Monthly Archives: December 2011

N.H. paper says ‘Ron Paul is a dangerous man’

This just in from The Slatest:

Things are going well for Ron Paul in Iowa, but the GOP hopeful may not get as warm of welcome in New Hampshire – at least if one of the state’s more influential newspapers gets its way.

The New Hampshire Union Leader ran on op-ed Thursday from its publisher trashing Paul for his “warped” views on national security and foreign policy and calling him the “favored candidate of the lunatic fringe,” which includes “white supremacists, anti-Semites, [and] truthers.”

“Ron Paul is a dangerous man,” the anti-endorsement begins. It ends: “His defenders say they admire Ron Paul’s ‘consistency.’ It is true, Paul has been consistently spouting this nonsense. It is about time New Hampshire voters showed him the door.”

The paper endorsed Newt Gingrich back in November. You can read the Paul piece here.

Of course, the Union-Leader isn’t exactly known for toeing the mildest of lines itself.

But what about that really out there stuff that appeared in Paul’s newsletters over the years? I’d be curious to know how Doug Ross and other Paulistas around here react to that stuff.

Man the barricades; run out the guns! Never mind: It’s just another hyperbolic rant from the SC GOP

For a brief moment there, when I saw the headline on the release, I had the light of battle in my eye and was calling for my sword… but then I realized it was just more hyperbolic, apocalyptic silliness from the South Carolina GOP:

South Carolina is Under Attack

Over the past few months we have endured the full effects of the federal government’s war against South Carolina. While we try to deal with problems on a state level, they federal government has tried to block our actions multiple times.

For example, the federal government has trampled over our right to hold fair and free elections by striking down Voter ID, taken away our ability to secure our state from illegal immigration while leaving Americas borders unsecured, and nearly derailed the ability of Boeing to create jobs in Charleston thanks to the NLRB.

As our state attempts to monitor our borders, recruit industry, and secure our elections, the federal government’s efforts cripple our ability to improve our state.

Ultimately, the federal government is putting our state’s future in jeopardy, and we have tried to limit ourselves on relying on Washington and the 16 trillion dollars of debt Congress has accrued.

And we will not give up the fight. The federal government will continue to suggest that we can’t secure our own future but the S.C. Senate Republican Caucus will continue the fight against this every step of the way.

-Wesley Donehue
[Senate Republican] Caucus Spokesman

Maybe the folks who make those excruciatingly boring ads — such as this one and this one — for the presidential candidates should get my Pub Politics friend Wesley to write some stuff for them, spice things up a bit. Maybe we’ll see some real fire in a Bachmann ad, since Wesley’s working with her…

I don’t blame Wesley for the nonsense in that message; I have little doubt that his assertions reflect well the views of many of the Republican state senators he works for. They believe this stuff.

The irony here is that, with the exception of the completely uncalled-for (and recently abandoned) outrage of the NLRB business, none of these are cases of the federal government getting aggressive with the state of South Carolina. Quite the opposite. Voter ID was a completely uncalled-for attempt to address a largely imaginary problem in a way that invited invocation of the Voting Rights Act. As for South Carolina’s attempt to completely usurp one of the few functions that is clearly federal, the control of the nation’s borders, well I should smile, as Mark Twain would have said.

And the NLRB thing didn’t turn out to be much of an “attack,” did it?

As satirists viewing us from afar well know, the only entity “crippling” South Carolina’s ability to improve itself is South Carolina. Most of our wounds are self-inflicted.

Even NEWT does mind-numbingly trite ads

You would think, as idiosyncratic as the guy is, as much of loose cannon as he is, that at least Newt Gingrich could produce ads that don’t seem like they started out vanilla, but then got any trace of any sort of original flavor filtered out of them through a multi-step process.

But he can be just as trite as the king himself, Rick Perry. Triter, even.

That’s disappointing, somehow. I’d like to see a little edginess from this guy, at least. Something that stands up and says, “I’m Newt, and I refuse to be boring!”

No such luck, though. He’s gotten all plain and careful since his numbers went up.

Phillip’s Top Ten arts events of 2011

Our own Phillip Bush has listed his top ten “arts happenings that brought joy in 2011.” He doesn’t claim it’s inclusive; it just covers the stuff he caught and enjoyed. Here it is:

10. USC Symphony with violinist Vadim Gluzman, Sept. 22: Gluzman’s rendition of the Brahms violin concerto was as masterful as any you could hope to hear at Carnegie Hall, Royal Festival Hall in London, or Disney Hall in LA. Even in the quietest passages, his Strad’s tone penetrated to the cheap seats in the notoriously mediocre acoustics of the Koger Center with astonishing presence. The “kids” of the orchestra under Donald Portnoy’s direction played this “symphony of a concerto” at a very high level, especially considering it was their first concert of the year. Bonus fun was had watching Gluzman join in on tuttis and practically wander halfway into the middle of the violin section, exhorting his fellow fiddlers.

9. Launch of “Jasper” Magazine, September: Cindi Boiter left “undefined” magazine to launch a new bimonthly arts periodical, “Jasper,” with a strong team of contributors. I sure hope it succeeds, as the first two issues look very promising, with perceptive writing, intriguing subject choices, and an appealing look to the eye. Ms. Boiter says the magazine is “committed to comprehensive arts coverage…across artistic genres” and I also hope that will be borne out in issues to come. Their strengths and interests do seem to lie primarily with visual art, dance, and theater, which is perfectly fine–those are all vibrant cauldrons of activity in the Midlands. I’m personally hoping that their music coverage will not limit itself to rock and the club scene but also include the very active “alt-classical” scene here (vividly described by the Free Times in this July cover story) and even…dare one hope?…the best of the more “straight-ahead” classical scene as well. After all, who’s really more radical than Beethoven when you get right down to it?

8. Triennial Revisited/Biennial at Gallery 701 CCA (Sept.-Dec.): The retrospective of the Triennial shows of SC artists dating back to the early 90′s and the relaunch of the concept in the form of a two-part Biennial show at 701 CCA was a very promising development for the visual arts in this state. The Triennial retrospective, being a kind of all-star selection of already “select” works from past Triennials, naturally was more uniformly impressive. But, whatever the limitations of this space,  the selection process, etc., (see piece by Jeffrey Day in “Jasper”s Nov.-Dec. issue) the two Biennial shows had some very arresting works, especially ceramics (Jim Connell of Rock Hill and Alice Ballard of Greenville), and the gesso-and-graphite black-and-white works of Chapin’s James Busby.

7. Opening of Conundrum Music Hall in West Columbia (June): Like my #6 which follows, there is a bit of fraudulence for me to cite this event, in that I still have not made it to a single Conundrum show. (I mentioned those babysitting costs, right?) But it’s not because I haven’t wanted to. The dreamchild of local arts entrepreneur Tom Law, the alternative West Columbia space has already welcomed a dizzying array of musics, from avant-jazz to experimental-classical to a string quartet from the SC Phil, and much, much more. It’s astonishing how busy the space has gotten already. Law’s eclectic tastes and interests promise a continually intriguing menu of presentations into the indefinite future. Conundrum is a tangible manifestation of the transformation of Columbia’s music scene in the past decade.

6. Columbia Museum of Art opens “Masterpieces of the Hudson River School” Nov. 19:OK, this is also kind of cheating to put this on my list, since I haven’t technically “seen it, ” i.e., spent time with it (plus it’s barely been up a few weeks and will be around till April, so it probably should–and likely will–be on the Top 10 list for 2012). But I had a meeting with museum staff on an unrelated matter earlier this month in the actual galleries containing this show, and thus kind of breezed through with a cursory glance at these works, and a lingering look at just a very few. Well, to quote from a famous “Seinfeld” episode: they’re real (masterpieces, that is), and they’re spectacular.

5. Calder Quartet, Southern Exposure Series, Nov. 17: This LA-based quartet, as comfortable with thorny modernist scores as with backing The Airborne Toxic Event on David Letterman, riveted the audience at the USC School of Music’s recital hall with a superb performance. It was a special thrill to be able to hear one of the first performances of British wunderkind (you can still say that about him, can’t you?) Thomas Ades’ “The Four Quarters,” which had all of Ades’ trademark sonic imagination but with a greater mastery of understatement. But the highlight was the Calder’s unrelenting performance of Henryk Gorecki‘s obsessive Second String Quartet. That the hall had not a few empty seats for this (free, for goodness’ sake) show was criminal: bad luck/timing or something more worrisome?

4. Edward Arron & Friends “Wadsworth” Series Concert at Columbia Museum of Art, May 3: The world-class chamber music series at the Museum formerly curated by Charles Wadsworth is alive and well under cellist Arron’s leadership, and is in fact generally more programmatically intriguing since he took the reins. The players and playing is almost always at a level one would hear at Lincoln Center or any major-city chamber venue, but last May’s concert stood out, a world-class Dream Team of American string artistry, Naumburg-prize-winners sprinkled among them: Yehonatan Berick and Carmit Zori, violins; Hsin-Yun Huang and Nicholas Cords, violas, along with Arron. If you were not reduced to tears by their committed, passionate readings of Mozart and Dvorak string quintets, you surely must be one of those Easter Island stone statues. Or a Republican presidential candidate. Or both.

3. South Carolina Philharmonic with Jennifer Frautschi, violin (September 15): What a week that was for world-class violin soloists in town(see #10)! Morihiko Nakahara certainly “gets it” about the role a conductor has to play in a community like this if an orchestra’s going to survive, much less thrive; but lest ye think he’s merely about the marketing and being the genial “be-everywhere” public face of the SCP, this concert was a reminder of the ways in which he has musically transformed this band. Frautschi’s scintillating Korngold concerto with the orchestra’s lush and agile accompaniment was a delight in itself: but it was the committed and heartfelt Tchaikovsky “Pathetique” Symphony that could not help but win over any listener. Sure the strings are undermanned, but MN wrung every ounce of passion and sound from them. And the winds, so pivotal in this work, are a great strength of this orchestra. Heck, the very opening of the Tchaikovsky was a bracing reminder that, oh yeah: quite possibly the greatest American bassoonist around today happens to live in our town. And more good news, thanks to ETV (see #1 below), you can hear this concert right now if you’re so inclined.

2. JACK Quartet on Southern Exposure Series, USC (April 15): If I think about it, I’d probably have to say that every year since I moved here in 2004 Southern Exposure would have presented the “concert of the year” in my estimation. 2011 is no exception. It says a lot about the band, the piece, and the audience that a concert series has built over time, when a performance of Xenakis’ “Tetras” brings a packed house to its feet in Columbia, South Carolina. That’s exactly what happened last April, for a string quartet in which it’s rare at any moment for any player to be playing their instrument in anything approaching the “conventional” method. But the logic, rigor, and emotional arc of this masterpiece is undeniable, especially in the hands of such masterful advocates as the JACK Quartet. Their star is continually rising: I can hear the refrain now, years from now,  “Did you know they once did a concert here in Columbia? Blew the roof off the joint.” JACK Qtet has released a DVD of the Xenakis quartets; you can get a taste of what you missed here on YouTube.

1. SC Legislature Smacks Down Gov. Haley’s attack on Arts Commission, ETV (June): The legislature’s rebuff of the Governor’s cynical and shortsighted attacks on these small but vital South Carolina institutions (by resounding margins) was easily the best news of the year for the arts for a couple of reasons. Of course, the veto overrides preserved (for the moment) funding for the good and often overlooked work that the Arts Commission, for example, undertakes in underserved corners of the state. But above and beyond that immediate effect, the debate over this issue mobilized arts supporters around the state to positive action, a stance of fierce advocacy; it also crystallized for many the real value of the arts to both the quality of life and actual economic well-being of the state. Also, and not unimportantly, at a time when the Palmetto State has become a laughing-stock for much of the country (see Daily Show’s “Thank You, South Carolina” feature), this moment was one where South Carolinians could stand proudly, in contrast to the sad situation in Kansas, for example.

You went the wrong way, King Obama

Whaddya gonna do with this Romney guy, huh? Dig the latest:

Reporting from West Des Moines, Iowa –—

Speaking to supporters at a chilly outdoor rally, Mitt Romney on Friday sought to cast President Obama as out of touch with the economic pain being felt by average Americans.

“He’s in Hawaii right now. We’re in the cold, in the rain, in the wind because we care about America,” Romney said, speaking in the parking lot of a grocery store. “He just finished his 90th round of golf. We have 25 million Americans who are out of work, stopped looking for work or are underemployed. Home values have come down. The median income in America in the last four years has dropped by 10%.”

He dismissed the Obama administration’s contention that they stopped the recession from getting worse.

“The other day President Obama said, you know, it could be worse,” Romney said. “Sounds like Marie Antoinette, ‘Let them eat cake.’ ”…

This from the guy who, when challenged, immediately offers to bet $10,000.

One thing Mitt’s got is nerve.

But I want to thank him for reminding me of the old Allan Sherman song above. Enjoy.

Unless you’re a kid, you remember Allan Sherman. He’s the “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” guy.

Newt answers flag question as I would

Our friend Michael Rodgers brings this to my attention:

Brad,

Have you seen this video with Newt in Charleston?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HQCUDgwgX8

The reactions of the crowd are revolting.  Why would they cheer so
much?  After all, the people of South Carolina want the flag down.
Our will is being thwarted by our legislature.  That’s where we are
today.  This issue is just one example of far too many issues where
partisan politics and legislative dominance trample over what’s
clearly right.

BTW, the Republican presidential primary in SC is just a few days
after MLK day.  It’s Saturday the 21st, when MLK day is Monday the
16th.  Should be an interesting week.

Regards,

Mike

Well, I have to say first that Newt answered the question about the way I would — although perhaps for different reasons, since he’s running for the GOP nomination here. Of course what we South Carolinians fly on the State House grounds is our business and no one else’s. And if I were a presidential candidate passing through from elsewhere, if asked, I would say, “That’s your problem, not mine.”

If someone from elsewhere could somehow coerce South Carolina into removing the flag, nothing would be accomplished. The only way that anything is accomplished by furling the flag is if South Carolina grows up enough to decide, on its own, through our elected representatives, to take that step.

That step is long, long overdue. Every day that we leave it there is an insult to our ancestors as well as to ourselves and our neighbors today. We’re not hurting anyone in the world but South Carolina by flying it, and it’s incumbent on us to decide we’ve engaged in far more than enough nonsense, and put the thing away. A banner designed to be taken into battle in a war we lost 146 years ago should be under glass in a museum (and we have one for that purpose), or represented with a modest bronze plaque, not flying as though it and what it stands for is alive.

It’s no one else’s concern. Of course, it helps them decide what they think of us. But so far, we’ve been satisfied to let them think what they like. Which is fine, in a way. Because in the end, we need to get rid of the flag because we understand that it’s wrong, that it’s something we need to put behind us. If we did it simply because of what others thought, and still wanted, deep-down, to fly it, nothing would be accomplished. We would not have grown as a people.

Everything I’ve ever written about the flag has been aimed at persuading my fellow South Carolinians who are not yet convinced that we need to go ahead and take it down. It’s about us, the people of this state. Always has been.

A closet looms before me, demanding order

First, I should send a probe to Jupiter, to investigate the closet just like this one that has been found there...

I told my wife that today, since I’m off from work, I would clean out my closet. My rather complex, deeply messy, walk-in closet that doubles as a dressing area.

But it’s already mid-afternoon, and there are so many other things that need doing:

  • I’ve been neglecting the blog this week, and need to get back up to my usual pace of posts (why is that harder to do when I’m NOT working?)
  • I need to clean out the In boxes of both my blog and ADCO email addresses. Nearly a day’s work right there.
  • I have several good books I asked for, and received, for Christmas.
  • I have a vast number of books I’ve asked for, and received, for previous Christmases and birthdays and Father’s Days, and I really should read those, with theoretical time on my hands.
  • Then there are the comfort-reading books that I’m currently re-reading (either two, or three, depending on how you count them), and shouldn’t I finish them before starting something new?
  • My wife is out of the house this afternoon, and there are a couple of movies I’ve been wanting to watch but that she wouldn’t want to see.
  • I could even (but I admit, this is reaching into the realm of the radical) get a jump start on my New Year’s resolution to exercise by walking around the neighborhood.

And still the closet wait. Looms, actually. It stands there exactly like the monolith in “2001,” which I tried rewatching (I had not yet seen the Blu-Ray version I received for my birthday more than a year ago) last night (no one would make a movie today that requires the viewer to wait that long for something to happen).

That describes it perfectly. It stands there, fraught with meaning, with eerie music rising in the background. If I enter it, will I go on a psychedelic, mind-blowing, existential trip through space and time like the astronaut Dave in the movie? Dare I risk it?

It’s not so much the stuff hanging in there that intimidates as it is the landfill of junk piled on the floor under those things, and the rat’s nests of junk jammed onto the shelves above…

And still it looms…

Perry ads amazingly trite, yet revelatory

I continue to be fascinated by Rick Perry’s TV ads, largely because they are so startlingly lacking in anything that might ordinarily fascinate an active mind.

They are so formulaic, so trite, so astoundingly lacking in originality, that it is truly remarkable.

And on top of that, they are badly executed — which is also surprising, since you would think that anyone would at least be able to present such simplistic messages without tripping over his laces. Take this bit of the script of the ad above:

The fox guarding the henhouse is like asking a Congressman to fix Washington: bad idea.

Obviously, what is meant here is, “asking a Congressman to fix Washington is like the fox guarding the henhouse.” The idea being criticized, being held up as a bad idea, is asking a congressman to fix Washington, and the universally understood cliche to which it is being compared is the fox guarding the henhouse. But the announcer gets it completely backward. Even if you told me that the script writer’s first language wasn’t English, it wouldn’t excuse this, because logic knows no language.

But, as bad as these ads are, they do reveal things about Perry, and with great economy of language.

Once again, what we learn about him (as we did back here) is that he assumes — or should I say, presumes — that the president of the United States is an absolute monarch who rules by fiat, with the other branches being completely subject to his will.

In this case, he plays on populist resentment of people who make more money than the voter (and he’s a Republican, right?) to endear the voter to his plan to emasculate and hobble the legislative branch. Elect me, he is saying, and I will wave my scepter and this thing you resent, this Congress, will become a poor, feeble thing, unable to wield any power any more (and unable to be a check on my power), too busy trying to scratch out a living back home to be an obstacle to the new King.

I say all this as someone who — as my readers well know — is a longtime champion of executive power here in South Carolina (a governor in control of the whole executive branch, a strong mayor in Columbia). But that’s because on the state and local levels here, the executive is so weak as to be unable to perform its proper function in a healthy government. That is not the case in Washington, and in any case, Perry overreaches to an extent that is shocking, and would be under any circumstance. Yes, he does so out of deep ignorance of the rule of law under our constitution, but that doesn’t make the (fortunately remote) prospect of him being president less chilling.

There’s a deeper irony here. In reality, the only way to bring about this poor shadow of the present Congress is, of course, to ask Congress to do it. No president could bring that about unilaterally. And as he says, asking Congress to “fix” Washington (according to his notion of “fixing”) is indeed like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Or the other way around. Whatever.

Caucuses are, indeed, no way to pick a president

Samuel Tenenbaum brings this piece to my attention:

No way to pick a president

By , Wednesday, December 28, 11:50 AM

As the breathless, panting political class turns its eager eyes to Iowa, every sane American needs to step back and ask the obvious question: Is this any way to pick a president?

Our country is essentially coming to a halt to watch what 120,000 idiosyncratic voters in an idiosyncratic state do….

Absolutely, Matt Miller. I’ve said the same myself, four years ago:

By BRAD WARTHEN
Editorial Page Editor
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” said the great and powerful Oz. But I say it’s the guy voting in the privacy of a booth that we should heed. It’s the Iowa caucuses we should ignore.
As I write this [we're talking Thursday afternoon, folks], I don’t know who won last night, and don’t care. I’ve got my eye on New Hampshire — and, of course, South Carolina.
The Washington Post’s David Broder had it right in his Thursday column when he called the caucuses a “double-distortion mirror” on the campaign. The turnout is tiny, consisting only of people who are willing to attend a two-hour night meeting during the week and declare their preference in front of the world.
Forget what happened last night if you were watching to see which candidate has the strongest support among voters of either party. All the caucuses measure is who can most effectively corral the most highly committed, vocal partisans at a given moment. It tests organization — and a very specialized form of it at that. Organizational skill is important — but it’s hardly everything. [Note this amendment today to this opinion.]…

Today, I heard them on NPR talking about the money being spent on TV ads in Iowa. You’re kidding me, right? The whole marketing world has turned away from mass media (preferring more targeted approaches) to the extent that the industry could no longer afford to pay guys like David Stanton and Robert Ariail and me, and yet these idiots are spending good money on TV ads to reach the handful of people who will attend caucuses? Really? Why not just go to their houses and talk to them?

When I was a very young political reporter, I went to Iowa to write about the 1980 caucuses. I thought they were important. They weren’t then (Ronald Reagan lost), and they aren’t now. But here we all are, with bated breath, again…

My deep-seated, gut-level cultural conservatism

New Year 027

This evening I was browsing Barnes and Noble (which, like Starbucks, should buy an ad here) and happened to look up and see this sign exhorting me to “Discover Great New Writers.”

I harrumphed to myself as I passed on, thinking, “If they are new, they are not great.”

Which, I realized on another level — the level that listens to everything I say and holds it in scorn — is irrational prejudice. It’s me thinking like a medieval man, thinking that all greatness occurred in the past, and if we see a distance, it was only because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Which is irrational — but, let me hasten to add, no more irrational than the idiotic modern idea that each generation is greater and wiser and more virtuous than the last, the foolish idea that just because our technology is smarter, we ourselves are. I utterly reject that modernist prejudice, and should do the same with its complement.

After all, great writers were all new once.

Still, I am hard-pressed to name a living writer of, say, fiction whom I regard as great. I tried, as I walked through the bookstore.

Patrick O’Brian, I thought. But no, he is dead, although his life did overlap mine. Ditto with Douglas Adams. Now, you are wondering that I consider those great, but I do. Matter of taste. O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels are not only, as other reviewers have said, the greatest historical fiction ever, they rank high among all fiction in my estimation. And Adams was the funniest writer of novels since Twain, again in my own necessarily limited estimation.

There is one living novelist I regard very highly, as you can tell from this recent postJohn le Carré. But the last of his books that meant much to me was The Night Manager, and that was published in 1993. Although I did think The Constant Gardener was quite good. I just wasn’t as fond of it as of his earlier stuff. (Also, it seems to me that as he gets older he gets… preachier, in a predictably political sense. Is it just me?)

I look around me and other people seem to take great delight in current authors. Back when I started an effort to get Columbia to read a book together years ago, we stopped after the first one, because the others on the committee that formed were enthusiastic about getting the sorts of authors who might be induced to come visit and speak. The committee had gone along with me on Fahrenheit 451, but after that they wanted writers that I, reactionary philistine that I am, had not heard of. Some of it, I think, was that they wanted writers who were less male, and white, and mainstream, but mostly they wanted authors who were less dead. And I wasn’t having it.

Now, Belinda Gergel’s somewhat more successful bid to have the same sort of program is picking books more like what my committee had wanted.

But are they great books? Well, that’s in the eye of the reader, isn’t it?

Bachmann names “grass-roots” team in SC

This came in today. Seems odd that she’d be announcing organizational stuff like this so late, but campaigns are like that. They have their own timing and rhythm. I suspect that part of her reason in putting together this extensive list now is to tell everyone that she is, too, in the running for SC.

I don’t know most of these folks, but the ones I do know — Kelly Payne, Ray Moore, Louise Geddings and (by reputation) Lee Bright — paint a recognizable portrait of the segment of the GOP that is still backing her. And of course, my Pub Politics friend Wesley Donehue is working with her:

Michele Bachmann Announces South Carolina Grassroots Team
Leaders to form the state’s strongest “Get Out The Vote” machine

Columbia, S.C. – Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann today announced the team of grassroots leaders who will propel her campaign to victory in South Carolina. This announcement leaves little doubt that the Bachmann campaign has the most organized ground game in the Palmetto State.

Led by campaign chairman Lee Bright, campaign director Sheri Few, four paid field staff and senior advisors Ron Thomas and Wesley Donehue, the team of 33 county chairmen join the previously announced 56 Tea Party leaders and other new grassroots leaders to form the state’s strongest “Get Out The Vote” machine. The grassroots county chairmen consists of five S.C. Republican Party executive committeemen, former GOP county chairmen, and local GOP officers and executive committee members.

“Grassroots activists across the state are tired of Washington insiders, flip-floppers and fake conservatives,” State Sen. Lee Bright said. “Michele Bachmann is the consistent conservative we need as President of the United States and we’ve built the best political machine in South Carolina to get her to the White House.”

Upstate Chairman State Rep. Bill Chumley said, “Our network is ready to catch the momentum Michele will receive from a big showing in Iowa.  Our team is energized, active and enthusiastic. They’re not going let some Washington insider win in the nation’s most conservative state.”

Fifth District Chairman and State Rep. Ralph Norman said, “This race isn’t going to be won by who has the most money — it’s going to be won by the most organized team of passionate conservatives who are putting in hours of sweat equity for their candidate. We have the hardest working team in South Carolina and we intend to work hard for a win for Michele Bachmann.”

“We are excited to announce South Carolina’s most organized and energetic grassroots network,” Bachmann said. These are hardworking conservatives who are ready to return our country back to prosperity.  They’re working around the clock to ensure that a consistent conservative wins the nation’s first-in-the-south presidential primary. I’m honored to have them on our team.”

The Bachmann for President South Carolina Grassroots Team includes the following County Chairmen and grassroots leaders:

Abbeville

Vinnie Maxwell – Chairman

Aiken

Susan Swanson – Chairman
Erin Ashley – Grassroots Coordinator
Eric Brown
Marilyn Ericson
Executive Committeewoman Diane Giddings
Spencer Grothier
Jerry & Philomena Guerin
Leslie Hutto
Walter King
Douglas Noel
Debbie Osmundsen

Allendale

Shushanna Koontz – Chairman

Anderson

Henry Jordan – Chairman
Kristine Caufield
Marvin Collier – TEA Coalition
Jonathon Hill – TEA Coalition

Bamberg

Ryan Koontz – Chairman

Barnwell

Clifton Baker – Chairman

Beaufort

Lauren Martel – Co-Chairman
Sharon Nelson – Co-Chairman
Shelia Morgan – TEA Coalition
Tom Morgan – TEA Coalition
Tom Russo – TEA Coalition

Berkeley

Executive Committeeman Joshua Finn – Chairman
Gerald Addison – TEA Coalition
Linda Addison – TEA Coalition
Raye Chapman – TEA Coalition

Charleston

Charles Steinert – Chairman
Daniel Bostic
Jeff Diemier – TEA Coalition
Lynda Fry – TEA Coalition
Robert Fry – TEA Coalition
Maurice Isaac
Tyler Jones
Jacqueline Mckool
Steve Rapchick – TEA Coalition
Cathy Tyler

Cherokee
Fred Keller – Co-Chairman
John Neel – Co-Chairman
Will Cobb

Chester

Dena Espinoza – Chairman
Don Murphy

Chesterfield

Zachery Michael – Chairman
Joe & Doris Foch

Clarendon

Third District Vice Chairman Marie Dukes – Chairman

Dorchester

Ken Uthe – Chairman
Jerry Wolf

Florence

Nancy Elaime Kelly – Chairman

Greenville

Stephen Brown – Chairman
Dean Allen – TEA Coalition
Greg Ashe
Steve Bomar
Javan Micah Browder – TEA Coalition
Theodore Drinkhahn
Paul Fallavollita
Levi Fox
Shane Franks
Braden Hal
Jim Hargett – TEA Coalition
Samuel Harms
Representative Gloria Haskins
Matt Holmes
Virginia Jelley – TEA Coalition
Austin Jones – TEA Coalition
Bobby Jones
Dawn Lennon
Dorine Lennon
Nate Leupp – Grassroots Coordinator
Charles Lewis
Rick Moesser – TEA Coalition
Scott Napier – TEA Coalition
Gwen Neighbors
Gill Robison
Sean & Toni Sharp

Greenwood

John Sparks – Chairman

Horry

Cris Panos – Chairman
Carlene Carmen
Linda McHugh – Grassroots Coordinator
Leo O’Brien
Cheryl Savage – TEA Coalition
Dennis Stancoven

Kershaw

Executive Committeeman Shelby Price – Chairman
Sally & Jack Burdin
Jim Morris
Christie Thompson
Republican Women’s Treasurer Mary Young

Lancaster

Executive Committeeman Donnie Jones – Chairman
Indian Land Republican Club Comm Chairman Steven Coley – Grassroots Coordinator

Lee

Rebecca Shadwell – Chairman
Hank Shadwell – TEA Coalition

Lexington

Preston Baines – Chairman
Joe Mac & Annie Bates
Steve & Lisa Cunningham – Grassroots Coordinator
Pat & Lu Donlon
Ashleigh Milam
Linda Panis
James Rizzuti
Leo Senn – TEA Coalition
Ross Snell – TEA Coalition
Helen Watson – TEA Coalition
Helen Watson

Marion

Lisa Cunningham – TEA Coalition

Marlboro

Peter Robyn – Chairman

Newberry

Arnold Queen – Chairman
Mark Hockman

Oconee

Codi Butts – Chairman

Orangeburg

Harold Blitch – Chairman

Pickens

Kyle Porter – Chairman

Richland

County GOP Secretary Kelly Payne – Chairman
Lee Adams
Steve & Gail Eisenecker
Jim Fry
A.L. & Louise Geddings – TEA Coalition
Matt Gottlieb – Grassroots Coordinator
Jan Horvath
Debra Langley Kennedy – Grassroots Coordinator
Republican Women President Deb Marks
Ray Moore
Jo Ann Narewski
Jim & Geri Sampson
Brandon Sandusky
Bruce Snell
Zan Tyler
Glenn Wilson – TEA Coalition
Justina Wilson – TEA Coalition

Spartanburg

Representative Lee Bright
Representative Bill Chumley
Executive Committeeman Doug Cobb – Co-Chairman
Nicole Cobb – Co-Chairman
Celia Anderson – TEA Coalition
Linda Clark-Reel
Stan Crenshaw – Grassroots Coordinator
Loretta Gilchrist – TEA Coalition
Paul Huber – TEA Coalition
Christina Jeffrey – TEA Coalition
Cibby Krell – TEA Coalition
Grace Lecara
Ramona Ludvik – TEA Coalition
Robert Ludvik – TEA Coalition
Tony Mormando
Harry & Carol Musselman
Beverly Owensby – TEA Coalition
Dorothy Powell
Sara Romney – TEA Coalition
Barron Young

Sumter

Executive Committeeman Ashby Rhame – Chairman
Shirley O’Quinn – Grassroots Coordinator
Nancy Pugh – Grassroots Coordinator

Union

Nora Lewis – Chairman
Robert Bailes – TEA Coalition
Harold & Nora Lewis – TEA Coalition

York

S.C. Representative Ralph Norman
Executive Committeeman Mark Palmer – Chairman
Ron Case – Grassroots Coordinator
JoAnna DiPastena – Grassroots Coordinator
Deidre Mazzoni

###

My (successful) Quest for George Smiley

Outside Smiley's house on Bywater Street. No need to knock. George knows I'm here. And where's he going to go? It's a cul de sac. It's over, old friend.

I’d been holding this back for when the movie comes out, but now that it’s passed me by (although I look forward to its being at the Nickelodeon next month), I am much embittered and have decided to go public with the whole story — the Official Secrets Act be damned. See how they like it when it’s all laid out in the papers. Perhaps I’ll go with The Guardian; that should sting. Let Parliament launch an inquiry. Let them connect me to the notorious Rebekah Brooks, for all I care. (After all, I’ve done a freelance job for that same outfit, in the time since they cast me out.) I’ve been a good soldier, put in my time, watched and waited. All for naught. Here’s my story…

As you know, I went to the UK a year ago, ostensibly as a tourist. That wouldn’t fool a real professional, of course, but one keeps as low a profile as one can. I have my own tradecraft for this sort of thing — I make a big splash, publicize my whereabouts… what spy would do that?

It’s worked so far.

My mission — to find the Circus, and more importantly, George Smiley himself.

It was quite a challenge. George hasn’t been seen since 1982. And the original location of the Circus, now that MI6 has the River House (all mod cons, as Bill Haydon would say), is shrouded in service legend. It’s not something you’d assign to some probationer straight out of Sarratt.

First, we spent a couple of days settling in, establishing patterns. One assumes that tiny Toby Esterhase‘s lamplighters are everywhere, so you need to paint them a picture, let them get complacent. This we did — from Heathrow to Swiss Cottage (the very spot where General Vladimir would have been picked up as a fallback, had he not been killed on Hampstead Heath), then all over the city on the Tube, aimlessly. Trafalgar Square, St. James’s, Fortnum’s, Buckingham, the Globe, the Tate, the Cabinet War Rooms, the Tower, hither and yon in the City.

Finally, at the end of our third full day, after night had fallen, we ambled up Charing Cross Road, affecting to be interested in bookshops. We almost missed it, but then there it was — the Circus itself. There was the Fifth Floor, and even Haydon’s little hexagonal pepperpot office overlooking New Compton Street and Charing Cross. Quick, I said, get the picture. It took a couple of tries, the way these things do when you need to hurry. Thank heavens for our “tourist” cover; it excuses all sorts of odd behavior. Then on up the street, and an hour or so of browsing at Foyles to check our backs. Found a couple of decent-looking biographies of Lord Cochrane, but didn’t buy one. (They had shelf after shelf of naval history; it went on and on.) Then we wandered about in the West End, to clean our backs as much as possible, before heading back to Swiss Cottage.

One thing down. Hardest part to come.

By this time, I had decided not to risk the actual modern HQ of the SIS. Mix fact with fiction like that, and it’s like mixing matter and antimatter. Could blow you clear across the universe, or at least to Brixton, and who wants to go there, really? That’s why they put Scalphunters there.

We played tourist for another day. Then another. The Sherlock Holmes museum. A side trip to Greenwich, to stand astride the Meridian, and see the coat Nelson wore at the Nile. Back into town for the British Museum.

Then, it was our last day in London. Had to go to Oxford the next day, and check on Connie. Connie is high-maintenance. So it was do-or-die time. We opted to do.

We thought that twilight would be the best time to descend on George. Vigilance is low. Everyone’s tired then; time for tea and meet the wife. So we went to that general part of town. Spent several hours at the Victoria and Albert. Loads of statues and the like.

We took the Tube to Sloan Square, a good half-kilometer from Bywater Street, and went the rest of the way on foot. We entered the cul de sac as night descended (which it does before 4 p.m. at that time of year). There wasn’t a soul on the narrow street. Everything went smoothly. When we got to the part where Smiley lives, I tried to throw the watchers off by shooting pictures of houses other than his. In a way, though, they were all relevant. George lives at No. 9, of course. But the 1979 TV series was shot at No. 10. And No. 11 has a Banham security system, which the book describes as being on George’s house. No. 9 has an ADT system.

Anyway, after doing what I could to distract any lamplighters in the vicinity, I had J (her workname — best watcher in the outfit, is J) quickly shoot a happy snap of me in front of No. 9. She was a bit nervous, because there were lights in the basement-level windows. She said people who lived there would wonder what we were doing. I muttered no, they wouldn’t: “They know exactly what we’re doing.” The thing was to get it over with quickly, so we did. Given the hurry we were in, I’m struck, as I look at the image, by how placid and dispassionate and, well, Smileyesque I look in the image. Like I was channeling him in that moment.

Then, it was back out to King’s Road and back to the Underground as fast as our legs would carry us, trying not to show that our hearts were pounding like Peter Guillam’s when he stole the Testify file from Registry that time. I was getting too old for this, I knew. As I looked up at the Christmas lights in the trees on Sloane Square, they were as blurry as the stars in a Van Gogh.

I can hardly remember the next couple of hours, but I can’t forget the stroke of luck that befell us later. Nothing short of a miracle, it was.

We had decided to case Victoria Station and its environs, because we knew we had to catch a coach there for the trip to Oxford next morning, and it’s good tradecraft to reconnoiter these things ahead of time. We got a bit turned-around there, and ended up touring the whole station before we discovered that the coach station was on the next block. On one aimless pass through the vicinity of the ticket windows, I looked up and there he was. George himself. Right out of the first paragraph of this passage:

He returned to the railway station… There were two ticket counters and two short queues. At the first, an intelligent girl attended him and he bought a second-class single ticket to Hamburg. But it was a deliberately laboured purchase, full of indecision and nervousness, and when he had made it he insisted on writing down times of departure and arrival: also on borrowing her ball-point and a pad of paper.

In the men’s room, having first transferred the contents of his pockets, beginning with the treasured piece of postcard from Leipzig’s boat, he changed into the linen jacket and straw hat, then went to the second ticket counter where, with a minimum of fuss, he bought a ticket on the stopping train to Kretzchmar’s town. To do this, he avoided looking at the attendant at all, concentrating instead on the ticket and his change, from under the brim of his loud straw hat…

Apparently, our appearance at Bywater Street had sent him on the run, but we had stumbled into him anyway. I left him alone, except for grabbing this picture. You doubt that’s George Smiley? Look at this picture, and this one and this one, and then tell me that. ‘Course it was him. Stuck out a mile.

But now that I’d found him, what was the point? He was just my old friend George. I could hear Toby’s triumphant voice in my ear: “Brad! All your life! Fantastic!” But I ignored him. I got the picture, and moved on. I didn’t even look to see whether he had left Ann’s lighter on the floor.

My mission had been accomplished, and then some… Why did I not exult? All I felt was the urge to polish my glasses with the lining of my tie. But I wasn’t wearing a tie…

Let nothing you dismay

My Memphis cartoonist friend William Day shared this with me last week, and it seemed like a good thing to share with y’all today.

Here’s the Scripture reference:

6The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

7And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

Peggy Noonan on the last words of Steve Jobs

It was fitting that on Christmas Eve, Peggy Noonan’s column should begin with what she judged to be “the great words of the year: ‘Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.’” An excerpt:

They are the last words of Steve Jobs, reported by his sister, the novelist Mona Simpson, who was at his bedside. In her eulogy, a version of which was published in The New York Times, she spoke of how he looked at his children “as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.” He’d said goodbye to her, told her of his sorrow that they wouldn’t be able to be old together, “that he was going to a better place.” In his final hours his breathing was deep, uneven, as if he were climbing.

“Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. Steve’s final words were: ‘OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.’”

The caps are Simpson’s, and if she meant to impart a sense of wonder and mystery she succeeded. “Oh wow” is not a bad way to express the bigness, power and force of life, and death. And of love, by which he was literally surrounded.

I wondered too, after reading the eulogy, if I was right to infer that Jobs saw something, and if so, what did he see? What happened there that he looked away from his family and expressed what sounds like awe? I thought of a story told by a friend, whose grown son had died, at home, in a hospice. The family was ringed around his bed. As Robert breathed his last an infant in the room let out a great baby laugh as if he saw something joyous, wonderful, and gestured toward the area above Robert’s head. The infant’s mother, startled, moved to shush him but my friend, her mother, said no, maybe he’s just reacting to . . . something only babies see…

Wow.

Virtual Front Page, Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

Here’s your Christmas Eve eve news:

  1. Justice rejects S.C. voter ID law (WashPost) — Looks like the SC GOP got some early coal in its stocking.
  2. Obama in tax victory over House (BBC) — That’s the way the Beeb sees it, anyway.
  3. Bomb Blasts Hit 2 Security Facilities in Syrian Capital (NYT) — The NYT says 30 killed; other sources go higher.
  4. Leaders honour Havel at funeral (BBC) — I felt like he got short shrift earlier in the week, with all the Kim Jong Il stuff. We should note the passing of a good guy.
  5. UK recession nears as services shrink (The Guardian) — Not good. Sorry, but I can’t run over there and help with some spending this time…
  6. Crossing the Delaware, More Accurately (NYT) — Nothing like a fun history piece. Well, history is fun to me, at least.

Here’s what I would have done with regard to Occupy Columbia, had I been the governor of SC

Apparently — and surprisingly — the Occupy Columbia folks haven’t been getting enough attention from our governor. This came in an hour ago:

ACTION ALERT!

Tent March to the Governor’s Mansion at 4pm Tomorrow

ACTION ALERT: We are calling on all Occupiers and supporters to join us tomorrow for a march with our tents from the State House to the Governor’s Mansion. Once there, will deliver a special present to Governor Nikki Haley.

Please join us at 4:00pm at the State House and bring your tents!
With solidarity,

Occupy Columbia
www.OccupyColumbiaSC.org

I have no idea what this “special present” is, or why they’re taking their tents. Not knowing that, my mind turns to other, vaguely related, matters…

You know what I would have done over the last few weeks had I been governor? I’ve been thinking about this since the Budget and Control Board meeting the other day. I would have ignored Occupy Columbia.

Well, not ignored, as such. I think I might have gone out of my office and strolled around and chatted with them from time to time, totally low-key, in a nonconfrontational manner. I would have adopted a sort of traditional Hawaiian attitude — Burl should appreciate this. I would say things like, “Ain’t no big thing, bruddah,” and “We get ‘em later…”

Beyond that, I would have left the situation alone, either until the Occupiers got tired of their shtick or until the Legislature came back. And if the Legislature wanted to pass legislation affecting the use of the State House grounds, they could do so.

Because the Legislature — the source of all power in South Carolina — has made it pretty clear that it is jealous of its authority over the State House and its environs. Witness its decision back in the 90s to make flying the Confederate flag — first on the dome, then starting in 2000, behind the monument — a matter of law, to make sure that no governor took action on the matter.

Even in a state where the Legislature doesn’t dominate as this one does, I would have understood that I couldn’t simply make up rules as I went along, enforcing “laws” never passed by a legislative body.

If lawmakers, such as Harvey Peeler, didn’t like the Occupiers, I would let them pass a law, and I would, within whatever executive authority allowed me, enforce it. If the solons wanted me to act more independently, then they could grant me power to do so in the future.

In the meantime, I would just be cool, and not go all Dean Wormer on the kids.

That’s what I would do.

Don’t follow leaders; watch the parking meters

Some of us, in spite of the biblical aphorism, hide our lights under a bushel. For instance, you probably didn’t know that I am one of the leading authorities on parking meter art in the Greater Columbia area. I’ve just neglected to mention it. I’ve been a student of parking meter art ever since I saw “Cool Hand Luke” for the first time (which, as you’ll recall, was all about Lucas Jackson’s unresolved conflicts with parking meters). And then there’s parking meter music, from which I derive my headline above.

Mary Pat Baldauf found me out, however, and enlisted me to judge the amateur division in the “Change for Change” show at 701 Whaley that was put on earlier this week to benefit the City of Columbia Climate Action Protection Campaign.

The installations (“installations” is one of those words that we art critics use, only when we use it it doesn’t mean “military installation” or the act of the guys from Sears putting in your new washer and dryer) employed defunct meters obtained from the city to make statements of various sorts. Some of the statements were clearer than others. Some mumbled. Other made bad jokes. My job was to pick the best.

My assignment was to judge 17 entries on three criteria — creativity, construction and unique use of materials. Most of the works were highly vertical in orientation, except for the two that were turned into gigantic fishing lures.

There were several that I liked. Such as the initially understated one that seemed to be in the process of being overtaken by rust and organic matter, including vines. But then I realized the vines were supposed to be snakes, and liked it less. We post-modernist critics eschew Freudian allusion. I also liked the primitive, whimsical Hula Hope holder — basically, the meter and post were painted in a Merry Prankster psychedelic style, and two metal arms jutted out to the sides of the head, and one side had a Hula Hoop dangling from it. Utilitarianism appeals to me; this was an installation with a purpose, and its purpose was to hold Hula Hoops.

There were others I liked less, but I won’t go into all that here. I told Mary Pat about them later, with such extended commentary that she knew for sure, just listening to me, that she had chosen well in choosing me as a judge. I can be way judgmental when it comes to parking meter art.

Here’s the really good news out of all of this: The installation I judged far and away the best (I made like Herman Cain and gave it a 9-9-9 out of 10 on the three criteria) won the division. That was the one that had an automatic pistol suspended in the act of firing at a meter, and the meter exploding — large chunks and little metal bits suspended in space all around it, hanging from nearby wires. It was kinetic (or at least, appeared to be kinetic, which is even cooler). It told a story, one in which the implied protagonist’s motivation could be fully understood and identified with by any observer. It was a mix of ultra-realism — the point where the slug struck the meter was very convincing — and hyperbole (several .45-cal. shells were flying up above the pistol — far too many, grouped far too close together, for a mere semi-automatic).

Very impressive. And obviously, my fellow judges agreed.

I was also gratified to see that the best professional entry won that division. It was a towering, complex work, utilizing many meters, all painted in candy-coating enamel colors, that together depicted different kinds of insects buzzing about a flowering plant. Quite impressive.

Anyway, now that it’s over, I’ll have to wait until the next parking-meter show that I’m asked to judge. Sometimes I have to wait awhile. For instance, it was more than 50 years before this one.

I really don’t get political wives; do y’all?

I’m guessing there’s a little-known codicil attached to the First Amendment that says you’re only allowed to make a certain number of painfully trite and pandering campaign ads in a month, so Rick Perry had to get his wife to do one, because he had exceeded his quota.

That would help explain the painful-to-watch phenomenon above.

Set aside the script, which makes me think that the Perry campaign paid the writers extra not to put in anything touching on originality or genuinely revelatory of character: No, this sounds too much like a real person — go back and watch another hour’s worth of ads from the 19950s and try again!

The appearance of a political wife in this one reminds me of the question Kathleen Parker raised yesterday: “Callista Gingrich: A Laura or a Hillary?” My first reaction, when I saw that headline on Twitter, was to think “Neither; she’s a Stepford.” But that one’s been done to death, so I didn’t Tweet it.

My next thought was this: I’m always a bit suspicious of political wives when they step to the fore. Like, why are they doing this? Is it their own ambition (I guess Hillary is supposed to stand for that) or are we to think they’re just so doggoned loyal and supportive that they’ll put up with all this, and with a fixed smile (I’m guessing that’s Laura)?

I mean, the candidates themselves are, by definition, not psychologically normal. No regular guy puts himself through that. He either desires power, or other people’s approval, or self-flagellation, or regular sex (the Alpha Male phenomenon), way more than your average Joe does, or he’s got a screw loose, or he is just ordained by Almighty God to be the nation’s leader (which would be my excuse, were I to run).

But hey, at the end of it all, he gets to be president and call the shots (which LOTS of guys would go for, if they didn’t have to go through a campaign to get there). But to run for First Lady? Where’s the reward? You have to show up for all the ribbon-cuttings, but get no real power. So I wonder. About all of them. (As for the husbands of female candidates — there are too few, and they stay too far in the background, for me to have formed many impressions, much less to have leaped to any generalizations.)

Whenever I’ve mentioned — just for the sake of argument, baby, just for laughs, you know, heh-heh — the remote possibility of thinking about considering running for office, I don’t get the sense from my wife that she’d be up for ANY sort of involvement in such madness. Because she’s a normal, sane person, and doesn’t need anything that such an experience has to offer. Which makes me wonder about the women who DO actively get involved in such goings-on.

It puzzles me.

Is Runyan taking a responsible stand, or avoiding taking a position?

I can’t decide which. See what you think. I just got this from Cameron Runyan, the only candidate so far for the at-large position on Columbia City Council that Daniel Rickenmann is vacating:

The debate over the proposed Capital City Stadium sale reflects the need for a much larger discussion about the future of our city. We have an opportunity to use the energy around the current debate to create an enforceable vision for a clean, safe, vibrant economic engine for our citizens and a model for progressive and sustainable development. Only by working together can we make that happen.

This is an emotional issue. As such, I encourage council, community leaders and engaged citizens to take a step back, come together and work toward building a comprehensive plan for our corridors – including the Assembly Street corridor. I believe the sale of the Assembly Street property must be held until this plan is created.

It won’t be easy. If it were easy, it would have been done already. But it is necessary. It is necessary for the future of Assembly Street and for the future of our great city. If we want to have good urban growth, we need great planning.

From Rosewood Avenue to the university, the Assembly Street corridor is primed for growth. So it is imperative that we create a thorough plan for development that embraces our city’s vision for the future.

This plan must be a community effort that reflects the various concerns of all of Columbia.

This plan must be a comprehensive plan that focuses on maximizing economic growth, protecting neighborhood integrity and preserving, enhancing and embracing the natural environment.

This plan must be a transformative plan that addresses the antiquated zoning laws that have caused confusion and allowed for unacceptable permits for things like a porn shop on Devine Street.

I’ve spoken with business leaders, environmental leaders and community leaders. To a person they agree the city needs better planning for urban growth and we need it now.

I am working to bring together other stakeholders, experts and leaders to develop a plan. As a member of council, I will continue to play a very active role in these discussions and I will do so until we have a strong plan that will benefit our city for generations to come.

Comprehensive strategies sound good, but this also seems a convenient way to avoid a decision before the April election.

But if Cameron’s dodging this, he has my sympathy to an extent. I remain torn about it. I’d be happy to have the convenience of a Walmart downtown, but I’m sympathetic to the businesses’ and neighbors’ concerns…

Let’s talk about porn

Just briefly…

First, we really look bad as a community that we wait and we wait for a really classy, upscale business like Whole Foods to locate here, and BAM! the only porn superstore in the metropolitan area suddenly materializes right in front of it. Seems like there should be some way for the city to stop this. If we can’t, then private business would have a legitimate beef with the city.

Second, and this is the thing I really wonder about…

Who, in the 21st century, actually needs to go to a physical store to get pornography? I mean, really? Back before spam filters got good, we were all smothering in the stuff in our inboxes. And as things stand now, any kind of porn you can imagine is a few keystrokes away.

OK, so maybe you’re a traditionalist, and you like to own the DVD. Fine. You can still order it on the Internet, with the added bonuses of convenience and privacy.

How does a “superstore” fit into the business model of the porn industry? What is the need for retail outlets? And if it does work for them, what must the markup be?

Basically, this is a problem that has NO reason to be. And yet, we have it, right here in River City…