Open Thread for Monday, April 25, 2016

Several interesting items out there that I’ve run out of time today to turn into separate posts:

  1. Roof friend Meek to plead guilty to federal charges — I still find myself wondering, based on what has been reported, why the feds bothered with Meek — did they really think there was a realistic chance the slaughter could have been prevented by him? I suspect it was mostly about having leverage over him when it comes time to prosecute Roof.
  2. Cruz and Kasich team up to try to stop Trump — Fascinating. And, I suppose, it’s a good thing. Although it does have its Orwellian aspect. Cruz was going around acting like it’s a personal affront that Kasich was still running, and now he’s is all like, Oceania was always allied with Eurasia…
  3. Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Tom Brady, Says He Must Serve Suspension — REALLY? People are still talking about this? An actual, literal federal case about whether a football was sufficiently inflated?
  4. Obama outlines plans to expand U.S. Special Operations forces in Syria — Obama is SO intent on not repeating our experience in Iraq. I think he’s safe on that point. This gradual escalation of the involvement of “advisers” feels a lot more like Vietnam… By the way, you may also be interested in reading this recent piece by the editorial page editor of The Washington Post (because editorial page editors are always right), headlined “Obama destroyed Syrians’ ‘glimmer of hope’ that America would intervene“…
  5. Cleveland To Pay $6 Million To Settle Tamir Rice Lawsuit — I heard an interesting observation on the radio this afternoon. Some note that in settlements regarding Walter Scott in North Charleston, Eric Garner in New York and a couple of other cases, the amounts were also about $6 million. Leaving the person on the radio to observe that $6 million seems to be the “going rate” for the wrongful death of a black man — on in the Cleveland case, a 12-year-old boy…

46 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, April 25, 2016

  1. Doug Ross

    John Kasich did what you would expect a typical politician to do. Compromise any principle for his own egotistical purposes. He is delusional at this point.. when they both lose to Trump tomorrow in all the states, they’ll somehow keep thinking that’s a positive sign. Kasich will be a distant memory soon. “80% of my party doesn’t want me to be President but 1250 delegates will.”

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug, I don’t get why you feel compelled to be so negative about Kasich. He’s the only reasonable person still running on the GOP side. That doesn’t change no matter how much of the “let’s all jump off a cliff” GOP electorate likes him.

      As you know, I care nothing for parties or their preferences or prerogatives. I care about the country.

      And the country is in a fix. We’re about to be faced with a situation in which the Democratic nominee has possibly the strongest negatives of anyone in that position in many a year, and the Republican could be either a completely out of control, ignorant egomaniac with fascist tendencies or a right-wing extremist who has demonstrated a remarkable inability or unwillingness to work constructively with others.

      This is a terrible, terrible situation. The country needs a way out. I’m not walking away and saying the situation is hopeless.

      Kasich is not perfect. But he is SO much better than the alternatives that I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t keep pointing it out, and encouraging movement toward ANY possibility, no matter how slim, that he could be on the ballot in November.

      The alternative is just to throw up my hands and say we’re screwed. You may be happy to do that. I am not…

      1. Doug Ross

        Did you see who Kasich hired for his campaign? Charlie Black. That says it all, A consummate political hack.

        I’m not negative on Kasich the man. I’m negative on Kasich the candidate who lives in the ego stroking world of politics. Where if you surround yourself with enough paid yes men, you’ll believe anything. Kasich has zero chance of being the nominee and his presence has made it easier for Trump.

        I am not as scared of a Trump presidency as you are because I know how little a President can actually do based on the past eight years of hope and change.

        1. Doug Ross

          What you just seem to want to keep your head stuck in the sand over is the fact that there is a large segment of the voting public that is completely fed up with politicians of both parties. Trump and Sanders are a symptom not the problem. Whatever happens that might cause our current system to be jolted out of its quagmire is fine with me.

          Trump at his worst might be 20% different than Obama or Bush. He’s not stupid and the checks and balances of government prevent him from doing anything crazy.

          1. Doug Ross

            USA Today poll had Kasich now only up by 5 on Hillary. And losing to Sanders by 2. That tells you how meaningful those national polls are. Are they right in one case and wrong in the other?

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Doug, I don’t have my head stuck in the sand about anything. I see everything you see. It’s a horrible, horrible situation.

            The difference is that I don’t throw up my hands and surrender. I say we have to look for any way we can find to save the country.

            This is a wonderful country we have, and not some hopeless situation that ANYTHING would be better than, which is what you’re implying with your embrace of any “jolt” that might come along.

            Although you give me a better idea of your thinking when you say “Trump at his worst might be 20% different than Obama or Bush.”

            No matter what their partisan detractors say, Obama and Bush, and Bush’s father, and both Clintons (in spite of Hillary’s huge negatives), and Bob Dole and Mitt Romney and Al Gore and John Kerry are all together on one side of a huge chasm, and Donald Trump is on the other. We’re talking about a night and day difference here.

            Trump is an utterly clueless narcissist who understands NOTHING about public policy. He is a hopeless case. He must be stopped from capturing one of the major parties’ nomination. Because as awful as he is, as much as the polls show he couldn’t win in November, once he is nominated he COULD win — we should never underestimate Hillary’s capacity for blowing the election.

            Any strategy that might deny him that nomination is worth trying, to save the country.

            1. Doug Ross

              Last week you were hyperventilating over what Ted Cruz might do as President. Now it’s Trump. Neither could be as bad as you claim. The system doesn’t allow it. Unfortunately, that same system doesn’t allow for positive change either. This is why we are where we’re at. We have a corrupt system filled with politicians on the take from lobbyists. John Kasich is part of that system. We’ve reached the tipping point where a very large segment of the country does not want that. You tried as hard as you could to pretend the Tea Party was a small bunch of vocal loonies. Then they started winning elections. Now in order for you to be correct, you have to state that the majority of Republican voters (many of the same ones who voted for McCain and Romney) are now just plain crazy and not reacting to the government they experience every day. Were they totally right in 2008 and now totally wrong? Or is it just that you can’t accept reality?

              Face it, you want the status quo. You wanted John McCain to be President and he would scare me worse than Cruz or Hillary.

            2. Karen Pearson

              You’d take Cruz instead? He’s monomaniacal, he doesn’t interact well with others, and he has demonstrated that he would rather destroy his own party than even consider compromise. Trump is not good, but Cruz would be far more dangerous. Trump is ignorant, perhaps wilfully so, but Cruz does not care as long as he gets what he wants.

              1. Doug Ross

                I’m not taking any of them. I’m voting like a two year old – Libertarian. And if you don’t like what Hillary or Trump represent, you should consider that option as well. A vote for Hillary is a vote for four more years like the past eight.

        2. bud

          Wow Doug. How can you possibly believe the POTUS can’t do much harm? Have you forgotten the horrors of the W years?? Things have improved dramatically since then. Sure you can find things that didn’t completely work out but at least Obama didn’t lie us into a grotesque war and allow thousands to drown in New Orleans. We really don’t need another disaster like that.

          1. Doug Ross

            I have this weird belief that Trump will look at the war effort from a cost/benefit point of view. He’s all about money and might just think twice about plunging the country into more debt to support an unwinnable war. He’s smarter than Bush and won’t be led around like Bush was by Cheney.

            Bush was the worst President of my lifetime. Trump can’t be much worse. If he is, he’ll be a one term joke.

            1. Doug Ross

              Economically? Horrible. Foreign Policy? Dismal. National Security? Unconscionable. Mission Accomplished? Regrettable.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Very interesting. But some only work if you’re a Republican.

          Still, interesting enough that I’m going to do a separate post on it…

  2. Mark Stewart

    1. Kind of leads one to believe that the Feds will be seeking the death penalty for Roof, doesn’t it?

    Not sure I care one way or another at this point. I’d just like him to disappear from our consciousness.

  3. bud

    “The judge rejected Cosby’s lawyer’s argument that the district attorney at the time of the alleged assault said the comedian would never be prosecuted.”
    – From an Inside Edition article

    Could an attorney explain how this situation is not double jeopardy? Cosby made several damning statements during the civil trail years ago in exchange for a deal that would give the plaintiff a great deal of money but would end the case. Now his words are being used to bolster the criminal case. I have zero sympathy for Bill Cosby but it seems like if he made statements as to his guilt under the premise of ending the litigation that deal should be honored. I guess civil and criminal cases are essentially separate but it also seems a bit of chicanery is involved.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Not sure double jeopardy is applicable here at all. (I don’t think it was even argued by defense counsel, was it?)

      That’s because it essentially bars someone from being criminally tried for the same crime twice. Also, just as with any rule, there are also exceptions (mistrials, multiple jurisdictions, appeals.)

      Importantly, since jeopardy “attaches” when the jury is empanelled, the first witness is sworn, or a plea is accepted, it’s not even close. None of those things happened the first time around, did they? Aren’t they just sorta prosecuting him (for the first time) after a long delay?

      1. Bryan Caskey

        And when I say it “attaches” I mean that’s the Rubicon for the prosecution as far as double jeopardy. They have to go forward or they can’t prosecute again.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author


          I don’t know about that, but I enjoyed the crossing of the Rubicon in the HBO series “Rome.”

          It’s just so deliberately mundane and unremarkable, this fording of a muddy, unimpressive stream. The only witness to this pivot point of history is a peasant boy fishing from the bank. And he’s not nearly as impressed as you would expect a boy to be seeing a legion file past — probably the most pageantry he’s ever seen in his life, or ever will see.

          As he rides past Marc Antony gives the boy a wink. Like HE gets the cosmic joke here, whether anyone else does or not…

          Here’s the link to the scene. It wouldn’t let me embed…

  4. bud

    Seems a little late for the stop Trump movement. This type of arrangement should have been made a month ago.

    1. Doug Ross

      They’re both already reneging on the deal. Once their egos started kicking in they started backpedalling today. “Oh, no, we’re not saying vote for the other guy. We’re just saying we won’t cancel all our appearances in your state.”

      Cruz should have offered Kasich the VP slot to back out and Kasich should have taken it… a month ago.

  5. Karen Pearson

    By “ganging up” on Trump, they gave Trump something to rally the troops around. That and “delegategate” that Trump considers unfair are kindling that feeds the Trump groupies’ anger, and probably wins him votes. If they are “backing off” now, he can now doubly brand them as liars. I expect he will win the nomination more quickly as a result of this deal.

    1. Doug Ross

      If Kasich truly was interested in the future of the country, he’d drop out now. Unless he feels Cruz is worse than Trump. Otherwise, Kasich is just too stubborn to admit he’s never going to be President. This was his one shot. He doesn’t resonate with anyone but editorial boards.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I don’t think he thinks Cruz is worse than Trump. I think he thinks he’s almost as bad.

        What I would say is that they’re both awful, but in different ways. Trump is an idiot, as far as the universe of public policy goes. Cruz isn’t an idiot; he’s an ideologue — in that respect they are polar opposites, since Trump isn’t interested enough in ideas to have an ideology.

        A year ago, before Trump became a factor, I would have said Cruz was the most dangerous candidate running. Trump has overshadowed him…

        1. Doug Ross

          Trump voters aren’t interested in public policy. They are interested in changing the dynamics of the political system. Trump (rightly or wrongly) represents “getting things done”. For example, we’ve watched Obama fail at doing anything to halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the country while playing bureaucratic games with executive orders to circumvent the law. Trump says he will build a wall and he says he will get Mexico to pay for it. He speaks about actions not process. There is a growing segment of the population that is desperate for action not words.

          Do the math: 40% of Republicans want something completely different. 40% of Democrats want something completely different. 2/3 of the people in this country say the United States is on the wrong track according to polls. Why would we expect anyone but Trump and Sanders to bubble up in that environment? A government run by long tenured Democrats and Republicans who are beholden to lobbyists has reached the point of no return. Change is coming. The Tea Party and Occupiers were the warning shots across the bow. We’re on to phase 2. John Boehner and Harry Reid were casualties of Phase 2. I’m looking forward to Phase 3. 2016 is the pivot point to 2020 where we’ll hopefully purge the system.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            When Doug says “Change is Coming,” it sounds kind of like “Winter is Coming.” Sort of apocalyptic. Very different from when Obama said it, which sounded hopeful…

            Only Doug WELCOMES what is coming down and menacing The Wall…

            download (3)

            1. Doug Ross

              2016 is 1966. JFK, LBJ then a right turn to Nixon. A nation fed up with war. Big changes in drug and sexual culture. NASA = Tesla/Facebook. Racial inequality = economic inequality. Wallace = Trump. Sanders = McGovern. Hillary = Nixon. Peter, Paul, & Mary = Bieber, Beyonce, & Swift.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                No. You’re too young to remember, but 1966 was an exciting, positive time, with the nation still riding the crest of the postwar expansion (in fact, I think this WAS the crest of the postwar expansion), an unbelievably diverse and dynamic popular culture, and a great confidence characterizing most facets of public life.

                The country was NOT yet war-weary. You first saw that have a real electoral manifestation in 1968, and even then it wasn’t yet mainstream. It wasn’t fully in the mainstream, by some accounts, until the early 70s.

                We had bad times ahead, in terms of how Americans felt things were going. In fact, the slide began during 1966. At the start of the year, LBJ’s approval ratings were good, although as the year wore on, approval of how he was handling Vietnam would be on a downward slide — paving the way for 1968. He would never again have a year of success like 1965 — but then, no U.S. president would, from then to now.

                But we were still riding high in 1966, even as storm clouds gathered. All around us was evidence of the Big Things we could do together as a society, particularly in the political realm. LBJ and Congress had in the last two years passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid. We were still busy building the Interstate highway system. We were conducting a War on Poverty with a belief we could win. We were on track in our drive to get to the moon. Nothing could stop us.

                No, 1966 was if anything the polar opposite of 2016…

                1. Doug Ross

                  I won’t rehash the nostalgia. I was only 5 at the time. But history tells me it was not all rainbows and lollipops.
                  MLK and RFK would be shot dead in two years. The sentiment that led to that didn’t pop up overnight.

                  I don’t have an encyclopedic memory of 1966 so I’ll cheat and use Wikipedia. Let’s see what happened:

                  – January : LBJ says U.S. will stay in Vietnam until Communists are defeated. (Sounds familiar).
                  – March: General Motors goes after Ralph Nader (Elizabeth Warren)
                  March 26 – Demonstrations are held across the United States against the Vietnam War. (Sounds like some people were war weary)
                  April 13: LBJ signs Daylight Savings Time bill (Thanks for ruining our sleep schedules LBJ)
                  April: U.S. troops in Vietnam grow from 190K to 250K
                  May 15 – Tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators again picket the White House, then rally at the Washington Monument. MLK makes his first speech on Vietnam, (I think you’re losing that talking point about not being war weary and we’re not at the summer yet)
                  June 6 – Civil rights activist James Meredith is shot while trying to march across Mississippi.
                  June 30 – The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded in Washington, DC.
                  August 7 – Race riots occur in Lansing, Michigan.
                  August 16 – Vietnam War: The House Un-American Activities Committee starts investigating Americans who have aided the Viet Cong, with the intent to make these activities illegal. Anti-war demonstrators disrupt the meeting and 50 are arrested.
                  November 8 – Actor Ronald Reagan, a Republican, is elected Governor of California.

                  I’ll stick with my original thesis. We’re on the cusp of major upheaval.

                  Where were you located in 1966?

                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    Other events in 1966:

                    – Nicklaus won his third Masters tournament.
                    – Rollings Stones release “Paint it Black”
                    – SCOTUS issues the Miranda decision
                    – LBJ signs the Freedom of Information Act (Hillary Clinton immediately begins studying the ways to avoid it)
                    – Queen Elizabeth II turned 40

                    Interesting trivia: Queen Elizabeth II is the last living head of state to have worn their country’s uniform in WWII

                  2. Brad Warthen Post author

                    New Orleans. And it was awesome.

                    Doug, yes, there were antiwar protests. But they were still very much a fringe thing — something people saw on the nightly news but mostly didn’t experience personally.

                    And in my comment, I drew a very sharp distinction between 1966 and 1968. Things were starting to fall apart in ’68. Saying the assassinations of RFK and MLK were “in two years” means nothing. A year was like a decade then. Except for smartphones and social media, 2006 is as much like 1996 as 1966 was like 1968. Everything — culture, politics, what have you — was extremely dynamic and in the process of rapid change. Look at pictures of the Beatles in each year of the 60s and that alone will show how fast everything was changing, in the world as it was covered by mass media.

                    On the other hand — if you were just an ordinary person back then, you saw all this change, but you yourself might not have been ready to adopt it. Especially if you lived somewhere other than New York or California.

                    It’s like existence was on two tracks — in the world covered by mass media, things were happening really fast, but ordinary people sort of lagged behind that.

                    Go back and look at high school yearbooks from 1966 — and 1968, too, for that matter. You’ll be amazed at how SQUARE the kids look, as though it were still the 1950s. Now if you go look at a yearbook from the early 70s, you’ll see something that looks more like our pop-culture notion of the 60s. It took awhile for a lot of that exciting, disruptive stuff to filter down to everyday people who didn’t live in Haight-Ashbury or Greenwich Village, or go to UC-Berkeley.

                    And that’s kind of what happened with the antiwar movement — you saw demonstrations in the mid-60s, and they made national news. But the general population wasn’t ready to say “let’s get out” for several more years.

                    Finally, here’s what I meant about war-weary: Today, we hardly deploy troops before people across the political spectrum start saying, “When do we get out?” It took longer then for Nixon’s Silent Majority to want that…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      It’s really kind of weird — kind of a mirror-image thing.

                      Nowadays our styles and pop culture don’t change much. People dress much as they did in the 90s, and there hasn’t been a really interesting development in pop music since Grunge.

                      But politically, we can turn on a dime. One day, everybody (including leading Democrats, such as President Obama) opposes gay marriage. Next day, everybody (including leading Democrats, such as President Obama) support gay marriage. One day, Donald Trump is a joke, the next he’s poised to become the GOP nominee. And as I said, we start wanting to withdraw from military deployments almost before the first boot hits the ground.

                      I think maybe the difference is social media…

                2. Doug Ross

                  Two points.

                  “People dress much as they did in the 90s, ”

                  I point you to The State’s photo gallery of the USC Gamecock Gala from this weekend. That sure doesn’t look like the 90’s to me, especially the choices made by the young women.


                  New Orleans was pretty far removed from what was going on in the country in 1966, I imagine. I’ve been there many times over the past two decades and it still seems like it is stuck in the 70’s. I was in Massachusetts then. I guarantee it was different in New England then in the slow South.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I’ll bet it was. You and your Yankee values.

                    But I spent the last two years of the decade in Florida, a somewhat more dynamic state. I’ll show you my yearbooks from then, and again, pretty square.

                    Going back to New Orleans — I ran with a fairly hip crowd (if I’d stayed there through high school, I would have had a blast), and you can see some kids dressed in “the heighth of fashion,” as Alex and his Droogs would say. But that was still pretty square.

                    The first year, 7th grade, kids wanted to be “frat.” They wore colorful (like maroon) button-down shirts with turtleneck dickies, or madras collarless (like those sport coats the Beatles wore) shirts. The next year, we all wanted to be “mod,” following a more Carnaby Street approach. But we couldn’t go very far with it, on account of school dress code. And I only knew one or two boys with long(ish) hair. So in the school pictures, we looked pretty unhip.

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      And then, the one year I went to school in Bennettsville (9th grade, 1967-68), there was a weird sort of style that harkened back to “frat.”

                      The “cool” guys in B-ville wore sweaters over button-down shirts, but the sleeves of both were rolled up almost to the elbow — not the normal way, so that you could see the rolled-back material, but tucked UNDER, so that it looked like the sweater and shirt just ended at a three-quarter length.

                      I did not attempt that look; I thought it was pretty dorky (and, not having lived there and established myself there, I was not in the “in” crowd, although I’d been born there). But those guys must have spent a good bit of time getting their sweaters to do that, and to stay that way…

                    2. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Oh, this is hilarious! There’s an ad for a turtleneck dickie at the top of my blog now! I didn’t know anyone still sold those in this century!

                3. Mark Stewart

                  The Daylight Savings Time thing: Maybe 1966 was the year marking the zenith of the Industrial Revolution?

                  The triumph over the farm…

  6. Doug Ross

    This is what Charlie Black, Kasich’s latest addition to his campaign staff said nine months ago..if you don’t know who he is, his history includes relationships with Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, and Roger Ailes.

    “Charlie Black, long-time Republican strategist and former lobbyist for Donald Trump, praised his party’s current frontrunner as “brilliant” but predicted he will not lead the GOP pack much longer. “Donald Trump, in addition to being a friend, he’s a brilliant businessman, he’s a great celebrity, knows how to milk that for everything, and he’s a good entertainer,” Black said in an interview Monday with John Heilemann and Mark Halperin on With All Due Respect. “So naturally, he’s getting a lot of attention from the press and from a lot angry voters.” But Black, who has advised Republicans for years—including Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and John McCain—also said that with the debates coming up, Trump will likely not emerge from the Republican primary season on top. “He will not be president, he will not be the nominee,” Black added. “He’ll go through a few primaries, I think, and then as the other candidates get better known and people figure out their credentials and where they stand, I think Donald is likely to finish third, fourth, or lower in the first few primaries. I don’t know what he’ll do after that, but he will not get the daily attention from the six or seven networks that he’s getting now.”

    Kasich is now paying Black for his guidance. Enough said…

  7. Dave Crockett

    Since it is an open thread day…Brad, what has happened to your old pal, Warren Bolton? He’s not posted anything to his blog since February. He’s just one of the folks I try to peruse amid all the cacaphony that is the Internet these days…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I don’t know. He and I serve together on the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council, though, and your question reminds me that I need to call a committee meeting that would involve Warren. So maybe I’ll see him soon.

      For a time, he was helping the local post-flood FEMA efforts, but I think that was a temporary gig. He was also working toward getting ordained in his new denomination, having switched churches awhile back….

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