Open Thread for Monday, July 2, 2018


Some things to kick around:

  1. Happy real Independence Day — I say that because I’m more of a John Adams guy than a Thomas Jefferson guy. (So I’d be a Federalist if, you know, the party still existed.) And July 2 was the day the vote for independence happened. And if Adams had had his way, we’d have Monday off instead of Wednesday. So, yay, Adams!
  2. SCE&G files lawsuit to block 15-percent rate cut Legislature passed — You sort of saw that one coming, didn’tcha?
  3. Lizard’s Thicket closes Midlands store for renovations — Dang, man! The one on Elmwood just got reopened, and now they’re closing this one, too?
  4. Trump Criticizes NATO Allies for Not Increasing Defense Budgets — Hey, I’m with him on that one, but after needlessly trying to start trade wars with them and otherwise insult our allies, this is probably not the right time to double-down on this one. I mean, if you care at all about anything positive happening, which of course he doesn’t…
  5. 12 Boys, Missing in Flooded Thailand Cave, Are Found Alive — That gives us something to celebrate, anyway. By the way, I’ve explored a cave in Thailand. Pretty spooky…

That’s what I’ve got. Y’all may have something better, which is cool because it’s an open thread…

42 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, July 2, 2018

  1. Richard

    3. Is it really that inconvenient to have to drive an extra mile to go to another one?

    Word going around is John McCain is resigning on Wednesday.

  2. Mr. Smith

    On NATO spending:

    The 2% goal obscures more than it clarifies. And the president distorts it further in the way he talks about it. He makes it sound like there’s some sort of community kitty that every member pays into – and that some aren’t “paying their fair share.” But that’s not how it works. Military budgeting and spending occurs on a national basis, country-by-country among NATO’s members. When needed, they then contribute (or not) their national forces to NATO missions. In other words, there is no NATO force as such.

    The 2% figure is a voluntary pledge, nothing more. It is targeted at the year 2024. And it only concerns defense budgets, not other forms of security spending.

    The 2% figure is not as simple a metric to nail down as it may seem – and it doesn’t really tell us everything we need to know. A country with a large and growing economy, like Germany, has to spend more in order to reach the 2% mark than, say, a country like Greece, which has a weak economy (smaller GDP). Because of its economic health, Germany ends up paying more (as it should), but that doesn’t mean its security needs are any greater than Greece’s. Meanwhile, Germany contributes significantly more troops to missions in, say, Afghanistan than Greece does. A contribution that isn’t captured by the 2% metric.

    Which brings us to the real core of the matter: that security shouldn’t be about bean counting. When considering security needs and security outputs, focusing on an abstract and arbitrary figure, like 2%, distracts from the real issue, namely what is it you want to achieve? In other words, what are your security goals – and how do you want to go about reaching them? Obsessing over the 2% target puts the cart before the horse. It says, in effect, let’s allocate such-and-such amount AND THEN figure out what we want to spend it on. But that’s a backwards approach to how we should be thinking about security strategy.

    Europeans would also point out that their goals and methods may not be the same as the US’s – which in turn has consequences in terms of spending priorities. For one, they don’t see themselves in the “world policeman” role the US does – and sometimes disagree with how the US carries out that role. They would add that international security cannot be measured or achieved by military spending alone. And since the 2% figure only relates to defense budgets, it fails to take into account contributions to international security that take other forms and that aren’t part of defense spending, like development aid, capacity building, stabilization initiatives and conflict prevention.

    So, as it does with so much else, the White House is oversimplifying the issue of security and obscuring more than it’s exposing.

      1. bud

        That is just a non-sequitur comment that really explains absolutely zero about why we need to remain in NATO. NATO is just a legacy organization from the cold war. Russia’s economy is tiny and can certainly be dealt with by the Europeans. But most importantly there just isn’t much reason to suspect Putin has any interest in Europe beyond those areas that are essentially Russian leaning in the first place. Putin is not Hitler or even Stalin. It’s time to stop pretending it’s 1965.

  3. bud

    I’ll add another “feel good” story. Scott Pruitt was confronted by a woman with her 2 year old son demanding he resign from EPA. Good for her. For all you folks obsessed with civility this man really deserves zero civility from anyone anywhere. He’s a disgrace to his office, his nation and to humanity itself. He’s the most scandal prone cabinet secretary in American history and deserves nothing but scorn and derision. I would maintain that granting this horrible human being a peaceful dinner is an abrogation of our duty as Americans to call people out for their destructive behavior. Certainly we should pick and choose our battles but this is a man who deserves mockery and humiliation not respect and humility. Good for Kristin Mink. She deserves a medal.

    1. Doug Ross

      These are the new heroes of the Democratic party. Maxine Waters, a woman who kicks Sarah Huckabee out of a restaurant, and a baby carrying teacher from an elite D.C. middle school (tuition $36K per year).

      Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress offer no solutions and have done nothing in the past two years. It’s the party of perpetual whining.

      1. bud

        Is it whining or legitimate protest? Right now it’s about all Democrats have. Elections have consequences so it is important to win. But how?

        I think a good approach for the Democrats would be to run on pocketbook issues like healthcare and wages. (Personally I’d like to see more emphasis on the environment but that doesn’t seem to resonate with voters) Republicans have attempted to run on their big tax cut for the rich legislation but it has fallen flat. Corporations are NOT investing in plant and equipment nor are they paying higher wages. A token few bonuses really amount to just a tiny fraction of what these giant companies do with their tax cut. Mostly it goes to buy backs of stocks to bump up stock value and executive compensation. Then we have the trade war issue and the related immigration stunts both of which are hurting labor intensive companies ability to compete. Crops are rotting the fields owing to a lack of H1-B visas. Companies like Harley-Davidson are moving overseas. These are the types of issues that voters can understand.

        But Democrats really are powerless right now. It’s grossly unfair to call them out for failing to do anything while they are in the minority. What is fair to to call voters out if they continue to vote for Republicans. In the face of all the cruelty from the other side I would maintain a bit of uncivil behavior is a pretty reasonable response. It’s a good way to call attention to the destructive behavior of people like Scott Pruitt.

        1. Claus2

          “Is it whining or legitimate protest? Right now it’s about all Democrats have. Elections have consequences so it is important to win. But how?”

          It’s whining. Democrats can start by running candidates who don’t qualify for Medicare or are the same people who ran in the last election and lost.

          Crops are rotting in the fields? Huh, this is the first I’m hearing about this and I come from a farming community.

          People are voting Republican because Democrats first can’t run any candidates who area capable of winning. Those that do, like the young woman “from the Bronx” who we’re finding out moved out of the Bronx at the age of 5, have to lie to win their primaries.

    2. Bart

      bud, will ask you the obvious question. Will you openly confront any politician or a member of the governor’s staff, the governor, Mark Sanford, maybe Nikki Haley, or anyone else in government in a public place like a restaurant and ‘confront’ them openly the way Pruitt and Sanders have been? Will you find the home of someone in politics and demonstrate in front of their private residence?

      Well, would you, will you, have you?

      This isn’t partisan, it is a legitimate question since you apparently support the actions of the ones engaging in open, public confrontation. I certainly don’t agree with the Trump administration and was not an Obama fan but I did and still do respect their right to enjoy a meal and feel secure in their own home without harassment.

      1. bud

        No. It’s not my style. But I understand it. This type of confrontation should be reserved for the most egregious people. Scott Pruitt really is nothing but a criminal and it’s hard to feel sympathy for him when a young mother mildly dresses him down in public for his wanton behavior. As for Sarah Sanders, she was politely asked to leave. Again, that’s nothing I would not have done but the folks on the right who applauded the cake maker for refusing service should be consistent on this. As for Kirstjen Nielson, she is carrying out the president’s cruel orders. Does that not deserve a bit of protesting? Sure, this can all go too far and perhaps with Ms. Nielson it crossed into the grey area. But let’s not get all self righteous over a bit of mild protesting when real destruction is coming from the administration. In the words of Corey Lewandowski: Womp, Womp!

        1. Claus2

          How’s The Red Hen doing since asking a person to leave based on the person’s employer? Last I heard was they’ve been closed and haven’t been open for nearly a week. How’d that work out for them, ask one person to leave based on political affiliation and all of your employees go without a paycheck. Excellent business strategy there by the owner who should hire a Repubican to run the business side and they can stay in the back preparing food.

          1. Richard

            They’re reopening on Thursday after being closed for two weeks. So that’s two weeks missed wages for it’s employees. Next time I bet they just spit in the food rather than ask them to leave.

        2. Doug Ross

          So which side are you on, bud, regarding a baker choosing not to make a cake? You support that, right?

        3. Doug Ross

          Bud uses the word destruction to describe the current environment. It’s that level of hyperbole that keeps Democrats in a constant state of hissy fit. There’s no destruction going on. The pendulum is swinging a different way than it did before. It will swing back.

          1. bud

            Bud uses the word destruction to describe the current environment.

            Yep. Destruction is certainly what’s happening. The family separation policy is destroying the lives of young children. Pruitt’s EPA is destroying the environment. Trump’s Muslim ban is destroying families ambitions to escape tyranny. Trump’s trade war is destroying small businesses that depend on immigrant labor. For those who live inside a jet-set bubble this destruction may not be an imperative. But for those who must deal with the horrors inflicted by agent orange Trump the term destruction is appropriate.

            1. Doug Ross

              There is no “Muslim ban”. Trump has already reversed the separating children from parents policy. Small business is booming. Anyone who wants a job can work. Everywhere I go in the Columbia area, I see people out and about – shopping, eating at restaurants in record numbers, attending sporting and cultural events, using the latest technology. Movie theaters saw their largest first half box office in history – that means there is plenty of disposable income. In my neighborhood, there are a dozen houses under construction and at least 100 new houses being built within five miles. Those are all indications of just how strong the economy is. Now there are places where it is not so great — like New Jersey where they just raised taxes on millionaires and the result: they are fleeing the state and taking their money to no-tax and low-tax states.

              “The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Q1 Small Business Confidence Index saw an increase of five points, from 57 to 62, a record high and the largest quarter-to-quarter move the index has seen”

              If that’s destruction, let’s have more of it.

              1. Scout

                The separating families debacle is not over. Until there is a new policy in place that is humane and free of legal hurdles and until all the separated kids are back with their family, it is not over.

                Significant damage has been done. Most countries don’t recognize us anymore.

                1. Richard

                  ” Most countries don’t recognize us anymore.”

                  Well since we’re the most powerful country in the world, that’s their loss. If they get in trouble, who’s the first country they call for help?

              2. Richard

                “Four more years!!! Four more years!!!”

                If things continue for the next two years the way things have gone the first two years the country just needs to save the money on an election and just appoint Trump to another term.

    3. Scout

      I’m not sure how I feel about confronting public officials on their private time. On the one hand, we all deserve private time. On the other, they probably should know when they choose to take the job that this sort of thing may happen.

      If the subject is civility though – I think it should be pointed out that the incident where Sanders was asked to leave was carried out in a very civil manner – discretely and without making a public scene and without recording it for the sake of internet propagation. The lady with the kid was not yelling or rude – she stated her case directly. She didn’t take pains to not make it public though.

      I kind of think that dealing with the public in public venues just comes with the job, but I do think if people are going to confront public officials in public – they should be civil about it.

      1. Claus2

        So Scout, if you go into Lizards Thicket with your family and the owner finds out your a Democrat and asks you to leave, you’ll leave and agree with his decision to not serve you or your family?

          1. Claus2

            Then you’ll need to explain to me what he said. To me it sounded like it was okay for a the business owner to ask a customer to leave based purely on who one person in the party was employed with. Would you appreciate being asked to leave a restaurant because you’re affiliated with an advertising group in Columbia and maybe the restaurant uses a competitor? Is that justification enough to kick you out of the business?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              She. Scout’s a she. Like in “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

              I read it as on the one hand, on the other hand… she doesn’t think she’d want to boot people because of their politics, but visible public officials should probably expect SOME of that. And if anyone DOES decline to serve someone, they should be polite about it, not make a scene…

              1. Richard

                “but visible public officials should probably expect SOME of that.”

                So if James Smith goes into a restaurant with his family, he should expect that he may be asked to leave because of him holding a public office. Gotcha.

                1. Richard

                  It appears this is going to be the new fad, approaching politicians and people in public office with your cell phone out and trying to confront them so you can post it on YouTube.

        1. Scout

          Well I think that would be a silly thing for Lizard’s Thicket to do since it would alienate a large portion of their clientele – but if they chose to, I would leave. It’s not quite the same thing being discussed here though.

          The actions taken by the restaurant owner and the parent were directed at single individuals as a result of choices they made and actions they took while working in the public sphere on the behalf of the American people.

          These were not actions directed at any random member of a large group like in your example. These were actions taken against specific individuals based on what they have demonstrated to be the content of their character; i.e. not prejudice, discernment.

          You keep saying that the restaurant owner did what she did to Sanders based on who she works for. My understanding is it was more a response to her personal choices – to the choices she made to repeat and participate in telling lies that directly affect the American people.

          These are both public officials who are answerable to the people, and in both cases people tried to hold them to account for their actions in the public sphere. The question really is just if it was the right time and place for it.

          I still think it’s not ideal but not an unforeseeable consequence of the doing the job they each agreed to take.

          And it’s true, I am a she.

      2. Doug Ross

        In the Sanders case, the group had already ordered their meals and been served cheese plates at the table when the owner decided to confront her. The proper response in that case should have been to allow the group to finish their meal and then tell Sanders that they would prefer she not return in the future. This wasn’t Sanders eating alone. Making the entire family a target of scorn was a lousy way to handle it.

        We’ve lost the ability to discern the difference between evil and “things I don’t like”. Everything is at DEFCON 5 now all the time.

  4. bud

    DEFCON 5 is the lowest threat level. DEFCON 1 means nuclear war is imminent. So yeh, DEFCON 5 is about right.

    1. Doug Ross

      My mistake. DEFCON 2 is what Democrats feel when they wake up in the morning. DEFCON 1 is where they get to by each afternoon following indoctrination by MSNBC, CNN, Daily Kos, Slate, and the New York Times.

      1. Richard

        DEFCON isn’t the appropriate threat scale for Democrats, I prefer to use the HissyFit scale.

      2. bud

        We only made it to DEFCON 2 once, during the Cuban missile crisis. Even on 9-11 we only went to DEFCON 3. Seems a bit of hyperbole to suggest DEFCON 1 merely by accurately pointing out real damage Trump is doing. It’s a bit sad to see how people only judge the status of the state of affairs based on there own situation.

  5. Bart

    Someone please take the time to do some research on the Red Hen confrontation that apparently didn’t come down the way it has been reported “IF” the owner’s account is accurate.

    She was called at home and told about Sanders being in the restaurant with a party and ‘some’ of the staff objected. She, the owner, arrived at the restaurant, polled the staff and apparently the majority didn’t want Sanders there and others wanted to remain apolitical and leave politics out of the equation. Apparently the owner agreed with the ones who objected to Sanders’ presence and then politely called Sanders aside and in private informed her she was not welcome, asked her to leave and offered the cheese tray at no charge. Sanders politely agreed to leave but paid the bill. From Sanders account, she went home and the others went to another restaurant.

    Another interesting note in the article is that Sanders apparently made a reservation in advance. To me that implies an employee or employees knew she was coming and had opportunity ahead of time to contact the owner if they had objections. It would have been a simple matter to tell Sanders there were no reservations available IF they knew who she was and objected to her patronizing the Red Hen.

    There was nothing in the article that implied the owner proceeded to follow anyone to the other restaurant across the street and encourage the other establishment to deny service to the rest of the Sanders’ party.

    Personal observation and conclusion. The owner made the final decision and she relied on a consensus or majority vote by her employees. The owner was not present when the reservation was made nor when Sanders and her party arrived, seated and served the cheese tray. All of this was post arrival at the Red Hen. Some who frequent this blog are business owners, most of us work for someone else. They may ask our opinion but so far, that is about it and in the end, the owner either profits or loses from decisions they make, the employees can go to another place to work or whatever options they may have.

    There is another side of the coin. If the owner of the bakery in Colorado and the pizza restaurant owner in another state can deny aspects of their services to gays because of religious beliefs, then the Red Hen owner has the same right to deny service to Sanders because of her political affiliation with Trump. By allowing or encouraging this business practice, all we are doing is turning back the clock to another time. This goes back to the old way of business when signs were posted, “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone For Any Reason”. FWIW, the signs are still available for anyone wishing to exercise their right to deny services to anyone they find objectionable.

    1. Richard

      Who is saying the owner followed them across the street?

      I wonder what would happen if someone put a sign up refusing service to black people except for take out meals which can be picked up at the back door. Hey… if a restaurant owner can refuse service based on political affiliation, what’s to keep them from refusing service based on ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, dominant hand preference, Ford owners, etc…?

    2. Scout

      I agree. I ultimately think that businesses should not refuse service to willing customers. I think that by choosing to be in business you are agreeing to serve whoever comes, within reason. But that apparently is not the law of the land right now, and you can’t have it both ways – if it’s OK for the baker to refuse to serve gays, then it also has to be OK for restaurant owners to refuse to serve people whose actions they take moral exception to.

  6. Claus2

    Stockton, CA to test Universal Basic Income.

    The Universal Basic Income program will be tested in impoverished Stockton, California with some heavy backing from nearby wealthy Silicon Valley

    A $500-a-month stipend will be given to 100 residents for 18-months

    The money comes with no strings attached with the program aiming to see how raising the income floor will change people’s financial situation

    The money can be used for anything with the idea that with some financial empowerment people will be able to start new ventures, afford food, pay bills

    The idea of the test is to see if the financial help will up school attendance and health and possibly contribute to female empowerment

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