OK, these people should no longer hold office

EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote the first 600 words or so of this a week ago, and ever since then, I’ve been totally absorbed with other things — first, a project I needed to complete for ADCO, and then, a very fun trip my wife and I took to Asheville. We got back late yesterday. Of course, it’s still timely, so I thought I’d add an ending to it and post.

I know some of y’all think I’m a really stubborn, arrogant guy who never changes his mind. Not so.

Here’s an example, from yesterday:

Y’all may be familiar with my views on worrying about who holds what congressional seat in a district somewhere else in the country. I don’t approve of it. I think I initially decided this in connection with the fact that folks where I lived — either when I lived here, or in Tennessee or Kansas — would run off at the mouth about how they hated, say, Ted Kennedy. I decided that it was none of their business whom the people of Massachusetts chose to elect to represent them in the Senate.

And you can’t say that without also believing that it was none of other people’s business whether South Carolinians wanted to keep re-electing Strom Thurmond. The whole point of representative democracy is that people in each state — who may have different sets of values — get to elect whomever they want.

Therefore I’ve always harrumphed at people trying elect the people they want in other people’s states and/or districts.

And I still see it that way. But I had just really had it with the yahoos in question. Y’all know how much I despise these stupid, repeated fights over the budget in which nihilists who hate our country threaten to shut down the government, or actually do it, simply because they can. And the Garland thing was so deeply offensive to anyone who values this country or believes in the most basic demands of civility. And while I haven’t taken the roll and compared all the names, it’s basically the same sort of people.

But however much it irritates me, I don’t change policies for personal reasons. I came to this fork in that road (and took it, as Yogi would say) because this country can’t continue to function with these people in these positions. We’re just sinking lower and lower, and our liberal democracy is ceasing to function to such an extent, that these people who live to destroy can’t be in these positions any more.

They just can’t. This is not about party (and usually in the past, people were concerned about who won contests elsewhere because they wanted their party to control Congress). And it’s not about ideology, in any conventional sense. Traditionally, ideology’s role in politics was to drive debates between people who all wanted the good of the country, but disagreed over how that might be obtained.

But in the last few years — mainly since the Republican Party ceased to be the Republican Party in 2016 (it had been creeping that way for several years, but 2016 was the final explosion) — we’ve seen the emergence of a new sort of creature, slouching towards Washington. At this point, one of my more cynical friends will offer a list of people from history who ran for office because they were out for themselves. Certainly. And we still see such people. Currently, this Menendez guy is charged with being one.

But this is different. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the cheap Trumpist hustlers of the House are people who are in office because they represent any sort of consensus of views in the places where they come from. I mean, I know that Westerners aren’t nearly as refined as us East Coast types (ahem), but I don’t think Lauren Boebert is in any way a fair representative of…

SECOND EDITOR’S NOTE: The rest is what I added this evening, in order to finish this.

… Colorado. I mean, that’s where John Denver hung out, and he was a pretty normal and pleasant guy, for the most part. Just an ol’ country boy.

And why do people who are not normal or representative get elected? Well, when you’re talking about the House — and we are here — the problem, as I’ve said again and again, is gerrymandering. Both parties have worked hard to draw themselves as many safe districts as possible since 1990, and the Republicans have been way more crafty at it than Democrats (although not everywhere, but I’ve never lived in New York).

Crafty, but not very smart on an individual basis. In 1990, you were dealing with fairly normal, garden-variety Republicans. It was before Newt Gingrich, before Club for Growth types such as Mark Sanford, before the Tea Party, and before You Know Who.

But over the next few decades, those “safe” seats elected “Republicans,” alright, but not the kind that Robert A. Taft would recognize. And the center-right folks found themselves getting knocked out of office in their own primaries by extreme yahoos who didn’t have to appeal to a majority of people in the district — just to a majority of the small minority that turned out for party primaries. And sometimes, the yahoos themselves got tossed out by more extreme yahoos.

And so we got to where we are now.

Now I’m not saying we need to round these people up on buses and drive them out of the country, as poetic as that might be.

I prefer to start reversing the process. Serious redistricting reform, combined with something like ranked-choice voting, and (my fave) the universal primary — in which everyone seeking an office runs in one primary, regardless of party, and the top two go on to the general.

That wouldn’t fix things immediately, but it would be the most lasting solution.

However we do it, though, these folks have got to go. I’m not particular as to where they go, as long as they’re no longer running our country. Send them to a resort, if you want…

FINAL EDITOR’S NOTE: Yeah, I saw Congress reached a deal to keep the government operating… for 45 days. Call me crazy, but I really, truly believe we’re going to need it to keep going somewhat longer…

McCarthy is SO proud he led the House to keep the country going for a few more days. Are you proud, too?

Asa Hutchinson in Columbia today

This afternoon, the Post & Courier held one of its Pints & Politics events at J’s Corner Restaurant & Bar (where Jaco’s used to be). It was sponsored by AARP.

It was the first one of these I’ve attended. I went because the guest was Asa Hutchinson, and I’d been wanting to hear him speak since reading a favorable column about him in The Boston Globe, after he had met with that editorial board recently. The headline was “New Hampshire, please consider Asa Hutchinson.”

I don’t live in New Hampshire, but I’ve considered him now, based on little beyond that column and hearing him this evening. So I’m just getting started, but I will say that he is now my favorite Republican candidate for president. Which, of course, isn’t saying much, but if Chris Christie wants to recapture the top spot on my Top Five Least Awful Republican Candidates list, he’s going to have to do a lot better.

Of course, you know Joe Biden’s my guy, and nobody else comes close. But Hutchinson is the least objectionable Republican, and that’s important to me. I keep dreaming of having another No Lose election like 2008, when I would have been happy to see either McCain or Obama in office. (I can dream, can’t I?) That involves, and the very least, having someone unobjectionable run against Joe.

And I must say I kind of actually like Hutchinson. I have a few objections to him, but the thing is, he seems to be a real Republican, a normal human being who isn’t out to destroy America. He talks about his admiration for Nixon and Reagan — neither of whom is a fave of mine, but I’d give a lot to have either of them before You Know Who, or any of his many imitators.

So I’ll be watching. In the meantime, I shot a few random minutes of video near the start of his conversation with Schuyler Kropf and Caitlin Byrd, and you see it above. Caitlin asked him for his “stump speech,” but they either got off-track on that, or he has the shortest stump speech I’ve ever heard.

Beyond that, a few points from the few notes I took:

  • When I mentioned that I had objections, that mostly came from when Caitlin asked him to rattle off in 30 seconds what he would do first if elected. He immediately mentioned some please-the-base stuff, starting with immigration. Of course, maybe she should have allowed him more than 30 seconds, so he could branch out more. Whatever, that was the low point.
  • One of the best things was that while he wasn’t shouting “I’m a Never Trumper!,” it’s fairly clear he comes pretty close, saying things like “Is that who we want to lead our country into the future?” He sees his mission as making the case that we need to go in another direction. As for the multiple indictments, he was very mildly critical of the case against Trump in Georgia, but that’s mainly because, as a former U.S. attorney himself, he thought Georgia should have sat back and let the federal indictments run their course.
  • Another fave moment for me — possibly because I’m still plodding through, but enjoying, Theodore Rex (I just moments ago finished reading about the Perdicaris affair in 1904, which “The Wind and the Lion” was very roughly based on) — was when Caitlin asked him to name his favorite president who was not named Reagan. He picked TR without having to think too hard. So bully for him!
  • Asked about Mitt Romney’s retirement and his copout comment about stepping aside for the “next generation,” Hutchinson — who is three years older than I am — had pretty much the same reaction I did. I didn’t get the whole quote, but he has the same impression of the GOP’s “next generation” that I do. He specifically mentioned Matt Gaetz, so….
  • I could have used a lot more talk about world affairs, beyond his discussion of drug trafficking from south of the border (based on his having headed the DEA — yeah, this is a guy with actual experience in federal government) and some generally positive statements about Ukraine. That is, that he’s for “standing with freedom against oppression.”
  • When Schuyler asked him what non-religious book he had on his bedside table, he said on this trip he’d been reading Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech. Not exactly a book, I guess, but much better reading than anything certain other people have ever tackled.
  • Being in South Carolina, he said some nice things about Nikki Haley. A bit too nice, I thought, when he praised her international experience.
  • On the other hand, I liked what he said about Henry. As you may know, Hutchinson got his bachelor’s degree from Bob Jones University. (Asked why, he said his pastor back in Arkansas had recommended it.) Then, he had intended to get his Juris Doctor from USC Law School, but ended up at the University of Arkansas School of Law. He speculates that had he stayed here, he would be governor of South Carolina, not Henry. I mean, he was just joking around, but it struck me as a fairly pleasant idea.
  • And while I don’t want to completely destroy his already-slim chances, he even sounded a bit like a Democrat a couple of times, for what it’s worth. For instance, he said some folks want to raise the age for receiving Social Security, but he thinks “how about the construction worker,” whose strength is not likely to hold up until 70? Bottom line is, he sounded overall like a center-right pol, from in the non-crazy days when the two parties weren’t all that far apart. In other words, he’s a Republican. And with Mitt Romney, John McCain and Lamar Alexander out of the picture (and Lindsey Graham now living on the far side of Alice’s Looking Glass), that makes him rare.

That’s it for now. I’ll be watching this guy as things progress.

Top Five Gripes About Apple

Years ago, I had no liking for Apple Inc.

I didn’t hate it or anything. I just wasn’t interested. I was a PC guy, and had been since 1991, and therefore had little reason to interact with the opposition. (I had a Mac in the office that I had to use to access the newspaper’s photo archives, because the photo department worked in that universe, but I didn’t like using it at all.)

But then, in (I think) the spring of 2011, I replaced my Blackberry with an iPhone. And I loved it. About a year later, I got an iPad — and if anything, I loved it more.

I still don’t have much use for Macs. They’re very solidly made — PCs feel structurally chintzy by comparison — but some very key functions that I perform without conscious thought on a PC (and have for more than 30 years) don’t work the same way, which slows me down. Also, some of the keys are in a slightly different place, leading to lots of errors. And the errors are hard to quickly fix, because the backspace key is positioned slightly differently.

Never mind that. I love my iPhone and my iPad, and have since the start. What I truly hate is the way Apple keeps changing them, apparently in the grossly mistaken belief that it is improving them.

And sometimes you do get actual improvements — greater speed and storage capacity, a better camera, sharper resolution, etc.

But other times Apple goes out of its way to take away good things, things that make life easier. And I hate that.

Here are the five worst, in terms of lost function on these products. Now, I’ll acknowledge that some of these losses were not inflicted by Apple. Maybe — and with No. 4 on the list, that seems a strong possibility — somebody else did it. And if y’all holler out, “That’s not Apple’s fault, ya eejit! You need to make this or that adjustment in the settings!,” I will be grateful. Here they are:

  1. Taking away the Home button. This was definitely and purely Apple’s fault, and it is by far the greatest sin on my list. And I have not been able to find a good reason for it. Oh, I’ve read about the business of removing a (theoretical, since I’ve never run across it with my four iPhones) mechanical vulnerability. But I suspect it was really about aesthetics, and that really ticks me off. If I want a bigger screen, I’ll use my iPad — which, incidentally, has a home button. Anyway, this is why I use an SE2, and if I replace it, I’ll get an SE3.
  2. Taking away the headphone jack. OK, we just dropped way down in importance. While I consider removing the home button a major offense, this one’s more of a misdemeanor — if that. Usually, it’s OK. Except when the only earbuds I can find is the old kind, and the tiny adaptor has gone missing. Or I don’t have earbuds, and want to use the free ones provided by the airline. Or — and here’s the semi-biggie — I badly need to recharge, but I want to use my earbuds at the same time. That’s one’s kind of moot, now that all sound from my phone goes to my hearing aids via Bluetooth. But it was a problem, and I suppose still is for people with normal hearing. And no, I would not consider investing in Airpods. Without a cord, they’re too easy to lose.
  3. Taking away the “find on page” function. OK, this one has really been ticking me off, because this was a huge part of the way I used my iPhone and iPad. I call up, say, a Wikipedia page that’s a couple of thousand words long, and I use the search function to go straight to what I’m trying to find out. But now, for a couple of months, I’ve had to wait until I’m at my PC to do this. At this point, I would cry out in rage, except, well… NEVER MIND… I finally found out, by searching Google one more time, that they just moved that function from the “share” button to the three dots in the corner. I still think that after this change, they should have prevented my phone from working until I had read a clear notice telling me this, but I’m satisfied. Let’s move on…
  4. Stopping me from tweeting straight from various apps. OK, I strongly suspect the real culprit here is Elon Musk. But since this is only a problem on my Apple devices, it made the list. And when you read as many different publications as I do each day, and tweet frequently, it’s a pain. After writing the tweet on the publication’s app, I get a notice that it has failed to post, and have to go to the Twitter app, call up “drafts,” and tweet it from there. And this, to me, sounds like a Musk thing.
  5. Constantly changing the freaking hardware. Have you heard about this?

Of course it we had an Apple Store in this town (a gripe that didn’t quite fit on this list), I could have taken my phone to the Genius Bar first, and wouldn’t have written this post. Because before posting, I made one more effort to find a workaround for some of these things, and I found one for restoring the home button. Sort of. And without my rage over that one, I wouldn’t have started on this tirade.

But here’s the thing — why should I have to find tricky workarounds for things that worked beautifully, simply, obviously and intuitively?

OK, enough. Bottom line, Apple makes some pretty great products. In fact, I almost had to go with only four things instead of five, because I had trouble thinking of the fifth. And in truth, this is not really a Top Five Gripes. It’s more like Five Gripes. But the feature is called “Top Five Lists,” and you wouldn’t want me to mess with the Hornby rules, would you?





All hail the Flashback quiz! Again!

As I said previously

I only have one beef about it… they’re supposed to be sending me emails to let me know when it comes out, and this week they didn’t. I had to think of it, and go hunt it down.

And then, I slew it!

I confess I have not thoroughly slain it every week since I discovered it. A couple of times there have been two events that I knew happened in something B.C., and I failed to get them in the right order. And this time, I might easily have gotten confused about which of these came first — Althea Gibson winning the U.S. Open, and Ike visiting India — but I didn’t. So there.

I was particularly glad to find it because Slate has made its weekly quiz less accessible. Today I couldn’t even find it. Other days they wanted me to pay for Slate, which I’m not going to do. I pay for too many things already.

Speaking of paying — I hope you try this, because I want to find out whether you have to access to do so. I don’t know what is allowed to nonsubscribers. I hope you can, and that you have fun with it.

Now that I’ve thoroughly boasted and bragged and otherwise enjoyed this one, I’ll sit in dread for the other weekly NYT quiz, which comes out on Fridays, and pretty much always defeats me…

Hey, UAW and Big Three — how about us consumers?

Yep, these are USED. Note that I blocked out the dealer’s name, because it would be unfair to suggest this dealer is the problem. These are quite typical.

You know — the hundreds of millions of people who will be affected by what y’all come up with…

I’m being a little facetious here, but it’s in service of a larger point. So bear with me. Let’s start with the news. And in keeping with my new resolution to link, as often as possible, to things you don’t have to subscription to read or hear, I’ll refer you to NPR:

With less than 24 hours left before current strikes expire, the United Auto Workers’ union and the Detroit Big 3 automakers have not yet reached a deal.

The companies say it’s still possible to work out a viable compromise before 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. The union, meanwhile, has started laying out its strike plan – an unusual one, at that….

Follow the link for the rest.

I’ve been watching this in recent days, while I’ve also been doing something else. My youngest daughter has just moved home from Dominica, and started a new job a week ago. She’s been driving to work in our 1998 Volvo, which, let’s say, is not in what you’d call tip-top condition. So she’s been trying to buy a decent, reliable used vehicle that she can afford. And I’ve been trying — so far unsuccessfully — to help her, which is what made me think to post this about these labor negotiations:

OK, I was kidding there — a little. I’m not asking that the interests of the companies and the workers — be subordinated to Brad’s interests. Anyway, no matter what they do, I expect decent used cars will continue to cost more than I paid the last time I bought a new car. (After all, I’ve only bought used ones since 1986.)

But I was thinking that there’s ONE way for the union and the companies to get everything they want — to jack up prices even further, and by a LOT. And I was thinking there are a LOT more consumers who would be paying for that than there are auto workers or corporate executives combined.

Consider this just another blow struck for thinking about issues in something other than binary, one-and-zeroes terms.

As for the two parties we’re all focusing on… For my part, I’d like to see both sides get what they want, to the extent possible. This country needs a thriving auto industry, and the workers deserve a square deal.

What we don’t need, in my view, is CEO’s making $29 million a year. Nor do we need workers to continue to be paid, for decades, to show up at a plant that’s been shut down, and sit around playing checkers. This is called a “jobs bank,” and after wisely giving them up to keep the industry in business the UAW has recently talked about wanting this arrangement back.

Maybe somewhere in there, y’all can find a way to get what you both actually deserve, and maybe give the rest of us a break, too. Or at least not make the price situation worse.

Anyway, good luck with your confrontation, folks. Here’s hoping that after all the rhetoric and posturing — and probably suffering before it’s all over — you work out something fair to all…

Open Thread for Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The thing that happened in Portugal…

Just a few quick ones here:

  1. An inside account of devastation and survival in the Libya floods — Talk about the last thing you expect in a place like that. It has to feel, to survivors, like the end of the world.
  2. Tim Scott’s girlfriend — An interesting topic, interestingly presented. Sorry that you have to subscribe to The Washington Post to read it, but if it makes you feel better, the story — while interesting — doesn’t tell you much about her. I just mention it to say, it’s fine with me for Sen. Scott to be private about private matters. Any beefs I have with him have to do with other things.
  3. Earth ‘well outside safe operating space for humanity’, scientists find — Just a heads-up. If you’re friends with Ford Prefect, you might want to go find him and get him to activate his Electronic Thumb.
  4. Cascades of red wine flood a city’s streets in Portugal after huge tanks rupture — I don’t enjoy wine as much as I used to, but if there’s ever going to be a flood like this of beer in Bavaria, I want to know ahead of time.
  5. Romney to Retire, Calling for a ‘New Generation’ — Ah, but here’s the problem: Where’s this new generation coming from? In his party, the “new generation” is Matt Gaetz, George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene. So basically, the country needs Romney over on his side, and Joe Biden on the other, to stick around as long as possible, until a few more grownups emerge to run things.
  6. Is math real? And other existential questions — You might want to give this a listen. It’s pretty interesting. And since it’s NPR, it’s free — unlike those NYT podcasts I keep talking about.
  7. The dumbest day in Congress in 2023 was building for a while — In case you can’t tell, this is about something Speaker McCarthy did in Washington yesterday. Bottom line is, don’t expect rational behavior from a guy whose tenure depends upon placating lunatics.  That’s from the Globe; I just liked the headline. Here’s something you might find it easier to read, although it’s more vanilla.

Yeah, I know — not very satisfying. I just wanted to give y’all something. I’ll try to be more thoughtful tomorrow…


I’d mention 9/11 today, but I don’t want to show my age

Hey, remember when this old movie came out? It was the same year the Iraq War started — and yet it was in COLOR!

Yes, you are meant to laugh at that headline. I certainly did, at the thing that made me write it.

I’m not used to laughing right out loud while walking down a quiet street, but this time I did.

Speaking again of NYT podcasts, I’m also fond of Ezra Klein’s programs, and had fallen behind on them. So while walking in the neighborhood a couple of days ago, I listened to this one from Aug. 15: “This Conservative Thinks America’s Institutions ‘Earned’ the G.O.P.’s Distrust.”

It was pretty good, and most of it wasn’t funny. But part of it was.

Remember my recent post about the accelerating acceleration of our sense of time as we grow older? I was trying at that time to remember some examples of the absurd (to me, and what other perspective do I have?) things I hear young people say. I wish I’d had this one to mention.

Ezra was out, and his substitute was Jane Coaston, who is currently the host of a podcast I used to listen to, “The Argument.” And she did fine, until she got to the point of saying something about recent current events.

What she said began with, “I’m old enough to recall the events that led up to the Iraq War…”

I didn’t just laugh out loud when that came through my hearing aids (which Bluetooth allows me to use like earbuds), it was a kind of sharp, piercing sound that carries. I stopped immediately, and glanced about to see if I had any neighbors standing stock-still out in their yards, staring at the demented hyena.

Fortunately, I did not.

When I was listening, I didn’t realize who the substitute interviewer was. When I looked back at the transcript just now to see, I thought I would check out Jane Coaston’s LInkedIn page, and while I don’t know her age, she received her bachelor’s degree in the same year that my newspaper career ended after 35 years. (For the sake of you young folks, that was about four years after I started this blog.)

So the difference in time perception is perfectly understandable. And as I say, she did a fine job overall. But she would have done better not to have expressed the reference to her memory quite that way. Usually people use that rhetorical construction when they mean, “I remember back this far, so you should trust my experience and wisdom.” But what she communicated was, This kid is so young she thinks that was a long time ago…

Anyway, if anyone wants to offer memories of 9/11 today, you could do it here. But beware — if you have personal memories of it, that might make you even older than Jane, and folks may start offering to help you cross the street….

Yes, this is what governors should do

I’ve mentioned before, I think, that one of a number of reasons I enjoy reading The Boston Globe is that it tells stories about serious people dealing with real issues in ways I don’t find morally and intellectually offensive and painful to read.

I saw that in the lede story in the paper a couple of days back, headlined, “Healey tells Biden administration Mass. has ‘desperate need’ for faster work authorizations for migrants.” That was the online headline. As you can see above the print version was shorter — print headlines require greater discipline. There are no space constraints to speak of on a web page.

An excerpt:

Governor Maura Healey on Thursday implored the Biden administration to quickly grant work permits to the thousands of migrants who have overwhelmed the state’s shelter system in recent months.

“The significant influx of new arrivals . . . shows no sign of abating,” Healey wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Massachusetts, she added, faces a “desperate need” for federal funding, changes to federal immigration policy, and, most urgent of all, faster processing of work authorizations for migrants who are legally present in the state’s shelters but not allowed to work.

The firmly worded letter followed an August meeting between Healey and Mayorkas about the state’s escalating migration crisis, which has led the governor to declare a state of emergency and to deploy the National Guard in recent weeks…

Of course. Speed up the work permits. It’s absurd to hold desperate people indefinitely and not let them do what they came here to do: work. Especially when your state needs the workers, as the governor went on to explain in the press release about all this:

“Massachusetts has stepped up to address what has been a federal crisis of inaction many years in the making. Communities, service providers, and our National Guard are going above and beyond to ensure that families arriving in Massachusetts have a safe place to sleep and their basic needs met,” said Governor Healey. “We are grateful to Secretary Mayorkas and his team for meeting with us to hear about the emergency we are facing and the help we need from our federal government. This letter memorializes our requests for additional federal funding and changes to the work authorization process that would support families, reduce the burden on our shelter system, and help us address our state’s workforce needs.”

“Massachusetts is facing twin crises that aren’t unique to our state – we have rapidly rising numbers of migrant families arriving here who want to work but can’t get their work authorizations, and we are facing severe workforce shortages in all industries,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “We have the opportunity to not only address both of these issues, but also to grow our economy and strengthen our communities in the long run. We are hopeful that the federal government will take these requests into serious consideration.”…

Now, I don’t know this Governor Healey at all. Maybe the next 10 things she does and says will be idiotic. But she certainly makes sense on this, in this particular instance. And I’m not used to it. I see too much of governors doing things such as this. Or this.

Immigration is a federal matter. And when the feds aren’t doing the job right, and you’re a governor whose state is being affected, get on them about it, and tell them what you need.

But get on them for the right things. Speeding up the process of letting these folks work is a good place to start.

You don’t wish the migrants hadn’t come, and shake your fist at the heavens — or worse, endanger the lives of people determined to come to America and make a better life. And you don’t ignore the problem. You look for practical ways to address the challenges, and they are indeed many…

A great extended quote from ‘Matter of Opinion’

Y’all may remember that years ago — like, pre-COVID — I happily shared with y’all the fact that I had finally figured out something painfully obvious: that the best time to listen to podcasts, which I had been meaning to do, was during my long walks each day.

Anyway, at the time, I mentioned that one of my favorites up to that point was “The Argument,” a New York Times podcast. In fact, I linked to a specific episode from those days. That program was very good when it featured David Leonhardt, Ross Douthat and Michelle Goldberg. Then those people started falling away from it, and the topics started to be things that didn’t interest me, and I got out of the habit.

I’m only recently discovered an adequate substitute for it. It’s called “Matter of Opinion,” with Michelle Cottle, Ross Douthat, Carlos Lozada and Lydia Polgreen. It has only one former Argument participant — Douthat — but it very much has the same kind of thoughtfulness and intellectual heft that The Argument once had. And it has one other essential ingredient: civility. Here are people who are about as wide apart as you can get on issue after issue, and yet they not only discuss these differences in a civil manner, but they enjoy each other’s company. It’s rather like another NYT feature in that regard: “The Conversation,” featuring Gail Collins and Bret Stephens.

In other words, it offers the kind of vibe I am determined to have on this blog.

Anyway, the most recent one was headlined, “The Woke Burnout Is Real — and Politics Is Catching Up.” I frankly did not fully understand the phrase “woke burnout” at first, partly because it didn’t start with any sort of formal statement of the topic. Who was burned out? The right? The left? And why? (I very much hoped it would be for good reasons.) But I think what is meant is what is said in the subhed, “It’s time to start asking if the culture wars actually matter to voters.”

Then, when I looked at it on my PC — seeking the transcript — I found this intro:

Classrooms have been a key battleground in the so-called woke wars for years now. But could the debate over how schools teach history, race, gender and sexuality be coming to an end?

That explained it.

And part of it was wonderful. Especially when Carlos Lozada said that:

… for the last couple of days I’ve had this deep dread and despair weighing on me, knowing we were going to talk about this. The discussions over woke, and anti-woke, and culture wars are soul sucking to me. I think it’s good to have specific debates over affirmative action in college admissions, the problems with boys, the way we teach history. I mean, that’s terrific. And we’ve had that on this podcast, and we should continue to have it. But when we talk about the culture war, that’s not about debating issues. The culture war is about joining a side. It is about picking a team. And the problem with picking a team in the culture wars is that you inevitably end up with lunatics on your team. And the craziest ones are often the captains of the team. And they may want to go much further than you might want to go.

Carlos Lozada

But you’re on the team, and you don’t want the other side to win. So you end up supporting what the team is defending. So you end up fighting vociferously over things you may not know a lot about. You end up policing language and dogma with the zeal of the convert.

And you end up speaking not just for yourself, but for this amorphous community that never necessarily granted you the rights to speak for it. There’s so many great writers and thinkers who get baited into this, and then they have difficulty writing about anything else because they’re no longer making an argument or exploring an issue. They are defending turf.

The irony of the culture war is that the purpose of the war is not to win it. It is to continue to wage it. You are never going to hear a culture war activist saying, you know what? The cause is won. The fight is over. Let’s close up shop. I don’t need any more funding. It’s like a business lobbyist saying, our profits are pretty healthy. I don’t need more loopholes in the tax code. That’s not a thing that happens in a culture war. The fight is never over. The stakes are always rising. There’s a new front, a new trench you have to dig, a new hill you have to die on.

And it becomes a reason for being. It becomes your emotional, and your financial, and your intellectual sustenance. And that’s why I limit the amount of time I write about this or think about this because it is incredibly frustrating to me…

I heard all that as I was arriving back at my house from a walk, so I didn’t hear the rest of the podcast. I need to go back and do so, but there are so many things in the world I keep saying that I need to go back and do that I may not.

But before this fades from my memory, I wanted to share with you what Lozada said. Almost every line of it is a view I deeply hold, and it goes to the heart of why I say so many things I say on this blog. In fact, these ideas are pretty central to why the blog exists. So I wanted to make sure I shared them with you, before I move on to the next subject…

This situation is wrong, and dangerous for the world

You might have expected a picture of Elon Musk, but here’s another guy…

A few months ago, when everyone was having a cow over Elon Musk buying Twitter — and that’s what we call it, Twitter — I didn’t say a lot. I figured as long as it kept functioning, that was good, and we would see.

Also, I didn’t want to write anything about Elon Musk, in part because I think he enjoys having people write about him.

But in recent days, prompted by a gradual awakening I see out there among major media, I’ve been reading and hearing more about Starlink… and about other things. I had just mentioned that again, in an Open Thread on Thursday, when I saw more on the same subject, and tweeted this:

This is no longer about some social medium I enjoy but we can all live without, or absurdly expensive electric cars, or even (more seriously) our nation’s increasing dependence upon Space X. This is about national security. It is about whether Vladimir Putin will succeed in crushing a neighboring country into nonexistence, or be stopped by the collective efforts of NATO, the United States, and the brave people of Ukraine.

And that cannot be allowed to hang on the flighty moods of one demonstrably unstable man, who likes to buddy up to Putin, and is entangled with the oppressive Chinese regime.

But what, you ask, are we to do? The guy OWNS most of the satellites in space, so our hands are tied, right? No. Sometimes a nation realizes that there are more important considerations than private ownership of … land, railroads, oil, coal mines, satellites, or whatever.

I point to the trust-busting steps taken by Theodore Roosevelt and others in response to the ill effects of J.P. Morgan and others (such as Mr. E. H. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad) owning too many things of critical national importance.

I don’t want to kick off another big ideological argument about wealth between the social democrats and the Ayn Randians. I’m a pragmatist. I’m a guy who has no problem with the “billionayuhs” Bernie likes to rant about. In a free country, some people will always have more money than other people.

Aside from that, J.P. Morgan did a lot for this country, and the world. In the First World War, he kept the Allies afloat until this country could shake off its usual habitual isolationism.

But sometimes, a trust just needs bustin’. Seriously, folks — Teddy Roosevelt got along fine with J.P. Morgan much of the time. T.R. was no Marxist. He was a rich guy, who was comfortable with other rich guys. But when a different course was needed for the sake of the nation, he went that way.

This world isn’t about following absolute, ideological precepts. (Or, as I like to say, ones and zeroes.) It’s about looking at a situation, and deciding what would make it better. And this situation isn’t about an immature man wanting to call Twitter something other than what it is. Lives are at stake. Something needs to be done.

Yeah, I was wondering about Lindsey…

When Trump and 18 others were indicted in Atlanta, I immediately wondered, “Where’s Lindsey Graham’s name?”

After all, remember all that fuss about him being subpoenaed to testify over there, and before that, his calls to Brad Raffensberger? I mean, after Trump himself, I sort of expected him to be the next guy on prosecutors’ list. Or maybe third, after Rudy.

Well, now we get some of the story:

ATLANTA — An Atlanta-area special grand jury that spent months investigating alleged 2020 election interference in Georgia by Donald Trump and his allies agreed that the former president should be indicted in the case and also recommended charging one of Trump’s closest associates, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), and 37 other people — a far larger group than a prosecutor ultimately charged.

The recommendations were contained in a 26-page final report presented in January to Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) and made public by a judge Friday….

The document offered some rare insight into parts of an investigation typically marked by secrecy — not just on those who were indicted but also those who weren’t. But the report, which is not legally binding, does not include the evidence or reasoning behind the grand jury’s thinking, though testimony transcripts and evidence are likely to emerge as part of the criminal proceedings against those who were ultimately charged in the case….

I wonder why they didn’t press charges against Lindsey…

Here are 9 things I prefer to watch. How about you?

This image was under the headline. It’s not nice to call people ‘things.’ Anyway, there are only 5…

By now, you know from all the unending coverage that this is an election year, and a biggie.

Except that it isn’t. The election everyone is so worked up about is next year — in fact, at the end of next year, And the result will depend — to the extent that it is influenced by reality in any way — will depend on what’s happening then, now what’s happening now.

So, when The Washington Post wanted me to read something headlined, “9 things to watch as the 2024 presidential campaign heats up,” I responded this way:

Here are my 9:

1. My grandchildren

2. The seasons changing

3. The AL playoffs

4. The NL playoffs

5. The World Series

6. The last 3 next year, too

7. Detective shows on Britbox

8. My diet and workout routine

9. Pretty much anything but football.

I didn’t have room to elaborate, because that used all 280 characters that Twitter allows.

If I’d had more room, I would have of course mentioned my kids and all the other people with whom I choose to spend most of my time. They’re all way more interesting, and enjoyable, than, say, Vivek Ramaswamy. And I’d have explained that I don’t just watch English murder mysteries. I also enjoy Scottish, Welsh, Swedish, German and French detective shows. And I would have mentioned books, but you don’t “watch” books; you read them. And I’d have put quotes around “diet and workout routine,” to be more honest about it. But there just wasn’t room.

Anyway, what are your favorite things to watch rather than campaigns for next year’s presidential election?


Going by my family tree, I must be getting old…

Why did I write that post about time moving so much faster as we age? Well, I’ve been thinking lately about writing more often about that phenomenon. I mean about aging, not time. So that was an initial installment, I guess.

You can ignore them, if you prefer. I write posts such as this one mostly for my kids and grandkids, assuming the posts are still available if and when they wonder about these things. (Which may be a lot to assume.)

One thing that has put this stuff more on my mind lately is that a couple of weeks before I wrote that, I realized I had now outlived three of my four grandparents.

I had been anticipating this one. That’s because a couple of years back, I passed my maternal grandfather. That one sort of snuck up on me. I had long been used to the knowledge that I had outlived my maternal grandmother. She died when she was only 61. I was 15 at the time, so it was a lot of years before I realized how shockingly early that was.

At that point, I was shaken by the loss, but I also tended to think, Well, grandparents are really old, right? So I guess we have to accept that this might happen.

Then, in September 2021, it hit me that just a few days before, I had passed my Mom’s father as well. Both had died earlier than you would have expected, after medical incidents that one might normally expect to have gone much better than they did — especially today. Their deaths were far from inevitable, under the conditions. They did not “die of old age.”

To ease the formality… I called them “Nana” and “Pop,” and I was still a kid when we lost them. Their names were Nathalie Smith Pace and Walker Heyward Collins.

After I realized I had passed Pop, I checked the family tree and saw the date was not far off when I would pass my paternal grandfather, Gerald Harvey Warthen. He died on July 10, 1958, a couple of months short of his 70th birthday, when I was 4. (Yes, those grandparents were a good bit older than the other set. My Dad was the youngest of five.)

And now, I will reach the threescore-and-ten mark in less than… four weeks. So, another milestone.

I should point out that Granddad Warthen should have lived longer, too. He had lung cancer, which is not surprising when you see how many pictures we have of him with a cigarette, a cigar or a pipe. I was an accomplice in this. I remember him taking me on walks to a nearby shop and buying me candy cigarettes when he bought his real ones. I very much enjoyed them, but I would have much more enjoyed having my grandfather around while I was growing up.

My paternal Grandma, Mary Shiland Bradley, lived to the age of 95. That’s a high bar to reach for, and beyond most people’s expectations. Of course, my Dad lived to just short of turning 93, and my Mom is 92, and much healthier than Dad had been for several years at that age.

No sense making predictions, though. I could check out before I finish this post. If you’re reading it, though, I guess I didn’t.

But I am trying, in fits and starts, to make better use of each day. That’s a struggle for me, as it was when I was in my 20s. I am known to my intimates as being bad at quite a few things, and one of them is time management…

Open Thread for Thursday, September 7, 2023

Several things from recent days:

  1. Elon Musk’s Shadow Rule — Remember how I told you that 4,500 of the 8,000 satellites orbiting the Earth at this moment belong to Elon Musk? And that the web access his Starlink network makes possible saved Ukraine’s bacon early on in the present war? Only, the Ukrainians stay nervous because Elon is way ambivalent about wanting to keep helping? Well, if you can possibly read, or listen to, this story, you need to. (I’m never sure how many things, if any, nonsubscribers are allowed to read.) It’s a more extended piece, by Ronan Farrow, that provides a kind of scary picture of this guy that so many people on this planet are now depending on.
  2. Ukrainians Embrace Cluster Munitions, but Are They Helping? — And while we’re at it, how about those depleted uranium shells, which are so effective at penetrating those tanks the Russians keep throwing at them? Oh, the answer to that question in the headline is, that they’re no magic wand, “but some Ukrainian troops say they are making a difference in fighting Russian forces.”
  3. Mysterious ‘skin-like’ golden orb found on ocean floor off Alaska coast — This was weird. To me, it looks human-made — like a broken Christmas tree decoration. But scientists seem to think it’s natural. See the picture above. And here’s a video.
  4. American conservatives are not more Catholic than the pope — I just shared this because that headline made me tweet, “Isn’t it bizarre that we live in a world so messed up that someone would feel the need to say that?” Unfortunately, we do.
  5. The sexually explicit welcome-to-NC State package — This was interesting to me because you know how right-wing groups are always complaining that the “liberal media” are suppressing news that would support the right’s perception of things? This may be a case of that, sort of. I got this in an email from such a group, and went looking for actual news stories about it, all I found was some local TV news coverage. I don’t know for sure what happened. I only know we didn’t get packages like that when I started college. But you could go into the drug store at Cornell Arms and buy products that said, “Our Cocks are Always Game.”
  6. What about that Burning Man thing? — My daughter wanted to go to Burning Man, but it didn’t work out. Her good friend of many years did go, and has told her the coverage of all the problems was ridiculous; she had no trouble leaving. I’m glad to hear it. But what I want to ask y’all is, have any of y’all been to anything like this? And why? I’m pretty sure that from the moment I arrived at something like this, even if everything went as planned, I’d feel trapped, and want to go home. A big mass of people? Outside? I don’t think so.

It’s Twitter, so let’s just call it that

OK, I’ve had it with the stupid phrase. Some examples:

Thank you for that last one. I appreciate the explanation. I understand. The AP says write it this way, so all journalists do. If you search for the exact phrase “formerly known as Twitter” on Google, you get 123,000 hits. (Actually, that’s what you get under the subheading “News,” which is the way I usually search. If you switch to “All,” you get 6,190,000.)

What is this, the 1980s, when we had to endure “the artist formerly known as Prince” over and over and over on MTV? Until Logo. Hollow circle above downward arrow crossed with a curlicued horn-shaped symbol and then a short bar  finally decided to be sensible and went back to “Prince,” which I actually did not expect him to do, but appreciated.

I don’t expect Elon Musk to come to his senses, either. Maybe he will, even though he seems to be even less grounded than Prince. I just listened to an audio version of Ronan Farrow’s piece about him in The New Yorker. Yikes.

So let’s just call it what it is — Twitter. Or, since it’s officially been stripped of its name, maybe just twitter. That way, we can use it in Scrabble. No more proper name. Just people calling a thing what it is.

“X” does have one slight advantage over the Prince symbol. At least you can say it. That was the challenge facing those veejays back in the ”80s — they had to say it, and the new “name” couldn’t be said. But although you can say it, “X” is not a name. It’s the negation of a name. Brand X. The thing illiterates scrawl when they can’t write their, you know, names.

Why do people have to write “formerly known as Twitter” after “X?” Because “X” is meaningless, and does not communicate what you are attempting to identify to a reader. You have to explain it. It would be nice to do it more honestly. Just call it “Twitter,” or “twitter,” or if you feel somehow obligated to obey Musk, write “X (Twitter).”

Or how about “Twitter, which one guy on the planet calls X?”

People who use it every day have to call it something. We are a verbalizing species.

So let’s call it what we know it to be: Twitter.

Top 17 Best Songs (With Parentheses in the Titles)

What, indeed, IS so funny ’bout it?

I was trying to clean out my email a few days ago, but got distracted by this fun item the NYT was promoting. (Seems like the Times is just going out of its way to tempt me away from actual work these days, huh? First Wordle, then Spelling Bee, then this thing I had written about the same day I saw this…)

The Times called it “13 (great) songs with parenthetical titles.” Of course, it’s a rather silly category. One song with parentheses has nothing in common with other songs with parentheses, aside from that punctuational quirk. All it tells you is that the songwriter was engaging in an affectation, trying to say, Look, I’m deep. This song is written on multiple levels — including parenthetical!

Of course, I had to step in and correct it — narrowing the list to those that are actually good, if not necessarily great, and then expanding it to bring in equally good songs that the NYT left out. The proper thing to do then, of course, would have been to whittle the result down to a true Top Five list, but I didn’t want to spend days on the silly thing.

So here’s my Top 16 Best Songs (With Parentheses in the Titles). They aren’t in order with the best at the top, or anything. The first six are from the NYT list, the other 10 are ones I added. You may offer whatever suggestions occur to you:

  1. (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” — I agree to include this with mixed feelings. I love the song — it’s one that truly does rise to “great” — and let always feel kind of ignorant and out of it because for many years, this somewhat uncharacteristic number was all I knew about Otis Redding, the man who really knew HOW to express a lack of Satisfaction. I am wiser now.
  2. I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” — I agreed on this one, if only to give a nod to the late Meat Loaf, to make up for the fact that this is one of only two songs of his (the other being…) I can recall. And it really is a pretty decent song.
  3. (You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman” — The NYT was confused, citing the Aretha Franklin version. But I’m not as big a fan of Aretha as lots of other folks are, and so I prefer Otis Reading’s version of “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” And on this, I have to give the credit to the woman who actually wrote the song, Carole King.
  4. It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It)” — This is far — very, very far — from bring among the Rolling Stones’ greatest songs, but it meets the criterion, and they’re the greatest rock and roll band in the world, so let’s include it.
  5. It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” — Not only the best R.E.M. song, but probably the best use of parentheses on the NYT list.
  6. I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” — A weaker use of parentheses than, say, R.E.M.’s, but a nice song, and it’s nice to contemplate something from when that lovely young woman was so full of promise, before her life started falling apart.
  7. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” — This is a slight correction to the NYT list, which mistakenly chose “I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Have Never Met).” To its credit, that list also mention this one, and “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later).” That third one — the one from Blonde on Blonde (What? You don’t have Blonde on Blonde?), is the best song of the three. But “It’s Alright, Ma” is the one with the punchiest use of parentheses.
  8. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” — My fave of all of these. It’s an enigma: How can it sound like the quintessential Elvis Costello song when Nick Lowe wrote it? And how could the NYT have left it out?
  9. December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” —  Yeah, what you thought was the title is completely contained in the parentheses. This is Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons being… I don’t know what.
  10. Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)” — Another of mine, as a way of getting a South Carolina band on the list. I lived in New Orleans when this was first big, and it was years before I knew that it and I were born in the same place.
  11. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper” — Of course, we need to hear it through the SNL skit.
  12. Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)” I threw in this one because it is my considered opinion that Randy Newman doesn’t get enough attention. He would probably agree. And it comes from a truly great album that you will never heard fully played on the radio because, you know. It’s a shame “Louisiana 1927” didn’t have some parentheses.
  13. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” — Maybe the person who compiled the NYT list isn’t old enough to remember Kenny Rogers & the First Edition playing it on a variety show, back when those existed.
  14. She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)” — You have to be in a certain sort of mood, I suppose, to enjoy Jerry Reed. I include this in case you’ve feeling that way. I’m not…
  15. Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” — This Loretta Lynn number is probably the one item on this list that is truly a classic.
  16. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” — You thought I was going to forget the Fab Four? Perish the thought.

I miss the whited sepulchers

Of course, ol’ St, Jerome would be unhappy that we’re not using his Latin version…

You know, I appreciate the efforts of various people to make Holy Scripture accessible to modern people. I do; it’s a noble motivation.

But sometimes it just leaves me flat, and I regret the poetry that has been lost.

Here is the opening of today’s Gospel reading, in the Catholic Church’s official New American Bible:

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing….

I’m not trying to make any theological point, much less a political one. In fact, as I suggested above, I suppose the correct theological point is to make the Word more accessible.

But it does bother me a little to imagine future generations missing out on the old wording. It survived to be a secular cliche because it had a certain power to it. You call somebody a “whited sepulcher,” and most people with even a modicum of cultural education will get it.

So for fun, and to gratify the esthetic part of the soul, here’s the old King James version (you know, the Protestant version):

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity…

Meanwhile, I’ll sit here and worry about the editors of the next edition of the NAB deciding to ditch “Woe to you…” because it “sounds like Yoda or something…”

I mean, they already got rid of the “unto”…


Open Thread for Tuesday, August 29, 2023

What the…?

A few things I’ve run across…

  1. The universe poses a question — Have you heard about the question mark in space? Since it’s oriented so as to be readable on our planet, I sort of expect it won’t be long before a “WTF” appears to the left of it. News of how messed up we are has apparently spread across the galaxy. In case you can’t read the NYT version I linked to, try the NPR version.
  2. Record 14-foot monster alligator caught in Mississippi — In case you thought you were wrestling with some messy problems… This sucker weighed 802.5 pounds. Lately, we’ve been reading a good bit about “Proud Boys.” Well, I suppose you could say this is a picture of some proud boys of the generic kind…
  3. Sorry to hear the news about Tough Guy Bob Barker — I held back from posting the first thing that occurred to me when I got the news — his famous scene in “Happy Gilmore.” But then after that, The Washington Post did a whole story just about that — which I very much enjoyed. It told how Bob insisted on doing his own stunts, because his neighbor Chuck Norris had been coaching him. Much later, he supposedly told Rob Schneider, “I moved to Hollywood to be an actor, and the only person who ever let me do it was Adam Sandler!” Well, he took his shot, and scored. Watch the full fight scene here.
  4. Idalia expected to dump half-foot of rain on us — Yeah, like we needed that. And oh yes, it’s now a hurricane. I need to find us some good news…
  5. Watch ‘Breaking Away’ for free! — And here it is! This is to make up for all the things I link to that require subscriptions. I just discovered that YouTube is showing it for free! If you’ve never seen it, go watch it right now — subito! (As the protagonist would say — I think.) I already gave Scott Hogan a heads-up via twitter. He was our campaign manager back in 2018, and he’s from Bloomington, making him the only actual Cutter I know.
  6. Joe moves to cut some drug prices — Even better news. You go, Joe! I need to tell my wife he’s going after Eliquis, which she’s had to take since her mini-strokes, and the price on it is absurd. The link above is to The Guardian, which is free to read. Let’s see if they managed to write about it without a tone of disbelief at the problems we have over here paying for basic medical care…


Hey, this is Civility Month. Who could tell, huh?

Check out those dates. We’ve been discussing this for awhile, eh?

Hey, did ya know this was National Civility Month? Here it is almost over, and I didn’t know until this morning. Here’s what it’s about:

People being civil to other people is what makes the world a whole lot better and is the key focus of National Civility Month, which is held in August each year. This holiday was founded to help the world remember to treat others the way we wish to be treated ourselves — with kindness, empathy, and respect. This month follows a common theme like other similar awareness months centered around civility, including National Win With Civility Month, International Civility Awareness Month, and more.

It appears to have escaped the attention of some of my readers as well. I just looked at the latest 10 comments awaiting moderation, and only approved one of them. I think maybe that’s a record. Just not one worth celebrating.

Of course, it “helped” that four of them were from our old friend SDII, using his latest pseudonym (I think — I’m not going to take the trouble to try to trace it back). He knows I’m not going to approve his comments, so they’ve gotten increasingly gross and obscene. Which doesn’t matter, since I trash them as soon as I see them, but he’s been unusually active lately.

The rest were from folks I’ve recently tried for about the thousandth time to engage regarding what this month was supposed to be about, explaining why I had not approved previous comments of theirs. Their responses essentially amounted to a middle finger raised high, so I guess I only succeeded in irritating them.

I’ll stop doing that, going forward. From this moment on, I’m just going to approve comments that add to the blog without dissing others here. Beyond that, things that don’t create a drip, drip, drip of negativity that makes the comments section a drag for others to read.

And what sorts of comments meet that standard? Well, here are some people I’ve never had reason to disapprove (Or rather, almost never. Occasionally, they’ve been dragged into scuffles with other folks, and I’ve just trashed the whole conversation.) The first few who come to mind, in alphabetical order:

  1. Phillip Bush
  2. Bryan Caskey
  3. Dave Crockett
  4. James Edward Cross
  5. Paul DeMarco
  6. Ralph Hightower
  7. Sally Huguley
  8. Norm Ivey
  9. Mark Stewart
  10. Clark Surratt
  11. Lynn Teague

OK, now: I hope those 12 won’t mind being named. If anyone does, I’ll remove you from the list. And no one who isn’t on the list should resent it. I was just choosing among people who’ve made civil contributions in the recent past, and have done so regularly over the years, and have used their full names.

For instance, I was delighted to hear from “Scout” recently. It had been awhile, and I hope she resumes regular participation. But I didn’t include her, since she uses a pseudonym. Of course, there are quite a few people who identify themselves fully and accurately, but haven’t commented lately. I’m afraid some of those were run off by the finger-flipping folk. People get tired of reading that stuff, very quickly.

Why provide a list at all? Well, I thought it better to celebrate the good than pick on those who fall short. Also, the finger-flippers who insist on believing that the standard is “you have to agree with that stupid jerk Brad” will be able to see that’s not true. Actually, I’m almost certain (after all this time) that they won’t see it, but they will have the opportunity.

Note that I provided a link to one comment from each of those folks. There’s nothing particularly special about those comments — it’s not a “greatest hits” list. I just looked for something reasonably, thoughtful (some agreeing with me or someone else, others not) and particularly ones that added something that wouldn’t have been here otherwise. And I did it very quickly.

And now, on to other things.

America finally has its long-awaited mug shot

From the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

Well, here it is.

Note that after the NYT reported that his cohorts were smiling brightly in theirs, Trump rejected that sissy notion, opting to go full surly thug. By comparison, Al Capone was Mr. Sunshine.

No orange jumpsuit, but a mug shot.

See what I meant about Trump knowing how to upstage a dumb ol’ debate?