Open Thread for Thursday, May 17, 2018

She LOOKS like a nice lady, anyway...

She LOOKS like a nice lady, anyway…

Covering several subjects:

  1. Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief — I hadn’t posted about this before because I was so ambivalent about her. On the one hand, I was for her confirmation on the basic principle I almost always prefer promoting professionals from within for such jobs (Robert Gates being a perfect example) and that is particularly important as a way of mitigating the harm Trump is doing to our country. (Steve Bannon would say I’m depending on the “Deep State.” To the extent that I understand the phrase, yes I am.) On the other hand, John McCain said she doesn’t meet his standard. McCain isn’t my guide on every moral question, but he definitely is on the subject of torture. So I was torn.
  2. Donald ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ Trump threatens to whack Kim — He didn’t quite understand what Bolton meant by “Libya model,” which he interprets as “The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation.” I’m also guessing he doesn’t understand what “decimation” means, but I could be wrong, I suppose. Maybe he knows way more about Roman history than he does about American.
  3. Call It ‘Crossfire Hurricane’: The Start of the Trump Inquiry — Read about the Trump thing if you want, but I’m more interested in a lyrics problem. Yes, we know that code name comes from the first line of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” But what’s the second line? I had always thought it was “and I howled at the moon in the driving rain.” The Web offers three alternatives: “And I howled at the morning driving rain,” And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,” and “And I howled at the maw in the drivin’ rain.” Listening to the original with headphones and an open mind, I think it might be the last one. Either that, or he’s saying “Laurel.” But definitely not “Yanny…”
  4. ‘Explosive’ eruption at Hawaii volcano’s summit shoots ash more than five miles high — Wow. Burl, are you getting any of that ash or other material over on Oahu?
  5. James Smith releases campaign ad — Here it is below. What I’d like you to do is contrast its calm, mature, positive tone to the nasty, petty, childish, backbiting ads we’ve been seeing from the other folks out there…

33 thoughts on “Open Thread for Thursday, May 17, 2018

  1. Richard

    I’m curious, what did you write about Barack “Nobel Peace Prize” Obama?

    From what I’m seeing today… Trump/Republican = Bad, Smith/Democrat = Good.

    Speaking of yours and Graham’s hero John “Songbird” McCain, I heard someone say today that they should crash a plane on the Naval Academy Cemetery carrying McCain’s ashes to make his burial more appropriate.

  2. Norm Ivey

    Check YouTube for live versions of Jumpin’ Jack Flash. I found two different ones that pretty clearly sound like “I howled at my Ma in the driving rain.” Which makes some sense with the opening line. If he was just born in a hurricane, his Ma is right there, and it’s raining.

    1. Richard

      I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
      And I went to pick ‘er up in the rain
      But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
      She got runned over by a damned ol’ train

  3. bud

    Here’s an interesting, albeit slow moving development that could have big economic consequences in the near future – oil prices. Yesterday Brent crude briefly traded above $80/barrel for the first time since November, 2014. Also, oil stocks are declining as the economy picks up and demand for gasoline increases. There are also some indications that Permian basin, mostly western Texas, oil may be approaching a peak. With POTUS stubbornly sanctioning Iran, oil scarcity could be a very real concern in the near future. So far gasoline prices have only increased modestly. I suspect Brad won’t ignore this development for long in the Open Thread section. But for now this is still a back burner issue.

    1. Bart

      “But for now this is still a back burner issue.” bud. For Brad it may be a back burner issue but for others, definitely not. Watching the price at the pump go up steadily over the past few weeks and if the predictions are accurate, within a short period of time, expect the average ppg to be at $3 an up. Locally they are approaching the $2.50 ppg.

      That prompts the observation about the recent increase in paychecks due to the new tax law. More money in the paycheck, higher prices at the gas pump. Offsetting or the market taking advantage of the tax breaks providing a little more income? Plus the never ending saga in Venezuela and the loss of their oil supply and the reintroduction of sanctions on Iran contribute to the shortage climate.

      Never been a fan or opponent of electric vehicles, solar power, or wind power but at some point, someone with a modicum of common sense and the ability to communicate across the board and not be a right or left radical step forward and explain to the public the importance of developing alternate fuel systems to power our grid, automobiles, etc. Then the other question comes to mind. Who can afford at this time to purchase a Tesla when the starting price begins in the $70k range and up? Of course there are the alternative fuel vehicles that start at a much lower price and provide a real cost savings for anyone interested in fuel economy and the environment.

      But, based on what I have observed driving around the local area, fuel economy and the future are not at the top of anyone’s list. Some of largest damn trucks ever with loud mufflers and tricked out with as many features as possible seem to populate the roads like never before. I have to scratch my head in wonderment when considering the cost of some new trucks, the average income for South Carolinians, and just how the hell can they afford the payments and fuel? Plus, it is not the traditional “redneck” buying and driving these behemoths, all too many well educated and higher income people are behind the wheel.

      Just some random thoughts in reply to bud’s great observation.

      1. bud

        Thanks Bart for pointing out the Venezuelan component in this issue. I’m not sure a radical departure toward electric vehicles is necessary just yet but electric commuter vehicles make sense for many. There are plenty of gasoline vehicles that get over 30 mpg. Not sure why we’re getting away from small vehicles. For most people a Toyota Corolla sized car should work just fine. Even at $4/gallon a 35mpg car should work fine.

  4. Karen Pearson

    Ms. Haspel says that she will not ok torture, but I can’t help but wonder what she’ll do if Trump orders her to. Thanks for the link to that article. I’m glad to see that Mt. Kilauea is not likely to blow like Mt. St Helen’s did, and presumably will not produce a true pyroclastic cloud, but giving how much the ground itself is shifting/changing I have a feeling that there is much more to come. And isn’t it delightful to see a political commercial that doesn’t include ad hominem attacks and political vilification!

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Henry’s already starting his attacks for the fall:

      The good news about that is that obviously Henry is assuming that James will be the nominee. Let’s all hope he’s right. This week’s primary results with left-wingers knocking out mainstream Democrats is ominous. If the worst-case scenario happens and Phil Noble pulls an Alvin Greene, then Henry (most likely) will be elected. Or Catherine Templeton.

      The stakes are high…

      1. bud

        Phil Noble may be a bit eccentric but he’s most assuredly not an Alvin Greene. As for Smith’s pro-choice agenda, if true, then you really can’t support him can you Brad? After all you vilified Doug Jones for being pro-choice.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          You’re not making any sense. So you think I’ve never endorsed a Democrat?

          Besides, it’s ridiculous to talk about a “pro-choice agenda.” Who has a pro-choice agenda? James has a pro-education agenda, and a pro-health care agenda, and a pro-sustainable-energy agenda. He’s never brought up abortion in my presence.

          But he’s the establishment Democrat in the race. And Planned Parenthood always endorses the establishment Democrat, because they’re part of the party establishment.

          When I endorse a Republican, I have to accept that some of the stuff I don’t like about the Republicans will be part of the bargain. When I endorse a Democrat, there’s almost always this.

          This may be confusing to people who buy into EVERYTHING one side or the other pushes. Someone like that can’t understand how I could back a person I disagree with on this or that point.

          Me, I can’t understand how a thinking person can agree with either party about EVERYTHING. That just boggles my mind. In my life, I’ve never found a CANDIDATE, much less a party, who agreed with me on every major issue. It’s never happened, and I don’t think it ever will.

          We’re electing a governor this year, and James Smith is the best candidate running. He’s someone I’ve respected for many years, and I’m glad to support him. Let the Democrats and Republicans play their litmus-test games; it’s irrelevant to the fact that he’s the best candidate, and would do a great job as governor…

          1. bud

            I don’t agree with EVERYTHING the Dems endorse. But the Republicans are not at all acceptable. But Brad you are bending over backwards to miss my point. You lambasted Doug Jones mercilessly for his pro-choice stance. Now one of Smith’s opponents calls him out for having the support of PP. So why don’t you get on to Smith? All I’m asking for is consistency.

            1. Mark Stewart

              It isn’t inconsistency, Bud. It is simply a reflection of someone who is not a single litmus test voter.

              SC needs more, not less, of that. The dogma is strangling this place….

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Bud, I’m being perfectly consistent. Go back and see what I wrote, rather than going by your faulty memory of what I wrote….

              1. Bart

                I think I remember reading a book recently titled “Faulty Memory” written by an author whose pen name is “bud”.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I think you meant to say…

                  I wasn’t here at the time, but I’ve heard that Faulty Memory played the Township in the fall of 1986. The opening act was Bud and the Weisers…

                2. Bart

                  Thanks for correcting me. As I noted, I “think” I remember reading a book but apparently I was confused with the opening act for the band. As for playing at the Township, I cannot remember where the Township is located anymore. But I do remember Bud and the Weisers…unfortunately. I believe this was their one and only appearance on any stage.

                3. bud

                  Very funny. Brad why don’t you link to the post about Doug Jones then we can judge for ourselves. You clearly dissed Jones for his pro-choice stance, going so far as to suggest that would likely cost him the election. Also, I’d like to see just where Smith stands on abortion and Planned Parenthood. Those are legitimate campaign issues.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    “You clearly dissed Jones for his pro-choice stance, going so far as to suggest that would likely cost him the election.”


                    What I said — without going and looking, so this will test my memory — was that it would certainly be great if Democrats — or anyone who offered an alternative to Trumpism — would not go out of their way to unnecessarily push persuadable voters away with Culture War stuff like abortion.

                    That was something a Ross Douthat column had persuaded me Doug Jones had done. (Douthat’s point was that Jones was a great candidate with potential to get the crossover votes he needed to stop Roy Moore, which I agreed with — so why push people away with abortion?) Some of y’all pushed back that he had NOT gone out of his way to bring up the subject, and I thought that y’all might have been right (I’m still not sure, and it’s moot now), so I didn’t argue THAT part of what I was saying after that.

                    OK, so NOW, I’m looking back at my post, and I’m reminded that that was one of three sources I cited (the second being a piece by Rahm Emanuel, and the third being a thoughtful piece in the NYT headlined “A Post-Obama Democratic Party in Search of Itself”) in trying to make trying to make an overall point, which was that instead of pushing away people who may oppose them on some emotional issues, they should try reaching out. I closed with a link to a FOURTH source, a story headlined “Jaime Harrison knows how Democrats can win elections. Are Democrats listening?”

                    Actually, that wasn’t quite the close. I finished by pitching forward and saying James Smith, “if he goes about it right, has an opportunity to make a play for those of us in the middle.”

                    So far, I think he is going about it right. But we’ll see.

                    Anyway, it was a fairly complex post that pulled together a number of sources that had been causing me to think about where we were and where we were going in SC and the nation. And what Democrats needed to do if they wanted to be part of the solution.

                    But all you remember is that I said something about abortion that ticked you off. And that is PRECISELY why people who want to win general elections should look for other things to talk about…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Oh, and let me note that far from the “false equivalency” you decry, Douthat started out saying that right now, Democrats offer the only real option the nation has:

                      America has two political parties, but only one of them has a reasonably coherent political vision, a leadership that isn’t under the thumb of an erratic reality television star, and a worldview that implies a policy agenda rather than just a litany of grievances.

                      BUT there’s a problem with the way Democrats are going about it:

                      Unfortunately for the Democrats, their vision and leaders and agenda also sometimes leave the impression that they never want to win another tossup Senate seat, and that they would prefer Donald Trump be re-elected if the alternative requires wooing Americans who voted for him….

                      That’s what pulled me in to his column (that and the great Marquez-inspired headline, “The Democrats in Their Labyrinth”) — the burning question of whether Democrats are willing to actually seek the votes of people who voted for Trump. It seemed kind of key.

                      And that’s why it’s great to see candidacies like that of Conor Lamb, who won his election after that post. And likewise, it’s good to see people with crossover appeal like James Smith…

                4. bud

                  Unless you forgot Doug Jones won. I stated then and stand by it now that a “pro-life” Democrat cannot win. I’m still waiting, where does Smith stand. Voters have a right to know.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Bud, you see, is determined to see another four years of Henry McMaster. Or Catherine Templeton.

                    Bud, something you need to consider: Jones just barely won against a child molester. Take that into account, please. He didn’t win BECAUSE he enthusiastically embraced the Democratic position on abortion, as you would have it. He won because his opponent was Roy Moore….

                5. bud

                  Jones win involved many elements. His crazy opponent was the most important. But without an enthusiastic base that would not have been enough. In SC Smith cannot win without an enthusiastic base. He absolutely must win voters like me. If gets all mushy on abortion, Medicaid money or guns then he’s toast. Republican lite can’t possibly win. So far I like the guy but I’d be a much stronger advocate if he came out with something bold. Medicinal marijuana perhaps?

                6. Barry


                  Pay attention. Smith’s statement just 3 weeks ago

                  “Politicians have no place in the exam room and they have no business making deeply personal, medical decisions for a woman and her family,” he said. “As governor, I will be a brick wall against any attempt to roll back the rights of the women or restrict access to care in this state.”

                  If that isn’t clear to you, then noting is clear to you.

                  So pay attention. Don’t make silly statements.

                  James Smith is not running for Governor to expand abortion rights in South Carolina. So he is not talking about it as a campaign issue.

                  We have bigger fish to fry in South Carolina despite what Henry McMaster believes.

                  But Smith has been crystal clear. Anyone that can’t understand that isn’t a serious person.

      2. Barry

        Always funny to see the contempt people like Henry McMaster have for voters. Sadly, it usually works in South Carolina.

          1. Claus2

            What about those who vote for Steve Benjamin, Lindsey Graham, Jim Clyburn, Joe Wilson, Hugh Leatherman, and others like them?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              No, I do not consider people voting for Steve Benjamin, Lindsey Graham, Jim Clyburn, Joe Wilson, or Hugh Leatherman to be sickening. I’ve voted for Lindsey whenever I had the chance, and while I don’t recall exactly whether I ever did, I MIGHT have voted for Joe at some point, way back.

              I’ve never had the opportunity to vote for or against the other three. But I’m certainly not sickened by anyone who has.

              I AM, however, sickened by the cynical manipulation of voters’ emotions, whether it comes from Henry (as with the example above) or from any other source. Those ridiculous we’re-all-gonna-die-if-we-don’t-stop-those-Republicans emails I get from Nancy Pelosi come to mind…

  5. Bart

    Too bad we don’t have another Dick Riley or Carroll Campbell on the horizon. I had a lot of respect for Riley and Campbell. One D and one R, both good governors overall. Both improved the state, maybe not to the liking of everyone but both left office with some of the highest approval ratings possible for two term governors. Both knew how to navigate on both sides of the aisle without creating anger and rancor that is so prevalent in state government now.

    We are left with the aftermath of polarizing politics, special interests, single issue voters, and disrespectful behavior on both sides of the aisle. Wisdom and understanding have been replaced by sound bites and Twitter bursts.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I really think you have the opportunity for that kind of governor with James Smith.

      In fact, I think James looks better at this point than Campbell did initially, although he turned out well in the end.

      Of course, Riley was always going to be a good governor, from what I’ve gathered (I didn’t arrive at The State until just after Campbell took office, but I’ve come to know him pretty well since).

        1. Bart

          Not sure which way I will vote this time around. Not impressed with our current governor at all and will probably vote for the Democrat over McMaster depending on who runs for the Democrats. However, if Willis should somehow win, I will not vote for either candidate.

          We need a governor who is capable of looking into the future and leave the past behind when it comes to doing what is right for all of the citizens of this state. SC has too much to offer to continue to lag far behind other states.

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