Category Archives: Blogosphere

It’s gonna take me some time to get interested in stuff again

The BBC's all about Brexit today. Meh...

The BBC’s all about Brexit today. Meh…

I’ve got a lot going on right now. I’ve got something to finish for the campaign, which I hope to mostly knock out tomorrow. I’m picking up a few ADCO projects that have lain fallow while I was on the campaign. I’m going to be spending a bunch of time with the grandchildren the next few days — which is great, since I saw them so little during the campaign.

But I don’t think any of those are the real reasons I haven’t posted but about three times since the campaign ended.

I’m just finding it hard to get interested in the news and issues that are out there. After the intensity of the campaign, none of these things really grab me, and I’m not at all motivated to comment on them.

I spent a few minutes looking for topics today, and my reaction to everything I found was, basically, meh

Brexit? That’s the big news today, and I am unmoved. Look, Britain has been pretty much shafted ever since that vote, and what does anyone expect from Theresa May? She inherited a no-win situation. I have no advice for her or anyone else involved in that mess.

Election results other than ours? The most “dramatic” result is that Democrats won the House and Republicans kept the Senate. And you know me: I’ve never been able to care much which party has a majority in Congress. The parties don’t even seem to care. If the Dems re-elect Nancy Pelosi, you’ll know they don’t care at all. I care about South Carolina. And nothing good is happening here, unless you’re looking forward to being entertained by having Dick Harpootlian in the Senate. I’m not, particularly.

The nuclear fiasco? I was kind of bored with that before the campaign. I was interested in seeing S.C. start dealing with the mess with new leadership, starting with a governor who wasn’t sitting on six figures in donations from the big utilities. We might have had some hope for a new direction on energy. Now, fuggedaboudit.

Donald Trump? I’ve spent the last four months and more ignoring his existence — talking about national politics was Henry’s thing, not ours. I generally blew off idiotic press questions that had nothing to do with being governor (“What is the impact of Trump on SC politics?” “What do you think about Brett Kavanaugh?” “Do you favor or oppose abolishing ICE?”), and I liked it. My head was in a good place. I don’t even want to start pretending I care about that stuff now.

For the last few months, my energies went into trying to do something about the problems our state faces. Now, it’s hard to get motivated about merely commenting on things. Even pop culture. Lately during my morning workouts on the elliptical, I’ve been watching “Designated Survivor” on my Roku, and let’s face it — it’s not that good a show. I’ve tried getting back into “Babylon Berlin,” but that takes an emotional investment, or a certain indifference to human suffering…

So… it’s going to take some time before I find topics I’m itching to blog about. Bear with me…

I've been watching this lately. And let's face it; it's not that good a show.

I’ve been watching this lately. And let’s face it; it’s not that good a show.

Open Thread for (late) Monday, July 23, 2018

NYT page

Yeah, I’m still here. Super, super busy is all. Here are some topics…

  1. Tariffs Imperil a Hometown Business in South Carolina: BMW — This was several days ago, but it was huge: It took up most of the NYT front page above the fold. And the Charleston paper played their own story on the subject even bigger on their front on Sunday.
  2. 17 Dead After Amphibious Tour Boat Sinks In Missouri Lake — Horrific. Something I wonder about, but haven’t seen an answer to in coverage: Are these “ducks” the same amphibious vehicles used in landings in WWII?
  3. Toronto: suspect identified in shooting that left two dead and 13 injured — And then there’s this. I wish I had better news for y’all.
  4. They Vowed to Fix the Subway. On-Time Rates Are Still Terrible. — Also from NYT. Many of y’all probably don’t care, but like Frank Horrigan in “In the Line of Fire,” I love me some public transportation. Especially the systems in NYC, London and Bangkok. And Disney World, of course. I hate to see subways having trouble.
  5. Striptease and half naked football players part of Clemson event for female fans, video shows — Because y’all always say I don’t give you enough sports news. Does this count? Speaking of which, I just finished (during my early-morning workouts) rewatching Ken Burns’ “Baseball” series, this time complete with the updates that take it through the early 2000s. They have the Red Sox breaking the Bambino Curse, but it doesn’t get as far as the Cubbies breaking their even longer one. Great stuff, though…
Frank Horrigan and I love public transportation...

Frank Horrigan and I love public transportation…

Open Thread for Monday, July 2, 2018

thai

Some things to kick around:

  1. Happy real Independence Day — I say that because I’m more of a John Adams guy than a Thomas Jefferson guy. (So I’d be a Federalist if, you know, the party still existed.) And July 2 was the day the vote for independence happened. And if Adams had had his way, we’d have Monday off instead of Wednesday. So, yay, Adams!
  2. SCE&G files lawsuit to block 15-percent rate cut Legislature passed — You sort of saw that one coming, didn’tcha?
  3. Lizard’s Thicket closes Midlands store for renovations — Dang, man! The one on Elmwood just got reopened, and now they’re closing this one, too?
  4. Trump Criticizes NATO Allies for Not Increasing Defense Budgets — Hey, I’m with him on that one, but after needlessly trying to start trade wars with them and otherwise insult our allies, this is probably not the right time to double-down on this one. I mean, if you care at all about anything positive happening, which of course he doesn’t…
  5. 12 Boys, Missing in Flooded Thailand Cave, Are Found Alive — That gives us something to celebrate, anyway. By the way, I’ve explored a cave in Thailand. Pretty spooky…

That’s what I’ve got. Y’all may have something better, which is cool because it’s an open thread…

Again, we see what should be obvious: Politicians are people

This is related to David Brooks’ “personalism” column I brought up the other day.

More than that, it’s an evocation of a theme I frequently bring up in my quixotic effort to foster a sort of politics that isn’t about the partisan lie that breaks everything down to an absolutist battle between angels and devils, black and white. You can find some of my future references to this by searching this blog for the phrase, “politicians are people.”hJIDR8t4_400x400

And yeah, I know it sounds dumb every time I say it, but try to bear with me anyway, because while I may seem to be saying something everybody knows, too few of us act like we know it.

I don’t know state Rep. Katie Arrington. If I’ve met her, I don’t recall. I haven’t had direct dealings with her — again, that I recall. I don’t seem to have mentioned her in the 13 years that I’ve been blogging. She follows me on Twitter, but I don’t follow her (something I may amend after I’ve posted this).

Before this morning, therefore, all I really knew about her was that she was the woman Donald Trump backed against Mark Sanford. Which was not exactly something to recommend her to me. Here was Sanford doing something I approved of for the first time in years — standing up to Trump — and she took him down for it.

In other words, I was aware of her about on the level of the description in this headline this morning on my Washington Post app:

Katie Arrington, GOP lawmaker who defeated Sanford, seriously injured in car accident

But now, suddenly, we are reminded that this symbol of the cause keeping the GOP in line behind Trump is a human being, and one whom people who know her care about. Not just her family or friends, not just Trump supporters and not just Republicans.

The first sign of this for me was from my own representative, Micah Caskey:

Now lest you think, aw, he’s a Republican and is kowtowing to the Trump crowd, note that his last Tweet before that was this:

No, no one should be surprised that Micah Caskey, whom I regard as an excellent representative in almost every way, would reach out with compassion to a colleague at such a time. It has nothing to do with political alliances.

That is supported by such tweets as these:

And finally:

Yeah, go ahead you scoffers and dismiss all that as empty, insincere posturing by politicians. But here’s the thing: I know these people, even though I don’t know Rep. Arrington. And here’s another thing: They didn’t have to do this on a Saturday morning. No one was sticking a microphone in their faces and demanding that they take a position.

And in their concern, I realize she’d not just a headline or a campaign or a position. She’s someone they’ve worked with face-to-face, day after day. She’s someone they’ve encountered as a real person.

And through the concern of people I do know as people, I am brought to a fuller understanding of Katie Arrington as a complete, three-dimensional human being, someone who exists fully and independently of the headlines about her.

And having my awareness of her thus deepened, I hope and pray for her full recovery, and that of her friend who was injured, and that the family of the driver who was killed be comforted in their loss.

Yeah, I know that on a certain level what I’m saying sounds idiotic. Of course people show their concern, sincerely or insincerely, when someone they know is seriously hurt. This proves nothing. But try to see what I’m trying to point out: that most of the time, most people don’t see these people as fully-realized human beings, but rather as caricatures. And if our system of deliberative democracy is ever to have a chance to recover and be functional, we have to see through that, and see people as whole, so we can deal with them effectively and constructively.

Dumb as it sounds, I’m going to keep saying it, because on a critical level where we need to be interacting productively, too few of us act as though we truly realize it: Politicians are people.

And this one is hurting right now…

Open Thread for the Longest Day: Thursday, June 21, 2018

gop debate last

  1. Thoughts on the last GOP gubernatorial debate? — Again, personal commitments kept me from catching all of it (7-8 hasn’t been a great time for me to drop everything lately), but my general impression is that while Henry often made sense, with the GOP electorate as it is currently constituted, Warren probably gained ground on him. What did you think?
  2. What did Hannah Arendt really mean by the banality of evil? — And was she being wise, or being glib and letting Eichmann and maybe other Nazis off the hook? I don’t recall why I ran across this, but it was interesting. A change of pace.
  3. Our Real Immigration Problem — Bret Stephens writes that we need more immigrants — a lot more — not fewer. This seems obvious to me, for the reasons he cites — our record low fertility rate, our aging population (in case this point isn’t as obvious to you as it is to me, think Who’s going to be out there working to pay for my Social Security?), the fact that there are now more jobs out there than we have people looking for jobs, that population is plunging in the heartland, and “Finally, immigrants — legal or otherwise — make better citizens than native-born Americans. More entrepreneurial. More church-going. Less likely to have kids out of wedlock. Far less likely to commit crime.” You should read this.
  4. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and intellectual provocateur dies at 68 — We’re talking about Charles Krauthammer. I knew this was coming and meant to write about it, and about my great respect for the man — but it happened quicker than I expected. But speaking of Bret Stephens, he did write about it, so I recommend that piece of his as well.
  5. Happy summer solstice, ya pagans — I don’t know whether you plan to celebrate or not, but here’s some Spinal Tap to help. All I can say is that the problem may have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright?

crop_90Merlin_12000758

Open Thread for Tuesday, June 19, 2018

photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows the interior of a CBP facility in McAllen, Texas, on Sunday...

photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows the interior of a CBP facility in Texas on Sunday…

Several potential topics for discussion:

  1. Trump, defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP — As Republican leaders pledge to end Trump’s practice of separating children from their parents at the border legislatively, the president’s behavior is getting increasingly wild and out of control.
  2. Trump could end policy of separating children ‘with a phone call,’ Graham says — Lindsey’s having one of his lucid days today.
  3. How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects in the U.S. — I’ve heard Democrats gripe about these guys for years, and have generally thought, Whatever… But now they’ve gone to messin’. Like Clint Eastwood’s character in “In the Line of Fire,” I love me some public transportation.
  4. Judge dismisses Emanuel lawsuits, says FBI can fix gun checks — Richard Gergel’s not buying the government’s excuses about how Roof got his gun.
  5. David Brooks: The Rise of the Amnesty Thugs — Its not just about families separated at the border, Brooks writes. “What’s most significant is this: The Trump administration immigration officials have become exactly the kind of monsters that conservatism has always warned against.”
  6. There are more guns than people in the US, according to new study — This is according to something called the Small Arms Survey. The story says “With an estimated 120.5 guns for every 100 residents, the firearm ownership rate in the United States is twice that of the next-highest nation, Yemen, with just 52.8 guns per 100 residents. In raw number terms, the closest country to the United States is India, with 71.1 million firearms in circulation.”

Anybody have any ideas on how I can sell ads and be totally ethical?

Tony Mizzell in 2010: At the end of the interview, he gave me a check...

Tony Mizzell in 2010: At the end of the interview, he gave me a check…

The weirdness has been there from the moment I sold my first blog ad, back in 2010.

It was to Tony Mizzell, city county candidate.

For a guy who had spent his whole, long professional life totally insulated from the advertising department, it was… an unsettling experience.

My first ad. From the start, it was weird...

My first ad. From the start, it was weird…

I had set up an interview with the candidate. Here’s my post about that. He had also agreed to buy an ad. The weirdness happened the moment he and I were done with the interview. He said something like, “Oh, yeah, I owe you something!” And he gave me a check. Right there. At the end of an interview.

This was a perfectly natural transaction for Tony. He worked at Chernoff Newman, and dealt with digital advertising for them. In fact, he gave me a bit of code to attach to the ad so he could track its performance (he was pleased, as I recall).

But some element of that awkwardness, that ethical seaminess, has been present in practically every sales pitch I’ve ever made. And I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve tried, three times, to get other people to sell ads for me so they can be the Advertising Department and I can be the Editorial Department, and never the twain would meet, as God intended. But it’s never worked out. Partly this is because I’ve never worked with anyone who was used to the world of political advertising. And let’s face it, while I have and have had some wonderful nonpolitical advertisers (Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union, AT&T, Yesterday’s prominent among them), politicians and advocacy groups are the most fertile field for selling ads for this venue.

And of course, ethically speaking, they’re the worst ads for me to try to sell.

But it keeps falling back on me. And it creeps me out to do it. So my ads are few and far between. I was grateful to have Micah Caskey’s business again this time around, which ended up leading indirectly to a last-minute primary ad from Paula Rawl Calhoon. I enjoyed having them there, and I just today took them down, having procrastinated for a week. I miss them already. Their presence made the blog look more colorful. And more prosperous.

So I’m looking around for new customers, when I can force myself to think about it. I was hoping Nathan Ballentine would run for John Courson’s seat, because, well, Nathan’s advertised with me before, and that makes the conversation easier. But he probably made a good move staying out of it, given the composition of that district.

So now what do I do? I decided to try Dick Harpootlian, even though he probably won’t have a lot of motivation to spend money until he has serious opposition. Dick being Dick, I thought I’d strike a somewhat facetious tone. Here’s the Direct Message I sent via Twitter:

Hey, Dick, what happened to your opponent? In any case, I’d like to talk about your campaign sometime…. Oh, and on a COMPLETELY UNRELATED matter, you should take out a campaign ad on my blog. I can send details. Yeah, I no longer have that wonderful wall of separation between editorial and advertising… It’s all me…

What do you think? Too much? Too little? Yeah, it would be great to separate the “I’d like to talk to you about your campaign” conversation from the “let me sell you an ad” conversation, and I do that when it’s workable, but this is a special election, and the time window is very limited.

Also, I don’t think Dick’s the kind of guy who’s going to feel woozy at the idea of a guy wanting to make money from what he does.

Trouble is, I am that sort of guy. I was shielded from such considerations all my life until recently. And it still feels unnatural. Notice how I didn’t really bother giving a pious Miranda-like pronouncement that whether you buy an ad or not will not be used against you in the court of my opinion. Sometimes I do it; sometimes I don’t. When I do, it sounds a bit priggish. And I’ve noticed that I don’t even try to sell ads to candidates I’ve been super-critical of. Of course, I don’t really try to sell ads to MOST candidates, whether I’ve been critical of them or not. I have such an aversion to the whole process.

If any of y’all have any ideas about how to go about it better, I’m all ears…

So... I made a half-hearted stab (my usual approach) at selling an ad to THIS guy...

So… I made a half-hearted, conflicted stab (my usual approach) at selling an ad to THIS guy…

What I told Andy Brack about the primaries

Andy Brack of Statehouse Report was working on a piece for today about the primaries and sent me some questions.

Well, y’all know how I hate to write anything, however impromptu and off-the-cuff, without publishing it.

So here are his questions with my answers:

1.  What did you learn and what are your takeaways from the primaries?

Andy Brack

Andy Brack

While it can be political death in a South Carolina Republican primary to openly oppose Donald Trump, telling everybody he’s your best buddy isn’t a sure road to success. Ask Mark Sanford about the first, and Henry McMaster about the second. McMaster is in a remarkably weak position for an incumbent.

2.  What do the results in the 4th district tell you about the November election?

Can’t say. I didn’t follow it. It seems beyond belief that anyone would vote for Lee Bright for anything, but apparently it happens. It looks like we all might be missing Trey Gowdy this time next year.

3.  Do you expect the governor’s race will be between McMaster and Smith, as I do?  What hurdles does Smith have to winning?  What would keep McMaster from winning?

I don’t know if Henry’s going to make it or not. Everybody seems to be ganging up on him at this point. Smith’s one hurdle is being a Democrat in a state where many white voters seem congenitally incapable of voting for someone with a “D” after his name. McMaster’s problems are his association with the Quinns, his Old School image, the fact that he wasn’t elected to the position, and the possibility that at some point his slavish devotion to Trump — at times, the relationship seems to be all he can say about himself — could become an albatross for him.

4.  Can you measure the impact of Trump on SC politics in general right now?

I sort of answered that on Question 1. But while we know the impact in a GOP primary, it remains to be seen what the effect will be in the general election.

5.  Anything else stand out?

While there were some sour notes Tuesday — Bright’s success, Archie Parnell’s success despite all, and Sanford losing for the wrong reasons — I was deeply impressed by the wisdom shown by the voters Tuesday, especially here in the Midlands. As I said on Twitter, “I’m just so pleased. From @JamesSmithSC ‘s landslide to utter rejection of Templeton to weak support for McMaster to the easy victories of @MicahCaskey and @NathanBallentin to the crushing of Dan Johnson, results were exactly what you’d expect in a rational universe. About time.”

Open Thread for Thursday, June 7, 2018

This was the best pic I could find of a U-2. Unfortunately, it doesn't really show you how weirdly shaped the aircraft is...

This was the best pic I could find of a U-2. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really show you how weirdly shaped the aircraft is…

Why do I always provide you with specific topics on a hypothetical “Open Thread?” I don’t know. It just seems the way to do it, even though it’s contradictory:

  1. Democrats get boost in fight for control of House, but may fall short of a blue wave — In other words, those of you (bud, for instance) who think the solution to all our problems is to elect a heap o’ Democrats might want to wait a bit before you start celebrating.
  2. The future is African — and the United States is not prepared — By the end of the century, 40 percent of the world’s population will live there. Something we should all probably be thinking about, but probably won’t. It’s hard enough to get anyone to think rationally about Europe — or even Canada, or Mexico — in Trump’s isolationist, nativist, xenophobic America.
  3. Richland County gets sued over $1M payment to Seals — It’s one of those Average Joe lawsuits (although they generally involve an “average Joe” who has the resources to bring a lawsuit in order to make a point, which I could never do — of course, maybe Joe McCullough is doing it pro bono; the story doesn’t say). I assume he’s claiming standing as a taxpayer, or whatever. Anyway, they were certainly asking for it. How many more ways could they screw up?
  4. The U-2 Spy Plane Is Still Flying Combat Missions 60 Years After Its Debut — And 58 years after Francis Gary Powers was shot down. Which, if you think about it, is even more remarkable than the fact that some people are still using MySpace. Here’s a better image of this weird aircraft than the one above. (I picked the one above because it was the best one I found that I knew was in the public domain.)
  5. Dan Johnson losing fundraising battle to challenger — Which, I’m afraid, isn’t the right metric for predicting the outcome of next week’s primary. It’s just a vibe thing, but I have this creepy feeling that Johnson’s going to get re-elected. Which of course is highly disturbing. I hope I’m wrong.
  6. Kate Spade’s husband: Apparent suicide a ‘complete shock’ — OK, I don’t want to sound uncaring or anything — I feel for this woman’s loved ones, and for her — but I’m just curious. Did all of y’all know who she was? I don’t think I’d heard of her. The name rang no bells. I’m not sure whether my ignorance is a guy thing or a don’t-watch-TV thing.

Hey, did you know MySpace still exists, and people USE it?

myspace guardian

I enjoy looking at The Guardian now and again, even though, to find the stuff I like, I have to plunge into an alien universe that is mostly about how — according to The Guardian — stupid, violent, warmongering, racist, oppressive, gun-crazy and all-around evil America is.

But as I say, there are good bits (a lot of them having to do with pop culture), and I enjoy them (even though I get confused when, in those pop culture pieces, they refer to an “actor” and I wonder who’s this guy they’re talking about?, and it’s not a guy — they mean an actress).

Today, the good bit was headlined: “Meet the people who still use Myspace: ‘It’s given me so much joy‘.” An excerpt:

Almost every day, Kenneth Scalir takes a trip to the library or a cafe near his home in Sherman Oaks, California, to spend about an hour on his favourite site: Myspace.

Scalir, 48, is one of a dwindling group of people still committed to what was once the most popular social networking platform in the world, with more than 100 million users at its peak. While most people have long abandoned Myspace in favour of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, Scalir roams the digital graveyard searching for signs of life.

“Myspace is such a huge part of my life. I’ve met new people I otherwise wouldn’t have met and learned about new fashions and bands,” said Scalir, who goes by KROQ Ken online because of his love for the alternative rock station.

“It has given me so much joy,” he said. “When I didn’t have a girlfriend or lovers, at least I had Myspace.”…

This takes me back to my initial impression of MySpace. I thought of it as something my kids did, and that an adult who used it was kind of sad. I gave Andre Bauer a lot of grief for it in a post headlined, “Hey, Dudes, check out my site…”

Hey, it was March 2006. “Social media” was not a term in use. That’s the month Twitter was created, but it wasn’t publicly released until four months later. (And when it was, they explained it as “microblogging.”) And Facebook was this thing my daughter had signed up for when she started at College of Charleston — it still hadn’t broken out of the higher-ed milieu. (It would do so in September of that year.)

Later, social media would be an essential part of any electoral or marketing campaign. But that was not yet the case. At that time, it was still a curiosity. Which made Andre being on it a curiosity.

Still, I was later embarrassed for having made fun of Andre being on the cutting edge. Later, I was relieved that once again it was fashionable to make fun of MySpace. That was in 2011.

And now, I learn that it still exists, and there are still people using it?

Speaking of which… Andre’s page is still up. Here it is

myspace

Open Thread for Thursday, May 31, 2018

SCParnellAriailW

A few topics you might have interest in talking about:

  1. Trump imposes tariffs on closest allies, Mexico and Europe announce retaliation — Hey, if it’s stupid, pointless, malicious and harms the country’s long-term interests, he’ll do it..
  2. Nikki’s op-ed about the children of South Sudan — Nicholas Kristof tweeted, “Good for Ambssador writing an op-ed about the catastrophe unfolding in South Sudan.” I’ll second that. As her boss is cruelly and systematically mistreating children on our own border, she is at least taking a moral stance on children elsewhere.
  3. Anybody still want to talk about the Roseanne Barr thing? — I don’t especially, but maybe y’all do. I never liked her. I saw her “humor” as being based in her consistent unpleasantness — one sour comment about life after another — and that sort of thing doesn’t appeal to me. So ABC has canceled a show I would never have watched anyway…
  4. Candidates for SC governor are making promises they can’t keep — Yep. Catherine Templeton, Marguerite Willis and that John Warren guy seem to be the ones most confused about the governor’s powers, from what I’ve seen. You expect that sort of thing from people with zero political experience, but their depth of ignorance (or lying) on this point is remarkable.
  5. Students performed sex acts in SC classroom, board says — This allegedly occurred during something called “power hour.” Nope, not making that up. Hey, my high school spanned the late ’60s and start of the licentious ’70s, and teachers wouldn’t even let us rehearse sex, much less perform it. Oh, and this supposedly occurred in the straitlaced Upstate, not the Lowcountry…
  6. Baptist church threatens to destroy Christ statue deemed too ‘Catholic’ — That happened right here in Red Bank, yet I’m reading about it in The Guardian. Yeah, right, like the English have this great track record of tolerance toward us papists…

Open Thread for Thursday, May 24, 2018

BoltonNKoreaAriailW

Since I’ve only had two comments on my last five posts (anybody out there?), I wonder whether it’s worth the trouble. Oh, well, I guess that means I can say whatever I want without anybody arguing with me…

  1. Trump cancels N. Korea summit, calls it a ‘tremendous setback’ — Does this mean he has to give back the Nobel Peace Prize. No, wait… Anyway, now Trump’s back to making threats — against, you know, a nuclear power controlled by an unpredictable adolescent. It seems that The more the U.S. said ‘Libya,’ the angrier North Korea got. Those people are just so touchy
  2. U.S. Commandos vs. Russian Mercenaries: Inside a Deadly Battle — Yeah, apparently we’ve been going toe-to-toe in small-unit combat with the Rooskies. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. Seems like we should have known that…
  3. Bingo cards are here for the Democratic debate — Yeah, I think maybe my friends at the Charleston paper are having a little trouble staying serious about this campaign. Or maybe they’re just bored…
  4. Apparently, Al Amir is struggling — I’m sorry to hear that, because I like the place. Bryan and I ate there just a couple of weeks back. Maybe we should go again. The place used to be packed when it was down south of the State House; I guess it’s just a bit more out of the way now…
  5. The Risky Business of Speaking for President Trump — Why is this interesting? Because the central character in this lengthy NYT Mag piece is South Carolina’s own Hogan Gidley. Y’all remember Hogan. You know, “Chuckles?“… Anyway, that’s him in the middle of the fancy graphic below, which I hope the NYT doesn’t mind me sharing on account of he’s our homeboy…

27mag-whitehouse-image1-superJumbo

 

 

Are y’all getting all these notices about privacy?

privacy

I guess it has something to do with the spectacle of Mark Zuckerberg, all dressed up like Daddy, looking stiff and uncomfortable, like he’s about to have a tooth pulled, in front of first Congress, and now the European Parliament.

Maybe it’s something else. But now it seems every company that I do any sort of business with is falling all over itself sending me notices about its privacy policies.

I suppose I’d know more what it’s about if I read one of them, but I’ve never read anything like that in the past, and I’d just as soon have a tooth pulled myself as start now.

My own privacy policy, which I’ve had ever since we switched from typewriters to mainframes in 1980, is this: “Don’t type anything into a computer that you don’t want to see published for all the world to see.” This was based on bitter experiences with the messaging function we had built in to that mainframe, sort of a forerunner of the text and the IM. We no longer had to shout our “witticisms” across the newsroom; we could privately send them to a chosen recipient. Which meant the comments might take on an edge you would avoid if saying it aloud.

But it only took one or two times of accidentally sending the message to the person the wisecrack was ABOUT to break me of that habit. “Ah, yes… ha, ha… That was a JOKE, you see, one I thought only you would appreciate. Ha-ha-ha!…”

Also — the storage on that entire mainframe system was probably far less than 1% of what you have on your phone. So, in order for the system to keep working, a couple of tech guys had to go into the system every night and delete everything extraneous, including that day’s messages — which they had to call up and look at individually.

Eventually, they got tired of reading the messages between this one woman and man who were carrying on a torrid adulterous affair, using the system as a primary means of communication. And someone had to speak to them. And everyone heard about it.

Hence my rule.

The rule became exponentially more critical when computers became connected to the internet.

Yeah, I suppose I might slip and do something indiscreet one day, but in the meantime I’ve generally managed to stay out of trouble with my policy.

Anyway, are y’all getting these emails, too?

Lynn Teague on the Legislature’s unfinished business

When I saw this Tweet yesterday, it gave me an idea:

In my church, we confess every week as follows: “I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do…”

That last part is where I, personally, fall down the most. So I take it seriously.

I asked Lynn if she would write us a blog post on what our lawmakers “have failed to do.” She kindly obliged, and here’s her report:

What Remains at the State House

The General Assembly just canceled their scheduled return to Columbia for May 23-24 to work on unfinished business. The conference committee on S. 954 and H. 4375 has been scheduled for Wednesday, but there will be no meeting of the whole House and Senate until the end of June. What haven’t they done? What should they be doing before the days dwindle down to a precious few?

Lynn Teague

Lynn Teague

Their work for the remainder of 2018 is defined by the sine die resolution, passed before their departure from Columbia on May 10. Under that resolution, they can return to deal with the state budget, anything related to V. C. Summer, legislation to make the state tax code conform to changes in the federal tax code, bills that have been passed in both houses and are now in conference committee, and some local legislation. They have given themselves until November to do this. That is far too late for some of the remaining bills.

First, the state needs a budget. The government won’t shut down if the budget doesn’t pass by July 1, but it would surely be better to let agencies know what they have to work with at the start of the fiscal year. The budget also includes important provisos that are there in part because the General Assembly failed to pass other needed bills. Legislators should be working now to resolve their differences on those.

What else should legislators do when they return? They must surely bring our tax system into conformity with changes in the federal tax code, either by reconciling H.5341 and S. 1258 in conference or by writing a new bill. This is an area in which failure to act could be costly for South Carolina’s citizens.

And then there are the utilities. Of course, the utilities, which everyone said were the sole focus of the 2018 session. And yet, bills to resolve both short-term and long-term issues arising from the catastrophic failure of V. C. Summer remain to be passed. Some of the delay can be attributed to differences between House and Senate. Some can be attributed to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that was not inclined to haste. I wouldn’t say that they were slow, but substantial parts of the Greenland ice sheet collapsed between meetings. So now a significant amount of work remains to be done.

S 954 is best known for the ongoing battle between House and Senate over the amount of a temporary rate suspension, whether 13% or 18%. With each passing day, we pay more to SCANA for something that we aren’t getting because this isn’t resolved. However, in the long term the more important aspect of this bill is the PSC schedule, which would give all participants certainty of a schedule to resolve the complex issues surrounding SCANA and its exorbitant rates. This schedule is especially important given SCANA’s stonewalling of discovery requests from intervenors and the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) at the PSC, delaying the ability of stakeholders to examine material evidence.

Other surviving utility bills include H.4375, amending the Base Load Review Act (BLRA) that made the V. C. Summer catastrophe possible. Retroactive repeal would be lovely, but is pretty surely unconstitutional. The most important elements of H. 4375 are preventing future use of the BLRA and introducing a definition of prudency, a central concept in evaluating whether SCANA’s costs at V. C. Summer were legitimately incurred. Another bill, H. 4379, creates a consumer advocate and removes the serious conflicts currently embedded in the ORS mission statement. The first two of these bills are on the agenda for the Wednesday conference committee, but H. 4379 is not yet in conference. Legislators must be working to resolve their differences on these bills before proceedings at the PSC and in the courts move further forward.

Those are the absolutely necessary bills for June. We are sure that legislators expect to dig in and move fast when they return to Columbia, but there is a lot to do. November is too late for much of it. July is too late for some of it.

Two other important utility bills, H. 4377 and H. 4378, were never heard in Senate Judiciary subcommittee, but nevertheless could and should be taken up under the sine die resolution. No one has indicated any intention to do this, but it is possible and needed so it is worth mentioning. H. 4377 makes important changes to strengthen the qualifications of members of the PSC and improve their access to information. We need that. PSC members shouldn’t be just representatives of local areas there to look out for local interests, they must be technically and legally competent to address the complex issues before the PSC.

H. 4378 revised the membership of the powerful State Regulation of Utilities Review Committee (PURC) that oversees the whole regulatory system. It gives the Governor appointments to this important body and ensures that legislators are not a majority on the committee. We badly need this. However, at present H.4378 does not go far enough. We should also prohibit members of PURC, their immediate families, and the businesses with which they are associated from receiving income, donations, or gifts from any regulated monopoly. At present they can receive all of these benefits from the industries that they oversee. This should end, now.

So, with all that time until November, there is no good reason for the General Assembly not to take up these other bills and actually reform our regulatory system.

Lynn is more diplomatic about all that than I would be, but she sure knows her stuff, and I felt a post from her would be far more informative than one from me…

The life of a gentleman is (or was) the life for me…

0ff7fd27d27343059e080fb5aa92836b--mr-darcy-colin-firth

To live any other way would be… insupportable…

Kay Packett, who has been known to comment here in the past, confessed on Facebook that “I want to live in an English novel, where, when anything goes wrong, someone immediately makes tea. I don’t even like tea.”

I responded immediately:

I’ll drink anything you like, as long as I’m a country gentleman with a competent man of business to deal with the running of the estate. I’ll be happy to serve as an MP as long I don’t have to think too hard, just vote the High Tory line. Will I have a membership at White’s, for when I’m in Town? If so, I’m in… Yeah, I’ve thought this out…

And I have thought it out; that’s the pathetic part. All that stuff was right there at my fingertips when the question arose.

And just so you don’t think I want to be a leech on society, I would also be happy to serve as a post captain in the Royal Navy during the same period (Regency era), commanding a frigate, with plenty of independent cruises and therefore opportunities for prize money…

1480530742_658279_1480530991_noticia_normal

Another perfectly good blog post, ruined by gratuitous, over-eager journalistic enterprise

Grabbed this from Meg's Twitter feed. Hope she doesn't mind...

Grabbed this from Meg’s Twitter feed. Hope she doesn’t mind…

Dadblastit!

I’ve been giving key personnel at the Post and Courier unmitigated hell for having ruined a perfectly good, really fun blog post that I was almost finished writing when they had to stick their noses in:

This is what had me ticked off:

And what did I get from Andy Shain, the Columbia bureau chief? A bunch of sass:

And his boss, Executive Editor Mitch Pugh, was no better, thoroughly enjoying my pain:

I fired this back at Andy:

Fortunately, I was then able to taunt them a second time-a with this:

But enough of my fulminations. Some of you may wish to comment on the substance of the breaking story.

Frankly, I’m surprised she went with a guy with such a mainstream pedigree, given her desire to be seen as a destructive force, an “outsider buzzsaw,” yadda-yadda. The answer to the standard South Carolina question, “Whose his Daddy?,” is respected former federal appeals judge Billy Wilkins.

And his uncle is even more establishment — our former speaker and ambassador to Canada, David, a throwback to the days when South Carolina Republicans voted for people with names like “Bush” instead of “Trump.”

So maybe she’s not quite the rebel she wants Trump voters to think she is. Or maybe she was just excited to hear that he was a “Young Gun.” Because, you know, she likes guns. Or likes us to think she likes them, anyway…

Open Thread for Thursday, May 17, 2018

She LOOKS like a nice lady, anyway...

She LOOKS like a nice lady, anyway…

Covering several subjects:

  1. Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief — I hadn’t posted about this before because I was so ambivalent about her. On the one hand, I was for her confirmation on the basic principle I almost always prefer promoting professionals from within for such jobs (Robert Gates being a perfect example) and that is particularly important as a way of mitigating the harm Trump is doing to our country. (Steve Bannon would say I’m depending on the “Deep State.” To the extent that I understand the phrase, yes I am.) On the other hand, John McCain said she doesn’t meet his standard. McCain isn’t my guide on every moral question, but he definitely is on the subject of torture. So I was torn.
  2. Donald ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ Trump threatens to whack Kim — He didn’t quite understand what Bolton meant by “Libya model,” which he interprets as “The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation.” I’m also guessing he doesn’t understand what “decimation” means, but I could be wrong, I suppose. Maybe he knows way more about Roman history than he does about American.
  3. Call It ‘Crossfire Hurricane’: The Start of the Trump Inquiry — Read about the Trump thing if you want, but I’m more interested in a lyrics problem. Yes, we know that code name comes from the first line of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” But what’s the second line? I had always thought it was “and I howled at the moon in the driving rain.” The Web offers three alternatives: “And I howled at the morning driving rain,” And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,” and “And I howled at the maw in the drivin’ rain.” Listening to the original with headphones and an open mind, I think it might be the last one. Either that, or he’s saying “Laurel.” But definitely not “Yanny…”
  4. ‘Explosive’ eruption at Hawaii volcano’s summit shoots ash more than five miles high — Wow. Burl, are you getting any of that ash or other material over on Oahu?
  5. James Smith releases campaign ad — Here it is below. What I’d like you to do is contrast its calm, mature, positive tone to the nasty, petty, childish, backbiting ads we’ve been seeing from the other folks out there…

Open Thread for Tuesday, May 15, 2018

m10-4312-tom-wolfe

I actually have a request for an Open Thread today — from Doug. So y’all can blame him if you don’t like it:

  1. Tom Wolfe dies! — When I went looking for material for this post, this was the first thing I learned and it deeply shocked me. I’m a huge fan. And I’m kind of irritated that the WSJ headline says “‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ Author Tom Wolfe Dies at 88.” I didn’t like Bonfire, or any of his novels, nearly as much as his earlier nonfiction stuff. The Washington Post got it right with “Tom Wolfe, apostle of ‘New Journalism’ who captured extravagance of his times, dies at 88.” He was the best practitioner of an exciting form of journalism, or literature, or whatever you want to call it that came along in my youth and made deep impressions. While I loved Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, my all time favorite was The Right Stuff. It was unusual in that it combined his usual tone of ironic detachment with something that nevertheless communicated what heroic figures those guys were. No one could have told that story the way he did.
  2. Fired Richland administrator Seals to get more than $1 million settlement — This was what prompted Doug to want an Open Thread. Have at it, Doug — this is rich material. The crazy saga continues. But at least we know how it happened: “Council members voted 5-4 on the settlement payment after a roughly four-hour… special-called meeting Monday.” No, wait; I left out some words: “Council members voted 5-4 on the settlement payment after a roughly four-hour, closed-door, special-called meeting Monday.” So, we don’t know. You know, I started my journalism career in Tennessee, where there were no “executive sessions” of public bodies. It’s still incredible to me that they’re allowed in South Carolina four decades later…
  3. McMaster getting other governors to nominate Trump for Nobel — Sheesh.
  4. Killings in Gaza, a New Embassy in Jerusalem and No Sign of Peace — That about sums it up. What I’d like to know is, how is this issue worth all those people dying, no matter where you stand on the issue?
  5. Carolina Panthers expected to be sold for about $2.2 billion, an NFL record — Some of you sports fans may be interested. I am not.

Or, bring up whatever you’d like…

 

THAT’S kind of a cool, idiosyncratic ad…

Fenimore

Google Adsense gives me a lot of odd ads that I’d rather not see on the blog.

But I thought this one was pretty cool, and kinda weird — a James Fenimore Cooper ad?

I just flashed on my fave line in that movie with Daniel Day Lewis, when the British officer asks Nathaniel how he can possibly go to Kentucky when there’s a war on where he is, and the reply is, “Well, we kinda face to the north and real sudden-like turn left…”

Although, now that I think about it… Since this was set in Upstate New York, shouldn’t he head south and then turn right? Or head west and then turn left? Maybe the actor got confused because they filmed it in North Carolina, which would have made those directions perfect…

Wes Studi: One scary villain

Wes Studi: One scary villain

I don’t know, but I liked the film for two reasons: One was the incredible menace of Wes Studi, who played Magua. That was one scary villain.

The second was how well Day-Lewis inhabited a character who is probably THE prototypical American character. There’s no one in literature more American, unless it’s Huck Finn.  (That quote, displaying his utter lack of regard as to what a representative of the Crown thought of his doings, perfectly illustrated that.) How do the Brits do that, time after time? This may well be the ultimate example of the phenomenon.

Of course, not all the Google ads today are awesome. At the same time the Cooper one was showing, there was this across the top of the page….

No, not the great picture I took in Thailand. I mean the thing under it...

No, not the great picture I took in Thailand. I mean the thing under it…

 

From John Spratt to Ed Jones: Twitter is awesome

John Spratt with Mandy Powers Norrell and James Smith.

John Spratt in Lancaster Friday with Mandy Powers Norrell and James Smith.

I ran up to Lancaster yesterday to catch James Smith’s announcement of Mandy Powers Norrell becoming his running mate (an excellent choice, by the way — I’ll post video later). One of the highlights of the day was seeing John Spratt, whom I hadn’t seen in years.

So I looked at this Tweet from the AP’s Jeffrey Collins with interest:

That kicked off a digression in my head (sort of my default mode, really) and I replied with this:

Rob Godfrey, whom you’ll remember as Nikki Haley’s press guy, joined the conversation:

I laughed and replied that Ed Jones was a nice guy (“Mr. Ed’s” campaign slogan was “The congressman from the heart of the district, with the district at heart”), but thinking on his feet wasn’t his strongest suit. Then Meg Kinnard said:

Meg is originally from Memphis, and knows that neck of the woods. I decided to take a stab in the dark — Meg’s the age of my kids, but I thought just maybe we’d have an acquaintance in common:

To my surprise, she replied:

 

Twitter is awesome! In what other way could I have possibly made a connection like that? I need to get Kelly’s contact info from Meg — assuming he even remembers me after more than three decades — so we can get a beer together next time I’m at the beach…

That's Mr. Ed Jones on the right, and Kelly Sharbel in the middle. I'm probably somewhere nearby....

That’s “Mr. Ed” Jones on the right, and Kelly Sharbel in the middle. I’m probably somewhere nearby….