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By Andy Brack:
- Paranoia, or irrational suspicions and mistrust of others, perhaps such as the state’s fear that more federal government money to expand Medicaid to help hundreds of thousands of poor South Carolinians get health care is a bad thing.
- Tea partiers will fall in love with Haley again for wearing their white hat and repetitively incanting the rhetoric of limited government that bashes the political establishment.
- Mainstream Republicans and moderates will spend a lot of time rolling their eyes at the 200-plus pages of gratuitous, preening arrogance, inane recollections and my-way-or-the-highway declarations of revisionism.
5 decades of public service
Sculptor Rick Weaver captured the body language of Fritz Hollings just right in a new statue unveiled Monday as former colleagues heaped praises on the retired senator, now 95.
Three things stand out in the bronze figure – the warm, but determined, look on Hollings’ face; how his left hand is grasping a rolled-up document; and, most notably, an outstretched right hand, a familiar gesture to many of the senator’s former staffers and friends.
The South is not completely red politically, just as it is not home to only rednecks.
Come November 8, Southerners will cast about 33 million votes in this oddest and nastiest of presidential elections. Of those, more than 15 million will be for the Democrat, Hillary Clinton. That’s a lot of blue living in what most assume is just red.
Yes, our region, just like our nation, is more purple than just red or blue. In Southern state and federal elections, we’re a reddish purple. In many urban areas in the South, we skew a little more blueish purple.
just political applesauce
More than a decade after South Carolina’s Fritz Hollings left the United States Senate, people still talk about how he would talk about things.
Whenever Hollings took the floor of the Senate to make a speech, staffers would often stop their day-to-day business and watch on the Senate’s internal television network to listen to what he would say.
“That’s like delivering lettuce by way of a rabbit,” Hollings could be heard when discussing something dysfunctional about government spending.
the monster – its alive
The seeds of a new revolution are in the ground. If they get enough water in the November election, there’s no telling what will happen. Pundits, who often only seem to talk to each other and read pointy-headed reports and memos written by peers, appear totally confounded about what’s going on in the electorate as tanking GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to foment disarray and discontent. Just when the talking heads think they’ve got Trump figured out, he does something new that bewitches them more – to the delight of his followers.
Whenever there’s a letter or card in the mail from Mississippi, it’s bound to be inspirational. And it’s bound to be from a guy you might not have heard of but should know more about.
Meet former Mississippi Gov. William F. Winter, a public sector healer whose decency, goodness and vision for a better South gently motivates people to be kinder and more accepting of each other.
Almost a year later, the remarkable words of family members in pain still ring in our ears.
“I forgive you,” one said in a crowded courtroom. “May God have mercy on you,” another added. “Hate won’t win,” said a third.
One after another, five people squeezed by turmoil forgave an accused killer, who stood pancake-faced in shackles in a separate room and watched his bond hearing on a television screen.
like no one else
Writer Pat Conroy, who died Friday night, had a way with words that can only be described as an incredible gift. Perhaps no one more aptly painted word pictures of love, loss, beauty, yearning, pain, grief and aspiration.
Whether fiction or memoir, Conroy could tell a story like no one else. Just read his ebullient description of the inimitable author and chef Nathalie Dupree, the subject of the first chapter of his cookbook, The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life: “Nathalie’s voice is deep and musical and seductive…
With all of the finger-pointing, gesticulating, spite, retorts, nasty responses to retorts, robocalls and flood of oversized postcards, the presidential primary process has become a mess, more of a reality television show than reality.
It’s as if the grind of politics, which has been the social equivalent to a root canal for many, has become a caricature of itself. It’s as if real people are really acting like cartoon characters.
Noted travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux’s new book, Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, brings very mixed reactions.
On more than one occasion, I wondered, “Where does this guy get off saying that?” And I grab the book and want to hurl it through the window. These fits particularly came after one of Theroux’s elitist, degrading attempts at phonetically capturing the Southern accent.
But the book also shows he’s a great storyteller who occasionally makes an interesting observation. “Well, that’s a good point,” I would think. “Don’t get rid of it yet.” And I kept reading.
The Civil War is alive every day for reporters and editors — and they may not even know it. A couple of weeks back in a commentary taking the South Carolina General Assembly to task for caterwauling about a court-imposed time limit on school funding, I observed how reporters face “deadlines” all of the time, just as courts impose deadlines frequently. I got to wondering about how the word “deadline” came about. I was surprised to learn…
poor school districts
You might not get much in your morning newspaper if reporters didn’t turn in stories by a certain time. Deadlines keep reporters — and columnists — on task. If there were not a specific time limit to submit a story for publication, the story might never get written. There’s always somebody else you can call or interview.
Like newspapers, courts set deadlines frequently. Time limits provide some certainty in the often long, convoluted judicial process and move cases along toward conclusions…
bad for business
The S.C. General Assembly put the Confederate battle flag in a place of prominence on the Statehouse grounds. Now after nine deaths in the horrendous Charleston church shooting, the legislature must take it down. Today, as the body of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the slain Jasper County Democrat and pastor of the church, lay in honor at the Statehouse, imagine the feelings of those who had to pass the Confederate flag before they paid their last respects.
time for action
Most South Carolinians don’t know a lot of out-of-the-closet, vociferous racists. They’re probably around, just like they have been since two people who didn’t look like each other first met. But in our society — here and in other states — they generally live on the fringes.
A hundred years ago, racism was institutionalized in the South with Jim Crow laws and separate but equal schools.
As I headed to bed Wednesday night, a white gunman shot and killed nine people in an historic black church in the center of town just four blocks from where I used to live. Unaware of the evil, sleep came quickly. But in the wee hours, the ping of a text from an Australian colleague woke me. I didn’t want to read it and tried to go back to sleep. But after tossing and turning, I read the text, only to learn the heart-wrenching news about what was going on a few miles away. I was dazed.
challenged separate but equal
Almost 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education school integration decision, a statue will be erected to honor the Charleston judge who steered the nation toward the landmark ruling. It’s long overdue. Quite frankly, we should be embarrassed that it’s taken this long. U.S. District Judge Waties Waring’s courage and conviction in law helped to transform a segregated America into an integrated land of opportunity. At 2 p.m. April 11 in the garden at the Hollings Judicial Center in Charleston, judges and citizens from around the state and nation will honor Waring, the unlikely Southern jurist who became the social outcast who left town for challenging segregation.
The eagerness that South Carolina’s Haley Administration showed in seeking federal disaster assistance during this month’s Great Ice Storm makes one wonder whether there is any sense to what kind of federal money is OK to take and what isn’t.
You’ll recall that as hundreds of thousands of people lost power and sat in dark homes growing ever colder, Gov. Nikki Haley rightfully said South Carolina was in a state of emergency and requested the federal government to officially designate it as an emergency.
A few years back, Columbia public relations guru Bud Ferillo made a film about several economically distressed counties that he dubbed the “Corridor of Shame.” This area, which stretched along Interstate 95 in South Carolina from Dillon County to Jasper County, got a lot of attention when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama toured an old Dillon middle school in the run-up to the 2008 election. But did you ever wonder whether South Carolina’s Corridor of Shame was an anomaly — or whether something similar was happening on the other sides of our state borders?
If state Democrats want to win big elections like the one they lost Tuesday on the coast, they’re going to have to get busy and retake control of the state Senate.
Why? Because the outcome of Tuesday’s election was practically determined two years before the special contest between GOP former Gov. Mark Sanford and challenger Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Why? Because constitutionally-required redistricting to even population changes after the 2010 census made it tough for any Democrat to win.
You want someone like William Pinckney on your side. The Beaufort County South Carolina native, who would have turned 98 tomorrow, is such a hero that the U.S. Navy named a destroyer after him, the USS Pinckney.
On Oct. 26, 1942, during the Battle of Santa Cruz, Pinckney was a Navy cook on the USS Enterprise when two Japanese bombs hit the ship. Pinckney, born in 1915 in the Dale community, was knocked unconscious when a five-inch shell exploded in the magazine he was manning.
A psychiatrist would have a field day if the state of South Carolina were to get on a couch for a diagnosis. Maybe state government and her leaders have Cluster A disorders, which according to the American Psychiatric Association include odd or eccentric behaviors such as the fear of social relation:
Coulda Been Colbert
You’ve got to give it to Gov. Nikki Haley. Despite sagging state poll numbers that show her as less popular than President Obama, she played the media for all she was worth in the saga over appointing a replacement for retiring U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint.
On Dec. 17 — 11 days after DeMint surprised politicos in Washington and South Carolina with news that he would step down four years early to take over as head of the conservative Heritage Foundation — Haley tapped first-term U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, as DeMint’s replacement.
Education. Education. Education. It’s the mantra you hear from just about anybody who talks about the key to South Carolina’s future success. They suggest more, that it be better and that it be innovative.
And despite wags who say you can’t throw money at our education system to fix it, there’s a pretty good business case to be made that investing more in early childhood education will pay off big in the future.
Head in Sand
Gov. Nikki Haley could learn a thing or two about leadership from Batman. “When the average citizen on the street is in peril, something must be done, and quickly,” Batman said in 1967 in episode 109 of the classic television show.
But when the private information of South Carolinians was in peril thanks to a hacker who invaded the state’s surprisingly vulnerable Department of Revenue computer system, what did Haley and company do? Wait. Not one day. Not two. Not a week. Not even two weeks. They waited 16 days to let people know their private information was at risk.
Our hearts go out today to the family and friends of Rita Louise “Peatsy” Hollings, who passed away Sunday evening.
Peatsy, wife of retired U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, served as the gold standard of a senator’s wife. Not content to simply write thank you notes for social occasions, she was a full participant in Hollings’ political career, his most trusted advisor. As past aides note, Peatsy “grounded” Fritz — she kept him in touch with what people felt, what they dreamed. She did it with aplomb and a streak of humor that served well as she and her husband traveled the halls of power and backroads of South Carolina.
If anything has become crystal clear in politics over the last few months, it’s that legislators aren’t very good police officers of their own behavior.
Recall that earlier this year, Republican activist John Rainey complained to the House Ethics Committee that GOP Gov. Nikki Haley wrongly acted as a lobbyist while she was a member of the House. The committee met in private session and quickly threw out the allegations, only to receive massive criticism for acting too rashly and out of the public eye. So it started the process again, got evidence, investigated and held a two-day hearing in June, only to throw out the allegations again.
If you got a letter in the mail or a call on the phone from someone who asked whether you “favor or oppose receiving a chocolate cake,” there’s a high degree of likelihood that you’d say, “I’d favor it.” Why? Because chocolate cake tastes good.
The same goes for a caller who wanted to know whether you wanted to receive a sports car, a trip to Bermuda, or, say, the construction of the Mark Clark Expressway along a particular route. But if you were told that the chocolate cake would cost you $50, would you still be in favor of getting it?
Don't Read This
If you come to the South with a bad attitude and want to find clichés, you’ll find them.
As Oregon travel writer Chuck Thompson relates in his new South-hating book, the South still has some rednecks, tacky trailer parks, racists, government-haters, religious zealots, fat people and guys who look cloned from the movie “Deliverance.” But so do Vermont, Kansas, Utah, Alaska and just about anywhere you look across America.
Come to think about it, it’s probably not too hard for anyone visiting Oregon to find salmon-wrestling lumberjacks who wear cowboy hats.
Look around in your town and it probably won’t take long to spy a bright yellow flag with a coiled rattlesnake in the middle and the words, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
This flag, named for Charleston patriot Christopher Gadsden, is a Revolutionary War symbol for national unity and perseverance. But that’s not why the 237-year-old flag is showing up in front yards all over. It’s being inappropriately hijacked by the tea party.
Back in 1754, founding father Benjamin Franklin penned America’s first political cartoon to whip up national support to encourage colonists to fight with the British in the French and Indian War. Franklin’s cartoon featured the words “Join or Die” under a rattlesnake cut into eight parts, each of which symbolized the colonies.
Becoming South Carolina’s lieutenant governor in March just might have saved Glenn McConnell’s life.
“People have said ever since I came down here, I look healthier and I’ve been healing faster,” said McConnell, the powerful Senate president pro tempore who resigned from a job he loved to take over for disgraced former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, who was sentenced March 9 on ethics charges. In December, a rare tick bit McConnell on the neck.
Cheating the Students
High court needs to rule on 1993 school funding case.
It takes four years for most high school students to graduate from high school. Most college students traditionally also graduate in four years. But four years apparently isn’t enough time for the state Supreme Court to come to a conclusion about a festering school funding case first filed by poor South Carolina school districts in 1993. Yes, 1993. A student in first grade back then should, by now, be out of college and could even have a master’s degree. This thing has been going on that long.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s new book is sure to cause three differing reactions:
"No Reasonable Explanation for Racial Prejudice"
Sixty years ago at age 71, U.S. District Judge J. Waties Waring resigned from the bench in Charleston and moved to New York, never to return to his hometown, except to be buried in Magnolia Cemetery. The reason: civil rights. But now with the passage of time, people are starting to remember Waring’s courage in opposing segregation in the face of a Charleston that snubbed him out of town.
A pedigreed member of the Charleston community with family roots traceable to the city’s early settlers, Waring became a pariah by 1952 for progressive rulings that thwarted Jim Crow laws. With opinions starting in the mid-1940s, Waring called for the end to unequal treatment for blacks in cases related to voting, pay, facilities and education during a time when blacks and whites in the South had to use different water fountains.
Stranger Than Fiction
Pound for pound, South Carolina weighs in more than any other state for the amount of political intrigue and rascally scandal it serves up for free to the national press. By now, the Palmetto State has passed old stalwarts for disgrace like Louisiana and New York.
“Thank you, South Carolina,” comedian Jon Stewart says over and over and over like the Energizer bunny.
Friday’s orchestrated resignation-indictment-sentencing of now-former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard is the latest installment of the political made-for-TV reality show called “South Carolina.”
Looking at Facts Instead of Mirrors
Hard to believe that there are more foreign-born people living in the American South than live in the whole state of Tennessee, population 6,356,897.
Just look to the latest Census numbers to learn that 7.3 million of the South’s 76 million residents were born outside of the country. And if you take out Florida and its 3.6 million foreign-born residents, the 3.7 million people left are more than everyone who lives in Arkansas (2.9 million) or Mississippi (3 million).
Unemployment rates were down in December in almost 90 percent of major cities across the country compared to the previous year, according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The story was much the same in the South, where only Mississippi and North Carolina has a slight 0.1 percent uptick in joblessness in December 2011 compared to a year earlier. A good summary of the statistics for Southern cities can be found here in The New York Times.
Last month, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released an analysis that showed how the nation’s metropolitan cities were the drivers of the American economy by generating more than 90 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Worthy of Comment
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