Your Virtual Front Page for Thursday, January 7, 2016


Or call it an Open Thread and bring up your own topic, if you prefer. We haven’t had a really good, in-depth conversation about anything yet this year. Let’s see if one of these topics has the magic:

  1. China Market Woes Reflect Pessimism Over Economy — They shut down their exchange today right after it opened, and sent markets tumbling around the world. I’m beginning to suspect the ChiComs just don’t get capitalism. Not that we’ve been doing all that great with it lately ourselves… Meanwhile, right next door…
  2. Why Experts Doubt North Korea Tested a Hydrogen Bomb — Let’s hope the boffins are right on this one.
  3. Newman gives up $398,000 contract, steps down as lawyer for penny tax program — They say he did this voluntarily. You mean, he was allowed a choice in the matter? Now, that’s shocking…
  4. Syrian government ‘to let aid into besieged Madaya’ — If those pictures of hungry babies don’t crack your heart, nothing will.
  5. The Oregon occupation — Anyone have any thoughts to share about this, such as the back-and-forth on whether these guys are “terrorists?” Here’s one side on that point and here’s the other. My own preliminary take: Don’t you have to actually commit violence to be a terrorist? These guys are armed (which is what disqualifies them from the same category as students who take over the administration building), so it seems the most we can say is that they are potential, or maybe even incipient, terrorists. Or terrorist wannabes, perhaps…
  6. Graham: Any viable GOP candidate must challenge Trump, Cruz — Seeing the electoral viability of his party as on the line, our senior senator says mainstream Republicans can’t just kick back and wait; they need to confront the extremists. Watch the video below from The Greenville News.

Or don’t. You know what? I can’t stand the way that video keeps autoplaying, so I’ve removed the embed code. If you want to view it, here’s the link. Anyway, I’ve got my own, more recent, Graham clip up now.

43 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page for Thursday, January 7, 2016

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Its such a remote place there are no other people for miles and miles. Who are they going to terrorize, the squirrels and owls?

    They’re dopes. Cut off the power, water, and don’t let them re-supply. They’ll come out on their own eventually.

  2. Lynn Teague

    Brad, you’re in the unusual position of agreeing with Krugman. He has argued at length that the Chinese leadership doesn’t “get capitalism.”

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      How could they?

      You have to wonder how long an authoritarian Maoist state can continue to run the world’s second-largest market economy…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And I sometimes agree with Krugman on substance. Sometimes.

      The reason I don’t like him is because of his tone and attitude. He’s just SUCH an obnoxious partisan ideologue, the kind who obviously utterly despises anyone who disagrees with him. Here he is, a Nobel laureate, and his tone often reads like some angry little flunky at party headquarters.

      When you devote as much of your life to trying to foster civil dialogue as I have, that kind of thing can really bug you.

      What’s the use of being right, if the way you express yourself is a poke in the eye to everyone who disagree with you — the very people you most need to persuade?

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “What’s the use of being right, if the way you express yourself is a poke in the eye to everyone who disagree with you — the very people you most need to persuade?”

        So many people could benefit from acting in accordance with this, including me.

      2. Barry

        Krugman has spent a lot of time in academia- surrounded by people that agree with him- or have no authority to disagree with him (students).

        Can you imagine someone like him trying to carry on a conversation with someone working a regular factory job in South Carolina or North Carolina? He would be unable to hold a conversation with them because he would have nothing in the world in common with such a person.

        1. Scout

          There are people in academia who can do that. I don’t think it’s a function of environment so much as just him. Some people have a better ability to intuitively relate to others and respect their point of view. Many don’t. And many things in our culture these days do not seem to be encouraging that trait to develop from whatever innate form it starts from in people. It’s sad.

      3. bud

        The absolute most irritating columnists are those who bend over backwards to find fault (or praise) with both sides. Thomas Freidman and Robert Brooks do a lot of that. But our own Brad is the champion. When I read columns that do that it’s like the proverbial fingernails on the chalkboard. Sometimes one side really is more to blame for a particular problem.

        1. Brad Warthen

          Yes, sometimes one side IS more to blame. And when they are, I say so. But that’s just not the case as often as you believe…

        2. Scout

          Huh, those are all people I like. How about Matthew Dowd? I like him too. What is it about seeing both sides that bothers you? I really can’t relate to that.

          1. bud

            Nothing wrong with considering all sides on an issue. It’s when it becomes obvious that the columnist presents both sides equally when clearly one side is obviously far more correct. It’s like comparing Charles Manson to a kid caught stealing an apple with the implication that both committed crimes therefore both deserve equal weight. I’d rather read 2 strongly held views defending there side of an issue than 1 squishy columnist who can’t seem to make up his mind. That’s why I like Paul Krugman. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. And even though I almost always disagree with Charles Krauthammer he is far more thought provoking than Thomas Friedman.

  3. Doug Ross

    The Nerve continues to dig deeper into the muck and slime that is the Penny Tax. Millions of dollars being funneled to people doing no work. Where is Steve Benjamin’s response to this?

    Anyone who pushed for this ripoff tax should be embarrassed. You were sold a bill of goods that was dressed up as saving the bus system, creating bike paths, creating jobs, fixing roads. All it was was a cash grab by corrupt politicians and well connected thieves.

    1. Barry

      The stink is getting worse.

      Former city council-man up to his neck in deceit and money for nothing

      Who selected a lawyer with no experience in such work to run title searches and offer opinions for the county?

      Why is public money being paid to an attorney to get experience in an area of law that he isn’t educated on- all the while he gets paid to offer title opinions?

      Why is public money not going to any number of qualified attorneys in Columbia that already do such work versus a former county councilman?

      Look away, nothing going on here.

      1. Bryan Caskey


        The city paid a lawyer who doesn’t know how to do real estate law to give title opinions on property? Good god, the cronyism and self-dealing is just mind-boggling.

        I do title work all the time for real estate closings. It’s not super-complicated, but you do need to have a background in the fundamentals of real estate law and be a detail-oriented person.

        I guess I’m not a pezzonovante, though.

        It’s almost like people run for public office just so they can engage in self-dealing and personally profit. Almost.

        1. Barry

          and I find it strange that in the few articles I’ve read about this – no one seems interested in asking the questions – or doing the investigative work to find out who proposed paying Newman for law work in which he would need on the job training in order to perform?

          John Monk?

          WIS TV?

          Look away. Nothing to see here.

          1. Doug Ross

            There is a double standard by the local media when it comes to addressing issues involving black leaders. Maybe it’s some subconscious fear of being labelled racist. Steve Benjamin is treated with kid gloves.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I’ll say that most media people seem to LIKE Benjamin, but beyond that… What negative things do you know about Benjamin, and where did you learn them? Probably from local media…

                1. Doug Ross

                  Government isn’t evil. It’s just filled with incompetent and unethical people. Not all of them, just more than you find in any private industry. And that’s because there is little accountability and oversight. And, no, I don’t mean catching crooks AFTER they’ve stolen the money. Accountability is making sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

              1. Doug Ross

                Has anyone from The State asked Benjamin fir a response to the penny tax news? He was the lead dog on the marketing hype to sell it. 16,000 jobs was what he was pushing. Has anyone in the media asked him for an update on how many jobs have been created? I mean aside from the no show, kickback jobs?

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I can’t imagine why anyone would ask him about it. I suppose someone could, but it wouldn’t occur to me as being relevant.

                  It sounds relevant to YOU because you were against it, and all of us who were for it are culpable in the misdeeds of others, and need to be held accountable for our wickedness. You think the campaign for the penny was somehow a criminal conspiracy itself.

                  I, who was peripherally involved, have seen no indication of that.

                  People who have their hands in the till need to be prosecuted. It appears that that is happening. It has nothing to do with whether the penny should have passed to begin with…

                2. Doug Ross

                  If they used lies and a rigged election to pass the penny tax, it has EVERYTHING to do with it.

                  Who is responsible for letting the crooks get paid in the first place? Was it due to incompetence or worse? Who is ACCOUNTABLE for this train wreck? This isn’t bank robbers holding up a bank – it’s people submitting invoices and getting PAID. Who authorized the payments? Why does that person still have a job?

                3. Doug Ross

                  Just read this one new report on The Nerve and tell me how money could flow from the local government to people like Brian DeQuincey Newman without SOMEBODY signing off on the payments?


                  There are so many layers to the deception… and how in the world did M.B. Kahn get approved to be involved in any of this? Weren’t they recently in bankruptcy? It all stinks….

                4. Doug Ross

                  “Except of course that we have NO indication that anyone “used lies and a rigged election to pass the penny tax.”

                  Lies are documented. 16,000 jobs. Hundreds of dollars in maintenance savings to every car. Oh, yeah, they called them “projections”. And the sheep just go “Baaaaa!”

  4. Burl Burlingame

    The stupid is strong in Oregon. Would not be a problem if they weren’t heavily armed and itching for a fight.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “It is an approved maxim in war, never to do what the enemy wishes you to do, for this reason alone, that he desires it. A field of battle, therefore, which he has previously studied and reconnoitered, should be avoided, and double care should be taken where he has had time to fortify and entrench.” -Napoleon

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I really gotta start reading those books one day. I just have too many sexy non-fiction books that catch my eye. Currently, I’m reading about the military and intelligence failures of Austria-Hungary leading up to and through the summer of 1914.

    2. Mark Stewart

      They are neither Oregonians nor strong.

      The link they have with ideological terrorists is the similar way that they have perverted religious expression as sort of justification for their nonsensical socio-political-economic world view. This guys would have been brown shirts in Nazi Germany, anarchists in the slums of the industrial revolution, Bolsheviks in 1918, red shirts in SC in 1875, ISIS wannabes today in Syria, Irish Republican bombers in 1970s Great Britan, or any number of otherwise completely maladjusted groups of thuggish zealots.

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    I wish I could find the switch in the code so I could turn off the autoplay on that video. Sometimes, it’s obvious. Here, it isn’t.

    I may have to remove it…

    1. Doug Ross

      Not as annoying as the Jeb Bush video ads that play in between moves in Words With Friends. What genius thought that was a good idea? I guess if you have millions to blow, you just spend it all.

      1. Barry

        My boy cat named Elsa has a better chance winning any primary than does Jeb Bush.

        Talk about blowing your money.

    2. Scout

      I just muted my computer temporarily since he keeps talking again every time I make a comment. That way I don’t have to scroll all the way to the top to stop him.

  6. bud

    I was working on a Powerpoint presentation today, preparing a slide comparing traffic deaths to deaths from other causes. Traffic crashes still leads among these: HIV, drownings, falls, fire, homicide, suicide and accidental firearms discharge. But what caught my attention was how close suicide is to traffic crashes. A few years back traffic was double suicide. Now it isn’t but about 20% more and it’s only that wide a gap because traffic is way up the last 2 years. We should be very concerned with this trend. We are becoming a nation in despair for a number of reasons that likely include PTSD, and various economic issues. Whatever the cause(s) it’s far more scary than ISIS.

    By the way, accidental firearms discharge was by far the lowest on this list. Guns result in a lot of deaths but it’s usually intentional in some way. I’m all for an emphasis on gun safety classes but not sure it would make a huge amount of difference.

    1. Pat

      Bud, I think you are right. There is a stretch of I-85 in SC around Anderson County that has so many accidents that I’ve often thought the EMS and others who work those accidents must have ptsd. We do need safer roads. I wish we would redirect some of that traffic to trains.

  7. Scout

    I don’t think the Oregon people are terrorists, as of yet. Maybe they will do something to change that. But to confuse the argument more, they do actually appear to be religious extremists of the Mormon variety. The official LDS church is disavowing their actions, but they are using Mormon ideology and quotes all over the place apparently and fashioning themselves after some guy from Mormon scripture who made a stand against what he thought was a tyrannical government threatening his liberty. The scripture guy put a quote on a flag and waved it and God made the tyrannical government give up and go away and leave them alone. These guys are using the same quote and apparently hoping for the same outcome.

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