Category Archives: Blogosphere

Wonderful news for Cindi, and even better for SC!

Cindi

Cindi Ross Scoppe shared her good news with me last week, but told me to embargo it while she and the folks at the Post and Courier decided how to announce it. So I did. And then, she went ahead and scooped me herself on social media!

It’s those kind of killer instincts that have made her the finest political journalist working in South Carolina today.

And yes, she is indeed back working. As she wrote:

I’m starting my new job on Thursday, as an editorial writer for The Post and Courier. I’ll be working with a great team, writing editorials and columns primarily about state government and the Legislature. And yes, I’m staying in Columbia, where I can keep a close eye on everything. I’ll have a column in a few days introducing myself to readers, and I’ll share that here.

This is tremendous news — the Charleston paper creating this new position, in Columbia, and hiring Cindi for it is the kind of fairy-tale ending that just doesn’t happen for experienced journalists these days. It’s wonderful for Cindi, and even better for South Carolina.

Y’all might not know this, but the Post and Courier is the last daily newspaper in South Carolina that actually employs an editorial department (with an editorial page editor and everything), offering opinions on the issues that affect our state. The State, as you know, doesn’t do it — they didn’t even bother to have an “opinion page” today, which is just as well, since when they do run it it’s just canned stuff from elsewhere and a few letters. And I learned during the campaign, when I was checking around to set up endorsement interviews, that the Greenville and Spartanburg papers don’t do editorials any more, either.

Cindi told me that the Charleston folks asked why, toward the end of her career at The State, she wrote only columns and no editorials. The answer was as obvious to me as it was to her — there was something vaguely false about offering editorials when you’re the last member of the editorial board. Might as well sign them. (For those still confused about the difference, I’ll explain further on request.)

I’m just so happy for Cindi. But I’m thrilled for South Carolina. We all needed her back on the job.

Open Thread for Thursday, March 7, 2019

Shazam! No, wait -- that's the other one...

Shazam! No, wait — that’s the other one…

Some possible topics:

  1. Men seeking sex in SC massage parlors are likely abusing human trafficking victims, experts say — Long headline, but I’m glad to see it. Mandy has been trying to address this problem for awhile, and this should help in the cause.
  2. Megachurch had 4 alleged child predators — and over a dozen victims, SC police say — The Catholic Church has an additional scandal, having to do with the mishandling of these kinds of cases. But sexual predators are just as common in other institutions where men have access to trusting victims. And everyone needs to wake up to it, and put a stop to it.
  3. Martin Shkreli Steers His Old Company From Prison—With Contraband Cellphone — He’s back: the scumbag we all love to hate.
  4. House passes broad measure condemning hate after allegations of anti-Semitism — But will that solve the problem? Hope so. Otherwise, principled Democrats should take a hint from those across the pond who quit the Labour Party over this very problem.
  5. How Captain Marvel went from love interest to the most powerful Avenger — OK, but if she’s the most powerful Avenger, how come she wasn’t in any of the other Avenger movies? And how did she go from being a guy to a gal? Was it like a Bruce Jenner thing? And what about the DC one? Guess I’ll have to see this one to find out…

Tom Davis attacked by high-larious (but offensive) mailers

mailer 1

This was tweeted yesterday by my own favorite legislative libertarian, the inimitable Sen. Tom Davis:

Needless to say, it’s getting a lot of response.

First, I thought it was a hoot. Next, I had other thoughts:

  • Does the shirt indicate that Tom is holding Maui Wowie in his hands? Where did he get it? How much did it cost?
  • At first, I thought the headline was ungrammatical. Shouldn’t it be “Will Folks agrees…,” since there is only one Will Folks who is known to Tom and would agree with him on this. Then I realized it’s not a reference to Folks, but just to “folks.” In general. The fact it was in all caps prevented me seeing that right away. But that’s an indication that this was likely produced outside SC. Because people inside SC know Will…
  • Party boy Tom Davis? Party boy Tom Davis?!?!?
  • Is the dope Tom is holding in a plastic grocery bag? If so, do the producers of this thing know that Tom supports local bans on such bags? Are they saying this is inconsistent of him as a libertarian? Nah. I’m thinking about it too hard…
  • What is that girl doing down to the left of Tom? Never mind, don’t tell me. This really is a party, isn’t it? You know, there are all sorts of ways they could have put a bong in the picture without it looking like that…
  • The whole “call Tom Davis” shtick is offensive enough — public figure or not, no one should be subjected to such harassment, especially when based on a lie — but then it gets really dirty: “Tell him to stop trying to turn South Carolina into California.” Fightin’ words…
  • And finally, I get serious: These kinds of dishonest hidden-hand mailers are a scourge upon our politics, as I have said again and again. Which sets up a video I’d like y’all to watch in which our own Mandy Powers Norrell touts her dark-money bill…

And finally… here’s another such mailer (or, I suppose, the other side of this one):

mailer 2

Open Thread for Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019

Madman Theory? THIS guy could do Madman Theory. And I don't mean Elvis.

Madman Theory? THIS guy could do Madman Theory. And I don’t mean Elvis.

How long has it been since I’ve done one of these? Near as I can tell, I haven’t done one since July 23 — and I led that one with one of our campaign talking points (might as well kill two birds). After that, I decided I was going to have to bow out of blogging for the duration. It was just too awkward.

It wasn’t James’ fault. Whenever I said “If I were blogging, I’d write about this” in his presence, he’d say, “Aw, man, I hate for you to give up your blog.” But I had to, once I fully realized anything I said would reflect on him and Mandy. I couldn’t do that to them; they deserved better. Also, there was no time.

But let’s get this started up again:

  1. Active shooter reported near Charleston, SC cops say — Oh, God… I pray this turns out to be nothing, a mistake, a hoax, anything but deadly.
  2. Seeking North Korea Deal, Trump Seems Willing to Ease U.S. Demands — Want a win in diplomacy? Move the goal posts. We’ve already given Kim so much — two summits with a POTUS (and technically, he IS POTUS) on equal terms. What next? And in related news…
  3. Trump suggests his embrace of the ‘madman theory’ brought North Korea to the table — The startling news here is that Trump has heard of the “madman theory.” Did someone leave a book open in the White House bathroom during Executive Time?
  4. N.C. Republican At Center Of Election Fraud Case Won’t Run In New Race — That’s probably a good call. Although who knows — as fouled up as our politics are these days, he coulda won.
  5. Cohen To Detail Alleged Trump Lawbreaking. White House: He’s A ‘Convicted Liar’ — I gotta admit, the White House kinda has a point this time. You know how Woodward and Bernstein gave a nod to Robert Penn Warren when they named their book All the President’s Men? When the corresponding book about this administration is written, its title should allude to Mel Brooks: Sleazeballs.
  6. U.S. blocked Russian troll factory’s Internet access on day of midterms — Hey, something went right this time!

Oh, you mean the guy they say faked that attack?

This is "the boy who cried wolf." Not very self-explanatory, is it? Needs word balloons. Sorry. Best I could find.

This is “the boy who cried wolf.” Not very self-explanatory, is it? Needs word balloons. Sorry. Best I could find.

There’s nothing stupider in political discourse than the game left and right play in trying to catch each other out for being hypocritical, or inconsistent, or unfair. I’m talking about the kind of J’Accuse! assertions that the ones asserting them think are devastating, but are persuasive to no one but the already brainwashed. These facile, leap-to-judgment “arguments,” generally found on social media, sort of make me feel ashamed to be a human in the 21st century.

I find it doubly irritating when news media are being unjustly accused of the above sins (this is from the right 90 percent of the time). But that’s me; your mileage may vary. (Sorry, Bryan — you hadn’t used that today, so I grabbed it.)

This is not even an extreme example, but it’s one at hand, so I share it:

I had a number of thoughts in quick succession about this when it appeared the other day:

  • Who reads the print version of The Washington Post? I don’t. I can’t even get the print edition where I live, but I prefer the iPad app anyway.
  • Maybe Hume isn’t being a jerk. Maybe he’s really decrying the death — or at least rapid decline — of print. It actually is a real problem that things that happen fairly early in the evening do not make it into the print version. Back when I was in charge of the paper at night, here and in Wichita, I’d be putting breaking news into the paper at 1 a.m. and later. With the super-early press times now, I have seen things that did indeed break as early as 8 fail to make it into The State. No skin off this reader’s nose, but it means folks like my parents who depend on the dead-tree version get the breaking news two days later. Anyway, in this generous interpretation, Hume’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness” crack was a lament that things that happen after sundown aren’t in the next day’s paper.
  • Nah, that’s probably not what he meant, I decide after looking at some of his other Tweets.
  • In any case, there was way more than I was interested in reading about this absurd (according to the cops) affair — in The Post, and elsewhere. In the online editions, I mean — the place where news organizations focus most of their effort and attention these days.
  • And I gotta tell ya, Brit — the first I remember hearing about this incident, there was already doubt being cast on this guy’s story. Maybe that’s because that’s when the story got big in the biased news media you decry. (Another cause was that I’d never heard of this “Jussie” person before that coverage.) Maybe I did half-hear something about it before that, but not consciously. Having spent decades of my life having to very quickly pick the real news out from the boring background, I long ago learned to filter out “dog bites man” stuff. “TV actor you never heard of attacked” is a headline that puts me to sleep by the third word. “Cops: Actor faked attack for the publicity” is a hed that might make me read a graf or two, and maybe shake my once at the foolishness in this world before moving on.
  • Oh, wait — is this about the fact that some of the overexcited Democratic presidential hopefuls leaped to express sympathy for this guy before facts were known? Well, they made fools of themselves, didn’t they (but with kind intentions, apparently)? But that’s on them. They are not The Washington Post, and The Washington Post is not them, despite the fantasies of those who see the world in binary either-or, us-vs.-them terms. No connection.

Personally, I like what the NYT‘s David Leonhardt said about cases such as this, two days before Hume’s Tweet:

Ms. Harris said in response to the question about her use of the ‘modern day lynching’ phrase,” as Katharine Seelye of The Times reported. “After a moment, she said, ‘I think the facts are still unfolding and I’m very concerned’ about the initial allegation by Mr. Smollett. She said ‘there should be an investigation’ and declined to comment further until it was complete.”

Her final instinct there was the best one. Making sweeping pronouncements about unverified criminal allegations isn’t a good idea — not now, not three weeks ago. It’s especially problematic with matters involving race, gender and sexuality, which ignite particular political passions.

Everyone — and definitely anyone running for president — should know by now that it’s O.K. to wait before weighing in on a hot topic. As the most recent Democratic president famously said, “I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”…

Good advice, that.

Who congratulates people on their ‘work anniversaries?’

I've blurred names and faces to protect the innocent. It's not their fault LinkedIn does this...

I’ve blurred names and faces to protect the innocent. It’s not their fault LinkedIn does this…

Several years back, I was persuaded to sign up for LinkedIn, on the premise that it would be good for me in my post-newspaper life.

I’ve given it every chance; I really have. I’ve got more than 1,500 connections without having tried all that hard. (I know a lot of people; a lot of people know me.) And I’m sure that any day now, this will come in handy. For something.

But today, as I labor to empty my IN box, I’m wondering about one specific aspect of this thing.

Who congratulates people on their work anniversaries? If you do it, why do you do it? Do you think they want you to? Does anyone have work anniversary celebrations? When you do so, do you worry whether your message will push the recipient into a state of despond, having been reminded that he or she has spent yet another year in that job?

Is this notion of work anniversaries some sort of holdover from when people actually spent whole careers in the same secure jobs, and happily counted down the years until they got that gold watch? Seems to me that the period of time in which LinkedIn has existed corresponds with the years in which more and more of us have been thrown, unwilling, into the gig economy. Is that it? Is the idea that we’re to congratulate the few, the happy (but endangered) few who still have actual jobby-jobs, like Daddy used to have?

I’m just curious whether this is a thing. Or whether LinkedIn is just trying to make it a thing (and, I’m guessing, not succeeding) in a desperate bid for relevance.

All I know is, I’m tired of the emails…

Who are the ad wizards who came up with THIS one?

I don’t see TV commercials much any more, and that’s a good thing. The awful thing about TV commercials historically was that you had to watch them, unless you wanted to turn off the tube or leave the room or change the channel, all of which meant risking missing the resumption of your show, which in the days before DVRs and such could be distressing.

Who IS this simpleton? Why is he blowing stuff up?

Who IS this simpleton? Why is he blowing stuff up?

The nice thing about print ads, comparatively, was that you could completely ignore them. You didn’t have to wade through them; didn’t have to wait through anything; you just looked right past them.

And the same is true of the descendants of traditional TV ads — video ads online.

But as my eyes glided over the one you see above, I couldn’t help taking in the words, “Winner winner, berry-flavored win sauce for dinner.” And that was SO stupid that I couldn’t help wonder about the video it went with. So I watched it — first without sound, then with.

It took me to depths of stupidity previously undreamed-of.

Really, what’s this about? “Victory in a can?” Victory over what? Who is this simpleton in an imaginary vehicle? Why is he firing what appears to be a missile containing cluster munitions at a flash of light on a mountainside? What’s his target? The Taliban? A peaceful village of llama herders? Supporters of a rival football team? What is the casus belli?

And what does this nonsensical activity have to do with Mountain Dew? And why would someone wish to imbibe “pure annihilation?”

We are offered no help; we are left to wonder

Stand Up & Win – Jerry Seinfeld SNL sketch from Anonymously Anonymous on Vimeo.

‘I’m glad we found it out detective fashion…’

A little something for y’all who complain that there’s not enough sports on this blog…

The young folks just love hearing Sen. Land talk about ‘likkah’

James speaking at the event John Land hosted for us in Manning.

James speaking at the event John Land hosted for us in Manning.

On the first day of the Leave No One Behind Tour, we had two reporters and a photographer on the bus with us.

One was Maayan Schechter of The State. Maayan wasn’t at the paper when John Land was in the Senate, but she knew his rep. And when we stopped in Manning for an event the senator had set up for us, she couldn’t resist asking him to talk about “liquor.”

She has not ceased being delighted by his willing response, as I learned when a “like” by Mandy Powers Norrell drew me to this Tweet, featuring video shot that day:

If you want to know more about the senator and likkah, you might want to watch this clip from several years back:

That, of course, was a tribute to this famous bit from Mississippi politician Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, Jr. in 1952.

Sen. Land is a South Carolina treasure.

By the way, at one point another campaign aide and I had the same idea independently of each other, proving the old saw about great minds: We both thought it would be wonderful to get Land to play Henry in debate prep. Not just because of the accent, but because Land is so sharp that he’d really have given James a workout. We didn’t follow through on it, though. A shame. I’d love to have video of that. Imagine Land saying, “Ah like it, ah love it, ah want some mo’ OF it!

On the bus that same day. That's Maayan sitting next to the photog over on the right.

On the bus that same day. That’s Maayan sitting next to the photog over on the right.

Your Virtual Front Page for Monday, December 17, 2018

Lamar Alexander, back when we were all young.

Lamar Alexander, back when we were all young.

I’m thinking about changing the emphasis of this blog, at least for a time. As I’ve told you, I’m just not interested much in politics now that the  campaign is over. But I know that’s me, and the experiences I’ve recently been through, and I expect the effect will wear off.

So I’m going to be blogging more about nonpolitical stuff. As you can see from today’s posts so far. But y’all may still want a place to come and talk politics. So I’ll keep including such in my Virtual Front Pages and Open Threads, so that even if I have nothing to say about it, y’all can talk amongst yourselves. So here goes…

  1. Stocks Fall Sharply as Investors Fret Over Growth Outlook (WSJ) — See? I like y’all so much, I’ll even include some financial news, which interests me even less than politics. You can thank me later.
  2. Sen. Lamar Alexander announces he won’t seek another term in 2020 (WashPost) — This is very sad news. Lamar has always been one of the best. And I don’t just say that because he’s the first candidate for statewide office I ever covered (when he was running for governor, in 1978).
  3. Amazon faces boycott ahead of holidays as public discontent grows (The Guardian) — I have to wonder just how effective this can be, since this is the first I’ve heard of it — and it’s in a Brit publication, not anything in this country.
  4. Jesuit order names priests ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing children since the 1950s (WP) — The horrorshow continues. A similar report is due from our own diocese soon.
  5. Deer poacher sentenced to watch Bambi in prison (BBC) — Weird news out of America, via Britain.

Lamar-Hand-Shaking_Display

Yikes! Help her! She’s stranded in a snake-infested swamp!

swamp

There are outdoors people, and then there are normal, sane people. I won’t take sides in the matter — must preserve my journalistic detachment. But the existence of the two groups is undeniable, and may explain much of the strife in this world.

This photo from Congaree National Park was posted on Facebook by Discover South Carolina with the caption, “Name a cooler way to spend a weekend. We’ll wait.”

Really?!!?!

I look at it, and I’m all like, Damsel in distress! How did she get there? Where’s her boat? How will she ever get out of this hopeless predicament? How did she get in it to begin with? Was someone standing up in a canoe while affixing the hammock to those trees? Look at her foot! It’s dangling inches from the snake- and alligator-infested water! Help her! Help her now!

Which is, I’m guessing, not the reaction they were looking for.

And yet, there are probably people on this planet who look at that picture and see an idyll. I don’t know what’s wrong with them. As a father and grandfather of a total of seven young women and girls, I want to deliver this young woman from her plight (at least, I’m assuming that’s a young woman; she’s so far away — out of reach of help, alas! — to be sure). And to the extent that I can identify with her rather than seeing her as an object of paternal concern, I want to panic.

You realize, of course, that were this a still from a film, within a few frames something would emerge from that dark water and take her leg off at the knee, or pull her under.

Sheesh. I don’t need this stress on a Monday…

‘Dooanld the Ready’

Vm3rI_8P

I’ve called your attention before to the hilarious Twitter feed Donaeld The Unready, the chronicles of a king from the era of “The Last Kingdom” and “Vikings” who goes about blustering and promising to “Make Mercia Great Again!”

Sample recent Tweet:

As you probably know, my first name is Donald. My first name comes in handy because I can always tell when I’m being addressed by people who don’t know me or anything about me — they call me “Donald.”

But I was really confused this morning. My wife and I are planning a trip to Ireland in a few months. We signed up for a package deal that my brother-in-law and his wife are also planning to go on, out of Memphis.

Today, I got an email from one of the organizers telling us that… well, I’m still trying to sort out what it’s telling us. Something about our flight to Heathrow and from there to Dublin, I think.

Anyway, it addressed me as “Dooanld.”

Is that an ancient Irish version of “Donald?” No, that would be “Domhnall.” (The name is of Gaelic origin, by the way.  It means “world ruler,” which tells you I have yet to come into my birthright, and I’m kind of getting impatient about that. I mean, don’t names mean anything anymore?)

Also, how is one to pronounce “Dooanld?”

Whatever. I’m looking forward to the trip. Call me Dooanld the Ready…

Actual photograph of Dooanld the Ready. OK, so technically it's an actor portraying my ancestor Ragnar Lothbrok. Best I could do...

Actual photograph of Dooanld the Ready. OK, so technically it’s an actor portraying my ancestor Ragnar Lothbrok. Best I could do…

A guy who really enjoys some retail politics

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On a previous post, I said something about James Smith liking the retail politicking way better than the unfun stuff like making fundraising calls. Which of course makes him, well, human.

Someone said he didn’t seem that way at the Gallivants Ferry Stump meeting last spring, that he seemed kind of standoffish there.

Well… I can’t speak for the primary campaign. But during the general, when I was working for him, what I saw was a guy who really dug meeting people. In support of that, I’ll just share a very few of the pictures I pumped out, a couple of dozen a day, on social media.

When it came to interacting with regular folks, I can only think of one guy who might enjoy it more than James, and that’s his longtime political mentor, in the front row of this picture I took on Oct. 13:

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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?

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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…