Category Archives: Uncategorized

Open Thread on results of Iowa Caucuses

I’m in one meeting after another this morning, so I thought I’d put this up so y’all can discuss the results without me.

There’s a lot to digest here, such as:

  • Is this the beginning of the deflation of the Trump balloon?
  • With his strong finish in Iowa and Tim Scott’s endorsement, can Rubio win South Carolina?
  • Hillary almost lost Iowa. She’s going to lose New Hampshire. Will her SC firewall be enough to stop The Bern?

Plus, a bunch of other stuff that isn’t occurring to me at the moment…

Walter Russell Mead: Trump, and other Jacksonians

I’m a huge fan of Leo McGarry, the “West Wing” chief of staff who is one of many fictitious characters I wish actually lived in the world we inhabit.

If Leo's a Jacksonian, then they can't be all bad.

If Leo’s a Jacksonian, then they can’t be all bad.

But I’m not a fan of “Big Block of Cheese Day.” Not that I mind occasionally giving people from the margins a hearing — if only because it provided for some comic relief on the show, as it punctured some of the leading characters’ sense of self-importance, which Aaron Sorkin loved to do. It’s that I connect it with the penchant of Andrew Jackson of inviting rowdy people in to trash the White House. (Yeah, I’m kind of conflating the cheese incident with his inaugural bash, but bear with me.)

My second major in college was history (I don’t think I ever declared it; I just took that many history electives), and I sort of concentrated on the early years of the United States. And I became convinced at that time that the election of Jackson was one of the great political disasters our nation has suffered. It’s been a lot of years and I don’t remember my reasons, but a lot of it had to do with Jackson being an exemplar (in my young mind) of American anti-intellectualism and John Quincy Adams one of the best-qualified men ever to offer for the job.

I am not, you see, a populist.

All of that said, I read with interest this morning this piece by Columbia native Walter Russell Mead, headlined “Andrew Jackson, Revenant,” with the subhed, “The biggest story in America today is the roaring return of Andrew Jackson’s spirit into the political debate.” Going into it, I assumed it was about Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders. (Oh, you doubt Bernie would put a Big Block of Cheese in the White House and invite folks to come and bring their knives? I don’t.)

But after saying a lot of things in general about Jacksonians in history and the present day, Mead only really got around to tying them to Trump.

But that’s appropriate enough.

One surprising thing, to me, was the several ways these Jacksonians are like me: They are not joiners. They despise both parties equally. And… OK, that’s about all we have in common, except maybe for a belief in a strong national defense, and they don’t believe in that quite in the way I do, or for the same reasons.

But it illustrates how complicated politics can be, that I can have some things in common with a movement that makes me want to hug the Democratic and Republican establishments protectively.

This excerpt offers a sense of what Mead means when he speaks of Jacksonians, not entirely unsympathetically:

For President Barack Obama and his political allies in particular, Jacksonian America is the father of all evils. Jacksonians are who the then Senator had in mind when, in the campaign of 2008, he spoke of the ‘bitter clingers’ holding on to their guns and their Bibles. They are the source of the foreign policy instincts he most deplores, supporting Israel almost reflexively, demanding overwhelming response to terror attacks, agitating for tight immigration controls, resisting diplomacy with Iran and North Korea, supporting Guantanamo, cynical about the UN, skeptical of climate change, and willing to use ‘enhanced interrogation’ against terrorists in arms against the United States.

He hates their instincts at home, too. It is Jacksonians who, as I wrote in Special Providence back in 2001, see the Second Amendment as the foundation of and security for American freedom. It is Jacksonians who most resent illegal immigration, don’t want to subsidize the urban poor, support aggressive policing and long prison sentences for violent offenders and who are the slowest to ‘evolve’ on issues like gay marriage and transgender rights.

The hate and the disdain don’t spring from anything as trivial as pique. Historically, Jacksonian America has been the enemy of many of what President Obama, rightly, sees as some of America’s most important advances. Jacksonian sentiment embraces a concept of the United States as a folk community and, over time, that folk community was generally construed as whites only. Lynch law and Jim Crow were manifestations of Jacksonian communalism, and there are few examples of race, religious or ethnic prejudice in which Jacksonian America hasn’t indulged. Jacksonians have come a long way on race, but they will never move far enough and fast enough for liberal opinion; liberals are moving too, and are becoming angrier and more exacting regardless of Jacksonian progress….

All of that and more leads up to his assertion that “What we are seeing in American politics today is a Jacksonian surge.”

But go read the whole thing.

Hear me live on the Big DM, Sunday at 6 p.m.

Cynthia

I’ve agreed to be on Cynthia Hardy’s radio show at 6 Sunday night. It’s on the Big DM, FM 101.3.

The topic is the State of the Union, and Nikki Haley’s response.

What am I likely to say? Probably something on the lines of what I said in this comment earlier in the week:

I’m thinking we had an important alignment of the planets last night. Both Barack Obama and Nikki Haley using their big moments — his last SOTU, her first turn on the national stage — to urge people to reject the worst, most negative elements of our politics today…

That’s special. That’s important. That’s worth celebrating.

I’m proud of them both…

Or maybe something else that occurs to me between now and then. We’ll see…

Oh, by the way, a couple of other things to mention, while I’m thinking about the coming week:

  • Monday, I’m tentatively set to catch up with Buzz Jacobs, who just became a senior adviser to Marco Rubio’s campaign. We last saw Buzz direction John McCain’s successful primary campaign here in 2008. Here he is at the low point of that campaign, when a lot of people thought McCain was out of it.
  • Friday, I’m having coffee with Stephanie Formas, SC communications director for Hillary Clinton. Stephanie reached out to comment on a blog post the other day, and I thought it was time to get acquainted.

It’s about time I started actually paying close attention to the upcoming primaries.

I mention this in case y’all have any thoughts about questions they should be asked. I’m NOT promising to ask them; I don’t even promise myself anything like that going into an interview. I tend to wait and see where a conversation goes and seize opportunities accordingly, in keeping with the Fremen saying, “Be prepared to appreciate what you meet.”

For that matter, these casual meetings may end up off the record, since they are both in the get-acquainted (or re-acquainted) category.

But I welcome y’all’s thoughts…

Graham drops out, opens up SC opportunities for others

As you may have heard by now, Lindsey Graham “suspended” his moribund campaign for the Republican nomination for president this morning.

He congratulated himself on having pulled other candidates more toward talking about national security, pre-Paris.

But he should also take some pride that, while his poll numbers were even lower than fellow amigo Joe Lieberman’s were in 2004, he was the star of the undercard debates, to the point that a couple of pundits in this, the last week of his campaign, have called for the rules for eligibility for the main events to be changed, so that Lindsey could shine at the big table.

Beyond that, the main significance of his exit is that suddenly, key talent and support in South Carolina is now up for grabs for other mainstream Republicans such as Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush or Chris Christie.

A lot of people have been sidelined by the Graham candidacy, such as campaign consultant Richard Quinn and former SC House Speaker David Wilkins (who played a key role in the past in Bush primary victories here).

Graham’s departure leaves just barely enough time for those players to have an impact before the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary.

It was fun, Lindsey, but you probably made the right call.

graham video

Open Thread for Monday, November 23, 2015

"OK, I need y'all's John Hancocks on this ASAP, because I need to get busy on the Constitution..."

“OK, I need y’all’s John Hancocks on this ASAP, because I need to get busy on the Constitution…”

Slow news day so far — unless you’re in Brussels, or Paris — but let’s see if we can identify some topics to talk about:

  1. Locked Down for 3rd Day, Brussels Hunts Terror Suspects — The city is shut down, but the police have been busy — 20-something raids have produced 21 arrests, but the chief target has eluded authorities.
  2. Pfizer-Allergan Deal Shifts a U.S. Giant to Foreign Address — Yes, the deal brings with it “significant tax benefits.”

  3. Carson credits Thomas Jefferson with helping craft Constitution — Which would have been a neat trick, since he was in France at the time. He also alleged recently that none of the members of the Continental Congress had previously held elective office, which is also a complete fantasy.

  4. NPR is graying, and public radio is worried about it — That is to say, its audience is graying. Well, you know, it’s a very sober, responsible, thorough, grown-up sort of news source, and if you want your news Jon Stewart-style, it’s just not gonna be for you…
  5. Police: Man struck by dancer at MB club after he insulted her weight — She slapped him four times, according to the report, and then the bouncers tossed him out with extreme prejudice. You know what? I don’t want to sound cynical, but I’m beginning to doubt that all of the clientele at “gentlemen’s clubs” are actually gentlemen.

Please feel free to suggest your own topics.

 

‘Multiple attacks’ in Paris — AGAIN

It looks like there’s a significant and terrible development in the War on Terror breaking right now in Paris.

The BBC reports:

At least 18 people have been killed in several shootings in the French capital, Paris, as well as explosions at the Stade de France.

At least one man opened fire with an automatic gun at the Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th district.

Liberation newspaper reports four deaths. It also reports shootings near the Bataclan arts centre.

Three explosions are also reported outside a bar near the Stade de France, where France were hosting Germany.

Reports say French President Francois Hollande was watching the match and has been moved to safety….

This is the point at which no reports will be both coherent and accurate, perhaps not either.

As for drawing conclusions regarding the events — that’s pretty far off. Is this retaliation for our killing Jihadi John? Who knows? It may have nothing to do even with anything going on in that part of the world. If that is what it is, it makes little sense to strike in France, but since when did terrorism make sense? It doesn’t much matter why they do what they do; our aim must be to stop them from doing it.

To the extent that we can. This is another case in which the civilized world failed.

 

About those contracts Mia and John Scott have with the city…

As you’ll recall, we all looked askance, and with good reason, when a private firm paid then-Rep. Nikki Haley $40k and then couldn’t explain what they were paying her for, beyond the fact that she was “very connected.”

So how should we react when we see two lawmakers getting paid potentially more than that each by the taxpayers of Columbia?

Columbia has hired two state lawmakers to do consulting work for the city, agreeing to pay their businesses up to $49,500 each.

City Manager Teresa Wilson said the city was not trying to buy influence in the Legislature by retaining state Rep. Mia McLeod, who is running for the state Senate, and state Sen. John Scott, both Richland Democrats.

Instead, Wilson said she hired McLeod and Scott for their expertise. Scott’s work, for example, includes advising the city on its application for transportation money from a state agency, she said.

In addition, Wilson also said she decided to hire McLeod and Scott because their businesses – McLeod Butler Communications and C&S Consulting Group – are owned by minority women. Scott’s wife is the president of C&S Consulting.

“This is to the benefit of the city when we can work with minority, women-owned businesses,” Wilson said. “It just so happens that they happen to be legislators.”…

OK, um, I can see why, as a matter of policy, a public entity might choose to do business with “minority, women-owned,” even if they fit that description only technically. But, you know, I kind of want it to be for something the city needs, and I want to know that the contractor can provide the service.

For instance, I think I might have wanted to have an extended public discussion before I hired the author of such missives as this to do public relations work.

But that’s me, and since I’m in that business now, I’m hardly a disinterested observer, am I? So what do y’all think?

The Saluda River is still rising at Quail Hollow

The Quail Hollow pool, which is right next to the Saluda River, at 5:18 p.m.

The Quail Hollow pool, which is right next to the Saluda River, at 5:18 p.m.

Remember this picture (shown below) from earlier in the day?

Well, the Saluda has continued to rise steadily through the day. At 5:20 (above), it only needed to rise another couple of inches before it would get into the neighborhood pool, which is right next to the river.

The same view at 1:09 p.m.

The same view at 1:09 p.m.

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I had almost completed this post several hours ago, but got sidetracked and haven’t gotten back to it. Sorry. Here ya go:

  1. Richland County prevails in Green Diamond lawsuit — Talk about a blast from the past.
  2. Quidditch Cup coming to Columbia in 2016 — Yeahhh. A bunch of people running around on the ground with brooms between their legs, pretending to be flying wizards. Yeahhhh…
  3. NFL ‘Deflategate’ Saga Continues With Both Sides Back In Federal Court — Speaking of people playing silly games, this is an actual federal case, in real, grownup court, about whether someone adequately inflated a ball.
  4. How the Brat Pack got its name — and spoiled celebrity journalism forever — As silly as this topic may seem, it’s actually a fairly interesting pop culture piece. Reading it helped me catch up a bit on trends, since at the time we had three kids and our fourth on the way, I was starting a new job as news editor in Wichita, and I was a little too busy to concern myself with the existence of something called a “Brat Pack.”

The new SPECTRE trailer looks awesome.

Brad’s busy doing work (allegedly), so I thought I would toss a fresh post up here at the top to keep y’all entertained. Right now, everything political just seems like crazy-town right now, so here’s something that is a break from the antics of the fever-swamp on the Potomac. Just pretend that your regular teacher is out sick, and the substitute teacher shows up and has a movie for the class.

The new James Bond movie, SPECTRE, has a new trailer out, and it looks awesome.

There are four categories of movies for me. First, there are movies that I will definitely pay to see in the theater. Second, there are movies that I will rent once they hit the PPV market. Third, there are movies that I’ll watch on TV if I happen to be in the right mood. Lastly, there are movies that I just have no interest in watching.

Although it’s early, I think I’m leaning toward seeing SPECTRE in the theaters. By way of comparison, the last movie I saw in theaters was American SniperI was disappointed with the last Bond film, Skyfall. It was okay, but not great. I rented it, and I was glad that I didn’t go pay to see it in theaters.

SC rises in Kids Count ranking — to No. 42

This just in today from Children’s Trust of SC:

South Carolina Improves in Annual KIDS COUNT Rankings of Child Well-Being
Despite Jump, Persistent Poverty Remains Barrier to Child and Family Success

(Columbia, S.C.) – South Carolina was one of five states to show improvement in the annual KIDS COUNT® Data Bookranking, moving from 45 to 42 in the nation for child well-being. South Carolina has not achieved a ranking higher than 42 since the beginning of the KIDS COUNT project in 1990. The Data Book and South Carolina state profile are available.childrens trust

This year, improvements in child health, including the reduction in child and teen deaths and increased access to health insurance, contributed to the improved ranking.

Children’s Trust Chief Executive Officer Sue Williams says, “We hope this is the beginning of sustained improvement for children. Investments in maternal health, access to health care and substance abuse prevention are paying off.”

Despite improvements, the sustained well-being of children and families in South Carolina is fragile, especially when it comes to economy and education. Since 2008, there are more children living in poverty, in single-parent families and in homes where a disproportionate amount of family income is spent simply keeping a roof over their heads. Economic pressures, such as low-wage jobs and lack of secure employment, are significant obstacles for opportunity and upward mobility.

South Carolina has experienced mixed results in educational outcomes. While South Carolina has made recent advances in the Read to Succeed Act, it will be several years of sustained investment before the impacts are seen within this data.

“Education is critically important for future success and family stability,” Williams said. “With education, families have more opportunity to succeed and contribute to reducing the stressors that can lead to child abuse and neglect. We applaud and encourage the continued discussion around children’s access to affordable, high quality early care and education.”

South Carolina’s children continue to struggle in key areas of education and economic well-being. For example:

  • 59 percent are not attending preschool;
  • 72 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading;
  • 69 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in math; and
  • 27 percent of children live in poverty.

For children of color, the numbers are even more disparate. Only 13 percent of African-American children are reading proficiently by fourth grade and have math proficiency by eighth grade.

Children’s Trust is the KIDS COUNT grantee for South Carolina. The KIDS COUNT Data Book features the latest data on child well-being for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation. This information is available in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of measures of child well-being. Data Center users can create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and view real-time information on mobile devices.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book and South Carolina state profile is available on the Casey Foundation website at aecf.org and on the Children’s Trust website atscchildren.org/KidsCount.

Rep. Jenny Horne’s magnificent, passionate, tearful, raging, truth-telling soliloquoy

wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina

If you haven’t seen Rep. Jenny Horne‘s speech lecturing her neoConfederate colleagues for their day-long effort to obstruct South Carolina from doing the right thing, you need to stop whatever you are doing and watch it.

NOW.

I have nothing else to say, because this Charleston Republican says it ALL.

Now it’s McConnell HIMSELF saying ‘remove the… flag’

Yesterday, Glenn McConnell chose to be the messenger for the College of Charleston’s board of trustees’ call for the flag to come down, rather than delegating it to a flack.

Today, it’s McConnell saying it himself.

This just in:

Statement from College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell:

I served with Senator Clementa Pinckney in the South Carolina Senate since he joined that body in 2001. He was a friend of mine and many other senators. His big smile lifted our spirits and his powerfully mellow voice conveyed great intelligence as well as a kind and loving heart.

During this period of grief, before Reverend Pinckney and the eight other Christian martyrs killed by a hateful terrorist have yet to be buried, I had hoped to avoid commenting on political issues. However, the rising tide of emotion over Governor Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate soldier’s flag from State House grounds and numerous requests for me to comment have made a respectful period of silence on political issues impossible.

So here is where I stand: About 15 years ago, when I was a state senator, my colleagues and I forged a bipartisan and biracial compromise. We removed the Confederate soldier’s flag from atop the State House dome and relocated it behind the Confederate soldier’s monument, a place of historic – not political – context. We also erected an impressive monument celebrating the many African American contributions throughout our state’s history. And we passed the Heritage Act, to protect both Civil War and Civil Rights monuments, street names and building names all across the state. Our plan was designed to end acrimony and move our state forward with a spirit of good will and mutual respect. As imperfect as all compromises are, it lasted for 15 years.

Today is a different time. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy that spilled the blood of nine souls within the hallowed halls of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the time has come to revisit the issue of the Confederate soldier’s flag, which a number of our citizens regard as offensive.

Many other citizens regard the old soldier’s banner as a fitting memorial to the Confederate dead. However, on State House grounds, we should seek to respect the views of all citizens as best we reasonably can.

Therefore, I support Governor Haley’s call to remove the Confederate soldier’s flag from State House grounds as a visible statement of courtesy and good will to all those who may be offended by it. At the same time, I also urge all public officials and activists who are focusing on this issue to come together, the way the good people of Charleston joined hands following the terrible tragedy we suffered, and agree not to transfer the fight to other physical vestiges and memorials of our state’s past. In a spirit of good will and mutual respect, let us all agree that the monuments, cemeteries, historic street and building names shall be preserved and protected. How sad it would be to end one controversy only to trigger a thousand more.

The people of South Carolina are entitled to their complete history, the parts that give us pride as well as sadness. We learn from our past and we grow from exploring our shared history.

If we all insist on it, this experience can mark the beginning of a new era. Let us all pledge to respect each other and stand together in firm opposition to any efforts to sanitize, rewrite or bulldoze our history.

Here in South Carolina, there has never been a time when our nation’s motto was more needed than it is today: e pluribus unum: “out of many, one.” If those of us alive today can find a way to understand and respect and forgive each other, only then can we truly pay honor to the martyrs who were slain last week while they prayed together in a house of worship.

Wow. Sure, it’s full of words expressing McConnell’s own obsession with things Confederate, but that only underlines the fact that for him to say “remove the flag” is the most miraculous thing we’ve seen this week.

Mitt Romney says take down the flag. How about it, Lindsey Graham?

Check it out:


Now, there’s an example of somebody we need speaking at a State House rally!

So, the last GOP nominee for president has taken the leap. Where are you, Lindsey Graham? It’s time to lead, not to mouth excuses that you know are all about dodging the truth!

Bat Signal For Brad

                                                          Putting up the Bat Signal

Ok, it’s now been 24 hours without a post. I’m officially putting up the bat-signal. Anyone seen Brad? Doesn’t he know that we need something new here everyday?

Doug Pardue gets plaudits from AAUW

I was glad to see this well-deserved plaudit for my old colleague Doug Pardue:

SC AAUW Recognizes Douglas Pardue for his contribution to increasing awareness of Domestic Abuse
CHARLESTON, SC.  MAY 13, 2015

For the past few months, the SC American Association of University Women in collaboration with other interested groups have mounted a campaign to get a domestic violence bill passed through the house and senate for the governor to sign this year.

SC American Association is proud to honor Douglas Pardue for his award winning series of articles that has raised awareness throughout our state on the seriousness of domestic violence in the Post and Courier, “Till Death Do Us Part”.  The Pullitzer prize recognizes the quality of the reporting and we want to commend meaningfulness of this work for our state.

We are donating a $500 gift to AAUW Funds in his name.  The money will be used to fund graduate fellowships for women.

We appreciate the work of Mr. Pardue and other reporters at the Post and Courier who write wrote about the disgraceful level of domestic violence in South Carolina. Over the past few years our State has become the spouse murder capital of the country.

We have high hopes that legislation will be passed that will reduce these appalling statistics. In fact our organization has circulated an action letter for several weeks yielding over 500 legislator-specific emails along with letters and postcards to reach every legislator. The domestic violence bills are stalled in SC legislature. We are continuing to encourage citizens for justice on the issue of domestic violence to write a letter to the editor and contact their legislator through an action letter:

http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50796/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13498&killorg=True

Since the study and series in the Post and Courier on domestic violence began last August, 18 women and 12 men have been murdered due to domestic violence.

We challenge Mr. Pardue to continue to report on this situation until the legislature responds to the people.  If the legislature fails, we want you to publish the names of those who obstructed this effort!

I had the sense that, in the coverage of Charleston’s Pulitzer, Doug’s role was perhaps downplayed a bit. He was mentioned as one of those responsible, and listed first. But I suspected he led the effort that led to the prize, since that’s a role he has so often played — he used to be the investigative editor at The State. Doug is next-to-last on the left-hand side of the table (next to Mike Fitts) in this photo from after Lee Bandy’s funeral.

Maybe he didn’t play that key a role, but the AAUW seems to think so.

Way to go, Doug!