Your Virtual Front Page for Monday, January 27, 2020

You'll note that on their REAL front page, the Post made the same top three play decisions that I did. Not surprising. I used to be a front-page editor, and we tend to think alike.

You’ll note that on their REAL front page, the Post made the same top three play decisions that I did. Not surprising. I used to be a front-page editor, and we tend to think alike.

The very first VFP of the year! Actually, it’s been a lot longer than that. Sorry. Anyway, here goes:

  1. Stocks drop on coronavirus fears — I’m leading with this because it’s global, it’s scary, and it has the potential to be a way bigger deal than anything else in the news. Here’s hoping it’s a bust in the end. We can do without a pandemic. Here’s an explainer from The Washington Post that I found helpful over the weekend. The death toll is up to 81.
  2. Bolton says Trump linked Ukraine aid to Biden probe — And in the realm of politics, this is the biggie, although it’s a day old. Today, everyone’s leading with the Democrats being even more insistent that Bolton needs to be called as a witness. In a rational universe, that would be a foregone conclusion. But that’s not the universe we live in. By the way, I saw this piece this morning about Chief Justice Roberts’ power to call witnesses himself.
  3. The Death of Kobe Bryant — This has been dominating news coverage, especially broadcast news coverage, since yesterday. So I thought I’d include it for those of you who thing there’s not enough sports coverage on this blog. I knew next to nothing about him, but I’m certainly sorry to hear the news about him and his young daughter.
  4. 75 Years After Auschwitz Liberation, Survivors Urge World To Remember — And the first thing to remember is this: “Of the estimated 1.3 million people sent to Auschwitz, some 1.1 million died at the camp, including 960,000 Jews.”
  5. Trump’s standing against Democratic candidates improves, new poll shows — Just in case you didn’t think there was enough bad news on this VFP.
  6. SC smoking bans expand beyond bars and restaurants to parks and beaches — On the other hand, I don’t want to send you away without some good news.
If you haven't checked out Gary Lee Watson's tremendous comics collection at USC's Thomas Cooper Library, the exhibit ends Friday.

If you haven’t checked out Gary Lee Watson’s tremendous comics collection at USC’s Thomas Cooper Library, the exhibit ends Friday.

29 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page for Monday, January 27, 2020

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, and from the world of Opinion, I liked this piece from Jennifer Rubin today, headlined, “Do Iowans want to eliminate candidates or select a president?” An excerpt:

    But let’s say you are a moderate Iowan who wants to make certain a moderate is the nominee and the race gets decided quickly. You have a chance for once to be a kingmaker. Spreading votes out among Biden, Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) means you are simply setting up the moderate(s) for a battle royale with the progressive wing (likely Sanders). Iowans, however, if they can decide on a single candidate, could produce a clear moderate victor and deal a blow to both Warren and Sanders.

    A convincing Buttigieg or Klobuchar win would certainly create a buzz and momentum. The question, however, would be whether either of those candidates could begin to win over African American voters. Maybe an upset win would do the trick, but right now, it does not seem likely either will break Biden’s hold on African Americans. (In the recent Post-ABC News poll, Biden gets 51 percent of black voters with Sanders a distant second at 15 percent.) In other words, picking Buttigieg or Klobuchar might give one of those moderates a lift, only to see the Iowa winner get pummeled in South Carolina and beyond.

    In going with Biden, whose staying power still surprises college-educated, mostly white and mostly young reporters, however, moderate Iowa voters could effectively pick the nominee, giving Biden an unexpected win (or a symbolic win with a clear lead over the other two top moderates). As the only candidate so far with African American support, he would be in a commanding position going into South Carolina and then Super Tuesday…

    In other words, Iowa people, act like grownups: Vote for Joe…

    1. bud

      In other words, Iowa people, act like grownups: Vote for Joe…

      Really? What an un-grownup, condescending thing to say. A real grownup would value the thoughtful reasoning that goes into deciding who to pick rather than mindlessly zeroing in on one particular candidate without consideration of others who may have positive qualities to bring to the table. A grownup would not ignore the many, many flaws in a man whose time has clearly passed. But to Rubin’s point Biden really isn’t a moderate in any meaningful sense. He’s actually more of a conservative. His history is long on supporting conservative policies like draconian crime reform, bills to make it harder to declare bankruptcy, and of course the horrendous Iraq war vote. This grownup will not vote for a “conservative” this primary season. And any REAL grownup who values liberal principles should not consider Biden in the primary season.

    2. Harry Harris

      I’m a Biden supporter and a grownup, but I think that kind of strategic voting would be unwise and unthinkable for a Buttigieg or Klobuchar supporter. Biden can either stand a tough, long primary contest or he can’t. If he can’t, someone else will carry the more moderate banner. Each of Pete and Amy have a voice and a perspective that needs to be heard as the campaign goes on. Multiple voices counter to those in the field you don’t like (and maybe don’t understand) can be helpful in moving Democratic voters into a winning coalition that can also attract non-affiliated ones and sensible Republicans.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        What is it that I don’t understand (he asked, slightly nettled)?

        Hey, I just want it to be over. Just as I wanted Hillary Clinton to give up and leave the field to Obama in the early months of 2008. Just as I wanted Bernie to go away and stop trying to damage Hillary in 2016.

        And, more locally, just as I wanted Phil Noble and Marguerite Willis to go away in 2018. Fortunately, it only took one day of voting to accomplish that.

        I want to get on with the business of beating Trump. I’m tired of Democrats and their dithering…

        I like Pete. He’s a fine young man, and I wish him well in the next logical steps in his career — perhaps a run for Congress. And I think Amy’s OK — have even mentioned her as possibly a good running mate.

        But Democrats need to decide if they’re ready, willing and able to do what it takes to rid this country of Trump. And if they’re not, they’re useless.

        There are all sorts of issues here. Of course, the one that most strongly provokes my impatience has little to do with Pete and Amy and their supporters — it has to do with the ideologues who are enchanted with Sanders and Warren. This is no time for indulging leftist fantasies. In fact, this may be the single worst time in U.S. history for that…

        1. Harry Harris

          I think your response answers your question about what you seemingly don’t understand about Sanders and Warren. I’ve actually never read you factually reacting to a particular proposal or critiquing a position held by either – only objecting to their “leftness.” Some of the ideologues supporting both candidates can be off-putting and seem out-of-touch. The Warren supporters I know aren’t fanasizers nor are they enchanted. Most are basically disgusted with politicians who are owned by big-money interests. They despise deal-makers who abandon principles for supposed wins while losing the long game to the money and power brokers.
          Both Sanders and Warren have shown willingness and the ability to compromise and seek common interests with diverse parties. It just happens that both get wrapped-up in rhetorical repetitiveness that belies the abilities skills they both have in working for the common good.
          Don’t fall into the labels trap. See the gifts each candidate offers, and encourage their supporters to work for unity, greater turnout, and focussing on what needs to be done in this country – and that goes far beyond beating the Trump forces.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I couldn’t care less about their specific proposals. I don’t care about Joe’s, either. Haven’t bothered to read them.

            These people believe in their proposals and programs as though they were the tenets of God-given religion. Take Bernie’s famous line about how he KNOWS what Medicare-for-all looks like, because “I wrote the damn’ bill!” This is a guy who is so profoundly deluded about representative democracy that he thinks the resulting policy will be exactly what he has proposed. That’s pretty messed up, coming from a guy who’s been in Congress for all these years.

            More than any of that, I can’t support a candidate who defines himself (or herself) in terms of whom he (or she) is angry at, whether it’s “big-money interests” or immigrants, or what have you. I’m sick of the pointless division.

            I care than Elizabeth Warren’s favorite word is “fight.” I have no use for such a candidate.

            It’s not about labels. It’s about the substance of who they are, which they tend to reveal every time they make an appearance, or open their mouths.

            Call them whatever you like. I see them as destructive forces.

            1. Harry Harris

              I couldn’t care less about their specific proposals. I don’t care about Joe’s, either. Haven’t bothered to read them.
              These people …
              profoundly deluded
              I have no use for such a candidate.
              destructive forces.

              My point is made.
              You’ve got too much experience and savvy in my opinion to short-sight your approach to this critically important task to not only defeat Donald Trump, but to repudiate Trumpism as a force in our culture and politics. If I thought you knew the “substance of who they are,” I would be more moved by your animus against them.
              By the way, Biden has some promising proposals for the way forward.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    The professor commented that Kobe’s helicopter flight under dubious weather is one of those rich person kind of death things, like JFK, Jr.’s.
    I am sorry for his survivors, of course. And the fellow travelers’ survivors (there were seven other victims.)

    and as far as Trump goes….[stops up ears]lalalalalala

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, welcome, Kathryn!

      As for rich people deaths. The same can go for powerful people.

      When I was following Howard Baker around Iowa in January 1980, I had one of the most harrowing experiences of my life (or at least it would have been if I’d understood how dangerous it was — this was two years before before the famous crash in the Potomac because of ice on the wings). We were flying to Dubuque from Des Moines. Baker went ahead in the big plane, with my photographer, while I rode in a tiny four-seater with the pilot and the camera and sound guys for the NBC team that was following the candidate — through an ice storm. While in the air, the pilot kept the alcohol squirting on the outside of the windshield, so that he had a hole about the area of the palm of his hand to see through.

      When we got out on the ice-covered tarmac in Dubuque, I climbed out and started to put on my overcoat, and the wind caught my coat like a sail and I started gliding across the ice. I had no idea how lucky I was to be alive.

      Several hours later, I got to ride on the big plane (not all that big; like a King Air or something) back to Des Moines, so I could do an interview with Baker (an interview I did a lousy job with, by the way). Before we left, we spent a couple of hours sitting in the general aviation terminal — not much more than a Quonset hut, in my memory — while they tried to deice the wings.

      At one point, Baker — an avid amateur photog himself — and my photog went out into the snowstorm to take pictures of each other, just to pass the time.

      Eventually, they let us board and fly to Des Moines.

      It occurred to me later that we were allowed to do that stupid thing because it was Howard Baker…

    1. bud

      What I find interesting is how so many Republicans who were so eager to impeach Bill Clinton over nothing really are now so eager to condemn the process now. Ken Starr takes the cake on this. We really are in the Orwell world of 1984.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Bill Clinton was not impeached “over nothing.” He deserved it. So does Trump. These two facts should be obvious, and the fact that they are not, to everyone, is a huge problem for this nation….

  3. Bob Amundson

    One tribute to Kobe Bryant stated, “he plowed through obstacles as if they were invisible.” A good friend of mine flew helicopters in Vietnam, and we were talking about the crash. More than once he had to tell a general he often transported, to use his terms, “Hell no sir, we aren’t flying!” The general listened to him. The pilot made a fatal mistake; you can’t fly “through all obstacles as if they were invisible.”

    Welcome back Kathryn …

  4. Bob Amundson

    Regarding 5: Trump’s standing against Democratic candidates improves, new poll shows. The Voting and Registration Supplement to the Current Population Survey (aka CPS) for the November 2016 election shows that voter turnout increased to 65.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites, but decreased to 59.6 percent for non-Hispanic blacks. This compared to 2012, when more non-Hispanic blacks (66.6 percent) voted than non-Hispanic whites (64.1 percent) for the first time in this series.

    The Democrats need a candidate that will change that trend. Currently, Joe Biden has the lead with the non-Hispanic black population that vote, but can he, or who can, energize the large population of disenfranchised non-Hispanic blacks. President Trump is obviously betting that the trend he started in the 2016 election will continue in 2020.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      There’s that word: “energize.”

      Yes, I understand the math that indicates it’s good to have an “energized” base. But on the whole, in terms of the good of the country, I wish everyone’s energized base would go take a long nap. “Long,” as in Rip Van Winkle long.

      “Energizing” candidates too often prove to be the very last candidates I want to see elected. Starting with Trump. His base is energized, always. They’re always excited.

      Ditto with the other big populist, Bernie. This is not helpful. First, Bernie must not ever be president of the United States. Yet if he is not the nominee — I mean to say, WHEN he is not the nominee — his Bros are likely to sit at home and pout in November. As a lot of them apparently did in 2016, and we know how that turned out for the country.

      Of course, if Bernie WERE the nominee, far larger groups of people would either a) stay home, b) vote third-party (which is useless, since that splits the anti-Trump vote, or c) vote for Trump.

      Which is why I wish candidates who excite people would go away. The older I get, the more I appreciate thought and discernment and get turned off by excitement.

      Of course, there are exceptions. Obama was an exciting candidate, and in his case that was a good thing. Jimmy Carter was an exciting candidate in 1976, but not after. RFK was exciting in the spring of ’68, and I think that would have been good, had he lived.

      But there’s been no one since Obama who stirs a constructive sort of excitement… All we get is people who excite resentment. Bernie — and Warren — stir resentment of capitalism. Trump stirs resentment of nonwhite people. None of it is particularly helpful…

        1. Bob Amundson

          “Currently, Joe Biden has the lead with the non-Hispanic black population that vote, but can he, or who can, create a constructive sort of excitement within the large population of disenfranchised non-Hispanic blacks.”

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            That’s helpful.

            But Joe doesn’t excite. It’s part of his appeal. He’s good ol’ Joe. He’s exactly what we need.

            These other people go on about their plans and programs. I want the presidency to take a nice nap for awhile, once we’re rid of Trump. I’m not looking for a president who will DO anything. I just want a decent, normal human being who won’t do horrible things, day in and day out. I want to be able to ignore the White House and feel like everything is OK there…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              People make fun of him for it, but I like it that Joe offers us “no malarkey.” That’s exactly what I’m looking for — no malarkey…

              1. Bob Amundson

                No malarkey and no charisma. No need for you to agree with my opinion that our country needs a diverse, charismatic leader to correct our nation’s course.

                1. Bob Amundson

                  Not yet, but hope springs eternal. Maybe, a BIG maybe, Deval Patrick, Mayor Pete, Amy Klobuchar.

            2. bud

              I’m not looking for a president who will DO anything.

              But things NEED doing. We NEED to address income inequality, climate change, health care and wasteful military endeavors. It’s not an option for a president to do not DO anything. If Biden isn’t planning to DO anything that’s another box checked in the NO BIDEN list. If you’re trying to make a case for Biden you’re doing a terrible job of it. On the other hand your constant ranting about Bernie has caused me to take another look at the Vermont senator. I voted for him in 2016. Perhaps I will again.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Joe has plans to DO things. That’s just not what appeals to me.

                I’ve said it here over and over: Don’t make me any promises. Just show me who you are. It’s your character and experience I care about. Big plans don’t excite me…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Interestingly, I wrote that last comment on my phone while attending a political event, while the candidate was speaking. But I wasn’t rejecting anything she had to say. I was speaking generally.

                  To say again what I’ve said so many times before, we don’t know what’s going to happen after a person is elected. Circumstances are likely to occur that make all of that person’s big plans (“Read my lips…”) look foolish. I want to know (to the extent that it is knowable) that the person elected will be someone I can trust to face those circumstances wisely and effectively. That’s why the candidate’s past performance in public office is so important to me. That, and other indicators of character and intelligence, are all we have to go by in trying to judge who will do a good job in the future in unforeseeable situations…

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