Monthly Archives: March 2012

Letter from the ‘Alamo’ of Texas public schools

Thought this was interesting. A public school administrator in Texas penned a letter (last year, but I didn’t see it until now), based on that written by South Carolinian William Barret Travis from the Alamo, describing how he was besieged by ideological “reformers” in his state.

Will anyone ride to his rescue? And if he falls, will there be a San Jacinto?

Here’s his letter:

From: John Kuhn, Superintendent, Perrin-Whitt CISD
To: Senator Estes, Representative Hardcastle, Representative Keffer, and Representative King during these grave times:

I am besieged, by a hundred or more of the Legislators under Rick Perry. I have sustained a continual Bombardment of increased high-stakes testing and accountability-related bureaucracy and a cannonade of gross underfunding for 10 years at least and have lost several good men and women. The ruling party has demanded another round of pay cuts and furloughs, while the school house be put to the sword and our children’s lunch money be taken in order to keep taxes low for big business. I am answering the demand with a (figurative) cannon shot, and the Texas flag still waves proudly from our flag pole. I shall never surrender the fight for the children of Perrin.


Then, I call on you my legislators in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy of public schools is declaring that spending on a shiny new high-stakes testing system is “non-negotiable”; that, in essence, we must save the test but not the teachers. The enemy of public schools is saying that Texas lawmakers won’t raise 1 penny in taxes in order to save our schools.

If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and fight for the kids in these classrooms like an educator who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his community. Make education a priority!

With all due respect and urgency,

John Kuhn
Perrin-Whitt CISD

And here is the Travis letter upon which it is modeled:

Commandancy of the Alamo——

Bejar Fby. 24th 1836

To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world——

Fellow citizens & compatriots——


I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna —– I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man —– The enemy has demanded a Surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken —– I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the wall —– I shall never Surrender or retreat

Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch —– The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —– Victory or Death

William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt
P. S. The lord is on our side- When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn— We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves—


You may also be interested in a speech Kuhn delivered more recently at a recent Save Texas Schools rally in Austin. It concludes:

These and other grievances were patiently borne by the teachers of Texas, until they reached that point at which patience is no longer a virtue. We appealed to our government last spring in this very spot, called upon those in power to encourage and support the teachers who day by day struggle to educate the poorest children in the most neglected corners of our state. Yet they responded to our entreaties with new condemnations of the work we do. Our appeals have been made in vain.

We are forced to the melancholy conclusion that this government favors business interests that want a profit-based education system that would enrich investors, rather than a publicly owned system that enriches our children.

You can keep your for-profit schools. I want a locally elected school board that answers to me, to parents and local taxpayers, not to shareholders. I want a quality public education for ALL Texas children. I want adequate and equitable funding, so that families in every part of Texas can count on the consistent quality of our public school system like we count on the consistent quality of our interstate highway system, because we don’t want to wreck our children any more than we want to wreck our cars.

Texas officials, you build your hateful machine that blames teachers for the failures of politicians; we’ll still be here teaching when your engine of shame is laid upon the scrapheap of history. For now, we’ll bravely take these lashes you give because we know that — no matter what you say — the only crime of the public school teacher in 2012 is his or her willingness to embrace and teach broken children. If that’s a crime, then find us guilty. If caring for the least of these makes us unacceptable, then bring on your label gun. We’re not afraid.

Perhaps I was born too late. I miss speeches like that. This guy’s not afraid of anything, least of all a scrap.

A crucial point that seems to have been forgotten regarding Obamacare

Our friend E. J. Dionne had a column earlier this week accusing the more conservative members of the Supreme Court of implying a wish to usurp the powers of the legislative branch — something more popularly referred to as “judicial activism” — in their comments and questions during the oral arguments on Obamacare:

It fell to the court’s liberals — the so-called “judicial activists,” remember? — to remind their conservative brethren that legislative power is supposed to rest in our government’s elected branches.

Justice Stephen Breyer noted that some of the issues raised by opponents of the law were about “the merits of the bill,” a proper concern of Congress, not the courts. And in arguing for restraint, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked what was wrong with leaving as much discretion as possible “in the hands of the people who should be fixing this, not us.” It was nice to be reminded that we’re a democracy, not a judicial dictatorship.

The conservative justices were obsessed with weird hypotheticals. If the federal government could make you buy health insurance, might it require you to buy broccoli, health club memberships, cellphones, burial services and cars? All of which have nothing to do with an uninsured person getting expensive treatment that others — often taxpayers — have to pay for…

I don’t know whether his inference is correct or not. He seems to be paying closer attention to the arguments than I am, so I’m inclined to give him the benefit on this. Perhaps they are presuming to judge the law on its merits rather than the law. If it were so, it would be a grievous fault — one that you may recall me getting on Sen. Obama’s case about, just before the 2008 election.

In any case, the paragraph in E.J.’s column that appealed most to me was this one:

Liberals should learn from this display that there is no point in catering to today’s hard-line conservatives. The individual mandate was a conservative idea that President Obama adopted to preserve the private market in health insurance rather than move toward a government-financed, single-payer system. What he got back from conservatives was not gratitude but charges of socialism — for adopting their own proposal.

I don’t entirely agreed with the first sentence — it sounds like Bud’s frequent assertions that conservatives are so awful that they should be given no quarter at any time. But the rest of it should be read aloud every day at the start of business in the Congress — and in our Legislature as well, given GOP lawmakers’ penchant for fulminating about the individual mandate rather than concerning themselves with state-level issues.

Yes, boys and girls. The reason there is a mandate to purchase private insurance in this bill is because of all the people on the right who won’t stand for doing the one sensible, rational thing that we should do — create a single-payer system.

Over and over, we hear extremists on the right (and increasingly, extremism has become mainstream among alleged “conservatives”) rant about this. Hey, I’m not crazy about a plan that requires us all to buy private insurance either. But because of opponents on the right, it was the only way we could do the one thing that must be done in any health plan that can be called “reform” — get everyone into the system.

And we all should remember that.

Some last-minute filings (and one non-filing)

First, this is not an inclusive list. I did not go down to the election office today to see who had filed to run in state races as of today’s deadline. (I say “election office,” but I don’t know where reporters went to get those lists that they brought back to us editors. Don’t care where they went, as long as the info was right. They’re professionals, or used to be. What, you want me to hold their hands and wipe their noses?)

No, this is just a list of Midlands filings that the candidates chose to bring to my attention over the last few days — it’s an update of this list. If I see any other interesting ones in the paper tomorrow, I’ll write about those, too.

First, Boyd Summers, who had been considering running for the seat Rep. Jim Harrison is vacating, decided not to, telling me in an email, “I am not going to file for HD 75 today.  Timing not right for my family. Be happy  to speak with you.” I’ll ask him more about it at Rotary Monday. But that means that Joe McCulloch is the only Democrat I know of running, which (if that turns out to be accurate) means he will face one of two Republicans in the fall. You know about Kirkman Finlay III. Finlay has competition in the GOP primary from attorney Jim Corbett, who filed Thursday after floating the idea among acquaintances in the district. “The response was extremely positive and encouraging. Serving District 75 as a Legislator would be an honor and fit my experience and interests.”

Kara Gormley Meador says she did file today, and sent me the above photo of her doing so. She didn’t specify in her note, but I assume that means she filed to run in the June primary against Sen. Ronnie Cromer and not Jake Knotts. I’m sure if my assumption is wrong, she’ll let me know… Wait… yes, it is Cromer she’s going after. She has a website now and everything, and it mentions District 18.

Twenty-one-year-old Chris Sullivan made it official that he is challenging veteran Rep. Joe McEachern in House District 77. Chris is young, but he must be pretty savvy — as evidenced by the fact that he is the first legislative candidate this year to purchase an ad on this blog. Hint, hint.

Finally, Walid Hakim — a recurring character on this blog recently — has filed to run against Rep. Mac Toole in District 88. The release does not specify whether Walid intends to challenge him in the GOP primary or in the general — party affiliation is not mentioned in his release. But striking an “Occupy” tone, he did say, “I’ve seen our state struggling to recover from hard times that fell harder on us than most states. Representative Toole, following the lead of Governor Haley, continuously stood in the way of help for those who need it the most.”

Since Walid is back in the news, I’m responding to a request from “Silence,” who asked for a close-up of the trend-setting footwear Mr. Hakim wore to the announcement yesterday at Belinda Gergel’s house:

The big ‘one size fits all’ lie we keep hearing from school ‘choice’ advocates

OK, I’ve let it go about a thousand times, but this was just one time too many:

“Parents have spoken out enough to make lawmakers understand that they deserve choices,” said state Rep. Eric Bedingfield, R-Greenville, a lead sponsor of the bill. “Education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each child is educationally unique in how they learn.”

Of course, that paragraph is chock-full of nonsense (parents have all the choices they could ask for; this issue is about whether they should be rewarded, at the expense of  the public schools, for exercising those choices in certain ways), but I want to zero in on one point we haven’t discussed before: The laughable notion that public education constitutes a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education, while private school education does not.

In my experience, it’s the other way around.

Of course, you don’t really need personal experience to understand the obvious: Public schools take everybody, and therefore have to make teach all types of learners. While there are some private schools that are specifically set up to address different learning styles, the private schools that get the largest numbers of those fleeing public education tend to be of the “keep-up-or-fail” variety.

Our kids started out in Catholic schools — in Tennessee, then Kansas, then here. After we’d been living here for about a year — this was the late ’80s — we decided for several reasons to switch to public schools. (One factor was cost, another was travel time — we had a very good elementary school in walking distance of our home, as opposed to having to drive the kids downtown every day.)

Another factor was that my younger son, who had always been bright — we marveled at his vocabulary from the time he was a toddler — was really struggling in the first grade. He never got to go to recess, because the teacher kept him in to finish his work. He would strain to complete homework late into the night, past bedtime. He was very conscientious, and always applied himself to finish the work, but it was a struggle — and he was under way too much stress for a first-grader. Like his Dad, he had trouble focusing on a task, but there was more to it than that — we would later discover that he had a form of dyslexia.

His teacher at the Catholic school didn’t know what to do with him, except to make him finish his work however long it took.

After he started in the public school, as soon as his teachers saw how much trouble he was having, a meeting was called with us and the teachers and specialists from the district, to draft a strategy for helping him keep up and learn the material. This strategy was updated and followed all the way until he graduated from Brookland-Cayce High School.

Were the methods perfect? My son, who now has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, says no — he believes the schools still had a lot to learn. And in fact, his dyslexia wasn’t specifically diagnosed until much later than it should have been. But the point is, they did something to help him, and kept on working with him. And that gave him the space and the tools to learn how to learn, to graduate and to earn a college degree. As wonderful as Catholic education is for mainstream learners, that just wasn’t going to happen where he was before.

By definition and by necessity, public education is not one-size-fits-all. They have to educate everybody, so they have to stock all sizes. Many of the debates we have over education — such as over the impact of putting children on different tracks — result from the wide variety of learning needs different children bring to school.

(I don’t know what I would do if I had to attend school in my children’s or grandchildren’s generation. In my day, you could get by just on being smart, being good at tests, and class participation. My teachers knew that I knew the material even if I didn’t get assignments done — I aced the tests that were such a large part of my grade, even when I didn’t finish them. Since then, schools have become much more task-oriented, and place a greater emphasis on homework and daily assignments; I’m not at all sure I would have kept up.)

And for that reason, it really ticks me off when people who want to drain public resources from the public schools try to make us think it’s the other way around.

Stiff upper lip, mate: Coping with austerity in Britain

On a previous post, Bud and Silence had an exchange about Britain’s austerity measures, with Bud painting a fairly dismal picture:

Check out the results of the austerity approach in Great Britain. It’s been a disaster with GDP declining a full 2 years after the US began to grow. They’re approach a full blown depression.

Well, I don’t know about all that, but I do know that when I was there at the start of last year, all the buzz was about the steep increase in the VAT, which took effect while I was there. Everywhere I went, businesses had signs out about sales and such that appealed to people’s worries about the tax increase. The newspapers were full of back-and-forth between Labour pols attacking the increase and Tories defending it.

Personally, I didn’t notice the difference — everything was a little more expensive over there than here before the increase, and I didn’t feel a few more few bob here and there. Besides, when you’re on vacation you don’t count pennies the same way — especially since pennies there are different from here to start with.

I did appreciate the sign in front of The Crown Inn in Woodstock (a short bus ride from Oxford). We went in and had lunch, and I enjoyed a couple of VAT-increase-free pints. But then, I would have anyway. It was (we were told) the oldest pub in town, and we got a nice table next to the fireplace. Cheers!

The Coble endorsements, at the Gergel home

Belinda Gergel is at the lectern, with Daniel Coble to her right. That's Mike Miller in the khaki suit to your right, and behind him to his right is Kathryn Fenner. Steve Morrison is the tall guy in the dark suit at the back, and Walid Hakim is on the viewer's far left, with the walking stick.

OK, so I made it over to Chez Gergel for the announcement previously mentioned. Not much new to report, except to say that this was a major boost for Daniel Coble. If next Tuesday’s voting follows a logical course, he should at least make it into a runoff now.

In addition to the aforementioned big endorsements, Kit Smith was there (with a new grandchild). So was our own Kathryn Fenner, and Walid Hakim, last seen being an unleader of the Occupy Columbia movement. And of course Bud and Julia Ferillo.

There was such a frenzy of endorsing going on that I almost got swept up in it, through no fault of my own. A nice lady wearing a Coble sticker came up to me while I was speaking to Walid, and, gesturing with a camera, said she would need me in a moment. I paused to say “What for?” She said she needed my picture with Daniel. I explained that unlike all the neighborhood folk there, I was not there to endorse Daniel, but to cover the event. I was pretty emphatic about it, since Daniel had just taken out an ad on the blog, and I didn’t want anyone to get confused and think that meant I was on board.

The lady seemed surprised at my words. I found out why a few minutes later. She thought I was Mike Miller. This has happened before, back  in our newsroom days. Yes, I sort of generally look vaguely like Mike, particularly if our hair is cut the same and I’m wearing my wirerims (which you seldom see, although that’s what I was wearing in that Ariail caricature I referred to recently). And Mike had been wearing a khaki suit during the formal announcement, but had taken it off, and I had on a khaki suit coat.


Later in the day, I may post video. Now, to lunch…

Gergel, Miller to endorse Coble for council

And maybe Steve Morrison, too.

This morning I got a press release from Daniel Coble saying that there will be “a very special announcement” at the home of outgoing Councilwoman Belinda Gergel late this morning.

“Also making a important announcements will be City Council candidate Mike Miller and former mayoral candidate Steve Morrison,” the release went on.

It’s fairly easy to read between the lines of that, but I don’t have to. I am reliably informed (not by any of the principals; this is second-hand) that Mike is dropping out and will endorse Daniel, as will Belinda. No word yet on Steve’s role, but it would be surprising if he’s not there to endorse young Mr. Coble as well.

I’m going to try to drop by, but might not be able to get away then. If not, at least you read it here first…

Just to be clear: Without the mandate, you can just forget about any sort of health care reform

I get sick to my stomach of reading stuff like this:

The Supreme Court struggled Wednesday with a question that looks increasingly significant after conservative justices battered the individual mandate: Should the rest of President Barack Obama’s health care law stand if the requirement to purchase insurance falls?

Most of the justices appeared opposed to throwing out the entire law, but their views on how much to keep in place were murky, and the divisions between conservatives and liberals were not always as clear cut as they were Tuesday….

If you get rid of the mandate that puts everyone into the system, then just scrap the law. Because without everyone in the system, we’re stuck with the same system we have now, which causes us to pay more than other developed nations for some of the worst health outcomes.

Either everybody is in it, or there’s no hope of affordability. And without affordability, nothing you come up with can work in the real world.

Surely the justices are all intelligent enough to understand that.

Wouldn’t it be horrible if our Constitution — the glory of what America is about — proved to be a barrier to our having a rational health care system? Well, that will be the case if the Court holds that you can’t require that everyone be in the system.

The only hope at that point would be if the barrier was simply this requirement of everyone having to buy insurance. Perhaps we could still have the workaround of a single-payer system that covers everybody. That, of course, would be far better than requiring everyone to purchase a hodgepodge of private products. The fact is that you’d still be requiring everyone de facto to buy in (through taxes) to a system that covers everyone, but maybe it would work as a de jure workaround. It sounds possible to this layman.

But then, the political barriers to taking that far more rational approach were (and will probably remain) so great that the Congress passed the cockamamie Obamacare to start with. So the thought doesn’t cheer me up all that much.

As expected, Finlay seeks Harrison’s House seat

This just came in over the transom a few minutes ago:

Kirkman Finlay III for SC House District 75


Finlay Announces State House Run

Kirkman Finlay III  to file for House Seat 75 on Thursday March 29, 2012.

Columbia, SC March 28, 2012 – Former Columbia City Councilman, Kirkman Finlay III, announces today that he will file to run for the South Carolina House of Representatives, to represent Richland County in District 75.  The seat is being vacated by Republican Representative James Harrison, who announced earlier this month that he will not seek re-election in November.

The 42 year old, a lifelong Columbia resident is married to Kathleen Finlay and is the father of three daughters:  Kay (12) Mary Fleming (9) and Hattie (8).  Finlay is the owner of local businesses, Pawleys Front Porch, Doc’s BBQ and the Millstone at Adams Pond.  He also operates a 6,000 acre soybean, corn and wheat farm.  Finlay has served as a board member of thePalmetto Health Foundation, Central Carolina Community Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, and the Boy Scouts of America.

“Economic Development, job creation and educational accountability will be the focus of my campaign.  I want to create a strong South Carolina that brings opportunity to everyone”, said Finlay.

As part of his campaign, Mr. Finlay wants to be accessible and responsive to the voters, and invites them to contact him by e-mail, phone, or Facebook page.

Mr. Finlay has already garnered the support of local business people and Columbia residents:  “Kirkman has a proven track record as a fiscally-responsible leader and has provided responsive representation to his constituents in the City ofColumbia.  He will offer a common sense approach to the state budget process, which our current leadership at the State House is sorely lacking” said Joe E. Taylor, Jr., a Finlay supporter and former Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Kirkman is above-board in his business dealings, and I know that he will carry that ethic to the State House in his representation of Richland County” said Jimmy Stevenson, a Finlay supporter and long-time business associate.

Mr. Finlay is running as a Republican candidate.

Anyone wishing to support the campaign should e-mail:

Is Nikki Haley really in trouble, or is everyone just engaging in wishful thinking?

All of a sudden, everywhere I go, people are speculating that Nikki Haley will not be governor much longer. But I haven’t run into anyone who can really back that up.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the source of this increasingly ubiquitous meme. It’s tempting to say that the fall of Glenn McConnell to the post of lieutenant governor has just caused everyone to rake back through all the scandals and demi-scandals and presque vu scandals that we already knew were drifting about the governor, and start speculating about them in a new way.

There have been, however, some new developments, even though they have to do with things we heard about way back before the 2010 election. There was the lawsuit by John Rainey, which was recently dismissed. Then, picking up on that, the Democrats in the Legislature called on the governor to waive any confidentiality if she is a target of an ethics investigation.

But what this post is about is the buzz, more than actual developments. People just keep on speculating. For instance, in the last couple of days:

  • I was having breakfast with James Smith yesterday, and he expressed the “concern” that Democrats might not have the opportunity to run against her in 2014. I suspect that if James himself runs, he’d prefer it be against Nikki.
  • At dinner last night, another Democrat — a former staffer to former Gov. Dick Riley — approached me to ask whether the governor would be long in office (the proximate cause for this conversation seemed to be nothing more than McConnell’s becoming the Gov Lite).
  • Then, Logan Smith posted, over at Palmetto Public Record, this document purporting to be from the IRS to the gov’s father, having to do with the Sikh Society of South Carolina. Again, something we’ve all heard murmurings about in the past.
  • One keeps hearing reports (James Smith spoke of it) that Nikki will have, as Will Folks put it, “a credible, well-funded Republican primary opponent in 2014.” Actually, it could be several. And she’s not well situated to survive such a challenge.
  • Libb posted on a previous thread, “Keep hearing from insiders at the Dome she will be Blagoviched soon…one can only hope.”

So far, this sounds like an echo chamber. I’ve seen virtually NO new information surface. The topic just seems suddenly to have a life of its own. But so far, I haven’t seen anything that indicates she is any closer to leaving office than she was a month ago, when this wasn’t (as much, anyway) the hot topic.

VIDEO: The ‘Zou Bisou Bisou’ scene, and its cultural antecedents

Kathryn “expressed her lack of appreciation of the “Mad Men” scene in which Don’s new young wife sings him a song in French.

No, it’s not much of a song, but that’s not the point. It was meant to evoke a certain sense of what 30ish, white, button-down people thought was particularly cool, sexy and sophisticated at that point in cultural history (1965).

To me, the scene’s cultural antecedent was the below scene in “The Pink Panther” (1963). The singer is Fran Jeffries.

Below that, I’ve included an original video of Gillian Hills singing the song in 1962. Gillian later appeared in a ménage à trois with David Hemmings and another girl in “Blow-Up,” the ultimate mid-60s cool movie (much spoofed by Austin Powers).

That’s all for now. I’ll try to keep up with this stuff for you. My time machine is standing by.

You can buy the Jessica Pare version of the song on vinyl at the “Mad Men” site.

Anybody want to talk Mad Men?

I called AT&T (and be sure to check out the ad at right) on Saturday to upgrade my TV options so that I could see the season premiere of “Mad Men” Sunday night. In HD.

I even went to see Dreher High School’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” — twice — over the weekend to help get me in the mood. (Quick, what is the most direct connection between that play — and I’m thinking the original Broadway production — and “Mad Men”? There’s a hint in the photo above.)

And it was all that I had expected it to be.

So I come in to work at my own ad agency Monday morning, and we usually spend a few minutes batting the breeze at the start of the traffic meeting, but… no one but me watches “Mad Men”! So there was no one to discuss it with.

Anybody want to talk about it? Here, I’ll start…

My favorite story line wasn’t Don’s relationship with his hot new wife, or Lane’s dilemma over the picture he found in a wallet. It was the one that went (SPOILER ALERT):

  • Young white twerps at competing agency, tired of hearing civil rights marchers outside their window, start dropping water bombs on them — which makes news.
  • Our protagonists at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce decide (in their own white-twerpy fashion) to add to the competitors’ discomfiture by running a help-wanted display ad declaring that they are “an equal opportunity employer.”
  • Joan (my very favorite Mad Man, even though “Man” fits her less well than it does anyone else on television), who is on maternity leave, thinks the agency is hiring someone to replace her, and charges into the office with her baby to demand explanations.
  • A reception-room full of earnest young black applicants, quite naturally taking the ad at face value, show up to apply for the job. NOW what are our wiseguys going to do — say there IS no job, and risk getting as big a black eye as the rival agency did?

Suddenly, our “heroes” are entangled in the mid-60s, and they have to figure out how to cope with it. And it’s deftly and realistically handled, if a bit larger than life.

‘Gov. Transparency’ won’t waive confidentiality

Harry Ott puts it pretty well in this release:

Columbia, SC – House Democratic Leader Harry Ott expressed disappointment on Wednesday after Governor Nikki Haley’s office told the media she would refuse to waive her confidentiality in the event of an ethics investigation. Representative Ott released the following statement in response:

“According to Governor Haley, ‘can’t’ is not an option, but apparently ‘wont’ is. She talks a great game, but when it’s time to turn her rhetoric into action, the ‘transparency governor’ hides behind a wall of secrecy. Unfortunately, this has become a pattern. The people of South Carolina deserve an open and honest government from their leaders. If the Governor is under investigation, the public deserves to know.”


But then, Nikki Haley keeps going out of her way to tee the ball up for her political opponents. If there’s an opportunity to be open and aboveboard — from her legislative emails to this — she can be relied upon to hide behind any cover that SC law provides. And SC law is chock-full of such protections for those who want to keep their business from the limelight.

Here’s what the gov’s mouthpiece had to say:

“If Mr. Ott and members of the House want to change the law and waive confidentiality for all of the ethics complaints filed against them – past and future – the governor would be happy to join them,” said Rob Godfrey, Haley’s spokesman. “Otherwise, we would ask that they get back to the people’s business, fund tax relief and pass restructuring.”

Godfrey said Haley already has answered all of the questions raised in Rainey’s lawsuit, adding further investigation is not needed.

“If there is an ethics complaint (filed) about matters that took place years ago and that have already been answered again and again, the regular procedures should be followed, and we’re confident that the Ethics Committee will come to the same conclusion as every other entity that Mr. Rainey has shopped this nonsense to – that it is entirely baseless,” Godfrey said…

Young Mr. Godfrey probably thinks that’s one heckuva slam-dunk answer, and indeed it does communicate volumes. Here’s my read on it: Hell, no, we don’t want to be transparent and aboveboard on this. Do YOU want to be transparent and aboveboard? Because we’re not going to be until everyone else does it first. Far be it from US to lead on such a thing; we prefer to be last in line when it comes to openness. Now, instead of asking us to do stuff we don’t want to do, just you shut up and go do what WE want YOU to do.

Or did I miss something?

A thoughtful, informative elaboration on a kick-in-the-gut campaign

In a previous thread, in response to Bud suggesting that there’s not as much hyperbolic pandering on the left as on the right, I cited the ridiculous rhetoric about a supposed “war on women,” and such other things as the billboard I’d seen near 5 Points that said, “contraceptives could become contraband.”

Over the weekend, I saw the above, which is evidently part of the same campaign as the other one, and doubled back and got a picture. This one was on 378 between West Columbia and Lexington.

Rather than just fulminate, I thought I’d pose some questions, which the above website helped me do. Under the headline, “OK, I’ve just got to ask,” I sent the following email to the organization:

Who on Earth are these lawmakers who supposedly want to “outlaw birth control?” And could you please cite a bill that would do that?

Even though it was Saturday, I got this quick response:

Hi Brad~

Thank you for emailing me with your question (and for the photograph).

Every year for the past 15 years, legislation has been introduced in South Carolina that would outlaw birth control. Currently, there are 4 bills that would do that through establishing personhood (aka defining life at conception). The sponsors listed on these bills are Senators Bright, Verdin, Fair, Cromer, S. Martin, Reese, Bryant and Grooms. Currently, the bills in the South Carolina legislature are S. 165: Life Beginning at Conception Act, S. 245: Life Beginning at Conception Act, S. 616: Personhood Act of South Carolina, and H. 3945: Personhood Act of South Carolina (I know it looks like I’m repeating myself, but they are all named similarly).

“Pregnancy” is established when a fertilized egg has been implanted in the wall of a woman’s uterus. Hormonal contraceptives (“The pill” is the most common form of hormonal contraception, but newer options of hormonal contraception include “the patch” and “the ring” – both of which provide a combination of hormones to control ovulation) act before implantation and prevent pregnancy. Nonetheless, a movement emerged in the U.S. during the decade of the 1990s that seeks to outlaw all hormonal contraceptives on the grounds that these forms of birth control may interfere with a woman’s ovulation, may prevent fertilization of a woman’s egg by a sperm, or may prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in a woman’s uterus. Members of this movement consider any form of hormonal birth control to be the equivalent of an abortion in spite of medical evidence to the contrary. They lobby aggressively in state legislatures, including South Carolina’s General Assembly, and they are behind “personhood” ballot initiatives, most recently in Mississippi.

Any legislator, at any level of government, that supports personhood or defining life beginning at conception rather than implantation supports outlawing hormonal birth control. Similar bills have been introduced and failed to pass in numerous states, including Mississippi (ballot initiative), Virginia, and Oklahoma. All of the current Republican nominees for President have pledged their support for establishing life beginning at conception (Mitt Romney did so during an interview with Mike Huckabee; Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have all signed the Personhood Pledge).

I have attached our Personhood legislative fact sheet to give you more information about Personhood bills and how they would affect South Carolina. I hope that this answers you questions, but I would be more than happy to speak with you about this further. Please feel free to email me back with any further questions or comments.


Emma Davidson

Tell Them Program Manager

Imposing further on Ms. Davidson’s patience, I responded thusly:

… you don’t think calling that “outlawing birth control” a bit of a stretch? Because they would outlaw one small subset of what some people would call “birth control?”

Do you not think that when most folks say “birth control,” they’re talking about the Pill (and not the “morning after” pill, but the one that’s been around for 50 years), condoms, foam, diaphragms and the like?
In any case, for the statement, “Some lawmakers want to outlaw birth control” to be remotely true, they would have to be outlawing all forms of it — not just one relatively small subset of the category. I don’t see how a reasonable person could possibly read it any other way.

Ms. Davidson hasn’t gotten back to me yet. And that’s cool; I very much appreciate the time she took to answer me so thoroughly the first time, especially on a weekend. (When she does respond, I’ll share it here.)

But really — when you’re driving down the road and see the statement “Some lawmakers want to outlaw birth control,” do you read it as meaning “some very specific and limited forms of birth control”? Because I don’t. And that’s what bugged me about the billboard to start with.

Too bad Ms. Davidson’s very specific and informative email won’t fit on a billboard (actually, it would fit, but you couldn’t read it safely). I wouldn’t have a beef with that, because that would be very clear about what it was the organization opposes, and I could make an informed response to it. But as things are, I hope I can be forgiven for believing the group is looking for a kick-in-the-gut, emotional response from the average motorist.

Which brings up the fact that maybe, with such powerfully loaded issues, it would be better to conduct the debate in a manner somewhat more extensive and specific than the billboard/bumper sticker level.

City Council election takes to the airwaves

It’s last-minute blitz time.

I had just finished posting about Cameron Runyan being endorsed by The State when I opened my IN box again and found that he now has a TV ad, which you can see above.

This has been a low-spending city election up to now. Correct me if y’all have seen something I have not, but I’m pretty sure this is the first instance in this cycle of anyone resorting to TV.

He can’t spell the name, but we’ll claim him

First, I was impressed when I saw this video of a third-grader making a half-court shot at the buzzer.

Then I heard his name. Austin Worthen may not spell it right, but he’s obviously one of us

As first reported by the KOBI and KOTI NBC affiliates in Medford and Klamath Falls, Okla., Austin Worthen nailed a trey from just beyond midcourt during his team’s victory in an elementary school basketball tournament on Saturday.

While Worthen’s shot came from a fairly typical buzzer-beater distance, it wasn’t delivered in a traditional way at all, thanks to Worthen’s diminutive size. Rather, the third-grader put his entire body into his baseball-style heave, which then banked in through the net to close out the third quarter of his team’s 25-4 victory.

As is the case with many buzzer-beaters, the hysteria set off by Worthen’s bucket was at least as entertaining as the shot itself. The shooter himself went racing around the court in near delirium while his coach exploded on the sideline as if he had just won the lottery himself.

The State endorses Runyan

I had a breakfast meeting this morning and didn’t get around to reading The State, but Cameron Runyan has sent out a release making sure that I didn’t miss the paper’s endorsement of him for the open at-large seat on Columbia City Council.

Cameron quoted this part in the release:

Mr. Runyan has a firm grasp of how city government works. He talks with specificity and clarity about how to make a good capital city great. He displays energy and passion as he speaks of needing to plan for Columbia’s future not just two or 20 years down the road but 100. He asks questions such as: What is the city going to be like three generations from now?

He speaks in like manner about city-county cooperation, noting that the governments should consolidate every service possible: “For the next 50 years, collaboration will be one of the most important words stated in this city,” he said.,,

There was a caveat in the endorsement, however, which was not quoted in the release:

But while Mr. Runyan’s penchant for staking out strident, uncompromising positions can at times be an asset, it also could prove problematic if that prevents him from listening to sound reasoning and legitimate concerns. Compromise is key to governing, and he must be open to changing his mind when it’s in the best interest of the city. We are particularly concerned about his dogged support of using tax increment financing districts, which siphon new tax dollars away from basic services, to help fund the Bull Street project and other developments, and his assertion that adding yet another penny to the already-too-high sales tax is the only way to fund the bus system.

Mr. Bolchoz likely would bring a conservative perspective that would provide some balance on the council. He understands that finite finances require governments to prioritize and says there may be times when projects must be delayed and that the city might have to stop doing some things. His would be a practical approach, he said, adding the city “can’t give everybody everything.” He rightly questions whether the city should now — or ever — use tax increment financing.

Nevertheless, it’s not surprising that the paper went with Cameron. As I recall, we supported him last time around, when he went up against incumbent Daniel Rickenmann. And he’s learned a lot since then.

And endorsement or no,  he got out so early and so strong that he’s been the guy to beat from the start of this election. Even his detractors (one of whom I was speaking to just a little while ago) acknowledge that, however reluctantly. Having started late, Robert Bolchoz needs to do more than we’ve seen so far to catch up. And Joe Azar will probably end up where he usually does.

Ah, Madeleine, you’re better than that

I really liked Madeleine Albright when she was secretary of state, and not just because she coined the phrase about the U.S. being the “indispensable nation” in world affairs, which encapsulated the responsibility our nation has at this juncture in its history as well as I’ve seen anyone else do it.

So I hate to see her stooping to allow her name to be affixed to another of those hyperbolic rants that I get, several times a day, from the DCCC:

Brad —

It seems every time women take one step forward, extremists try to push us back.

Here in America, Republicans have launched an all out attack on women’s rights…

Oh, really, Madame Secretary? All-out attack? So I suppose women are just being rounded up and thrown into concentration camps en masse, without regard to habeas corpus. Because that’s what an “all-out” attack on rights would look like.

And this from someone who had to deal, on behalf of this nation, with places of which such things might actually be true?

She should leave this stuff to James Carville and Nancy Pelosi and the other usual suspects whose names appear on these things. She should value more highly her reputation for having a sense of proportion.

Sheriff Lott endorses Coble in District 3 contest

I’m kind of thinking this isn’t going to go over all that well, given the way some of y’all reacted to the news that my “twin” had endorsed Cameron Runyan, but I pass on this statement from the Coble campaign anyway:

“Daniel Coble is the one candidate in the race for City Council in District 3 who understands what it takes to fight crime and make our community safe,” said Sheriff Leon Lott in a statement released Monday by the Coble campaign.

The Democratic Richland County Sheriff, first elected in 1998, said “Everycandidate talks about crime prevention but only Daniel Coble has put forward a specific plan to make it happen, and that includes replacing the city’s aging police department vehicle fleet, upgrading communication equipment, putting more officers on the street, targeting gangs and installing more cameras in high crime areas. Those things will make real difference.”
“In short, Coble has the best grasp of aggressively fighting crime in Columbia and that is why I have made this endorsement. If crime is your issue, Daniel is the candidate to vote for next Tuesday.”