Open Thread for Wednesday, August 9, 2023

The other presidential bookend to what Joe did yesterday…

A few things I’ve focused on in the last day or two:

  1. Biden creates Grand Canyon National Monument — That link is to the speech he gave at the site, because the news stories tend to concentrate on the trivial, such as the electoral ramifications. To me, it’s about things of enduring value. It reminds me I need to get back to reading Theodore Rex, which I mostly set aside at the beach last week. I had stopped just after Teddy visited the Grand Canyon for the first time, and said, “”I don’t exactly know what words to use in describing it. It is beautiful and terrible and unearthly. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve upon it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it — keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you.”
  2. Elon Musk’s Starlink — Here’s one of those cases when it’s truly tragic that not everyone subscribes to The New York Times — because if you don’t, I fear that you can’t hear this installment of The Daily, “Elon Musk’s Quest to Own the Stars.” It’s something you need to know about, and the podcast explains why very clearly. Maybe you already knew, but I didn’t. I learned that 4,500 of the 8,000 satellites orbiting the Earth at this moment belong to Musk. The worldwide satellite access network they serve is interesting enough. But you also learn what a critical role it has played in the Ukraine war, and could play in the future of Taiwan — if Taiwan wasn’t leery of Musk’s business arrangements with China. If you can find a way to get access to the podcast, do so.
  3. Why Mark Sanford walked out during Trump’s SC speech — That was the headline on the Post and Courier email drawing me to the story (as I noted a day or two ago, those heds are usually better than the ones in the paper). My response was, “Why was he there in the first place?” Well, we know, don’t we? Because that’s what Republicans do these days — they go to events where Trump might speak. Which is tragic. By the way, walking out isn’t that dramatic a gesture when you’re Mark Sanford. Read about how plain he made his disdain for party gatherings back in 2004, when the GOP was still a normal political party.
  4. Want employees to return to the office? Then give each one an office. — My response to this headline was simply “Duh.” I later came back and elaborated by suggesting that the only alternative would be to make like Lumberg and say, ““Um, Peter… I’m gonna need you to go back to cubicle hell… yeah…” Of course, an office wouldn’t be enough to get me back. I’ve had offices. I didn’t like any of them as much as my home office.
  5. Happy Nixon Resignation Day! — The night before Aug. 9, 1974, was possibly the highlight of my time as a copy boy at The Commercial Appeal. That was the night Nixon announced his resignation, which would take effect the next day. The managing editor (pictured here) wrote “Nixon Resigns” on a scrap of paper and send me to the composing room (on the next floor) to get the guys up there to set it in type, then put the type on a camera and shoot a picture, and blow it up to whatever size it took for it to spread all the way across the six columns of the front page. Then it would be converted into a metal “cut” like a photo, and placed at the top of the page atop all the lead type below it. Yeah, something you could do with a couple of keystrokes on your computer today. Anyway, this special assignment made me feel like a big shot. I was just a kid…

As I mentioned, news coverage focused on the political trivia, rather than the thing of lasting value.

27 thoughts on “Open Thread for Wednesday, August 9, 2023

  1. Barry

    Reading a LITTLE about Trump’s speech to the Republicans Silver Walrus Dinner event:

    I had to wonder what those gathered REALLY thought of Trump and the speech they were listening to that evening.

    Of course, none have the personal integrity, outside of a few, to say what they really think about it. Just think of all the “good Christians” in the audience, including our very own slum lord millionaire, Henry McMaster.

    I imagined, for a moment, that my wife and I get dressed up to go out for the evening to listen to a politician talk. It takes quite an imagination for me to dream up such a nightmarish scenario, but nonetheless… the elite of South Carolina Conservatism did more than imagine it, they embraced it. Being in a cult will make you do crazy things.

    At the “speech”, the politician spends all his time insulting numerous people by name and talking about his personal grievances. Not a sincere care in the world is expressed about other people, or injustices in the country other than his perceived legal troubles- that some of the folks in that very crowd are gladly paying for in terms of money they are supplying to the attorneys of a billionaire

    I think my wife would slap me if I dared take her to hear any politician speak, but especially one that was consumed with himself as much as Trump and who spent our entire dinner insulting other people.

    If someone had a friend like that and went out to eat with them, they’d never go out with them again.

    But these good Republicans subject themselves to this mess willingly.

  2. Barry

    ” if Taiwan wasn’t leery of Musk’s business arrangements with China. If you can find a way to get access, do so.”

    It’s noteworthy how much the right wing loves Musk- given that Musk does a TON of business with China and has been totally unwilling to push back on anything the Chinese Communist Party asks of him.

    Of course, lots of businesses do business with China.

    But not doing business with China has grown into a cottage industry with right wingers – often ridiculing anyone that does business with them. Right wing cable hosts routinely blast China organizations that do business with China.

    EXCEPT for Musk. They don’t mention his ties to China. They avoid the subject altogether.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, here’s how that headline came out in the paper.

    That night, I got off from work early, before the first edition rolled, which means about 10 or 10:30 p.m. or so. (On my late nights, I worked until 2 a.m., after the press starts for all editions.) This was a week before I was getting married, and that night my then fiancee and I rode out to the airport with some of her friends to pick up the sister of one of them. I didn’t have the paper, but I carried home some proofs of just that historic headline, running across the page at its ultimate size — the headline that I had personally handled through its creation. I thought it was awesome. The girls were polite about this thing I was so proud of, but they weren’t as impressed as I had expected. This was somewhat disappointing…

    Actually, I’m a bit disappointed looking at it now. Not as big as I remember. Maybe it should have been all caps — although that was not our style. Also, it’s not the greatest font in the world, is it? At least, not for something that big. Seems to me there’s too much space between the x and the o in “Nixon”…

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, and this unhappy news broke after I posted:

    Robbie Robertson, Guitarist and Songwriter With the Band, Dies at 80

    Now, they’re all gone except Garth Hudson, the relatively quiet but immensely talented (playing piano, accordion, electronic keyboards, and saxophones — alto, tenor, soprano, baritone, bass) second guy from the right above.

    Robbie’s on the far right in that picture. In the one below, from the 1974 reunion tour, he’s the one next to Dylan. I saw them on that tour in Memphis. Oh, never mind. I couldn’t figure out the use conditions. Here’s the link. And here’s my own grainy shot from that show.

    There won’t be music like that again. Of course, there wasn’t music like that back then, either. There was just The Band, and they were my favorites…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, this is getting out of hand. You expect stuff like this in California — or up in Canada. But in paradise?

      Hawaii isn’t supposed to have any objectionable natural phenomena beyond active volcanoes. And of course, without active volcanoes, there would be no Hawaii…

  5. Barry

    Expanding on my post on the other thread

    A Trump right wing judge ordered Southwest Airline attorneys to take a religious freedom education course from the Alliance Defending Freedom- a right wing organization. (the plaintiff never requested such a thing)

    Southwest are appealing this order.

    I read more about this case today.

    1) The plaintiff- a flight attendant- sent hundreds of abusive messages to a work colleague- many critical of the work colleague’s pro choice position. The colleague was the employee head of the flight attendant’s local union.

    2) The plaintiff’s messages contained many vulgar references- including calling the coworker vulgar names being extremely critical of the opinions of the co-worker.

    3) The plaintiff said Southwest Airlines abused her religious freedom for punishing her for the vulgar and offensive comments directed toward the coworker.

    Southwest says Carter’s termination “had nothing to do with her religious beliefs.” Further, the company argued, “the right to share any material related to abortion without restriction, no matter how graphic or offensive – is not mandated by her stated religious belief.” Southwest noted that the “managers who Carter deposed in this case expressly testified that they share her pro-life convictions and have no animus against Christians.” Rather, Carter’s managers terminated her employment because Carter chose to engage in “a systemic campaign of torment and harassment upon Stone.”

    Apparently now you can send vulgar messages to coworkers and claim religious discrimination if you can somehow link it to abortion or some other culture war issues.

    How very Christian.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Hmmm. I kind of think it was a reaction to the anti-democracy zealots.

      I would have voted to reject that proposal. And I am what you would call an “anti-choice zealot.”

      Yeah, I know how it’s being read across the country, and I understand why.

      But in real life, the issue is more complicated than the headlines. As always.

      Sigh. I suppose I’ll have to write a post about what I mean.

      Just to warm up for that, there are two issues here, and I think they both played a big role:
      1. The upcoming effort to “codify” abortion rights.
      2. The anti-democratic move to require a supermajority (regardless of the issue)

      But that doesn’t explain it all. I’m pro-life, and I am no fan of direct democracy under any circumstances. Laws should be made through a deliberative process involving elected representatives, whatever the issue.

      And yet I would have voted with the majority on this. That will take more time than I have today to explain, but I’ll try to get to it when I can….

      1. Ken

        I seldom do predictions, but here’s one: The outcome in the Nov. Ohio constitutional amendment vote likely will closely correspond to the results on the proposed amendment this week. Those numbers generally correspond to polling on abortion nation-wide — suggesting that this week’s vote was overwhelmingly driven by abortion support.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          That wouldn’t surprise me — particularly with regard to driving turnout. People who believe in abortion rights are very stirred up these days, and more likely to show up than someone who holds the opposite view or is among those who are ambiguous on the point. So I think it affected turnout, and also outcome, since those were the more likely self-selected voters. But it’s also something I don’t KNOW.

          That’s the angle I was thinking about writing about, when there’s time. Something else got me to thinking the other day about how little we ever really know about why votes come out the way they do.

          For instance, I’ve always been something of a cheerleader for exit polls. They’re more useful to society than prediction polls, which are useful only to a) campaigns, and b) journalists who engage in the idiocy of trying to tell us what will happen in the future. Exit polls at least give us data on what has actually happened, and even sometimes shed some light on why it happened.

          But not all that much light. The questioning is too superficial. It’s hard in that situation to get to deeper causes, or understand how much different rationales affect each other. And even if you go deeper with a few voters — from the self-selected set of those willing to go deeper, or even talk to you in the first place — that still doesn’t tell you what “the voters” were collectively thinking.

          Anyway, I was thinking about all that — I don’t recall at the moment what started me on that track — when along came this Ohio thing….

          1. Ken

            Polls in the sources below showed support for abortion in Ohio in most or all cases at 59% and 58% respectively. The 57% vote on the ballot measure yesterday parallels those figures very closely. So I don’t think we have to wrinkle our foreheads cogitating the deeper causes in this case.



            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              But you see, I know how I would have voted. I know my own mind. And I know I’m not unique. Therefore, I know there cannot be, precisely, anything like a one-to-one correlation between polls and referendum results in this case.

              As for me not being unique, I’ll offer you something I was saving for the post I may write on this. It was a release I got from Stand Up America. It’s mostly about the attack on democracy. Oh, after a mention in the lede, it gets into abortion in the third graf (although it uses the euphemism “reproductive justice,” which is actually getting to be something of an anachronism, since more and more advocates these days dare to use the honest, direct word), but then turns to its main theme in the next graf: “Now, MAGA Republicans are trying to take away direct democracy.”

              Which is not remarkable, except that this is the only thing I’ve seen all week from the pro-choice side that made much of the result beyond the “victory for abortion” angle. (I’ve lost count of how many fund-raising messages I’ve gotten from Sherrod Brown in that vein — but hey, at least he’s from Ohio.)

              So I appreciate that these folks appreciate that there’s more than one issue involved here. They may make a bit too much about the “direct democracy” angle. The abortion celebrators are probably closer to the point. But at least they’re not deluding themselves that abortion is the ONLY thing. Because it isn’t. Nothing is ever the ONLY thing.

              We often say that an election result was “about X,” but that’s seldom true, or at least not demonstrably. The most you can say is that a single issue may have provided the margin of victory, and it’s almost certainly legit to say that about abortion in this case. What I don’t know, though, is how many people in that majority were infuriated over the supermajority thing on principle. Probably a LOT fewer than abortion — it’s always safer to bet on an emotional issue over an abstract point of political science. But were there enough direct democracy lovers to be necessary to composing the majority?

              I’m thinking probably not — but I have no way of knowing. And there’s never been a poll — even an exit poll, as I said earlier — that could make it certain…

    2. Barry


      I heard this woman – Elizabeth Weller of Texas – speak on her pregnancy and abortion this morning.

      at 18 weeks, her amniotic fluid was gone which was a death sentence for the fetus at that stage or pregnancy. Not aborting the baby after this occurs raises the risk of deadly infection for the woman over 2x.

      After talking over the options with her doctor, she talked with her husband and they decided that they would end the pregnancy.

      But the doctor was instructed by the hospital staff that they wouldn’t perform an abortion due to the Texas law even though Elizabeth was already showing signs of being sick. The law does make an exception for “medical emergency” but the law and politicians never defined it and made no effort to define it. That leaves it up to hospitals to figure it out – which of course was by design in order to scare them into not doing anything to help the mother.

      Her doctor told her she would have to get sicker before they would do anything. She her and her husband decided to go home to wait because the hospital would not do anything.

      At home, she was constantly vomiting and passing blood. She developed a severe infection. Her husband started looking for flights to Colorado or New Mexico but wasn’t sure she was well enough to travel.

      She continued to decline and ended up back at the emergency room where they induced her and she gave birth. It was dead. Thankfully, she didn’t die.

  6. Doug Ross

    University of South Carolina has announced a record number of freshman in the upcoming class. I wonder how many are taking student loans to attend? I wonder how many of those know how much their loans are and what the interest rate is? I wonder how many of them are smart enough to attend college but not be able to calculate what their future payments will be? I wonder how many of them are pursuing majors that will not pay a salary sufficient to support their loan payments in the future? I wonder how many of them will cry about how they were tricked into taking such confusing loans and that is “not fair” that they have to pay them back ten years from now and expect the government to cancel the debts they signed up for?

    Oh… Remember when Joe Biden announced his big loan forgiveness program right before the 2022 midterms? The program that has cancelled exactly zero loans because he used an approach that was unconstitutional rather than use a known process rh as t would have taken longer but required negotiating with Republicans? The unity president took the political win rather than actually address the problem. And the suckers bought it…

    1. "Bobby"

      I need tradesman not College Graduates. The American Dream is often rather corrupt; Rand is enigma, an anti-concept herself. Contrarians may be seen as courageous, unconventional, counterintuitive thinkers, able to withstand herding pressures and even abuse from crowd-following conformists. Others may see them as maverick, out-of-touch, denialists ‘living on another planet’ and unable to see the obvious.

      I think both are true in varying degrees depending on ????? Doug, what say you?

    2. Barry

      Anyone receiving a federal student loan is required to complete entrance counseling which explains the loan, impact of various interest rates, repayment requirements, consequences of not repaying the loan or defaulting.

      If you don’t go through the counseling sessions, the loan isn’t issued to the school.

      “as t would have taken longer but required negotiating with Republicans?”

      Republicans were crystal clear they were not interested in discussing any possible student loan forgiveness or adjustments- even though public polling consistently shows a majority of Americans favor it.

      Can’t negotiate with people that refuse.

      Thankfully, President Biden is still offering loan forgiveness options for students and republicans have largely been silent on the new effort as even they know the new effort is because the government – mainly under the Trump administration- but also others- allowed loan servicers not to follow the law.

          1. Barry

            Beth Akers, the writer of your linked article is a Conservative. You might as well quote Trump or Rush Limbaugh.

            Democrats couldn’t get several moderates to go along with a student loan forgiveness plan under reconciliation. So her opinion on what they should do is meaningless.

      1. Doug Ross

        So why do all these kids talk about being duped into taking loans?

        I’ve been through the process with 3 kids who graduated in the past decade. They knew what their plans were and were also smart enough to pay the accumulated interest while in school rather than think of the loans as free money. And now they are young adults with zero balances and good jobs.
        They never expected somebody else to cover their bad decisions.

        1. Barry

          Because when rather large student loan repayments begin, 22 year olds that went through the required loan counseling when they were 17 or 18 don’t always remember or appreciate what they are signing up for

          In other words, the same reason many 50 year-olds that sign up for a 84 month car payment talk about how they got suckered by a finance manager except they are 45 years old when they took out the loan.

          Not every kid is your kid.

          In fact, not every kid even has a parent that is involved in their life at all.

          Not every family is your family.


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