Open Thread for Friday, April 28, 2017

Mug shots from crime story in The State. Note the way the "whites" of her eyes are totally dark. Is she a Fremen? If so, Fremen are scary.

Mug shots from crime story in The State. Note the way the “whites” of her eyes are totally dark. Is she a Fremen? If so, Fremen are scary.

Sorry I haven’t posted much. Here are a few topics:

  1. Congress passes spending deal to keep government open another week — Woo-hoo! Talk about leadership! These statesmen for the ages can’t get it together to actually DO anything (even stupid things, like repealing Obamacare), but they’ve gone all out and avoided shutting down the government for a whole week! If you see your congressman, be sure to pat him on his overburdened little head.
  2. Economic Growth, at 0.7%, Is Weakest in Three Years — That’s what The Wall Street Journal is leading with. But hey, those Trump tax cuts are going to fix it all up, right, WSJ?
  3. Trump Administration Wants North Korea At Negotiating Table On Nuclear Weapons — Beats the scary news from earlier in the week.
  4. SC needs money for roads, so senators pass tax cuts — Yeah, they did it while increasing the gas tax, but I just can’t stop focusing on the insanity of — when faced with a need for revenue, and you have a tax dedicated to that purpose, it’s lower than the national average, and you haven’t raised it in 30 years — refusing to raise it without cutting totally unrelated taxes? It’s just completely nuts. You say “Hello, good morning” to these guys, and their response is “Yes, let’s cut taxes!” And don’t even get me started on Henry McMaster’s role in all this…
  5. NSA halts warrantless collection of Americans’ emails that mention foreign targets — Why? Sounds like a potentially valuable intel source to me.

16 thoughts on “Open Thread for Friday, April 28, 2017

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, good for him. If I could do the same, I would.

      The most I was ever paid for a speaking gig was $3,400. And I gave it away. That’s because I was still working at the newspaper, and I considered going out and speaking part of the job.

      But newspaper people are weird about money that way.

      Unfortunately, since the Great Recession, I haven’t seen anyone offering stipends like that in SC. If they did, I’d keep it this time…

  1. Claus2

    You can tattoo your eyeballs. I’ve seen one person with it, the whites were tattoo’d red. He looked to be about as sane as this woman.

    1. Richard

      It makes you wonder what the first person to try this was thinking. I think I’ll take this machine that will poke my eye with a needle 3000 times per minute and see if I can color my eyeball.

  2. bud

    4. This is a pet peeve of mine. People who support a gas tax increase say there hasn’t been an increase in 30+ years. Technically that’s true in a nominal sense but in fact the gas tax is much lower than in 1986. That’s because it’s based on a per gallon not per dollar. No other tax works this way. Imagine if we taxed a steak dinner this way. A meal costing $8 in 1986 now costs $16. Yet based on the size of the steak we impose a sales tax rather than the price. Of course that’s not how it works. In fact the gas tax is about half what it was in 1986.

    1. Scout

      I’m not following you, Bud. A gallon is still a gallon. So if the tax is by the gallon and a gallon hasn’t changed, how is the gas tax half what it was in 1986? Maybe you are saying that because cars have become more fuel efficient and less gallons are being sold (I’m guessing this may be true, don’t really know) than we are effectively collecting less revenue than we were in 1986, even though the actual gas tax itself hasn’t changed? Is that what you are saying? Or maybe you are saying we are collecting half of what we could be collecting if the tax was per dollar spent rather than per gallon, since the price of gas has gone up considerably since 1986. Or maybe you are saying, the amount we collect has remained constant or gone down slightly due to fuel efficiency while everything else in the economy has gone up with inflation, making the amount we collect less effective than in 1986. Those might all be the same thing said slightly different ways. I think I just made my head hurt.

        1. bud

          What Brad said. Inflation has reduced the value of the tax collected. Add in the fuel efficiency and the result is a reduction in the spending power of the revenue collected.

  3. Phillip

    I have to admit I was impressed with what Tillerson said in the NPR piece you linked to. It sounds like he does not necessarily subscribe to the “North Korea is a completely mad, illogical, irrational regime liable to do anything crazy at any given moment” theory, and in fact he does understand that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions make perfect sense if you understand that their complete focus and goal is the preservation of their own regime and the status quo, not territorial ambition or some sort of religious-maniacal-let’s-end-the-world fever. I don’t know if the North Koreans will believe Tillerson, but his assurances that “we do not seek regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula,” are pretty remarkable.

    Of course, getting the North Koreans to believe that is another matter. I’m not sure I really believe it, either, but if you want to avoid a big war, possibly a nuclear one, that is the only path open to us—-to follow that policy and to somehow (with China’s help?) getting the North to buy into that. Maybe the installation of the anti-missile defenses in South Korea are meant to establish something specific that can then get “uninstalled” simultaneously with dismantling of NK’s missiles. But, then again, from North Korea’s perspective, the 24,000 US troops stationed in South Korea and the nearly 40,000 in Japan are something you can be sure they are factoring into their strategic calculations when they try to assess Tillerson’s sincerity.

      1. Phillip

        Well, Tillerson can say (with legitimacy) to the North Koreans, “look, we’ve had that many—-and even more—troops there for all these years since 1953 and we have not attacked your country in all that time, so why would we now?”

        1. Brad Warthen Post author


          We have more than 60 years of experience to tell us that this is a force that is where it is to keep the peace, not to start trouble…


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