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Sunday, October 22, 2017
Southern Weather Radar


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    Andy Brack

    Andy Brack
    Andy Brack is a syndicated columnist in South Carolina and the publisher of StatehouseReport.com. Brack, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also publishes a twice-weekly newsletter about good news in the Charleston area, CharlestonCurrents.com. A former U.S. Senate press secretary and reporter, Brack has a national reputation as a communications strategist and Internet pioneer. Brack also is president and chairman of the Center for a Better South, a nonprofit regional think tank. Brack received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. He, his wife, two daughters and dogs live in Charleston, S.C.
    Number of posts: 61
    Email address: email
    Subscribe to my RSS Feed: http://likethedew.com/author/abrack/feed/

    By Andy Brack:


      5 decades of public service

      New statue of Hollings captures his spirit, leadership, energy

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 18, 2017
      Statue of Senator Fritz Hollings by sculptor Rick Weaver unveiled in Charleston, SC. Photo by Andy Brack

      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.

      southern politics

      It’s about to get a whole lot more interesting

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Oct 31, 2016
      2016 Presidential Election Map - Average margin of presidential victory 1992-2008

      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

      Enjoying Fritz Hollings’ colorful language again

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 30, 2016
      Sen. Hollings at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on product liability, Feb. 19, 1986. (CitizensForACompetitiveAmerica.com)

      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

      Nation faces scary times with November election

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Aug 22, 2016
      Nation faces scary times with November election

      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.

      southern leaders

      We need more inspirational leaders like William Winter

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 14, 2016
      Winter, in center, at a Mississippi church. Photos courtesy The Winter Institute.

      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.

      overcoming

      The remarkable story of forgiveness in Charleston

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jun 11, 2016
      Dozens of bouquets lined a sidewalk last year outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

      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

      Celebrating, honoring Pat Conroy’s gifts

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 8, 2016
      Pat Conroy

      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…

      bad mushrooms

      Have fictional characters hijacked the presidential primaries?

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Feb 20, 2016
      Have fictional characters hijacked the presidential primaries?

      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.

      book review

      New book on South offers expected clichés, but some good stories

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Nov 7, 2015
      New book on South offers expected clichés, but some good stories

      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.

      etymology

      Today’s deadlines not as tough as those 150 years ago

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Oct 27, 2015
      The perimeters of the Andersonville stockade and deadline are marked by rows of posts like these.

      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

      Fix SC education funding and stop caterwauling about deadlines

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Oct 21, 2015
      Fix SC education funding and stop caterwauling about deadlines

      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

      Confluence of factors drive momentum to take down flag

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 25, 2015
      Confluence of factors drive momentum to take down flag

      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

      Open the door of the race closet

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 23, 2015
      CBS News anchor Scott Pelley prepares Thursday to broadcast from outside the church.

      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.

      incomprehensible

      Charleston shooting brings sadness, shock, anger, frustration

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 22, 2015
      Dozens of bouquets lined a sidewalk Thursday outside Emanuel AMC Church in Charleston. The display board still lists the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney as the church's pastor.

      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

      Statue honoring Waties Waring is long overdue

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 17, 2014
      Statue honoring Waties Waring is long overdue

      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.

      buying votes

      The politics of taking and refusing federal money

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 24, 2014
      The politics of taking and refusing federal money

      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.

      Southern People

      Time to focus on Southern Crescent of Shame

      by | 1, Add your Comment | May 21, 2013
      Time to focus on Southern Crescent of Shame

      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?

      What Democracy?

      Sanford win pre-determined by gerrymandering

      by | 0, Add your Comment | May 13, 2013
      Sanford win pre-determined by gerrymandering

      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.

      Southern People

      The inspiring, heroic story of William Pinckney

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Apr 27, 2013
      The inspiring, heroic story of William Pinckney

      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.

      Mental Health

      Where there is no vision, the people perish

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Apr 17, 2013
      Where there is no vision, the people perish

      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:

      • 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.

      Coulda Been Colbert

      Haley is pressing all of the media’s buttons

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Dec 18, 2012
      Haley tapped first-term U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, as DeMint’s replacement (SCNewsExchange.com)

      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.

      Educracy

      More early childhood education will pay off

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Nov 20, 2012
      More early childhood education will pay off

      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

      Sixteen days? Really, Gov. Haley, really?

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Oct 30, 2012
      Sixteen days? Really, Gov. Haley, really?

      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.

      Special Lives

      Remembering Peatsy

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Oct 15, 2012
      Peatsy and Fritz

      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.

      Crooked Politics

      Lawmakers must reform ethics system now

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Oct 2, 2012
      The South's Corruption Risk Ranking

      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.

      Manipulating Research

      Be careful about questions on chocolate cake, road extensions

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 18, 2012
      Mark Clark Extension map

      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

      Do not buy this anti-South rant for any reason

      by | 16, Add your Comment | Sep 3, 2012
      Chuck Thompson

      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.

      State House Report

      Don’t tread on the Gadsden flag

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 4, 2012
      Benjamin Franklin's Join or Die flag

      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.

      Southern Politics

      New job might have saved McConnell’s life

      by | 0, Add your Comment | May 14, 2012
      Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell in his Columbia office this week.

      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

      On Hold

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 23, 2012
      On Hold

      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.

      State House Report

      Option for Haley’s book: Take a pass

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 8, 2012
      Option for Haley's book: Take a pass

      South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s new book is sure to cause three differing reactions:

      • 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.

      "No Reasonable Explanation for Racial Prejudice"

      Statue planned to honor civil rights Judge Waties Waring

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 19, 2012
      Featured Image: screen shot from "The Open Mind" episode with Martin Luther King, Jr. And Judge J Waites Waring

      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

      All That Scandal: SC keeps political columnists at work

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 11, 2012
      All That Scandal: SC keeps political columnists at work

      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

      American South different than it used to be

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 27, 2012
      Population of the Southern US

      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).

      The Economy

      Unemployment down across South

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Feb 4, 2012
      Unemployment down across South

      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.

      Thrill Rides

      Weekend visit to aircraft carrier is just awesome

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 1, 2012
      Weekend visit to aircraft carrier is just awesome

      Imagine you are sitting facing the back of a plane and someone is pressing an eight-pack of toilet paper onto your chest. Then BAM — for about two seconds, they punch it really, really hard and keep up the pressure.

      That’s what it feels like to land on an aircraft carrier. It takes your breath away. From the moment the tailhook on the C-2 Greyhound cargo plane latched onto the arresting wire on Saturday aboard the USS Enterprise, passengers decelerated from 105 m.p.h. to zero in just two seconds.

      Southern Politics

      Gingrich did what he does best — framing his ego

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Jan 22, 2012
      Candidate Newt Gingrich

      Before a discussion of what happened in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary Saturday, you should know this:  The Palmetto State isn’t filled with right-wing, tea party nutcases. Sure, we have a fair share of them, but there are progressives here too.

      Compare yesterday’s results to those of four years ago when now President Barack Obama faced Hillary Clinton and John Edwards in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary. In that election, which propelled Obama toward wrapping up the nomination and showed he was a real contender, some 532,000 people voted with Obama reaping 55.4 percent of the votes (295,214).

      Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

      The dream that still inspires a nation

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 16, 2012
      The dream that still inspires a nation

      Today when you hear mention of the name “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” it will be easy to recall the sound, captured on black and white film, of his powerful, mellifluous voice in August 1963 urging freedom to ring on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. His “I Have a Dream” speech cemented his place as one of the greatest orators of all time.

      Interestingly, this speech that touched America’s soul evolved right up until the time King delivered it on that warm day in August. As Seattle lawyer Drew D. Hansen described in his 2003 book, “The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation,” King started working on the speech four days before delivering it.

      Winning Hearts & Minds

      Where GOP presidential contenders should really visit.

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jan 10, 2012
      The New SC Flag

      Over the next two weeks as Republican presidential candidates flirt with primary voters in South Carolina, it might benefit the state and nation if they’d show up in places different than usual political stops.

      Anybody operating under the standard play book is going to opt for more populated areas — or GOP strongholds — Greenville, Lexington, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island or Florence — so they can make the TV news and get as much earned (also known as “free”) media as possible.

      “If you aren’t getting earned media, it isn’t worth your while,” one seasoned GOP veteran told us.

      Our Future in Poverty

      Recession’s continuing impact on Southern children

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Dec 21, 2011
      Recession's Ongoing Impact on Children

      The impact of the recession continues to be felt by America’s children, according to a new Brookings study. In two of three indicators — people on food stamps and child poverty — children’s economic well-being has deteriorated.

      “One positive trend is that the number of children with an unemployed parent is lower than a year ago,” according to the study’s executive summary. “However, SNAP [food stamp] caseloads continue to rise, and, according to the predictions presented here, child poverty also continues to rise….

      Learning from Trying

      I lost a city council election Tuesday

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Nov 13, 2011
      Andy Brack Voting

      It’s OK. I’m glad I tried. More people need to take their shot.

      But being on the other side of the press as a candidate provided an interesting twist to my normal role as a columnist. Over the last 10 years, I’ve been on the giving end of politics — giving politicians everything from ideas to a hard time about various policy proposals. Now after taking a beating at the polls, I thought you might find it interesting to learn some of the lessons that politicians experience all of the time during elections.

      Family first. Win or lose, you realize as the results are scrolling across the screen that your family comes first.

      Still Fighting the War

      New report highlights South’s Civil War hangover

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Oct 13, 2011
      2011 Briefing Book on the South

      The American South has changed a lot in the 40 years since integration came to much of the region. Not only are educational systems better throughout the South, but the economy is more diverse. Millions of more people live here, bringing with them their talents, resources and drive. In fact, many of the larger communities and suburbs in the region look a lot like most of the rest of America — with a little Southern charm thrown in on the side.

      But a new report with 36 statistical indicators compiled the Center for a Better South highlights how the South continues to suffer big gaps compared to the nation’s other states.

      Southern Income

      Median income low in the South

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Sep 20, 2011
      Empty Wallet

      The South is home to the nation’s six states with the lowest annual household median income, according to 2010 Census results released recently. All totaled, 10 of the region’s 11 states are in the bottom 13 states in terms of household median income. Virginia, which has the nation’s seventh highest household median income at $60,364, is the only Southern state that has a higher household median income than the national average, which is $49,445.

      Southern Politics

      Tea party zealots are ruining the American dream

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Aug 14, 2011
      Tea party zealots are ruining the American dream

      The vitriol being spewed by the under-informed acolytes of the tea party is troubling for America’s free future.

      You see, these folks are mad (in more ways than one). And they’ll tell anybody they know that they’re mad. At what? It doesn’t really seem to matter. They’re just enraged.

      By channeling the tea parties of the Revolution, they shroud their rage and equate it with what was happening in our united states back in the 1770s. The problem is that the two times – then and now – are far from the same.

      Southern Places

      The Big Easy and the Holy City

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Aug 8, 2011
      new orleans

      Walking around an Uptown neighborhood in New Orleans has the feel of Hampton Park in Charleston: airy homes on lots with lush trees in a semi-tropical climate where summer steaminess is as accepted as white on rice.

      But there are differences in these two famous Southern cities, both heavily influenced to this day by early European settlers. Here are some observations on how Charleston and New Orleans are similar and different…

      Southern Politics

      Haley wins as state’s new drama queen

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 10, 2011
      Haley wins as state's new drama queen

      Boy, talk about a drama queen. Gov. Nikki Haley wins the award for her performances this week.

      When Mark Sanford was governor, he pulled two big stunts in his first term that set the legislature, run by his own Republican Party, against him.

      First in 2004, he showed up in the lobby between the House and Senate carrying two piglets (“Pork” and “Barrel”) to protest spending after the House overrode 105 of his 106 budget vetoes in just 99 minutes. The pigs defecated on his suit jacket, just one of the ways the stunt didn’t go too well.

      The following year, he got a horse and buggy to cruise around the grounds of the Statehouse to illustrate how state government was stuck in the past and needed to be restructured.

      Southern Politics

      When ideology trumps intelligence

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 2, 2011
      SC State Superintendent Of Education Mick Zais

      SC’s Zais wrong to partisanize federal grant money at expense of students.

      If you want a textbook example of how partisan ideology is trumping intelligence, look no farther than South Carolina’s Mick Zais, the retired general who is now the state’s superintendent of education.

      Last week in the oddest of pronouncements, Zais (who in speeches robotically says “rhymes with face”) said the state wouldn’t compete to get a $10 million to $50 million grant from a $200 million federal pool of money to improve public schools.

      Southern Wonders

      The Seven Wonders of the Lowcountry

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 15, 2011
      Angel Oak - reportedly the oldest thing, approximately 1,500 years old -- living or man-made -- east of the Rockies. From Wikimedia Commons.

      CHARLESTON, S.C. — Our outstanding May weather has a lot of people talking about how great it is to live in the Lowcountry.  That got us to thinking about all of the wonderful places along the coast from Georgetown to Beaufort counties.

      Being an aficionado of lists of all sorts, we decided to take our musings one step further – to localize the Seven Wonders of the World that we learned in school.  Our conclusion:  The Lowcountry is filled with oodles of really great settings.  So here, in no particular order, is our list of the Seven Wonders of the Lowcountry…

      Southern Life

      My, how things have changed

      by | 3, Add your Comment | May 8, 2011
      Drinking fountain on the Halifax County Courthouse (NC) in April 1938

      Sixty years ago, segregation was the common practice of the South as blacks and whites had different water fountains, sections of restaurants and school systems.

      Fifty years ago, black families traveling in the South more than likely packed food to take on long car trips so they didn’t have to encounter segregationists or stop to find a restaurant that would serve them.

      Then 40 years ago, integration arrived across much of the small-town South. In August 1970, my new fourth-grade teacher was Frances Scott, a stout and powerful African American woman who instructed the 26 students — 20 white and six black — in Jesup, Ga., a town of 10,000 notable for its pulp mill, farming and forestry.

      My, how things have changed.

      Southern Politics

      Making the unimportant seem important

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 25, 2011
      Making the unimportant seem important

      South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is going to be seen across the state this week shucking and jiving, grinning and spinning about what a great job she is doing for the state of South Carolina. But is she really?

      After 100 days as governor, the telegenic Haley’s actual accomplishments are far fewer than what she would have you believe. If you put stock in the spin machine, you would think that signing a bill to require recorded budget votes was as important as, say, firing the shots on Fort Sumter.

      “We have changed the face of South Carolina forever,” Haley trumpeted recently at an event to sign into law a measure to make legislative votes more “transparent.”

      Hogwash. This hullabaloo over transparency in government is a false issue.

      Thank a teacher

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 28, 2010
      Thank a teacher

      Forty years ago this month, Frances Scott’s fourth grade class in Jesup, Ga., started a little differently than in previous years.

      I’m there on the first row kneeling and hands folded in lap between 9-year-olds named Herbert and Virgil, one black, another white. On the back row at the side stands Mrs. Scott, also black, a somewhat stout figure in a simple navy dress and shiny black dress shoes. In the picture, I also see Joey Jackson, Douglas Shaw and Mark Wiggins, three childhood friends who I haven’t seen since our family moved from Jesup in 1974. Looking at the photo forces other names to the surface — Michael, Greg, Dawn, Joanne, Tony, Chuck, Wayne and Christy.

      Scent of kerosene leaves mark

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jun 8, 2010
      Scent of kerosene leaves mark

      ALONG THE GULF COAST – The hint of kerosene in the air on Mobile Bay served as an immediate reminder of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

      It wasn’t an overpowering scent, but a faint fragrance similar to what you might smell a few minutes after spraying WD-40 on something.

      For all of the people I met and talked with during a weekend long exploratory tour of what’s happening along the Gulf coast from Dauphin Island, Ala., to Apalachicola, Fla., this change

      New Spoleto Festival poster panned

      by | 7, Add your Comment | May 7, 2010
      2010 Spoleto Poster

      CHARLESTON, S.C. — I like to paint.  I like art.  I like modern art a lot.  I even like odd conceptual modern art.

      But I am befuddled by the newly-unveiled poster for the 2010 Spoleto Festival USA, slated to begin at the end of the month in Charleston.  The world-renowned festival and world-renowned artist it commissioned have thrust something into the public domain that doesn’t seem worth the paper on which it is printed.

      Maybe that’s the point – to offer a poster that is so controversial artistically that it gets people talking about Spoleto which, in turn, may drive people to attend the 17-day event of art, culture, music and more.

      Let’s learn from the Civil War to move forward

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Apr 12, 2010
      Let’s learn from the Civil War to move forward

      One hundred and forty nine years ago today, April 12, Confederate troops bombarded Fort Sumter to open a national gash that oozed for more than a century. By the time the bloodiest of American wars ended in 1865, more than 662,000 Americans lay dead. While the total number of Union troops killed was greater (364,511), the South’s wound cut deeper because the estimated 258,000 Confederate dead came from a smaller regional population. One in four white Southern males between the age of 15 and 40 died in “The Lost Cause.”

      Our War Between the States tested America and its notion of freedom. In the broadest sense, the war grew out of regional insecurities about slavery that evolved since the earliest days of the republic. Southerners felt they needed slaves to work the land in their agrarian-based economy. They long championed states’ rights and self-government to prop up a social, economic and political structure based on race.

      Whatever happened to the South’s mules?

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Feb 9, 2010
      Whatever happened to the South’s mules?

      CHARLESTON, S.C. — American photographer Walker Evans is remembered, in part, for his iconic Depression photographs of three poor, tenant farming families in Alabama in 1936.  Published as part of the 1941 book, “Let us now Praise Famous Men,” Evans piercing photographs portrayed barefoot children, their worn mothers and their tired, sunburned farmers with pained, pained eyes.

      But two photographs in Evans’ series were different. They included mules.

      Gibbs outlines pressures, joys of White House job

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jan 28, 2010
      Gibbs outlines pressures, joys of White House job

      Washington — White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has an office that’s big enough to accommodate a gaggle of 25 reporters.

      In fact, he periodically invites key members of the press corps into his office overlooking the White House’s north lawn to give preliminary briefings on major news events. But with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle and the immediacy of information delivered by blogs, Twitter and the Internet, there are fewer gaggle briefings than in years past.

      During a one-on-one conversation

      Pilot of new TV show on music debuts

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 24, 2010
      Pilot of new TV show on music debuts

      It’s not every day that your college roommate is host to a national television show. But come Monday night at 10 p.m., you’ll be able to see Marco Werman on public television nationally as he hosts the pilot of “Sound Tracks,” a new show that highlights what’s happening globally with music.

      “The whole idea of ‘Sound Tracks’ was essentially to take the ‘Global Hit’ segment I produce for radio — for ‘The World’ — and give it visuals,” Werman said

      Rockwell painting nudged nation

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Jan 18, 2010
      The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell

      With the eyes of the nation this week on civil rights, let’s turn our focus to a painting inspired by a Louisiana event that astonished America when it came out 46 years ago.

      In 1964, artist Norman Rockwell, the well-known illustrator of iconic images of the American dream, unveiled the first of his civil rights paintings, “The Problem We All Live With.” It’s very likely you have seen this painting that debuted in a two-page spread in Look magazine. It’s very different from most of Rockwell’s work.

      The painting shows a full-length profile of a young black girl…

      Moving beyond SC’s Faulknerian protagonist, Mark Sanford

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Dec 18, 2009
      Moving beyond SC’s Faulknerian protagonist, Mark Sanford

      Two things surprised me about a new poll on what South Carolinians think should be done about our state’s now famous, philandering governor, Mark Sanford. First, only 1 percent of the 770 registered voters who responded to our new InsiderAdvantage/Statehouse Report poll had no opinion of what should be done about the governor’s behavior, which has turned South Carolina into a running joke everywhere from water coolers to late night television. For only 1 percent of people to have no opinion about options for his fate shows just how deeply his personal failures have cut into the state’s psyche. Second, a majority of those polled — 51 percent of respondents — said the S.C. General Assembly should move beyond Sanford and get down to real work of helping people throughout the state. So instead of impeaching him or censuring him or saying he should resign, most South Carolinians pointed their […]

      Hidden gems flourish across Palmetto State

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Nov 29, 2009
      Hidden gems flourish across Palmetto State

      South Carolina, known for its “smiling faces, beautiful places,” has countless hidden gems – restaurants, parks, communities that shine for their uniqueness and special offerings. We all have a special place that we value, whether it’s a waterfall, a mountain walk, a blackwater river, a country store, a prime fishing hole or a tucked-away corner of a beach. Over the last week, we’ve asked people from across South Carolina to share their hidden gem. Here are some of the best:

      Now is the time for courage

      by | 11, Add your Comment | Nov 23, 2009
      Now is the time for courage

      Now is the time in the South and nation for courage —  for leaders who will stand up for what’s right, regardless of how it will impact them personally. What do we have instead? — Blowhards like Sarah Palin who are more interested in soundbites, making money  and getting on TV than actually doing any work. — Weaklings like S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, who drag out the release of a public report of a public investigation by a public body about his failings as a public servant. — Scoundrels like three Democratic U.S. senators who held out until the last minute on a procedural vote for health care reform because they are scared they won’t be re-elected. — Partisan boobs like the infotainers Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann. — Political lemmings, like many in Southern state legislatures who aren’t able to make up their minds without […]

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