Open Thread for Monday, March 7, 2016

I’ve been out of town today — made a run up to my hometown, Bennettsville, on bidness — but here are some things for y’all to ponder:

  1. Obama’s shortlist for the Supreme Court nomination — The names are in this WashPost story. The White House is leaning toward a federal judge who has already been vetted and was confirmed with bipartisan support — ya know, to make it even more obvious how ridiculous the GOP refusal to consider anybody is…
  2. Now there is one: Beatty and only Beatty running for SC chief justice — OK, but… Didn’t Pleicones just get the job? I’m confused… I mean, at least the SCOTUS position is actually open. (OK, after I posted this, a trusted source reminded me that Costa has to retire at the end of this year because of his age. There will be a vote on his successor this spring. So… never mind…)
  3. Michael Bloomberg Says He Won’t Run for President — Just in case you were holding your breath on that one…
  4. US air strike ‘kills 150 Somali militants’ — This is leading the BBC, but not any of the American outlets I’ve looked at. British publications are less insular, more interested in the world than we are — even when it’s about what we are going in the world.
  5. White House to reveal death toll of US drone strikes for first time — Taking it to another level, this leads The Guardian. One can sometimes get the impression, reading that publication, that all we do here in the U.S. of A. is send drones to kill people abroad, and kill each other with handguns at home. Still, (sort of) neocon that I am, I enjoy reading the paper. I read it most days when I was in England.
  6. Inside the Rubio meltdown: Frustration, perceived blunders — Yay for Marco, he won Puerto Rico! Otherwise, not doing so hot. I was looking to a story to link to about all the activity on the GOP side over the weekend, and this was the first thing I landed on…
  7. Shush now, Hillary; don’t you know a man is tawking? — A lot of people think Bernie still needs to learn a few things about running against a woman…


36 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, March 7, 2016

  1. bud

    5. These drone strikes are really disgusting. Obama has done so much good on the domestic side but this really is very disturbing. And no one in the presidential campaigns are addressing it. Sometimes there is a significant issue where I have nowhere to turn to find my favored policy approach. This is one of those times.

  2. Doug Ross

    The Richland County Elections Office operates in the grey area between incompetence and outright malfeasance.

    “Speaking to Richland County Council last Tuesday, director Sam Selph said his Office of Elections and Voter Registration needed an additional $1.19 million – about twice his yearly budget – in “emergency” funds just to meet operational expenses as an underfunded department.

    What Selph did not tell council, and what a search of records obtained by The Nerve reveals, is that:
    of his office’s $1.24 million budget for FY 2016, $1.03 million goes to salaries alone;
    Selph has already exceeded his overtime budget with four months left in the fiscal year;
    Selph has spent an additional $128,000 not authorized in his budget;
    Selph over-billed the county by $90,000 for the 2015 City of Columbia elections; and
    Selph’s request to have council redirect reimbursements intended for the county’s general fund to his office means taxpayers would be paying for the same elections twice.”

    I continue to be baffled as to how The Nerve does much better reporting on local government than The State… especially after watching the movie Spotlight and seeing what a newspaper can do to right the wrongs in the a community.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      There’s nothing baffling about it. The State has a news and editorial staff of about 40, rather than the 160 it had at its height.

      But even with 160, what the paper could do was finite. There were always limitations — everything you decie to cover means five other things you don’t cover — and a smaller organization could always look to see what the paper was missing and “hit ’em where they ain’t,” thereby greatly embarrassing the larger paper.

      Now, it is far, far easier to do that.

      It is particularly easy for a tiny organization with a distinct ideological bent — in this case, to make government in general look just the way Doug assumes it to be, incompetent and often venal. The Nerve can ignore the whole universe — it has NO obligation to cover a community — and concentrate on picking at a particular sore, digging and digging and digging at it.

      And if The State was thoroughly covering the election commission mess (and the problems with the county’s handling of the penny tax money), the Nerve could just pick one of many other problems The State is not devoting resources to and dig into THAT instead. Because they’re always out there, even in the best of circumstances.

      Similarly, the Spotlight team at the Globe, wonderful as it is, is ignoring a thousand other possible stories to focus on the one it’s working on. You may recall that in the film, the team is ordered off of a police department mess it’s working on to tackle the priest-abuse stories. Everything even the best paper devotes resources to leaves other good stories neglected.

      So again, it’s not baffling at all…

      1. Doug Ross

        Well, what then IS The State working on?

        And if they don’t have the resources to dedicate to basic reporting, why don’t they just outsource that task to The Nerve and pay THEM to do it? They pay for syndicated opinion columns and cartoons, right? So why not pay for

        To try and minimize the importance of the work The Nerve is doing by focusing on its political philosophy is quite parochial. Do you dispute the facts of their reporting? Don’t shoot the messenger just because they are focused on government waste.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I did’t shoot the messenger, or comment in any way on the quality of their reporting. I mentioned the reason why they pick the topics they pick out of the many, many possibilities that The State — resources being finite — are not covering adequately at a given time.

          I’ve seen this phenomenon many times. In fact, I have a fave story about when someone scooped my paper like that, and I attacked the story with a vengeance, and we ended up winning an award for our coverage — which really ticked off the people who initially broke it. But they were only able to break it because they were approached by a source who deliberately wanted to embarrass the paper, I’ve always believed…

      2. Lynn Teague

        The Nerve is also prone to serious misfires. They recently did an “expose” that revealed nothing more than that the ER is overkill when your kid sprains a finger. They imply that what is needed is to eliminate a bunch of ER personnel. I definitely don’t want ERs pared down to what is appropriate for such trivial injuries. I’ve been there with family in life-or-death situations and definitely didn’t find them overstaffed. This is a microcosm of their whole “kill the government” routine. They do a lot of good digging into situations like Richland County EC, but they have an agenda in what they report and how they report it. Everyone does of course, but mainstream media have some notions of objectivity as an ethical standard.

        1. Doug Ross

          Are you talking about the post title “Are Hospitals Bloated?” That wasn’t what would be called a news story. It wasn’t even worthy of calling it a blog post. It was a couple paragraphs leading into an email from someone who had a bad experience at an ER. It was the equivalent to a Letter to The Editor in The State or a Rant/Rave in the Free Times.

          Huge difference between that post and fact-based, researched news stories that they produce. I haven’t seen anything like that in The State in a long time.

          The State has its own political philosophy… it’s the Chamber of Commerce, Kumbaya mindset.

  3. Brad Warthen

    Interesting thing about that drone strike… Yesterday, I read that 150 number, and thought, “How do we know?” That’s some rather specific BDA.

    So do we have people on the ground, maybe even inside the group we were targeting?

    Then this morning I read, “There were believed to be no civilian casualties in the strike, although the Pentagon is still assessing the situation…”

    OK, that’s at least as hard to know as that other thing. And I find myself wondering about the source.

    I think of the film “Black Hawk Down.” I recall Eric Bana’s character, the Delta soldier, entering the city alone posing as a photographer. Which sort of strained belief — a white man trying to be inconspicuous in the Bakaara market. More understandable was the local agent who parked his car with a white cross taped on the roof to mark where Aidid’s lieutenants were meeting.

    I suppose we still have such assets on the ground in Somalia. But it seems risky — for them — for the Pentagon to share such info. I don’t know, though; maybe there were a lot of ways we could know such things…

    1. Bart

      During the first Gulf War, one of my employees was called up to active service. His duties included providing R&R assistance to the recon teams in Iraq when they were at one of our naval bases in the Mediterranean. I have known this individual for well over 30 years and his honesty is unquestionable. One of the fascinating accounts he shared was the one where the recon team inside Baghdad were actually walking with the crowd surrounding Saddam Hussein and they took photos of him. One of the members of the team was within 3 feet of Hussein and they could have taken him out at any time if ordered to do so.

      One of their responsibilities was to accurately identify and locate using coordinates the targets inside Baghdad for our cruise missles to hit. So, it is not impossible to blend in with the crowd if you know what you are doing and disguise was one of the recon team’s specialties along with others.

      Of course, “Hollywood” will use artistic license to tell a story but overall, the depiction of Eric Bana’s character is not unbelievable. A dark beard and a deep tan will go unnoticed in a crowd in the ME. I worked with a guy in Dubai who could easily pass for a Middle Easterner. When he would don the traditional clothing and head scarf, you couldn’t distinguish him from a local.

      Yes, this is anecdotal but IMHO, accurate.

    2. Doug Ross

      ““There were believed to be no civilian casualties in the strike, although the Pentagon is still assessing the situation…”

      Hmmm… if there was even the remote chance there were civilians in the area, why would they be killed by drones that would presumably be able to target specific people?

      Just another day in the moral calculus of the U.S. military. 150 killed plus or minus a few innocent people apparently falls into the currently acceptable performance metric. They weren’t Americans so they only count 38% as much.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        It makes me want to puke when I read post-Vietnam garbage like “Just another day in the moral calculus of the U.S. military.”

        But yeah, you’re right. It’s just another day in the operations of the one military force that has done the most of any in the history of the world to avoid noncombatant casualties…

        I’m sure that’s what you meant, right?

        1. Doug Ross

          “I’m sure that’s what you meant, right?”

          No. Puke away.

          Although if the military will identify each of those killed and their specific threat to the security of the United States, maybe I’ll reconsider. I’d hope that anyone who is the target of a drone attack would be a 110% positive threat… and hopefully not the guy who happened to be delivering a Somalian Jimmy John’s sandwich to them that day,

          1. Doug Ross

            And give me a ballpark figure of what you think it cost American taxpayers to take out those 150 Somali militants? $1 million each when you add up all the staff, equipment, contractors, etc.? Let’s lowball it.. $100K each. $15 million dollars. I’d bet it’s several multiples of that number but let’s go with that.

            A good family health insurance policy in the U.S. costs around $15K. So we could have provided coverage to about a 1000 families in the U.S. Instead we killed 150 Somalians. 150 Somalians who will be replaced by 150 Somalians very shortly (plus all the family members of the dead who now hate the U.S. even more).

            Excuse me while I get nauseous.

  4. Bart

    Re: Sanders and Clinton

    Clinton effectively won when she ran for the senate when her opponent who was actually leading at the time walked from his podium to hers with a document of some sort and her reaction was one of wide-eyed shock and a look of surprise on her face. This one incident changed the course of the election immediately and her opponent was portrayed as a male chauvinist, bully, and dismissive of Clinton. It worked.

    Sanders made the same mistake verbally and it will end up costing him any chance he may have to win the nomination. Is it fair or not? IMHO, if Clinton is still viewed as a helpless female who must be protected against the likes of Sanders verbal comments and voters will abandon Sanders because he reminded Clinton he was still talking, what does that say about the electorate? Are we so determined to elect the first female president that anything remotely offensive will be blown out of proportion.

    If Hillary Clinton cannot take the heat of the moment during a debate and if she interrupts the other person, is that somehow her priviledge since she is female and therefore must be granted special treatment because of her gender?

    What happens if she is elected president and receives the rough treatment Obama has received? Will the sentiment equation be introduced into anything she does or says? Will the press immediately come to her defense if she is treated badly by her opponents if they say or do anything that would be acceptable if Hillary was a male?

    Sanders is a plain spoken politician and seems to be an honest individual. He most likely reacted to Clinton the way he would if a male opponent interrupted him.

    This is a non-story but given the political atmosphere, why would anyone be surprised at the attention it is receiving?

    1. Doug Ross

      Bart – Sanders really never had a chance. He’ll be out in a week or two. He may be plain spoken and honest, but he lives in a fantasy world where everything is free as long as you can raise taxes enough for someone else to pay for it. I listened to about 20 minutes of the debate the other night and it was mind boggling to listen to him (and Hillary) talk about all the billions and trillions of dollars they were going to spend. For every problem there is a tax and spend plan run by the federal government to solve it: roads, schools, healthcare.

      Hillary is something else, too. She is a pathological liar with no ability to answer a question directly and honestly. The moderator asked her a simple question about whether teacher unions should do more to remove bad teachers – and she just couldn’t dredge up the ability to say “yes”. She rambled on about how the unions support her and the best she could say was something to the effect of “the unions should look at ways to improve education”. She is programmed to respond in legalese and political obfuscation. Four years of that would be so depressing.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      Wow, that’s a silly (at best) piece in the WaPo about Hillary and Bernie.

      Why should Bernie change the way he deals with Hillary, just because she’s a woman? If a man interrupted him, he’d also object, right? However, Ms. Ross is pretty sure Bernie should let her interrupt at will, otherwise he could “come across like a chauvinist or bully.”

      By the way, I’m a lawyer and what Bernie did is EXACTLY what I do when opposing counsel tries to interrupt or over-talk me. “Excuse me, counsel, it’s MY turn to talk. You’ll have your chance to talk when I’m done. I gave you the courtesy of allowing you to speak. I would appreciate the same from you.

        1. Bryan Caskey


          Another thought: The author makes the neat little dodge of switching the issue from truth to appearances, which is a nice little way of avoiding the truth. I don’t know if Ms. Ross is saying that Bernie should let Hillary interrupt him simply because she’s a woman. Ms. Ross doesn’t come out and stake a position out, either way. What she does say is that, for the sake of appearances, Bernie should act like a second-class citizen and let Hillary interrupt him, or else the feminists are gonna hiss and scream at Bernie for being “chauvinist or a bully”.

  5. Doug Ross

    Lindsey Graham’s name was still on the ballot in Michigan, Mississippi, and Idaho last night with all the other Republican candidates who dropped out. He got a total of 688 votes across the three states to finish a distant 12th behind Carly Fiorina’s 1,873. He did beat George Pataki 170-128 in Mississippi though and beat someone named P. Messina in Michigan 80-27. Deal with it, Messina!! Lindsey opened a can of Whoopass on you!!.

      1. Doug Ross

        I was smart enough to know Rand Paul dropped out but voted for him anyway.

        Graham’s candidacy had the actual effect of making him LESS politically relevant. That’s pretty tough to do,

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I know you don’t like to miss a chance to grind Lindsey under your heel. But if he had still been running, I would have voted for him. And whether I expected other people to do the same would have had no effect on my decision.

          Not that he’s the perfect candidate. He and I don’t see eye-to-eye on healthcare (Kasich is closer to my thinking on that). But on the whole, I trust his judgment.

          I find it extremely unlikely that he would ever be elected president. He’s not tall enough, his voice isn’t deep enough, and smarta__ comedians who champion gay rights leap to mock him as a sissy.

          But if by some miracle he did become president (say he’s the secretary of state and the president, veep, speaker and senate president pro tem all die in a terror attack or something), I think he’d do a good job.

                1. Doug Ross

                  You mean the same Ben Carson who got 50 times the number of votes that Lindsey got even after HE dropped out? The neurosurgeon? What a buffoon THAT guy is!

                2. Brad Warthen

                  My point, of course, is this: Getting the most votes means you win the election. It does NOT mean you are right.

                  It doesn’t mean you are necessarily wrong, either. The two things are independent of each other.

                  You agree with me, I believe. You hold pretty much all elected officials in contempt. And yet each of them got the most votes to get there… just as Carson got more votes than Graham…

                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    Getting the most votes means you win the election. It does NOT mean you are right.

                    Kinda sounds like how some lawyers talk about the Supreme Court. “They’re not the final word because they’re infallible. They’re infallible because they’re the final word.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *