Category Archives: Talk amongst yourselves

Open Thread for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Let’s see what we have to offer today:

Russians have many theories about the MH17 crash. One involves fake dead people. — You know, the Rodina must be a very interesting place to live. This story compiles some of the wacky alternative explanations of the crash that are given credence by Russian media or influential websites.

Two Ukrainian Warplanes Shot Down . When this broke this morning, the first AP bulletin said:

Which caused me to react, “As opposed to CIVILIAN fighter jets?” Yeah, I know. The AP is being deliberately redundant in order to make sure the reader doesn’t misread it and think it’s another civilian craft. But it still bugs me. Of course, “fighter jet” is pretty redundant without “military” added. Think about it: Here in the 21st century, a fighter is highly unlikely to be a Spitfire or a Sopwith Camel. But maybe some countries still have some prop fighters. If so, I’d like to see them in action…

Israel Faces Rising Pressure to End Conflict in Gaza . And why, pray tell, is the pressure on Israel, instead on on Hamas, which started it, and insists on continuing? I suppose because Israel is more likely to respond favorably.

A Doctor Leading The Fight Against Ebola Has Caught The Virus — All I know about ebola, I learned from Tom Clancy novels. But that’s enough to make me shudder.

DSS: state needs 200 more child-welfare workers. I believe them. You?

Open Thread for Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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Don’t want to talk reparations? OK, here are some other topics for talking amongst yourselves:

  1. U.S. to leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, official says — This one’s hot off the press, or will be, in 12 hours or so. Apparently, though, this is only four a year, which make me wonder about the value of it. The longer-term forces left in place will be half that.
  2. Nigerian Officials Say They’ve Located Missing Girls — Which raises the really hard question, Now what?
  3. Weekend of violence in Myrtle Beach — Three were killed and seven wounded in five confirmed shooting incidents. A police spokesman said  there were several more reports of shootings or sounds of gunshots that were unconfirmed. The head of the local Chamber says “none of us are surprised,” and blames it on the hordes of bikers who descended on the Strand in the long weekend. Since his first name is “Brad,” how can we doubt him?
  4. Pope: zero tolerance for paedophiles — As with previous utterances of Pope Francis, I once again the impulse to say, But I thought that was the policy already. However, this pope has a way of saying such things that have been said before so that people believe him this time…

 

Reparations and ‘the monster in the closet’

Doug Ross suggests that there would be great interest in a discussion of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece in The Atlantic on the subject of reparations.

OK, so I’ll raise the subject. I can’t really comment this morning because I don’t have time to read the rather lengthy piece myself. I did, however, skim over the synopsis that Doug provided.

It tells me that what Coates suggests is not so much reparations in the sense of dollars. Rather, he wants to authorize a commission that would cause us to talk about the subject:

Calling the essay the “case” for reparation is equally misleading. Coates produces plenty of facts and figures that would be used to argue the case for reparations, his role though, is less that of the prosecuting attorney than that of the Grand Jury. He’s merely presenting enough evidence to make it clear that there ought to be a trial.

The “trial,” in this case, would be a study conducted by a congressionally appointed committee under the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, a bill that has been submitted by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) in every Congress for the past 25 years, but has never been brought to the floor.

The purpose of the bill is “To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.”

The Commission would have no authority beyond the ability to compel testimony and gather information, and would be authorized to spend $8 million–a sum utterly trivial in the grand scheme of the U.S. budget. Its conclusions would not have the force of law, and could not require the U.S. government to take any action whatsoever.

This brings us to the monster in the closet. Coates believes that the United States, as a people, has never been fully honest with itself about the extent to which black Americans were subjected to institutionalized discrimination. Further, to the extent that we have acknowledged discrimination, the U.S., as a country, has never made an honest effort to assess what it cost the country’s black citizens.

That’s what we’ve locked away in the closet, he argues, and the Conyers committee’s charge would be to open the door and find a way for the United States, as a people, to kill the monster. It’s that effort itself, Coates writes, done under the imprimatur of the federal government itself, which would be the true act of making reparations.

“Reparations—by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely,” he writes.

“What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt….

The only reaction I have is, “More talk?” Perhaps because of what I have done for a living for so many years, every time someone says we haven’t talked enough about the subject of race in America, or some aspect of the subject of race in America, I wonder where they’ve been.

But hey, I’m a talker. Let’s talk away. I just don’t know where yet another talk can realistically be expected to take us…

Open Thread for Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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As he took a carrot out of the refrigerator last evening to give to my 3-year-old granddaughter for a snack, my elder son told me that he’d been having very mundane dreams lately. For instance, he’d dreamed that he’d already given her this particular carrot (it was the longest in the bag).

Well, I can identify. Last night, I dreamed that somehow, I’d found the time to post more than 10 times that particular day, which gave me great satisfaction. I like days when I can post that often, but they seldom come any more.

That said, to make up for light posting the last few days, here’s an Open Thread for y’all to do with as you will.

Some possible topics:

  • The government shutdown: There’s plenty out there to read about this. I liked this headline in The Washington Post — “9 ways to punish Congress for a shutdown.”
  • The launch of Obamacare. Which was inevitable, all the tears and flapdoodle from the peanut gallery notwithstanding. Will it work? Will it fail? I don’t know, but the only rational approach is to give it a chance.
  • The last epidode of “Breaking Bad,” which I didn’t watch until last night, and which was amazing. They really wrapped it up right, and I did not see how that was going to happen. A perfect example of something that I did not see coming, but once it came, I realized that’s the way it had to be: The identities of the “two best hit men west of the Mississippi.” All through that scene, I’m like, “Who could that be? Who’s left whom Walt could get to do that? Whom could he trust? And it even introduced a light note into the end of a tragedy.
  • Ideas for how we can raise more money for Walk for Life, which is Saturday. We’re now at $3,156. Gimmick ideas are welcome.
  • This awesome weather.

 

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Talk amongst yourselves, about whatever.

Some possible topics:

Continued saber-rattling at Syria. But will we do anything that has an effect? I thought the administration’s statement of yesterday that we’re not seeking “regime change” rather bizarre. Is it really that important to Barack Obama that he not be perceived as being George Bush?

The ongoing debate over the homeless in Columbia. Kathryn calls to my attention Eva Moore’s story on the issue, which she says is much better than the NYT version.

The 50th anniversary of the “I have a Dream” speech. I haven’t written on this, partly because I don’t remember it. I mean, I’m very familiar with historical accounts, but I don’t recall being aware of it when it happened. I was living in Guayaquil, Ecuador, at the time, and wasn’t exposed to U.S. news. The only event I remember hearing about that year was Kennedy’s assassination.

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 7, 2013

There are all sorts of things you may want to discuss amongst yourselves, such as:

Now we see just how powerless the mayor of Columbia is — The city manager tells him off, and not one member of council backs him in trying to rein her in.

Obama cancels meeting with Putin, because of Snowden — That’s one way of making them know we’re really ticked. But how are we supposed to gaze into his soul from way over here?

Yemen says it has thwarted terror plot targeting ports — Was this what all the chatter was about?

If you can’t trust Discovery during Shark Week, whom can you trust? — Wil Wheaton, a guy I’ve only heard of because of “Big Bang Theory,” is really upset about a bogus documentary.

Open Thread for Friday, August 2, 2013

Since some of y’all seem to like this “open thread” thing, I thought I’d post one bright and early this morning, just to get things rolling until I have time to post something else.

Actually, to tell the truth, I’m not up before 6 a.m. doing this. I’m actually writing it at 2:33 on the previous afternoon, and setting it to post Friday morning.

Talk about whatever you like. All the usual favorite topics are out there. We still don’t have comprehensive immigration reform, Nikki Haley continues to be our governor (so state employees still have to say, “It’s a great day in South Carolina!”), there’s still no two-state solution in the Mideast, Snowden is still in Russia (unless something startling happened overnight), and the E.U., Syria and the Columbia police department are all messed up.

Your comments on the Ryan speech?

I missed his big speech last night — I hope to find time to watch it later — but I thought I’d provide this place for the comments of those of you who did catch it.

And if you didn’t, here’s the video. And here’s the text.

Once I have a chance to study it myself, I’ll join the conversation. In the meantime, what did you think?

It brought Scott Walker to tears. How about you?

Translate, please: Is that some sort of threat?

So what do you think this other former speaker is saying about Newt Gingrich when she says, “There is something I know.”

Taegan Goddard over at Political Wire says, “It doesn’t seem like Pelosi is bluffing” when she says that.

But it seems to me it could be read two ways:

  1. She’s saying there’s a deep, dark secret, yet unknown except by her, that will do in Newt in a fall campaign.
  2. She’s simply emphasizing that, based on what is already widely known — especially among those who served with him — she knows that he won’t be president.

Which do you think it is? Or is it something else? Or nothing?

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney says he sure wishes he knew what that secret was. I’ll be he does.

And Gingrich’s reaction is pure Newt:

She lives in a San Francisco environment of very strange fantasies and very strange understandings of reality. I have no idea what’s in Nancy Pelosi’s head. If she knows something, I have a simple challenge: Spit it out.

What ad whiz came up with this nightmare?

Have I mentioned that I’m participating in the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative down in Charleston? No, I haven’t… Well, there’s a lot I can tell you about that — the banner ad at the top of this page is involved — but I’ll do that later.

Right now, I want to show you something we discussed as a sort of mini-case study Monday in the class.

See the above, short-lived, Intel print ad.

See if you can find, without Googling the controversy, how many ways the ad is racially offensive.

No, there’s no right answer, but I came up with three. With more time, I’d have come with more. I just thought I’d get y’all to talking about what I spent part of my day talking about.

The amazing thing was that it ever actually found its way into print. I don’t think any newspaper I’ve ever worked at would have fouled up to this extent, been this clueless — although I’ve been party to a number of mistakes. It astounds me that something that was not produced on a daily deadline was this ill-considered. But it was, and appeared in a Dell catalog in 2007 before being withdrawn. Intel apologized.

For me, the survey says Obama, then Huntsman

I refuse to attach much importance to this, but it’s an interesting exercise nonetheless.

Project VoteSmart has long been a wonkish thing, an organization that gets answers to issue-related questions from candidates for all sorts of political offices, and posts them for voters to see. Of all my friends and acquaintances who care deeply about politics, my one friend who is really, really into Project VoteSmart is Cindi Scoppe. This proves my point. About the wonkishness.

But now they have a little toy that might bring in a broader group. Just in time, too, because it seems that all the candidates for president are blowing off Project VoteSmart and refusing to answer its questions. Which is a shame, because it actually was a good source, if you’re the issue-oriented type.

I am not, relatively speaking. As I’ve gotten older, character and judgment have come to mean more. You might think that “judgment” is the same as positions on issues, but not really. The “issues” that tend to end up on surveys often have little to do either with what I’m looking for in a candidate, or what that person might actually face in office. And even when it’s an issue I care about, in order to get simple “yes/no” answers (which are rare in real life, in terms of the decisions leaders have to make), the issue is dumbed-down to where a completely honest and accurate answer is impossible.

Take, for instance, one of the questions on VoteSmart’s new “VoteEasy” mechanism: “Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns?” That’s a tough one for me. Do I advocate further restrictions on the sale of rifles, shotguns and handguns? Not really, but mainly because I see it as a political impossibility. And I believe that even if you restricted the sales, there would still be way too many millions of guns already in circulation to lessen much the ill effects of their presence among us. (Also, I’m more ambivalent about guns than unequivocal gun controllers. I don’t hunt, but I enjoy shooting at targets from time to time.) I believe that any operable gun that exists is quite likely to someday fall into the hands of someone who will not handle it responsibly. That seems almost inevitable to me. And I know we’ll never go out and round them up, however much the more extreme 2nd Amendment defenders may fear that. So I’m not inclined to spend political capital on the issue — there are so many other things to be done in our society. But… I think the question is asking me philosophically, do I believe restricting the sale of guns is a permissible thing to do under our Consitution? And I believe it is; the Framers wouldn’t have put in that language about “militia” otherwise. So, keeping it simple, I said “yes.”

I can quibble that way over every other question on the survey. And many I can answer any way. Say, take “Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?” I don’t know. When do you mean? Now, or two years ago? What kind of spending — tax rebates, filling gaps in agency budgets, shovel-ready infrastructure projects, what? But because I assumed it meant “ever, under any circumstances, I said “yes.” But you see how misleading that is, right?

And you can see how my willingness to leave things on the table for consideration would tend to push me toward the pragmatic Barack Obama, seeing as so many of his opponents are of the “never, ever” persuasion (or so they say, now, while not in office).

But it didn’t start out that way, as I took the survey. The first question was about abortion, and that pushed Obama way to the background, while every Republican was with me 100 percent. At one point it appeared that Gingrich was moving to the front of the pack. Obama stayed to the background until about halfway through, after which he pulled steadily to the fore and stayed there. And sometimes for reasons that are counterintuitive to people who follow government and politics only casually. For instance, Obama and I both say a big, emphatic “yes” to “Do you support targeting suspected terrorists outside of official theaters of conflict?” Some still, against all reason, see Obama as a dove. Yet he is far more aggressive in this regard than George W. Bush.

Anyway, here’s how it ended up:

  1. Obama — 69
  2. Huntsman — 58
  3. Bachmann — 47
  4. Perry — 47
  5. Roemer — 47
  6. Romney — 47
  7. Santorum — 47
  8. Gingrich — 42
  9. Cain — 39
  10. Johnson — 33
  11. Paul — 31

Notice how the differences aren’t all that stark. I’m not a 100 percent this guy, 0 percent that guy kind of voter. That the candidate I agree with the most only gets 69 percent, and the one I disagree with least gets a 31 (and five of them tie for just under 50 percent) says a lot about why I can’t subscribe to either political party. Parties perpetuate the notion that everything is one way or the other, and act accordingly. That worldview is not me.

I’ll be curious to see where y’all end up. You can to try it at this address. Click on the “VoteEasy” box at the right.

Since I look at candidates more holistically, I don’t expect something like this to predict how I will vote. I’m not a check-off box kind of voter. And yet, my own mushy methods have reached similar conclusions up to now — Obama’s looking better to me than he did when I voted for McCain in 2008, and out of a weak Republican field only Huntsman has stood out positively to me, while no one is less likely to get my vote than Ron Paul.

So I found it interesting. Perhaps you will, too.

Let’s talk downtown Walmart

Meant to blog about this yesterday. Let’s do it now instead.

I don’t want all our fine downtown merchants to think less of me, or think that I think less of them, but my first thought when I heard we might have a Walmart (although a little one) on Assembly Street was to be very pleased.

Actually, it was my second thought. My first was to lament the loss of the ballpark, and to once again feel great regret that when USC was building its superlative venue down by the river, then didn’t do a deal to share it with the AAA team out of Jackson, TN, that really wanted to come here. And then to rend my garments at the thought that there will be NO professional or semipro ball in our capital city for the foreseeable future.

But my second thought was that it would be awesome to be able to get the items that I always save up to buy at Walmart during the working day when I need them. I’m talking little things, like if my allergies act up, I can get some of those little, generic antihistamine/decongestant pills that are so much cheaper there. Now, I have to plan trips to Walmart for weekends or at the end of a long, hard day, on my way home. I therefore loved the idea of the convenience.

But now downtown merchants are up in arms:

Neighbors, environmentalists and owners of small businesses aired their worries Tuesday about the possibility that Capital City Stadium could be converted into downtown Columbia’s first Wal-Mart.

A cadre of detractors complained to a City Council committee Tuesday that allowing the international retail giant into the city would destroy mom-and-pop shops, threaten to increase water pollution in tributaries that feed the already polluted Congaree River and that the project was done in a hush-hush manner by City Council.

“Small business owners are in a panic,” said Leslie Minerd, owner of Five Points retail shop Hip Wa Zee. “A big-box store will help destroy the diversity we have in Columbia. And we don’t have a lot of diversity.”…

And that gets me thinking about the cost of my convenience to friends and neighbors. I haven’t reached any conclusions.

What are y’all’s thoughts?

THE EARTHQUAKE OFF JAPAN

Image from the United States Geological Survey at 5:46 a.m. Zulu time, or 46 minutes after midnight here on the East Coast.

This is just to give y’all some resources, and someplace to comment if you feel so moved. The picture of what happened — and is happening — is still taking shape. Hawaii seems to be out of trouble — although I’d appreciate an on-the-spot report on that from our own Pacific correspondent, Burl Burlingame.

Personally, on something like this, I tend to turn first to the Los Angeles Times. Of the largest papers in this country, that’s the one most likely to have the best reporting and perspective on developments in the Pacific Rim (that’s pretty intuitive, of course, but I had it confirmed back in my days as an editor responsible for the front page, and the national desk, back in Wichita, when I had to study all of our news services to see who had the best take on each national/international story).

But here are several you can follow:

That’s probably all you need right now. Comment away.

Anyone want to close the state retirement system (to new employees)? Discuss.

Well, now, here’s an interesting bill I haven’t heard about (although Kathryn may point out that everyone else knew about it but me):

S 0531 General Bill, By Campsen, Ryberg, Grooms, Bryant, Rose, Campbell, Shoopman, Davis and Bright Similar(H 3568) A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTIONS 9-1-5, 9-8-5, 9-9-5, 9-11-5, AND 9-20-5 SO AS TO CLOSE THE SOUTH CAROLINA RETIREMENT SYSTEM, THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR JUDGES AND SOLICITORS, THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, THE SOUTH CAROLINA POLICE OFFICERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM, AND THE STATE OPTIONAL RETIREMENT PROGRAM TO EMPLOYEES HIRED OR OFFICERS TAKING OFFICE AFTER JUNE 30, 2012, AND TO PROVIDE THAT OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES HIRED OR TAKING OFFICE AFTER JUNE 30, 2012 MUST BE ENROLLED IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA RETIREMENT INVESTMENT PLAN; BY ADDING CHAPTER 22 TO TITLE 9 SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA RETIREMENT INVESTMENT PLAN AS A DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN AND PROVIDE FOR ITS ADMINISTRATION AND OPERATIONS; AND TO REPEAL, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2017, CHAPTER 22, TITLE 9 RELATING TO THE STATE OPTIONAL RETIREMENT PROGRAM.

02/09/11 Senate Introduced and read first time (Senate Journal-page 7)

02/09/11 Senate Referred to Committee on Finance (Senate Journal-page 7)

The boldfaced parts are my own enhancement. Oh, and here’s the House version:

H 3568 General Bill, By G.M. Smith and Ballentine Similar(S 531) A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTIONS 9-1-5, 9-8-5, 9-9-5, AND 9-20-5 SO AS TO CLOSE THE SOUTH CAROLINA RETIREMENT SYSTEM, THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR JUDGES AND SOLICITORS, THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, AND THE STATE OPTIONAL RETIREMENT PROGRAM TO EMPLOYEES HIRED OR OFFICERS TAKING OFFICE AFTER JUNE 30, 2012, AND TO PROVIDE THAT OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES HIRED OR TAKING OFFICE AFTER JUNE 30, 2012 MUST BE ENROLLED IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA RETIREMENT INVESTMENT PLAN; BY ADDING CHAPTER 22 TO TITLE 9 SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA RETIREMENT INVESTMENT PLAN AS A DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN AND PROVIDE FOR ITS ADMINISTRATION AND OPERATIONS; AND TO REPEAL, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2017, CHAPTER 22, TITLE 9 RELATING TO THE STATE OPTIONAL RETIREMENT PROGRAM.

02/02/11 House Introduced and read first time (House Journal-page 57)

02/02/11 House Referred to Committee on Ways and Means (House Journal-page 57)

02/08/11 House Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Ballentine

OK, so they were just alike. I just gave you both so you could get the names of the legislators responsible. You’ll note I provided links to each. I live to serve.

And to cause trouble, of course. Hard to imagine anything more likely to stir up one of the largest and most politically alert demographics you’re likely to find, state employees — even though it would not apply to them, but only to new hires.

Of course, there’s one thing that IS politically appealing here: Getting rid of the grossly overgenerous retirement system for legislators. That said, it seems that should be addressed in a separate bill, because the two things should not be mentioned in the same breath: the legislative system is SO much more generous, and offered in return for SO much less service, that the two things are like night and day. The state retirement system is a fiscal challenge. The legislators’ benefit is an outrage (read one of Cindi’s ever-popular columns on the subject, to remind you how outrageous). Changing what retirement looks like for future state employees may or may not be a great idea, or at least something that needs to be done whether its a great idea or not. Eliminating the legislators’ benefit is something that most would think is a great idea on its face.

Here’s how my thoughts went as I read the bill:

  • “Close the South Carolina Retirement System…” Whoa! There’s a bombshell.
  • … to employees hired or officers taking office after June 30, 2012…” Oh, OK. Still, that’s a huge issue that needs infinitely more discussion than it’s gotten.
  • Require new hires to “be enrolled in the South Carolina Retirement Investment Plan.” Huh. Well, I’ve never heard of that. Is it a viable option? How’s it doing? How has it performed? Can we have confidence in it as a viable option to a defined benefit?
  • “…establish the south carolina retirement investment plan…” So it doesn’t exist yet? OK, tell me more. Lots more.

And indeed, there are details below, although not quite enough — that is, not enough for a nonfinancial guy like me to tell whether the idea is viable.

What this looks like on its face is just what private employers have been doing for about a quarter-century and more: Moving employees out of pension plans, and into investment plans such as 401ks.

It’s worth talking about. A lot. Let’s start.


Nikki Haley’s transition team

Here’s Nikki Haley’s transition team, as she announced it today:

Ambassador David Wilkins, Chairman. Ambassador David H. Wilkins is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and chairs the Public Policy and International Law practice group. Wilkins was nominated by President George W. Bush to become the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, serving from June 2005 to January 2009. A former speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives for 11 years and 25 years total as an elected representative, Wilkins now serves as Chairman of the Clemson University Board of Trustees.

Chad Walldorf, Vice-Chairman Chad Walldorf is the co-founder of Sticky Fingers and was named a 2004 Ernst and Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” for the Carolinas.  He and his partners sold the company in 2006 after growing it to include restaurants in five states and a national line of barbecue sauces. Walldorf served in the Reagan White House’s Office of Political Affairs and for two years as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Mark Sanford.  He chaired the 2007 Government Efficiency and Accountability Review (GEAR) Commission which resulted in detailed recommendations for the Budget and Control Board with half a billion dollars in estimated savings.

Derick Close. Derick Close is CEO of Springs Creative Products Group in Rock Hill.  A member of Clover-based Huffman Machine Tool’s Board of Directors, Close is past president of the South Carolina Manufacturing Alliance and serves on its executive committee.

Dave Ellison. Dave Ellison joined Northwestern Mutual in 1981 after a five year banking career. He has served or is currently serving on several community boards including the Furman University Board of Trustees, the United Way of Greenville County Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors of Southern First Bancshares, Inc. Ellison’s leadership positions include serving as past chair of the Furman Board of Trustees, past president of the Furman Alumni Association and past chair of the United Way’s Palmetto Society.

Michael Haley. Michael Haley currently works in the human resource office as the State Equal Employment Manager for the South Carolina National Guard.  He is also an officer with the Medical Command in the Army National Guard.

Jermaine Husser. Jermaine Husser is currently the Executive Director (CEO) of the Lowcountry Food Bank. Husser oversees the operations, program and services at the Lowcountry Food Bank’s main distribution center in Charleston and Regional Food Centers in Myrtle Beach and Beaufort.

Jennie M. Johnson. Jennie Johnson is the Executive Director of Liberty Fellowship. She was previously president of Liberty Insurance Services and executive vice president of RBC Liberty Insurance. Her prior experience includes serving as president of Pierce National Life and strategic planning for Ashland Oil. Johnson is Vice-Chair of the Area Commission for Greenville Technical College, and she formerly chaired the South Carolina Research Authority.

Pamela P. Lackey. As President of AT&T South Carolina, Pamela Lackey is responsible for the company’s public policy, economic development and community affairs activities in the state. She works closely with state and community leaders to help bring new technology and jobs to the state and improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians. Prior to joining AT&T in 1997, she was a professional educator, most recently serving on the staff of the State Superintendent of Education. She is the Chair of the S.C. Research Centers of Economic Excellence Review Board and serves on numerous other boards, including the Central S.C. Alliance, the South Carolina State Chamber of Commerce, Governor’s School for the Arts, Palmetto Business Forum and the University of South Carolina Business Partnership Foundation.

Don Leonard. President of Leonard, Call & Associates, Inc., Don Leonard is Chairman of the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank and serves on the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors of the National Bank of South Carolina, the Board of Trustees of the Grand Strand Regional Medical Center and the Board of Trustees of Brookgreen Gardens.

Leighton Lord. Leighton Lord is former chairman of Nexsen Pruet, LLC.  He focuses his law practice on economic development and was Boeing’s legal team leader in the deal that brought the company to South Carolina. Lord serves on several boards, including Santee Cooper.

Pat McKinney. A long-time Charleston resident, Pat McKinney has spent his entire business career involved in the development of upscale communities along coastal South Carolina. Since 1988, he has been a partner in Kiawah Development Partners, the master developer of Kiawah Island. A past appointee to the State Board of Education (1987-1990), he is currently serving on the Board of Trustees of Furman University where he is chair of the Financial Management Committee.

Henry McMaster. President Ronald Reagan chose Henry McMaster to be his first U.S. Attorney. Then, when the people of South Carolina needed a strong Attorney General, they twice elected Henry McMaster. As chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, McMaster’s leadership was instrumental in electing Republican majorities to the state House and state Senate for the first time since Reconstruction. McMaster has served as chairman and a member of the board of directors of the South Carolina Policy Council and was appointed by Governor Carroll Campbell to serve on the state Commission on Higher Education.

Dr. Henry N. Tisdale. A native of Kingstree and magna cum laude graduate of Claflin University, Dr. Henry Tisdale returned to his alma mater as its eighth president in 1994. Dr. Tisdale has presided over a period of unprecedented growth and development at Claflin. During his tenure, Claflin has achieved national recognition for academic excellence, increased enrollment, and enhancement of both its physical infrastructure and research capacity. Dr. Tisdale earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Claflin in 1965 and became the first African-American to receive a doctorate in mathematics from Dartmouth.

George Wolfe. A partner in the Columbia office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, George Wolfe serves as Chair of the firm’s Economic Development Practice Group. He has worked over the last 20 years to develop policies and laws in support of economic development in South Carolina. Mr. Wolfe has worked closely with companies establishing and expanding new operations in South Carolina, including some of the largest investments in the history of the state.

At this point on a Friday afternoon I don’t have much to say about the list, beyond:

  • David Wilkins is there to reassure us more mainstream folk that Nikki really DOES want to play well with others. And so far, it’s working.
  • Sanford Überpal Chad Walldorf is there to tell the Tea Party faithful to ignore that David Wilkins appointment, she’s not going Establishment.
  • Henry McMaster is there because, well, who else among party leaders actually actively supported her campaign after he and other mainstream Republicans were pushed aside in the primary.
  • Husband Michael Haley is there because… well, I’m having trouble coming up with a justification for that one. I mean, Jenny Sanford was always involved in her ex-husband’s administration because she was the brains behind the Sanford mob. But Michael Haley, from what I’ve seen, has been in the background. Of course, he and Henry were the only adults who stood up on the stage with her when she gave her victory address, so that’s something…
  • George Wolfe and Leighton Lord are also, like David Wilkins, sort of reassuring ties to the actual conservative part of the Republican Party, rather than the newfangled neo-revolutionary wing. They’re both smart guys who I hope will have an impact.

Additional thoughts, anyone?

Woulda Coulda Shoulda: Could Sheheen have won with a better campaign?

Last night, when it was all over, I was struck by two things: How much better Vincent Sheheen’s concession speech was than any speech I heard during the campaign, and how much worse Nikki’s was.

As I said on the air last night, that “victory” speech was so… low… energy. The people in the studio laughed, saying, “It’s after midnight!” So what? I wasn’t tired (I didn’t hit the sack until about 3, and then only after a couple of beers). She shouldn’t have been, either. She should have been PUMPED! The crowd that had had the patience to wait for her (the folks in the WIS studio were puzzled she made the world wait for her so long; I told them to get used to it, because Nikki will have no more use for the people of SC going forward, as she continues to court national media) ALSO should have been pumped. But they sounded like an average group of supporters listening to an average, mid-campaign speech.

Maybe she was saving her energy to be on the Today show today. (Here we go again, folks. More of the same of what we got with Mark Sanford, Mr. FoxNews.)

As I urged people on TV last night — go to that clip I posted on the blog of her speech the day Sarah Palin endorsed her. Where was THAT enthusiasm? It’s like she had this finite supply, and it was just… enough… to carry her BARELY over the finish line in a remarkably close victory for a Republican in 2010.

As for Vincent, when he said that line about how he and his supporters “wished with all your might to take this state in a new direction,” it resonated so that I thought, “Where was THAT during the election?” Sure, he talked about not wanting more of what had under Sanford and such; he made the point — but he never said it in a way that rang out. He didn’t say it with that kind of passion.

It’s so OBVIOUS that that should have been his theme. Instead, we had the complete and utter absurdity of Nikki Haley running as a change agent. It’s so very clear that in electing Nikki Haley, the voters chose the course most likely to lead to more of the malaise that we’ve experience in recent years.

But hey, woulda coulda shoulda.

I just raise the point now to kick off a discussion: Is there something Vincent Sheheen could have done that he didn’t that would have put him over the top? Or did he come so close to winning, in the worst possible year to run as a Republican, because he ran the perfect campaign?

I mean, he came SO close. It was so evident that Nikki was the voters’ least favorite statewide Republican (yes, Mick Zais got a smaller percentage, but there were several “third party” candidates; Frank Holleman still got fewer votes than Vincent). I look at it this way: Mark Hammond sort of stands as the generic Republican. Nobody knows who he is or what he does, so he serves as a sort of laboratory specimen of what a Republican should have expected to get on Nov. 2, 2010, given the prevailing political winds. He got 62 percent of the vote.

Even Rich Eckstrom — and this is truly remarkable given his baggage, and the witheringly negative campaign that Robert Barber ran against him — got 58 percent.

So Nikki’s measly 51.4 percent, in the one race with the highest profile, is indicative to me of the degree to which voters either liked Vincent, or didn’t like her.

So the question remains: Could Vincent have won with a better campaign, or did he do as well as he did — ALMOST pulling off what would have been a miracle in this election year — because his campaign was so good?

Discuss.

Comment on election results HERE…

… and I will do my best to keep up with them and approve them in something close to real time.

Remember, I’ll be on WIS from 7 to 8 tonight, and then again from 11 to midnight, if my voice holds out (I seem to have come down with an untimely cold).

So watch me, watch the returns, comment here, and I’ll try to keep up. I’m not sure what the accommodation will be at WIS for my laptop, but I’ll try to figure out something…

Did Sheheen really score a knockout last night?

That’s what Sheheen’s campaign claimed this morning. At the same time, they released the results of a new Crantford poll showing Vincent well within the 3.8 percent margin of error, right on Nikki Haley’s heels:

New PollIf you were able to watch the debate that just ended, it’s clear on who should be your next governor.  Vincent Sheheen scored a decisive victory. He showed that he’s the only candidate that understands the issues and more importantly, the one candidate voters can trust.

The debate is not the only victory for Vincent this week.  A new poll released today shows Vincent Sheheen continues to capture the momentum in South Carolina’s race for governor. The news comes a day after pre-election campaign contribution reports demonstrated Vincent Sheheen raised more contributions than Nikki Haley from South Carolina donors.

South Carolinians are now paying attention to this race. Voters are informing themselves about the candidates, and they are excited about Vincent Sheheen.

The new survey, conducted by Crantford & Associates, shows Haley’s lead has dropped to just two points, 43%-41% with 16% undecided. While Vincent’s support is growing, Haley’s continues to decline drastically.

Well, I missed the debate last night, and all day I’ve been catching flak about that (not “flack,” Kathryn) from people who think Sheheen thumped Haley and want to see me write about it.

I’ve mumbled something about how I advocated for debates for all those people who for whatever reasons had not focused on the candidates’ relative strengths and weaknesses, not for my benefit… which hasn’t gotten me anywhere with anyone.

So now, near the end of the day, I’m finally about to view the debate at the WSPA website. I’ll offer some thoughts when I’m done. But it y’all would like, you can go ahead and weigh in now.

I’ll let Robert speak for me today…

Maybe I’ll get a chance to post something later, but so far it’s been on meeting after another (although in between, Lora from ADCO and I did manage to get lunch at Mojitos, which was awesome as always).

So for now, I’ll just give you an Ariail cartoon to enjoy and discuss…

Free Times list: “Cabal That Controls Columbia”

I’m way busy on deadline for an ADCO project, but in the meantime I thought I’d give y’all something to chew on: The Free Times’ list of “The Secret Cabal That Controls Columbia: The Power Elite in the Capital City.”

First, that publication’s own disclaimer, which takes a bit of the oomph out of the pitch: “OK, first things first: We don’t really think the people on the list that follows constitute a cabal — we just needed a zippy title to get your attention.”

That said, on to the list:

  • Ben Arnold
  • Steve Benjamin
  • Sue Berkowitz
  • Marvin Chernoff
  • Bob Coble
  • Tameika Isaac Devine
  • Eric Hyman
  • Alan Kahn
  • Leon Lott
  • Darla Moore
  • Steve Morrison
  • Cathy Novinger
  • Tom Prioreschi
  • The Quinns (Richard and Rick)
  • Ed Sellers
  • Rep. James Smith
  • Ann Timberlake
  • Jean Toal
  • Don Tomlin
  • Jack Van Loan
Well, they certainly got that last one right — my good friend Jack, the Godfather of Five Points. In fact, I really feel like a connected guy reading that list, as I know all but one person on it, and most of them pretty well. With those kinds of connections, I ought to be a mover and shaker myself.

But there are some flaws here. First, not only isn’t this not a “cabal,” but in truth no one “controls” Columbia. And there seem to be omissions from the list. There’s James Smith, but not the other Hardy Boy, Joel Lourie. There’s Eric Hyman, but not Harris Pastides.

But go to the piece, read the explanations, and judge for yourself. And speak out — who is on the list who shouldn’t be, and who isn’t who should?