Open Thread for Monday, June 17, 2019


A few things we might talk about — just don’t cough!

  1. Four years after Charleston church massacre, what have SC lawmakers done? — Nothing, if you’re talking about keeping people like Roof from getting a gun.
  2. Iran Threatens to Exceed Nuclear Deal’s Limits on Uranium Enrichment — We’re in a fix, aren’t we? POTUS has alienated our allies on the nuclear deal, which they have scrambled to try to save. Now, he wants them to back him on on the latest Iranian provocations. Would you, in their place? Meanwhile, Iran seems poised to tell us all to go to hell…
  3. Supreme Court Hands Democrats A Win On Racial Gerrymandering In Virginia — No, NPR, they’ve handed America a win, coming down against the practice that’s tearing our country apart. Question is, what do we do next? How do we slay this dragon so it stays dead?
  4. Trump tosses Mulvaney out of Oval Office for coughing — The story notes that Trump “has called himself a ‘germaphobe’ and labeled the practice of shaking hands ‘barbaric.'” I’m reminded of the brilliant “Bern Your Enthusiasm” skit: You sure it wasn’t a cough and a wipe?
  5. Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America’s dirty secret — The report “tracks how US waste makes its way across the world – and overwhelms the poorest nations.” You might be tempted to dismiss this as yet another evocation of The Guardian’s never-ending Evil America theme (it’s part of a series called “Toxic America”), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a serious problem.
  6. Buttigieg says it’s ‘almost certain’ the United States has had ‘excellent gay presidents’ — He was speaking statistically. When asked to speculate which ones, he demurred: “My gaydar doesn’t even work that well in the present, let alone retroactively.” I like that sort of humility in a candidate. On other topics, Jennifer Rubin had some good things to say about Mayor Pete today.
No cough! No shake! And definitely not a cough AND a shake!

No cough! No shake! And definitely not a cough AND a shake!

88 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, June 17, 2019

  1. Mark Stewart

    Iran: Classic example of what happens when a person (or a country) looses credibility. Pompeo sounds like the Trump bagman he is; and the US is now much diminished by it (and thanks, too, Bush 43 for misleading on WMD in Iraq).

    Buttigieg: His statement about the US almost certainly already having had an “excellent” gay President was a very deft and sure way of defusing the issue he faces in our next election cycle. He knocked that one out of the park. But then more recently he said the decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem was a “done deal” showed a naivete I found surprising and head-scratching. Does this mean he doesn’t believe we should try to roll-back all the stuff Trump has pushed through, especially the things done by fiat, and instead should just treat these things as normal policy determinations? ‘Cause I don’t see how that’s a tenable position for any Democrat to hold going forward. I do NOT want to see the country’s policies veering widely back and forth, but I don’t think it is too difficult for most people to see that Trump is more a molotov cocktail thrower bent on undoing more than he is some sort of policy wonk attempting to construct a coherent ideological framework that hues to the American conception of our country and its place in the world. He is going to have to sharpen his geopolitical understanding if he wants to become more than a novelty in this race.

    Evangelicals (my own addition): What the heck has happened to this group, politically, at least for the past 15 years? Everywhere I look on the political stage I see nothing but hypocrisy and a moral bankruptness that staggers the mind. It was pretty funny though the way Trump totally undercut Pence though when someone asked the President whether he would support Pence in 2024 (though of course it then can out, surprise surprise, that Trump has fantasies that his base will demand he be elected to a third term. What have we come to when the Republican party is the party of the loonies? It boggles the mind.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Buttigieg tries to walk a fine line. He fancies himself as someone who can bring some of those Trump voters who previously voted for Obama back to the fold.

      He sees himself as sort of a Flyover Country Whisperer.

      Jennifer Rubin praised him for another instance of doing this, as follows:

      Unlike some Democrats who sound dismissive of border security (Beto O’Rourke has said he wants to take down some existing barriers), Buttigieg is careful to stick to an holistic approach….

      That’s a response that isn’t going to seem off-putting to most Americans ― who, after all, favor border security and a path to citizenship. Lesson for other Democrats: Don’t talk down border security….

    2. Barry

      I wish I knew what had happened to my fellow evangelicals-of which I am one.

      It’s sad indeed.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    The Battle of Bunker Hill was today in 1775. I’ve just read a detailed account of it in Rick Atkinson’s The British Are Coming, which is the first of a three volume set he’s writing on the American Revolution.

    The hubris and the losses of the British Army are shocking. The British gained roughly a square mile of territory at the cost exceeding 1,000 casualties. (More than one man per acre). Over 40% of the attacking force had been killed or wounded, including 226 dead.

    More shocking is the loss of the British officer corps. Of all the king’s officers who would die in battle over the eight year war, more than one out of every eight died in that four hour span on June 17 on the heights above Charlestown.

    As still happens in modern times, the news was “spun” by Gen. Gage in the report to London, as a victory (since he took the field from the Americans who had to ultimately retreat). However, upon reading the report and the casualty list, William Eden wrote Lord North “If we have eight more such victories, there will be nobody left to bring the news of them.”

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I see lots of similarities between the Vietnam War and the American Revolution. Unfortunate how we didn’t learn the lessons of history…

          1. Mark Stewart

            The liberal arts … inform leaders, thinkers, creators, humanists and strategists.

            They are all sorely lacking in our current political environment; our Founding Fathers would be appalled at the direction our public discourse – and action – has taken since 9/11.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            I’m sometimes stunned at the degree to which we don’t remember things, collectively.

            We have the Army and Navy War Colleges, and the service academies. What do they study, if not the lessons of past conflicts?

            One reason I was for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is that I never dreamt that the United States didn’t know how to steady a defeated country and move it toward a stable future. I mean, how many billions of documents must there be out there detailing how we administered West Germany and Japan after the war, holding their hands as they moved toward liberal democracy? (I reckoned without Rumsfeld wanting to do everything on the cheap, and Bush going along with him.)

            I mean, I know that far too many Americans are abysmally ignorant about our history, like so many goldfish being surprised each time they take a turn around the fishbowl.

            But the military has so many ways of passing on traditions and lessons learned.

            I suspect that part of the problem is modern communications. Starting with Vietnam, civilian leaders started making not only strategic decisions, but day-to-day decisions on the ground. And most of our civilian leaders are not graduates of the school at Carlisle, or any related institution…

            1. Doug Ross

              There are always new variables that don’t apply to historical events.

              But then again, what we can learn from recent history (going back to 1960) is that there is a significant segment of the political leadership in this country that prefers war to peace for a variety of rea$on$. We have too many chickenhawks who are more than willing to make American soldiers’ and innocent civilian lives a reasonable price to pay for maintaining perpetual battlegrounds around the globe.

              Gabbard 2020

              1. Doug Ross

                All of these military actions should be presented to the American people with a clearly defined objective so we can understand WHY soldiers should die to achieve it. Then we can also determine if the objective was met when it comes to elect our leaders.

                What is our objective in engaging with Iran and how will we measure whether we are successful or not?

              2. Brad Warthen Post author

                Of COURSE there are variables. There are constants as well. There are lessons to be learned about, say, counterinsurgency that have applications in very different circumstances.

                Oh, and this is not true: “there is a significant segment of the political leadership in this country that prefers war to peace.” And the crack about “rea$on$.” That’s like something Bernie Sanders would say, about it all being about “billionayuhs” and their money.

                Donald Trump — the guy who thinks we should have taken Iraq’s oil for ourselves — is the only “political leader” of any consequence who I can imagine going to war for profit…

                Just because a lot of people would take military actions in circumstances in which you would not does not mean they “prefer war to peace.” And it CERTAINLY doesn’t mean they deserve to be accused of doing so for monetary gain…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  At Bryan’s behest, I’ve been watching “Friday Night Lights.”

                  In an episode I saw this morning while working out, the father of one of the players, Matt Saracen, has left the Army so that he can stay home with his son and mother, who is suffering from dementia. He gets a job as a car salesman working for my least favorite person in Dillon, Texas: Buddy Garrity.

                  When the 20-year veteran proves to be no better at sales than I am, Buddy calls him into his office and offers him something he thinks will help: An American flag lapel pin to let the customers know he’s a veteran.

                  The ex-soldier (and soon to be soldier again) says he doesn’t think it would be right to use his service to sell cars.

                  Which to me should go without saying.

                  Of course, to Buddy, that’s babbling nonsense. ANYTHING that sells cars is right in his book.

                  That’s because he is a man without honor, a man who thinks money is what matters.

                  And yeah, there are Buddy Garritys in this world. There are people to whom life is a game, and money is how you keep score. We have a particularly ugly example of that in the White House right now.

                  But Doug, I’m telling you, not everyone is like that. Many of us are pretty much the opposite of that….

                2. Doug Ross

                  There are more variables than constants. There are few lessons to be learned from World War II that can be applied today. The technology is so different.

                3. Doug Ross

                  Trump has done far less in terms of waging wars than Bush. Bush was Cheney’s puppet.. and we know what drove Cheney.

                  It’s weird how liberals will complain about an insurance company CEO making $15 million a year but never speak about the CEO of Lockheed Martin making $25 million. Or the CEO of General Dynamics making $20 million. Ironically, both are women — who apparently realized the glass ceiling doesn’t exist for anyone willing to create weapons that kill a lot of innocent people.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Oh, and let me add that the only reason Trump hasn’t done more “war-waging” than W. is that the mood hasn’t struck him.

                    Everything he does is based in that — the mood he is in. To hell with policy, strategy, or reason.

                    I’m rather concerned right now that the mood is about to strike him regarding Iran. And an all-out war with Iran would be worse than anything we’ve seen in a long time…

                4. Doug Ross

                  Yeah, all those pundits who were SURE that Trump would start a war immediately upon being sworn in were really smart. But, then, they have been pretty much wrong about everything since about January of 2016…

                  I wonder how Hillary would have responded to the current situation in Iran? Or are we supposed to believe that the world under Clinton would be all peace and harmony right now?

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Who were those pundits? I don’t recall that one.

                    I didn’t think anything like that — beyond my quite rational concern about a narcissistic, vindictive, easily-provoked ignoramus having access to the nuclear codes. Certainly that concerns you as well. This is a guy who lashes out at the slightest provocation. (The only encouraging thing is that he only cares about attacks against HIM, personally.)

                    The scary thing about Trump isn’t that he has a warlike demeanor. I see him as falling in the Sollozzo camp (“I’m a businessman. Blood is a big expense.”).

                    No, the scary thing is his utter unpredictability from moment to moment. You may THINK he won’t do a certain thing, and in the next moment he will — announcing it with a Tweet without having conferred with any advisors.

                    I mean that with regard to ANY area of policy, and we can’t exclude war and peace from that…

                5. Doug Ross

                  And yet despite this absolute horror show of a President holding the office for two and a half years, the country is no worse off. 2019 is certainly better than 2009.

                  What we’ve seen is that the office of President is really not that important. I’ve recognized that since the days of Ronald Reagan – our first figurehead leader. We survived a guy acting as President, another guy who spent a large part of his day thinking about which interns he could bang, a doofus who figured he could be President since his Daddy was too, a guy who spent eight years talking about hope and change while actually doing very little, and now Trump.

                6. Bob Amundson

                  Replacing Secretary of Defense Shanahan with Army Secretary Mark Esper (a West Point graduate) is a move that gives me hope. Secretary of State Pompeo, working with Secretary Esper, will counteract National Security Advisor Bolton.

                7. bud

                  Trump has done far less in terms of waging wars than Bush.

                  Not sure you’ll be able to say this much longer. War with Iran looks imminent.

                8. Barry

                  “And yet despite this absolute horror show of a President holding the office for two and a half years, the country is no worse off. 2019 is certainly better than 2009.”

                  Purely your opinion.

                  Many, like me, would disagree with that statement on a variety of fronts.

                  I’d offer one tidbit of evidence in that The US government stating the tanker attacks were Iran and some of closer allies stating publicly that they didn’t see evidence of that over this past weekend. They obviously don’t believe anything out of the trump administration. No, that isn’t good at all.

                9. Scout

                  I see Barry has covered this, but I feel I must reiterate.

                  “And yet despite this absolute horror show of a President holding the office for two and a half years, the country is no worse off. ” -Doug

                  … areas that matter to you.

                  To anyone with a moral compass, … anyone who cares about common decency or the environment, we are far far worse off.

                  Or perhaps you like living in a world where mocking others is the accepted norm, where hate crimes have skyrocketed, where children are kidnapped from their parents by the government, where wild public lands are thrown open to commercial interests. etc.

                  I don’t.

                10. Doug Ross

                  Please explain how you are worse off (not more offended) now than you were 2,5 years ago. And please tie that situation directly to Donald J. Trump’s policies and behavior during that time.

                  No fair claiming that others are worse off. Let the, speak for themselves.

                  Donald Trump does not impact your life…. and if you allow him (or any other President) to do that, that’s your problem — actually, your excuse.

                  Don’t like Trump? Stop whining about it. Do something more tangible than writing a blog comment. Donate money to candidates who you want to defeat Trump (like I have). Volunteer on campaigns. Focus on solutions instead of crying about how mean Trump’s tweets are. Get out and look around and tell me you see people as miserable as you are. I don’t see it. Don’t see it on the streets, don’t see it in my neighborhood (mostly black), don’t see it at work, don’t see it anywhere except in comments on blog posts and in people who spend a large part of their day watching what Trump says and does.

                11. Doug Ross

                  And, Scout, my moral compass is absolutely pointed in the same direction it was 2.5 years ago… Trump’s existence doesn’t alter my thoughts or purpose.

            2. Bob Amundson

              Post WW2 was VUCA; it took exceptional political and military leadership, simultaneously, to make it work. Since that time, our political and military leadership have not been in-sync. Being ex-military, I will point the finger of blame at political leadership.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I remember that one well. Unfortunately, the main vocal comes through the right-side earbud, where I’m virtually deaf. It’s kind of weird when you can just hear the left-hand side, with Paul’s lead sounding like he’s far, far away and distorted…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Same problem — lead vocal is in my bad ear.

          It would probably be OK if I just used the speakers, but I use earbuds when at the office.

          But thanks for trying!

          1. Scout

            You need a mono mix. Apparently there was one made for AM radio that they put out as limited edition on vinyl. But it’s kind of expensive now :/

            Interestingly, the Beatles’ mono mixes are perhaps better than the stereo because the mono mixes are the ones that Beatles themselves and George Martin actually worked on and tweaked to their satisfaction. Studio people did the stereo mixes after.

            Though Ram apparently was mixed on purpose in Stereo first.

  3. bud

    3. Gerrymandering is a big problem for sure. Third biggest problem in our election process right now. By far the biggest is voter suppression. When the voters cannot participate the entire process is not credible. Time to bring back the voters rights law to prohibit these odious practices that prevent people of color and young voters from having their say.

    1. bud

      In general it’s time for a major overhaul of our entire electoral process. Mayor Pete has made that a centerpiece of his campaign. That is a big plus for me.

    2. David T

      I wish someone would explain to me how voters are being suppressed? Voter ID – well yeah, we need know who’s voting and the only way to do that is to have foolproof ID’s such as drivers licenses, passports, or state issued ID’s. I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t have some sort of official identification. If you can get a social security card, you can get a valid ID. Polling places – I don’t know of anyone who isn’t within five miles of their polling place. Many have drive up voting stations and there’s always mail-in voting ballots.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I wrote a bunch of stuff last year encouraging people to get on out and vote ahead of Election Day — and the turnout was huge, which was very encouraging to us. The way we figured, while most voters in SC lean Republican, NO ONE was in a hurry to vote for Henry. The lack of enthusiasm for him was palpable.

        Lots of my colleagues on the campaign ran out and voted as soon as it was allowed.

        But as I’ve said many times before, that’s not for me. I waited until Election Day, as busy as I knew I’d be that day. There’s a time to vote, and that’s Election Day. It’s like classical Greek drama, and you have to wait until Election Day in order to preserve the unities

        1. David T

          That’s one of my pet peeves, it’s Election DAY, not Election MONTH. Vote in person on Election Day or mail in your ballot. This stringing out voting for weeks is just ignorant. It’s not like this day pops up out of nowhere and you can’t plan ahead. If you can’t make it to the polls, you mail your ballot in. No wonder counties need full-time election personnel who only really need to work one week out of every two yearsl.

        2. David T

          That’s one of my pet peeves, it’s Election DAY, not Election MONTH. Vote in person on Election Day or mail in your ballot. This stringing out voting for weeks is just ignorant. It’s not like this day pops up out of nowhere and you can’t plan ahead. If you can’t make it to the polls, you mail your ballot in. No wonder counties need full-time election personnel who only really need to work one week out of every two years.

  4. bud

    That’s one of my pet peeves, it’s Election DAY, not Election MONTH. Vote in person on Election Day or mail in your ballot.
    -David T

    One of my pet peeves is people who have this as a pet peeve. Voters should have convenient options for when and how to vote. It’s the height of arrogance to suggest people who wish to vote in the manner of “souls to the polls” are somehow less patriotic than people who hew to this ridiculous standard of voting only on election day.

    As for voter suppression, the Republican have made something of a cottage industry out of making it harder, if not impossible, for certain groups to vote. In North Dakota there was a voter ID law that mandated a street address. This affected many Indian tribes who do not have official street addresses.

    In Texas local officials attempted to suppress college students at predominately black Prairie View A&M University:

    Last year in Georgia the state’s secretary of state was also GOPs candidate for governor! Brian Kemp was purging voters unnecessarily and disproportionately black. This effort likely cost Stacey Abrams the Governorship. This was the result of the notorious “exact match” law.

    In Kansas a draconian voter ID law was struck down by the courts:

    Also in Kansas too few voting machines were available in predominately Latino precincts.

    North Carolina has also come under fire for voting irregularities that resulted in a new election for congress.

    This needs to stop! Everyone’s vote should be sacred and the GOP must not get away with this.

    1. Doug Ross

      The only voter suppression I care about was the time Richland County didn’t put enough machines in precincts where it affected the penny tax vote.

      1. Mark Stewart

        You should care every single time even the hint of election impropriety arises, Doug. Every single time… wherever such a situation arises in this country.

      2. bud

        Sounds like somebodies ox got gored. Just as a general observation voting machine issues are getting to be a real problem. Many were designed in the 60s. Time to modernize nationwide with paper trail backups.

    2. David T

      “As for voter suppression, the Republican have made something of a cottage industry out of making it harder, if not impossible, for certain groups to vote. In North Dakota there was a voter ID law that mandated a street address. This affected many Indian tribes who do not have official street addresses. ”
      — bud

      I find this very interesting, considering I lived in that state for many years and volunteered on the town’s ambulance and fire departments. Every road and farm since the 1980’s has a street location. They did this several years ago for 911 purposes. It’s no longer drive 5 miles north of town , turn left at the 4-way stop and we’re the 3rd house after you pass the collapsed barn. Of the 5 reservations in North Dakota I seriously doubt they don’t have the same structure. But they live under their own set of rules, it’s not Republican laws, not Democratic laws, it Bureau of Indian Affairs laws.

      I also don’t know if this has changed, but there was no voter registration when I lived there. You showed up at the poll, presented your driver’s license and got in line to vote.

      1. Doug Ross

        Would it have been impossible for the Indian reservations to create street addresses?

        Much of the so-called voter suppression is related to people not wanting to make any effort to comply with the law. I’d like someone to find 100 people in the state of South Carolina who will be denied the ability to vote 16 months from now. Then explain why they can’t become valid voters in that time.

        1. David T

          Since they also have emergency services on the reservations, I’d be willing to bet that they have street addresses.

          It’s a little strange seeing a street address of 6532 N. 54th Street in a town of 500 people.

            1. David T

              It’s strange then, because the majority of people who live on the reservations I’d suspect get mail, get social security, have driver’s licenses, I knew several who worked jobs off the reservation, etc…. but somehow are not allowed to vote according to people here because they don’t have a street address. What do I know, I only spent 1/3 of my life there and within 20 miles of one of the reservations. I don’t recall ever seeing a post office on the reservation, there may have been one but everyone had a mailbox at the end of their driveway and got mail from the rural mail carrier. I wonder how he knew how to distribute the mail?

              1. Scout

                So I googled a little bit in response to this thread. My resulting understanding is this…..A mailing address is not necessarily the same as a street address. You can get all those things you list with a mailing address, like a route and box number, but that does not count the same as a street and street number. The new law requires a “street address” to vote. If you don’t already have one, you can get one assigned to your house fairly quickly by calling a number that deals with emergency services, and they will assign you one based on your location. They will send you a letter as proof for you to take to the polls.

                So sounds like not a huge barrier but an additional step.

        2. bud

          I’m sure the proponents of the law argued that. But come on Doug, this was done for one reason and one reason only, to SUPPRESS votes of a group that was likely to vote for Democrats. It’s completely indefensible.

        3. Barry

          There is one reason it was done- to discourage their vote.

          The North Carolina example is more telling. The GOPgerrymandered map effort was obvious. Their leading map makers died. His daughter turned over his records and draft maps to a legal group. The GOP in no had open goal- lei it African American voter influence.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I don’t know whom you mean by “he,” but it was done by Republicans, once they managed to scam the Legislative Black Caucus into going along with them — which gave them a majority to outvote white Democrats.

              The deal was that the Caucus got a very few majority-black districts in exchange for a bunch of super-white districts.

              Lawmakers’ concern, of course, was legislative districts. This is what brought the GOP to power after the 1994 election, and has kept it in power ever since.

              But yeah, the 6th Congressional was part of the deal, and is a big example of what was done in many legislative districts. Basically, the GOP rounded up as many of the state’s black voters as they could and crammed them into the 6th District, however weird they had to make the district to do it.

              This made the other five (now, the other six) districts more or less safe for Republicans. And since Mulvaney and the Tea Party knocked John Spratt out of office in 2010, all have stayed Republican, with the odd exception of Joe Cunningham’s election last year (which Republicans are eagerly lining up to undo in 2020).

              That’s the way race-based redistricting works — by making most districts whiter, thereby electing more Republicans.

              For years, I had an ongoing friendly argument with one member of the Black Caucus, the late Rev. Joe Neal, over that deal. I kept telling him the Caucus had really messed itself over with that deal, getting a few more black representatives who would serve in a House dominated by people who had virtually NO black constituents and would not give a damn what the Caucus wanted. So basically, you’d have more black representatives with less political power.

              He kept arguing with me for a few years, but eventually he told me I had been right. I think several years of not being able to get anything done, while all decisions were made within the GOP Caucus, convinced him…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                There’s a recent book with an obscene title that talks about the GOP plot to use redistricting to dominate U.S. politics. The author describes the plot as coming into being in 2010.

                Well, I don’t know about that. But in South Carolina, it happened 20 years earlier…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Yeah, you do.

                  In fact, he complained about it to me (and the editorial board) way back in the mid-90s, when he hadn’t been in the House long, so his lock on the seat wasn’t as firm as it is today.

                  He said he didn’t need his district to be that black in order for him, or another African-American, to be elected.

                  Jim saw what was happening, even if Joe Neal and others in the Black Caucus didn’t at that time.

                  The lines drawn after 1990 weren’t about electing a black congressman. It was about making sure Democrats weren’t elected from the OTHER districts…

  5. Doug Ross

    Yahoo Finance (not exactly a conservative viewpoint) has reviewed some of Elizabeth Warren’s economic policy plans. Here’s their rating:

    The “ultramillionaire tax.” GRADE: D. Voters might also be fine with higher taxes on multimillionaires, except this tax would be a nightmare to enforce. Warren wants to impose a 2% annual tax on net worth above $50 million, and a 3% tax on wealth above $1 billion. The problem with this is determining a wealthy family’s net worth, especially with illiquid assets such as real estate, art and collectibles. Plus, imagine the clever wealth shifting such a law would incite. Better, probably, to raise other taxes such as those on capital gains or income above $250,000.

    This is exactly why I would never vote for her. That she can present such a foolish plan in the first place really makes me question her judgment. It’s really just red meat to throw to the the “hate the rich” crowd .

  6. Doug Ross

    If you want to truly be informed about the Democratic candidates for President, this would be a great place to start:

    The same 18 questions posed to all 21 candidates. The questions are:

    1. In an ideal world, would anyone own handguns?
    2. Would your focus be improving the Affordable Care Act or replacing it with single payer?
    3. Do you think it’s possible for the next president to stop climate change?
    4. Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights?
    5. Who is your hero, and why?
    6. Would there be American troops in Afghanistan at the end of your first term?
    7. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
    8. Do you think illegal immigration is a major problem in the United States?
    9. Where would you go on your first international trip as president?
    10. Describe the last time you were embarrassed. Why?
    11. Do you think President Trump has committed crimes in office?
    12. Do you support or oppose the death penalty?
    13. Should tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google be broken up?
    14. Are you open to expanding the size of the Supreme Court?
    15. When did your family first arrive in the United States, and how?
    16. What is your comfort food on the campaign trail?
    17. What do you do to relax?
    18. Does anyone deserve to have a billion dollars?

    1. Doug Ross

      And surprise, surprise — the reason there were only 21 candidates who answered instead of 22:

      New York Times:

      “Joseph R. Biden Jr. declined to participate despite repeated requests since late April.”

      He is definitely following the Hillary playbook of acting like he’s already the nominee. That plus his recent admiration of segregationist Senators continues his foot-in-mouth style.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Did you read my post? That was mentioned…

        And you have it backwards. Spending time answering these questions is MORE likely to be a foot-in-mouth thing — for any candidate, not Joe specifically — than not answering them.

        It may offend you for a front-runner to act like a front-runner (just as most things politicians do offend you), but that’s what this is.

        Joe has far more than any other candidate in his record — things he’s said and done — for his opponents to beat him with, and they do so at every opportunity. Why? Because he’s the front-runner, so he’s the guy they have to take down first in order to have a chance.

        The thing for him to do now is what he’s doing — focusing on the central issue in this campaign, which is getting Donald Trump out of office. Anything that changes the subject or gets him off-message — such as answering this slightly odd set of questions — is counterproductive….

        Now, y’all, let’s go over and discuss this on the actual post

        1. Doug Ross

          I’ll keep saying it – he has nowhere to go but down with his strategy. He can’t just keep saying “I can beat Trump”.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            It’s not just “I can beat Trump.” It’s more like, “We have to beat Trump” — and he’s offering himself as the guy…

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, and to the last thing you mentioned

        Joe didn’t say anything wrong. He was only saying things I say here often (and that you and others who weren’t there and covering politics back in the day reject): That there was a time in living memory when people with extremely different views found ways to do something they don’t do today: Work together in a civil manner on the things they CAN agree on, for the good of the country.

        Yeah, go ahead and scoff, Mr. Cynic. Joe was there, and he knows.

        And people who are attacking him for it are twisting what he said, as a way of trying to claw him down and benefit their own campaigns. Which is predictable.

        It surprises me a little with Booker, though, since one of his virtues is valuing civility among very different people, from what I can tell. I guess he’s looking at the polls and getting desperate.

        I have a suggestion for anyone who doesn’t understand what Biden is saying (a category that includes anyone criticizing him on this): Go watch the HBO original movie, “All the Way.” It’s mesmerizing, and not just for Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of LBJ.

        Look particularly at the close relationship between him and Richard Russell (played by Frank Langella), whom he called “Uncle Dick.” The movie covers a time when the two men couldn’t possibly be farther apart — when Russell was leading opposition to the Civil Rights Act. But the close relationship is still there.

        Or go listen to Biden’s eulogy of Strom Thurmond

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          On “All the Way”…

          As I said, it was awesome for more than Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of LBJ, which indeed was amazing.

          Other good bits:

          — Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman) as Hubert Humphrey.
          — Melissa Leo as Lady Bird
          — Stephen Root’s portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover was good, too. Not AS good as Cranston’s LBJ, but still — Root’s always fun to watch.

          Anthony Mackie, who played MLK, was good, too — much better than the guy in “Selma” — but I still remain unsatisfied by protrayals of King.

          Nobody ever quite captures his charisma, or the gravitas that was amazing in someone who was only 39 years old when he died (and only 34 when he delivered the “I have a Dream” speech). He came across like a biblical prophet. Who can seem that mature and wise at that age, and what actor can portray it?

        2. Doug Ross

          “Some of my best friends were segregationists” will be a rallying cry for all the Democrats.

          I’m guessing Strom was instrumental in teaching Joe the proper way to put your hands on a woman and get away with it.

          I would question the judgment of anyone who held Strom in high regard.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Yep, if they’re dishonest enough to say that he said, “Some of my best friends were segregationists,” then I suppose they’ll attack anyone for anything.

            I expect the next headline to be, “Biden draws ire for breathing.”

            Doug, as long as you view people as one-dimensional caricatures rather than fully-realized human beings, you won’t get what Joe Biden is talking about.

            Here’s a memory I have… I attended a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in 1998, celebrating the 50th birthday of NATO. After everyone else was seated (except for us media types, standing in the back), President Clinton came down the central aisle, walking very slowly, with Strom holding on to his arm. One human being helping another. He led Strom to a seat of honor in the front row. It caused me to see Clinton in a better light than I ever had before.

            Of course, if you’re all about reducing people to the worst things they’ve done in life, you could just say “Look — one womanizer helping another.” After all, Clinton was neck-deep in the Lewinsky scandal at the time.

            But I saw it as more than that, because I try to see people whole…

            1. Doug Ross

              Well, if the worst things you’ve done in your life include racism, fathering a n illegitimate child and not acknowledging her, possibly having a sexual encounter with a woman on her way to the electric chair… I guess I’m just going to have to say that makes you a terrible person no matter what.

              If I ever do any one of those, feel free to consider less than a hero.

  7. bud

    Today is Juneteenth or more descriptively, Emancipation Day. Seems like very little recognition of this very important day by the media. Yet it seems more important than D-Day which was given wall to wall coverage. Perhaps we can begin to give more consideration to this important day in the future.

    1. Doug Ross

      Should be a federal holiday. Probably a very good replacement for Columbus Day. Who’d say no?

      1. Doug Ross

        Since there was a big Congressional committee meeting yesterday on the topic of reparations, perhaps that could be one small part of the reparations process: Juneteenth Federal Holiday, national apology, funding to black colleges and minority business organizations — but never, never, never individual cash payments to descendants of slaves. That would be a nightmare to implement and cause too much chaos.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        I would (oppose making it a federal holiday), and here’s why: it makes sense to celebrate it in Texas, because it’s about what happened there. It’s an unusual sort of landmark. The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect two years earlier. The other states knew about it before Texas.

        I think that’s why it’s not a bigger celebration the way MLK Day is. MLK means a great deal to the whole country, Juneteenth not as much.

        I’m trying to think of an analogy. It would be sort of like waiting to celebrate V-E Day on the day the last person in Siberia heard the war in Europe was over. Or V-J Day when the last Japanese holdout left on an island surrendered — in 1974.

        OK, those aren’t great analogies. I’ll try to think of a better one….

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Also… and here’s where I get myself into trouble… I think we should have a discussion about WHY anyone would want to replace Columbus Day with anything, regardless of the merit of the new holiday.

          Don’t misunderstand me: I think there are too many federal holidays, and I think Columbus Day, as a holiday, is expendable.

          I would just want to make sure we were doing away with it for the right reasons.

          If the reason is, “Columbus wasn’t a hero; he was a villain,” then I’m against it.

          Not because I see Columbus as a hero. He was just this guy, you know, who while trying to do something else stumbled across America.

          I don’t see him as a hero OR a villain. And I think it’s kind of false to make him out to be either.

          BUT… the day that his three ships made landfall — Oct. 12, 1492 — is one of the most momentous days in human history. Actually, it goes way beyond HUMAN history. It’s something akin to the catastrophe that killed the dinosaurs, in terms of its effects on the world and all of its inhabitants.

          Note that I’m not saying it was a good thing or a bad thing. (The mass extinction was bad for the dinosaurs, but maybe good for some species that came along later, such as ours.) But it was a HUGE thing that affected us all, and people should be aware of that.

          If you doubt it, read Charles Mann’s book 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created — which I’ve recommended here before.

          EVERYTHING changed then, in ways that they did not change when St. Brendan or the Vikings or the occasional African or American Indian made crossings previously.

          All of a sudden, everybody started trading with everybody, which had huge economic, cultural, political and public health ramifications for the whole planet. We generally know about the food implications: The potato essentially ended famine in Europe (until the blight in Ireland), and can we imagine Italian cuisine without tomatoes?

          But other effects were even more dramatic, and some unimaginably horrific — such as the deaths due to disease of almost all the native peoples of the Americas. (For more on that, see Mann’s earlier book, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.) That in turn may have led to the Little Ice Age, because the Amazon rain forest grew back over vast amounts of land that had been cleared by the people who had lived there. Ditto with forests farther north.

          But it’s not about whether it was good or bad. As I said, it was simply a profound change that came over the world, and it all started that day, Oct. 12.

          And people who want to understand the world they live in should be mindful of it. And they should stop trying to put white hats and black hats on everybody in history, and simply make themselves aware of what happened and the many effects it had…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            It’s like Caesar crossing the Rubicon. In terms of moral judgments based on motivations, it’s kind of hard to side with either him or the rivals back in Rome who wanted his legions to stay out of Italy.

            But so much of everything that’s happened since, good and bad, depends on it.

            For instance, in the bad column, it led more or less directly to the end of the Roman Republic. Not that the Roman Republic was anything to write home about (and Caesar was hardly the first ambitious general to bring his troops home with him in defiance of the Senate), if you read its last 500 years of history, but it would be the LAST republic of any kind in Europe for a thousand years.

            Gimme a minute and I’ll try to think of something good…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Actually, you could probably take your pick on “good” things. It shaped world history going forward, so anything good or bad that happened subsequently was likely to be affected, if only in a Butterfly Effect kind of way, by that crossing…

          2. bud

            All of this is fine and good but we don’t have an Albert Einstein Day or Madame Currie Day, two important but also foreign people. So why set aside a day to honor a pretty terrible Italian. I’d replace Columbus Day with some day commemorating the end of slavery in a skinny minute. And just for the record, you can’t have too many holidays. Ok maybe you can but we’re nowhere near that threshold.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              But see, to me the idea behind Columbus Day isn’t honoring Columbus. It’s about the EVENT that occurred one Oct. 12, not the guy. (I mean, we could call it the Columbian Exchange Day or Landfall Day or whatever, I guess.)

              We focus too much on the person and whether we think that person is “good” enough to “deserve” a Day. That’s appropriate with MLK, because it’s ABOUT the guy more than a particular event.

              But with a momentous event, to quote Clint Eastwood for the second time this week, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it“…

    1. Doug Ross

      Agreed. These would be actual things that I assume would pass by a large majority.. unless legislators started adding amendments to the bill. The other possible date would be September 22nd, 1862 when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. But I’d prefer another holiday in June.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Except, of course, that the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free the slaves; it merely stated the intent, and ennobled the Union’s cause for the rest of the war.

        The REAL event was passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment. THAT ended slavery…

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