Open Thread for Tuesday, February 16, 2021


Looking out the window of my home office: Where’s the snow?

Just a normal, quiet day — the kind I was looking forward to when I voted last year. Which is nice. But here’s some stuff to talk about…

  1. What? It’s Mardi Gras already? — So tomorrow’s Ash Wednesday. What to give up? Or maybe I should say, what else should we give up?
  2. Cayce could be among SC’s first cities to designate a COVID-19 Memorial Day — Good idea, Mayor Elise.
  3. So… what did Nikki say again? — Over the weekend, Nikki Haley said of Trump, “We need to acknowledge he let us down.” Um… who was actually counting on him for something? You know what? These politicos who have ambitions far, FAR above their abilities would do better to try speaking to the whole country, not to deluded minorities. OK, I take it back… This is what Republicans who seek to lead should be saying. Instead of kowtowing to the crazies — as those 43 senators did on Saturday, they should be exerting leadership by explaining to the base the many ways it is wrong. And I suppose this gentle, Golly, maybe we were wrong approach is the way to go about it. But it still sounds bizarre…
  4. Bitcoin Trades Above $50,000 for First Time — I don’t even know what that means. I just started subscribing again to The Wall Street Journal, which is leading with this at the moment. I enjoy reading the normal parts of the paper (politics, book reviews, opinion), but the stuff that the paper is historically known for is still unintelligible to me. Those words are nonsensical. So… a Bitcoin costs $50,000? I guess I’ll never buy one. Not that I intended to, anyway. I mean, stories about money bore me to tears, and this isn’t even about real money….
  5. At least 12 dead in 4 states as power outages, record cold strike South — That’s terrible, and I’m not complaining or anything, but why aren’t we getting any of this? Someone ADCO works with in Texas has no power. My wife’s relatives keep posting pictures of iced-over foliage in Memphis, where the snow has fallen repeatedly. And last night, we had a thunderstorm and the temperature went… up to 58. Are we on the same continent?

That’s enough for now. I’m going to go take a walk, since the sun’s shining. Let me know what other topics y’all are seeing….

40 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, February 16, 2021

    1. Scout

      I have family in Abilene, Austin, Lake Jackson, Houston, and Georgetown and all of them are snowed in; most out of power and some with no water. It’s a mess.

  1. Bob Amundson

    Yeah, don’t complain. In Shreveport this morning, 4 degrees and several inches of snow. White knuckled to Amarillo in 11 hours, icy roads to blizzard conditions, arrived at the RV Park with 6 inches of snow and 4 degrees. Hunkering down until all clear, and winding down by reading the Warthen Blog. Next stop Santa Fe, then Durango (Purgatory!), Moab and Salt Lake City. If interested, follow our journey on Instagram @mistymountainspark or on Facebook, Misty Mountains Park.

  2. Ken

    #2: It’s a … gesture, I suppose. But it’s too much like the “hopes and prayers” that follow a mass shooting. I’d have preferred – and prefer — this state and country take the pandemic more seriously than we have. This week we find that the US is not only Number One in terms of Covid deaths (with over twice as many as our second-place competitor, Brazil). It now has generated seven new variants of the virus – which is a direct outcome of our lack of seriousness about controlling spread.

    1. Ken

      But this story is soooo yesterday, right?
      I mean, some parts of the country have effectively declared the pandemic “over.”

  3. bud

    Apparently the power outage problems in TX have been exacerbated by excessive deregulation. Requirements to properly insulate electricity generating equipment against extreme cold events has resulted in greedy power companies cutting corners to pad profits. Another failure of unregulated capitalism creating great misery.

    1. clark surratt

      Yes. That reminds me of 1973 when the dumb capitalistic state of South Carolina didn’t have enough snow plows to keep the snow and ice off I-95 It would only have taken about 50, but no, S.C. was unprepared.

      1. Bob Amundson

        The counter point here in Texas is solar and wind power failed the system. I heard the Mayor of Amarillo comment during a press conference last night that natural gas is freezing at the well heads because the solar powered heaters weren’t working. My first thought was how can you use frozen natural gas to unfreeze frozen natural gas. Humans just do confirmation bias so easily.

        1. Bob Amundson

          From The Daily Beast: “Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ran to the friendly confines of Hannity Tuesday night to blame the devastating power outages currently plaguing his state on solar and wind sources, directly contradicting his own energy department. Millions were still without power in the Lone Star State as the governor spoke to Fox News.

          “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy such as natural gas and nuclear, as well as solar and wind,” Abbott declared. “Our wind and our solar got shot down and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into this situation.”

          A senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, however, said hours earlier that frozen wind turbines during the deadly winter storms have been “the least significant factor in the blackouts,” noting that the main factors are “frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities.” Over the past 24 hours, numerous Republicans and right-wing media personalities have falsely claimed that failing windmills and renewable energy sources are the root cause of the widespread power outages in the Lone Star State, despite the fact that wind and solar shutdowns have only accounted for 13 percent of total outages.”

          1. Barry

            I noticed Abbott gave local interviews in Texas laying blame at frozen natural gas equipment, and pointing at the electric utilities

            but on Hannity- he pointed at AOC – and a bill proposal that has never been passed showing how the messaging changed depending on the audience.

            I also read several articles where engineering professionals were quoted and they said this was not unexpected as Texas has done a poor job of spending money on their grid infrastructure preparing for weather emergencies.

            So at this point Abbott and GOP officials are just hoping their supporters are not willing to read other sources of news except Fox.

            “By far the biggest outages have come from our natural gas plants,” Daniel Cohan, associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University, told CBS MoneyWatch reporter Irina Ivanova. “A portion were down for scheduled maintenance. Others weren’t designed to operate reliably in extreme cold weather and others haven’t been able to get enough natural gas supply.”

            “Main story continues to be the failure of thermal power plants — natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants — which ERCOT counts on to be there when needed. They’ve failed,” Princeton engineering professor Jesse Jenkins said Tuesday.

            1. Barry

              Odd- Abbott didn’t point fingers at decades of Republican leadership in Texas related to their electrical grid system- despite years of warnings from various groups that the Texas electrical grid was not prepared for weather abnormalities.

              1. Bob Amundson

                Thanks Barry for adding to this discussion. The Republican Party has become an institution that avoids accountability.

                Rush Limbaugh has died – I lost my job as a small AM Radio Station producer when he promised the owner to pay him money for carrying his program. When I found out my “talent” was being replaced with Limbaugh, I told him and he started a “swan song.”

                We both lost our jobs because of a new business model, Limbaugh and his investors lining up advertisers and paying these small business owners; no more staff to sell on air advertising – easy revenue.

                So in the late 1980s, I became very much aware of the “ditto-head” cult leader. When I could stomach listening, I would. Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.

                1. Barry

                  Oh I admit I listened to him off and on for about 5-6 years.

                  But I think I started turning him off when I encountered a co-worker who listened to him religiously and I had to work with him for a few weeks- which meant riding with him in his car. He couldn’t turn the Limbaugh off. I’d even ask him to turn him off in the car but he’d just turn him down a little. My co-worker would parrot Rush- he’d repeat things he said several times during the day. It was cult like behavior for sure.

                  After that experience, I turned Limbaugh off totally and would only occasionally tune him in just to see what he was saying.

                  I assumed that his failed marriages would hurt his reputation since he so openly promoted “family values” for years as conservatives had some special “family value” that no one else had. Well, obviously that was fake and just an act with Rush.

                  But apparently the cult couldn’t see through that.

  4. Barry

    “Over the weekend, Nikki Haley said of Trump, “We need to acknowledge he let us down.” Um… who was actually counting on him for something?”

    Haley and Trump Jr. seem to be the leading candidates for the GOP in 2024 if Trump doesn’t run.

    Doesn’t Trump Jr just scream “ethical, responsible, honest” to you?

    But that’s not what the GOP wants anyway.

    That tells you the state of the Republican party.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Of course, you might have had something to say if you’d read this headline from one of the pro-Trump sites that keep emailing me: “Breaking: Rush Limbaugh’s Wife Announces Heartbreaking News”…

        By the way, I recommend that you DON’T try to Google that headline and call it up. I started to, and got one of those messages that say:

        Website status: Risky
        This site contains potentially dangerous content that could harm your PC. We blocked it so you can continue browsing worry-free.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Now, the weird thing about THAT is that McAfee did that. I don’t subscribe to McAfee because I use WebRoot, but I can’t seem to get it to go away, and it keeps trying to protect me from things, to my great irritation.

          But I wasn’t interested enough to bypass it…

      2. Bob Amundson

        This story is also in a response to Barry earlier on this thread:

        Rush Limbaugh has died – I lost my job as a small AM Radio Station producer when he promised the owner to pay him money for carrying his program. When I found out my “talent” was being replaced with Limbaugh, I told him and he started a “swan song.”

        We both lost our jobs because of a new business model, Limbaugh and his investors lining up advertisers and paying these small business owners; no more staff to sell on air advertising – easy revenue.

        So in the late 1980s, I became very much aware of the “ditto-head” cult leader. When I could stomach listening, I would. Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.

        1. Barry

          Limbaugh was a cult.

          I saw a bit of Fox today. Their “news” hosts have been celebrating Rush- while conveniently leaving out the boatload of awful insults he had a habit of hurling.

          The first time I heard Rush in around 1991, I laughed- but was surprised that he so easily insulted so many people. I think that’s the first time I heard anyone in public so openly mock and insult people as a routine.

          I think one of the results of the Limbaugh style has been the utter demonization of people who view political issues differently. It was once something that you tried to keep private or at least behind closed doors. But Limbaugh made it a sport that, of course, has blown up to encompass nearly everyone that discusses politics, including me.

          I read a story recently about how many lifelong friendships had been destroyed in the last 4-5 years over politics. It was pretty eye-opening.

          But of course some folks are ok with that- and I understand it myself.

  5. Doug Ross

    28 days in and kids are still in cages in the “concentration camps” at the southern border. Where’s the outrage and 24×7 CNN coverage? Maybe Jill Biden can go down and put some big hearts on the grounds to cheer them up.

    Anyone else see Joe stumble through his town hall last night? He complained about how much work there is to do. Yeah, Joe, you’re not the Vice President any more.

    From the transcripts:

    COOPER: You have — over the years, over your career, you have obviously spent a great deal of time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, except now you’re living there and you’re president.

    It’s been four weeks. What’s it like? How is it different?

    BIDEN: I get up in the morning and look at Jill and say: Where the hell are we?


    BIDEN: No, it’s — look, it’s — you know, I have only been president for four weeks. And, sometimes, because things are moving so fast, not because of a burden, it feels like four years. It’s not because of the burden. It’s because there’s so much happening that you focus on, you’re constantly focusing on one problem or opportunity, one right after — ad seriatim.

    Here’s his answer on how to open up schools:

    “One, first of all, making sure everybody is wearing protective gear. It’s available to students as well as to teachers, the janitors, the people who work in the cafeteria, the bus drivers. Secondly, organizing in smaller pods, which means that’s why we need more teachers. Instead of a classroom of 30 kids in it, you have three classes in that same of 10 kids each in those, I’m making the number up, less, doesn’t have to be literally 10.”

    Yeah, Joe, we’ll just triple the number of teachers and put the kids in closets and the cafeteria, He’s as dumb as Trump.

    And what about China? This rambling, incoherent answer on China could have been spoken by Trump and everyone from the derangement society would have laughed at him…

    COOPER: You just talked to China’s president, I believe.

    BIDEN: Yes, for two hours.

    COOPER: What about the Uyghurs? What about human rights abuses in China?

    BIDEN: The Uyghurs.

    We must speak up for human rights. It’s who we are. We can’t — my comment to him was — and I know him well, and he knows me well. We’re — a two-hour conversation.

    COOPER: You talked about this to him?

    BIDEN: I talked about this too.

    And that’s not so much refugee, but I talked about it. I said, look — Chinese leaders, if you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been the time China when has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home.

    So, the central — to vastly overstate it, the central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that. I point out to him, no American president can be sustained as a

    president if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States. And so the idea I’m not going to speak out against what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uyghurs in western mountains of China, and Taiwan, trying to end the One-China policy by making it forceful, I said — by the way, he said he gets it.

    Culturally, there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow. But my point was that, when I came back from meeting with him and traveling 17,000 miles with him when I was vice president and he was the vice president — and that’s how I got to know him so well, at the request of President Hu — not a joke — his predecessor, President Hu, and President Obama wanted us to get to know one another, because he was going to the president.

    And I came back and said, they’re going to end their one-child policy, because they’re so xenophobic, they won’t let anybody else in. And more people are retired than working. How can they sustain economic growth when more people are retired?

    COOPER: When you talk to him, though, about human rights abuses, is that just — is that as far as it goes in terms of the U.S.? Or is there any actual repercussions for China?

    BIDEN: Well, there will be repercussions for China. And he knows that.

    What I’m doing is making clear that we, in fact, are going to continue to reassert our role as spokespersons for human rights at the U.N. and other agencies that have an impact on their attitude. China is trying very hard to become the world leader and to get that moniker. And to be able to do that, they have to gain the confidence of other countries.

    And as long as they’re engaged in activity that is contrary to basic human rights, it’s going to be hard for them to do that.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug, I guess I could say that I’m sorry that your life has been ruined because a decent, qualified human being has replaced the worst man any of us ever saw in politics as president of the United States.

      But I won’t, because I’m not sorry, and never will be. So go ahead and entertain yourself with the goofy stuff you keep posting. I think you’ll notice after awhile that I’m not paying a lot of attention to it.

      I just answered another comment of yours a few minutes ago, and I already regret the time I wasted…

      1. Doug Ross

        Goofy. His own words. Sure. That’s why I posted the transcript. Everyone can decide if he sounds intelligent and coherent.

        My life hasn’t been ruined by Joe Biden just like your life (and mine) wasn’t ruined by Donald Trump. I just like to point out how hypocritical people are when politicians like Joe lie and make dumb statements. He’s spent his entire adult life as a politician and lying is ingrained in his being.

        Sorry you can’t recognize when your BFF says stupid things so easily as you did when Trump did it. Objectivity was thrown out the window years ago.

        1. Scout

          Joe is long winded and his stuttering is more prominent than it used to be. He’s not made for sound bites. It doesn’t mean he’s not a decent person talking about real issues. I have no trouble getting his point and I’m fine with the points he makes.

          1. Mark Stewart

            Many people had trouble with Obama’s eloquence – even before they found reason to object to his policies or perspectives.

            Biden isn’t perfect. He is decent. All that matters right now. Everyone who can’t see that can go fly a kite.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Yeah, some people didn’t like that Obama was “articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

              Some people DID, which of course was what Joe meant. That he thought Obama had a lot of appeal. 🙂

      2. Barry

        I didn’t watch the Biden town hall.

        I listened to a few excerpts on Sirius radio today. The host picked at a few of the points Biden made – supporting a few- and then disagreeing with a few- but then added something like “But it was nice to hear someone actually talking issues instead of trying to insult people and pick unnecessary fights for no reason. It was an adult conversation”

        I just don’t care what Trumpers think about Biden when they ignored Trump’s cartoonish, buffoon behavior for 4+ years.

        1. bud

          I’m no Joe Biden fan. Far from it. But he is at least a normal person who is willing to discuss issues in a normal, adult manner. Has he even posted a tweet since he’s become president?

          1. Barry

            I don’t know, and I am so glad.

            Biden stumbling over words……big deal. After the last 4 years, he could have vomited on stage, and picked it up and threw it at the wall and it would be preferable to 5 seconds of Trump on stage last night.

            1. bud

              On a more tangible matter it is now being reported that US life expectancy dropped a full year in the first 6 months of 2020. That is a stunning decline.

  6. bud

    Just talked to my nurse daughter who works in an Austin hospital. She has spent the last 4 days in the hospital because of the weather. She said 2 other hospitals have. No water so EMS patients are come to them. According to her this is the worst day so far.

    But at least they don’t have to endure the horrors of federal regulation. According to Rick Perry it’s better to freeze than endure rules that would prevent such a calamity.

  7. Doug Ross

    From the Post & Courier… this captures Richland County politics perfectly… all the components are there… nepotism, charges of racism when any question is raised, quid pro quo… Sure, a teriyaki restaurant manager is a natural transition to make to deputy coroner.

    “COLUMBIA — A powerful state lawmaker supported his ex-wife’s successful bid to unseat a longstanding Richland County coroner, and now she’s hired the legislator’s brother. Newly seated Coroner Naida Rutherford said she violated no ethical rules in hiring Harry “Torr” Rutherford, brother of House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, as a deputy coroner. She called her former brother-in-law “highly qualified.” Harry Rutherford previously operated the Grilled Teriyaki restaurant in Five Points until it closed in December. Todd Rutherford, a Columbia attorney, said his past relationship with the coroner or as a legislator has no bearing on his brother being hired and that the move was only being questioned because he is Black. Naida Rutherford said her ex-husband’s campaign support had nothing to do with bringing abroad Harry Rutherford.”

    1. Barry

      That is the very appearance of impropriety.

      Glad I don’t live in Richland County and do my best to avoid doing any business there.

    2. Barry

      The odd thing is that the former Coroner was very widely respected. He was a “go to” expert for other coroners around the state and really all over the southeast. From everything I could tell, no one had anything negative to say about him or the job he did. He was very innovative in that profession and had very good community interaction and relations.

      But it didn’t matter.

      I think it was a Bernice Scott that recently was quoted as saying the black community just wanted a black coroner. I thought that was poor wording when she said it. But maybe that was accurate. So in that case, it wouldn’t matter who Watts was up against or how good a job he did. He had no chance.

      I doubt Todd Rutherford mentioned that quote though.

    3. James Edward Cross

      Which is an argument against have positions like coroner be elected positions as opposed to positions where you hire a professional to do the job. Or if they *are* elected, then they are purely administrative heads and the work is done by professionals.

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