Video and a Twitter account of the city council forum

microphone

Having only one microphone was a bit awkward…

When I’m moderating a debate, I’m always thinking about too many other things — keeping an eye on the timekeeper, shuffling through questions from the audience, picking the next question — to take notes on what is actually being said. I mean, I hear this and that, but I can miss the overall flow, and I wouldn’t trust myself to report on it.

Fortunately, the Chamber streamed last night’s city council forum on Facebook Live. This is good for those of you who’d like to hear what the candidates said, and bad for me, because I find my own fidgeting and rocking back and forth in the background too distracting when I try to watch it.

If you’re only interested in one of the two races, we did the at-large contest between incumbent Tameika Isaac Devine and Joseph Azar first, then you see the candidates for District 1 — incumbent Sam Davis and Chris Sullivan — starting at -49:18.

If you’d like to read what the candidates said, Chris Trainor of Free Times Tweeted extensively during the event.

My main aim was to have an informative event that focused on issues rather than irrelevancies. I was pleased that Chris Trainor’s last Tweet said this:

Come to the city council debate tonight

A previous city council debate I moderated at the same venue.

A previous city council debate I moderated at the same venue.

This evening, I’ll be moderating the final debate of the Columbia City Council race.

It’s sponsored by the Columbia Chamber, the Community Relations Council (of which I am a Chamber-appointed member) and the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina. We’ll be at the Chamber’s offices on Richland Street.

In case you haven’t kept up, Joe Azar is challenging at-large Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, while veteran District 1 member Sam Davis faces Chris Sullivan.

We’re on a tight schedule, dealing with both races between 5:15 and 7 p.m., so I’m working today on trying to whittle down the prepared questions so I can get the best ones in. I don’t intend to ask about such irrelevancies as who belongs to the NAACP or who might be a closet Republican, because I can hardly imagine anything less relevant.

Of course, the candidates can bring up what they want, but my intent is to get good answers to how they intend to improve the city.

If y’all have any last-minute suggestions, toss ’em at me…

ebate

Hey, look! A male model I can identify with…

model male

A lot of women have celebrated the arrival on the modern scene of plus-size models. But Madison Avenue has not bothered to come up with male models who look like normal, ruggedly handsome guys like me — until now.

I saw the above ad on the New York Times website this morning. Don’t you think the guy on the right is a dead ringer — either for me or David Letterman?

Of course, I don’t have the beard at the moment, but maybe it’s time it made a reappearance.

I feel so… validated….

bearded one

 

Today’s explanation for Trump: Idolatry

Smart people keep struggling to figure out and explain why other people would do such a dumb thing as make Donald Trump president of the United States of America.

Here’s an excerpt from David Brooks’ effort today, headlined, “When Politics Becomes Your Idol:”

When politics is used as a cure for spiritual and social loneliness, it’s harder to win people over with policy or philosophical arguments. Everything is shaped on a deeper level, through the parables, fables and myths that our most fundamental groups use to define themselves.

For years, the meritocratic establishments in both parties told an implicit myth. The heroes of this myth were educated, morally enlightened global citizens who went to competitive colleges, got invited to things like the Clinton Global Initiative, and who have the brainpower to run society and who might just be a little better than other people, by virtue of their achievements.

Brooks_New-articleInline_400x400

David Brooks

Donald Trump tells the opposite myth — about how those meritocrats are actually clueless idiots and full of drivel, and how virtue, wisdom and toughness is found in the regular people whom those folks look down upon.

Trump’s supporters follow him because he gets his facts wrong, but he gets his myths right. He tells the morality tale that works for them.

It should be said that people on the left and on the right who try to use politics to find their moral meaning are turning politics into an idol. Idolatry is what happens when people give ultimate allegiance to something that should be serving only an intermediate purpose, whether it is money, technology, alcohol, success or politics….

Yep. A lot of that going around.

Brooks ends with a thought or two from the perspective of us moderate communitarians:

To be a moderate is to be at war with idolatry. It’s to believe that we become free as we multiply and balance our attachments. It’s to believe that our politics probably can’t be fixed by political means. It needs repair of the deeper communal bonds that politics rest on, and which political conflict cannot heal.

 

What a disgusting headline about Lindsey Graham

Remembering wistfully the days of the Three Amigos.

Remembering wistfully the days of the Three Amigos.

Somehow I missed this story when the NYT ran it four days ago, but my attention was drawn to it when The State ran it this morning.

The NYT’s hed was particularly disgusting:

As Other Republican Senators Bolt, Lindsey Graham Cozies Up to Trump

Kinda makes you want to hurl, doesn’t it?

An excerpt:

“He’s very popular in my state,” Mr. Graham continued. “When I help him, it helps me back home. And I think it probably helps him to be able to do business with an old rival who’s seen as a deal maker.”

To Republican critics of Mr. Trump, Mr. Graham is risking his reputation with such a calculus.

“Lindsey Graham knows better,” said Peter Wehner, who advised former President George W. Bush and is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. “Deep in his heart, he must know that Donald Trump is fundamentally unfit to be president, and he has to pretend that Trump is. And when you engage in a game like that, there’s often a cost to it.”

Mr. Graham is willing to take the risk….

It’s really a shame to see this. Especially when Lindsey’s best buddy John McCain, as sick as he is, is determined to go down swinging against the guy Graham once quite rightly termed “the world’s biggest jackass.”

Because the thing is, he does know better. And therefore, he owes us better…

SCANA’s Kevin Marsh: Will he stay or will he go?

I was puzzled when I saw this release from House Speaker Jay Lucas moments ago:

Speaker Lucas Calls for SCANA CEO’s Resignation

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement today.

“SCANA’s mismanagement of the VC Summer nuclear facility has proven that the company cannot be trusted to promote or protect its consumers’ interests. On behalf of the South Carolina ratepayer, I believe SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh should resign immediately. This measure should have occurred long before now and without pressure from elected officials. Throughout the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee’s study, it has become increasing clear that neither South Carolina ratepayers nor the South Carolina House of Representatives can have faith in SCANA under Marsh’s leadership.”

Say what? Hadn’t I read just yesterday that he had been canned? Does the Speaker not read the paper?

But then I saw this, from earlier today:

SCANA chief denies he’s leaving embattled utility

The story over the weekend was weird. You had a spokesperson with SCANA putting out a non-denial denial that only increased confusion, and stubbornly refusing to clarify.

Marsh

Marsh

And now this.

So which is it, SCANA? Never mind Marsh and what he says. Do you intend to get rid of him or not? And if not, in light of the speaker’s statement, why not?

I could get into a whole philosophical thing about how the public utility chief quit right away, while the unaccountable private one refuses to, but y’all can see that on your own, right? Good, because that saves me from trying to argue a general rule on the basis of two examples…

‘Is that politics? There’s no politics in baseball!’

1200px-2017-World-Series.svg

Dragging this morning, because of last night’s ball game.

I’m going to confess that I did not stay up until the end, which is why the Dodgers lost. I’m 100 percent on this so far: If I watch until the end, the Dodgers win. If I give up and go to bed, the Astros win. Happens every time.

Nevertheless, I did stay up past 12:30 — I think the 7th inning had just ended, although I was so sleepy my memory is unclear — so I’m dragging. The Astros had just pulled ahead, 11-8.

This is something we need to do something about. I have some thoughts on how:

  • That game should have started at about 5 p.m., not 8. What? Those people in California couldn’t start watching their team in the World Series at 2 p.m. on a Sunday?
  • We could change the rules of baseball to bar teams from West of the Mississippi from the Series, or from post-season play altogether. That wouldn’t shut out any teams I’ve ever cared about, except the Cardinals, and I haven’t really liked them all that much since my wife’s cousin, Tim McCarver, left. (That was a team — Tim and Bob Gibson and Joe Torre and Lou Brock and Curt Flood and Steve Carlton and Orlando Cepeda…). Why do we need to have Americans living out West anyway? Manifest Destiny? Call that an excuse?
  • If any of those Westerners squawk about it, point out that if the game’s so late that I go to bed, their team is going to lose anyway. It’s proven. It’s science.

Changing the subject, I thought I’d point out to you football people that there’s no politics in baseball. The players line up — standing — and put their hats over their hearts and sometimes even sing along during the National Anthem.

I’m not talking about the merits or the lack thereof of all those football players dramatizing their politics during the anthem. I’m just saying that there’s none of that in the World Series this year, and it’s kind of a relief from all that divisive stuff coming at you from every direction. Just baseball.

Yeah, there was that “chinito” face that Gurriel pulled in the dugout the other night, and that wasn’t his best moment, and next year he’ll be suspended five games. But for now, everybody — including Yu Darvish — just wants to play ball.

That raises another issue. Anybody besides me think that maybe technology has gotten too intrusive when you can see everything that goes on in the dugout, in HD? Should players be held to the same standard in the dugout as out on the field? Put another way, shouldn’t a guy be able to rearrange his cojones, for instance, without the world watching? When he’s not out under the lights, I mean. All scratching and spitting out on the actual field would remain fair game…

Libertarians, help me out here…

Of course, there’s politics here if you want to look for it — if only Ring Lardner were here to help settle the latest “lively ball” controversy — but who wants to, while watching baseball into the wee hours?

I won on the Slate News Quiz! (not that that’s unusual…)

200

As I’ve bragged here often, I tend to test well. Give me a written, and I’m in like Flynn.

Except on the weekly Slate News Quiz. First, it’s timed — I don’t do well with timed tests; they rattle me. Second, the news it chooses to test on is not the kind that’s on the front pages of the NYT, WashPost, or The Guardian, which is where I look for it during the week. Too much News of the Weird, sports and celebrity junk.

But this week, I ruled! And what probably put me over the top was that the sports question was, for once, about baseball! And about a game I had actually watched! (Which is something unlikely to happen more than once a year or so.) Take that, Dahlia Lithwick!

Test yourself at this link

428

 

Attempt at enforcing gun control led to most famous shootout in history, on this day in 1881

Earlier this year, the mayor of Tombstone, Ariz., proclaimed his town “America’s Second Amendment City.”

Which is just ironic as all get-out.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

The town is known for one thing — the most famous gun battle in the history of the Wild West, which occurred 136 years ago today. But here’s the thing about that: Those revered gun-slinging lawmen the Earps (together with Doc Holliday) were engaged in trying to enforce strict gun control when the shootout happened. And they were prepared to remove the guns from the subjects’ cold, dead hands if necessary. Which they did, in three cases.

So what do we do with that? Do we honor them by enacting and enforcing strict gun control today? Or do we conclude that hey, gun control doesn’t work — see what it led to in this case?

Me, I’ve been a Wyatt Earp fan since the TV show in the ’50s, so I think the idea of disarming Ike Clanton and the other Cowboys was probably a good and just one.

And if you want to argue with that — there may still be some Cowboy partisans out there, fans of Johnny Ringo and Curly Bill Brocius — well then, I’m your Huckleberry

This photo of Tombstone in about 1881 was taken by C. S. Fly. The famous gunfight occurred next to his studio, rather than at the O.K. Corral.

This photo of Tombstone in about 1881 was taken by C. S. Fly. The famous gunfight occurred next to his studio, rather than at the O.K. Corral.

 

Seriously? You think Wilson wants to name ANOTHER special prosecutor any time soon?

This release from Phil Noble today had me scratching my head, mainly because he didn’t say what he wanted a special prosecutor FOR until the third paragraph:

I’ve asked the AG for a Special Prosecutor

Dear Brad,

Today I sent a letter to the Attorney General of South Carolina to urge the immediate appointment of a special prosecutor to lead an investigation dissecting this disaster and, as justice dictates, bring appropriate charges against those whose negligence and willful disregard of the citizens’ interests have undermined confidence in our state’s government.

Such an investigation must be independent, comprehensive, and thorough. In my view, there are few state officials without apparent conflicts of interest that could compromise the integrity and objectivity of such an investigation.

In fact, most of the people investigating this outrageous malfeasance by SCE&G and Santee Cooper have taken money from one or both, and/or remained silent as these crimes unfolded under their watch.

There is a second concern as well:

South Carolinians should get back every dime of their money that was expended on this project. It has been reported that 18% of the monthly bills of SCE&G customers and eight percent of those of Santee Cooper customers have been invested in this project for years without meaningful oversight. It is disgusting that we, as customers, are still being forced to shell out $37 million a month to pay for this project.

A significant focus of my campaign is to bring accountability and justice back to our state government. It starts with making sure this investigation is done correctly and we get our money back.

I can’t do it without you. Please become one of our earliest supporters by contributing to my campaign for Governor here.

 – Phil Noble

At first, I assumed the “disaster” he was talking about was the State House corruption investigation, which made the release really weird. I mean, Wilson already appointed a prosecutor to that — Pascoe.

But once I saw “SCE&G” halfway through the thing, I went “Oh.” And then I thought, considering how things turned out for him last time, how eager do you think Wilson is to appoint another special prosecutor?

Speaking of which — someone who was in the courtroom yesterday told me that it was really weird how often Pascoe mentioned Wilson — in contexts in which the other South Carolina names that came up were of people who’ve been indicted.

Which, of course, added to the weirdness of reading this initially opaque release today

Would YOU vote for Comey? If so, why? If not, why not?

Comey Iowa cropped

First there was the revelation that James Comey was indeed @FormerBu, author of the “Reinhold Niebuhr” Twitter feed.

Then, on the cushioned rubber heels of that, was the stranger speculation caused by his most recent Tweet, which showed him on the road in Iowa in… running shoes. Was he running for president? I mean, why else does anyone go to Iowa? I’ve only been to Iowa once in my life, and while I wasn’t running, I was there to cover someone who was — Howard Baker, back in 1980. (I ended up flying through an ice storm in a four-seater plane, and haven’t had the urge to return since.)

So how do we feel about that? What do we think of him as a candidate?

Of course, I can’t answer that meaningfully without an answer to the other essential question, compared to whom? Compared to Trump, no question. With others, it gets complicated.

But I have to say, while I’ve never thought of him that way, I respect him more than a whole lot of other people who have run for the office in recent years.

Even if he did deliver the election to Trump. Which I’m not totally convinced he did — but as close as it was, any one of a number of small things could have made the difference. And what he did at the last minute in the campaign was not really a small thing.

Still, I’ve always felt that what he did grew out of his own finely honed (perhaps a tad too persnickety for the nation’s good) sense of honor and integrity. (And wouldn’t that be a wonderful change for the nation, a guy who may be too honest?)

He’s a smart guy, with perspective and a sense of proportion. Of course, I’m basing that in large part on the fact that he gets how big a deal the Russian interference in our election was, and that’s a fairly low bar, isn’t it? I mean seriously — how many of us, aside from Trump and his most deluded followers, don’t get that?

But I’m intrigued. This is a serious man, and has a lot less B.S. to him than so many others we’ve seen don their running shoes in Iowa. Think about it: He named his feed for the subject of subject of his thesis at the College of William & Mary, one of the deeper thinkers of the 20th century. As opposed to, you know, something dumb like “Drain the Swamp.” Or “Jeb!” With me, that gets him a bunch of points.

I’m curious what y’all think….

Lindsey Graham doesn’t understand why he’s there

So I ‘splained it to him….

This made me smile today: Pumpkin-Spice Dostoevsky

I loved this tweet from Tim Ervolina:

Truth be told, if you follow the link, the joke becomes extremely silly to the point of being unfunny almost right away. I mean, it’s not a deep joke to start with. That, after all, is the point — something as profound as Dostoevsky being paired with something as superficial as…

Well, never mind. I just enjoyed the tweet…

So in SC, you’d be ‘guilty’ of being kind to illegal immigrants unless you prove your ‘innocence’

Say "sanctuary," and I think of a place like this. And it doesn't make me angry...

Say “sanctuary,” and I think of a place like this. And you know what? It doesn’t make me angry…

I meant to post about this yesterday, but got sidetracked…

South Carolina cities and counties may soon have to prove they are not “sanctuary cities” providing safe harbor to undocumented immigrants.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and Republican lawmakers said Monday they will push to require cities and counties to prove they are cooperating with federal immigration agents and allowing immigration laws to be enforced.

Jurisdictions that fail to comply with federal immigration laws would lose their state money for three years, McMaster said, announcing the proposal in Greenville….

I thought Henry McMaster was a pretty good attorney general — which surprised me somewhat at the time.

But now… how does an attorney, an officer of the court, say that not someone is obliged to prove he is innocent of wrongdoing?

Particularly when the “wrongdoing” is, at worst, being softhearted. Yeah, I know: You’ll say, but they are harboring illegals! And you’ll say it as though they were gunrunners, or terrorists — instead of being poor people who failed to get the proper paperwork before coming to this country to do backbreaking work in order to better their lives, and those of their families.

Of course, we can argue about whether such sanctuaries are a good thing all day, but let me stop you and point out that, to Henry’s knowledge, there are no “sanctuary cities” in South Carolina. (The punchline to this joke, I suppose, is “See what a great job I’m doing keeping them away?”)

So… the governor of our state, having no reason to believe there are any sanctuary cities in South Carolina, nevertheless wants to force these city governments to waste resources going through the rigmarole of proving a negative.

And if they fail to prove their innocence, what happens? He would cut off the state funds that are a significant portion of local government’s budgets — meaning he would deny the law-abiding South Carolinians who live in those cities their share of the state taxes that they are paying to the state.

But you know what? I don’t think Henry cares a bit about this, as a policy matter. I doubt he’s someone who sits up nights worrying about whether there’s an illegal alien in Charleston, or Florence, or Greer who for the moment is free of worrying about imminent deportation.

No, as an early advocate of Donald Trump, he just wants to sound like he’s going to be meaner to illegals than the next guy.

Or gal. And meanwhile, Catherine Templeton is bound and determined to let you know that she was being mean to illegals way before that ol’ softy Henry was:

I’m not sure how that fit into the duties of the chief of DHEC, but whatever. The details don’t matter, as long as you’re sounding like the kind of person who gets indignantly angry at the sound of nasty words such as “sanctuary.”

Our newbie Legislature (this should thrill Doug)

Scstatehouse

This news about our Legislature should thrill Doug:

About one-third of the House’s 124 members will start the session in January with less than three years of experience.

Almost half of the 46 senators have been elected to that chamber within the last five years…

The story in the Charleston paper attributes this in part to “investigations,” but that doesn’t add up. The ongoing corruption investigation has resulted in two permanent departures so far.

So I find myself wondering — how unusual is this really? Do we always have a surprisingly high number of freshmen and sophomores making our laws?

If so, that should be greatly reassuring to Doug, who eyes experience with deep suspicion.

But I’ve gotta tell ya, it kind of worries me a bit.

Although it doesn’t seem to bother my own senator, who’s held the office since 1976. So maybe it’s no big deal… :)

Enough with Trump’s call to the widow, please!

KIAs

Today, NPR raises the question, “After Controversy Over Condolence Calls, Can Trump And The White House Refocus?

The answer to that, we’ve all learned, is probably “no.” Even if the White House does everything it should, and resolves to move forward and concentrate on other things, Trump will get up at 6 the next morning, if not earlier, and blow it all with a Tweet. We know this.

But yeah, it would be nice not to have to hear about any of this any more, at all.

For the widow, Myeshia Johnson, the pain must go on. I pray that God send his healing grace upon her and help her through this nightmare, but we know the loss will always be with her. She has received the call that my family dreaded the full year of my Dad’s tour in Vietnam, and her loss is real and profound and permanent.

The best we can do for her right now is honor her fallen husband, and stop intruding on her grief, and stop dragging it into politics.

This whole thing has been SO unseemly from the start.

And how did it start? With Donald Trump trying to do something that has rightly or wrongly become part of the job of president, something he is particularly ill-equipped to do. But at least he was trying.

And, because he is so ill-equipped on so many levels, it went badly. The widow says he made things worse.

It’s not necessarily that the words he said were so awful. In defending him, Chief of Staff John Kelly said that the friend and fellow general officer who consoled him when his son was killed used similar words, telling him that that the young man was doing exactly what he wanted to do, that he knew what he was getting into by joining the military in wartime and that he was surrounded when he died by the “best men on Earth.”

(Kelly having to tell this story is another of the awful things about this controversy. Up until then, he had extremely careful to keep his grief private and out of the political sphere.)

Of course, that plays one way when one Marine says it to another Marine, his good friend, who himself has sent men in harm’s way. That’s a conversation within the brotherhood. It plays differently when Mr. Bone-Spur Deferment says it to a grieving widow.

Then we had the whole business of the Democratic congresswoman (who surprisingly is not from Texas) having been with the widow during the phone call and backing the story that the president had said the wrong things, then Trump lashing out childishly with lies about Obama not having made condolence calls. (This is standard with Trump and his supporters — when criticized, they yell, “Hillary! Obama!” It matters not at all to them that it’s almost always a non sequitur.)

You had Trump stating he had called all families of those killed in action, and the press checking it out and finding he’d called about half of the ones reporters could reach.

And then, at one point, we had the sideshow — leading The Washington Post‘s website for a time — about a grieving father whom Trump called. This father griped to Trump about not receiving survivor’s benefits — they were going to his ex-wife, the mother — and Trump promised to write him a personal check for $25,000, but the Dad says he didn’t. (The White House later said the check is in the mail.) I just don’t even know how to count up how many ways that story is tawdry and cringe-inducing…

Before the week was out, there was also the business of John Kelly helping Trump lash out at the congresswoman, and saying something untrue and unfair to her in the process. Then there was the funeral over the weekend, and just this morning the widow appearing on “Good Morning America” to share what she thought of Trump…

It’s just all so awful, so disheartening. Whether you care about respecting the sacrifice of a soldier, or the dignity of the presidency, or just normal, everyday human decency, it’s been an unpleasant spectacle.

And even though I know whatever this president moves onto next will probably be just as unseemly, I for one am ready for the moving-on part…

Open Thread for Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oh, and another thing: I forgot to share myoutrage at a local Walmart being full of Christmas stuff, way back on Oct. 7.

Oh, and another thing: I forgot to share my outrage when I found Walmart full of Christmas stuff, way back on Oct. 7.

Not much going on, but here are some topics:

  1. Sure, There’s A Health Care Deal. That Doesn’t Mean It Can Pass — I’m leading off with this because, whatever happens, I’m proud of Lamar Alexander for working so hard to find a bipartisan solution. I’d be proud of Patty Murray, too, except I don’t know her.
  2. Bush Speech Is Seen as Rebuke to Trump, Who Goes Unnamed — You tell him, Dubya! As Jennifer Rubin wrote about it, “This is what a president sounds like.”
  3. What would happen if Amazon brought 50,000 workers to your city? Ask Seattle. — What if they build HQ2 here? Would we like that, or not?
  4. Who gets $60 million when nuke project fails? SCANA execs with golden parachutes could — Just to keep you outraged. I mean, that’s a bunch of money. It’s more than I make in a year.
  5. This Is What Victory Over ISIS Looks Like in Syria and Iraq — Such is the constant political freak show in Washington that it seems we’ve almost entirely overlooked the fact that we’ve sort of, you know, won the war against ISIL. I think….
  6. Dear Men: It’s You, Too — Apparently, we’re all Harvey Weinstein, this writer seems to think. And in a way that may be true, but not in the chock-full-of-ideology way the essayist seems to mean it.
You go, Lamar! Alexander back in the days when I covered him.

You go, Lamar! Alexander back in the days when I covered him.

I’m going to be in a book about Dylan. How cool is that?

The grainy photo I took of Dylan and The Band at that show in 1974.

The grainy photo I took of Dylan and The Band at that show in 1974.

Well, this was kind of a fun email to receive today:

Hi Brad,

I’m working on a new book called Bob Dylan – I Was There which will contain around 350 accounts from people who saw Dylan live in concert as well as people who worked with Dylan.

I’ve just come across this article on your site  http://www.bradwarthen.com/2015/02/my-grainy-picture-of-bob-dylan-and-the-band-1974/

Would it be possible to use your account in the book? And would you like to add anything to the story?
We would give you a full credit in the book.

Please let me know if this would be possible,

Kind regards,

Neil Cossar
Red Planet Publishing

I said sure, go ahead — and let me know when the book comes out.

Dylan, The Band and me, all going into the annals of rock history together. How cool is that?

The other shoe drops: Richard Quinn indicted (Jim Harrison, too)

Scstatehouse

I looked away for a moment on this slow day, and suddenly there was news.

The other shoe has dropped in prosecutor Pascoe’s corruption probe. Actually, several shoes (so maybe that’s not the best metaphor, unless we’re talking about a well-shod octopus):

Republican consultant Richard Quinn Sr., for years a kingmaker in S.C. politics, was indicted Wednesday by the State Grand Jury on a felony charge of criminal conspiracy, as well as a charge of illegal lobbying, or failure to register as a lobbyist.

Since the late 1970s, Quinn, 73, has been one of South Carolina’s premier political consultants. An insider’s insider, he has helped elevate many S.C. politicians to power, nearly all Republicans. His clients have included Gov. Henry McMaster, Attorney General Alan Wilson, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, all Republicans, as well as Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, a Democrat.

Wednesday’s indictments capped months of behind-the-scenes activity by Special Prosecutor David Pascoe, the State Grand Jury, and nine State Law Enforcement Division agents. Pascoe of Orangeburg, the elected 1st Circuit solicitor, also enlisted the help of three other elected solicitors from around the state.

The illegal lobbying indictment issued against Quinn says he “did attempt to influence the action or vote of members of the S.C. General Assembly by direct communication on behalf of entities which employed, retained or appointed defendant’s businesses and defendant did not register as a lobbyist …”

Until now, the bombshells had been dropping all around the elder Mr. Quinn, but not on him. Now, the direct hit has come.

Jim Harrison, former House Judiciary Committee chairman and current head of Legislative Council, was also indicted, along with ex-Rep. Tracy Edge. And additional charges were brought against Sen. John Courson and the younger Quinn, Rep. Rick.

Yet another shock to the very heart of the S.C. GOP. What next? Pascoe said, “this is still an ongoing investigation.”

Jim Harrison in 2006

Jim Harrison in 2006

Smith promises to be the governor South Carolina needs

smith

Earlier today, I posted a speech from a young Republican — my own representative, and I couldn’t be prouder of him — who condemned our current governor for being so determined to hang onto his office that he has refused to lead. Henry just won’t take the chance.

Coincidentally, tonight Rep. James Smith — like Micah Caskey, a veteran of the War on Terror — stood before a crowd of supporters and promised to be a governor who “cares more about doing the job than keeping the job.” Which is the opposite of what Rep. Caskey accurately characterized our governor as being.

James said a lot of other things — about education, about health care, and about having an energy policy that benefits the people of South Carolina and not just its utilities and their lobbyists.

He spoke out against corruption and for transparency and accountability. Echoing my own Power Failure project, he spoke of a South Carolina that is no longer first where it should be last, and last where it should be first.

He did a good job. I was impressed. And you know what? I think he’s got a chance to win.

I tried to shoot video, but my phone ran out of storage room. I’ll try to clean it up and do better in the future.

Because this is going to be a fascinating, and fateful, election for South Carolina…

Smith with some of his comrades from the war in Afghanistan.

Smith with some of his comrades from the war in Afghanistan.