Open Thread for LATE Wednesday, June 2, 2021

We got the deck job done on Saturday!

We got the deck job done on Saturday! Don’t mind the scraps of wood lying about.

Y’all, I started doing this yesterday, but stuff came up and I didn’t finish. Anyway, I’ll change the date in the headline and try again:

  1. Our top story tonight… — Imagine Garrett Morris shouting that. (I really appreciate his News for the Hard of Hearing, now that I’m, you know, that way.) Remember the project I was working on, on my deck, when I cut up my hand? Well, the hand is pretty close to 100 percent now, and we got it done over the weekend! Staining will be completed once it’s weathered a bit.
  2. Wide-Ranging Israel Coalition Reaches Deal to Form Government — Buh-bye, Bibi! Well, it’s about time, don’t ya think?
  3. Sri Lanka Faces An Environmental Disaster As A Ship Full Of Chemicals Starts Sinking — This is terrible, and I’m concerned, but as usual, I’m always befuddled. As usual, I have to go to Google Earth to remind myself where Sri Lanka is. I always go, “Sounds like East Asia, but isn’t it closer to Africa?” Which is kind of right. It’s that chunk that broke off of India. Now that I’ve got that sorted, I can be properly concerned for the folks who live there. And the environment, too, of course. (Yeah, I know: What kind of idiot can’t remember where Sri Lanka is? Yeah. I feel that way about those who don’t know where Ecuador is.)
  4. Mike Krzyzewski made college basketball history by never making excuses — For those who think we don’t have enough sports here. Just a nice piece about a guy who did a good job…
  5. China Three-Child Policy Aims to Rejuvenate Aging Population — I imagine this will be kind of a blow to Bud — even China is seeing the likely economic problems that result from a low birth rate. This was the lede story in The Wall Street Journal yesterday morning.

34 thoughts on “Open Thread for LATE Wednesday, June 2, 2021

  1. Barry

    This morning on the POTUS channel on Sirius radio, Michael Smerconish interviewed the lady that served as the Chief of Staff to George HW Bush since 1994 – Jean Becker

    This was an amazing interview and the highlight of my day from a news standpoint. Fascinating insight and some great stories.

  2. bud

    5. China has done an excellent job bringing their birth rate down. There will certainly be disruptions as we move toward a sustainable population level. But of course this doesn’t have anything to do with my concern. Poor, mostly African, nations continue to have extremely high birth rates. So in spite of very low rates in wealthier nations the earths population continues to grow. The good news is this unsustainable explosion of people continues to slow, even in poor nations. My biggest concern is that this positive trend will be reversed if the trend toward smaller families is reversed in order to address a non existent “problem”. There are plenty of people to provide labor. The challenge is to match the people with the work. Let’s not listen to the alarmists who don’t understand arithmetic. The earths resources are finite. A rapidly growing population cannot be sustained.

  3. bud

    Forget all this happy talk about how technology will always overcome population growth. I’ve heard those assertions for decades. What has changed over the last 5 decades is a big drop in the fertility rate. But I don’t think the pessimists were entirely wrong. There is much hunger in many parts of the world. The increasing population is exacerbating global warming. But none of this will persuade the cornicopians. It’s an article of faith that technology will always win. That’s true, until it doesn’t. No matter how clever we are arithmetic will win in the end. It just will. It must.

    This ends in one of two ways. The earths population continues to grow at some fixed annual percentage rate unabated. At some point resources cannot keep up. Or. We reduce population growth through the use of birth control measures to zero or less. Then creative technologies stand a chance of sustaining the population without drastic famine and disease. The good news is we may be on a path to zero population growth. The trends are good. But we can’t succumb to these scary theories that a lack of labor will destroy our way of life. Frankly there is a greater chance for advancing technologies can overcome a sharp drop in young people entering the work force than the hopeless task of staying ahead of rapid population growth. So let’s get to work developing advanced robots to augment fewer workers. A less crowded planet should be a tremendous boon to future generations. Given Brad’s aversion to crowds I would think he could get on board this kind of future.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, y’all, Tom Friedman has a really good column on the still-developing political story from Israel:

    The analogy is quite sound, with a difference. Here, it was just Joe and voters wanting to save our democracy. There, since they have a parliamentary system, you have a coalition of the left, the right, the middle and people who’ve never had a place on the spectrum — such as the leader of the Arab Raam party — coming together to oust a guy who has held on to power by keeping everyone divided.

    It’s pretty inspiring, and we should all hope it works…

    1. Bill

      “USA USA USA”: A “commentary” bereft of any nuanced historical contextualization, especially as it pertains to he history of Palestinians and Arab Israelis…

    2. bud

      No it’s not inspiring. It’s asinine. They have this crazy system that has allowed a criminal to remain power for years after his expiration date. Now they’ll have a coalition that’s not a reflection of the will of the people. Then they’ll have this shared power arrangement that is tantamount to chaos. First a relatively liberal prime minister will serve. Then a far right Zionist. What a mess.

  5. bud

    This explains what a mess there is in Israel/Gaza/the West Bank. We must immediately stop unconditional support for Israel. Their treatment of Palestinians goes counter to our values we hold so dear in this country. If someone ever recommended a state religion for the USA they’d be vilified for the craven radical that they are. Yet that is exactly what American tax dollars support with Israel. Time to stop this un-American practice.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    FYI, y’all… I just approved some comments, but I’m not looking at the blog much now. My mom has been very sick the last three days, and yesterday I had to take her to Providence ER because her levels of a protein indicating heart distress were up, and when we got there her BP was 212/95, and they’ve been working to get it down and keep it down ever since.

    She’ll be there at least another night, and once she’s better I’ve got to catch up on a bunch of work that hasn’t gotten done while this was happening.

    So I won’t be here much. See ya. I’m going to try to get an hour or so of work done before relieving my brother at the hospital…

    1. James Edward Cross

      Sorry to hear about your mother. I hope they are able to get her blood pressure down and she gets to feeling better.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Mom’s at home now. Which means we’re taking turns staying with her and Dad. I’m on duty right now, and of course I’m scrambling to catch up with four days of undone work.

      But I’ll still check, at least daily, for comments needing approval.

      By the way, I just learned last night that Paul DeMarco had submitted another “op-ed” piece over the weekend. Not this PAST weekend, but the previous one, when my granddaughter was in another hospital. Thank God she didn’t have to have surgery, but we’re still trying to figure out what was wrong.

      Anyway, that’s how far behind I am on personal email, and right now, personal email remains a low priority…

  7. James Edward Cross

    Oh, a little tidbit on a story that didn’t make the top 5 — the muting of the microphone of a retired Army Lt. Colonel making a Memorial Day address in Hudson, Ohio who had the temerity to suggest that African-Americans might have originated the holiday. Don’t know how the journalists reporting on the story missed this, but Hudson was a center for the anti-slavery movement. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad and John Brown grew up there.
    (It’s also the birthplace of Western Reserve College, Which moved to Cleveland and later merged with the Case Institute of Technology to become Case Western Reserve University; I’m an alumnus of the University)

  8. Ken

    Assistant President Joe Manchin is about to get on my last nerve.
    Is it just me? Does anybody else feel this way?

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Counterpoint by John Kasich: “I tip my cap to you, Joe Manchin”

        I know a thing or two about standing up to your own party. I won no friends when, as a Republican member of the House, I led opposition to President George H.W. Bush’s budget because of its sky-high deficits. My decision as governor to extend Medicaid healthcare benefits to more low-income Ohioans was lambasted by Republicans because of the move’s tie to ObamaCare. My opposition to Donald Trump sparked equal hostility. What rankled me then, and frustrates me as I watch what’s happening to Mr. Manchin, is that critics always ask the wrong question. Instead of asking, “Why won’t those troublemakers just do as they’re told?” it’d be better to think of it this way: “If they’re willing to take this much heat, do they see something I don’t?”

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Good point from my man John Kasich.

          But he needs to step up and tell us what he knows. Because I haven’t heard anything persuasive yet…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            It’s also not all about Manchin. There are probably 3-5 Democratic Senators (maybe more) who aren’t going to end the filibuster.

            1. Barry

              It will be ended in 1-5 years. It’s just a matter of time. The status quo is unacceptable.

              Manchin’s statements make no sense. He wants to preserve it for bipartisanship because one sided legislation is damaging- but JOe doesn’t have the guts to call out GOP efforts in multiple states to pass one sided voting law changes.

              He’s a hypocrite. No doubt he’s getting paid under the table.

            2. Ken

              Doesn’t really matter. As one observer put it, Manchin is serving as a “heat shield” for the others. And they are all taking a position based not on the merits, but instead on their perception of their own political fortunes. They are, as Rubin put it with respect to Manchin in the op-ed referenced above, delivering up “bland platitudes [that] suggest [they] prefer stalemate to taking hard votes. The status quo leaves [them] with latitude to make holier-than-thou pronouncements to decry both sides.”

              1. Mark Stewart

                Change is hard for everyone to accept, all across the political spectrum – and any other.

                The US Senate is already unrecognizable from its earliest structure. But that’s okay, it has evolved to accommodate the evolving country. The iteration of the filibuster has followed the same course. There was no sacrosanct doctrine; the filibuster has mutated over the last century plus as a way to accommodate the Segregationists within the Democratic party. It was twisted up, especially after 1960, to grant minority (funny use of the word in this context) power to hold the coalition together.

                The Democratic senators who want to maintain the filibuster want to do so in the context of having some power down the road. It’s a position arising from fear, though it has a certain logic to it as well. The idea of majority rule, however, is that what the people want is legislated – but if the lawmakers go too far, the voters may vote them out of office. The one issue here is if the vote is stymied, such as with gerrymandering. So, if there were ever a bill to kill off the filibuster over it would be one to legislate “best practices” voting across the nation.

                Wanting to avoid “hard” votes is not what any citizen wants of their representative. Congress has lost sight of that, which is just human nature. Doesn’t make it the right way to legislate, however.

                Also, no one seems to be bothering to ask whether there are not at least a few Republicans who would choose fair national voting over the filibuster?

                1. Ken

                  The Republican strategy in Congress is pretty clear, and pretty simple: Claim most any Democratic proposal is “(dangerously) radical” and then refuse to vote for any of the proposals in order to lend credence to the claim. The assumption is that enough of the electorate will believe this – or, given the ensuing stalemate, give up on expecting anything of government. Either of which works to the Republicans’ advantage.

  9. Bill

    I’m beginning to think that Stage Fright is the real masterpiece for The Band
    There’s this exhiliating magnificence you don’t find anywhere else..

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, it’s pretty awesome. That was actually the first of their albums I bought. It was right after it came out in 1970, I believe.

      You had to take a step like that to get into The Band back then. You didn’t hear them on the radio; I didn’t, anyway. I had been curious about them since I’d read about them when they made the cover of TIME not long before that, and so I went out and bought the new album.

      I loved it. And then I started buying the other ones.

      I have to say, though, that it wasn’t long before I decided that the brown album was the best. There were great things in the others, but that seemed the purest expression, from start to finish, of what they were all about — something that was really special, and hard to describe…

      1. Bill

        I had tickets to see them at the OMNI in 1971 but they cancelled due to “lack of interest”..;saw Garth solo, decades later:

  10. Barry

    I saw where the law partner of Jay Lucas -the speaker of the house – was able to get a judge to dismiss his open container and DUI charge this week

    Pretty good trick.

    Always pays to have friends in powerful legal positions in South Carolina.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Actually, what “pays” is to be an attorney and have effective representation from another attorney. There’s no particular “trick” to it.

      Of course, there COULD conceivably be something irregular here, but I have no way of knowing, since what has been reported is so sparse.

      I certainly have NO information that would lead me to conclude that the Speaker did anything improper, or that anyone in the system did anything improper BECAUSE this young man is the speaker’s partner.

      On the contrary, there wouldn’t be a news story in the Post and Courier at all about such a routine case if not for the fact that this guy is the partner of Jay Lucas. So forces sort of work in the opposite direction of what you’re suggesting.

      Again, you could be right — the cynical interpretation could be correct, and we might be able to see it with a few more details. But we don’t have those details…

      1. Barry

        I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the charge was dismissed. LOL

        DUI? Maybe. In South Carolina, making a DUI charge stick is extremely difficult even when the driver is on video drunk as a skunk. Many people drive under the influence in SC because they know they can get away with it.

        Open container? It was either an open container of alcohol or not. Not much of a middle ground there.

        The speaker doesn’t have to “do anything.” If you are a judge and you see the law partner of the most powerful Legislator in the state not named Leatherman standing in your courtroom, no one has to tell you what to do. A judge would have to be nuts to ignore what he/she believes is the will of a powerful state legislator.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          See, that’s the thing. I would. If I were the judge and I thought the defendant didn’t have a case, nothing would cause me to dismiss the charges.

          But if I thought the case against him was weak, I’d dismiss the charges even if the entire world cried out that I did it because he was the speaker’s partner.

          Because I know these things about myself, I feel that I am obliged to assume that other people just might be the same. They might NOT be, but they might be. I try not to assume that they would act contemptibly, unless I see evidence to that effect. This is partly out of basic fairness, but also partly because I think if everyone goes around expecting the worst, it encourages people to see that as the norm, and go ahead and BE worse because no one expects better.

          The fact that so many expect the worst is something to which I accept some blame as a post-Watergate journalist. My generation — generally speaking the last generation of print journalists — bear a great burden for having added to human cynicism. Too many of us treated everything that came up as another potential Watergate, something that just had to be gross and corrupt if only we could expose it.

          For the last couple of decades of my career, I found myself constantly contending with the growing masses of people who believe that government is nothing but a mass of waste and corruption. They’re wrong. I know too many good people out there for them to be right.

          But I always have to ask myself, what made them believe this? To a great extent, we did…

          1. Barry

            With all due respect Brad, that’s about as naive as it gets.

            About 20 years ago, I received my last traffic ticket. I was in the Pee Dee and was pulled over in what I still believe to be a situation where the officer mistook me and another car. The reason is because he said I was going over 80mph on the interstate in my old truck which, if going over 75, would have been rattling to pieces.

            To this day I think he messed up and missed the Nissan sports car that went by me at the same time he pulled me over.

            Nevertheless, I was upset about it and hired at attorney to argue my case in this particular small town. I knew it was a long shot but my record was a good one.

            The attorney was familiar with the judge and the police chief. In a phone conversation, the attorney told me that the judge would never see the case my way. He said the judge Id be facing would find me guilty regardless and it would serve me better to pay the fine. I asked him why he was so certain and his reply was “because I eat lunch with the judge and the police chief every couple of weeks. Believe me, you have no chance. The honesty was refreshing I guess.

            He then told me to cut him a check and mail it to him and he’d get my point violation cut in half but I’d pay the full fine plus his fee. I wrote the check.

            I feel 100% certain that check paid for the judge, the attorney, and the police chief’s lunch the next time they met. I can’t prove it but I don’t have to.

            1. Barry

              Here is what Fits had to say

              “ According to a source familiar with the situation, Mitchell’s charges were “tossed in the middle of the night” early Sunday morning (June 6, 2021). While I could not independently confirm the timing of the charges being dropped, they are no longer listed on the fourth circuit’s public index page.
              Whatever happened with regard to these charges, that is unacceptable. Arrest records are public records, and should remain so … even if charges are ultimately dropped.”

              Yeah, nothing about this is too routine.

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