Open Thread for Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Yo, Paul! How are those predictions coming?

Yo, Paul! How are those predictions coming?

In no particular order:

  1. Trump Jr. on Russians’ Offer: ‘I Love It’ — This is a pretty big deal — meeting with a Russian after being told what the Russians were trying to do. And yet, I haven’t focused on it that much yet. I care more about what the boy’s daddy does. But yeah, this could be significant.
  2. Repeal of Obamacare without a replacement not ‘politically palatable,’ Sanford says — Wow. If Mr. Never-Met-A-Government-Program-I-Liked is saying that, I guess it’s pretty much of a non-starter.
  3. Paul Ehrlich is still around and peddling the same stuff! — In this case, it’s in a column in The Guardian. Yo, Paul — how are the predictions coming? That Population Bomb go off yet?
  4. Shark attack on nude beach! — Sorry about the second exclamation point. I just couldn’t resist this. I did learn one thing about it: I didn’t know there were nude beaches in America, probably because it’s something I don’t keep up with. I just figured it was some sort of decadent French thing. Oh, as for the attack on the nude swimmer: First, it was a guy, so get this scene out of your heads. Second, don’t worry about him, guys — he didn’t lose anything important.
  5. Christie Blasts N.J. Caller: ‘I Love Getting Calls From Communists In Montclair’ — This guy’s just really losing it, isn’t he? Whatever; I just hope we can keep him off those nude beaches…


112 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, July 11, 2017

  1. bud

    3. Ehrlich missed an important demographic shift. The developed world dramatically reduced its birth rate. That bought us time. We just need to finish the job and bring the less developed nations, especially in Africa on board. A world fertility rate of 2.5 is mathematically unsustainable. This is the biggest problem we face today. The first step in solving this problem is to acknowledge in is a problem.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, right — the biggest problem people have today is people. OK.

      Here’s what Ehrlich wrote in initial editions of the book — which was edited out later:

      The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…

      In other words, he believed that no matter what “the developed world” or anyone else did, the bomb was going to explode. Yet somehow we muddled through the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s, the ’00s, and we’re most of the way through the ’10s… and here he is again…

      1. Dave Crockett

        We are fortunate that Ehrlich was wrong about the timetable by his misreading of developed world demographics but I’m not at all sure we have dodged the population bomb he described….only sidestepped it for a while.

        I suppose it could be ascribed to divine intervention, at least in our part of the world. Are you still toeing the line that birth control is a sin? I know that you and I disagreed earlier over my belief that humans are only very clever animals but animals, nonetheless, and driven by the same sexual drives occurring in other species.

        Humans should know how to preserve their species by limiting reproduction voluntarily (by abstinence, I suppose you would suggest) rather than artificially by chemical or physical contraception schemes. But those clever folks in the third world haven’t gotten the message (yet?) and I would prefer not to see pestilence/disease/war be the only alternatives to keeping world population to a manageable/sustainable level.

        I do not accept that the biblical “go forth and multiply” dictum should be followed indefinitely, or even for as long as it has been observed. I’m not willing to wait for divine intervention to save us. We have a duty to save ourselves.

        Unfortunately, this feels much like the climate change debate…and probably just as difficult to find consensus about.

      2. Doug Ross

        Brad – would you accept that your religious views might influence your lack of concern for world population growth?

        I’d find it hard to support that climate change is man made and be concerned about that but not be concerned about the population of the world growing to what will eventually be an unsustainable number. Although it is likely that some type of pandemic will occur sometime to diminish the population.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    Moving the discussion of Donald, Jr. over here, I would repeat my earlier question of: What exactly is the crime as defined by current law? I don’t know. Has anyone seen something that would be a relevant law?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I don’t know. Since no American in the upper reaches of our politics has gotten close to anything remotely like this since maybe Aaron Burr, we might not have a law against it.

      But you know what? I’m concerned this is going to be an attention black hole, and I worry that there’s no way it ends well.

      Whatever the law says, this is not something that is going to convince people who voted for Trump that he has to go. (Why? Because they think, “everybody does it,” and they see no difference between this and routine oppo research.) And that’s what MUST happen — he must go, and in a way that virtually no one wants to defend him any more. That’s the only way the country comes out of this mess we’re in with any hope of things getting better within my lifetime…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        For me, this Trump situation is sort of like the Confederate flag flying at the State House.

        As I wrote many times, it would have done no good for the flag to come down as a result of a lawsuit, or a boycott, or some silly protester taking the law into her own hands (which means it then goes right back up). Any such “victory” would only lead to more bitterness, more political strife. No healing would be achieved.

        It needed to come down by consensus — the consensus of South Carolinians needed to decide, acting through their elected representatives, that they were ready to put the flag behind them.

        All those years, it was hard to see how that could happen — until it did happen, unfortunately as the result of horrific events.

        Hopefully, no one will have to die for America to wake up and shrug off Donald Trump. But until there’s a consensus on that — until significant portions of that 40 percent wakes up — I don’t see how it happens in a way that helps heal America…

      2. Mark Stewart

        §30121. Contributions and donations by foreign nationals
        (a) Prohibition
        It shall be unlawful for—
        (1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
        (A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
        (B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
        (C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or

        (2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

        1. Mark Stewart

          I posted this on the last story – apologies for the dup. It’s sort of beyond self-evident that this was wrong; an American does not work with foreign nationals on American elections. I know Doug thinks this is okay because we do it to other countries; but it isn’t.

          The Constitution itself is written so as to make clear that this kind of activity is unacceptable in the USA.

          So basically the admitted actions were unConstitutional, criminal and a threat to national security (including yet another instance of deception on their (Kushner, Don jr. and Manifort) security disclosures); though, frankly, the national security problems this collusion has created has already done incalculable harm to the standing of this country in the geopolitical world. That’s the issue – the Treason. It isn’t a word to use lightly but it appears to be the proper word to use in this unfolding situation.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “That’s the issue – the Treason. It isn’t a word to use lightly but it appears to be the proper word to use in this unfolding situation.”

            I’m not sure I would go so far as to call it treason. Even assuming he violated that federal statute, doesn’t treason imply that you’re acting against the government of the United States in a time of war? Can you commit treason in peacetime if it doesn’t result in any sort of actual shooting?

            For instance, the soldiers of the CSA committed treason – they levied war on the US. Benedict Arnold committed treason. For that matter, I guess George Washington, James Monroe, and Alexander Hamilton all committed treason against England. (They just happened to win.)

            I don’t think Aldrich Ames or the Rosenbergs committed treason, although they were all guilty of being Russian spies.

            1. bud

              Treason is certainly far too strong. And even a violation of the law cited by Mark is not all that obvious. But damn, chasing Russians with ties to the Kremlin in search of dirt on his political opponent is skulduggery of the highest order.

              1. Mark Stewart

                The office of we are considering here is President of the United States of America.

                Putin wins in every scenario here. And, yes, when we are talking about indebting the President to the United States to a hostile foreign power I would call this treasonous.

                Here’s my theory: Once this Russian attorney conveyed back that the Trump campaign was anxious for Russian assistance discrediting Hillary Clinton the floodgates opened. Her denials and obfuscation (the Russian attorney’s) today made it pretty clear that, from the Russian perspective, this meeting was about gauging the Trump campaign – not offering unsolicited information. Her words in the interview doubly damned the Trump campaign. I would not think that a coincidence.

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Then what is treason? It seems like we always end up defining it so that no one actually commits it. After all, even Aaron Burr was acquitted of it.

              But what I’d actually like to do here is go in another direction…

              It’s always kind of bugged me the way we focus on whether someone broke a law or not. We obsess about that as though, if the person did NOT break a law, everything is cool. It’s important — we must uphold the rule of law — but we place too much emphasis on it in the political sphere. And note that I’m saying this at a moment when it looks more likely than ever that someone in the Trump inner circle WILL get charged with an actual crime.

              You know who I blame for this obsession? No, Juan, it’s not lawyers. It’s journalists. And not opinion writers like me, but the straight news people.

              Straight news people can’t come right out and say, “This guy is doing a bad job,” or “He’s unfit for public office,” or “This is a bad idea.” But if somebody is convicted of a crime, you can say he did it, without fear of libel. As a result, a lot of reporting centers on whether someone is suspected of a crime, whether there’s a case to be made, whether he’s indicted, whether he’s convicted, etc. Everyone’s in breathless anticipation of that far-off event.

              Along the way, less emphasis is placed on whether he’s just doing a lot of dumb, bad stuff.

              I’ve probably told this story before, but I’ll share it again to illustrate my point.

              Back when David Beasley was governor and Dick Harpootlian was Democratic Party chairman, Harpootlian really got in my face about the fact that we wouldn’t give Beasley a hard time because he had taken a free plane ride from the company that ran the Barnwell nuclear dump.

              Personally, I didn’t think it was a big deal. The think I thought was a big deal, and which I wrote about over and over with great emphasis, was that Beasley decided to overthrow decades of smart, bipartisan state policy and keep the dump open to out-of-state waste (at least, I THINK that was the issue; it’s been a long time). We gave him quite a bit of grief about that.

              Meanwhile, Dick wanted us to fulminate about the plane ride. OK, let’s stop and think — why are we concerned about such ethical considerations? Because it makes it look like the governor might be cozy with the company that did him that favor. And why are we concerned that he might be too cozy? Because he might be inclined to use the power of his office to do favors for the company. And what would be the worst thing the governor might do along those lines? Well, obviously, it would be keeping the dump open…

              WHICH HE HAD ALREADY DONE! The actual, substantive sin had been committed. Why would I care about some silly thing that created an appearance that the governor might do something for these people, WHEN HE HAD ALREADY DONE IT?

              It just seemed to me a case of obsessing about the tail and ignoring the big, hairy, smelly dog. But even way back then, our politics was so much about the APPEARANCE of wrongdoing, or the appearance of the likelihood of wrongdoing, rather than the evil deed itself…

              1. Mark Stewart

                The problem with this narrative, Brad, is that it pulls the Trump situation back down into the political weeds, reinforcing for people like Doug that this is just another in an endless line of political intrigue and scandal.

                It is not. This is at least an existential threat to our nation; and likely something far worse. What we are witnessing now, living through, is one of the worst Constitutional crises ever faced by our country. I believea many believe, as I was taught, that the Civil Rights campaigns were our century’s great constitutional crisis. But that wasn’t a crisis as all, our system of civic engagement and balanced governance got us through a long period of turmoil stronger and more certain as a nation (even if many laggards resisted). This, however, has the makings of a true Constitutional crisis.

                In the face of growing and almost certain evidence of campaign collusion with a enemy foreign power to undermine the Office of the President of the United States of America, we are entering a situation with no parallel. Worse, we have Congressional delegations lead by McConnell and Ryan – neither the kind of strong, able leader and articulator the nation will most likely need in the months ahead. And, of course, we have Pence (and Putin). It is truly a perfect storm we are facing. We will be tested. All of us.

                1. Doug Ross

                  ” people like Doug that this is just another in an endless line of political intrigue and scandal.”

                  Watergate, Iran Contra, Monica Lewinsky, Fast & Furious, Benghazi.. how many do you want?

                  Donald Trump didn’t magically appear out of thin air and immediately change the political environment in this country. He’s a byproduct of a government that is run by lobbyists and shameless self promoting political hacks. All of you who have continued to vote for the same people over and over are to blame. Own it.

        2. Doug Ross

          How many of us are naive enough to assume that all the donations from foreign entities to the Clinton Foundation were made with zero expectation of any future return on investment?

          1. Doug Ross

            And those stories about Trump and the Russian hookers last summer — do you think they were sourced from someone in Russia? Do you think they were intended to “influence” the election in any way?

            It’s amazing to see how short some people’s memories are about the volume, velocity, and variety of stories that were used against Trump during the election. They exhibit Mr. Magoo-level myopia when it comes to dismissing the reality of how poorly Hillary Clinton ran her campaign; that the validity of the contents of the DNC emails that were released were never questioned; that the only way those emails were released was due to John Podesta falling for a password phishing email that most grandmothers are smart enough to ignore;

            No, no, no – Trump won because he had such an easy path to victory with the entire media proclaiming his greatness day after day. And he won only because the Russians did SOMETHING to make Hillary Clinton look bad – a feeling that NEVER existed for any American until August 2016.

    2. Bob Amundson

      The Bipartisan Campaign Act of 2002 states that it is prohibited for “a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election.”

      Was there money exchanged, and what will the courts define as “other thing of value?” Perhaps nothing illegal occurred, but this whole situation appears, at the least, unethical.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “Was there money exchanged, and what will the courts define as “other thing of value?” Perhaps nothing illegal occurred, but this whole situation appears, at the least, unethical.”

        Hmmmm…. This would be a law related to campaign finance, I assume. Obviously, we don’t want foreign people, not to mention foreign governments, giving money to candidates. I don’t want Vladimir Putin to be a campaign contributor to any candidate. That much is clear. My guess here in reading the statute is that the “other thing of value” phrase is a lawyer’s catch-all, to prevent a foreign national to give say, a big bag of uncut diamonds, because even though diamonds aren’t “money” they are readily convertible into money. In any event, that’s my guess as to the reason that language is in there.

        I don’t know what courts have ruled in defining “other things of value” as, but I would be surprised if they strayed too far from things that have actual economic value, like a bag of diamonds, or the use of a jet, or something that you can actually put a dollar value on. I would imagine, (as Brad mentioned earlier) that there isn’t a whole bunch of case law on this because it’s not something that comes up very often, and probably isn’t litigated to the point where you have a court deciding this specific issue.

        One thing for sure is that Donald Trump, Jr. was certainly willing to engage in dirty politics, and he was willing to engage in it with the most unscrupulous actors you could imagine without a thought to the potential consequences.

        He would have done well to remember Virgil’s line from the Aeneid and apply it to the Russians: “I fear the Greeks, even when they bear gifts“.

    3. Chuckie

      “What exactly is the crime”

      That, I’m afraid, may be precisely the problem. If no illegality is involved, there may be nothing for Mueller to pursue and the current Congress will be unlikely to take action (even though they should, since purely legal standards don’t necessarily apply in an impeachment proceeding). And in that case, we face the absurd situation of a presidential campaign claiming that it was just doing normal oppo research in going to one of our foremost international adversaries with the intention of getting dirt on its opponent in an American election. Now that may fly with some folks, but in the reality I used to live in, it would’ve meant the end of your political career. But maybe that just doesn’t hold true anymore, and in that case: from here on out anything goes! Which would just go to show how much damage American political culture has suffered under this pack of rogues.

  3. Claus2

    Is it Copy-n-Paste Tuesday already?

    1. Maybe Trump Jr. should have just met the Russian on his airplane on a tarmac in Arizona. Then all of this would have been swept under the rug.

    2. Sanford… I thought “irrelevant” talk was on Mondays.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, they do. And they did long before Paul Ehrlich was born, when the global population was a fraction of what it is today.

      The key is to help those underdeveloped nations develop. For those who are concerned about population growth, there’s a bonus to this: People voluntarily have smaller families as their education and income rises…

      1. bud

        The key is to help those underdeveloped nations develop.

        On that we can agree. But as an important part of that we must get away from the abominable notion that birth control is bad somehow. Did the developed world suddenly lose interest in sex and that’s why the fertility rate declined so sharply? Come on Brad this is nothing more complicated that an arithmetic problem. We can stay ahead of armageddon for a while by advances in technology and parts of the world attaining zero or even negative population growth. But the entire planet MUST come into balance one way or the other. The best, most ethical way is with effective birth control. Otherwise war and pestilence are 100% certain.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, golly — the Daily Mail, that paragon of journalism, is suggesting hijinks in the Obama White House!

      We’ve got do DO something! We need to raise hell, and get this guy out of office, and…

      Oh, wait… never mind.

      Hey, you know what? I hear whispering that there were some bad goings-on in the palace when Caligula was running things…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Doug, stop trying to set up straw men. That’s a non sequitur. Claude said he didn’t trust Bud as a source on Trump being a predator, so I said he didn’t have to, since we have it from Trump’s own mouth.

          Yeah, Trump — the guy who’s president now. The guy the whole conversation is about.

          It made perfect sense within the context of the conversation. I wasn’t trying to change the subject by deflecting to talking about someone else. It was about Donald J. Trump, and his character.

          So you see?

          1. Doug Ross

            No, I see something different. Your reply was to the link about the Obama frat house environment and brought up Caligula apparently as I read it as a way to say “it’s in the past, move on”. What Trump SAID to Billy Bush preceded the Obama administration by a couple years. Whatever crass thing he SAID does not make him a sexual predator — would you be willing to test that characterization in court? Bill Clinton, on the other hand, remained in office after actually DOING something that could be characterized as sexual predator in nature — and then lied about it and got the full support of most Democrats (including his wife) to remain in office — which included attacking the young woman who Clinton sexually harassed. Now leap forward to today and many of those same Democrats want us to judge Trump in a different way based on some words he spoke. That’s pure hypocrisy.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              OK, he just SAID he was a sexual predator. And we know he lies all day every day, so…

              I guess you’re right. Claus shouldn’t believe THAT source, either. Guess we’ll never know, then…

          2. Claus2

            “Yeah, Trump — the guy who’s president now. The guy the whole conversation is about.”

            It must be awful waking up every morning with that thought on your mind and then have to dwell on it the rest of the day. But that’s a choice people like you make, my biggest concern in the morning is whether my old dog pooped on the floor during the night as she was making her hourly rounds, if she didn’t it’s the start of a good day.

  4. Norm Ivey

    Wow. I don’t think I’ve heard of The Population Bomb since Mr. Huff’s Current Events course my freshman year in high school.

    The real collective threat that comes from population growth is the increased greenhouse gas emissions that accompany the growth. (Individually, hunger and starvation are the greatest threats.) Regions that have some of the largest rates of population increase are also regions that are developing industrially and economically–India (and other sub-continent countries) and Nigeria, for example. China’s population growth is similar to ours, but because there are already so many more of them to begin with, that translates into many more people. As more people drive cars, buy air-conditioned homes and consume more goods, more CO2 and methane is released into the atmosphere.

    That and whether he was right in his predictions aside for the moment, his point in his article about humans contributing to the sixth extinction is spot on. I’m afraid that one day future generations will look back at the people of the 20th and 21st centuries and wonder how we could have been so blind and selfish.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Wow. I don’t think I’ve heard of The Population Bomb since Mr. Huff’s Current Events course my freshman year in high school.”

      Yeah, I know, right? I had no idea that guy was still alive.

      Alive, and therefore contributing to overcrowding, and consuming scarce resources, and putting out more CO2, etc. Not that I’m suggesting he check out in order to decrease the surplus population, as Scrooge (the guy I always think of when “overpopulation” comes up) would have it. In fact, I’d be opposed to his doing so. He’s quite welcome to stick around, far as I’m concerned, even if he makes a nuisance of himself with all this Cassandra stuff.

      As for this: “As more people drive cars, buy air-conditioned homes and consume more goods, more CO2 and methane is released into the atmosphere.”

      Yeah, who do those Chinese think they are — Americans?

      1. Norm Ivey

        I know, right?

        Actually, I would love for the standard of living to improve all over the world, whether that means a car in every garage, a chicken in every pot, or just clean, running water. With prosperity comes a willingness and the means to care for others and the environment. Kind of like Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs–I’ve got what I need, so now I can help others with their needs. I just hope knowing now what we didn’t know when we started the fossil-fueled Industrial Revolution that we can foster that prosperity in a more sustainable manner.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And I’m totally with you. But then — and I might differ on this point with some — I’m with you because I think we need to keep the planet nice for future humans. A concern that includes trying to preserve biodiversity. Because that makes for a better planet for US, or rather our progeny, to live on.

          Because a nice planet lacks moral value without people benefiting from it.

          There’s also the God thing, of course. We’re stewards, not owners. We’re not supposed to trash the nice property we’re being allowed to live on…

          1. Norm Ivey

            I’m with you because I think we need to keep the planet nice for future humans.

            I’m not sure why you think you might differ with me on that point. That means having a livable climate and preserving biodiversity (the former supports the latter).

            We are stewards. We just haven’t been very good at it the last couple hundred years.

            1. Richard

              “We are stewards. We just haven’t been very good at it the last couple hundred years.”

              Yep, and it’s starting to come back and bite us in the you know where. Man has hurt the planet for the past 200 years, payback isn’t going to be pretty. I’m not some tree-hugging hippy, but I can see what’s happening and like most things we’ll get what we deserve.

  5. Bart Rogers

    Since this is an open thread, anyone else see the video of the CNN reporter or at least I think he was a CNN reporter, get punched in the face and knocked down by the father of the guy who made the Trump/CNN wrestling video? The reporter kept asking the father about his son for whatever reason and the old man kept telling the reporter to leave him alone. Then when the father started to go into his place of business, the reporter started to go in with him without being invited.

    That was when the father turned around and told the reporter he couldn’t come in, the reporter kept insisting and the father punched him out and the reporter hit the ground. The reporter tried to use the excuse for trying to barge his way into the business was that the father opened the door.

    What is actually humorous is that the reporter was at least half the age of the father. I would guess the father was in his late 60s, early 70s and he took the reporter down with one punch and it didn’t seem to be a hard one at that.

    I don’t condone violence but I cannot say that given the circumstances and given the fact the father had nothing to do with the video and the reporter kept hounding and baiting him that I was the father, I may have reacted the same way. The reporter was aware the father was getting irritated, agitated, and angry but he kept on and on.

    What would you have done under the same circumstances?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        … nor the families of victims. That’s a huge peeve in my book.

        I was sent once, during my reporting career, to interview some parents who had lost a child in a fire. Most painfully awkward hour or two in my career. As I sat there waiting for the parents to return from the funeral home (thank God they never came back before I gave up), I promised myself I’d NEVER send a reporter on such an errand. And I didn’t.

        And in answer to Bart’s question, based on that description it sounds like this CNN guy was a prize idiot…

    1. Richard

      The majority of news reporters don’t have two brain cells to rub together.

      Good punch, when you ask a question and get an answer move on to the next question… don’t keep asking the same question over and over. But I guess that’s something they learn in journalism school. Lesson learned, don’t mess with men who actually did more than stare at a cell phone growing up.

      What would I have done, the same thing but also stole his pen.

  6. Karen Pearson

    Was anyone listening to NPR today. They spoke of a 1922 law passed that may have made that meeting illegal. I was in the car, and couldn’t jot anything down (or even pay very close attention, since my primary attention needed to be directed to driving), but we might go to NPR and check it.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And if you think that, if you don’t appreciate the high-quality journalism NPR provides (easily better than any other broadcast entity with the possible exception of PBS), then a meeting of the minds is probably impossible, which is regrettable.

        Tell me, why do Trump supporters — and a lot of conservatives as well — hate NPR so much? I see the problem with a Rachel Maddow, but not this. And yeah, I understand the ideology about being opposed to the idea of public broadcasting, and can even respect it. But I’m talking about the thing itself as it is manifested in the actual world, not the abstract idea.

        What on Earth do they do wrong? Because personally, I’d put the quality of their reporting above most newspapers, despite my print prejudice…

        1. Richard

          NPR is and always has been ultra-left leaning. I might as well get my news from the women on The View. Hell NPR is even on the far left side of the radio dial.

            1. Chuckie

              Anybody can cherry pick a few examples of what they see as bias. But that wouldn’t necessarily answer the question about the quality of reporting by a news service as a whole.

              Besides, to paraphrase Tip O’Neil, all politics is relative. To anyone on the right, any viewpoint that doesn’t reflect their own is going to be seen as “leftist.”

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Yeah, and that’s the problem. It’s always been a problem with folks on the right, who insist that anything that doesn’t go out of its way to reinforce what they think, and gives heed to other views, is “biased” against them.

                And it used to be ONLY the right. Then, starting just under 20 years ago — I peg it to the extensive coverage of the Lewinsky scandal — you started hearing it from the left as well. Before that, it was just eccentrics like Noam Chomsky talking about the “right-wing media.” But the Lewinsky thing caused it to go more mainstream. After the Iraq invasion, you started hearing it a lot from antiwar folks who despised the press for not exposing “Bush’s lies” ahead of time.

                But still, one tends to hear it most from the right. I think that’s in part because if you’re conservative — truly conservative — you dislike change, and the media are all ABOUT covering change. Things staying the same isn’t news. So from the start, there’s going to be a tension there.

                But both right and left have to some extent come to believe they are entitled to “news” that reinforces their beliefs. And the Web gives them that…

            2. Claus2

              I guess if you wanted examples all you’d have to do is turn it on and listen at any point during the day.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Yeah, I did that this morning. Maybe you should try it sometime. The very first thing I heard was a promo for an upcoming item about the “alt-left,” the “alt-right’s” counterpart. I’ll listen to that with interest, if I can find out when it will be on — I missed that part…

                1. Claus2

                  The only thing I can stand to listen to on NPR is CarTalk on Saturday mornings… and that’s just if I’m driving at that time.

                2. Claus2

                  After years of listening, who knew there were so many metrosexual men in Connecticut who can’t figure out how to check the oil on their Volvo station wagon.

  7. bud

    Another thought about Ehrlich. Perhaps his book, along with others with similar concerns, served as a wake up call and people got serious about birth control. So rather that vilify Ehrlich we should applaud him for his contribution in drawing our attention to this problem.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Again, he said it wouldn’t matter what we did. The big collapse was going to happen in the ’70s, no matter what.

      By the way, I was wrong to call him a Cassandra. I checked. Cassandra gave dire warnings that were ACCURATE, but unheeded. So he’s no Cassandra…

      1. bud

        Predicting the future is tough. Remember the dire warnings about the falling dominoes if Vietnam fell? Who would have thought the Concorde would be the last SST. Or Apollo 17 would be the last moon landing. My only quibble with Ehrlich is his “no hope” declaration.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yep, predicting the future is tough. Which is why I avoid engaging in it.

          But even though I love being almost on the same page, I just… can’t… help… myself… Must respond to “Remember the dire warnings about the falling dominoes if Vietnam fell?”

          Yeah, I do. And I remember the Khmer Rouge taking over Cambodia right after the fall of Saigon, and the genocide that followed.

          In any case, the analogy was just a way of explaining the Cold War policy of containing the Soviets and their system, a policy of which Vietnam was a part.

          The policy that, in the end, worked.

          The policy that, by the way, antiwar people invoked in 2003. Iraq was contained, they argued, so no need to invade. It was a perfectly respectable argument, because it was a perfectly respectable strategy…

          1. bud

            Indeed Cambodia was, and still is, a mess; but it’s not an example that supports the domino theory. In fact Vietnam had its own Vietnam when it got mired in Cambodia for more than a decade.

        1. Brad Warthen

          I’m not much better versed than Jack Aubrey on antiquity.

          I love the way he dismissed The Odyssey. In his opinion, that Ulysses was no seaman. 10 years to get back to Ithaca — nothing but poor seamanship and malingering in port!

        2. Bart Rogers

          I realize the references to antiquity have probably reached the “not to exceed” number but there is one more that should be addressed in reference to the Trump family and the latest about Trump, Jr. and the Russians providing damaging information about Hillary. The media has erupted along with Democrat members of Congress and calls for impeachment and accusations of treason are filling the pages of newspapers, dominating the news on network and cable plus the internet.

          The one to be addressed is the issue of a presidential campaign accepting donations of any kind from foreign nationals whether it is in the form of cash or information that meets the definition of a contribution deemed illegal. In 2008 and 2012, Obama received millions from foreign contributors in small amounts, less than $200 which is the cutoff for identifying the contributor per FEC regulations. However, the FEC did not provide oversight, leaving it to the political campaigns to police their contributors. The contributions were made to an internet site,, owned by a China-based American businessman, Robert Roche. In turn, the money was used for the Obama campaign. In one month, the Obama campaign through received approximately $177 million in contributions from foreign nationals. One contributor from Canada admitted to contributing in 2008 and based on the information, donated again to the 2012 campaign.

          While this may seem to be small potatoes, it is in fact a violation of our election laws and is supposed to be illegal for a presidential candidate to accept the funds even if they come through another source.

          If the information that was supposed to be damaging to Clinton did not exist and never exchanged hands, while the meeting was ill-advised, it does not meet the standard for treason or impeachment.

          I am not a fan of Trump and considered him or Clinton to be unworthy of the office of POTUS. But, there comes a time when the unproven and so far, unsubstantiated charges must be proven or the wild goose chase ended. If the villagers with their torches and pitchforks continue to storm the castle, i.e., media, talk shows – radio and television (network and cable news/entertainment talk shows), and internet carriers – MSN, Yahoo!, and others continue to feed on the carcass of unproven charges, all that will be accomplished is to widen the divide between us even wider and deeper.

          Like it or not, Donald J. Trump is the POTUS and until the day comes when the charges can be substantiated, proven beyond any shadow of a doubt, and he can be legally impeached, maybe it is time to take a break and pay attention to the really important and critical issues facing us. In due time, Trump will be gone and any damage done can be repaired unless what I have suspected for a long time is actually true.

          The European Union and G20 need the United States but prefer the US take a back seat to any decisions and/or political issues within the confines of Europe. NATO needs the United States for continued financial and military support but at the same time, hold some resentment for the power and influence the US holds within their geographical boundaries. Much has been made that Merkel has supposedly dropped the word “friend” when referring to the United States. The true friends of the United States in Europe are not in the major cities but in the rural areas, small towns and villages that still hold us in high regard because of our role in driving out the Germans in WWII. Many still hold our country in very high regard in spite of the negativity coming from the larger metropolitan areas. Consider just one small town where the residents take care of their assigned grave for one of our fallen soldiers in the cemetery where hundreds/thousands of our dead are buried. Ask them how they feel about us and listen to their replies.

          Just as I suspect Putin is an excellent chess player, understands that politics and power are best played as a chess match, has planned several moves ahead and is winning the game at this point. And I believe it didn’t make any difference to him one way or the other whoever won the election, he had/has his own agenda and was/is prepared to adjust when necessary as any chess master will do. I think bud can attest to that.

          Slowly, the sense of unfairness is creeping into the conversation and as I posted well before the election was held, Americans are still a fair minded people and while many of you will definitely not agree, whether they agree with Trump’s antics or not, at some point, they will start to resist and resent the damage being done to the heart of this country by the never-ending attacks, criticism, anger, vitriol, accusations, and unproven allegations aimed at Trump and his family.

          Thanks for reading, sorry Claus, another wall of words for you to avoid.

          1. Chuckie

            “The true friends of the United States in Europe are not in the major cities but in the rural areas, small towns and villages that still hold us in high regard because of our role in driving out the Germans in WWII.”

            Sorry, this just isn’t true. There is no urban v. rural divide in attitudes toward the US. You’re just as likely to find resentments, suspicions and lack of respect for the US out in the countryside as you are in big cities. And a lot of water has passed under the bridge since WWII and Europeans, whether urban or rural, are able to recognize that a great deal has changed since then. So, no, there’s no divide there.

  8. bud

    As a completely random aside I had the best beer I think I’ve ever had Sunday at the Old Mill in Lexington. It was the Blowfish Brown Ale. Perhaps it was freshly brewed which as I understand beer deteriorates rapidly with time. Something about the oxygen. Anyway I highly recommend The Old Mill.

      1. Norm Ivey

        which means no beer

        I see these words. They look like English. Yet, I can make no sense of them.

  9. Brad Warthen Post author

    Man, this is a highbrow crowd we’ve got here; y’all should be proud. Plenty of engagement on Trump Jr. and Paul Ehrlich, and not a single bite — so to speak — on sharks attacking nude beaches, which in a lot of venues would be a big crowd-pleaser…

    1. bud

      We could also discuss the nude body painting in Times Square. Perhaps nudity just isn’t as salacious as it used to be. I think it’s high time nudity became blasé. Has been that way in Europe for decades.

      1. Richard

        Me too, let them hang out… but only those between the age of 18 and 50. Over 50 it’s have to be voted on.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Maybe that’s why my ancestors came over here.

        You know, in all my work on my family tree, that’s one big question that eludes me: Why did they come over? I know the first Wathen (the way they spelled it then) came over as an indentured servant. His father had a knighthood, but they must have been title-rich and money-poor. It was a good deal for him. When his servitude ended he got some free land, and he built on that and was able to leave his kids a decent inheritance (although none of that land made it down to ME).

        Then there were several ancestors who came through Jamestown — which, from what little I know about that settlement, hints that they were down-at-heel gentry hoping to strike it rich. The Wyatts came over because a generation earlier, the head of the clan had led a rebellion against Bloody Mary, losing his head and the family castle, which is now kept up as a wedding venue.

        But beyond those, it’s all a mystery. It amazes me that immigrants didn’t tell their children everything about where they came from and why they came. But it seems they were just all into a completely new start. Either that, or they told the kids and the kids didn’t care, which is plausible….

  10. Bryan Caskey

    Serious question: If a foreign source came forward with information from a foreign government which would damage Trump, would the Washington Post or New York Times meet with the source?

    1. Doug Ross

      Another hypothetical – if a foreign source approached John Podesta with information from a foreign government which would damage Trump, would Podesta meet with the source? Would Podesta tell Hillary that the offer was made? Would Hillary expose the source and reject publicly any offer made?

      1. Doug Ross

        I’m only interested in the accuracy of the information, not the source. If the Russians had factual evidence about Hillary that would expose some ethical violation, why would we care where that information came from?

        1. Mark Stewart

          Oh my God. Doug, there is a forest out there, please stop whacking at each sapling you pass by.

          The reason is a hostile foreign government isn’t providing any info such of this out of the goodness of its heart – it would do so for strategic, geopolitical reasons. Because it benefits that country, not the US; including simply creating a mess for us to distract ourselves with.

          In every way Russia has pounded the United States the last 24 months; and Trump and his team (family) have been their leading cheerleaders, and quite likely colluders. Russia doesn’t care about Trump – or Clinton – Russia cares about Russia. Putin cares about Putin. You remember the phrase “sometimes the only way to win is to not to play the game?” The Trump’s forgot that – probably forgot it long, long ago. Now, they are trapped in the forest’s underbrush. And they have brought us all into the dark forest of Putin’s machinations.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “You remember the phrase ‘sometimes the only way to win is to not to play the game?'”

            It’s from Wargames. Here’s the clip with the line at the end. Great movie.

            1. Mark Stewart

              Thanks for highlighting the one too many to in my mangled quote!

              It was a great movie. It had character. We all need some more of that now.

          2. Claus2

            The US needs to take Russia’s lead… stop caring about every 3rd world country who’s citizens would rather kill us than take our handouts.

          3. Doug Ross

            I am not living in 1957 or 1977.. I don’t consider Russia “hostile” any more… If they are hostile toward the U.S. in 2017, please tell me what their objective is. Are we competing with them in the global economy? Sure. Would the average Russian consider the U.S. to be a hostile enemy today? I doubt it.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              We are a barrier to Putin’s (and many other Russians’) ambitions to return to the “glories” of the Soviet era. A weakened America (i.e., one led by a gullible idiot who thinks Putin is wonderful, the kind of leader he wants to be when he grows up) creates a global vacuum for a restored Russia to fill — in Ukraine, in Syria, in the Baltics, etc.

              This is so obvious I can’t believe I have to type it. As Mark says, it’s the forest. We’re in that forest. How can you miss it?

              1. Richard

                So is Putin jockeying himself for world power? As a leader I applaud anyone who wants to be the most powerful country and leader in the world. Sure beats what we had the last eight years… bowing down to leaders of countries who should be kissing his feet.

              2. bud

                This is so obvious I can’t believe I have to type it.

                Only to a neocon. I really don’t much care if the Russian try to fill some hypothetical vacuum. Getting sucked into a quagmire is not something we should concern ourselves with.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Who said anything about a quagmire? (Which I take to mean “any military action,” however limited.)

                  Y’all are always assuming that the only way to counter aggression on the world stage is with military action. There are plenty of other tools in the bag; you just need a leader willing to stand up and use them — as opposed to admiring the strongmen for taking what they want.

                  Angela Merkel is a competent woman, but it would be criminal for the United States of America to leave leadership of liberal democracies up to the Germans, when they have to face down the likes of Russia and China….

                2. bud

                  Criminal??? You may not agree with. You can argue that’s its bad somehow. But it most assuredly is not criminal. And frankly you neocons have consistently been wrong on these issues of international involvement so completely and thoroughly since Vietnam that the only real crime is that neocons continue to be given a forum for peddling their looooooooooong discredited nonsense.

        2. Claus2

          Had the roles been reversed and Hillary had dirt on Trump the liberals would be going crazy pointing out every single accusation. When Trump does it, it’s all irrelevant to those same liberals.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            There we go again: “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary! And that makes anything Trump does OK!”

            Why don’t you address the subject for a change?

            1. Claus2

              ” If the Russians had factual evidence about Hillary that would expose some ethical violation, why would we care where that information came from?”

              That was the topic I was replying to.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                OK. Where I see comments — in the site’s dashboard — it looked like you were responding to something I said, rather than to Doug…

            2. Richard

              If Brad can harp constantly on Trump, I don’t see Claus2’s constantly harping on Hillary as a problem. In fact, it kind of balances out this blog.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Actually, it doesn’t, because it’s entirely irrelevant to what’s going on NOW. Hillary Clinton is a has-been, a footnote, no longer a factor in what’s happening in the world. Donald J. Trump is president of the United States right now.

                Answering every mention of Trump with “Hillary!” is only slightly more relevant than doing so by saying, “But what about that Millard Fillmore?”

                It doesn’t balance anything, because now that she’s gone, it doesn’t MEAN anything…

                1. Richard

                  So what’s left to talk about? Your dead relatives and journalists who have hurt feelings? Maybe you can bring up yet another topic bashing Trump.

                  BTW – When’s the last time you wrote about anything local. You know, a topic that actually affects us. Guess I’ll go over to FitsNews and QuorumColumbia to see what’s going on outside of Washington.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    You do that… As it happens, if I post today, it will probably be local (either about Mikee Johnson backing what’s-her-name for governor, or… well, it would probably be that), but I’m pessimistic about finding time to post anything… brutal deadline day…

      2. bud

        We need intervention therapy for Doug

        The earth is larger than the sun
        Clinton Anything

        All r irrelevant

        Close your eyes and recite that 1,000,000 times.

    2. Chuckie

      Think it through: If the Post or Times were, say, to have approached or been approached by Turkish nationals or even Turkish officials as part of their investigations of Michael Flynn’s work on behalf of the Turkish government, that would be totally legit. It’s what’s called reporting.

      By contrast, what Don Jr. may have engaged in is qualitatively different, part of what may be a larger pattern involving potential knowing participation in an organized campaign of manipulation of the US election coordinated by a significant US adversary.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        I think Don, Jr. is guilty of being an unethical, craven, hack. I think he’s guilty of being so caught up in playing dirty politics he didn’t stop to think about who was providing him with information and the implications and consequences of engaging with such an interlocutor.

        I think he’s guilty of being so narrow-minded in his focus he was blinded to the negative consequences that would accrue to him and the eventual Presidential administration.

        He’s guilty of being an unethical dope and a useful idiot for Putin.

        I don’t believe we have any criminal statutes about those things, though. However, as has been said above, getting caught up in what is legal vs. illegal can sometimes be less than the whole picture.

        That’s all I’ve got for now, campers. Got to run to court and argue a subject matter jurisdiction dismissal motion in a bit.

        1. Mark Stewart

          The fact that it was Manafort, Kushner and Don Jr who took this meeting blows this wide open for the campaign. When it is proven that President Trump knew of the collusion during the campaign it will be a Constitutional crisis. We are not far from that day as it seems clear that there have been other ongoing communications that have not yet come out – ones which it appears pretty clear resulted in the enthusiasm to bring up n board this opportunity.

          I disagree; it seems clear that we have crimes on the table under long-standing US election law, and are also nearing the point where the special counsel is going to be compelled to seek Trump’s financial information. That is likely to be a very, very bad day for the White House, if it hasn’t already occurred.

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