a photo of a guy standing next to a plane, and THAT placed it as WWI, and the only American flier I can name from then is Rickenbacker…

        2. Pat

          You are quick to label.
          Republicans (conservatives) count on the evangelical vote but it is hard to understand the connection of the goals of many conservatives with the tenants of the faith. I would hope that Christians of all stripes would prefer a government that creates a climate in which All people can succeed, answers emergencies swiftly and effectively, and protects its citizens from harm. I’m thinking of the preamble to the constitution. In regard to a Muslims running for president, the same constitution that protects religious freedom of Christians also protects the freedom of other faiths. It’s up to voters as to who they can accept as president. If you’re saying it is a manufactured controversy, I agree.

          1. Doug Ross

            A true Christian would not turn over responsibility for other people to the government. Jesus was the original poster boy for Nike: Just Do It!

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              Doug, You believe a “true” Christian would _____. I believe a true Christian tries to emulate Christ, who fed the hungry, etc. I believe that I can feed a whole lot more people if I vote for a government that will do so than I can ever feed on my own.
              I do not believe that those who think differently are necessarily not “true” Christians. However, I would not want to defend a posture that “I don’t want to pay more taxes if they go to feed people” to Jesus.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                I think Jesus is about as equally interested in our voting choices as he is in our choice of which college football team we choose to support.

              2. Doug Ross

                Exactly, Bryan. Jesus doesn’t care what government exists or that it exists at all. The pathway to heaven is not through the offices of the Social Security Administration.

                But I’m excited to have non-Christians explain it all to me.

        3. Bryan Caskey

          By the way, the first part of my comment above is from Jonah Goldberg’s piece here. Need to cite to the source – it’s not my original thought.

          The dicta on RoboCop and Vader is all me, though.

  6. Phillip

    The profit motive and individuals’ natural self-interest may be enough to sustain a dynamic economy for a little while, but I’ve never heard a satisfactory explanation of how laissez-faire capitalism (or anarcho-capitalism) can account for gradual threats to the environment or the well-being of our particular species even, in a long-term sense in which most of us as individuals may be unlikely to be directly affected, that much anyway within one lifetime. How does one reconcile self-interest with decisions with which we are confronted that will likely have huge impact on future generations? What are the mechanisms we have available to us as a society, as a species, to make decisions that may go against our immediate self-interest but be in the interest of those who come after? Or is that somehow against nature to even consider that—should we just do what we like now, what brings us the greatest possibility for profit within one lifetime, and let each generation after cope with the hand it has been dealt?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      All pure laissez-faire capitalism is good at is maximizing wealth. It sucks at distributing it.
      It permits, nay–encourages, externalizing costs of the sort you trenchantly enumerate.

      —and studies repeatedly show, it does not maximize happiness. Having more income, after a certain moderate amount (~$70K in the US), not only does not correlate with increased happiness, it negatively correlates to it!

      1. Doug Ross

        So that would suggest that if you make more than 70k, you should give away everything above that amount. Willing to try?

        Next time to want to denigrate profit motive, don’t use a computer, cellphone, or the internet. Send in your comments handwritten on a piece of paper.

        1. Doug Ross

          Remember all those photos of happy Russians in food lines?

          The funniest hypocrites are upper class liberals.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            It’s a long, reductive, cheap-shot way from pointing out that capitalism has flaws and that repeated scientific studies show that more money, past a certain point, does not create happiness, to Soviet bread lines.

            I suggest that rather than “giving away’ my income in excess of $70K (which, after retirement savings and taxes, is negligible, btws), we all could be more generous with our taxes and help those struggling with the outfall of capitalism, thus increasing total happiness, as well as wealth, and that we also heavily tax incomes over $70 K to provide free education for all who can benefit from it, adequate retirement income, significant environmental remediation, including buying back old polluting vehicles…..etc.

            1. Doug Ross

              You can be more generous but choose not to. Why is your retirement more important than making sure people have enough food to eat? Why are you so self-interested?

              The 70K study number is utter bunk. 70K for one person? For a family? Where – San Francisco or Columbia? Pre-tax or post-tax? Then define “happiness” for me. What is the measurement? What is the control group – people who had more than 70K and then lost it but felt happier? The number of variables involved make this study 98.4556% ridiculous. It’s junk data presented as fact.

              I’ve had 70K earnings and I’ve had more than 70K earnings. There’s no question that having more made (and the people I am responsible for and the charities I support) happier. The money flows down – to servers at nice restaurants who get big tips, to factory workers who produce high end goods, to people who work for airlines and cruise lines, to craftsmen who do home renovations, to people who run lawn services, to dog kennel operators…

              The whole notion of defining your own happiness by the ability to take more from those who have more is sad. In fact, I would be even happier with my > 70K salary if I didn’t have to think about other people wanting to take my money to give to their favorite charity.

            2. Kathryn Fenner

              I am trying to be self-reliant, as you preach, Doug, by ensuring that my retirement is reasonably funded, especially since I do not have children to depend on.

              1. Doug Ross

                Why should you depend on children? (I’m not). Surely there are plenty of fellow liberals willing to step up and care for you… Because they are all interested in their fellow man and not self-interested.

                I’ve found that the more I give, the more I get back. You oughta try it.

              2. Doug Ross

                Give more. Put aside your self-interest and give, give, give. Give until you don’t have to take from me to meet your objectives.

  7. Phillip

    My point was not about happiness or what is the “proper” amount for a person to earn, etc. I just think that laissez-faire capitalism followed all the way to its logical conclusion, while it may have a lot going for it, is in fundamental conflict with two important ideas for humanity. One is that it ultimately undermines democracy because of the concentration of wealth in corporate entities and/or individuals with the concomitant increase in power (one reason why “free market” is kind of an oxymoron, ultimately the market can only end up as not-completely-free, the only question being who is going to be at the steering wheel)…and the other has to do with the point I was making, that pursuing our self-interest is not going to help us confront climate change or any environmental issue really in which the “bill” doesn’t come fully due until a future generation or two, where changes to help later generations are going to go in some sense against our “self-interest.”

    1. Doug Ross

      How much money has to be spent on losing elections before it becomes obvious that money is not as important in elections as some think? Beyond a certain point, it just doesn’t matter.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah, but you have to get to that certain point. You have to have some staff, and they have to be paid (volunteers will only get you so far). You need some campaign materials, signage and posters and such. You need to do SOME advertising.

        And you need to pay for a certain amount of travel.

        But bottom line, if you don’t have what people want to buy, no amount of money is going to sell it to them…

      2. Phillip

        Doug, you’re absolutely right that money can’t always directly buy an election, but the power of money, if you will, manifests itself in many other ways. Also, elections are only one aspect of the functioning of democracy. It’s all the stuff that happens in-between (the bills that are written and passed, the lobbying, the access and influence, etc.) that is at least as critical to the functioning of a democracy. The by-product of all this is an increasing cynicism about our democracy, which we see in abundance all around us, by those on the left, the middle, and the right.

        1. Doug Ross

          But, Phillip, I think you’ll want us to believe that Republicans are somehow more “tainted” by the money when the reality is BOTH parties are bought and paid for by lobbyists, deep pocket donors, PACS, etc. Yet when the time comes, Democrats will pull the lever for their big spending, PAC supported, big donor butt kissers while screaming about the Koch brothers.

          A vote for Hillary is a vote for big money politics just as a vote for Obama was. Trying to rationalize it with “Well, Republicans are worse” won’t change the system. Vote for Bernie Sanders or Rand Paul if you truly want a change in government…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            I think the latter caused the former. I wanted to like him, but I kind of agree with your “doofus” assessment. He just didn’t ever make the leap from being a successful governor who delivered on things.

            In that way, he kind of reminds me of how a coach can be really good at coaching college ball, but fails in the NFL. Speaking of football, anyone else hear the rumors that Chip Kelly might be on his way out…and could land with the Gamecocks if Spurrier were to call it quits?

  8. bud

    Unregulated capitalism fails the people just as surely and completely as pure socialism. There must be some sort of balance.

    Speaking of failing. My early favorite (or perhaps co-favorite with Jeb) in the GOP POTUS race was Scott Walker. And I was not alone. His fall has been spectacular as he becomes the second to drop out. Then there were a mere 15.

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