Category Archives: Uncategorized

This Centrist Project sounds intriguing

This morning I received this release, which I find intriguing, as you would expect:

Centrist Project Launches Independent Candidate Recruitment Campaign for 2018 Election

San Francisco, CA – With strong funding, leadership, and grassroots momentum, the Centrist Project announced today a new “#HackTheSenate” campaign to reform America’s dysfunctional political system. The Centrist Project is recruiting independent candidates to run for U.S. Senate and state legislatures in 2018. Voters have already begun pledging their support and crowdfunding contributions online.

“Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders demonstrated that the current political environment is ripe for disruption,” said Nick Troiano, the Centrist Project’s new Executive Director, and former independent candidate for U.S. House. “But the system is still badly broken, as we can see from the vicious partisanship over such issues as health care reform and Supreme Court nominations.”centrist

The Centrist Project’s “fulcrum strategy” aims to elect a sufficient number of centrist, independent candidates to legislatures, including the U.S. Senate, to deny each of the traditional parties an outright majority. The Centrist Project will also work to persuade elected Democrats and Republicans to abandon their party affiliations. This new centrist core of independents will hold the balance of power and forge common ground solutions to address the country’s major challenges.

“The Centrist Project is a powerful and achievable ‘hack to the system’ that can truly transform American politics,” said Marc Merrill, a board member of the Centrist Project and co-founder/co-CEO of Riot Games, Inc. Magazine’s 2016 Company of the Year.

The Centrist Project has raised over $600,000 in seed funding to support its candidate recruitment activities, including from hundreds of grassroots members who are sending small dollar donations on a monthly basis.

For the U.S. Senate, the Centrist Project is targeting Utah as one of its potential states. Recent polling conducted for the organization by JMC Analytics (March 18-20) found that just 21% of Utah voters support the reelection of incumbent Senator Orrin Hatch (R) and that a named potential independent candidate, Evan McMullin, would lead him head-to-head, 33%-29%.

Joel Searby, who most recently managed Evan McMullin’s independent presidential campaign, is the group’s new Senior Strategist and leading candidate recruitment. Searby has begun traveling the country to brief former elected officials, CEOs, celebrities, and other prominent figures.

On the state legislative level, the Centrist Project has hired a campaign team in Colorado and is partnering with independent organizations in Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, New Mexico and Oregon.


The Centrist Project strategically recruits and supports centrist, independent candidates for office. For more information, visit

This group hits a lot of longtime UnParty themes. Peruse its website, and you’ll run across a lot of things you might suspect I wrote myself. Such as:

Government should be pragmatic. Solve problems. Rather than a rigid ideology, governance is a process. We ask: what’s the problem we’re trying to address, why isn’t the market fixing it, and what policy would produce a better outcome? What are the tradeoffs? Then, take appropriate action that makes us collectively better off than we are today.

I’m slightly disturbed, though, that this group that presumes to affect the national government doesn’t even mention international affairs, which of course is the main thing for which we have a national government. On its “principles” page, you find such headings as “Fiscal Responsibility” and “Economic Opportunity” and “Environmental Responsibilty.” I like the repeated use of the word “responsibility” (very Grownup Party), but I wonder that I find nothing even remotely like “Diplomacy,” “National Defense,” “Global Leadership,” or just “Foreign Affairs.”

In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking this is run by and for disaffected Democrats, who have such a habit of forgetting that international affairs are a thing.

Just a few basic lines about adhering to the post-1945 bipartisan consensus regarding America’s role in the world — which is as centrist a position as I can think of — would have been comforting.

But I am intrigued nonetheless…

Open Thread for Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Is THIS the guy who conducted Obama's terrible, awful, mean wiretaps on President Trump?

Is THIS the guy who conducted Obama’s terrible, awful, mean wiretaps on President Trump?

Very quickly:

  1. 30 years later, arrest made in ‘gruesome’ Richland County killing — Nice job, Sheriff Lott.
  2. Senators ask FBI for evidence of Trump wiretap claim — Oh, this should be good. Somebody get the popcorn.
  3. Hospitals and Doctors Reject Bill as G.O.P. Moves Ahead — Here’s how this will go: Everybody who knows anything will reject the bill. The House GOP will forge ahead, counting on the support of people whose taxes they’re cutting.
  4. Women protest in D.C. for ‘Day Without a Woman’ as area schools close — OK, so that’s where this was going on. You couldn’t tell around here.
  5. Spring Came Early. Scientists Say Climate Change Is a Culprit. — But you kinda knew that, didn’t you?

Now I need to go run to another meeting…

... Or was it THIS guy?

… Or was it THIS guy?

Open Thread for Tuesday, February 14, 2017

OOPS! I put this together last night and failed to hit “Publish!” Well, here it is:

  1. Trump knew for ‘weeks’ that Flynn misled officials, White House says — OK, so we can just skip over having the Watergate-style hearings, because we already know the answer to the big question: What did the president know, and when did he know it? This is going to save us SO much time!
  2. McConnell says Senate probe of Flynn’s actions is ‘highly likely’ — Well, all right, if you insist. Might as well dot all the i’s and cross the t’s.
  3. White House Press Secretary Says Trump Fired Flynn As National Security Adviser — Isn’t that like the third version of events we’ve heard since last night?
  4. Russia Deploys Missile That Violates Treaty, U.S. Says — So what’s POTUS going to do? Let’s hope the answer isn’t “Call and congratulate Putin.”
  5. 19 in SC arrested in immigration raids — Nineteen? That’s it? I’m pretty sure Obama was busting more than that…
  6. North Korean Leader’s Brother Killed in Malaysia — I read that they were “estranged.” I guess they were. I can identify with this. I learned over the weekend that one of my direct ancestors was apparently poisoned by his nephew. I’m not torn up about it, though, because it sounds kinda like he had it coming.

Graham & Whitehouse on probe into Russian interference

I was glad to see this today from Lindsay Graham:



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, announced they will investigate Russian efforts to influence democratic elections, both in the United States and abroad.

They made the following statement:

“We look forward to investigating Russia’s efforts to influence democratic elections, both here at home and abroad. 

“Our goal is simple – to the fullest extent possible we want to shine a light on Russian activities to undermine democracy.  While some of our efforts will have to be held behind closed doors due to security concerns, we also hope to have an open discussion before the American people about Russia’s strategies to undermine democracy. 

“Our efforts will be guided by the belief that we have an obligation to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

The subcommittee plans to fulfill the following goals:

  • Gain a full understanding of the American intelligence community’s assessment that Russia did take an active interest and play a role in the recent American elections.
  • Learn more about the methods Russia has used to target democratic nations and elections.
  • Explore possible avenues to help prevent and deter future foreign influences from impacting American elections and institutions.
  • Assure that Congress provides the FBI the tools it needs to keep its investigative work protected from political influence.


Winter is Coming

The State House -- indeed, all of Columbia -- was completely invisible this morning from the 25th floor.

The State House — indeed, all of Columbia — was completely invisible this morning from the 25th floor. All you can see out this window are pale reflections of me and a few other things in the room. The clearest thing is the mirror behind the bar.

Scout wrote yesterday:

Is the cider named for your Great Grandfather? Let’s all drink lots of it because I hear Winter is coming (technically tomorrow, but I suspect it will really set in around Jan. 20).

And indeed I’d not have been surprised to see White Walkers coming out of that phenomenal fog this morning. Weirdly, there was practically none where I live, just a block from the Saluda River. But all the way into Columbia, it got thicker and thicker, and even more so after I crossed the river and climbed away from it toward the center of downtown.

From above, you couldn’t even see the city, as you can tell in the photo I took from the Capital City Club, atop South Carolina’s tallest building.

Can y’all remember a thicker one in these parts?

While we can, let’s have a laugh at the idea that Winter is Coming…

A member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote this

I just thought I’d say that to clarify because, as Bryan Caskey suggested in a Tweet earlier today, one might be forgiven for thinking Brad Warthen wrote it. Because I have, several times. Here’s what he was talking about:

The end of the election is now in sight. Some among the anti-Hillary brigades have decided, in deference to their exquisite sensibilities, to stay at home on Election Day, rather than vote for Mrs. Clinton. But most Americans will soon make their choice. It will be either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton—experienced, forward-looking, indomitably determined and eminently sane. Her election alone is what stands between the American nation and the reign of the most unstable, proudly uninformed, psychologically unfit president ever to enter the White House.

Smart woman, that Dorothy Rabinowitz.

Anyway, that was the last graf of a column headlined “Hillary-Hatred Derangement Syndrome.” In it, she stated the painfully obvious fact that far, far too many Americans — mostly Republicans — that she is the only person who stands between us and the complete degradation of the U.S. presidency.

It simply is not intellectually or morally defensible to say, as too many of our Republican friends do, “Yes, Trump is awful, but so is Hillary.” No. Not even close. Not even in the same universe. Whatever else you say about her, she is a person with the experience, intellectual capacity and temperament to be president of the United States.

And Donald Trump most emphatically is not. All the rest is a waste of breath…

Open Thread for Wednesday, September 7, 2016

If he'll build the Navy back up, I MIGHT vote for him. No, I won't. Just kidding...

If he’ll build the Navy back up, I MIGHT consider voting for him… No, I won’t. Just kidding…

I’ve been really tired all day, after giving platelets last night. But that doesn’t seem to be a thing, from my Googling. Oh, well — tomorrow’s another day, allegedly. In the meantime:

  1. Trump pledges big US military expansion — Which goes to show ya, not even he is all bad. But one thing he consistently is is inconsistent. That’s never bothered him, or his supporters, either, apparently.
  2. Clinton should stop pretending she’s not elite — Amen to that, David Ignatius! It may be all the rage this year to be unqualified, but the thing is that she is qualified, and she should flaunt it. Enough with the populist posing! As Mr. Ignatius says, “But let’s be honest: Her strength is that she’s the voice of experienced, centrist leadership.” Absolutely. She’s a legitimate member of the responsible governing consensus, and that is her one saving grace. Harrumph.
  3. Dallas Morning News endorses Hillary Clinton, backing first Democrat in 76 years — The remarkable thing is that they endorsed her, rather than merely saying we have no alternative. I continue to hope my friends at The State are paying attention, and thinking hard about this. This is no time in our nation’s history to abdicate responsibility.
  4. Conservation group founder retiring — That’s what the headline says. They mean Ann Timberlake, who has been quite a player on the environmental front with her Conservation Voters of South Carolina.
  5. Mexico’s Finance Minister Resigns After Trump Visit — The Trump invitation? His idea. El bobo!

That’s enough for now. Bring up whatever interests you, within reason of course…


Also, as Trump expands the military, I’d like to see him replace all the guns on our frigates with 24-pounders.

Tweeting the Democratic convention, Wednesday night


As I did last night, I’m going to post my Tweets here as I post them, and y’all respond as you are moved to. I’m getting some good reactions on Twitter so far tonight.

As I type this, Biden and Bloomberg have spoken. POTUS and Kaine still to come. Just saw a PBS interview with Leon Panetta that makes me sorry I missed his speech. He apparently talked about the most important consideration (which too few in that hall, and at the GOP convention last week, think about or understand) — how extraordinarily dangerous Trump would be for the whole world.

Anyway, back to Twitter…

T.S. Eliot on the need for more ‘public-spirited pigs’

I guess it’s OK to quote this whole thing, since the WSJ was quoting it from somewhere else. This is the Journal’s “Notable and Quotable” item from yesterday:

From the Guardian (U.K.) online, “ ‘It needs more public-spirited pigs’:TS Eliot’s rejection of Orwell’s Animal Farm,” May 26:

Addressing the author as “Dear Orwell”, Eliot, then a director at publishing firm Faber & Faber, writes on 13 July 1944 that the publisher will not be acquiring Animal Farm for publication. Eliot described its strengths: “We agree that it is a distinguished piece of writing; that the fable is very skilfully handled, and that the narrative keeps one’s interest on its own plane—and that is something very few authors have achieved since Gulliver.” . . .



“I think my own dissatisfaction with this apologue is that the effect is simply one of negation. It ought to excite some sympathy with what the author wants, as well as sympathy with his objections to something: and the positive point of view, which I take to be generally Trotskyite, is not convincing,” wrote Eliot to Orwell. “And after all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm—in fact, there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue), was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”

Today’s inadvertent and involuntary guffaw



I was looking for something completely unrelated, something actually having to do with work if you can believe it, when I ran across the image above this morning — and laughed.


I mean, it’s a cruel joke, in a sense, mocking mothers’ attempts to get their kids to feel some concern for hungry children in distant lands.

Then there’s the tasteless suggestion that children should be something other than sober.

But hey, it’s grown men in the picture, and men dressed like Daddy in cliche depictions from the ’40s and ’50s, which in the Age of Irony is automatically laugh-worthy, right? Nothing so laughable as uptight white guys trying to get down, is there?

Anyway, however one may overthink it afterwards, it cracked me up when I found it unexpectedly…

Open Thread for Friday, April 29, 2016

But I'm a creep; I'm a weirdo. What the hell am I doing reading about the BUSINESS side of music?

But I’m a creep; I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing reading about the BUSINESS side of music?

A few things that might spark conversation (if only this weren’t a Friday):

  1. Nikki Haley says she’ll help Obama find the money to keep Guantanamo open — Just call her NIMBY Haley from now on. This cockiness about helping POTUS find money comes from the woman who thinks we should finance roads by either a) cutting another tax by a larger amount than that needed for roads or b) taking it from other programs even though roads have their own dedicated funding source, one that hasn’t been raised for 29 years.
  2. GOP elites are now resigned to Trump as their nominee — This is very, very, extremely, awful, horrible news, if you are an American, or the resident of any other country affected by U.S. policy, which is to say, if you are an earthling.
  3. Cruz’s latest fights with fellow Republicans are a reminder: Many simply don’t like him — And see, this is why we’re in the horrible situation described in the previous item: Two things characterize Cruz: Tout le monde sees him as the only guy to stop Trump, and he is a guy who causes normal Republicans to say such things as what the former speaker of the House said — that he “never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” If only there were a sane option out there that leading Republicans didn’t hate… someone like… I don’t know… KASICH?
  4. Radiohead’s corporate empire: inside the band’s dollars and cents — Disregard! I was hoping this would be about Radiohead’s upcoming new album or something, but it turns out the headline was accurate: It really was about business and money. Bleh. I’d just as soon watch “Vinyl” as read about that…
  5. Pentagon Disciplines 16 for Errors Tied to Afghan Hospital Bombing — This is the one back in October, not the latest one. The latest one wasn’t us.

When you’re spending this much on PR, how do you keep getting such a black eye?


Check this out:

Richland County Council will have a special work session Friday afternoon to discuss Wednesday’s revelation from the Department of Revenue that the county’s transportation penny sales tax revenue would be cut off until the county brings the penny program into “compliance with state tax laws.”

Council will meet at 3 p.m. Friday in Council Chambers at 2020 Hampton St., Columbia, only to discuss the Department of Revenue penny tax issue. The discussion could move behind closed doors, as council has done regularly for updates and discussions on the matter during regular council meetings….

Executive session. Yeah, because, you know, what this situation needs is less transparency…

What kinds of things has the county been spending penny tax money on other than roads and buses?

You’ll never guess. Really. Not in a million years (unless you already know, which is cheating)…

Public Relations. That’s what it went for.


The Nerve reported this yesterday:

Analyzing months of reports from the Small and Local Business Enterprise Office – an office that the Department of Revenue (DOR) contends was improperly funded from penny tax revenue and which the county has agreed to repay in full through its general fund – the county paid:

  • $169,687 to Strategic Business & Politics LLC, a single-employee business owned, S.C. Secretary of State records show, by Duane Cooper, the executive director of the South Carolina House Democratic Caucus. The business address is listed as 701 Gervais St., Suite 150-208, which is a mailbox at the UPS Store.
  • $178,809 to Mizzell & Associates, a public relations/marketing firm held by former Richland County Councilman Tony Mizzell. Mizzell, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Columbia City Council in 2010.
  • $674,440 to P.J. Noble and Associates, Pat Noble’s Columbia-based marketing company that in 2010 was the subject of news reports questioning a $65,000 public relations contract with the City of Columbia over North Main Street improvements. Noble worked in the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety under former Gov. Richard “Dick” Riley.
  • $486,201 to J.B. Ladner & Associates, a one-person firm owned by Clarence Hill, an independent planning professional and former S.C. State professor, for outreach work.

The $1.5 million in public relations/outreach payments is over and above the $3 million awarded to two private firms – BANCO Bannister and Campbell Consulting – for penny tax public relations work. Owners Heyward Bannister and Darrell Campbell are well-known Democratic consultants, with Bannister having run the political campaigns for the penny tax both in 2010, when it was defeated, and again in 2012….

So I have to ask — if county has spent $4.5 million on public relations, how come it keeps getting nothing but black eyes over the penny tax?

You can do a heap of image-building on $4.5 million. But here’s the thing: Where is all that image-building? There’s a website… and… well, I don’t know what else. (There was a public info meeting about the tax yesterday and I’m kicking myself because I missed it. If anyone attended, and got a good answer to that question, please share.)

Whatever it went for, it’s not working…

Yikes! My ‘former newspaper’ endorses Trump


I mean The New York Post.

Y’all remember when I worked for the Post, don’t you? I “covered” Mark Sanford’s infamous confessional presser for them in 2009. Which is to say, I was there, and I took notes, and I interviewed a person or two after, and I called in to consult with the editor — but I did not write one word of the resulting story. Someone in New York who had watched it on TV did that. But they gave me the byline, because I was their excuse for using a Columbia dateline.

Anyway, they seem to have surprised no one by endorsing Trump in the New York primary. They say “he reflects the best of ‘New York values’,” which I suppose is one reason why I live in South Carolina:

He’s from New York; it’s from New York. He likes to grab headlines with brash comments; it likes to write them.

Now, this relationship is going to another level. Surprising few, if any, the New York Post’s editorial board has endorsed Donald Trump in New York’s upcoming Republican presidential primary.

“Trump is now an imperfect messenger carrying a vital message,” the editorial board wrote. “But he reflects the best of ‘New York values’ — and offers the best hope for all Americans who rightly feel betrayed by the political class.”…

Here’s a direct link to the endorsement.

You know how, the other day, I said something about how editorial board members tended to favor Kasich, if they favored anyone in the GOP race? And how that was accompanied by pious, self-congratulatory language about how wise editorialists tend to be?

Well, a “consensus” doesn’t mean everybody. The Post goes its own way…

Virtual Front Page for Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). Other battleships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California. On the near side of Ford Island, to the left, are light cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, target and training ship Utah and seaplane tender Tangier. Raleigh and Utah have been torpedoed, and Utah is listing sharply to port. Japanese planes are visible in the right center (over Ford Island) and over the Navy Yard at right. Japanese writing in the lower right states that the photograph was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry.  U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). Other battleships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California. On the near side of Ford Island, to the left, are light cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, target and training ship Utah and seaplane tender Tangier. Raleigh and Utah have been torpedoed, and Utah is listing sharply to port. Japanese planes are visible in the right center (over Ford Island) and over the Navy Yard at right. Japanese writing in the lower right states that the photograph was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Very quickly:

  1. Panama Papers Scandal Widens as Iceland’s Premier Resigns (NYT) — Wow, that didn’t take long. Apparently, Icelandic polls haven’t heard about stonewalling…
  2. Obama calls for international tax reform amid Panama Papers revelations (The Guardian) — The U.S. angle on this global story.
  3. Japan’s Abe Defends U.S. Alliance, Warns Against ‘Naked Nationalism’ (WSJ) — I’ll second that, Mr. Abe. We certainly don’t want to go through all that mess again. Apparently, ours is not the only election in which crazy things are being said.
  4. Trump, Clinton brace for unsettling results in Wisconsin contests (WashPost) — You’ll never hear me say this at another time, but here’s hoping Cruz wins tonight. Because that practically guarantees a contested convention, at which someone other than Cruz or Trump could emerge.
  5. Peeler stepping down as majority leader (The State) — I tried asking Harvey via Twitter why he quit, but he didn’t reply; he just liked the Tweet.
  6. Attorney general’s deputy secretly tried to discredit special prosecutor (The State) — This one’s a little old now, but still a talker. What was Adam Piper thinking?

How will the SERIOUS candidates end up?

Click on the image to see updated results.

Click on the image to see updated results.

About half an hour after polls closed, CBS or someone boldly predicted that Donald Trump had won the South Carolina GOP primary.

To which I responded, Um, yeah… we knew that was going to happen. The real questions are:

  • How did the real candidates, the serious candidates, do?
  • Did Rubio beat the other extremist, Cruz?
  • Where did Bush and Kasich fall?
  • How far behind Rubio was Bush?
  • Will Bush drop out after today?
  • If he does, how much longer can Kasich hang in there?
  • When do we get to where only one of the normal trio — Rubio, Bush and Kasich — is left?

Because at that point, with about half the GOP electorate in play versus Trump’s 30-something percent and Cruz’s 20-something, can we start to see a normal election start to shape up.

Anyway, those are the things I’m thinking about as the results come in.

Your thoughts?

Another SC elected official for Trump

I was asking earlier whether any of us knew people who were backing Trump.

Well, here’s another — the Lexington County Clerk of Court. She responded to a Tweet of mine (about a Washington Post interview with The State‘s Andy Shain) thusly:

I answered that “Actually, Beth, for what it’s worth, 30 percent of the minority of people expected to vote in GOP primary is not ‘the people’….” I then added, “Also, isn’t the Lexington county clerk sort of technically ‘the Establishment’?”

I’ll share with you any response I get.