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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.

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.


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.”