Open Thread for Monday, August 29, 2016


Some quick topics before I leave the office:

  1. Gov. Haley directs SC agencies to plan possible budget cuts — WTF? (by which I mean “What The Fiscal?”) I know we’re expecting less of a windfall in additional money this year, but I fail to see how that leads to this unless we used ‘massive’ amounts of nonrecurring money for recurring expenses. Which I don’t think is the case. She can call this mere contingency planning, but leadership would be to talk about how in the future we might stop grossly underfunding essential government functions. Let’s talk big picture, instead of issuing random edicts to please the Grover Norquist crowd.
  2. McCain is in the fight of his political life in the age of Trump — Sad situation. I’d hate to see him end his career with a defeat. And all because his party has run mad, led by a man who does not see McCain as a war hero.
  3. Cayce man imprisoned for having more than 1 million child pornography images — So if you have fewer than a million, you just get a fine? Sorry; I’m in a pedantic mood this week. Bottom line, here’s someone who, if guilty, needs to go under the jail. I can’t believe they plan to let him out in 15 years, even if he is 66.
  4. Alien life, or noise? Russian telescope detects ‘strong signal’ from sun-like star — So apparently, now they’re hacking aliens, too…
  5. Gene Wilder, Star Of ‘Willy Wonka’ And ‘Young Frankenstein,’ Dies — You can leave out the “Willy Wonka” as far as I’m concerned; I never got the appeal of that. But to consider the brilliance of his performance in “Young Frankenstein,” Dammen und Herren, we must enter, quietly, into the realm of genius…

15 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, August 29, 2016

      1. Doug Ross

        Is he wrong or pandering for votes? Should his support for Trump disqualify him for office in your view?

        McCain has a long history of not fighting back when attacked. Bush smeared him and his family and he took it. Trump smeared him and he took it.

        Anyway, McCain is closer to Trump in temperament than any other candidate. A famous hair trigger anger and a penchant for sarcastic, nasty comments. Here’s a Trump-worthy description from 2008:

        ” He’s been dubbed “Senator Hothead” by more than one publication, but he’s also had some success extracting his hatchet from several foreheads. Even his Republican Senate colleagues are not spared his sharp tongue. “F—- you,” he shouted at Texas Sen. John Cornyn last year. “Only an a——— would put together a budget like this,” he told the former Budget Committee chairman, Sen. Pete Domenici, in 1999. “I’m calling you a f——— jerk!” he once retorted to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. […] The political landscape in Arizona, McCain’s home state, is littered with those who have incurred his wrath. Former Gov. Jane Hull pretended to hold a telephone receiver away from her ear to demonstrate a typical outburst from McCain in a 1999 interview with The New York Times. McCain has even blown up at volunteers and, on occasion, the average Joe.” [AP, 2/16/08]

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, I keep getting multiple comments a day from TimG, which are turning into nothing but complaints that I won’t allow his comments.

    There is a simple reason for that, and after all this time, he should know what that is. He is Steven Davis II. And FParker, and Tex, and all sorts of other aliases.

    And for some time now, SDII’s comments have not been allowed on this blog, for reasons with which I believe most regulars are familiar…

  2. Doug Ross

    ” we might stop grossly underfunding essential government functions. ”

    That’s fine. But first let’s stop grossly overfunding nonessential government functions. Do that and you probably won’t have to worry about anything else. Let’s start with a zero based budget each year and prioritize the important items first and cut anything else. That’s how most fiscally intelligent entities work.

  3. Bart

    Two comments:
    1. Young Frankenstein was great and it still makes me laugh when I watch it. One of the funniest movies ever,
    2. McCain’s use of profanity is typical of more members of congress than we realize when it comes to reacting badly when angered.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It’s particularly true of fighter jocks, especially those from the pre-Tailhook Scandal days.

      McCain WORKS at being patient and polite with people, and from my observation succeeds to a remarkable degree. He’s UNUSUALLY patient compared to politicians as a group, but you can see the effort.

      He also has this gruff, locker-room approach to camaraderie, especially with men. And he can show a courtliness toward women that is, unfortunately, anachronistic.

      Back in 2007 when the “Straight-Talk Express” was traveling through South Carolina, he was accompanied by his press secretary, a lovely young woman named Brooke Buchanan. Along with dealing with the press, she helped in other ways — I saw her combing McCain’s hair (something he can’t do for himself because of his wounds, and his wife or an aide always does for him) before he got off the bus at a stop.

      Anyway, one of the young men on the campaign told me about a late-night strategy session they had while in SC. Someone observed that it was getting late. McCain said that was right, and apologized, and told Brooke she should take off and get to sleep. As though he were looking out for a daughter. Then he turned to the young man telling the story and said, “But you, you little jerk, have work to do.”

      That, the young man said, was the candidate’s standard way of addressing him.

      Apparently, that’s as close as McCain comes to terms of endearment with guys. Here’s video of him calling Lindsey Graham the same thing:

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        This is a man who screamed curses at those who tortured him, rather than trying to placate them by at least not being antagonistic. To the point that his fellow prisoners implored him to cut it out and stop provoking them to hurt him even more. Jack Van Loan said that he observed to a fellow prisoner, hearing McCain scream at the North Vietnamese, “My God, they’re gonna kill him for that.”

        He was SO much more mellow after he entered the Senate. But again, he had to work at it…

        1. Doug Ross

          “He was SO much more mellow after he entered the Senate. But again, he had to work at it…”

          Seems like the majority of his colleagues didn’t agree with you back in 2008. It’s crazy how blind you can be to reality once you get something stuck in your head. McCain’s demeanor is much closer to Trump’s than you can admit. Here’s a pleasant exchange McCain had with former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo (children cover your eyes):

          “His loathing for [John] McCain has a long history. “I don’t like him,” Tancredo said. “He is not a very pleasant person. He is nasty, mean; the skin of an onion would look deep compared to his. He has a short fuse, he is almost peculiarly unstable.”

          He still remembers his first encounter with the senator from Arizona [after McCain had graciously done a fundraising event for the novice politician] …. One day, he went over to the Senate and bumped into McCain in the elevator. “I had never met him. So I shake his hand to thank him for doing the fundraiser.” The senator then asked if he could count on Tancredo’s support for McCain-Feingold (a bipartisan campaign reform act McCain had drafted with Democratic senator Russell Feingold). Tancredo opposed this proposed regulation of political campaign financing, and he told McCain. “So I go: ‘I am voting no, I don’t like it. I actually think it’s terrible’.”

          “It was like a bomb went off in his head. He exploded! He was screaming at me! It was, ‘When I come across the f-ing street, you are…’ And, ‘You don’t know what the f- you are talking about!’ And I said, ‘What?!’ I was just so taken aback. But then I went after him: ‘Hey, nobody told me you are coming to help me for a quid pro quo for a sh– bill!’ It just got worse. It was really bad, I remember us getting out of the elevator and people stepped back way up because they couldn’t handle the screaming.””

          If Trump did anything like that, you’d be on that in a second proclaiming it to be another example of why he wasn’t fit to be President. You’ve excused every bad decision and behavior of McCain’s for a long time.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Actually, no, I don’t. I’ve never excused him for an incident such as that.

            The closest I’ve ever come to defending his behavior at all was when people gave him hell for his failure to react adequately when a supporter called Hillary Clinton a “bitch.” He reacted the way most people would — he was embarrassed, even laughed nervously and tried lamely to make a joke asking for a “translation” of what the woman had just said, then he regained his composure and very soberly spoke of his respect for Sen. Clinton.

            Was the way he handled it perfect? No. But I doubt my own reaction would be much better. It would probably be similar — an embarrassed “WTF?” moment, followed I hope by some gracious words setting the record straight.

            I don’t recall ever having defended McCain or anyone else for having a shouting fit in the Capitol. Nor have I claimed he was perfect. Most of the time he does a good job of controlling his temper, and is almost excruciatingly careful to speak politely to people who disagree with him.

            And it seems to me I’ve seen you criticize him for NOT lashing back at those who do him ill. Didn’t you just recently say something to the effect that he lost your respect for so meekly reacting to the way he was trashed by the Bush people in 2000?

            But let’s address your point…

            Apparently, I’ve given a wrong impression at some point on the blog. At least, that must be the case if anyone thinks “bad temper” is high on my list of problems with Trump. I DO have a problem with the fact that anyone who criticizes him, however mildly or justly, INSTANTLY becomes his enemy, and subject to unrelenting public attacks. Which is not something I’ve seen even his greatest detractors say about McCain.

            But while that’s highly disturbing — and if you can’t separate that kind of paranoia from a guy sometimes losing his temper, I don’t know what else to say — it’s not high on my list of problems with Trump.

            Nothing you cite about McCain comes anywhere close to being as disturbing as multiple things Trump will say in a speech when he’s perfectly calm and not angry with anyone. It’s the man’s ongoing, everyday, deliberate positions, combined with the ignorance of which he is so very proud, and his utter lack of familiarity with the truth. THAT’s what’s wrong with him.

            Let’s see, one time John McCain made a TERRIBLE joke about bombing Iran. Once. Out of all the things he has said over the years. If he were in the same league as Trump, he’d be saying wildly irresponsible, dangerous things 50 times a day.

            Do you really, truly, not see the difference here?

            1. Doug Ross

              I don’t see as wide a gap in their temperament or penchant for “straight talk” as you do. The fact that you recognize that McCain has to be “almost excruciatingly careful to speak politely to people who disagree with him” suggests that he may have a problem with that. Most of us without anger issues don’t have to make an effort to be polite. There are so many anecdotes about his temper and use of profanity in private settings that it makes his public persona appear to be phony. You are who you are in private. He’s a hothead and the Tancredo story suggests McCain only provided support when he thought he could get Tancredo to back his bill — that’s a bully and power monger.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Yep, that’s why I said he WORKS at it. He has a temper. And for the most part, he masters it admirably. But he has a temper.

                But in working at it, he displays patience I don’t see in many officeholders. He is VERY patient with the media, far more so than the overwhelming majority of politicians. By that I mean he makes himself available and answers any questions we have, FAR beyond what I’ve seen from any other national figure with the possible exception of Joe Biden, who will talk your ear off given the chance.

                And as I’ve indicated before, that colors my perception of him. I’ve explained that THIS is why media types tend to like McCain — he gives us what we want, and doesn’t wall himself off from us.

                Ever since Nixon proved in 1968 that you can win while holding the media at arm’s length, that has been the norm. And we hate it.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I’ve probably told the story before about the first time I met Biden. This was a couple of years before his abortive attempt at the presidency in the 2008 election.

                  I knew he and Fritz Hollings were buds, and getting wind that Joe would be in town for something, I called Fritz and asked if he could put in a good word for us and get us some time with Joe. This was back in the days when editors had SOME time to just sit down and chat with people they felt like they needed to get to know (at least, I did that — Cindi, who is far more task-oriented, hated stuff like that; if it had no bearing on what she was currently working on, she wasn’t interested).

                  Fritz came through, and Joe came by the office to visit. As it turned out, though, the event he was in town for wasn’t until hours later, and he had way more time on his hands than we did. It was Friday afternoon — always at least a 10-hour day for us, and frequently more, WITHOUT meetings.

                  He batted the breeze with us for more than two hours, if I recall correctly. Mike Fitts and I enjoyed it, but it was excruciating, knowing how much work we needed to be doing. And we couldn’t show him the door gracefully, under the circumstances…

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  By the way, digressing a bit…

                  I’ll tell you when I first became an admirer of John McCain. It was long before I met him, long before he ran for president.

                  It was sometime well back in the ’90s. There was a profile of him in The New Republic. And it told about how he had become good friends with a former antiwar protester. I can’t recall all the details after so many years, but the way the story was told, it was extraordinary that McCain would have made the effort to be friends with the guy. If I remember correctly, the guy had been pretty militant, and probably the type who would have portrayed man like McCain, who had dropped bombs on North Vietnam, as some sort of baby-raping Hun.

                  But the story spoke very well of both men, in terms of how they went out of their way to be understanding of each other and get past their differences.

                  Anyway, the story went into McCain’s experiences in the war, and that was the first time I’d read about any of that, and it just made the reconciliation with this guy that much more powerful.

                  Mind you this was the 90s, when I was watching partisanship get nastier year after year. The norm was for politicos to go out of their way to look for things that divided them from others. (Of course, it’s even MORE the norm now.)

                  I was impressed, and remained so as time wore on…


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