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Number of posts: 56
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Posts by Andy Brack:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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…
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 […]