Category Archives: Blogosphere

News that has broken today, June 26, 2024

So… where’s the astronaut? See item 4. This is from the

I just got tired of saying, “Open Thread.” But to be true to the headline, I’ll try to stick to things that either happened, or I read or heard about, today:

  1. SCOTUS rules for Biden administration in a social media dispute with red states — I didn’t realize this was actually before our nation’s highest court. I had heard about the nonsense, though, on the podcast Hard Fork, I think. As I recall, somebody saw oppression, or something, in the fact that some social media outlets have rules against disinformation, and some people with the government had notifed the sites about disinformation that they might want to look at. That was the big conspiracy. The court gave the claim the heave-ho. Good.
  2. Assange Agrees to Plead Guilty in Exchange for Release — OK, so this broke earlier, but I was reminded today after he got home to Australia. Lucky Australia. As much as I might dislike seeing this guy leave custody, I’m happy that he admitted that what he did was a crime (watch; he’ll say he didn’t), and that he’s left Britain. Because I’m going there soon, and I’d just rather not even hear about him. But justice required that he plead that way, because to quote Doonesbury, well, see the image below… I actually have that book, somewhere.
  3. Bolivian Military Tries to Storm President’s Palace in Apparent Coup Attempt — Well, I suppose they should be applauded, because that Morales has got to go. No, wait. Morales has been out for five years. I didn’t realize. I’ve really got to do a better job of keeping up with Latin America, especially the Andean countries, since I used to live in one…
  4. China Becomes First Country to Retrieve Rocks From the Moon’s Far Side — Hey, way to go, China. Boldly picking up rocks where no man has picked up rocks before. Speaking of men, show us a picture of the guy you sent there to pick them up…
  5. Jamaal Bowman’s Loss — Fitting. The one bad thing about it is that his loss brings the Squad back into the public spotlight, if only momentarily. It’s been awhile. I didn’t even know any dudes had been admitted…
  6. France’s Far Right at the Gates of Power — This was The Daily today. Very interesting, although listening to a breakdown of current politics in France… or Britain… or the United States, for that matter… can be kind of creepy these days. Y’all keeping up with that? I’m trying to. I don’t want another Morales situation on my hands. Oh, yeah — I’ll be in France soon, too. More about that later…
  7. Jason Guerry to face Russell Ott — You probably didn’t pay any more attention to this than I’ve been paying to Bolivia, but I sort of kept an eye on this runoff because I’m hopeful for Russell, and because my neighbor across the street was a big supporter of Guerry’s oppponent, Chris Smith. Can’t say I know much about Guerry beyond the fact that he’s married to the Lexington County Register of Deeds. And wait — I just realized, he’s the son of former Lexington County Councilman Art Guerry. Anyway, maybe we’ll hear more from him now that he’s not overshadowed by the more interesting Ott-Harpootlian contest. Not that local media exactly set the world on fire covering that




DeMarco: The Night I Was Jewish

The Op-Ed Page

By Paul V. DeMarco
Guest Columnist

My experience with injustice has, fortunately, never been personal. I’m a white, married, straight man who attends a Protestant church, so no one has ever denied me a seat at any table because of who I was. I was born in New York, but when I was 7 years old, my family moved to Charleston, where I entered second grade. It didn’t take me long to understand that not everyone was accepted as readily or treated as well as I was. Racism was easy for even a child to spot. When I was taken shopping at Belk, I saw a cross-section of the community that was missing in my neighborhood, school, and church.

I’m not sure when I first became aware of anti-Semitism. I would guess I learned about it in middle school when we studied the Holocaust. I had the advantage of attending a private school during the 1970s that had a substantial population of Jewish students. I was impressed by the discipline of some of my Jewish friends, who after a full day of regular school then attended Hebrew school. One Orthodox classmate once showed up late for an extracurricular meeting on a Saturday morning. “Sorry, I’m late,” he said sheepishly, “But I had to walk.” (Orthodox Jews are not permitted to drive or ride in cars on the Sabbath). I do remember occasionally hearing my classmates make comments disparaging Jews, but these were few and far between. I think it’s fair to say that my Jewish friends felt safe and respected at our school, although not necessarily celebrated. I graduated from high school feeling that Jews my age would have essentially the same opportunities I had.

In December of 1982, during my second year in college, that belief was challenged. I attended a debutante ball at a South Carolina country club with the woman who would eventually become my wife. I didn’t know most of the other guests, so I made many introductions. When curious partygoers asked from whence I came, I proudly told them “Brooklyn.” Some of the members of the club left our conversations worried that this loud kid from Brooklyn with the big nose and olive skin might be Jewish (I’m actually Sicilian). Jews, of course, were prohibited from being members.

The next day, my future mother-in-law told me that questions about my origin had gotten back to her. She had assured all those worried that a Jew might have polluted the WASP-y ballroom atmosphere that, no, I wasn’t Jewish. However, since then, I generally respond to the question “Where are you from?” (which in the South means “Where were you born?”) with a dodge. I tell people I was raised in Charleston, which is better received from those who might harbor misgivings about Yankees or Jews.

Jews (and, of course, blacks) were not welcome at many Southern private clubs until recently. For example, Forest Lake Country Club in Columbia, which was founded in 1923 and counts Governor Henry McMaster as one of its members, did not admit its first black member until 2017.

I’ve been revisiting my debutante experience as anti-Semitism has resurfaced around the war in Gaza. My naïve sense prior to October 7th was that the anti-Semitism that I encountered in 1982 had gradually atrophied to the point where it would continue to decline and die. But sadly, anti-Semitism seems impervious – it’s like the fungal spores that can lie dormant in the earth for years only to spring to life as a carpet of mushrooms in favorable conditions.

My one night as a Jew has helped me form my current opinion of the conflict in Gaza. First, Israel must continue to exist. Second, Palestinians must also have their own state and the right of self-determination.

I fully support the rights of those who protest peacefully in support of the Palestinians and against the war which is killing so many civilians. Before the war there was already growing opposition to the Netanyahu government. Netanyahu’s provocative policies such as settlement expansion, the killing of Palestinian demonstrators, and restrictions on Palestinian trade and freedom of movement were staunchly opposed by many in Israel and the United States.

But what hasn’t come across in any protests I have seen is any sense of shame or regret for Hamas’ brutality on October 7th, not to mention years of suicide bombings, indiscriminate rocket fire, or their grotesque tactic of using their own people as human shields.

Despite our hope for peace and justice for the Palestinians, most Americans rightly find it impossible to be sympathetic toward Hamas. The attack on October 7th will surely be one of the most evil acts of my lifetime. The barbarity of invading homes, of meticulously killing entire families, and of raping and mutilating the victims, is some of the most base behavior of which humans are capable. No one should cheer for this.

The key to many successful protest movements is their ability to find and elevate principled, sacrificial leaders. The Bible provides examples in Moses and Jesus. More recent examples include Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela. Neither Netanyahu nor the Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, fit this mold. The current conflict cannot be resolved until both the Palestinians and the Israelis elect new and better leaders. That is a rallying cry that would unite campus protesters from both sides and point toward a solution.

A version of this column appeared in the May 16th, 2024, edition of the Post and Courier-Pee Dee.

I just liked the cartoon…

This made me smile this morning, so I thought I’d share it:

What’s the Tweet for? I dunno. It’s an ad for a site that has something to do with medical information and AI. I clicked on the link, but wasn’t interested.

I just liked the cartoon…

I’ve ditched the registration requirement. See if that helps.

I’ve been hearing from a lot of you the last few days that you’re having trouble commenting.

Well, that might be because I turned on something in the settings of the blog that said, “Users must be registered and logged in to comment.” I happened to find it while trying to solve a separate problem identified by an alert reader — the whole comment function was being turned off on many posts. And I think I fixed that.

Having found the registration thing, I tried it because I wanted to see what would happen. What happened was that almost everybody had a problem commenting at all. So I just turned it off. Let me know what happens now.

As to what happens to comments going forward… well, perhaps this is a good time to say I’m right at the point where something is going to change soon, and it will not be accidental. I’ve written a lot over the years, and earlier this year, on the fact that I’m dissatisfied with the quality of discussion on this blog. It’s nowhere near as interesting, and certainly not as constructively engaging, as it was in the past. Maybe it’s me and maybe it’s you, but I think a lot of it is the nation’s Rabbit Hole problem — our whole society has largely forgotten how to engage in civil discourse with people with whom they disagree.

But a lot of it is on me, because I don’t post as much — or at all, some weeks. That’s mainly because I find it hard to find the time. But maybe I’d try a lot harder to find it if the discussions that resulted were more worthwhile, as they once were — and occasionally still are. Which is cause and which is effect? Did the chicken or the egg come first? I dunno. I’m allergic to both chicken and egg, so…

Anyway, I hope I have solved the immediate problem…

Sorry if you’re were frustrated….

OK, I give up. How do I exile Yahoo from Chrome PERMANENTLY?

… which is not what I wanted to KNOW!…

Yahoo search engine is to me what Mexicans are to a Trump supporter. I want to deport it, and make sure it NEVER sneaks back in.

But whenever I try to find out how to do that, all I can find is simple instructions telling me how to switch the Chrome default browser back to Google, and then remove Yahoo from the options.

What am I, an idiot? (And despite that opening, I won’t let you get abusive in comments.) I freaking know how to do that! I’ve done it maybe 15 times now in recent months. And yeah, it always works — at first. But within days, the usurper is back on Google’s throne, and in its own castle — Chrome! That’s like a random Mexican guy crossing the Rio and making himself POTUS (which would not be good, but of course, better than having Trump).

I keep searching, with different wording in the search field. They keep giving me the same instructions I’ve encountered and so many times before.

Do y’all have any good advice to share?

(Yes, I’ll get to your comments and post something new soon, but right now I’m ticked off about this.)

My Broken United Methodist Heart

The Op-Ed Page

By Paul V. DeMarco
Guest Columnist

I was driving towards Johnsonville from Marion on a recent Sunday to make a home visit and had to make a detour because of a wreck on the Highway 378 bridge. The glory of the early spring afternoon mitigated the inconvenience and took me to parts of the Pee Dee I had never travelled. As I passed Good Hope United Methodist Church in Hemingway, an irregularity in the large marble sign in front caught my eye. I circled back and parked to investigate. The word “United” had been covered over with duct tape. (See image below.)

This, sadly, was not the work of a prankster. It was an indication of the schism that is dividing the United Methodist Church (UMC). Like many denominations, we have struggled with the role of the LGBTQ community in the church. After years of discussion by our leadership and in local congregations, the break has finally come. Those churches who are unwilling to see LGBTQ people as full human beings, able to be ordained and to marry each other, are leaving. Many are joining a new conservative denomination, the Global Methodist Church. Others will remain independent or join older denominations with similar views about homosexuality. But whatever road they choose, they have given up on the United Methodist experiment that began in 1968.

I passed two other small, formerly United Methodist Churches on my detour back to Johnsonville, Ebenezer and Old Johnsonville, both of which are disaffiliating from the UMC. They had both removed the “United” from their premises, the former by pulling metal letters out of its brick sign, the latter by painting over the offending adjective.

Disaffiliating pastors and members commonly cite the half-dozen biblical verses that pertain to homosexuality as their reason for leaving. But we in the UMC have for decades routinely ignored biblical teachings about the role of women, adultery, and slavery, among other topics. Our Southern Baptist brethren interpret the Bible such that it excludes women from the pulpit. We in the UMC treat women as equals and allow them full access to roles as ministers and bishops. Disregard of verses such as those that condemn adulterers to death (e.g., Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22) and verses that condone slavery (e.g., Exodus 21:20-21) is standard practice in the UMC.

The Bible is a big, complicated book which is often contradictory. Every denomination and all Christians must use their best judgment when interpreting scripture. It is therefore disheartening and surprising that so many churches would use such scant scriptural logic to split the church. But an astounding number have. Nationwide, the UMC is losing about 25% of its churches (roughly 7,500 out of 30,000). Most heartbreaking to me is the trapping of good friends of mine in unwelcoming churches. I’ve been shocked by the good people I know who have voted to leave, including a friend I greatly admire.

She is a beautiful human being, one of those people who treats everyone with genuine respect no matter who they are. I have seen her work with the very poorest and the very richest, and with people of all races, religions, and sexual orientations. She treats them all with the dignity they deserve.

I knew she had worked with many LGBTQ patients with full acceptance, so I asked her if she would be willing to talk with me about her decision to leave. She agreed, as I knew she would.

It was a quiet, deep conversation between a Christian brother and sister struggling to discern God’s will. She told me that she was deeply ambivalent about the decision, and that it had moved her to tears. She has gay members of her extended family that she loves. Her congregation includes a family with adult gay siblings. The vote to leave the church was unanimous except for the siblings and their mother. She knew that she would likely never see them again in church, which was upsetting to her.

When I asked her why she voted to leave, she expressed some fears. She mentioned a fear of extremists in the UMC leadership moving the church in a direction that was counter to her understanding of the Bible. She raised the possibility of a cross-dressing or transgender minister as something she could not tolerate.

She mentioned her teenage son and conversations they had had about LGBTQ people. He was accepting of his gay friends and relatives. My friend said without hesitation that if her son turned out to be gay, she would be unconditionally supportive of him. “I know that’s true,” I responded. She is such an open, loving mother that a gay child would be blessed to have her as a parent. “But,” I said, “now you have guaranteed that you will not be able to show that love to a gay member of your church.” We were silent for a few moments. I thanked her, and our conversation ended.

There will be some shuffling of congregations over the next few years as Methodists sort through how they want to express their values. In my church, which remains a United Methodist Church, we have seen some new faces that have come from disaffiliating churches. Perhaps we will lose some of our more conservative members.

My friend will likely stay in her disaffiliating church because of all the ties she has to it, even if it doesn’t represent who she is in her life outside the church. In her work, she lives out the parable of the Good Samaritan. But she has voted to be part of a congregation that, if you are gay, passes by on the other side.

A version of this column appeared in the April 18th edition of the Post and Courier-Pee Dee.

DeMarco: Want to learn what Biden and Trump are really about? Watch their speeches.

The Op-Ed Page

By Paul V. DeMarco
Guest Columnist

By some estimates, there are still about a quarter of Americans who haven’t settled on a presidential candidate. I had a recent conversation with one of them. He’s a smart, middle-aged, college-educated man who is somewhat more conservative than me. But he has unplugged from politics for his mental health. When our conversation turned to the election, he parroted the conservative media narrative about Biden being senile.

I admitted to him that I to had been stunned by Special Counsel Hur’s report describing Biden as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” I spend some time with conservative media, which for months had been peddling inaccurate descriptions of Biden as a doddering senior ready for the nursing home. But then I watched the entire State of the Union address and was reassured.

So I asked my friend to watch 15 minutes of the SOTU. I knew he wouldn’t agree with some of Biden’s policies, and conceded that he is not as animated as Trump. But I expected he would come away from the viewing confident that Biden was not cognitively impaired. As a general internist, I have seen hundreds of patients with dementia of all varieties in my career, and it would be impossible for someone with dementia to have given that speech or handled the heckling as he did.

I also encouraged him to give Trump 15 minutes of equal time. After I watched Biden’s SOTU, it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen more than snippets of either man for months. So I watched Trump’s Super Tuesday victory rally in Rome, Georgia, from two days after the SOTU.

Our enhanced ability to watch people speak for themselves is one of the major advances of modern politics. I enjoy political theatre and try to see as many competitors as I can in person (whether I will vote for them or not) when they come within striking distance. In 2016, I saw Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Kasich, and Clinton (Bill, who was stumping for Hillary) when they came to Florence. I’d recommend everyone visit the Gallivants Ferry Stump, the longest running stump meeting in the country. There’s no substitute to being in the same location as the candidates. Sometimes you learn as much about them by the crowds they attract as by the speeches they make.

But if you can’t attend in person, you have the next best option – YouTube. With that ability, why not transfer some of the time you are spending being told about the candidates to time listening directly to them? I hadn’t listened to Trump at length but a handful of times since I saw him in person in 2016. That speech is still ringing in my ears. The moment he shouted, “And who’s going to pay for it?!” and the crowd shouted “Mexico!!” was the most frightening example of demagoguery I’ve ever witnessed.

Trump has always been bombastic and vulgar, but watching the Rome speech right after the SOTU highlighted the contrast with normal political speechmaking. Although Biden made many references to “my predecessor,” his allusions to Trump were based on differences in their positions and accomplishments. Right out of the gate in his Rome speech, Trump launched a fusillade of personal attacks. He dismissed Biden’s speech as “The worst president in history making the worst State of the Union in history.” He imitated Biden’s stutter; he mocked his cough.

Although I felt my friend could watch any 15-minute segment of the SOTU and come away with an accurate assessment of Biden, I asked him to watch the last 15 minutes of the Rome rally. If not for the American flags in the background, it would be easy to image Trump’s concluding monologue being delivered from the canvas of a WWE ring.

As foreboding music played in the background, Trump presented the U.S. as a sulfurous wasteland. He intoned “We are a nation in decline, we are a failing nation… we are a nation where free speech is no longer allowed and where crime is rampant like never ever before… and now Russia and China are holding summits to carve up the world… we are a nation that is hostile to liberty, freedom, faith and even to God… we are a nation whose economy is collapsing into a cesspool of ruin… where fentanyl… is easier to get than groceries to feed our beautiful families… we have become a horrible and unfair nation.”

Biden’s SOTU is anchored in reality. I’m not sure what nation Trump is describing, but it’s not America. The surreal and disconnected nature of Trump’s speech can’t be adequately conveyed by my words. It must be seen to be believed. Spend fifteen minutes with each man before you make a decision.

A version of this column appeared in the March 21st edition of the Post and Courier-Pee Dee.

Paul DeMarco at the Gallivants Ferry Stump Meeting in 2006.

Open Thread for Friday, March 22, 2024

Some of the Ghost Army’s inflatable tanks.

Various things:

  1. Trump Media Merger Is Approved, Providing Fresh Source of Cash — So does this mean he will be able to pay that find that no bonding company will back him on? Let’s hope so. Meanwhile, can you imagine investing money in a Trump social medium? That means you’re betting on the continuing collapse of this country…
  2. Justice Department, states accuse Apple of holding a smartphone monopoly — I see different figures, but it appears that between 50 and 60 percent of smartphones in this country are iPhones. (This story says the government alleges that “iPhone dominates more than 70 percent of the high-end smartphone market.”) To me, that number seems a little low. Everybody in my family uses them. How about y’all? Do you use something else, and why?
  3. Two major newspaper chains dropped The Associated Press — This is a serious shocker. “Major” is too weak a word. We’re talking Gannett and McClatchy. Does this mean no more AP content in The State? Apparently so, but that just seems too incredible. Dropping the AP is like dropping use of the English language. It’s just that much of a building block. Of course, I admit I haven’t really kept track lately of how much The State is using it these days…
  4. The Philippines’ top defense secretary talks about tensions in the South China Sea — So the Philippines’ leadership is worried about the Chinese? Then I have a question: When is the U.S. base at Subic Base going to reopen? With our strategic shift to the Pacific, it’s completely insane that that is still closed. Bob Amundson, do you have any thoughts on that? Bryan maybe?
  5. After decades of secrecy, the ‘Ghost Army’ is honored for saving U.S. lives in WWII — Y’all know how into history I am. But as I frequently say, I’m am constantly stunned by how little I know about it — even about recent topics that have particularly fascinated me. Just as the Second World War. I saw this headline and thought, Oh, that’s something about Operation Fortitude — but to whom will they give the medals? Well, the Ghost Army was involved with Fortitude, but it was an actual force of fakers who physically moved across Europe fooling the Germans time and again. And seven were still alive to receive the Medal of Honor. I had no idea. Maybe all of y’all knew about this small force, but I did not.



Open Thread for the Ides of March, 2024 Anno Domini

OK, I’m cheating on this one. As I’m finishing this, it’s now Saturday, but I assembled all the pieces, including the picture, on Friday, and I didn’t want to change the headline, so as I finish it, I’m backdating it to last night:

  1. The Recent Glitch Threatening Voyager 1 — I’m leading with this because of the cosmic significance. Voyager is possibly the most amazing achievement of the space age — a vehicle that was supposed to cruise through part of the solar system for four or five years, but is now in interstellar space and still going, almost half a century later. Alas, it’s developed a problem. The “elderly spacecraft” has apparently developed dementia, and is just sending back babbling nonsense. Hey, I’m sure I’d do the same if somebody made me work nonstop for that long. We should let it rest for awhile. It’s done its job, and won’t reach another solar system for 40,000 years.
  2. Pee-cycling could help to solve Cape Cod’s wastewater problem — Just bringing things down to Earth. I thought it was interesting. And since it’s on NPR, you can read it, or listen to it, for free.
  3. See-Through Baseball Pants Have Fans, and Brands, Pointing Fingers — Last year, it was all the stupid new rules, like the pitching clock (shudder). Now this. Stop messing with baseball. As for unis, go back to the flannel outfits the guys wore back in Black Sox days. Those were cool — although not for the wearer, I suppose… In any case, these are ridiculous.
  4. Joe Biden’s Superfans Think the Rest of America Has Lost Its Mind — And we’re right. About time media paid some attention to the slice of America that has some sense.
  5. The Ides of March — Yeah, I know. I mention this nearly every year. But hey, it was a huge event in history, and this is the — oh, wait. I thought this would be an anniversary ending in a zero, because it happened in 44 B.C. and it’s now 2024. But it doesn’t work that way when you go back to B.C. So never mind that. But I was thinking about what happened — 60 or so senators ganging up to attack Caesar. And I was thinking how we’re lucky to live in a time when that doesn’t happen. But then I realized that today, if you’re a political leader, you have millions of people sniping at you via social media. So, progress. But is it better? Well, at least we don’t have violent mobs taking over our seat of government. No, wait…

Notice how there’s no actual breaking news? Well, there wasn’t. I may write a separate post about that. The only breaking national news Friday was about Fani Willis, and that wasn’t news, it was gossip — or rather, a court ruling that gossip won’t interfere with a prosecution. We have days like that from time to time.

Back when I was the editor in charge of the front page (at the two papers before I came here), that presented a problem. I had to put out a front page everyday, even with nothing happening. Now, I can just decide to do an Open Thread instead of a Virtual Front Page…

Open Thread for Monday, March 3, 2024

At some point, I need to change the name of this feature. It doesn’t really work. Someone here long suggested that I post an “open thread,” I think so that people could just talk about whatever. But it seemed goofy to post, what — a blank space? So I started offering little variety packs of topics.

Anyway, here’s your variety pack:

  1. Prepositions are permissible, now — will English language be ok? — This is the best story I heard or read today. The NPR story featured a Columbia University linguist who cheered the decision by Merriam-Webster that it’s now OK to end sentences with prepositions. I agree, especially in the case of such awkward constructions as the legendary, even if apocryphal, Churchill quote.
  2. Supreme Court rules Trump can remain on Colorado’s ballot — This was unanimous, which was helpful. But I understand the justices quibbled over the scope of the decision, with a minority saying the majority went too far. Perhaps they did, but I haven’t studied it closely enough to have an opinion yet on that. I’m just glad it was unanimous. Things would have gotten uglier than they already are if there had been a different result.
  3. White House uses Kamala Harris to run Gaza options up the pole — That’s my headline, not one I pulled from any news outlet. This is fascinating. The Biden administration has used the veep to publicly air some (somewhat) stepped-up efforts to push for a ceasefire. She did it in a speech over the weekend, then she met with Benny Gantz, Israeli war cabinet member and rival of Netanyahu. This is an interesting way of working around Bibi in a way that explores his political vulnerability, while at the same time letting Kamala look like she has some foreign policy gravitas. And if it all flops, hey, it was just the veep, not POTUS. I like it. Sort of like 3D chess…
  4. The Spy War: How the C.I.A. Secretly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin — I first heard this on NYT Audio over the weekend, and it was fascinating. I learned a great deal about the close ties we’ve formed with Ukrainian intelligence over the past decade or so — since long before Putin invaded. It started because the folks at Langley found that the Ukrainians were great at gathering intel we needed on the Russians, on topics such as the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and Russians efforts to get Trump elected in 2016. As a spy novel fan, I ate it up, but it also made me really uneasy — but obviously a decision was made somewhere to give these reporters access, right? Still, I hope that joint underground Ukrainian-American intelligence base was moved right after the NYT was allowed to tour it. Its location was described in some detail.

I guess that’s enough for now. I usually give you more than four, but I’ve got a headache, so… y’all come up with something. After all, it’s an “Open Thread”…

Clare’s with you, Paul — from a different perspective

I haven’t had time for blogging lately, but I thought I’d better share this before tomorrow…

Y’all know my friend Clare Folio Morris, right? She’s contributed some op-ed stuff here before.

Well, she wrote a piece for the Post and Courier promoting Nikki Haley in tomorrow’s primary, but from a different perspective from Paul DeMarco. An excerpt from her piece:

Are Republican women of South Carolina willing to be pushed around by a man who desperately seeks a political comeback to keep himself out of jail? As the S.C. GOP presidential primary quickly approaches on Saturday, I urge Republican and independent women to give serious thought to voting for his very capable and viable opponent, former U.N. Ambassador and S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.

It seems a bit of poetic justice that the last one standing in a crowded field of pushy, pugnacious Republican men is a strong, accomplished woman from South Carolina. Sadly, we women in the Southeast are used to being under-represented: Our state ranks 49th in the country in female representation in state government.

Haley, the one lone Republican primary candidate standing in the way of Trump’s coronation, is everything Donald Trump is not. And it’s driving him crazier than he already is.

So many things are bothersome about Trump, I hardly know which tops the list. Is it that he has no policies, only the politics of grievance? Is it his bromance with Vladimir Putin? Or that the big lie irreparably divided and damaged our nation and cost taxpayers more than $500 million in legal fees from dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits, costly repair work at the Capitol and enhanced security around the 2022 inauguration and later due to death threats against poll workers? Or that he enables and empowers Mike Johnson, the speaker of the House?

There are too many more problems to count, but one character flaw about the twice-impeached ex-president that I can’t get past (and you shouldn’t either) is how he treats women….

I should probably stop there (because copyright), but if you can, I urge you to go read the whole column.

Clare is more of less of the same demographic she’s reaching out to: Republican women. Although Clare’s not dogmatic about it. She has, however, worked off and on for Mark Sanford — himself something of a marginal Republican — ever since they were in college together.

Anyway, obviously, you don’t have to be a member of the groups Paul reached out to — Democrats and independents — to want to save the country Donald Trump. In fact, if I were a Republican, I’d be more determined to do it, to save my party from him as well as the country, and the larger world.

And of course, Clare makes good points. But in my case, I’m happy to say I’ve already voted. And they don’t let you vote in both primaries. Although they should. Every American has an equal and vital stake in who ends up on the ballot in November….

Clare, the last time she worked with Sanford.

Our great national tragedy: No Leo McGarry

I’ve been re-watching “The West Wing” lately, which can make a guy wistful, if he loves his country.

Most recently, I watched a scene in which Toby presides over a “let’s get serious” meeting with a group of congressmen, including the Republicans who are blocking the Bartlet administration’s effort to allow sampling in the census.

That was a realistic scene, when it was first aired. Such a meeting today would be impossible. The Republicans in the room were raising thoughtful, serious objections to sampling (which even Toby admits privately, after the meeting). Things like that don’t happen anymore. Certainly not with House members.

Anyway, Trey Walker and I haven’t communicated directly in awhile, at least since I was on the opposite side in the 2018 election. But then last night he tweeted:

Well, I had started responding to him before I even saw his followup tweet:

We would live in such a better world if Leo, and of course, John Spencer, were among us.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve discussed Leo here before, of course. And Bryan posted this transcript of one of his best scenes. I tried and tried to find video of it to include here, but the best I could find was this murky still image. Which reminds us of The West Wing’s one flaw — the White House wasn’t that DARK. Nor are congressional hearing rooms…

Glad to be on Bluesky, although it’s not yet all it needs to be



So I read this morning in The Washington Post that Bluesky is now open to us plebeians who didn’t get invited to join the new Twitter replacement (that’s the way I’m viewing it, anyway) previously.

About time.

You know about Bluesky. It’s the latest brainstorm of Jack Dorsey, the guy who created Twitter long before the barbarians knocked down the gates and started destroying it.

So of course, I immediately signed up and started looking about.

And it looks great. The interface is SO much like Twitter of old that I immediately hope that the new platform doesn’t get sued by Attila et al. Very comfortable. And I’ve tweeted (or whatever we’re supposed to call the action) a couple of times, and gotten a few likes, and it feels like old times.

Of course, a lot of stuff will have to happen before it can be what Twitter was. For instance, more people I’m used to following need to sign up and get busy. And that includes a lot of the media sites I follow, not just individual people.

There were some old friends already there, which prompted that petulant first post from me, which went like this:

Now that I’m finally in here, I see that SOME of my friends were invited long ago. Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph…

I’m sure there will be a lot more people on board tomorrow, and the day after, and so on. I’m very hopeful. But aside from way more accounts, the site will need a few other things to live up to my hopes:

  • Embed codes. Note that I simply quoted my post, rather than embedding. Maybe there’s a way to do that, but it’s not yet readily apparent. I just get a “copy link.”
  • Speaking of embedding… When I’m reading something on one of my newspaper apps on my iPad, and want to say something about it on Bluesky, and click on the “share” thingy, I see all sorts of icons, but not one for Bluesky. I’m not sure whose responsibility it will be to fix this — will each newspaper have to make changes in the app, or is it up to Apple? Anyway, I hope they soon get on the stick.
  • A few publications I’m used to following don’t even have accounts on Bluesky. Are they aware it exists? When will they jump in?
  • Even those who DO have accounts — such as The Washington Post — are only putting a small amount of their content on the platform. Weirdly, they’re posting links to some stories — such as the one about Bluesky itself, and one about Taylor Swift — multiple times. But I couldn’t find one to this story, and together with the lack of a direct link from the newspaper app, I had to do a sort of double workaround to post about it. It worked fine, but it should be way easier. And I’m hoping it will be, soon.

Enough griping. Let me say that even though I had to do some manual stuff to post about that story, when I entered the link, I was immediately asked if I wanted the headline and artwork to automatically appear in the post — the way it used to be on Twitter. There wasn’t a “hell, yeah” option, so I just said yes.

And I’m sure, now that I’ve put this post on the platform, some of those long-time members will respond that I’m an idiot, and all these things are already there, but I haven’t found them yet. Fine. Maybe they’ll help me.

Anyway, I hope to see some of y’all there…

Open Thread for Wednesday, January 31, 2024

It’s been awhile since one of these. Let’s dig in…

  1. House GOP advances impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — This happened a bit after midnight last night, on a completely partisan vote, of course. I heard an account of it on a podcast from the NYT while I was out walking earlier today. I kept expecting the voice to say, “And the GOP committee members followed that up by attempting to cram themselves into a Smart car, to the even greater delight of the crowd…”
  2. Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and a MAGA Meltdown — And if you think that last item was weird, check this out. Did you know that “around four years ago, the Pentagon psychological operations unit floated turning Taylor Swift into an asset during a NATO meeting?” Her mission? Get Joe Biden re-elected. And do you realize that Taylor Swift (net worth, about $1.1 billion) is only hanging with this Kelce guy (net worth, about $30 million) because she wants his money? Did you know the NFL is “rigged” to spread Democratic propaganda?  If you don’t know these things, you’re just not keeping up with your MAGA conspiracy theories. Try harder.
  3. Is the Future of Medicine Hidden in Ancient DNA? — Sorry to throw another NYT at you if you’re a nonsubscriber, but this was the subject of today’s “The Daily” podcast, and it was very cool. It seems science has gotten so good at reading DNA in prehistoric bones that we can now track what people died of, and the respective evolutions of both microbes and human immunity. Which could have great medical implications going forward. I hope you can hear this, because this is way more interesting than the DNA stuff I’ve been writing about…
  4. Mark Zuckerberg among tech CEOs grilled for failing to protect kids — Speaking of the negative effects of social media… I assume you’ve also seen this awful story closer to home. I don’t know how much the courts can help with the problem, but we need to find ways to stop these things from happening.
  5. Members hope to save 35-year-old Capital City Club — I had no idea my old club — I was a member for more than two decades, as y’all probably know — had fallen on such hard times. I left during COVID. Others must have done the same. I’m sorry to see it. It was a great club, established for good reasons.

DeMarco: Why I’m voting for Haley, then Biden

The Op-Ed Page

12/20/10 Columbia, SC: Gov. Nikki Haley official portrait.
Photos by Renee Ittner-McManus/

By Paul V. DeMarco
Guest Columnist

Nikki Haley faces stiff head winds as she tries to become the Republican nominee for president. If only the Republican base participates in state Republican primaries, Trump wins going away. Her only path to the nomination is for independents and centrist Democrats to back her.

The majority of Americans recognize the unique threat Trump poses to democracy. Even his supporters are known to call him a “disrupter” or a “wrecking ball.” For them, his positives outweigh his innumerable negatives. They are willing to roll the dice on a second Trump presidency. I am not so sanguine. Trump is too unpredictable, too big a risk.

Our crucial national task in the primaries is to ensure that Trump is defeated. Almost anyone alive would be a better option than Trump. Surrounded with intelligent, capable advisors, any thoughtful, humble American would be superior. I know some teenagers to whom I would gladly hand over the reins of this country if it were them or Trump.

Biden is old and fails to excite. He has numerous policy positions that can be legitimately opposed. But he will not wreck the ship of state. If he loses in 2024, he will not spend his lame duck period trying to subvert the will of the people and remain in office, nor when he leaves office use the next four years to lie about the result.

The risk in my strategy is that Haley becomes the Republican nominee and beats Biden in the general. According to polls about a head-to-head contest with Biden, she is a stronger candidate than Trump. But I am willing to accept a Biden loss to ensure that Trump has no chance to be president again.

Haley, of course, has her own set of drawbacks about which I will write if she is the nominee. But she was a capable governor and has expressed dismay over January 6th, calling it a “terrible day.” She is willing to state the obvious truth that Trump lost in 2020, which leads me to believe that she would not engage in Trump’s corrosive brand of election denialism if she loses.

Here’s my plan. The SC Democratic presidential primary is February 3rd. The only candidates on the ballot beside Joe Biden are Dean Phillips, a congressman from Minnesota, and Marianne Williamson, neither of whom have a chance. Although I usually vote for the Democrat and voted for Biden in 2020, I will sit this primary out. Instead, I will wait until February 24 and vote in the Republican primary for Haley (remember a voter can only vote in one party’s primary).

Partisans on both sides will object to this. I employed the same approach in the 2022 US House 7th District Republican primary between incumbent Tom Rice and several challengers, including the eventually winner, Russell Fry. Since there were no pivotal races on the Democratic side, I voted in the Republican primary for Rice. Despite having major philosophical differences with Rice, I felt he had served my district well. He was one of the few Republicans brave enough to vote to impeach Trump for his part in January 6th.

I wrote a column titled, “Democrats, Let’s Elect Tom Rice,” to which Drew McKissick, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party wrote a rebuttal, arguing that people like me shouldn’t be allowed to meddle in the Republican primary and renewing the call that the Legislature pass a law forcing voters to register as Republicans or Democrats and be confined to that primary.

Folks like Mr. McKissick seem to view party affiliation as a deeply imprinted, immutable characteristic. One must be fully baptized into Republicanism and conform religiously to every tenet. If you fail to do so, you are consigned to the purgatory of RINOism. There are, of course, mirror images of McKissick on the Democratic side.

This strict ideological view defies the shifting moods and desires of the body politic. First of all, most voters hold their party affiliation loosely and are willing to vote for an inspirational candidate of their second-choice party – the Reagan Democrats were a prime example of this.

Second, the modern political parties have shifted seismically in the last 75 years. The Democrats were the party of white segregationists until the 1960s when Strom Thurmond and Richard Nixon attracted them to the Republicans. For decades after FDR’s New Deal, the Democrats were considered the party of the worker. Until recently, Republicans were hawks and Democrats were doves. But all that has been scrambled. Many now see the Democrats as the party of the rich, dominated by economic, academic, and cultural elites who are blind to the everyday reality of working people. Meanwhile, it’s the Democrats who support the war in Ukraine while a significant fraction of Republicans have retreated into isolationism.

So I invite you to consider voting for your country rather than your party. Whether Haley or Biden wins in 2024 is less important than Trump never being allowed to wield again the enormous power of the presidency. Neither Haley or Biden will threaten the democratic foundation on which our country rests. Trump’s most enduring legacy will be the lesson that our system is fragile and must be guarded from politicians who care more about their own power than honoring democratic principles. We don’t need a second kick from that mule.

A version of this column appeared in the January 17tt edition of the Post and Courier-Pee Dee.

DeMarco: Can There Be Peace for the Jews and Palestinians?

The Op-Ed Page

Over the decades, the very few hopeful-seeming moments have been pathetically far between.

By Paul V. DeMarco
Guest Columnist

The war in Gaza has galvanized the American public more than any international conflict in decades. To try to educate myself on this faraway conflict, I have spent many hours listening to the voices, both written and spoken, of Jews and Palestinians. Many of them express mistrust, disdain, and even hatred of the other, none of which I feel.

What I feel is profound sorrow that two peoples who believe in a loving God have let it come to this. The barbarous Oct. 7 attack on innocent Israeli civilians was as cruel as it was shocking. There is no way to justify it. It must be condemned as heinous and self-defeating. Hamas knew it would provoke the overwhelming Israeli response that is unfolding. Many more Palestinians will die than Israelis who were killed in the initial attack. It was desperate and senseless.

But if one puts the attack in context, one can see how a young Palestinian man could be radicalized to feel that this kind of vengeance was his only remaining option. I’ve never been to Gaza, but I think I can understand on a basic human level what it might be like. That young Palestinian man could have grandparents who were driven off their land in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, could have parents who have lived their entire lives as refugees, and could himself be unable to find work because of the economic and travel restrictions Israel has placed on Gaza. It’s possible for me to understand how such a person could have his mind warped into killing for revenge, particularly if surrounded by a circle of jihadist contemporaries.

I can also understand what it might be like to be a Jewish man of that same age whose great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors, whose grandparents grew up in the new, precarious Jewish state in the 1950 and ’60s and fought in the 1967 war, whose parents fought in the second intifada, and who himself has had to live his entire life fearing suicide bombings and missile strikes. I can understand his wholesale lack of trust in the Palestinians, a simmering anger with the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to compromise to achieve a two-state solution, his horror at Gaza being run by Hamas, which advocates for Israel’s dissolution, and his fury over the Oct. 7 attacks.

So where do we look for hope? America’s history provides a glimmer. Our nation knows something about forcibly removing a people from their land, as we did with the Native Americans. In addition to Native Americans, we have historically denied many other groups their full citizenship rights. But America has gradually welcomed those it previously sought to exclude or marginalize. The process has been slow, often begrudging, and it is not yet complete. But America’s direction is clear. Israel has the same duty. It drove Palestinians off their land in order to create a Jewish state and has denied them the right of self-determination. It must find a way, as America has, to right those wrongs.

The Palestinians, for their part, must renounce violence. Every group that was treated unjustly in America has won its rights over the past century by mostly peaceful means. It is essential that the Palestinians do the same. As long as they indiscriminantly fire rockets, detonate suicide bombs, and commit unspeakable atrocities as they did on Oct. 7, Israel is within its rights to fight back.

Imagine if after breaching the border wall on Oct. 7, tens of thousands of Palestinians had marched peacefully into Israel in a demonstration similar to the American March on Washington in 1963. They would have been embraced by the international community. People like me, and I believe there are many, who recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the land and that both a Jewish and Palestinian state deserve to exist side by side, would have been moved by that display. We know that our nation provides substantial aid to both Israel and the Palestinians and therefore has leverage. We are willing to add a candidate’s position on Middle East peace to our electoral calculus. But we will not support violence from either side.

As a starting point, the two sides have an important commonality – a language of peace. In Hebrew the word is shalom. In Arabic it is salaam. It means more than a sterile absence of war. It means completeness, wholeness, a state in which God’s people treat each other as he intended.

These two words can be the cornerstone of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. I had an elderly Jewish patient who would greet me with a resonant “Shalom” when I walked into the exam room. It was so much more powerful than my generic “Hello.” It was tangible, a verbal embrace. Similarly, on a medical mission to Tanzania in 2020, I was sometimes greeted with “Salaam Alaikum” (“Peace be upon you”) by Muslim passersby. One evening, our group was invited to a Christian Bible study by some local missionaries. As we sang a hymn, the Muslim call to prayer could be heard from a nearby mosque, symbolic of the harmony that can exist between the religions.

We in America have a role to play. As voters we should demand that aid for both sides become contingent on seeing real progress toward the two-state solution.

A version of this column appeared in the Dec. 21 edition of the Post and Courier-Pee Dee.

DeMarco: Mike Johnson: a brilliant new speaker – for the 20th century

The Op-Ed Page

By Paul V. DeMarco
Guest Columnist

Scene: A distant galaxy, year 2834, in the Tardis.

Dr. Who: What’s on the schedule today?

Ruby (the doctor’s companion): Looks like we have the day off. Not an alien in sight.

Who: Smashing! I’ve really wanted to brush up on my American history. The 1920’s seemed like an eventful time-jazz music, speakeasies, flappers, the Depression. I came across this name I had never heard of (flipping pages on a touch screen). Let’s see here… yes, there he is, Michael Johnson. Came out of nowhere it seems. Only six years’ experience and pop! – he’s the speaker of the House. Seems perfect for the job for someone of that era though. Rock-ribbed conservative Christian, literally interprets the Bible, believes in Noah’s Ark and the world being about 10,000 years old. A man for his time! Ha, but there’s a typo in his bio. It says he was elected in 2023. They must mean 1923 (pauses to adjust the Tardis’ time-travel settings). OK, course set for Michael Johnson as speaker of the House. Here we go!

Ruby (shouting over the roaring of the Tardis): Actually, Doctor, there is no mistake!! Johnson was elected in 2023!!!

Who: (also shouting): Sorry, I can’t hear you!!

(The Tardis makes a rough landing. Unbeknownst to the Doctor, Ruby is knocked unconscious).

Who: Blimey! That was more of a shake than I expected. Let’s see what other history we can glean before we start exploring. Righto, I see here that the Scopes Monkey Trial will happen in just a couple years. Well, that’s advantageous for Mike. He’s a constitutional lawyer whom I’m sure can argue a cracking case against evolution. He’s got a strong voice and a great stage presence. Ruby, don’t the creationists win at trial?

(Ruby awakens but is too groggy to respond. The Doctor is oblivious.)

Who: (continues reading) But there’s no mention of Mike at the Scopes trial… Hmm… I guess they needed a more experienced lawyer… (swiping)… so they picked Williams Jennings Bryan. Too bad for Mike.

Who: Ooh, I wonder if Mike ran for President in 1924. With that winning smile and such a nice head of hair. Surely he would have grasped for the brass ring. (Swipes touch screen) What! Calvin Coolidge?! Silent Cal? Surely Mike would have been more exciting. And he hated welfare just as much as Coolidge did.

Ruby (finally fully regaining consciousness): Where are we?

Who: 1923, weren’t you paying attention?

Ruby (now clear-headed): Doctor, we’re in 2023.

Who: Ruby, you are one sandwich short of a picnic! I mean a man like Mike Johnson makes perfect sense for 1923, when creationism and evolution were seen as competitors in the marketplace of ideas. But a hundred years does a lot to disabuse people of the notion that humans kept pet dinosaurs. And look at his ideas on sexual orientation. Back in 1923 every state had a sodomy law. Views like Mike’s prevailed and most gay people lived closeted and afraid. You expect me to believe that Mike Johnson was elected speaker of the United States House of Representatives, second in the line of presidential succession after the vice-president… in the year 2023! Not a snowball’s chance! It’s a foul-up in the blasted Tardis!

Ruby: Doctor, It’s not the Tardis.

Who: And then there’s his wife. Also ideal for early 20th-century America. What a role model for women who had just won the right to vote! Look at her – she’s running her own business. But, as would be expected in 1923, biblically submissive to her husband. What a power couple for the Roaring Twenties. She’s so much more magnetic than Mrs. Coolidge. Wow, they really missed an opportunity by not running in 1924.

Ruby (coming over to the doctor’s computer station and manipulating the touch screen fiercely): Doctor! There is nothing wrong with the Tardis!

Who: (reviewing what Ruby is showing him, stunned): Crikey… We are in 2023. It’s been 100 years since the Scopes trial, there’s now incontrovertible evidence that the earth is billions of years old, it’s been over 50 years since Stonewall, and gay marriage is legal. Isn’t that right Ruby? Gay marriage has been legalized by this time in the US?

Ruby: Yes sir, Obergefell was decided in 2015. (Swiping a touchscreen). Here’s some more about him. He made no secret that his interpretation of the Bible was at the base of his political views. He wrote columns in his local paper about it. Here’s one from 2003 in which he responded to the U.S. Supreme Court’s striking down of a Texas sodomy law. He said it was a “devastating blow to fundamental American values and millennia of moral teaching.”

Who: But surely he and his wife’s views moderated once he was elected Speaker…

Ruby: Well, his wife’s counseling service did take down their website in which they call homosexuality “sinful and offensive to God.”

Who: Well that’s something…

Ruby: But when asked what his views were a couple days after being elected, he said if you want to know what he thinks “About any issue under the sun… Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my worldview.”

Who: Any issue? Climate change? Nuclear arms? The next pandemic? I am gobsmacked. But I have to know. Does America become a theocracy? Set a course to November 2024 (TO BE CONTINUED).

A version of this column appeared in the November 15th edition of the Post and Courier-Pee Dee.

“Bigger on the inside…”

Open Thread for Friday, November 17, 2023

It would be cool if a great WRITER won it sometime…

I struggled a bit coming up with a full list for that last Open Thread. But yesterday morning, I had enough topics before I’d even gotten through The Washington Post. Unfortunately, I had zero time for blogging.

Some things that have come up are worth separate posts, and I hope I get to them soon. In the meantime, here are some quicker takes:

  1. Haley walks back declaration that all social media users must be verified — I don’t so much have a comment on what she said specifically in this case (she had said all people should be required to verify their identities to use social media platforms), although she’s right to be concerned about the problems with anonymity. But I post this because I think it’s interesting — and I suppose, a promising development, because it shows how she’s matured — that Nikki is worried these days about people acting irresponsibly on social media. Remember how she was on Facebook her first term as governor? And unfortunately, she wasn’t anonymous.
  2. Kevin Hart to receive Mark Twain Prize in March at Kennedy Center — OK, great. He’s a very funny guy. But I look at him and others who’ve won it over the years — Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Steve Martin, Will Ferrell, Bill Murray, Billy Crystal, to name a few — and I think the same thing: We’ve got some brilliant comedians here, but while Twain was our greatest humorist, wasn’t he an even greater writer? And by “writer,” I don’t mean someone who writes for a comedy show (like Tina Fey, another hilarious winner), but a writer. Ernest Hemingway didn’t say, “Mark Twain was a great comic;” he said, “all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” And he was right.
  3. After release of ethics report, Santos says he won’t seek reelection — Yeah, but he didn’t resign, which is what he needs to do. America has endured this farce long enough.
  4. Canada’s most prominent Indigenous icon might not be Indigenous — To translate from the Identity Politics phraseology, the news is that apparently, Buffy Sainte-Marie ain’t Pocahontas, either. I guess the kid who wrote the headline didn’t know who she was, and assumes readers wouldn’t, either. Which is kind of silly, but never mind. This is a shocker. Elizabeth Warren was one thing; this is another entirely.
  5. Do you prefer self-checkout? — I’m just curious. I saw this story in the NYT about the English grocery chain that’s replacing most of its self-checkout machines with actual humans, and it started with the statement, “When it comes to grocery shopping, there seem to be two kinds of people in this world: those who prefer self-checkout, and those who prefer interaction with a human.” Which are y’all?
  6. Tough choice, eh? — That’s just a setup for this very apt comparison I saw on Twitter:


Open Thread for Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Well, not REALLY for today. This is more stuff I’ve been saving up for the past week or so. But I’ll throw in some news, too…

  1. Israeli Military Pushes Into Gaza Hospital — Which gives the world, including me, a moment of horrible suspense. This is a critical moment in Israel’s battle against an enemy that deliberately hides among the most vulnerable of innocents. How it goes, and how the world perceives it, is central to the larger question of whether Israel can continue to exist in a world that operates more on knee-jerk reaction than at any time in history.
  2. House votes to avoid shutdown — Speaker Johnson did it, of course, with overwhelming Democratic support. In case you wonder about the S.C. delegation, my own congressman Joe Wilson voted with Jim Clyburn to keep our country going. All of the other Republicans — Jeff Duncan, Russell Fry, Nancy Mace, Ralph Norman, and William Timmons — voted the other way. Meanwhile, if you want to read something scary that I saw the other day: “Is SC’s Nancy Mace on Trump’s VP short list?
  3. SC plans massive move of state employees from downtown Columbia — Well, that’s intriguing. It’s speculated to cost “$334 million more over 20 years.” Thoughts? I don’t know enough about the condition of the current buildings to have an opinion, although I suppose it’s a good idea to replace the one on the extreme end of this range: “The current buildings range from 32 years old to 195 years old.” Of course, much of this is motivated by the Legislature’s recent decision to split DHEC into two major agencies.
  4. Biden meets with China’s Xi — I like that they’re meeting in the neutral third nation of California. And no, I don’t think Joe’s main goal is to get the pandas back. There’s a lot of more heavy stuff than that…
  5. Didja know it was Hedy Lamarr’s birthday last week? — Bing made a point of telling me — you know, one of those things that pop up occasionally when you’re using Windows? I took interest because aside from being a babe, she was wicked smaht. I’m posting it six days late so I help you tell the difference between Hedy and Hedley…

Hedy — wicked smaht.

Hedley — not so smaht. Hey, give the governor a harrumph!







A conversation I had with a friend this morning

It’s the kind of exchange I think is valuable, so here it is…

You know what? The embed codes are messing up and overlapping each other. I’ll just give you plain text for the rest…

Steve: You’re right that a binary needs 2 to tango but also I’m not willing to bothsides this because there’s a peculiar madness on one side that is more responsible for our polarization than any other factor. I’m so devoted to that point of view that I wrote a book abt it.

Me: The right has gone stark, raving mad. But tragically, the left is weakened by its own embrace of some of the symptoms. Neither side is an appetizing “team” to join. And media have trained everyone to think in binary terms, by covering politics like sports. So we’re lost…

Me again: That probably seemed incoherent. Too many related thoughts, not enough room for the transitions…

Steve: It makes sense. But my conclusion is that madness supersedes weakenedness. The Right no longer is doing politics recognizably at all, they’ve gone so far there aren’t 2 sides anymore for anyone serious abt politics and that’s why we have to overcome the binary framing.

Me: You know that book I keep telling you I want to write, but (unlike you) never do? If I ever write it, I have an idea for another. It’s about politics, and my tentative title is “Consensus.” It’s what we desperately need to work toward, at all times….

Steve: A longtime struggler toward consensus, though, I have to say that you can’t achieve consensus or engage in dialogue with people who don’t accept that consensus and dialogue are legitimate. Our more fundamental problem is that too many people don’t believe in politics at all.

Me: Absolutely. That’s what I meant by “we’re lost.” And one of many reasons is that people don’t understand basic things about our system, which is intended to be deliberative. They think it’s about winning 50%+1, and cramming their will down the throats of the “bad people”…

Both of us could have gone on, but had things to do — especially Steve, who as I mentioned in passing, actually writes books instead of just talking about it, and has busy day jobs as well. He’s a  professor of public theology and director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

You see what I did there? Under the guise of finally posting something on the blog (without having to write it from scratch) I snuck in another “ones and zeroes” post. Fair warning: I’m likely to do it again at any time.

The part of the exchange that deals with consensus is another step down the same train of thought that led to this post awhile back

The system they came up with would work if we would accept that it’s designed to be deliberative, and not just about shouting at each other.