Open Thread for Thursday, February 9, 2017


Some quick hits:

  1. South Carolina’s $100M nuclear claim against feds dismissed — This is about MOX. And the one thing I know about MOX is that it always seemed like a good idea to me and I’ve always wanted to see it move ahead. I don’t know from all the legal ins and outs…
  2. Gorsuch Calls Trump Critique of Federal Court ‘Demoralizing’ — This is almost 24 hours old now, but most news outlets are still leading with it. My response now is the same it was last night: Let’s get this guy confirmed ASAP. (Of course, I had already thought that before.)
  3. Trump lashes out at senator who revealed Supreme Court nominee’s comments — Yeah, because that makes a lot of logical sense. But I’m not complaining. It’s better than withdrawing Gorsuch’s nomination or something.
  4. Snow Shuts Down Cities Across Northeast — But will we get any? NO…
  5. SC senators’ fistfight ends Warren debate a century later — People keep bringing up this, and the Preston Brooks incident, and ol’ Strom’s more active episodes, as though they’re trying to say something about us South Carolinians. What, I don’t know…

17 thoughts on “Open Thread for Thursday, February 9, 2017

  1. Phillip

    Re #5: I see where Lindsey said the silencing of Sen. Warren was “long overdue.” (Indeed, those uppity women. The nerve!)

    How does that Senate rule about dissing other Senators apply when a senator is being considered for a Cabinet post requiring a confirmation process? Certainly that rule expires I guess the second somebody is no longer a Senator—I recall how outrageous Lindsey’s treatment of Vietnam War hero Chuck Hagel was at the time of the latter’s confirmation hearings for the Sec Def job.

    1. Doug Ross

      I’d say most Senators fall into one of two categories: douchebags and a-holes. Oops.. Hope I don’t get censured.

      It’s funny how Trump is considered a narcissist yet Lindsey can’t go a day without trying to get his name in the paper or his mug on some cable news channel.

      1. Scout

        You realize that they are talking about an actual mental disorder with very specific traits, right? Trump has many of the characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and some think of Malignant Narcissism, which is far worse. Lindsey Graham does not. It’s far more than just an ego thing. The most telling and concerning feature is inability to handle criticism, being consumed with rage when criticized, and impulsive and aggressive need to respond when criticized. Who has demonstrated that particular trait more – Lindsey Graham or Donald Trump?

        1. Doug Ross

          You just described most people in leadership positions.

          You think Obama was good at handling criticism? Give me an example of when he admitted making a mistake in 8 years. The difference is only the tone..which as the spouse of someone from New York, I understand completely. Southerners prefer stabbing in the back and condescension to direct confrontation.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            That’s right; we do. Of course, that has a good bit to do with the Southern gentleman’s proclivity for violence. The veneer of civility is necessary, else you’d be out fighting a duel every day.

            It was once that way in New York (see “Hamilton, Alexander”), but they got over it. Perhaps because as they became more mercantilist (again, see “Hamilton, Alexander”), they began to shed all that feudalist stuff with the attendant notions of chivalry and honor. Or maybe it was the floods of immigrants from other cultures — which we did not experience in the South to any appreciable degree. (Our culture remained mostly English, Scotch-Irish and Africans.)

            Eventually, we shed feuding, too. But the politeness remained. So I’d say we retained the better part of the dynamic…

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, and by the way, I think Obama was fantastic at handling criticism.

            Not once did he react like a maladjusted child. He was always cool, rational, unperturbed. You could not find a sharper contrast than between the way HE dealt with criticism and the way Trump does.

            I don’t see how you could even BEGIN to see a similarity between them on that score…

            And I can’t let pass this supercynical, demonstrably false statement: “You just described most people in leadership positions.”

            Is that what you think? If so, you’re dead wrong. Scout said, “The most telling and concerning feature is inability to handle criticism, being consumed with rage when criticized, and impulsive and aggressive need to respond when criticized.”

            Those are traits that, if found in a person in a “leadership position,” cause the person to LOSE that leadership position — and preferably, not to get it to begin with.

            This is one of the things that makes Donald Trump unique. NO ONE who demonstrated even a fraction of those qualities compared to Trump has ever been elected to this high office before. Things that we don’t even notice with Trump alongside his more outrageous outbursts would end other politicians’ careers. Every day, he does at least one thing, and possibly many things, any one of which would hang around other politicians’ necks like a dead albatross. If those things didn’t end their careers immediately, they would hound them the rest of their time in office.

            He is utterly UNIQUE in that regard. And I suppose the fact that you don’t see that helps explain why you don’t get why I don’t just shrug and go on like this is normal life…

            1. Richard

              “Oh, and by the way, I think Obama was fantastic at handling criticism.”

              Most who feel they’re above other usually do. Do kings care what peasants say about him?

          3. Scout

            Doug, are you serious? The volume of criticisms hurled at Obama based on verifiably unfactual claims calling him Muslim and questioning his place of birth, most likely motivated by racism, were completely staggering and unprecedented. He remained above the fray and chose not to respond for the most part. Can you imagine Trump going years without responding to taunts – he can’t go an hour before tweeting something inappropriate in response to some real or perceived taunt.

            There is absolutley no comparison.

            Also, here are a few references for you.




      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        He doesn’t try, he DOES. Why? Because he says things that need to be said when others will not. Which is why I appreciate him.

        I’m sorry that it irritates you that he’s newsworthy, but he’s newsworthy for the right reasons…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            “Please.” Yes, they are. You don’t invite yourself to those talk shows.

            You get invited because you’re someone who will say newsworthy things.

            I’m a journalist. I know how journalists think. And I know that you talk to people who don’t just say the predictable garbage that you get from partisans.

            Ben Sasse is sought out for some of the same reasons as Graham, only a lot less so. This is a crude measurement, but Google gives me 671,000 on Sasse, but 24,400,000 for Graham.

            He is a leading newsmaker, and his opinion is sought out.

            I know you hate him, and wish to diminish him in every way, and truly want to believe that he’s this pathetic nobody that everyone holds in contempt the way you do, and that he’s fundamentally dishonest to an extent that he stands out for his cringing, grasping contemptuousness, but you’re wrong.

            He’s smart as hell, and he carefully thinks about issues, and where his thought leads him to do so, he takes stands that take a lot of guts.

            It’s really interesting to see the ways people react to him, because they’re so used to the run-of-the-mill that they don’t know what to make of him.

            Democrats, for instance, will admire something that he does, and then — when it turns out that he also holds views typical of conservative Republicans, they get mad and say (like you) he’s a fake and poser. Because they cannot imagine that someone who would agree with them on one thing wouldn’t agree with them on everything. Unfortunately, that’s the way we — the parties, the interest groups and yes, journalists — have taught them to think.

            But the thing is, he isn’t a Democrat, and it’s ridiculous for them to expect him to be. He’s actually a conservative Republican, but he’s one who thinks, and therefore isn’t always to be found with the herd of other conservative Republicans.

            It’s a really uncomfortable way to be. (I know something about this, since I don’t fit in the boxes either, and consequently I’m misunderstood a LOT. Fortunately, since I haven’t run for office, I haven’t identified with a party — which is a sort of prerequisite if you want to win. If I did, I, too, would draw a lot of hostility from members of that party.) He runs as a Republican because that’s what he is, but much of his party HATES him for not being an automaton.

            And then, when he reaches out to them to say, look, here’s something I’m with you on (say, if he votes against Obamacare, or he praises a Trump nominee or votes for Betsy DeVos), people like YOU call him an opportunist and a phony, etc.

            And yet, what else is he supposed to do? He’s no good to anyone if he can’t get re-elected, and yet people like you hold people who say honest things about themselves to get elected (such as, “See, folks, here’s something where we agree”) in contempt. Of course, that’s all tied up with your thing about how experienced people shouldn’t get re-elected; they should bow out and let some clueless newbie replace them, because government isn’t anything that requires any skill or experience.

            Which is a whole other debate that we’ve had many, many, many times…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, I had problems with Hagel, too.

      And you can say “uppity women” at me all you like, but I, too, weary of hearing from Sen. Warren. There’s something very tiresome about folks who think what’s wrong with the Democratic Party is that it’s not populist enough, or far enough to the left. (But at least she IS a Democrat, unlike Bernie.)

      But here, Mitch McConnell did the seemingly impossible: He made me sympathize with her…

      1. Bart

        Personally I have no problem with revealing anything problematic, relevant, and current that confirms behavior, attitude, actions, and any other information that disqualifies anyone nominated for a high ranking cabinet position. Warren might have been better served if she had read the WaPo Fact Checker article – “Does Sen. Jeff Sessions have a ‘strong record’ on civil rights enforcement?”. WaPo could find no cause to give the Trump transition team a Pinocchio for their information although the team did acknowledge some erroneous aspects of the memo. Overall, nothing could be found or substantiated after the 1986 comments and letter to give cause to deny confirmation of Sessions.

        Whether I agree or not is irrelevant, what matters is how Jeff Sessions will conduct the affairs of the Attorney General’s office and will he execute his duties for all. Will he uphold the Constitution and law of the land or allow some to be enforced and others ignored? Will he bow to Trump or will he stand his ground when it comes to equally enforcing the law of the land and the precepts set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights? I don’t want to see another John Mitchell or Loretta Lynch sitting in the Attorney General’s chair again. The office should always be above political accommodations and ideology, always.

        Rehabilitation is a two way street and maybe Warren should have taken that aspect into account before reading from a Ted Kennedy speech and Coretta King’s letter written in 1986.

        Case in point. One of the most powerful men in the Senate was Robert Byrd, Senator from West Virginia. In the early 1940s, he was the founder of a KKK chapter in WVA and used his leadership of the chapter as a springboard for his political career. Based on Byrd’s comments and written words, he was an avowed racist from the early 40s to the 60s when he led the fight against the Civil Rights Act. But, as time went on, he “repented”, was rehabilitated, and became an icon in Washington, DC. If Byrd can change from a KKK chapter founder to a civil rights champion during his latter years, why can’t Sessions be given the same consideration? Is there anything in Session’s record since 1986 without using the opposition’s prism that can be specifically noted as racist and anti-civil rights? If so, it should have been brought forward.

        Rule 19 has been invoked only 2 times but it has been used as a threat several times over the years. Neither party has escaped the threat of using the rule to bring order and comity to the Senate during debates. Both sides have committed grievous acts against fellow members.

        In my estimation, it is difficult at times to distinguish between Warren and Trump when it comes to feeding “red meat” to the rabid left or rabid right.

        1. Bart

          By the way, excuse my “wall of text”. Some of us are not known for brevity, especially me when trying to make a point. 🙂

        2. Phillip

          Bart, you’re entitled to your opinion about Sen. Warren of course, but I would just like to caution about two slippery (and false, in my opinion) equivalencies in your comment. First off, whatever one thinks of Loretta Lynch’s airplane meeting with Bill Clinton, I don’t think one can mention her (and that) in the same sentence as John Mitchell, charged, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury, and proven to be involved in the planning of the Watergate break-in…Mitchell’s term as AG went far beyond questions of “political accommodations or ideology,” into actual criminal conduct.

          The other false equivalency is Warren and Trump. They are not flip sides (left and right) of the same coin. If you want to call Warren “far left” go ahead (though I don’t really understand why protecting voting rights for all, or advocating for consumers’ rights is a “left” thing, I thought it was, or should be, an American thing), but her parallel would be somebody like Paul Ryan (or any number of other Republicans).

          Trump is not part of the left-right normal political continuum (even if most, not all, of his “policies” skew rightward). When we place him on that continuum it “normalizes” him, which I think is a terrible danger. There is absolutely no political corollary in the US to Trump on either side of the political spectrum, no parallel in terms of self-aggrandizement, thin-skinned-ness, and the persistent, brazen, peddling of outright falsehoods in the interest of devaluing the very idea of objective reality, for what larger purpose we can only guess.

          1. Bart

            Phillip, as usual, you are right in your assessment if I had actually compared Warren and Trump on “all” issues. My words were “it is difficult ‘at times’ to distinguish between Warren and Trump”. Since posting comments about Trump, I have never identified him as a Republican, in fact, he is anything but a Republican or conservative and I have been very clear on that point in previous comments.

            I stand by my inclusion of Loretta Lynch when making note that I do not want the Attorney General to be a political ideologue, a criminal, or one who acts without considering the impression of or an actual act of impropriety. Lynch’s meeting with Clinton was inappropriate at a sensitive time and her judgment was flawed when she interrupted her flight plans to meet with Bill Clinton on the tarmac. Bill Clinton had a vested interest in the situation at the time and I think Bryan will acknowledge that under the circumstances and the matter under investigation, Lynch should not have acquiesced to but should have declined the meeting with Clinton. It was tantamount to a presiding judge meeting with one side in a pending case without the other side being represented in the same meeting. She opened the door to speculation and by doing so, she probably moved more undecided voters to Trump’s camp. Therefore it was her lack of judgment and common sense that prompted my inclusion in the comment. She knew better – or did she?

            I have no objection to Warren’s fight for equal voting rights, consumer rights, etc. They are all admirable causes and if anything, I support them. However, being a champion of good causes does not automatically exclude the champion from feeding red meat to their audience(s). She has been as guilty as Trump in doing so and even though Trump is well outside the normal continuum we are accustomed to, how is it a lesser offense by Warren than Trump? My comments were not intended to be a defense of Trump although I am sure some believe them to be, they were to call out the hypocrisy of the actions of the participants inside the political arena when one side uses divisive tactics but condemns the other side for doing the same thing.

            I know my following comment may be interpreted the wrong way but if is, so be it. The harsh truth is that Donald Trump’s behavior is becoming the new normal – for both sides. Radicalization is more acceptable now than it was 12 years ago and it is expanding exponentially on both sides to the point that if it is not already firmly established in the DNA of this nation, it soon will be.

            My conclusion is based on exposure to a very wide cross-section of America and talking to citizens of this country on the Main Street level from 1994 to 2004. With very few exceptions, whether during a business call, lunch with clients, dinner with clients, or simply socializing with them, it didn’t matter what the skin color, social or economic status, religion, or political leanings were, we were able to communicate with civility, respect, and reasonable debate over issues we agreed on or held an opposing position. We listened to what the others had to say and respected their position(s). Sometimes someone would give me cause to reconsider my position and vice versa.

            In our current climate, with the exception of a few including all who participate in Brad’s blog (with one exception – not you bud), civility, debate, and respect for the opinion of others has almost disappeared from any public forum. Now I find myself at odds with members of my extended family and friends. Not to the point where I would consider unfriending or dropping them as friends and so many have done because of Trump or so the reason they give.

            The tone of politics and life has rendered the book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature” by Steven Pinker almost obsolete, especially so with the emergence of Donald Trump.

            Thank you for your time.


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