Open Thread for Monday, August 14, 2023

Murdered candidate Fernando Villavicencio, from his campaign website.

I meant to post one of these over the weekend, so some of these ideas are a couple of days old. But here you go…

  1. The devastation of Lahaina — This broke after my last Open Thread, and I just thought I’d set up a place where we could discuss it. My mind is quite blown — we’ve gotten sadly accustomed to such news coming out of California, and the Canadian wilderness. But this is Maui. It’s not even the Big Island, with its frequent volcanic eruptions. I’m still sort of overwhelmed by this situation, and it keeps getting worse as we learn more…
  2. The descent of Ecuador into deadly political violence — This is another shock that involves a place that was once my home, and which I fear I would not recognize today. I refer to the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, a former investigative journalist who was outspoken against government corruption in his country. He was shot and killed last week. You know, we had a lot of political instability in Ecuador when I lived there, but it was gentler. When a junta wanted to take over while I was there in 1963, they waited for the duly elected president to get drunk again (they didn’t have to wait long), put him on a plane, and he woke up in Panama. (Or that’s the way we heard it from people who would know.) Today, it’s a country increasingly torn by violence, with the homicide rate rising by 500 percent in recent years. And now this…
  3. Can it be that anyone thinks what is posted on the internet is private? — An email from the NYT today raised the question, which I can’t believe anyone still has in 2023, “Is the internet private? Teens, and the rest of us, aren’t sure.” Wow. It was taking off on an item in the paper headlined, “Teens Don’t Really Understand That the World Can See What They Do Online, but I Do.” Well, the things that kids don’t understand would fill… another Worldwide Web. But it seems kids who have grown up with the internet would understand the utter lack of security online better than their elders. I’ll just repeat my standard advice for anyone, of any age, who is still deluded: If you want something to be private, never, ever put it in writing (or pictures) on a medium that immediately publishes it to the entire planet. If you walk naked down a public street, would you expect not to be seen by anyone? This is like that.
  4. David Brooks joins the Grownup Party — Yeah, I know, here’s something else you can’t read without a subscription. Sorry, but that’s where most of the interesting stuff is. Anyway, this column is about tracing “the decline of the American psyche” to “a set of cultural changes that started directly after World War II and built over the next few decades,” regarding “the emergence of what came to be known as the therapeutic culture.” It’s a good piece, but I can’t really explain what it’s about fully without quoting it practically in full, which might upset the NYT. But on a far more superficial level, I’ll just celebrate the headline: “Hey, America, Grow Up!If you aren’t familiar with my Grownup Party, here’s the manifesto, from 2008. You can read that for free…
  5. State Sen. John Scott of Richland County dies. He was 69 — That is, he was slightly younger (like, by a couple of weeks) than I am. The story doesn’t list the cause of death. This is someone I’ve known for many a year (when I see headlines referring to “Sen. Scott,” I tend to assume this is who they mean, since I’ve never met Tim), and I’ve had critical things to say about him. After all, he ran with Marguerite Willis against James and Mandy in the 2018 primary (unsuccessfully). But I see him as a guy who tried hard for his constituents, and I generally got along well with him, and I’m really sorry to hear of his loved ones’ loss.
  6. A Woman Was Attacked by a Snake That Fell From the Sky. Then a Hawk Dived In. — That headline is (again) from the NYT, where I read it, but the link is to a CBS story that I hope you can read. When I saw it, my first reaction was “OK, enough with the high-concept movie pitches…” My favorite part of the story was one sentence of startling understatement: “Wendell Jones, her husband, eventually noticed that his wife was screaming, running in a zigzag pattern and flailing her arms.” Observant fellow. What actually happened? It seems a hawk had grabbed a snake and dropped it — and it landed on this lady, and wrapped itself around her arm, and started striking at her face, and leaving apparent venom on her glasses. The hawk, really ticked off that his dinner had been “stolen,” swooped down and launched his own attack, cutting her arm up before he managed to tear the snake loose and fly away with it. And you think you have bad days… Anyway, I’m glad she survived.
  7. I hope Josh doesn’t go out to flyover land and get lost again — I delete a lot of political fund-raising emails, but I held onto this one, because it was from Bradley Whitford. You know, Josh Lyman. (So, it’s not just that I feel an affinity for other people named Bradley W.) Of course, he invoked “The West Wing,” then talked about how in real life he’s a member of the striking SAG-AFTRA, and stepped from there to the need to “elect pro-union representatives at every level of government.” Which, he said, was why he was “asking you to join me in supporting one of the union movement’s strongest allies: Sen. Sherrod Brown.” Well, OK then. But if he goes to Ohio to campaign for Sherrod, I hope he doesn’t get lost the way he, Toby and Donna did that time in Indiana. Anyway, to you people who send out these emails: I think you should be ashamed, thinking Americans will back a candidate just because a celebrity does. But on the other hand, I will read the ones from top officials in the Bartlet administration. I also like the notes I get from Carole King…

The time they got lost in flyover land…

14 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, August 14, 2023

  1. bud

    Georgia weighs in on Trump’s misdeeds this week. No federal pardon if convicted. The Peach state is once again at the center of the political universe.

    1. Doug Ross

      If they don’t convict Trump, he’s President again in 2024.

      Some of the charges are laughable.. like tweets telling people to watch TV.. or a request for a phone number.. or just booking a hotel room… That’s going to be really tough to make stick.

      Meanwhile, Joe Biden took time out of weekend at the beach to offer an empathetic “no comment” when asked about the fires in Hawaii.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        “Laughable?” No, none of this is funny.

        I can only think of two things about Trump that are sorta, kinda funny:

        1. “Covfefe.” Frankly, people gave Trump too much flak about this — everybody makes typos, not just semi-literate people such as him. But it was still funny. Anyway, people should be more concerned about all the horrible stuff he does ON PURPOSE.

        2. The time he made like a three-year-old in that truck.

        1. Doug Ross

          So you believe the tweet about watching OANN is a criminal offense? Or asking for a phone number? Or booking a hotel room?

          Democrats are going to blow this case with nonsense like that. What’s the crime?

          If Trump was smart, and he’s not, he’d call for an immediate trial broadcast on TV. Call Joe Biden as a witness.. After 2.5 years, this is the big cringe of the century? Phone calls and tweets that led to.. um.. Joe Biden taking office after a couple hour delay in the electoral voting process because an unarmed guy in a Buffalo hat walked into the capitol building with other idiots who were then escorted out?

          You’re putting Trump back in office.. all you had to do was ignore him.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            You are ALMOST right here: “You’re putting Trump back in office.. all you had to do was ignore him.”

            And you are completely right if you’re defining “you” as America as a whole, and especially the people who would actually vote for him again, who are numerous enough to pose a profound threat to our liberal democracy — and therefore to liberal democracy around the world, because it’s already in enough trouble without its main prop, the United States, collapsing.

            I, and plenty of others, hoped that with his clear defeat in 2020, the two impeachments and his abominable record on ugly display, he would fade into the shadows, and be seen in the future as this aberration that quickly faded.

            That’s the way it used to work, you see. Even far, far better men — such as Richard Nixon — who had been shamed by far less quickly faded into the background in disgrace. When Gerald Ford pardoned him, some protested, but I certainly did not. It was time for the nation to move on.

            Unfortunately, we have a personality cult that was missing in the Nixon case. Nixon was a competent, center-right president derailed by some personality flaws that caused him to overreach in his quest to maintain power. Now, we have a creature that personifies many of the worst traits in the American character. And his minions feed on his flaws, and feel nourished by them. And they are determined to bring this country down.

            And your solution is that we simply ignore it? No can do.

            Remember, the problem isn’t Trump. The problem is the sickness in our body politic that has seized upon him and elevated him. And that cannot be ignored…

          1. bud

            You did say something nice. I used to work wit some of the most anal retentive people on the planet. I suspect one of them saw the sign and got it corrected.

      2. Barry

        I’ve heard right wing Republicans proclaim for 3 decades now they wanted to put Democrats in prison

        Turnabout is fair.

        1. bud

          Except there really wasn’t ever a crime committed by Dems. Oh wait, I forgot about the time President Obama wore that tan suit to a press conference! Clearly the crime of the century!!

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I’ll approve this comment, but I do so knowing I’m opening you up to people throwing various examples at you of Democrats doing things even worse than this — and even worse than wearing seersucker after Labor Day! 🙂

Comments are closed.