Open Thread for Monday, June 26, 2017

Boss Tweed on Flickr

Boss Tweed on Flickr

OK, people, let’s get some discussions going here:

  1. Supreme Court allows limited version of Trump’s travel ban to take effect — Bunch of court news, because it’s that time on the calendar. I was particularly interested in the Missouri case that said, yes, kids who go to parochial schools should also benefit from playground grants. Seems like that case has been dragging along for decades
  2. BMW to invest $600M, create another 1,000 jobs in SC — Again, nice job there, Gov. Campbell!
  3. 14 pounds! Lexington newborn surprises everyone — Yikes! And they thought the BMW thing was big news. Yes, it was a C-section.
  4. Nuclear project could be scrapped within 45 days — OK, a quick show of hands: How many of y’all think scrapping this project would be a good thing? I mean, aside from those of you who just don’t believe in nuclear power…
  5. Senate Republicans Alter Health Care Bill To Avoid ‘Death Spiral’ — I had thought that was the official name of the GOP plan: “Death Spiral.” Apparently not, since they’re trying to avoid that.
  6. McEnroe vs. Serena: 44 years after ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ the same dumb debate — Yeah, it’s dumb, but I’m not sure how it’s even a debate. McEnroe said Serena couldn’t beat male champions, and Serena herself seems to have agreed in the past. So where’s the debate? (By the way, my daughter who played on her high school team regularly beats me at tennis, for what that’s worth.)

18 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, June 26, 2017

  1. Norm Ivey

    #4: I have mixed emotions about this one. From an energy standpoint, I wish they would complete the project. Nuclear is going to have to be part of the clean energy mix at least as a transitional source of energy.

    On the other hand, this project has been pretty much a financial fiasco from day 1. It seems almost criminal to keep charging consumers for a project that continues to escalate in price.

    (Since it’s an Open Thread, just want to remark that this post comes to you Earthlings from 39000 feet above the panhandle of Texas while sipping a Sweetwater 420. What a great time to be alive.)

  2. bud

    … aside from those of you that don’t believe in nuclear power.

    And I’ve been accused of being condescending. This is the reason I “don’t believe in nuclear power”. You could argue that all the money extorted from sce&g customers is a sunk cost and we should base any decisions on future cost/benefits. But those of us that argued from the beginning that this boondoggle of a white element was wrong should not be set aside like some kind of tree hugging hippies. WE WERE RIGHT on this. IF we do go forward The SCANA stockholders should pay for this damn thing out of their dividend checks.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Ummmm – I think something like half (~45%) of the project is owned by Santee Cooper. That means the state of SC.

      If the option is to pay for the shut-down and continue to permit Santee Cooper to burn coal in its existing plants than the cost-benefit analysis may be in favor of completing construction of the reactors. Or maybe not; but the point is pretty clear no one quite knows what is what with this ill-fated project at this point.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Until somebody comes up with something magical (REAL magic, not just magical thinking), we’re going to need to replace coal with nuclear. Simply wishing we don’t need that capacity is wishing for the death of the economy…

  3. Richard

    If they pull the plug on the nuclear plant, will the rates drop by 18% back to where they were before all the rate hikes?

  4. Lynn Teague

    We don’t have enough information to know what the cost benefit trade-offs are on VC Summer. Neither does SCE&G at this point. They are working on that. However, it is possible that shutting construction down, even with the billions in costs already accrued, would still be less expensive than continuing and pursuing another option . So, when we find out what the relative financial costs are, they can be weighed along with other important factors like environmental concerns. If they do continue construction it is a essential that SCE&G be held to their 2016 “fixed price” agreement that would require their shareholders to cover most future overruns.

    1. bud

      I’m ok with the ruling since it was pretty narrow in scope. The playground stuff in question is secular. But I was troubled by Gorsuches objection to Robert’s footnote asserting this as a narrow ruling. Gorsuch also thought the limits on the travel ban excluding persons with existing relations in the US was wrong. Gorsuch is starting out as as an extreme conservative. Let’s hope that changes. I’m very interested to see how the wedding cake case is decided.

    2. Just lemme interject here

      Doesn’t matter that it’s 7-2, it’s still a bad decision. In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor (joined by Ginsberg) rightly points out that the Missouri playground decision breaks with precedent on church-state separation, saying it “profoundly changes [the] relationship [between church and state] by holding, for the first time that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds to a church.” Quoting precedent, Sotomayor rightly points out that what the majority describes as “discrimination” against religion is actually a well-founded Constitutional means of drawing a line that keeps the church free of state interference:

      “Inside a house of worship, dividing the religious from the secular would require intrusive line-drawing by government, and monitoring those lines would entangle government with the house of worship’s activities. And so while not every activity a house of worship undertakes will be inseparably linked to religious activity, ‘the likelihood that many are makes a categorical rule a suitable means to avoid chilling the exercise of religion.’”

      She goes on to write:

      “A State’s decision not to fund houses of worship does not disfavor religion; rather, it represents a valid choice to remain secular in the face of serious establishment and free exercise concerns.” The latter is particularly important since the Establishment Clause protects “not religion but ‘the individual’s freedom of conscience’ … that which allows him to choose religion, reject it, or remain undecided.”

      Just as importantly, this decision is not really narrow in scope, because, like a lot of decisions, it helps lay the groundwork for a potentially incremental move toward further dismantling the mutually beneficial wall of separation. This is especially true in light of Gorsuch’s position in this case as well as the previous Hobby Lobby decision. As Sotomayor puts it, “Today’s decision discounts centuries of history and jeopardizes the government’s ability to remain secular … [it] leads us to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment.”

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I like this part:

        “Inside a house of worship, dividing the religious from the secular would require intrusive line-drawing by government, and monitoring those lines would entangle government with the house of worship’s activities. And so while not every activity a house of worship undertakes will be inseparably linked to religious activity, ‘the likelihood that many are makes a categorical rule a suitable means to avoid chilling the exercise of religion.’”

        So she’s saying that, since the government shouldn’t try to separate the religious from the secular in a church’s activities, then the government should definitely not try to force religious institutions to cover birth control. Or am I reading that wrong?

        If so, maybe that helps explain the per curiam decision in Zubik v. Burwell. Or not. I’m not sure I understand that one…

        1. Well

          That had to do with the “substantial burden” issue. Obviously, there has to be some way to measure how far laws of general applicability can be applied to religious institutions. They can’t be exempted from every secular law, effectively becoming laws unto themselves.

  5. Harry Harris

    Critics are quite disappointing to let the GOP get away with calling this a health care bill. It’s a tax cut for high-earners and wealthy people disguised as a health care bill. They care little about the details except that the bill does away with the medicare tax on incomes above $200K (.9) and investment tax (3.8%). This is income exempt from Social Security and Medicaid tax that folks under about 118K pay at a rate of 6.2% and .1.45%. Killing the medicare tax will shorten the trust fund’s solvency period (extended under Obamacare to around 2032) to about 2020. This will put Republicans back on the fast track to raising the eligibility age, privatizing it, and cutting benefits to “fix” the problem. The AARP should be standing on their ear and clogging the halls of the Senate. The Republicans want to send the system as close to crashing as they can to set up more favorable tax advantages for the wealthiest and for passive income.

    1. Doug Ross

      AARP is not a lobbying organization as much as it is a marketing organization. The majority of its revenues don’t come from membership fees but from licensing its name to commercial products including a Medicare supplement insurance provided by United Healthcare. AARP takes in nearly a billion dollars from the branding campaign and pays its CEO over 1.5 million dollars a year. You think they’re going to rallly around single payer if it means losing access to that market for secondary insurance? Fat chance. AARP is not about advocacy, its about generating revenues.

      1. Harry Harris

        AARP does get most of it’s money from insurance products (and some others). It also informs its membership about SS and Medicare related policy and takes positions around legislation its leaders determine will affect the 50+ crowd.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          It also sends out this magazine that features celebrities over 50 on its cover. This edition it’s Steve Martin.

          I saw that on the kitchen table this morning, and something struck me: Nowadays, pretty much all celebrities are over 50.

          That was definitely not the case in the ’60s…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I mentioned her in the separate post I just wrote about this. She’s one of the two or three big-name young people out there…

              And yeah, I’m engaging in hyperbole.

              But new people today aren’t famous the way people used to be, back when there were only three TV networks, and for a song to be popular, it had to hit the top 40. Famous people used to be REALLY famous. That’s more rare now…

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