Category Archives: 2018 Governor

Yes, this COULD be the winning formula for Democrats

Can the New Deal Coalition rise again?

Can the New Deal Coalition rise again?

David Leonhardt had a good piece in the NYT last night. He promoted it this way:

There’s a roiling debate about whether Democrats should move to the political center to win back Trump voters or focus on energizing the party’s progressive base. On some issues — like abortion, guns and immigration — Democrats really do face this difficult choice. The policies that excite progressives alienate many of the white working-class voters who swung the 2016 election to Donald Trump, and vice versa.

But there is also one huge area where no such tradeoff exists: economic policy….

In the column itself, he asserted  that economic stagnation and inequality added up to “the defining problem of our age, the one that aggravates every other problem. It has made people anxious and angry. It has served as kindling for bigotry. It is undermining America’s vaunted optimism.”

And people across the political spectrum have lost patient with timid, incremental approaches to the problem. Which helps to explain both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Leonhardt writes:

Some observers remain confused about all of this. They imagine American politics as a simple two-dimensional spectrum on which Democrats must move to the center. But every issue isn’t the same. Yes, there are cultural issues, like abortion and guns, on which the country is classically divided. On these, moving to the center, or at least respectfully acknowledging our differences, can help Democrats. Representative Conor Lamb recently showed how to do it in Pennsylvania.

Economic policy is different. Most voters don’t share the centrist preferences of Washington’s comfortable pundit class. Most voters want to raise taxes on the rich and corporations. They favor generous Medicare and Social Security, expanded Medicaid, more financial aid for college, a higher minimum wage and a bigger government role in job creation. Remember, Trump won the Republican nomination as a populist. A clear majority of Americans wants the government to respond aggressively to our economic problems….

So, the smart thing would be to drop the topics that divide us — the culture war stuff, the Identity Politics, the “pussy hats” and such — and set out a vision for a rising tide for all.

But are national Democrats willing to do that? The occasional Conor Lamb aside, it remains to be seen.

In South Carolina, it’s not such a leap. SC Democrats — those who have actually served in office and understand political realities — have long understood that they have to reach across superficial barriers and appeal to as many voters as possible. You wonder why I like James Smith for governor? One reason is that he manifests that smart, inclusive approach. He’s identified with issues that could benefit all of us, such as trying to liberate renewable energy from artificial caps.

This is underlined when you look at his opposition: Phil Noble hits Smith for not being orthodox enough, for instance for being (allegedly) insufficiently hostile to gun-rights advocates. Noble is one of those Democrats who wants to divide the electorate into sheep and goats. Marguerite Willis seems to be pinning her hopes on getting women to vote for her simply because she’s a woman — despite Smith’s strong support within that largest of demographics.

So, the question is whether Democrats — on the state as well as the national level — are willing to take Leonhardt’s sensible advice, and identify themselves with issues that unite rather than divide. Mind you, he’s not talking about moving to a hypothetical center, but embracing issues with broad support among everyone but the most libertarian folks on the right.

I think they will in South Carolina, but polls tell us that’s far from certain. And nationally? I just don’t know…

Again, who in South Carolina backs Phil Noble?

noble-kennedy

It’s kinda fun that there’s an Obama-Biden sign in the background, since Biden has endorsed James Smith…

Phil Noble has pulled off another coup, by the standards of his campaign — touting the endorsement of yet another person who can’t vote in South Carolina:

One candidate to be South Carolina’s next governor is touting a 50-year-long Kennedy connection with his latest endorsement.

Charleston Democrat Phil Noble received the endorsement Monday of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland and daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Bobby Kennedy.

“For years, I’ve watched Phil fight tirelessly for the causes and concerns that have long inspired my family’s commitment to public service,” Townsend said….

 

First Doug Jones in Alabama, now a member of the extended Kennedy clan. And again, the support arises from old family connections, rather than anything Phil Noble has done.

But wait… there are those two guys in South Carolina who have endorsed him. Which means exactly half of the people endorsing him can actually vote in this state, unless I’ve miscounted.

There have to be other people, right? But I haven’t run across them. Of course, one might ask the same thing about Marguerite Willis, although we know who her chief backer is — Marguerite Willis. She’s has kicked in $460,000 of her own money.

This is one of the most eccentric campaigns for governor I think I’ve ever seen…

In stunning reversal for people of SC, utilities manage to kill solar bill AFTER it passed overwhelmingly

It's like if, after the Death Star was destroyed, Darth Vader used the Force to snuff out the Rebellion anyway...

It’s like if, after the Death Star was destroyed, Darth Vader used the Force to snuff out the Rebellion anyway…

If you had any lingering sympathy for the big utilities in South Carolina, this should wipe it out:

Under pressure from the state’s major utilities, the S.C. House killed a solar bill Tuesday that was intended to protect thousands of jobs and save customers money on their monthly power bills.

The bill’s defeat, a stunning reversal from a House vote last week, brought withering criticism from many lawmakers, who said the House caved in to opposition by Duke Energy and SCE&G, derailing the legislation. Utilities have expressed concern about how competition from solar could affect them.

State Rep. James Smith, the bill’s chief sponsor, also blamed Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. Smith, a Democratic candidate for governor and potential opponent to McMaster in November’s general election, said the Republican urged some lawmakers not to vote for the bill — a point McMaster’s office hotly disputed.

“He called House Republican leadership and raked them over the coals,” Smith said he was told by fellow legislators. “It was giving me a victory. But it ain’t about me. It ain’t about Henry.”…

The solar bill died Tuesday in the House after utility boosters raised a technical point, saying passing the bill would require a two-thirds majority vote. The House voted for the legislation, 61-44, but that was short of the two-thirds required for approval….

Wow. This is bad on so many levels — particularly if our governor got involved in order to screw over his likely Democratic challenger. But even if he didn’t, this is a stunning example of bad faith, and the kind of oligarchic, anti-democratic maneuver that almost makes the anti-elite paranoia of a Bernie Sanders sound sane.

Matt Moore, the former GOP chair who has been heading up Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, reacted this way:

Ten-plus years? I think that’s an understatement. In my more than 30 years of covering SC politics, I haven’t seen the likes of this. You have to go back to before my time. There probably hasn’t been a case of the powers-that-be frustrating the public will to this extent since the Old Guard found a way to disqualify charismatic gubernatorial candidate Pug Ravenel on a technicality in 1974.

The will of the people, acting through their elected representatives (which is how you do it in a republic), had been clearly expressed. The best people in the General Assembly were all for it — Democrats, and both flavors of Republican (Regular and Tom Davis).

And now, the people who gave us the shaft on the nuclear fiasco have shown us what they think of that. And of us.

So… what are we going to do about it?

Ms. Willis takes a, um, DIFFERENT approach from Henry…

Willis video

Do not labor under any delusion that Marguerite Willis’ campaign for governor will be anything like that of Henry McMaster! Here’s proof that it won’t be…

In this new ad — which she either did on the cheap or paid extra to make it look that way — she leaps right to her point:

There’s no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is a racist. He’s a horrible racist. He’s the worst kind of racist, which is a racist who pretends he isn’t a racist….

The ad… lacks context. I feel like I walked in in the middle of a conversation. I want to ask her for an example or two to support her assertion, but I don’t get the chance to interrupt. And anyway, without any sort of transition or pause, she’s immediately off in a whole other direction: “How could we elect a man who says such horrible things about women?…”

Interesting. Not that I disagree with any of the particulars, but gee… where’d all that come from? I mean, gimme a little prelude, or something. Take a moment to tee it up first. Explain why you’re addressing the subject. Is electing Trump the issue before us? Does she think one of her rivals for the Democratic nomination is partial to Trump, or what?…

Which of these 3 things is most embarrassing to you as an American and a South Carolinian?

mcmaster trump

I leave it up to you. Which is most embarrassing to you as an American (or a South Carolinian)?

  1. ABC : Pres. Trump says NATO countries have taken in “many billions of dollars more than they would have had if you had Crooked Hillary Clinton as president.” As David Frum noted, he said this “In front of leaders of allied nations,” meaning leaders from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
  2. BREAKING: President Trump says he wants to use military to secure US-Mexico border until wall is built, calls it ‘big step’. It’s a big step, all right. You know what else was a big step? Caesar crossing the Rubicon — the world’s greatest republic collapsed, and we didn’t see another one for a thousand years. This may not be as big as that, but give the guy credit for trying.
  3. Henry McMaster trying to persuade people to elect him governor by boasting — yes, boastingthat he was the first Republican statewide elected official in the nation to endorse then-candidate Donald Trump. We may not have McMaster to thank for Trump, but he’d very much like us to think so.

The choice is entirely up to y’all. I can’t make up my mind. Such riches to choose from…

Great to be ‘working with’ Robert Ariail again

SCMcMasterSanctuaryCitiesAriailW

Back during the years when I worked with Robert Ariail, he would occasionally pay me the great compliment of saying I was the one editor he’d worked with who “thought like a cartoonist.” He had respect for my cartoon ideas, which is not always the way it goes between a word guy and an artist. (He also knew when to ignore my ideas, which was important.)

He never really needed my ideas, but it was fun for me to brainstorm with him — maybe some of the best fun I ever had as a journalist.

Well, I ran into him today at Lizard’s Thicket — he had just had a solitary lunch before heading back up to Camden — and he paid me another compliment, telling me two of his recent cartoons were inspired, at least in part, by things he’d read on this blog.

The one above came from this post, and the one below from my making fun repeatedly of the monotonously pandering intro to Catherine Templeton’s name in all her press releases.

It’s great to be “working with” Robert again, even it it’s for free…

SCTempletonAriailW

If Templeton would stop ranting and posturing for just a moment…

jasper-site-plan

… she might be able to contribute to a serious discussion about important issues. Maybe.

For instance, she might have been able to say something enlightening about the Jasper port, somewhere in the 1,190 words of this release, if she’d made the slightest effort. I would have found that helpful, because I feel like I’ve been out of the loop on the topic for the last few years. In fact, I’m not sure if the drawing above, which I found on this blog, is current and accurate.

Instead, we got another full broadside of unfocused fulmination, painting a picture of a world that consists of two kinds of people: Catherine Templeton, and the rest of the human race, which is all worthless and corrupt:

CATHERINE TEMPLETON RIPS POLITICS AND CORRUPTION AT PORTS
Outlines Plan for Stopping Public Corruption in South Carolina

(COLUMBIA, S.C.)  Proven conservative outsider and Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton brought back her buzz saw on Tuesday, this time to rip the corruption and politics surrounding the building of the Jasper Ocean Terminal in the Lowcountry. In addition, Templeton outlined her plan for more broadly ending corruption in state government.

In part of her ongoing series of events addressing different issues in the 2018 campaign, Templeton outlined her plan at a news conference in Hardeeville with Mayor Harry Williams and Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka.

“When I worked for Governor Haley, I earned the reputation as a buzz saw because I cut spending, cut the size of government, and cut regulations… When I went back to the private sector, the Port of Charleston asked me to do there what I had done in government, but there was a big difference. The Port of Charleston didn’t want any change at all.” said Templeton.

Templeton said she exposed corrupt contracts between the Port of Charleston and the Columbia-based consulting firm of Richard Quinn and was fired as a result.

“I released corrupt state contracts to the public showing money flowing from the Port of Charleston to pay the Quinns –  the political consultants who have been on Henry McMaster’s payroll for decades,” said Templeton. “As long as the Port of Charleston is a political arm of the corruption in Columbia, the Jasper Port will never get built.” 

Though not in attendance, Senator Tom Davis of Beaufort also weighed-in. “The SC Ports Authority took a position against an appropriation for Jasper port permitting when the budget was considered by the House, and as a result no funding for it was included in the budget passed by that chamber,” said David. “However, based on my discussions with Sen. Hugh Leatherman, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, it is my expectation that a $2 million appropriation for Jasper port permitting will be included in the Senate’s version of the budget, and I will submit a budget proviso to that effect for consideration by the Finance Committee when it meets later today. Simply put, money in this year’s budget is oxygen the Jasper port needs to survive.

During Templeton’s time as the head of two state agencies, Templeton fought big labor and won, stopped the Obama Administration from killing South Carolina jobs, called out corruption at the Port of Charleston, and fired entrenched state bureaucrats on the taxpayers’ payroll. She is equally committed to stamping out Columbia’s culture of corruption.

“Corruption is actually costing you money – daily. The power to run your light switch costs more because of lobbyists, your safety and time are sacrificed on the roads because of self-dealing, and now the very future and economic prosperity of this entire region is being postponed. Why? Because the Port of Charleston paid Henry McMaster’s political consultants almost $3M to make commercials and give him board advice. Now the Port of Charleston want $5M from the Jasper Port’s permitting budget because they are out of money.  Which do you think is more important – using the money to pay Henry’s political consultants or permitting a port for the people of this state that will be a national economic driver?” Templeton asked.

As governor, Catherine will:

Pass a Term Limits Law

  • Enact term limits for all legislators to end Columbia’s culture of corruption and force those who make the laws to return home and live under the laws they created.

“It’s time state legislators live under the same laws they create for the rest of us,” Templeton said. “What’s good enough for us should be good enough for lawmakers, too. The first step in creating legislative accountability is establishing term limits. When someone seeks public office, they must realize it is about service, not self dealing.”    

Accept No Salary

  • Return the governor’s paycheck to the people.

“I’m running for governor to serve the people’s interests,” Templeton explained.  “That’s why I will not take a salary while I’m serving as governor. I’ll return that money where it rightfully belongs – to the taxpayers who pay it.”

Close the Revolving Door of Corruption

  • Crack down on politics as usual by imposing stiffer criminal penalties and significant jail time for those who secretly lobby government.
  • Enact a lifetime ban on gubernatorial staff becoming lobbyists.
  • Enact a lifetime ban on legislators becoming lobbyists.
  • Enact a lifetime ban on all executive branch employees becoming lobbyists.
  • Ban lobbying by any taxpayer-funded organizations.
  • Ban lawyer-legislators from voting on the judges they argue before.

“We must stop politics as usual in Columbia by shutting the revolving door where people go from public service to lucrative lobbying,” Templeton vowed. “I’ll do that by imposing stiffer criminal penalties for those who secretly lobby government. I’ll follow that up by enacting lifetime bans on gubernatorial staff, legislators and executive branch employees becoming lobbyists. I’ll also ban lobbying by any taxpayer-funded organization and stop lawyer-legislators from voting on the judges they argue before. These steps will make sure public employees become public servants once more.”

End Pay-to-Play Politics

  • Prohibit legislators from taking state contracts for themselves or their families.
  • Prohibit all state officials from appointing relatives to public boards, commissions, and posts.
  • Ban family members of elected officials from doing business with state government to end corrupt conflicts of interest.
  • Ban publicly subsidized utility companies from making political contributions to politicians who authorize their funding.

“If we elect you to protect our money – you can’t have any of it for yourself or your family.  I will act swiftly to end the shameful practice of pay-to-play once and for all,” Templeton said.  “We’ll do it by prohibiting legislators and their families from taking state contracts; prohibiting all state officials from appointing relatives to public boards, commissions and posts; and banning publicly subsidized utility companies from making political contributions to politicians who authorize their funding.”

Empower the Ethics Commission to Enforce Ethics Laws:

  • Require all candidates for public office to give the Ethics Commission real-time access to their campaign accounts.
  • Direct accrued interest from campaign accounts to the Ethics Commission to fund the hiring of more staff for increased enforcement of ethics laws.

“The Ethics Commission should be more than the paper tiger it currently is,” Templeton explained. “I’ll make sure it’s empowered to adequately enforce ethics laws.  I’ll do that by   requiring all candidates for public office to give the Ethics Commission real-time access to their campaign accounts to ensure full compliance with ethics laws; and directing accrued interest from campaign accounts to the Ethics Commission to fund the hiring of more staff for increased enforcement of ethics laws.”

Ensure Greater Transparency

  • Require the legislature to comply with Freedom of Information request and remove the legislative exemption.  The people’s work should be conducted in the sunlight.

“The people’s work should be conducted in the sunlight. I will establish greater transparency by requiring the legislature to comply with Freedom of Information requests” Templeton said.” 

Templeton will continue to discuss her positions on a variety of issues that are important to South Carolinians in the coming weeks.

###

The only passage in all of that that communicated anything about what’s going on with the Jasper Port was the digression about something Tom Davis had said. From that, I gathered that the Jasper Port is a much-needed project that has suffered from the grabbiness of the Ports Authority, and that a $2 million appropriation promised by Sen. Leatherman is a good thing. Which is rather remarkable — that Tom Davis would be pleased that Hugh Leatherman wants to spend millions on something is a pretty good-sized miracle.

But I remain confused what that paragraph has to do with the rest of the release, and whether it is meant to suggest that Davis supports her candidacy. So while I appreciate the perspective from Tom, I’m left even more confused.

Ms. Templeton could have explained what is happening on this issue, right now, and set out what she thinks should happen in the future. That would have been helpful. Instead, we just get the usual overheated rhetoric as she slashes up, down, left and right in her bid to represent herself as the only possible cure to unmitigated, universal, but often ill-defined corruption that is eating the vitals of South Carolina.

We just get these quick hot bursts of rhetorical fire here, there and in every direction:

  • I almost didn’t read the release because it started out exactly the same as her other releases: “Proven conservative outsider and Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton…” And by the time I get to her name, I’m always tired and ready to move on.
  • “When I worked for Governor Haley, I earned the reputation as a buzz saw…” Oh, cut me a freaking break, would you? Yeah, you’re a real terror, and a joy to have around…
  • “When I went back to the private sector, the Port of Charleston asked me to do there what I had done in government, but there was a big difference. The Port of Charleston didn’t want any change at all.” Which was it? They wanted you to do what you claimed you had done in government, or they didn’t want you to do that? Also, this is interesting: Are you saying the private sector is less friendly to your hard-eyed efficiency than government?
  • “Templeton said she exposed corrupt contracts between the Port of Charleston and the Columbia-based consulting firm of Richard Quinn and was fired as a result…” the Quinns being “the political consultants who have been on Henry McMaster’s payroll for decades…” OK, now we see where you’re going with this, but still waiting to understand the relationship to the Jasper facility.
  • “During Templeton’s time as the head of two state agencies, Templeton fought big labor and won, stopped the Obama Administration from killing South Carolina jobs, called out corruption at the Port of Charleston, and fired entrenched state bureaucrats on the taxpayers’ payroll. She is equally committed to stamping out Columbia’s culture of corruption. Corruption is actually costing you money – daily. The power to run your light switch costs more because of lobbyists, your safety and time are sacrificed on the roads because of self-dealing, and now the very future and economic prosperity of this entire region is being postponed.” Boy, that’s a lot of different topics you just threw at us, none of them really explained, and I’m still waiting to see the relationship between them and the topic at hand.
  • “Why? Because the Port of Charleston paid Henry McMaster’s political consultants almost $3M to make commercials and give him board advice.” OK, so I think we’re on board with the idea that the Authority wasted money on the Quinns, even though the relationship to all that other stuff — like, say, that awful, wicked Obama fellow — is still a little fuzzy.
  • “Now the Port of Charleston want $5M from the Jasper Port’s permitting budget because they are out of money.  Which do you think is more important – using the money to pay Henry’s political consultants or permitting a port for the people of this state that will be a national economic driver?” Now you’ve lost me again. I haven’t seen any indication that this is a choice in front of us at the moment. There’s a fallacy there that probably has a fancy name, but I don’t know what it is.

I think she’s trying to communicate that the Port of Charleston wouldn’t be trying to hurt the more worthy Jasper Port if it hadn’t wasted money in the past. But that could be expressed more clearly if she didn’t have so many other agendas cluttering up her explanation.

What follows that is a bunch of populist buzz phrases about how she’s gonna clean up this town:

  • “Pass a Term Limits Law…” No, thanks. Anyway, can a governor do that? Won’t you need help? Who do think is going to want to help you, since you’ve lashed out at everyone you’ve mentioned… except Tom Davis?
  • “It’s time state legislators live under the same laws they create for the rest of us.” Which, you know, they do already. The idea that they don’t is some sort of populist fantasy.
  • “Accept No Salary.” Yeah, you know what? Don’t do me any favors. I’ll settle for a governor who accepts the modest salary provided — and earns it.
  • “We must stop politics as usual in Columbia by shutting the revolving door…” I was thinking she might cram one or two more cliches into that sentence, but I think she was getting tired by this point.

Anyway, toward the end she settled down long enough to say two things that made sense:

  • “Empower the Ethics Commission to Enforce Ethics Laws”
  • “Ensure Greater Transparency”

Yeah, I’m with you on those. But man, we sure did have to get through a lot of ranting to get to them. And, well… these are good ideas in general, and don’t really have a direct connection to the Jasper Port issue…

SC Sierra Club endorses James Smith for governor

Sierra Club - Rep. James Smith

Aside from more of Trump’s stupid protectionism, there’s not a lot of news out there today. But this item did come in a little while ago:

South Carolina Sierra Club Formally Endorses James Smith for SC Governor

COLUMBIA, SC – Today, on the beautiful banks of the Congaree River in downtown Columbia, the South Carolina (SC) Chapter of the Sierra Club formally endorsed Representative James E. Smith, Jr. for Governor of the state. This endorsement was unanimously voted upon by the Steering Committee of the state Club following the Midlands’ area John Bachman Group of the Club also unanimously voting to endorse Representative Smith in his gubernatorial bid.

 This is the first time in its history that the SC Sierra Club has endorsed a gubernatorial candidate prior to a primary election.

Current Chapter Vice Chair and former longtime Chairwoman during the majority of Rep. Smith’s House tenure Susan Corbett said, “James Smith has done more for environmental protection and citizens’ rights to protect South Carolina’s natural wonders than any other lawmaker in the history of this Chapter’s work in this state. It’s not just his work to advance renewable energy, protect ratepayers, promote enforceable water standards and oppose offshore drilling; it’s his work on the ground which he has done day-in and day-out to stop tremendously bad legislation from being enacted throughout the years that also matters.”

Chapter Chair Ben Mack added, “Ever since I was present to hear James call for a citizens’ Environmental Bill of Rights as an amendment to our state’s Constitution while introducing the state Club before the House of Representatives, I knew we had a real leader and champion for natural resources before us.”

James Smith has been a longtime advocate of the work of the SC Sierra Club. He has been a regular supporter and speaker before the Midlands’ John Bachman Group of the state Chapter.

Conservation Chair Bob Guild noted, “Most recently, James drafted well over 200 amendments to do everything he could to stop a ham-fisted bill seeking to significantly roll back citizens’ rights to challenge bad government environmental permitting decisions. The bill, known as the rollback of the automatic stay, gives waste giants, toxic incinerators and tree-cutters, among others, the tools they need to remove the public from the process of moving forward on doing environmental harm. The current Governor signed the bill into law last week, showing his disregard for the people who James had so courageously fought to protect.”

“This is a no-brainer; no other candidate even compares,” concluded Ms. Corbett. “We’re talking about the Representative that pretty much single-handedly stopped polluters from passing a bill to take away citizens’ rights to stop illegal pollution in our state.”

The South Carolina Sierra Club has over 20,000 members and supporters across South Carolina and is dedicated to its mission to explore, enjoy and protect our state. The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization with over 3 million members and supporters.

 

McMaster touts victory over his imaginary foe

Speaking of "intellectually-bankrupt campaign materials," this is the first thing you see at the McMaster for Governor site.

Speaking of “intellectually-bankrupt campaign materials,” this is the first thing you see at the McMaster for Governor site.

This bit of nonsense just sort of floored me last night:

I responded thusly:

I mean, come on, people — who can possibly take seriously, for even a second, the governor of South Carolina celebrating his great “victory” (or initial step toward victory) over a completely imaginary foe?

“What’s next?” my own representative, Republican Micah Caskey, asked. “Are we going to require cities to certify that they didn’t rob a bank?”

He added: “There is no one, other than politicians, who have suggested this is something we actually need and should waste our time on.”

And I would add, only a certain kind of condescending, pandering politician, completely lacking in shame.

This morning, Micah added this via Twitter: “Sanctuary cities are already illegal in South Carolina. (See SC Code Ann. 17-13-170 and 23-3-1100.) The governor should read more of our laws already on the books and less of his intellectually-bankrupt campaign materials.”

Amen to that. And I suppose he meant this sort of campaign material

I did, however, run across a Willis supporter…

Willis bumper sticker

As unsuccessful as I was trying to find out who (other than the three people he’s named) is backing Phil Noble, I ran across a Marguerite Willis supporter the other evening without even trying.

willis closeup

Sorry about the bad resolution. It was dark…

I carefully smudged out the license number, so the individual supporter is anonymous — although you get a feel for the issues that motivate this voter from the rest of the information freely shared with the world. This is a maker of statements.

I have no idea whether this means the typical Willis voter is a Bernie supporter (frankly, I would have thought those votes would go to Noble) or believes war is not the answer. As y’all know, I’m way intuitive, but a sample of one falls a little short of what even I need to extrapolate from.

In the end, though, beyond this one sticker, I’m even more in the dark about where her support comes from than I am with Noble. But perhaps we’ll see some endorsements coming at some point…

Who is supporting Phil Noble’s candidacy?

No, I really want to know. That’s not just an indirect way of saying, “Phil Noble has no support.” I’d really like an answer to the question.

I have this vague memory that someone — perhaps someone here on the blog, or elsewhere — told me several months ago about having seen a list of Noble supporters. At the time, I dutifully hunted for such a list — on Google, on his website — and came up dry.

I got to thinking about it again today when I got this release:

 

Friend,

Awesome news: Today, Former SC State Senator McKinley Washington, Jr. endorsed my campaign for Governor.

I’m incredibly humbled to have Senator Washington’s recognition—he’s a true blue community leader with over 25 years of public service under his belt and I respect him deeply.

He had this to say about the endorsement:

“[Phil]’s commitment to civil rights, equality, and the economic and social advancement of the African-American community is unmatched. It is a sense of duty and humanity that I know to have been deeply rooted in his upbringing. Phil’s father is a Presbyterian minister and civil rights legend who went toe to toe with the Alabama KKK back in the 1960’s. He set a courageous example for Phil as he stood unwaveringly as he rose to the top of the KKK’s Alabama hit list.

Phil has been courageous enough to call out failure and corruption and then do something about it. Seeing the mass disenfranchisement in our state back in 1984, he started the Palmetto Project and one of the first initiatives helped register over 150,000 new voters in SC. Seeing the toll high prescription drug costs had on the poor and the elderly, he started Welvista to provide free prescriptions and preventative care to those populations. I’m endorsing Phil Noble because his track record proves he is the best person, Democrat or Republican, to lead our state.”

With his endorsement, Sen. Washington joins a growing list of leaders—including Alabama Senator Doug Jones and Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts—who believe my campaign is the best choice for our state because of its unwavering commitment to economic, racial, and social equality for all.

… and so forth. And no, there was no link to a list where it said, “a growing list of leaders.”

I had wondered the same last week when I got a release about the other South Carolinian he mentioned above:

Dear Brad,

The mayor of Anderson, Terence Roberts, just announced his support for Democrat Phil Noble’s campaign for governor.

At the Anderson County Democratic Party convention Tuesday night, Roberts told the crowd he is impressed with Noble’s background as a business and technology consultant and that Noble “is not a politician — he’s a businessman.”…

… and more of the same. That one, of course, mentioned the Doug Jones endorsement.

When I got that one, I responded to the email asking, “Who else, besides Doug Jones and the mayor of Anderson, have endorsed Phil? I heard there was a list somewhere of Phil’s SC supporters, but I haven’t been able to find it…”

It’s been seven days since I sent that question, but I’ve received no reply. Maybe it’s one of those “no reply” addresses that you can’t answer — although that would be weird, since it was a fund-raising email.

And now, there’s this additional announcement, bringing his official total support (that I can find) to three. One of whom can’t vote in South Carolina. (James Smith has a prominent supporter like that, too — Joe Biden.)

Oh, wait — I think Bud said he might vote for him. So that’s four.

I seriously doubt that that’s it. But it’s weird I can’t find more than that.

Can you? If so, please share…

Catherine Templeton’s gun problem

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

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

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

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

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

SLED disputes Catherine Templeton’s claims…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which makes this part even more embarrassing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Templeton

Templeton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not that I told you so, but… No, scratch that: I TOLD you so!

manacles

Remember when Catherine Templeton suggested (but didn’t actually say, mind you) that her pride in the Confederacy was OK because her ancestors didn’t own slaves?

And remember that I said, based upon my obsessive research of my own family tree, that that is virtually impossible? As I put it, “If you’re a white Southerner and you think your ancestors owned no slaves, you should probably dig a little deeper.”

You shouldn’t make that claim because the math is against you, if your ancestors were white Southerners — and especially if they lived in South Carolina. You had dozens of direct ancestors in the first half of the 19th century alone (16 great-great grandparents, 32 great-great-greats, 64 the generation before that) — loads and loads of people who didn’t know each other, and most of whom you probably don’t know about. And in those days, almost half of white South Carolinians (46 percent) owned slaves. It’s really unlikely that a diligent genealogical searcher makes it through that minefield without his self-righteous notion that his ancestors were innocent of owning other people being blown to smithereens.

And now, there’s this:

South Carolina governor candidate says she was unaware her ancestor owned dozens of slaves

The story is actually not as clear as I’d like it to be as to how Ms. Templeton is related to Hiram Clark Brawley, the owner of those 66 slaves. He’s the father of Judge William Brawley, after whom she has said her father is named (Brawley is her maiden name). But that doesn’t say he was a direct ancestor, or anything, really. (When I read stories this vague on essential details, I want to grab the editor responsible and shake him.)

But it would appear that the Templeton campaign isn’t denying he was an ancestor. The candidate’s response is to try to move on: “This campaign is about the future, not about the past.” Which I suppose means we won’t be hearing any more about how proud she is of the Confederacy.

Anyway, I don’t point this out to give Ms. Templeton a hard time for what her ancestors did. If we bear responsibility for the sins of our ancestors, I might have more mea culpas to intone than she does.

No , my point, as always on this subject, is that no white Southerner should claim his or her ancestors didn’t own slaves. It almost certainly isn’t true. (And a bigger point is that even if it were true, that’s a ridiculous reason to be proud of the Confederacy.)

And yeah, I told you so…

Gun control rally at the State House

Feeling the need to show the flag a bit, and finding myself wearing a tie for once, I decided to drop by the State House and see what was up.

The first thing I saw was this gun control rally, sponsored — I’m just going by the T-shirts here — by Moms Demand Action – SC. Here’s their Facebook page. It was a modest-sized crown (click here to see), but passionate.

I listened for awhile, went inside to see what the House was doing (not much), then came back out. When I got back, Sen. Greg Gregory was speaking. He was (to my knowledge) the only Republican to speak. He and Marlon Kimpson are sponsoring a bill to close the “Charleston loophole.”

He was saying various things the crowd applauded — such as noting that if his father had seen a “hunter” show up with a 30-round magazine, he’d have laughed him off the field. Then he talked about how hard the issue was on his side of the aisle. He noted that too many Republicans feared that any concession on gun control would send us down the slippery slope to eliminating all guns.

At that point, one or two people started to cheer, and I thought, No, folks, that’s not an applause line. You’re not helping your cause there… But they seemed to think better of it right away; it wasn’t taken up. And maybe they just weren’t listening. It was a very encouraging, applauding kind of crowd, which I guess is what you get when you have “Moms” in your name.

The speeches kept coming. There was a preacher, a teacher, and a couple of high school students. Then, with exacting neutrality, the mistress of ceremonies introduced “two candidates for governor,” with the first being James Smith. You can hear most of his speech above — I started shooting the video about a minute in.

Then came Phil Noble, and he said the usual things Phil Noble says. I’ll say this for him, though — he was more self-restrained than usual. He carefully explained that the NRA was pure evil, and that evil had agents in the Legislature, and some of them were Democrats and some of them were Republicans. I didn’t hear all of it, but I’m pretty sure he held back from actually saying “James Smith.” But I wasn’t always looking right at him, so he could have been jerking his head in that direction.

One of the speakers used the occasion to encourage those present to elect more Democrats — which didn’t seem terribly polite to Sen. Gregory, but he’s probably used to it.

Joe Cranney of the Charleston paper reports that earlier, the group had been present at a hearing in which consideration of S. 516 — Gregory’s and Kimpson’s bill — was postponed….

Phil Noble speaks to the rally. That's James Smith with Mandy Powers Norrell to the right.

Phil Noble speaks to the rally. That’s James Smith with Mandy Powers Norrell to the right.

 

 

 

If I go back to school, I want Noble to fill out MY report card

nra

This is a followup on a topic from yesterday — the one about Phil Noble’s attempts to hang the NRA around James Smith’s neck in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Florida.

Have you seen the bogus “NRA Report Card” Noble’s campaign created for Smith? It’s above. Phil tweeted it out with a volley of the angry, chip-on-the-shoulder, self-righteous rhetoric that has become the calling card of South Carolina’s own Bernie Sanders: “I’m dismayed by hollow, hypocritical words of condolences by politicians like James Smith. Smith has voted over and over again with the NRA, getting A ratings and now tries to fool people that he is on the right side….” And so forth.

Yep, James Smith has gotten good ratings from the NRA a couple or three times, generally because of voting on a noncontroversial bill along with pretty much everyone else in the Legislature, including Democrats Noble has supported in the past. One such item he mentioned when I asked him about it yesterday was a bill (I think it was this one) that said it you build a house way out in the country next to an existing shooting range, you can’t bring a nuisance action for noise against the owners and operators. That sort of thing.

The thing is, James Smith isn’t someone who blanches at the site of a firearm. He knows exponentially more about assault rifles with large magazines than most of the people who own AR-15s because he’s used them himself — in combat (you know, for the purpose for which such weapons were intended). The Democratic Party used to be full of guys like him. Not so much anymore. And no, the GOP doesn’t have a lot of room to brag on that score, either.

But still, there was something fishy about that “report card.” Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, a Smith ally (which is to say, a normal, mainstream Democrat) decided to dig into those “grades.”

The phony report card cited two sources. One was the NRA itself, and since you had to be a member to look up the scores, she turned to the other source, VoteSmart.org. There, on the James Smith ratings page under the “Guns” heading, you’ll find the apparent source material for Noble’s “report card.”

The site said that in 2012, the NRA gave Smith a rating of 79 percent — which Noble recorded as an “A-minus.” I know South Carolina recently watered down the values of letter grades, but I hadn’t seen anything this lenient.

But that was nothing compared to Noble’s generosity in 2016. That year, the NRA rated Smith at 43 percent. Noble called that a “C.”

Rep. Norrell tweeted, “My kids would love it if those were C’s and A-‘s, but I know of nowhere that that’s the case.”

Yeah… I don’t know of any place like that, either…

ratings

THIS is what political exploitation of gun tragedies looks like

Twitter home

I get up in the morning, I work out, I skim Twitter, I peruse several newspapers, and I get ideas that could be blog posts, but I fritter them away in Tweets before breakfast is over, and the blog lies fallow for much of the day.

So I’m going to start turning more Tweets into posts, so the conversation can occur here as well as there.

Let’s start with this one:

In case the Tweet I was retweeting doesn’t show up, here’s what I was talking about:

Of course, I was far from the only one to react this way. A couple of other Tweets on the subject:

To which Tyler Jones responded, “Egg, meet Phil Noble’s face.”

And an American Party candidate for the House had this to say:

OK, that should be enough to get y’all started…

My connection to the guy Catherine Templeton mentioned

Following up on my post about our ancestors owning slaves… I ran across something else interesting. To me, anyway. You know what a geek I am about this stuff.

As native South Carolinians know in their bones, and as interlopers from elsewhere (just kidding! y’all are welcome!) soon find out, we’re all related one way or another.

Here’s an illustration of that…

In the story cited previously, Catherine Templeton mentioned someone who I suppose is one of her forebears, since he had the same surname and her father is named for him. The story wasn’t specific, though:

Templeton said her family arrived in South Carolina in the late 1700s, adding her father was named after Judge William Brawley, “who fought for this state, fought in the Battle of Seven Pines, even lost an arm for this state.”..

Anyway, whatever her connection is to Judge Brawley, it’s apparently one of the things that makes her proud of the Confederacy.

So I looked up Judge Brawley, and found this:

William Hiram Brawley (incorrectly reported in some works as William Huggins Brawley; May 13, 1841 – November 15, 1916) was a U.S. Representative from South Carolina and later a United States federal judge. He was the cousin of John James Hemphill and great-uncle of Robert Witherspoon Hemphill….

And the light flashed in my head: Hemphill! So I clicked on John James Hemphill and found this:

John James Hemphill (August 25, 1849 – May 11, 1912) was a U.S. Representative from South Carolina, cousin of William Huggins Brawley, nephew of John Hemphill and great-uncle of Robert Witherspoon Hemphill.

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. I then clicked on this guy’s uncle John Hemphill and found what I suspected:

John Hemphill (December 18, 1803 – January 4, 1862) was Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and a United States Senator.

Sen. John Hemphill

Sen. John Hemphill

The picture was familiar, because it appears on my family tree. That John Hemphill is my fourth-great uncle. He was the brother of my great-great-great grandmother Margaret Hemphill — my Dad’s mother’s mother’s father’s mother.

He was an interesting guy, playing a prominent role in the early history of the state of Texas. A while back, someone told me that he was interesting in another way.

I don’t know whether the story is true or not, but it made an impression at the time, and it’s why his name rang a bell.

A couple of years ago, having run across my tree, a woman wrote to me to ask me what I knew about Sen. Hemphill. I didn’t know much — for instance, I’d never found the name of his wife if he had one — but she said she knew why I hadn’t found a wife:

John Harrison Hemphill is my maternal 2nd-great grandfather. The Senator never married, although he had 2 daughters by his female slave, Sabina. Their names were Theodora and Henrietta. I know Theodora was born in Austin, but I’m not sure if Henrietta was. Hope that helps….

I wrote back and forth with this lady, and she shared what she had, but she wasn’t sure of all the precise connections. And I’ve looked at her tree since then, and I don’t find Theodora or Henrietta or Sabina. So maybe she’s decided she isn’t as sure about being descended from Hemphill that way.

And she might even be wrong about being related to Hemphill at all — which wouldn’t be a shock, given the circumstances and the lack of the normal confirming sources, forcing her I suppose to rely on family anecdote. I’ve come to doubt it because she mentioned doing the Ancestry DNA test, but she doesn’t show up in my DNA results as related.

But it was a fascinating story, and the main reason why his name rang a bell.

Anyway, maybe I’m related, distantly, to Catherine Templeton. Which would make another fairly common Southern story…

If you’re a white Southerner and you think your ancestors owned no slaves, you should probably dig a little deeper

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s a correction that proves the point of this post. While I knew I had quite a few ancestors who owned slaves, just for contrast I mentioned one great-great grandfather (Henry Waller) who did NOT. I was wrong. A first cousin has written to let me know Henry owned at least one slave, whom he mentioned in letters home. I hope to get copies of those letters soon. So even I am guilty of falsely believing that one ancestor owned no slaves…

Last week, Catherine Templeton used the standard cliche rationalization for why she’s proud of her Confederate heritage:

“It’s important to note that my family didn’t fight because we had slaves,” Templeton said to a room mostly filled with university students. “My family fought because the federal government was trying to tell us how to live.”

We won’t get into the fact that the one thing white Southerners — the ones in charge — were afraid the federal government would make them do was stop owning slaves. And I’ll point out only in passing that if your ancestors owned no slaves and took up arms for the Confederacy, then they were victims of a major con job. Some of my own ancestors were duped in the same manner.

But not all of them. I’ve long known that some of my ancestors were slaveowners. But it wasn’t until I started seriously building out my family tree that I realized how many of them fit that description.

As much as I love talking genealogy — as y’all know, to your sorrow — I hesitated to post this. But my tree is the only one I know this well, and I think what I have found argues against the claims that all too many white Southerners make. And I think people should know that. So here goes…

Patrick Henry Bradley

Patrick Henry Bradley

At first, I had thought that slaveholding was limited to my paternal grandmother’s people, the Bradleys (for whom I’m named). Patrick Henry Bradley, her grandfather, was one of the leading citizens in his part of Abbeville County. When the War came, he raised his own company and led it in the field, but soon returned home to serve out the rest of the war in the Legislature. His eldest son stayed at the front, and was killed at Trevillian Station in 1864.

I would have assumed that the Bradleys were slaveholders just because of Patrick Henry’s service in the Legislature, which was largely made up of the slaveholding class. But I don’t have to assume; I have documentary and anecdotal evidence to that effect. I don’t know whether he had a lot of slaves, but he had some.

James Chesnut Jr.

James Chesnut Jr.

I had accepted this as fact long ago, but I had assumed that my ancestors in other branches of the family were generally innocent of having owned other humans. Not based on anything, really, beyond the fact that none of them were quite as upscale as the Bradleys. Of course, when I say “Bradleys,” I’m lumping in a lot of folks who bore different surnames — pretty much that whole quarter of my tree. For instance, James Chesnut — husband of famous diarist Mary Boykin and one of the leading men in Confederate South Carolina — is a 3rd cousin four times removed. (That means my 6th-great grandfather, Alexander Samuel Chesnut, was his great-great grandfather.) He was in that Bradley fourth.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following paragraph is dead wrong. Henry Waller DID own at least one slave, I am reliably informed. I hope to have evidence of that soon…)

But I had liked to think that another great-great grandfather, William Henry Waller, was more typical of the rest of my tree — just an ordinary soldier who got caught up in forces bigger than he was. I’ve never seen or heard anything to indicate Henry owned slaves, or money or much else. But admittedly, I don’t know a lot about him. He went AWOL to visit the family farm in Marion County when his unit was marching north toward Virginia. My great-grandmother — who died when I was 4 years old (yep, that’s how recent that war was: someone who lived then overlapped with my life) — was born nine months later. She, my mother’s father’s mother, never knew her father, because Henry died of disease at the siege of Petersburg. Consequently, I know practically nothing about him. I don’t even know who his parents were, or whether he had siblings. That line is the shortest on my tree, because of that break.

The old lady is the daughter of Henry Waller. The big-headed kid on her lap is me.

The old lady is my great-grandmother, the daughter of Henry Waller, who died at Petersburg. The big-headed kid on her lap, grooving on the apples, is me. This was 1957.

I picture Henry as being one of those guys like Virgil Caine in “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” A sympathetic character caught up in events and trying to get by the best he could. And I tended to lump others from the non-Bradley portions of the family into that category.

But I was wrong, as I learned from early census records after I finally paid to join Ancestry and gained access to that site’s documentary “hints” about my forebears. Later census records name everyone in a household (although their names are often spelled wrong). But in the early decades of the 19th century, the records would just name the “head of household,” and then give a demographic breakdown of the rest of the household — X number of “Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25,” and Y number of “Free White Persons – Under 16.”

But the really revelatory data comes under such headings as “Slaves – Males – 26 thru 44.” I assume the records were kept that way so each slave could be counted as three-fifths of a person for the sake of electoral apportionment.

Perusing these records can be a real eye-opener. While Henry Waller may not have owned slaves, others on my mother’s side did. Take, for instance, my 4th-great grandfather Henry C. Foxworth, also of Marion County: There were six slaves in his household in 1820. This sort of thing will pop up again and again in a white Southern family. However humble and righteous you may think your ancestors were, a family tree is likely far more diverse — here I mean economically diverse in particular — than you give it credit for being. And the people who bore your surname are only a tiny fraction of the people from whom you are descended who lived during the centuries of slavery. Until I really got into building my tree, I had no idea I was descended from anyone named “Foxworth.”

Wesley Samuel Foxworth marker(By the way, like Patrick Henry Bradley, Henry Foxworth also lost a son in the war. My great-great-great grandfather Wesley Samuel Foxworth was also killed during that Petersburg campaign. Fortunately for me, his daughter from whom I am descended had been born 12 years earlier.)

I am three-fourths South Carolinian, but hey, at least I won’t find any of that slavery stuff among the Warthens up in Maryland, right? So I thought — somewhat irrationally, since Maryland (although it stayed in the Union) was a slave state.

My great-grandmother Rebecca Jane Rabbitt — who married my great-grandfather Warthen — died in 1898, two days after the birth of her sixth child. She was 35. But I’ve been a lot luckier tracing her tree than poor Henry Waller’s, taking it back to the Middle Ages. (Through her, I’m a Tudor, making Henry VIII a cousin.)

But one of the more interesting things I’ve found on that line is much more recent — it involves her grandfather, John Thomas Rabbitt Jr., 1779-1863. It’s an indenture contract. One William Frumfree, described as “a colored man,” owed $40 to the state of Maryland, and was in jail in 1829 because he couldn’t pay it. My ancestor paid it for him, in exchange for which… well, here’s a quote from the document Mr. Frumfree signed:

… I do hereby bind myself to the service of said Rabbitt in any manner in which he may chose to use me for and during the term of one year from the date hereof to be considered and treated as the slave of said Rabbitt during my term of service as contracted by this paper…

Oh, and just in case you thought that would be lighter service than being a permanent slave, there’s this language:

… the said Rabbitt is to be subject to no liability for his treatment or chastisement of me which he would not own in the case of one of his own slaves for life…

But hey, don’t think the only thing Mr. Frumfree got was out of the jail. He was also paid “the sum of one cent.” No, really. It’s all in the document signed on May 13, 1829.

About all I can say for John Thomas is that as of the 1820 and the 1840 censuses, he didn’t own any slaves. So, there’s that.

Why do I tell you all of this? To shame myself, or to perversely brag about what wheeler-dealers my ancestors were? No. Of course I’m uncomfortable with this topic and these details, but my point is that I highly doubt that my tree is unusual. Note that these slaveowners I’ve mentioned had nothing to do with each other. They never met. They were from very different families living in different places under different circumstances. In other words, these incidences of slaveholding were independent of each other.

And it crops up often enough that I can’t believe I’m anywhere near alone in this. Almost half of white South Carolina families (46 percent) owned slaves. What do you think the chances are that none of the many families that led do you owned human property?

If other white Southerners really knew who their ancestors were, you’d seldom hear a proud neoConfederate say, ever-so-self-righteously, that his (or her) ancestors didn’t own slaves. The odds are against it being a fact.

It is a wise child that knows his own father, and a wiser one who knows even more of his forebears, and faces up to reality.

A brief, belated report on the Democratic debate

debate

I went to the debate between the Democratic candidates for governor sponsored by Progress South Carolina Friday night, intending to blog about it. But the sound was so bad, and my notes therefore so incomplete and uncertain, that I blew it off.

But looking back, I think I can make a couple of observations. If you want more, or if you want to check my impressions, here’s a video of the whole thing. Bryan tried watching it in real time, and reported that “It sounds like they are underwater.” Which is the way it sounded in the Convention Center — loud enough, but mumbly. The good news is that the video available now sounds pretty good, especially with earbuds.

Here’s my main observation: I still don’t know why Phil Noble or Marguerite Willis is running, or what they hope to achieve. Oh, I can write down the words they say as to why they’re running, but I have trouble connecting those words to anything out there in the actual world.

The two of them seem locked in a bitter battle to see which one can be less likable. You’d think this campaign had been going on for years and they were sick to death of each other and of James Smith, to the point that they could hardly stand to be on the stage with each other.

Smith comes across as a guy focused on winning the election — the one in November, which hardly seems to be on the radar screens of the other two. He started his opening remarks with an upbeat, “Who here is ready to win an election? How about it?” Which prompted cheers, because that would indeed be a novel, exciting experience to this crowd.

tick offAfter a weird 12-second pause after moderator Bakari Sellers introduced him, Noble started off with a rambling, ticked-off, populist-tinged diatribe about South Carolina, starting in 1756, when his ancestors arrived. You can hear his tone on the video. At right you see his expression as he was telling this story. I got pretty lost in the story, along about the point where he went into detail about the curriculum of a school that folks like his ancestors started soon after their arrival. Lots of Greek and Latin, apparently.

In Noble’s world, our elected leaders haven’t failed to do what he wants because they disagree with him, but because they’re all “bought and paid for.” (Which is what I meant on a previous occasion when I said Phil is styling himself as this election’s Bernie Sanders.)

Ms. Willis, who had just gotten into the race that day, set her own tone by saying, “OK, let’s get right down to it. I’ve asked Phil Noble to drop out of this race.”

Noble’s response was along the lines of “Perhaps she oughta withdraw from the race!”

It was a “Yeah? And so’s yer mother!” moment that exemplified a tone that ran through the whole event. There have been times in the past when I have faulted my home state for being too polite. On Friday night, I was missing that politeness a bit.

The snapping wasn’t just between the two of them. For instance, after James Smith said some perfectly harmless things about how humbled and grateful he was for all the support he was getting from women across South Carolina, Ms. Willis replied with a sarcastic, “Well, let’s see how many of those eleven thousand women will still be with him when I tell you what I’m gonna do.”

Noble’s main shot at Smith came when he accused him of getting rating of 100 from the NRA, which Smith dismissed, defending his record of trying to reduce gun violence.

That moment sort of crystallized the point I mentioned earlier. Here we have a Democrat running with what would be an asset in the general election — a respect for gun rights, if Noble’s accusation were true — and that’s the beef his opponent has with him. From the start, Noble has seemed to justify his candidacy by accusing Smith of not being enough of a doctrinaire Democrat. He seems bent on making sure that the party nominates someone who can’t possibly win in the fall,

As for Ms. Willis… it will be interesting to see how many of those 11,000 women she can peel away from Smith in the coming weeks. That would seem critical to her chances, as she seemed to repeatedly put her self forward as the candidate for women. I don’t think she made a really strong start on that Friday night.

But y’all go watch it — you should be able to hear it better than I did at the time — and let me know what you think….