Author Archives: Brad Warthen

Death to emoji! Rage against the death of the word!

This has engendered a certain amount of discussion on social media, so I thought I’d share it here as well:

Of course, I meant “emoji,” because I wasn’t just talking about faces. I had thought “emoji” was just the cutesy shortening of “emoticon” — and my purpose was to wage war on cutesiness — but Wikipedia said not to confuse them.emoji

“Emoticons” are just the hypersimplistic, stylized representations of human facial expressions. And while I don’t much like them, they don’t irritate me the way other tiny images placed in Tweets and texts in place of words do. Things like slices of pizza and party hats and such…

Years ago, I read an article about how Umberto Eco — the semiotician who is best known as the author of The Name of the Rose — was predicting the advent of a post-literate society. This was a couple of decades ago, long before emojis. I seem to remember him talking about the Medieval days when, say, a pub called “The Fox and Hound” would mark itself with images of those animals instead of words, since the proprietor knew most prospective patrons would be illiterate.

Eco predicted we were headed back toward that darkness.

Lately, we hear regularly about the post-literate world that’s coming into being. Increasingly, our devices respond to voice and facial recognition more than typed input.

Well, I’m not going to sit still for the dying of the word. I’m going to rage, rage against it…

download (1)


Memphis knows how to throw a party (or something) for St. Pat

catechismNo doubt some will cite this as evidence that my Ménière’s has reached the point at which I need a hearing aid.

But in my defense, my wife was out in the hallway when she said this, and I was in the bathroom with the exhaust fan running — although the door, I admit, was open.

Anyway, she had come upstairs to tell me that her youngest brother was on his way to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Memphis (my wife’s family, the Phelans, are real Irish Catholics, not pretenders like me), and that he had told her something alarming about that parade.

She said the people on the floats throw catechisms to the crowd.

At least, I thought that’s what she said. I considered it a bit odd — most such parades aren’t that, shall we say, holy — but nevertheless arguably appropriate, since St. Patrick converted the heathen Irish to Christianity.

Then my wife said something odder. She said she thought that sounded “dangerous.” I reflected that maybe so, if they were hardbacks. But they could throw paperbacks, and maybe there are some abridged, pocket-sized versions…

Then she said other things that made me wonder. I asked her to repeat the first thing she’d said.cabbage

This time, I thought she said they were throwing “catechists,” and that did sound dangerous. If you go throwing people, religious education teachers, off of floats, someone could get hurt.

But something about this version sounded even more suspicious, so I finally asked her directly whether she had indeed said they were throwing catechisms or catechists.

She roared with laughter at this point (which frankly I don’t think is the kindest way to deal with my affliction). She had been saying, “cabbages.” They were throwing cabbages from the floats.

Yeah, OK. That could be dangerous.

You can stop laughing now…

Look out! What's that they're throwing? The St. Patrick's Day parade on Beale Street.

Look out! What’s that they’re throwing? The St. Patrick’s Day parade on Beale Street.

Look what I found: My old press cards

press cards

I was digging around in the closet in my home office, trying to find a staple-plucker to use on some multi-page documents I was digitizing, when I ran across these.

They are:

  1. My Tennessee Press Association press card from the late ’70s or early ’80s.
  2. My Secret Service press card from the 1980 presidential campaign (the one with the beard). I probably got this before going up to Iowa to cover Howard Baker’s unsuccessful bid in the caucuses.
  3. My Secret Service press card from 1984. I was an editor by this time, but I was the sort of editor who didn’t believe in letting my reporters have all the fun. Also, I had a weekly column to write, so I couldn’t stay tied to my desk. I liked to go check out interesting events — such as when presidential candidates came to town — myself. The schedule of a p.m. newspaper allowed this, especially if the event happened in the afternoon or evening. Morning newspaper editors can’t get away from the office as easily.

Halcyon days…

Andy Brack’s piece on Catherine Templeton

brackAndy Brack of Statehouse Report contacted me yesterday saying he was working on a column about Catherine Templeton and wondering whether I had any comments to share. He suggested in passing he might see a parallel between her and Phil Noble (in terms of their stress on corruption in Columbia).

Within minutes, I replied:

The last thing South Carolina needs right now, with the challenges facing it, is someone with no experience in elective public life. And she is wearing that as a badge of honor. Why? Because Donald Trump, which is the worst of reasons, since the man demonstrates every day how important qualifications actually are.

Phil Noble is doing the same. Why? Because Bernie Sanders. Which is another bad reason, when you’re talking about leadership for South Carolina.

More appalling is the fact that I doubt Ms. Templeton is nearly as clueless as Trump. She seems to be an intelligent woman. She’s not a moron, but is willing to play one on TV to get elected.

Which implies that if elected, she’d be willing to govern like a moron. When she knows better.

A person who stoops to conquer makes for an unseemly spectacle. In her case, she’s stooping so low it’s hard to see how she gets back up.

Of course, I’m talking about the gun stuff, and the “my ancestors didn’t fight for slavery (except they did)” stuff. You’re talking more about the anticorruption angle, which causes you to make the comparison to Noble.

There’s an anticorruption case to be made, with the Pascoe probe continuing and the nuclear mess. But it becomes dishonest, and destructive, when the pitch becomes, “Everyone with experience is corrupt, so elect me.”

Whether you find that particular brand of populism on the left or the right, it’s harmful to public life, and undermines hope for our democracy…

Which caused Andy to do a sort of “Whoa!” and say, “well, I guess you have an opinion!”

Yup. A bunch of ’em.

Here’s Andy’s column. An excerpt:

Just as a burglar might throw drug-laced meat to a vicious guard dog to make it go to sleep, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Catherine Templeton  is using every trick she can to lull voters that she’s right for the state’s top job.

She’s not.  She’s a political burglar.  And she’s dangerous.

Templeton doesn’t have the temperament, experience, tact or moral compass to lead South Carolina to better times.  After months of campaigning, she seems to want to lead South Carolina backwards to a time that embraced racism and the plantation….

Hey, alla you kids get offa my campus!


The Horseshoe.

Part of my daily routine of getting in at least 10,000 steps (and preferably 15) is to take an afternoon walk around downtown, usually through the USC campus and around the State House before heading back to ADCO.

This has been particularly peaceful this week, with the kids gone for spring break — even though it’s not, you know, technically spring.

I suppose I’ll be tripping over them again next week. But it was nice to have it mostly to myself for awhile…

The Russell House -- a student center with no students.

The Russell House — a student center with no students.

Thomas Cooper Library.

Thomas Cooper Library.

Henry McMaster’s accent is a state treasure and should be preserved in a museum

I thought that all through his State of the State address back in January, but I don’t think I said so here at the time.

It’s one thing to quote Henry saying some awful things. It’s another to watch the video above. You forget what he’s saying because you’re so fascinated by the way he says it. Or at least, I do.

The problem, you see, with those high school kids walking out of class the other day is that “Ah unduhstayund that theyah’s a left-wing group that is, uh, co-awdinading this around the country…”

They’re being used as a “tooool,” you see. (Actually, I don’t know how to represent the way he says it phonetically, but the “oo” sound is wholly unlike the way I say it.) At least, that’s the conclusion he’s drawn from the “infuhmation” he’s seen.

Every time I listen to him, I’m sort of struck with awe. I feel I’m transported back in time, although to where or when I’m not sure. I hope a museum somewhere in South Carolina is saving good recordings of this.

Mind you, I’m not pointing to the way he talks as a bad thing or a good thing. But it’s definitely a thing, and it seems to be unique. I don’t know anyone else who speaks quite the way he does.

I know some other folks in public life who have thick, distinctive accents, some of them very smart people — folks such as Jean Toal and Alex Sanders, and to some extent Dick and Joe Riley. And let us not forget Fritz Hollings. But none of them sound like they’re from the same place Henry comes from.

I notice that the folks I mention are a few years, or even a generation, older than I am. (They also, with the exception of Henry, are Democrats. Don’t know why, but thick-accented Republicans don’t leap to mind as readily. Joe Wilson, for instance, is virtually accentless.)

That make me think it’s to some extent a TV thing. These folks’ speech patterns had just enough time to take hold before television taught all of us to sound like we were from Nebraska, or wherever the geographical home of Standard American English is located.

Which is not to say that younger people don’t have accents. For instance, no one would doubt that James Smith, to name but one, is from the South. But their accents tend to be softer, less in-your-face, than the older folks I mention above.

Of course, I’m talking about smart, educated people. I notice their accents more than I do those of people who are neither of those things, because I expect education to have sanded off the rough edges of their manner of communication. Which is generally the case.

But not with Henry. His accent is perfect, untouched, and really something special…

Henry still

McMaster knows all about ‘shameful political statements’

McMaster Twitter

Well, this was kind of disgusting:

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster wasn’t a supporter of National Walkout Day.

The Republican criticized the event, which involved schools across the Palmetto State and several in Columbia as well as the Midlands. He called it “shameful,” and something that was orchestrated by a “left-wing group.”

“It appears that these school children, innocent school children, are being used as a tool by left-wing group to further their own agenda,” McMaster told ETV….

“This is a tricky move, I believe, by a left-wing group, from the information I’ve seen, to use these children as a tool to further their own means,” McMaster said. “It sounds like a protest to me. It’s not a memorial, it’s certainly not a prayer service, it’s a political statement by a left-wing group and it’s shameful.”…

Really? What’s “shameful” about it? Mind you, I’m not a big believer in walkouts and other kinds of protests. I prefer for people to use their words rather than their feet (because, you know, I’m a word guy). And this is not the place to come to if you want to hear about how much wisdom we can learn from the children if only we’ll listen. You know me; I’m an “Alla you kids get offa my lawn” kind of guy, a believer in experience and the perspective that comes with it, the founder of the Grownup Party. I was born a crotchety old man, and thank goodness, I’m finally getting to the age where it doesn’t seem out of place.

But I certainly don’t doubt the sincerity of these kids. There’s a purity in it that experience tends to dilute, or at least temper. They may think and speak as children, but they really mean it.

And yeah, I know Henry means the — shall we use the phrase “outside agitators?” — who he claims put the kids up to it are the “shameful” ones rather than the kids themselves. But I see little indication that the kids have been manipulated. And if they had been, what’s “shameful” about persuading kids to stand up and say, “protect us?”

But Henry says that it is shameful, and sure, he’s a guy who knows all about doing and saying shameful things. Consider:

  • This is the guy who was the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse Donald Trump for president, giving him a huge leap forward in viability. And he continues to stay attached at the hip, even as Trump daily demonstrates the madness of that endorsement.
  • This is the guy who vetoed the gas tax increase, without setting forth any viable alternative for fixing our roads — a contemptible act of political cowardice and opportunism that the lawmakers of his own party had no qualms about rising up and overriding.
  • This is the guy who’s going after sanctuary cities in South Carolina, even though there are no sanctuary cities in South Carolina. Given that inconvenience, which prevents him from going out and pummeling said cities, he’s demanded that they prove they’re not sanctuary cities.

All pretty shameful, right?

And now, he’s the guy impugning the integrity of the student movement against school shootings, calling it “shameful.”

Well, he should know…

Her Majesty got stiffed

Yeah, you'd BETTER look away, making more money than the queen...

Yeah, you’d BETTER look away, making more money than the queen…

This may not have engendered outrage at your house, but it did at mine:

If there is a lesson to take away from the first two seasons of “The Crown,” it is that no sane person would dare cross Queen Elizabeth II. Netflix seems to have learned this too late, however, as it was revealed on Tuesday that lead actress Claire Foy made less than co-star Matt Smith for her work on the show.

Variety reported that producers Suzanne Mackie and Andy Harries were asked during a discussion at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem whether the actors playing Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, were paid the same amount. The pair said Smith made more because of his “Doctor Who” fame, saying that the inequity would be amended in the future.

“Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen,” Mackie said…

I would certainly think not.

All through those two seasons, my wife said over and over that this Matt Smith guy was a case of appalling casting — such a strange-looking dude playing such a handsome — or at least normal-looking prince. And it wasn’t just an attractiveness thing. She thought the actor’s manner and overall oddness was distracting.

So she really, really thought it wrong that he should be paid more than Ms. Foy, who did an excellent job of embodying my 16th cousin once removed — that is to say, the queen. (I’d have been outraged, too, if only she’d invite us over to the palace more. Or even once.)

It’s weird the way these things work. I’m not a fan of Doctor Who — I tried watching the very first episode with the first Doctor once, and gave up after a few minutes, failing to see the appeal — but even if I were, I doubt I’d be overly impressed by an actor for having played the role. I mean, at this point, who hasn’t?

It’s the strangest salary decision I’ve seen since Rob Lowe was initially paid more than the actors who played Leo McGarry, C.J. Cregg, Josh Lyman and Toby Ziegler on “The West Wing.” (When they caught up to him in pay, he quit because he didn’t get a raise to stay ahead of them — which showed he really had an exaggerated sense of Sam Seaborn’s role in the great scheme of things.)

But despite the insult to Ms. Foy, we can take comfort from the fact that the next actress to play Her Majesty (they’ll change every couple of years in order to be age-appropriate) will not get stiffed. And that’s good, because the next actress is Olivia Colman, who is wonderful.

Did any of you see her in “The Night Manager?” The producers of that le Carre adaptation did something I normally hate — they significantly changed an important character, in this case by turning him into a woman. Leonard Burr, the recruiter and case officer for the title character, became Angela Burr, who was — just in case you didn’t quite notice the change — pregnant.

She totally made it work, imbuing the usual care that a case officer has for his (or her) agent with a maternal aspect that intensified the relationship. The parallel between a mother harboring vulnerable life in her womb and agent runner trying to keep a “joe” alive in the field was powerful.

And I doubt a lesser actress could have pulled it off and made this obsessive le Carre fan applaud. The miniseries was just much better than had Burr been a man.

I expect her to bring similar depth to the portrayal of Elizabeth Windsor. And it’s good to know she’ll be fairly paid for doing so…

Olivia Colman as Angela Burr in "The Night Manager"

Olivia Colman as Angela Burr in “The Night Manager”

Catherine Templeton’s gun problem

Conservative Outsider and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton (which I’ve come to think of as her full legal name, based on her campaign’s releases) is talking tough on guns again:

Yeah, those darned kids, lacking the gumption to stand up for their God-given right to get gunned down in geometry class…

Anyway, guns are kind of a theme for her at the moment.

Over at the Greenville paper’s website, you can find video of her squeezing off a few rounds at a local range.

She’d better hope folks only watch the video, and don’t read the story that goes with it. An excerpt:

SLED disputes Catherine Templeton’s claims…

In a campaign ad posted online last week, Republican candidate for governor Catherine Templeton said she “ruffled so many feathers” after starting work for former Gov. Nikki Haley in 2011 that state law-enforcement officials grew concerned for her safety.

“The State Law Enforcement Division actually called and said, ‘Catherine, we need you to get a concealed weapons permit; we need you to start carrying, and we need you to protect yourself because of you’ve made a lot of people mad,'” Templeton says in the ad.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said he could find no evidence that his agency told Templeton to obtain a concealed-weapons permit or carry a gun.

“It is not our practice to tell, instruct or order a person to obtain a concealed-weapons permit,” Berry said in response to questions from The Greenville News and Independent Mail….

Both SLED Chief Mark Keel (through Berry) and his predecessor Reggie Lloyd deny having made such a recommendation to her.

Berry confirms that she did take a concealed-weapons class organized by SLED in 2011, along with some court officials.

Which makes this part even more embarrassing:

Before Monday’s interview, Templeton took a .38-caliber handgun that belonged to her grandfather out of her purse at the gun range. As two campaign aides, a photographer and a reporter watched, Templeton tried to fire the weapon several times but it repeatedly malfunctioned…

But there’s a happy ending for this campaign’s pistol-packin’ mama:

Using another .38-caliber handgun provided by an employee at the business, Templeton struck a body-shaped target in the head and chest with several shots.

That’s in the video. After which, she says of the man-shaped target, “Yeah, he’s done…”

No, it’s not Ted Cruz makin’ machine-gun bacon, but she does what she can…

"Yeah, he's done," she says of the target.

“Yeah, he’s done,” she says of the target.

Good to have SOME adult supervision for Richland County

Here’s what I don’t like about ideologues is that they don’t know when to make an exception to their rules.

Folks on the left and right dismiss those of us in the middle because they think we don’t believe in anything. I believe in quite a few things — but I know when to make an exception from the principles I espouse.

Cindi Scoppe’s the same way. She and I hold quite a few principles in common. One of them — which you can describe as subsidiarity, or devolution or decentralization or federalism or some other word that’s not coming to mind because I had a beer at lunch — is the idea that, generally speaking, governing decisions should be made as locally as possible.

But there are exceptions. And personally, I prefer the term “subsidiarity” because it assumes exceptions, since the rule is that “matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority.” The key word being “competent.” When the smaller entity can’t do the job, the larger one needs to step in. Which came into play in Cindi’s column today about the state Supreme Court jumping on Richland County for misspending penny tax money:

But honestly, even as someone who believes passionately that local governments should have broad authority to act without state interference, I can’t help being relieved to know that there are going to be some grownups looking over the county’s spending.

Not all of it, of course. The County Council still has control over property taxes and restaurant taxes and all sorts of other revenue the county collects.richland-county

It still has the ability, unsupervised by grownups, to sell prime real estate at a ridiculously low price without marketing it, or even announcing that it was on the market, as it did with the former sheriff’s department site on Huger Street.

It still has the ability, unsupervised by grownups, to hire a new transportation director with absolutely no experience in … wait for it … transportation.

It still has the ability, unsupervised by grownups, to spend $1.2 million to renovate its own meeting and office space, and then announce less than four months later that it’s relocating its chambers and the whole complex, bulldozing the adjacent building (to build a new courthouse) and turning the just-renovated space into a ceremonial courthouse.

And to secretly concoct a plan to move some of its offices to a nearly abandoned mall — which might be a good idea, but for the “secretly” part, which applies not just to the specific property being purchased but also to the whole plan. And to wrap it all up with a gaudy “Richland Renaissance” bow that also covers such dubious projects as a business incubator, a critical care medical facility (don’t doctors usually build those?) and, my personal favorite, a competitive aquatics center.

For which the cost is at best speculative. And no funding source has been identified. And about which it agreed to hold a legally required public hearing only after one of my colleagues in the news department kept hounding the county.

But I digress….

Maybe she got that from me. The digressing thing. (In her defense, she’s far more disciplined about it than I am.)

But back to her original point: Yes, it’s good to see the county get some adult supervision. And it could probably stand with a little more. Vote Grownup Party!

The abomination that is Daylight Savings Time

The way we'd determine the time in a perfect world.

The way we’d determine the time in a perfect world.

I can’t let this week go by without mentioning the abomination which has yet again been visited upon us:

This morning I had to get up even earlier, which means it was even blacker outside. I actually seriously considered skipping my morning workout, which would have meant the rest of the day would be a mad scramble to try to get in my 10,000-15,000 steps. I hate starting the day behind.

And it’s all so unnecessary, as well as unnatural.

I hate, positively hate, going through the whole day with all timekeeping devices telling me it’s an hour later than it really is, and everybody expecting me to go by that lie.

Oh, and for those of you who think the hours of the day are an artificial construct anyway — you’re right up to a point, but one thing about the concept is (or used to be) grounded in the natural, physical world: Noon should be the midpoint of the day, the moment when the sun is at its zenith.

Here’s the way things should be: The person in charge at the U.S. Naval Observatory should step out onto a terrace — preferably one made to look like a quarterdeck in the Age of Sail — with a group of midshipmen. They should all shoot the sun with their sextants, and tell the boss when the sun is at its peak. He (or she) will then say, “Make it noon,” and someone will press a button that instantly resets every mobile phone, tablet, laptop or other device that keeps time and is synced to official time in the country.

We would then live in a saner, more grounded world. And I would cherish that.

That’s my dream, anyway.

Somewhat closer to the real world, there are reform moves afoot in the Legislature. When I first read of his proposal to do away with this annual change, I resolved to write a post saying, “Harvey Peeler is my hero!” But then I saw that as far as Harvey is concerned, we could have DST all year — it’s just the changing that bothers him.

That, of course, would be worse than what we have now — there would be no normal, sane months under that scheme. How the senator can equate the two is beyond me…

I didn’t know there WERE 20 ‘cities’ in SC

Trashed: A room in my parents' beach house after the break-in in 2016.

Trashed: A room in my parents’ beach house after the 2016 break-in.

I received a release this morning from something called “SafeWise” announcing the “20 Safest Cities in South Carolina,” based on “2016 FBI crime report statistics and population data.”

I immediately assume that this report is using the term “city” loosely, since I was not aware South Carolina had that many of them.

And my assumption is correct, as the No. 1 safest “city” on the list is Isle of Palms, population 4,419. My home town Bennettsville has a population of 9,425, and I have never thought of it as a major metropolitan area.

Anyway, only one place most of us think of, right off the bat, as a “city” in SC makes the list, and that’s Charleston. It comes in 20th. Mount Pleasant, an actual city we are slightly less likely to think of, comes in 6th. So nice going, there.

I was amused to see that Surfside Beach came in third. That’s because in 2016, the year the statistics cover, my parents’ home there was broken into and completely trashed in the search for things worth stealing. The same suspect apparently broke into my uncle’s house nearby — twice.

But I guess such things happen in other places more frequently.

And no, I’m not entirely sure what “SafeWise” is. The release is only moderately helpful. It says, “SafeWise helps families and communities make informed decisions about safety solutions.” As you see, some words are missing. It should say, “SafeWise is a _____ that helps families and communities make informed decisions about safety solutions.”

But if you’re really curious, you can peruse their website.

I don’t know what to do to please you, Google…

They’re back at it.

Again, I’m getting these notifications from Google Adsense:

Dear Publisher,

This Google Publisher Policy Report gives you an overview of recent activity related to violations found on specific pages of your websites. As enforcement statuses may change over time, please refer to the “Page-level enforcements” section of the AdSense Policy Center for the current list of active violations.

Please note this report doesn’t cover violations that may happen on an overall site or account level. You may be notified by a separate email if site or account level violations are found. Ads will continue to serve where no policy violations have been found, either at the page- or site-level.

In the last 24 hours:

  • New violations were detected. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found. To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages.

Further details on enforcements can be found in the AdSense Help Center. To learn more about our program policies, please view the AdSense Program Policies.

Kind regards,
Google Publisher Policy

Of course, none of those links will take you to a page that says, here’s the problem with have with this post. No, each time I get one I have to remember the roundabout, counterintuitive way I had figured out earlier.

After I do (remember it), I find myself once more at a notification that tells me they have a problem with this post — again — which of course is ridiculous. Here’s what they say about it:



Dangerous or derogatory content


Restricted ad serving help_outline

Enforcement date

Mar 11, 2018

Past review outcome

Policy non-compliant (Mar 6, 2018)

How to resolve this

Click on the violation name to learn more about it. You have two resolution options:

  • Fix the violations and request a review 
    After you make adjustments to your page so that it’s compliant with AdSense policies, you can request a review.
  • Remove the AdSense ad code from the page 
    Pages without any AdSense ad code will be automatically removed from the Policy center within 7-10 days. No other action on your part is needed.

If you think that these policy violations do not apply to this page, you can also request a review. Reviews typically take 1 week but sometimes can take longer.

So again, I request a review from Google. The next day, they say my appeal has been denied, and absurdly, my post continues to be “dangerous or derogatory.” Which, of course, it is not. It is a post about something that someone, somewhere, thought was derogatory, and my post patiently explains why anyone who thinks that is mistaken. Which is the kind of thing you talk about on an opinion blog.

So I click on the “Request Review” again, my theory being that if I keep asking, an actual human will review the situation and realize that yes, this is the kind of thing one discusses on an opinion blog, and therefore there is nothing inappropriate about it.

But I get another robo-answer that I remain in violation.Google-favicon-2015

So the status of that post will continue to be “Restricted ad serving.”

All right, fine. Who cares if Adsense ads don’t show up on that one post from more than seven years ago? I’m willing to leave it at that.

But Google isn’t. They keep sending me the notifications.

My next step — my only ethical option I can see — will be to see if I can “Remove the AdSense ad code from the page” without blowing up my blog or something. Something I do not know how to do. But I’ll try. And then see if they’ll leave me alone.

But if I can’t figure that out, what then? The notifications, of course, come from a “noreply” email address. So I can’t have a conversation with a person. Of course…

Condon will now have plenty of power for his electric sofa

Y’all have probably already seen this:

Former S.C. Attorney General Charlie Condon has been appointed chairman of the Santee Cooper board of directors.

Gov. Henry McMaster made the appointment Wednesday. Condon will serve out the term ending in May left vacant when Leighton Lord resigned last December and then be appointed to a full seven-year term.

“I appreciate Gov. McMaster asking me to accept this important challenge,” Condon said in a statement. “As the future and mission of Santee Cooper is debated, my goal is to provide transparent and accountable leadership of the board, with the interests of ratepayers and customers my No. 1 priority.”…

Y’all remember Charlie, right? He was the AG who used to play pandering politics so strenuously that it was embarrassing — at least, it was embarrassing in the pre-Trump era, before standards were drastically lowered. After him, Henry McMaster’s sober stewardship in that office was a great relief.

Charlie Condon

Charlie Condon

Charlie’s probably most famous for saying he’d like South Carolina to replace its electric chair with an “electric sofa” so we could execute multiple prisoners at once.

Here’s the funny thing about Charlie, though — one on one, he was a personable and fairly reasonable guy. Sit down with him, and he seemed OK. Very likable. You just didn’t want him getting in front of a microphone, at which point he seemed to lose all restraint.

Anyway, here’s hoping that we’ll see the private, sensible, one-on-one Charles Condon at Santee Cooper, rather than Press-Release Charlie. We’ve got enough turmoil on the utility front already…

Graham back to giving doggy treats to Trump’s ego

Here we go again:

Graham on North Korea

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on reports of negotiations between North and South Korea in an effort to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

“If there is an agreement reached between the United States, North Korea and the rest of the world regarding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the lion’s share of credit will go to President Trump for his strong stand.

“President Trump has been steadfast in his commitment to deny the North Korean regime the ability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. 

 “I hope the strong and unequivocal position by the President will lead to a major breakthrough that would be beneficial to the world at large.”


It’s like one of those daisy things: He loves him; he loves him not. He loves him; he loves him not….

You know, you’d think a guy like Graham, with his experience in foreign affairs, having been around a foreign policy establishment that has worked, soberly and diligently, to contain North Korea and its nukes over the past decade, would know better than to give all the credit to the guy who pumps out stuff like this:


Have some pride, senator….

Again, THIS is how you get things done, people…


This is another little object lesson for Phil Noble and other Democrats who think the way to get worthwhile things done is to be more partisan, in a red state.

This came to my attention today because James Smith retweeted it, saying, “Great work ! Thank you for your leadership:”

Note that Democrat Funderburk makes a particular point of thanking, along with the speaker, Republicans Newton, Pope and Clary, as well as fellow Dems Beth Bernstein and Mandy Powers Norrell.

Here’s the bill in question.

Because, you know, this is how you get things done. By ignoring the partisan junk and working with anyone who wants to make our state better. Just as Smith himself has been demonstrating with his bill to raise the cap on solar, which has considerable Republican support.

Note also the shout-out to our own Lynn Teague. She’s one of those lobbyists who provides valuable information and input to lawmakers — you know, one of those people some of you think don’t exist…

Open Thread for Tuesday, March 6, 2018


James Smith speaking at Columbia Rotary Monday. I’m thinking maybe this picture was taken by his Dad, who is a member.

I haven’t given you one of these in awhile, so here goes…

  1. North Korea Is Open to Ending Nuclear Efforts, South Says — Major breakthrough? We’ll see. Trump “reacted with guarded optimism.” For once, we’re in accord.
  2. On the other hand. Putin is threatening us with new nuclear missiles — Yeah, this is several days old, but we never did talk about it. And it was kind of a biggie.
  3. Kimpson: Reparations for slavery should be included in any new SC constitution — Not very likely, no matter how the delegates are chosen. But it does illustrate how a convention could go anywhere, far afield of the reform that convention advocates rightly hope for.
  4. ‘I don’t know what he’s going to tweet about,’ Haley says of Trump — Why on Earth would she? Who does? What interested me was her description of speaking to Trump as one might do to an unbalanced child before he addressed the U.N.: “OK now, Mr. President, you need to understand this is a serious crowd. They’re not going to rally. They’re not going to cheer. That’s just not who these people are. So don’t take it the wrong way. I said, ‘Just think of it as church.'” Because, you know, he needs someone to tell him that stuff. I just can’t believe we live in a world in which this guy is POTUS.
  5. In bid for SC governor, Smith touts better teacher pay, new state energy policy — While Catherine Templeton was talking about making people stand for the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and pushing Nullification — in something her campaign characterized as a major policy speech — Smith was talking to Rotary about actual, you know, state policy. It sounds like he was addressing her directly when he said high-profile hot-button battles over cultural issues “don’t educate a child or pave a road or move our state forward.”
  6. There’s just no end of weirdness in this world — I hope I don’t get in copyright trouble for sharing the picture below (I’ll take it down if told to), which is from a big Moonie religious ceremony last week celebrating marriage and semi-automatic weapons. But I felt you had to SEE it to fully feel the weird…


I thought Templeton had one good idea. I was wrong…

When I saw that Catherine Templeton had put out a “Conservatives Issues platform” on Monday, I assumed it would be more of the same. Which is to say, another instance of an intelligent woman trying to appeal to the most atavistic blood-and-soil reflexes of a traumatized Republican Party, in keeping with her strategy of trying to out-Bannon Henry McMaster.



But then I was delighted to see one good idea — or at least, to see what I initially thought was a good idea: The State reported that she wanted to protect “Home Rule.”

I was impressed. Too few people understand the problem of the Legislature’s utter failure to fully implement the Home Rule Act of 1975, maintaining its feeble influence over local matters and keeping local governments weak.

If she was standing up for Home Rule in South Carolina, it would be the second time in a week that someone had stood up for a long-overdue “Power Failure” reform — the other time being the freshmen’s proposal for a constitutional convention to address fundamental structural problems in our state government.

But I was wrong, as I realized when I saw a release in which Jim DeMint (remember that guy?) was praising her position. This was NOT a case of someone standing up for fixing an actual problem that plagues South Carolina (and which far too few people understand). Nope. She was just touching another far-right base, trying to get the ganglia to twitch.

She was sticking up for “Home Rule” in a way that only makes sense to people who keep up with the latest fetishes of the far right. She, too was seeking a constitutional convention — only in her case on the federal level, and to address nonexistent problems:

  • Make South Carolina a signatory of the Convention of States movement.

“Our Founding Fathers intended for this government to be of the people, by the people, for the people,” Templeton explained. “The U. S. Constitution gives South Carolina the right and duty to make sure the federal government doesn’t interfere where it is not welcome. Today, the federal government exercises control over our very livelihood.  Every day Congress takes more and gives us less. As governor, I will support the current push by conservatives in South Carolina’s General Assembly who are fighting to take back states’ rights from a bloated, bureaucratic, overbearing federal government. While the President fights top down, I join him in our fight from the states up.”

Today, former United States Senator Jim DeMint commended Catherine Templeton’s courage in fighting for conservative values.

“States must do more to chart their own course for the future and reign in the out-of-control federal government.  I commend Catherine Templeton for her wisdom and courage to support the Article V Convention of States Project.  It is the only constitutional way to save our country and our state.”
-Jim DeMint, March 5, 2018

Remember the recent resurrection of Nullification? Well, it receded for awhile, but apparently it’s back. You just can’t keep a bad idea down in South Carolina.

What does it tell us that a bunch of House freshmen can take a bold and risky stand in favor of a sweeping, needed and too-little-understood reform, but a viable candidate for governor of the whole state sketches out a vision that is nothing but one knee-jerk pander after another?

Anyway, she got my hopes up for a second, but then crushed them…

How does McAfee keep doing this?

McAfee 2

I have Webroot on my laptop. That’s my antivirus software. I’ve had it since I got the computer. I’ve never installed or tried to use any other security software on this particular platform.

So how come McAfee periodically — as it did this morning, until I stopped it — launches itself and starts scanning my computer?

I’ve never asked it to.

Yeah, I get that computers often come with such software. But I never activated it. So how come?

Seems… intrusive to me…

Go read Cindi’s column on the restructuring proposal

It’s a good piece, rightly taking Democratic leadership to task for their ham-handed attack on the freshmen’s proposal, and also showing due hesitation about a convention.

Of course, Cindi agreeing with me on a “Power Failure” issue is not exactly news, but maybe y’all will like the way she explains it better.

So go click on it. Then go to another device and click on it from there. Because I worry that serious, complex reform issues such as this don’t get enough coverage in an age when it’s all about the clicks. Cindi sort of indirectly alludes to that problem within her column:

I mean, if it weren’t for Trav Robertson’s delusional (or deliberately deceptive, or embarrassingly ignorant) rant, how could I get anybody to read about legislation proposed by most freshman legislators to blow up South Carolina’s government and start over?

Actually, now that I put it that way, maybe that’s something you would find interesting…

One hopes. But just to make sure, go read it a few times. And click through when she gives you links to the two bills, and other links.

It ends on a hopeful note. While a constitutional convention may be dangerous, and while this proposal may go nowhere, this year, it’s very encouraging that this many freshmen actually understand what’s really wrong with state government.

Which makes them the savviest freshman class I’ve ever seen. And that gives me a lot of hope for the future, when these lawmakers have more pull — if they can get re-elected. As Cindi puts it:

Cindi recent mugWhat is significant, hugely significant, is that most of our state’s first-term legislators have decided that South Carolina’s biggest problem is that the Legislature has too much power. And they have concluded that the problem is so dire that it warrants the most radical solution they can think of — within the confines of statutory and constitutional law — because the Legislature is not going to voluntarily relinquish a significant amount of power.

What is significant is that these freshmen understand that this whole exercise is a waste of time unless they make voters understand that their frustration and anger about our state’s failures is a result of the way our government is structured. They say they are willing to invest the energy and resources and time to do that.

If they succeed, we won’t need to take a chance on a constitutional convention, because the Legislature will make the changes itself….

But go read the whole thing