Trump fires Comey, and other news of the day

Comey cropped

Yeah, this is an Open Thread, but that first item just demanded to be in the headline:

  1. Comey dismissed after misstatement of Clinton email evidence — Wow. Whoa. Hang on!… I had seen a headline earlier today about Comey’s “oops,” and wasn’t interested enough to read it (the whole Comey-Hillary thing has sort of been done to death). Now this, which has only happened once before.
  2. SC House passes gas-tax hike — Both chambers have passed it with enough votes to override McMaster’s outrageous promise to veto. I still have questions about this bill — especially the pointless tax breaks in it — but on the whole this looks like it’s a good bit better than I would have expected from this General Assembly even a couple of weeks back. So good for them. I think…

And you know what? I’m going to stop there, because everything else looks so uninteresting by comparison…

100 thoughts on “Trump fires Comey, and other news of the day

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I was going to raise the subject of the French election (a bit old, but we haven’t discussed it yet), in which the republic has been saved by a guy married to a woman with a kid older than he is, but hey — that’s just France, right?

    This other stuff is more compelling now…

  2. Bryan Caskey

    /steps up to betting window

    I’d like to place $50 on Sheriff David Clarke, please.

    I’d also like to place $50 that Comey ends up at Covington & Burling.

    1. Doug Ross

      Of course he is. There is no political weathervane more capable of blowing whichever way he thinks will help him than our fine Senator.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug, I don’t know what I think about Comey’s firing. I’m trying to sort it all out myself. Once I do, maybe I’ll end up with the same position he has.

      If I were living in the NORMAL universe where Hillary won, I’d know what to think of Comey’s firing. Maybe.

      But TRUMP firing him? This has more aspects than a cat has hair….

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’m intrigued by Rosenstein’s memo:
        “I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.’’

      2. bud

        Given there ARE so many aspects to this don’t you find it a bit unnerving that Lindsey came out so quickly defending the President? Clearly what Graham said and the rapidity with which he said it smacks of political opportunism.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, come on, bud — the guy spent all day yesterday leading a very public investigation into what Trump does NOT want investigated. If he — one of the three or four Republicans in Washington who DO stand up to Trump — is trying to be Trump’s buddy, he’s going at it all wrong.

          Think about it: He didn’t have to say ANYTHING about Comey. That he did demonstrates that this is what he thinks. Sometimes, the plainest of explanation is the one that’s true…

          I haven’t made up my mind, but the way Lindsey expressed it resonates with me. I, like many, have thought, Will no one rid me of this turbulent G-man?

      3. Bryan Caskey

        Eh, on a serious note: It’s not really the firing of Comey that is a big deal. The issue is who replaces him.

        On a non-serious note: I got a whole bunch of Comey getting fired movie reference jokes ready to fire. I’ve got the slow-match burning in the tubs, Captain.

      4. Richard

        “If I were living in the NORMAL universe where Hillary won”

        Alex, I’d like Phrases That No One Has Ever Said for $400.

  3. bud

    Two big stories concerning nuclear power. First the Hanford Nuclear site in Washington state had a scary tunnel collapse. And of course the Westinghouse bankruptcy threatens the completion of the Jenkensville reactors. These already way over budget monstrcities show the callousness of big business in how the arrogantly treat their customers.

    1. Doug Ross

      Oh, yeah, those nuclear reactors are TOTALLY private enterprises. No government involvement in any of that greedy capitalism.

      1. Richard

        No it’s big business’s fault… this wouldn’t happen if Fred and Bert’s Nuclear Construction were running the project.

        1. bud

          Essentially what is happening with this whole nuclear debacle is that SCANA is behaving like an unregulated monopoly. That’s because the “regulators” pretty much allowed them to do what they wanted. This is a window into the world of what would happen if the libertarian wish list were to come to pass. Industries would all become much more concentrated into monopolies or near monopolies with just a few people controlling the assets of the nation. All the negative externalities associated with monopolies would become normal.

          We’re seeing more and more of this with the Trump administration, especially the EPA, as regulations that keep our environment clean are stripped away one by one. We can’t wait until some measurable impact such as we saw in Flint MI comes to pass. It is extremely naive to simply say nothing bad has happened yet and go on a rant about how old Bernie Sanders is. We need to focus our attention on the long term now. Otherwise we’ll all be suffering from the consequences of a spoiled environment and unsafe workplaces.

  4. bud

    I’m actually a bit inclined to think the Comey firing is no big deal. With all the enormous amount of crap going on with Trump and his family it seems unlikely that anything is going to budge his hardcore supporters or Republican members of congress. I suspect we’ll continue to be bombarded by bizarre Trump stories for the next 3-2/3 years. Until there is some bona fide crisis that Trump bungles (North Korean mischief, Russian invasion of Xistan, financial crisis, hurricane, earthquake, oil spill, 9-11 style incident) we are simply stuck with a never ending series of eye rolling weirdness.

    1. Doug Ross

      Democrats have about 18 months to decide on a candidate. Who will it be? Hillary again (third times a charm)? 80 year old Bernie? 72 year old Elizabeth Warren? Some new face without any track record who will have to kiss Hillary’s ring to get her blessing?

      Democrats have no bench, no leaders, no political power.

      Trump will be re-elected if the economy is good and he won’t if the economy is bad. That’s it.

      1. Richard

        I wonder if Lindsey Graham will try to run again… maybe the Democrats will run Steve Benjamin.

        1. Doug Ross

          Ok, Mark. I know you have to keep doubling down on your predictions of anarchy and devastation but I’ll wait until something actually happens before running for the bomb shelter.

          Comey is a political figure who overstepped his duties. Had Obama fired him six months ago, Democrats would have been cheering. With all the claims about Trump’s absolutely, positive, no doubt connections to being controlled by Putin, we’ve yet to see any actual evidence of anything. Just non-stop mass hysteria from Democrats… Nearly a year after Trump supposedly was taking orders from Russia, there’s nothing except rumors. Maybe that’s reason enough to fire Comey – how much time did he need to gather evidence of what would be the greatest political scandal in American history?

          1. Doug Ross

            Let me understand the timeline here: Comey makes a statement about Hillary in order to help Trump get elected, nine months later Trump fires Comey. Doesn’t that make all the wild claims about Comey’s motivation look stupid now? The constant chatter and speculation is reaching unhinged proportions. It’s Obama’s birth certificate to the power of Obama is a Muslim.

          2. Karen Pearson

            And how long did it take to gather enough evidence against Nixon to impeach him?

            1. Doug Ross

              Are you suggesting the FBI of 2017 has no better capability to investigate cases than they did 45 years ago?

        1. Claus2

          And you’re making the assumption that he won’t last, yet you have nothing to back that up with other than “Hope”. And we all know how that played out with the Obama administration.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Actually, I’m not assuming anything. Last year, our country stepped into bizarre territory, where things that could not happen happened nevertheless. It’s foolish to assume anything…

            1. Claus2

              So I guess I don’t understand your initial comment about assuming Trump will last until the next election. You state you aren’t assuming that he won’t be here… yet you make that comment. What did you mean by it?

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                I meant exactly what I said – that in predicting Trump will be running for re-election, Doug is assuming he’ll still be in office.

                It’s not complicated.

  5. Harry Harris

    Who owns the Wall Street Journal? Rupert Murdoch? The same outfit that owns Fox News? Don’t be surprised at a right-leaning and indefensible editorial.

    The Comey firing coming just as the heat is turning up on Russian hacking and political involvement, Flynn, and Trump ties is another “change the subject” move. He’s done it several times already. He knows how to play most of the press.

  6. Doug Ross

    I’m reading the Hamilton biography now and it’s interesting to see just how things never change. In 1792, Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State hired a guy as a French interpreter but really used that patronage job to fund that guy setting up a newspaper to disseminate anti-Federalist opinions and hit pieces on Hamilton and Washington. Jefferson was aided by James Madison, another future President and a Senator at the time. Together, Jefferson and Madison worked behind the scenes to use the press to push their agenda. Jefferson also had this to say about newspapers in general:

    “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.”

    Sounds a lot like “fake news”, doesn’t it?

    Meanwhile, Hamilton displayed many Trump-like qualities. When he was attacked in the press, he would respond almost immediately and with great venom by writing anonymous columns in newspapers. Had Hamilton had Twitter back then, he surely would have been Trump-like in his tweeting behavior.

    So if you think it’s all really different now, it’s not. American history has been about the battles for money and power since its inception. The ONLY difference today is that the technology allows for a more rapid flow of partisan foolishness.

    1. Brad Warthen

      Things are very, very different now. Jefferson had a POINT in criticizing the scurrilous press of his day. That was long before responsible, professional journalism was a thing.

      And if you think Thomas Jefferson can for a moment be compared to this ignoramus who now holds the office, then congratulations, you have now completely outdone yourself for cynicism. I don’t know what it is that prevents you from seeing that Trump is a complete departure from everything that went before. It’s just staggering to me.

      I’m more of a Federalist myself, but I’ll take Jefferson over any president in my lifetime…

      1. Doug Ross

        Jefferson the slave owning, slave banging President? The one who blatantly used his cabinet position to attack Washington – his President – insinuating in anonymous newspaper articles that Washington was either lazy or incompetent?

        Oh yeah, I forgot, he had a great vocabulary.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yes, he did have a great vocabulary, to go with a brilliant mind completely devoted to the good of his infant nation. Which is why he’s the guy who wrote the Declaration of Independence, even though he didn’t do the heavy lifting (or ANY lifting; he did not speak during the debate on independence) — John Adams did. But Adams appreciated Jefferson’s vocabulary sufficiently to draft him into doing the writing. Thank God he did not have your disdain for words, since the result was one of the great documents of human history.

          That particular collection of mere words, along with that other one Hamilton and Madison and the rest came up with more than a decade later, are the things this country is founded upon.

          Of course, if all Jefferson did was draft the document saying what the Congress had already decided to say, I might not find him as admirable as I do. But his actions during his presidency — going after the Barbary pirates despite his dreamy libertarianism (he didn’t even want us to HAVE a Navy, back before he had the responsibility of the presidency) and shelling out the dough for the Louisiana Purchase (despite his “small-government” sentiments) cause me to admire his pragmatism in wielding the power of the presidency.

          People who like to tear down can tear down anyone — anyone, including that Jesus guy who showed his utter contempt for law and order and private property with his rampage through the Temple. My own favorite Founding Father is John Adams, even though he was a cantankerous so-and-so who tended to tick everybody off, and whose presidency was much less distinguished than those of his predecessor or successor, and blemished by the Alien and Sedition Acts. Adams deserves our admiration for the other roles he played in founding the nation, from the independence debate in Congress through his service as ambassador to France AND Britain…

  7. Bryan Caskey

    Seems like a special prosecutor on the Russia thing would be a good move for Republicans. Either way, it resolves the matter. Either Trump is exonerated (good outcome for GOP) or Trump is absolutely destroyed (arguably a better outcome).

    The Democrats benefit the most by the Russia rumor just swirling around and hanging there. Sort of like the strategy of not solving a problem so you can run on it in the next election.

    1. bud

      Mayb. But if this festers too long people just get bored. Except for Fox News junkies I don’t think people much cared about Benghazi after a few months. Remember Monica Lewinsky? Bill Clinton left office with a very high approval rating. On the other hand the email thing had legs for some reason.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      I think you’re right, Bryan. But I doubt our GOP lawmakers have figured that out.

      The best thing in the world for them would be for Trump to be gone and Pence to take his place. He, after all, is one of them…

  8. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, after having a night to think it over, I’m thinking this is just as bad as it looks. Which is to say, this is Trump abusing the power of his office to stop or simply mess with an investigation into himself and his team over Russia.

    I didn’t want to say that last night because, well, that’s about as bad as it gets, and there were confusing aspects of this that distracted me.

    I was intrigued that Rosenstein actually offered a coherent, justifiable excuse for firing Comey. But I was deeply confused by that because it meant Trump was firing Comey for having helped him during the election. Which I could see a normal president doing, but not this guy. Trump cares nothing for the law or propriety; he cares only about what is good for Trump, and he saw Comey’s last-minute interference as good for Trump.

    Of course, the key here is the fact that Rosenstein is offering the justification, and not Sessions. Why is that? Because Sessions has recused himself from dealing with Russia. Which tells us that this is about Russia, not about Comey torpedoing the Clinton campaign — and that they’re not bothering to deny it through actions by just letting Sessions handle it.

    Which means this is a new low for Trump…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      As I heard someone say on the radio this morning, Rosenstein’s justification passes the legal test, but not the smell test.

      For instance, if Comey deserved to be fired for his words and actions re Clinton, then Trump should have fired him the moment he took office. Instead, he does it the day after the damaging Graham hearing, and the day before he’s to meet with the Russian foreign minister

      By the way, Sergey Lavrov’s reaction to Comey news: “Was he fired? You’re kidding! You’re kidding!”

      Hey, when you shock a guy who works for Putin…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      By the way, I’m far from alone in taking time to process this and decide what to say. Plenty of people of both parties were thrown off-stride by the sudden action, as Dan Balz writes:

      There was a certain irony to the explanation offered for the dismissal, which was focused on Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Many Democrats, including Clinton, believe what Comey did by reopening the investigation late in the campaign contributed to Trump’s victory last November. That’s one reason that, by the time of his dismissal, Comey had few public advocates and many detractors for his actions and his unwillingness to concede error.

      That might explain why Trump’s order to fire Comey produced, initially at least, a somewhat muted reaction among elected officials in both parties, or at least reactions that offered no clear defense of the FBI director.

      But as the hours passed and the shock of the announcement rippled more widely, Democrats and some Republicans began to raise concerns about the timing and therefore the possible implications of the action by a president whose administration has been clouded since its very start by the Russia investigation, with any number of Democrats accusing Trump of an abuse of power….

    3. Citizen

      For what it’s worth, here’s my brief take on the Comey firing:

      Did it have something to do with, as Sen. Schumer said, the FBI getting too “close to home” in the Russian investigation?
      At this point, I’m skeptical.

      Was it because Comey had become a detriment to the Bureau, as the Rosenstein letter suggests?
      I seriously doubt that.

      Most likely it was another example of an impulsive president having a temper tantrum (over Comey’s non-deferential testimony before Congress and his call for adding resources to the investigation). In other words, it looks like a personal vendetta against Comey by a thin skinned and vindictive man. This is just speculation on my part of course. But it seems the best fit for the fact pattern as we know it so far.

      As with Nixon, it’s this president’s personal flaws that will bring him down.

  9. Phillip

    Since you opted not to include the French election in your thread heading, I’ll just toss it in here if you don’t mind:

    For me the most heartening thing about the French election is not the defeat of Le Pen (a relief though that was), but the fact that neither of the two major parties in French politics made it to the final round. Essentially you had a third and a fourth party candidate facing off. It was a strong rejection of the two major parties there, and I wish our structure was such that voters could really give a true thumbs down to our more ossified two-party system, open up the process much more.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, I’m with you there — although, with the exception of the UnParty and the equally admirable Grownup Party, alternative parties in this country are distinguished by being more extreme and unrealistic than the two major parties.

      The disturbing thing in France is how many people showed up to vote but refused to vote for either. More people turned in blank or defaced ballots than voted for le Pen.

      Which is… and I’m going to use that word Doug hates… a completely nihilistic gesture. It’s just disgusting.

      As citizens, they had an obligation to stop le Pen and save their young republic (what are they on now — the Fifth?). But no — if there wasn’t a candidate on the ballot that was exactly what they wanted, they were content to stand aside while the country descended into fascism.

      The Englishman in me just shakes his head, as he does about so many things having to do with France.

      Confusion to Bonaparte!

      1. Phillip

        I hear what you are saying about the French voters who cast a “non-vote,” but at least they took the trouble of going to the polls. 42% of our eligible voters didn’t manage to cast any kind of a vote, nihilistic or not, in the last election.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author


          And as I’ve said before, I have mixed feelings about that.

          Yeah, I think everybody ought to care enough to vote. But I generally stayed away from doing those civics-lesson editorials and columns urging people to get off their duffs and head to the polls.

          If they’re really that apathetic, really that disengaged, do I want them voting? No, I don’t think I do. We have enough people voting who don’t do so thoughtfully or knowledgeably (see “Trump, Donald J.”). Why would we want people who are even LESS engaged to turn out?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            It really ticks off Democrats when I ask that in response to their concerns about the awful Republicans trying to erect barriers to voting by passing Voter ID laws. I ask, Who doesn’t have a photo ID? And they start telling me, “Lots of people who have no birth certificates, no credit cards, no bank accounts…” And I tell them, I’m sympathetic to folks who are that down and out, but do we really want people that disengaged from modern life voting?

            I get some dirty looks to that one. Like I’m a monster or something. But I think it’s a legitimate question, because I look out there at election results, and see that a lot of voters just don’t know what’s going on in the world today. And that’s a bad thing.

            Not that I’m sympathetic to Republicans reasons for passing such laws. They ARE trying to disenfranchise the disempowered, because they see them as more likely to vote Democratic.

            Of course, Democrats WANT those citizens voting because they believe the same thing.

            But yes, the Democrats’ position is more sympathetic. But I can’t help asking that question that makes me sound so awful…

            1. bud

              Brad you lost ALL credibility on this issue in 2004 with the worst endorsement in the history of ever for the odious George W. How dare you be dismissive of voters who don’t have a Brad Warthen approved voter ID. We had a discussion of elitism a few days ago. THIS is elitism on steroids.

            2. bud

              This article supports something I’ve strongly suspected since the election, polling was NOT wrong. At least in Wisconsin which was the only state that Real Clear Politics got wrong. (The other “misses” were actually rated as toss ups) Apparently 200,000 mostly non-white, Democratic voters were disenfranchised in the Badger State. Trump “won” by about 22k. The article describes eligible voters who were highly engaged in the election process who could not get an approved voter ID despite a concerted effort to do so. This false notion that people without a proper voter ID were somehow just a bunch of ignorant rubes as implied by Brad is simply not the case.


              1. Doug Ross

                “ Holloway ended up making seven trips to different public agencies in two states and spent over $200 in an attempt to correct his birth certificate, but he was never able to obtain a voter ID in Wisconsin. ”

                Now tell me again how efficient government is.

                And this is buried way down in the article “ It’s important to note that this study was conducted by a Democratic Party–affiliated group and has not been peer-reviewed or gone through the typical academic vetting process.”

                “ The study was conducted by Civis Analytics, a data science firm founded by the chief analytics officer for Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012.)”

                Now let’s add some more facts to the slanted article. The voter id law in Wisconsin was enacted in 2011 and after many years of lawsuits was put into effect in 2015. How many of the supposed disenfranchised voters even TRIED to get an id over the 12 months prior to the election?

                There is also one huge fundamental flaw in the analysis – it assumes that the change in voter id laws is the sole variable that might impact turnout. Does it even consider that the drop in black voters might have something to do with the fact that a black president wasn’t running for re-election? or that some black voters simply didn’t like Hillary? It uses a single change in one metric (voter turnout) and assigns the variance to one variable when there were many, many more variables involved. 2016 wasn’t 2012.

                1. bud

                  Now tell me again how efficient government is.

                  If the objective was to keep Democrats from voting it was VERY efficient in Wisconsin.

                  Of course there are lots of variables. But that misses the point. Polling showed Hillary with a 6 point lead. Those polls took into account many factors but appeared to miss the mark anyway. Why? Apparently because of the effect of voter suppression. If you’re polled and the metrics used to determine if you’re a likely voter and will vote for a certain candidate then you get counted in that candidates tally. But if the voter suppression is effective then some likely voters are thwarted. That is apparently what happened in Wisconsin.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Bud, face it: You set Doug up on that one. That was about bureaucratic foul-ups.

                  And I didn’t say people without IDs were “ignorant rubes.” I said they sound like they’d be highly disengaged from modern life…

                3. Doug Ross

                  Wanna bet on the party affiliation of the majority of the incompetent bureaucrats who couldn’t figure out the difference between “Junior” and “Jr.”?

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I don’t know. Are you thinking they’re the sorts who looked at America’s problems, real and imagined, and said, “Trump’s the answer!”?

                    Or the kind who voted in Palm Beach and didn’t know whether they’d voted for Al Gore or Pat Buchanan?

                4. Doug Ross

                  I’m think they are the ones who prefer a cushy government job and the associated pension with little concern for efficiency or excellence. You know, government union types. And we all know which way they vote.

  10. Brad Warthen Post author

    Meanwhile, McMaster followed through on his completely unjustifiable threat to veto the gas tax bill.

    So here’s hoping lawmakers go ahead and override, preferably today to emphasize just how out of line the governor is.

    This bill’s not perfect (the tax CUTS in it are an outrage, flying straight in the face of rational governing), but as Cindi explains in her column today, it’s better that it pass than not.

    It’s a shame to see Henry completely forfeit his first chance to lead on a significant issue.

    Wait, what am I saying? He didn’t need to lead; he just needed to get out of the way. Speaker Lucas, Sen. Sheheen and others did the leading here.

    But it would have been such a positive thing to see Henry join them in doing something that had long needed to be done, giving a clear sign that the foolishness of the Sanford and Haley years is behind us…

    1. Doug Ross

      McMaster vetoed the bill knowing that the veto would be overridden. According to FitsNews, he worked behind the scenes to assure that the votes were there first to override. That way, he can play both sides when he goes for re-election. “I fought them when they tried to raise YOUR taxes” but still get the benefit of whatever (if any) road improvements actually occur. He’s not dumb…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      By the way, while I’m referring you to one of Cindi’s columns, and also praising leadership from the likes of Jay Lucas and Vincent Sheheen, allow me to call your attention to Cindi’s previous column noting the way small-town legislators (Lucas is from Hartsville; Vincent from Camden) are providing positive leadership at the State House.

      Very communitarian message…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        As Cindi quoted Sheheen:

        “It’s because you’ve got these guys in the House leadership who come from small towns, where everybody has to work together,” the Camden attorney said. The everybody-knows-everybody culture of small-town life doesn’t lend itself to the same sort of partisanship we see in larger communities, he argues, noting that “When I go talk to (House Speaker) Jay Lucas, he doesn’t care that I’m a Democrat.”

        1. Doug Ross

          Yeah, look at all the great things they’ve accomplished. Raising taxes.. um.. raising taxes.. um… give me a minute.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Getting THIS Legislature to raise a tax that absolutely needed to be raised, that there were no rational arguments against raising, is a minor miracle with this bunch. It’s hard to imagine an example of political leadership more obvious than persuading a GOP-led body to do something that needs doing, but will cause people like you and the rest of the anti-tax crowd to be unhappy with them.

            1. Doug Ross

              ” that there were no rational arguments against raising,”

              There was one very basic, rational argument against it: the performance (or lack thereof) of the DOT. Giving millions of dollars to an entity that hasn’t demonstrated the ability to execute efficiently is reason enough for me. The tax should have been temporary (5 years and then renew based on performance) and should have required some people in the DOT management to lose their jobs. Fair trade.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                No, that’s not what was needed. What was needed was to put the governor in charge of DOT, so that he has the power to fire anyone who DOES need to go (a power that no one had before this).

                And that’s what this bill does.

                As I said before, as badly as we needed the revenue for the roads, I didn’t think we should raise the tax without reforming the governance. The reason this is a good bill (or pretty good, anyway), is that it does both.

                If Henry had wanted to quibble over the reform part and said it didn’t do everything he wanted, I could respect that. But he’s vetoing it over the tax, and that’s inexcusable. It has zero to do with good governance, and everything to do with his fear of his party’s fringe in next year’s primary…

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Oh, I have no idea, and don’t care.

                    I care that they finally have a boss (a boss is someone who can fire you), and it’s someone elected by all of us. That’s what matters to me. It means they’re no longer chosen by separate groups of local lawmakers who have no control over them…

                1. Doug Ross

                  So we’ll just throw some more money at the Titanic and hope the captain sees the iceberg this time.

                  Apparently, you believe the leadership of the DOT should all remain in place because they’ve done such a fine job. Sorry, I’m falling back into my bad ways of holding people accountable rather than blaming the system.

                2. Doug Ross

                  You always fall back on the “I didn’t say it explicitly” line — you answered the question by saying “I have no idea and don’t care”. Then why do you care if the governor has the power to fire anyone? Presumably you’d think he might fire someone, right?

                  It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to determine that the DOT is led by some incompetent people. If no one is fired by the governor with his new powers, then what difference will it make? Sure, you’ll get the tax you want — but as usual, your interest drops off as soon as the tax is implemented. Performance? Fraud? Waste? Don’t know, don’t care.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I didn’t say it explicitly, I didn’t say it implicitly, and I didn’t think it.

                    I’m not a guy who fixates on firing people. You are. And I could say the same about you that you say about me — you think if you fire somebody, you fix the problem and can walk away dusting your hands.

                    You can’t. What’s needed here is accountable leadership, which we’ve never had. That’s where you start. Then you watch that leadership, and hold it accountable — because for the first time, you can.

                    We have this conversation a lot. You have a tendency to think the problem is this or that individual, and all you have to do is get rid of said individual, when what I’m looking at is a much larger, systemic problem. Chopping down a tree or three doesn’t fix the forest. Our problem hasn’t been this or that guy on the DOT; it’s been that whoever they are, they answer to no one….

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      And if you want to say I’m TOO big-picture, I accept service on that to a certain extent. I’m just saying you’re too much the other way.

              2. bud

                The DOT does a phenomenol job with the paltry funding it gets. A five year time frame is laughable.

                1. Doug Ross

                  I’ll just have to reserve my definition of phenomenal for things that aren’t described as crumbling and corrupt.

                  But I’ll try out your version:

                  “K Mart is doing a PHENOMENAL job with the paltry sales they get”

                  “The Hindenburg was a phenomenal airship aside from the bursting into flames part”

                  “Lindsey Graham did a phenomenal job running for President.”

                  I don’t know… doesn’t seem to cut it with me.

                2. bud

                  Doug you can throw out all the false analogies you want but to just smear an agency just because your world view declares it so doesn’t make it fact. But that is a tactic of the libertarian/conservative cult, make a claim loudly and often until the it gets branded as fact. But saying something is fact is not evidence.

                  Here are real facts. First the gas tax is roughly half what it was 30 years ago. Second, travel has doubled. Third, vehicles get much better mileage that they did. Fourth, safety concerns mandate more expensive design measures. Fifth, heavy truck traffic is up and that causes wear faster than was the case.

                  Yet with all this the DOT has kept traffic moving and a number of significant upgrades implemented. Drive down th Charleston some time and marvel at the Ravenel Bridge. There are several interstate upgrades around the state. Plus a number of innovative safety improvements such as roundabouts have been built. So yes phenomenol is an appropriate word to describe the SCDOT.

                3. Claus2

                  I’ve driven down to Charleston and have seen the Ravenel Bridge… I’d go again, but I don’t want to put the abuse my vehicle would take driving on the interstate from Columbia to Charleston.

                4. Doug Ross

                  bud – were all these big projects on time and at or under budget?

                  And why can’t they focus on FIXING the crumbling roads and bridges first before going after the multi-year, multi-million dollar projects? I know why.

                5. bud

                  I can’t speak to all DOT projects so I’m sure some are over budget. (After all they do have to use private contractors 🙂 )But according to the Wiki article the Ravenel Bridge was ahead of schedule and under budget:

                  “Following a week-long celebration that included a public bridge walk, concerts, dinners, and fireworks, the bridge was dedicated and opened on July 16, 2005 – one year ahead of schedule and under budget. The bridge was featured on the TV show Extreme Engineering.”

                  Which is something the privately built Jenkensville nuclear reactors can’t claim.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          You know, it’s interesting that Camden still elects Democrats (Sheheen and Laurie Funderburk), even though I remember hearing way back in the 80s, when Democrats still controlled the Legislature and Vincent’s Uncle Bob was speaker, how that area was getting more Republican.

          Meanwhile, you have a Pee Dee county like Darlington electing Republicans. Or, at least, nominal Republicans. Of course, that trend started with David Beasley switching to the GOP just before running for governor in 1994…

  11. Karen Pearson

    I find it rude, not to mention poor management, that Comey first heard of his firing when it was announced on TV.

    1. Bart

      I concur with your comment Karen. To me this only further proves the point Trump is not worthy or ready mentally, emotionally, or in any way to be POTUS. When I hear from acquaintances and some relatives that we needed a “businessman” in the White House, from this point on I will remind them that a real “businessman” would never handle firing the head of an agency the way Trump did with Comey. No, a real “businessman” would have called him and asked him to come to his office and give him the news in private first. Trump is an adherent to quote generally attributed to P.T. Barnum’s quote, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. Too bad they can also vote.

      When I look at Trump, the way he has conducted himself to date and the people he has chosen to be in his administration, I recall the old “Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour”. If it were still on the air, Trump and his administrative choices wouldn’t make the first cut. Ted Mack would be embarrassed to have them on his show. His standards for a bad amateur act were much higher and most likely would have fired the screener for allowing them to audition.

        1. Bart

          Good one but I won’t insult the Gong Show by linking it to Trump. At least no one took anything on the Gong Show as being serious. Maybe if someone had a bottle of seltzer water with a spritzer to hit Trump every time he said or did something stupid they could——no, he would stay wet 24/7.

  12. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, and now we have the explanation. From the WSJ:

    Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey asked the Justice Department last week for more resources for the agency’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a U.S. official said….

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      People who don’t trust the media will say, “That’s just according to two unnamed sources!” And the Justice Department is denying it.

      Yeah, but the same sources said it to The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian — all of whom are leading with it right now.

      This wasn’t some guy whispering in a parking garage at 2 a.m….

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