Try reading the paper

I just wrote a response to a comment that makes a point that I want to make sure is communicated to as many readers of this blog as possible. In a nutshell, the message is this: This blog is extra. It’sTodayspage
dessert, whipped cream, lagniappe, a little something more for people who don’t get enough from reading the editorial page. It’s side thoughts, elaboration, stuff I didn’t have room for in a column… plus stuff that I would never bother people with in the newspaper, but that, since it interests me, I think might interest somebody else (sometimes I’m right about that, sometimes I’m completely wrong, so it’s a good thing I didn’t waste space in the paper on it, huh?).

There’s a certain assumption underlying this blog, in other words — that you already know what we say from day to day in the paper. Folks who don’t have trouble engaging this blog in a way that is rewarding for them and the rest of us here in this little corner of the blogosphere.

The dead-tree editorial page is the meat and vegetables your mama told you to eat before the dessert. You should listen to your mama.

Anyway, I was responding to this, from the ever-anonymous "LexWolf:"

I rarely see eye-to-eye with Bud but 8 posts or so each about the flag and the Nazis clearly is excessive…

Why don’t we see 8 posts about the apparent intent of our legislative piggies to spend virtually all of the $1.3 Billion
surplus instead of returning it to the taxpayers? That’s close to $300
for every man, woman and child in this state. And it’s all money for
things they didn’t think were important enough to include in the
current budget. A total windfall in other words. Now there would be a
subject with real meaning to South Carolinians!!

Get on the stick, Brad!

Here is my weary response:

That stuff is in the paper, Lex. That’s what I do most of the 24 hours of the day, by the way — edit and publish a newspaper. Anything on this blog is just a little extra that I do here and there when I find a moment.

Is this not clear to anyone?

Anyway, you and I live in different universes. You think that if a dollar comes into the state treasury, it should go to you. I think it should go to one of the many neglected areas in our state that most other states seem to find the will and means to address — public safety, our corrections system, education in rural areas, mental health, take your pick.

Our legislators disagree with both of us. They want the money to go to their absurd pet projects, their pork, their whatever you want to call it. Anybody who reads our paper knows this.

It would be nifty if we had a governor who would point out this gross misapplication of urgently needed resources. He’s about the only elected official in a position to do so. But our governor thinks like Lex. He thinks the money should go to tax cuts — and specifically, to income tax cuts (which, absurdly, is the only tax he seems to care about one way or the other) — rather than to the neglected obligations of the state.

Hey, where did I get all those links about state taxes and spending? They were all on the editorial page of The State — you know, the page you ought to be reading before you come to this blog for a little extra — within the past week.

And in case you’re confused, that newspaper is published in the actual, real world, instead of the alternative universes inhabited by LexWolf, and Michael Gass, and that Wallace/ChrisW/Chris White/Wally guy.

Folks, if you don’t read the paper, you’re wasting your and our time by coming here.

30 thoughts on “Try reading the paper

  1. Gary

    Oh Mighty Brad, may I please have permission to read it online, since it’s impossible to get the paper on my doorstep in northern Virginia.
    And after that bit of snobbery on my part, I enjoy this dessert very much. I read a lot of blogs, and none of them are directly connected with a newspaper’s editorial page. It’s not just your blog, Brad, it’s your use of video (ok the reunion at the bar is kind of dumb — but hey, where was Nina?) and the online conversation that is hard to resist first.
    The dead tree version is soon a thing of the past anyway. You can find that out by reading a paper.

  2. bud

    Brad, the dead-tree version of newspapers is slowly fading away. And for good reason. More and more people get their information from the web and/or cable news shows. The State editorial page (excluding the national columnists) has it’s very distinctive slant so I don’t feel a need to spend much time reading the editorial page. Why bother, most of the local editorials plow the same tired ground over and over. A case in point was when you published back to back articles from Graham and Demint repeating for the millionth time why our involvement in Iraq is needed. Yet you passed on a fresh new (Joe Biden) article about weaponry/armor. It was only in the blog that I was able to read a bit of a different slant. To me the Biden article was meat and vegitable, the Graham/Demint was an un-needed condiment. I gained zero new insight from the Graham/Demint blather, but did gain something new from the Biden article. Simply put, it’s much easier to go on-line and get a number of opinions rather than read the same old information in the paper version.
    Besides, most of your editorials are repeated on this blog so I think you’re mis-characterizing your own blog just a bit. It does reflect to a large extent what is published in the paper.

  3. ed

    C’mon! You actually got more out of a piece by Biden than from one by DeMint? Not only should you be ashamed for even paying attention to this supercilious and pontificating windbag, you deserve max flack for admitting it. You don’t have to tell everything you know, Bud. It’s bad enough that you pay attention to anything Biden says. It’s HORRIBLE that you admit it proudly! I’m beginning to understand more clearly why I disagree with nearly everything you say. Ed

  4. LexWolf

    Ain’t that the truth, Ed! Biden hasn’t had an original thought in his life (and in fact is well-known for plagiarism) but to Bud he’s manna from heaven. Oh well.

  5. bud

    Biden’s thought’s may not be original but they’re largely accurate. (RTH debunked the plagarism charge months ago). Deminted’s constant support of war mongering is reason enough to reject any words he writes.

  6. bud

    Famous last words:
    “The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on,”
    George W. Bush (said on May 1, 2003, in front of a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner.)

  7. ed

    Bud, I don’t know what you think RTH discredited, but I’ll believe major news services before I’ll believe her about Bidens’ plagairism. Biden was so bereft of ideas that he found it necessary to use someone elses work without giving credit where it was due. That tells me all I need to know about this lying and lazy camera hog. The most dangerous place on the planet is between Biden and a microphone. And that you like him tells me pretty much what I need to know about you. Ed

  8. Michael Gass

    Mr. Warthen,
    I noticed in the other blog (`Column on the Nazis and South Carolina`) you didn’t answer the two simple questions I asked;
    1) In your budget editorial found at the link below (just so everyone can check themselves), did you or did you not mention any specific person as being part of the budgetary problem?
    and 2) Did you or did you not use general terms like “lawmakers”, “senators”, etc?
    But of course you didn’t answer, because you know as well I (and everyone else), that you didn’t. Here are some of the sentences:
    – “Yet our legislators just can’t kick the habit.”
    – “Rather than continuing to whittle away at the amount of one-time money that’s being used to commit the state to long-term obligations, the budget senators are debating increases the problem.”
    – “On Tuesday, senators even approved a plan that could result in raiding a Medicaid trust fund to help cover a bigger tax cut.”
    Yet, you seemed to have enough time to make a brand new blog about “reading the paper”, mentioning ME specifically (yet, you seemed to have overlooked mentioning that the SPECIFIC POINT I made was indeed CORRECT).
    But, that budget editorial isn’t the only one, is it Mr. Warthen? There is the `Tweaking rules won’t fix fatally flawed grant fund`, where you state there is “a problem”, yet, never IDENTIFY who made it a problem:
    “The problem is that we’re shoveling money into parades, festivals, office space for private business groups, advertising to lure visitors from one local community into another one and other things that the state has no business spending money on.”
    No, “we” aren’t shoveling money out. The state GOVERNMENT may be shoveling out OUR TAX DOLLARS, but WE aren’t shoveling out money. Yet… who is the “we”, Mr. Warthen?
    – “The problem is that the program has been lacking in political oversight — with smaller awards handed out by one individual, beyond the scope of public scrutiny, and larger awards handed out by a panel controlled by legislators in a way that makes the decisions exempt from gubernatorial veto.”
    Oh… LEGISLATORS… which is… GENERALITY… who is the “WE”, Mr. Warthen?
    – “The fact that officials have been doling out four-, five- and six-figure checks without requiring any accountability simply underscores how irresponsible the program is.”
    Oh… OFFICIALS… I ask again… who is the “WE”, Mr. Warthen?
    – “Whom do legislators think they’re kidding? It’s absurd to think the Grants Committee will suddenly do a good job.”
    Oh… LEGISLATORS and the GRANTS COMMITTEE… who is on the Grant Committee, Mr. Warthen? “We”?
    Mr. Warthen, you take undue pains to try and demean me by starting a whole new blog and writing; “And in case you’re confused, that newspaper is published in the actual, real world, instead of the alternative universes inhabited by LexWolf, and Michael Gass, and that Wallace/ChrisW/Chris White/Wally guy.”
    What you DIDN’T do is answer SPECIFIC questions in the OTHER blog to which you KNEW you were wrong on.
    Who is living in an alternate universe now Mr. Warthen? Who is “grossly misrepresenting” (your own words, would you care for me to link to them?) now?

  9. Doug Ross

    I’m no fan of Biden but the plagiarism charge appears to have been overblown:
    “Controversy broke Biden’s candidacy for the U.S. presidency in the 1988 Presidential campaign. He ended his presidential campaign on September 23, 1987 after being accused of plagiarism. Most damaging was being caught on video repeating, with only minor modifications, a stump speech by British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. “Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go a university? Why is it that my wife . . . is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? . . . Is it because they didn’t work hard? My ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come after 12 hours and play football for four hours? It’s because they didn’t have a platform on which to stand.” After Biden withdrew from the race it was learned that he had correctly credited Kinnock on other occasions. But in the Iowa speech that was recorded and distributed to reporters (with a parallel video of Kinnock) by aides to Michael Dukakis, the eventual nominee, he failed to do so. Dukakis fired John Sasso, his campaign manager and long-time Chief of Staff, but Biden’s campaign could not recover.”

  10. ed

    Rhode Island is a tiny state. I would simply like to know what they have to do to make room for Bidens’ over-inflated ego whenever he visits. I think one half of the population must have to visit neighboring states or stay with relatives somewhere else so his huge head and tremendous opinion of himself have the room to breathe. He’s an idiot. And worse, he doesn’t realize it, so he spends as much time in front of a camera as he possibly can proving it. What is it about moronic and hugely pompish senators from inconsequential states that makes them believe they could be president? Ed

  11. bud

    ed, if the 2008 election was between Joe Biden and George W. Bush who would you choose and why?

  12. Brad Warthen

    In case anybody’s interested in Michael’s question, I didn’t answer it because I was NOT interested. When it’s relevant to mention individuals — such as who hands out what competitive grants, or who moved at a critical moment to have a crucial impact on the course of the issue — we get into that.
    We also do the occasional how-they-voted when the specifics of who are particularly relevant.
    But the entire Legislature is responsible for the budget, and it is emblematic of the dysfunctional political culture in South Carolina. If you have a position you want your representative to stick up for, tell your representative. WE — and in this case, “we” means the editorial board — care about the result, which is the kind of budget we end up with, and what it does and doesn’t do. There is far more to say about that in a given budget than we will get to if we spend the rest of our lives on it, so I am not about to waste any of the few inches in an editorial running a roll call to please Michael (and a roll call would usually take up most, if not all, of the space), when instead we can tell you something about what’s actually going on.
    There’s a cultural/philosophical difference here, and I can see how people would come down on different sides of it. I am all about ideas, and have a tendency — some would call it a major personality flaw — to care little about the WHO. What interests me most — and what I think I can add the most value on — is the WHAT and WHY.
    Unfortunately, this puts me at odds with the 24-hour television/scandal school of public affairs reporting, accelerated by the blogosphere, which is all about BLAMING SOMEBODY and putting his face before the world. Except when we are presented with making a choice between individuals at election time, I care more about what’s going to happen than the players.
    Sometimes an individual IS the issue. And note the way so many of our readers freak out when we write along those lines. Just mention “Andre Bauer” — who truly is PERSONALLY a problem for South Carolina, as well as being emblematic of several kinds of political dysfunction in our state (cronyism, waste, our bizarre constitutional officer setup, etc.) — and everything gets all emotional. The reaction of readers becomes entirely personal, with responses breaking down between those who LIKE him and those who don’t.
    And that’s not where the conversation should be. It should be about the rule of law, accountability, and the abuse of power. But as you as you mention the name, the principles go out the window. For this reason — contrary to the impression of our detractors — we only write about the Andre problem about one-fourth of the time we ought to. Usually, we say, “What’s the point? People close their minds when his name is mentioned.” We had precisely that discussion before the backup editorial that ran Wednesday, and decided to run it anyway because it illustrated so well the misplaced priorities that are endemic among lawmakers.
    Or take the Glenn McConnell example. He gets singled out a lot, because he actually is individually powerful, and can affect whether something happens or not with a mere suggestion of what he is for or against. Only Bobby Harrell comes close to that kind of power.
    So we write about Sen. McConnell. But you know what? Every time we do that, we distract readers from the real issue, which is this: Sen. McConnell would not be a problem IF ALL THE OTHER LAWMAKERS DIDN’T GO ALONG WITH HIM.
    Most of the time, in the S.C. Legislature, culpability is a collective affair. And the whole institution deserves condemnation for it.

  13. Brad Warthen

    Why do I try so hard to explain things to people with fixations, when I know they’ll never be satisfied? I regret wasting that time…
    On another topic: What is the connection between Biden and Rhode Island?
    He’s from Delaware.

  14. Michael Gass

    Mr. Warthen,
    You weren’t “interested” enough to respond to my questions, but, you WERE interested enough to make a new blog and make me a part of it.
    You don’t feel naming names is relevant in regards to who is screwing up our governmental processes in SC, but, naming names is fine when it is an attempt to assassinate my character and demean me?
    You yourself state that you wanted this blog to be “communicated to as many readers of this blog as possible.”
    As for who that “anyone” might be who could possibly be interested why you didn’t respond? How about anyone (like Mercedes), who you sniped about not posting her “real name”, or those you deride for being “anonymous”, since it seems unwarranted personal attacks are the name of your game.
    Yes, I think ANYONE who has yet to offer you their real name would be interested in why you failed to respond to simple questions (“because I wasn’t interested”) yet found it necessary to post a personal attack in another blog.
    Mr. Warthen… I will not post again until I hear from a lawyer (which should be Monday) whether your attack constitutes libel/slander, or at least character defamation, but, I have written a letter to Mr. Haitz. He should get that Monday, as well.

  15. Herb Brasher

    Michael, go get a life. Brad doesn’t owe anybody anything on this blog–he puts out topics for discussion, and hopes for intelligent discussion of the issues. He chimes in when he can–personally I am amazed that a person with his responsibilities and workload takes the time to answer individual commenters.
    Go take a look at I know it isn’t your topic of interest, but just notice how most people give their input intelligently, even though coming from different angles and sometimes opposite directions. Any comment such as yours above is unceremoniously deleted, since it adds nothing to the discussion except personal attacks on the author of the post. And you know what? What remains are really intelligent discussions with those who want to discuss and learn from each other, rather than just proving their point.
    Brad is long-suffering to a fault, and tries to reason with you guys. But if all you want to do is complain instead of contributing a response, then I would suggest that you go blog somewhere else.

  16. ed

    Stop the violin music Herb. Brad surely is a busy man, but so are the rest of us. I like it that he hosts this blog and appreciate his doing so, but don’t try to play on peoples’ heart strings about it. If he was too busy to do it, he’d stop. Simple as that. Let’s not make him a saint over it.
    Anyway, I too am surprised that Brad has so many conversations with people on this blog. But not because he’s too busy, it just doesn’t seem to me that it’s in his best interests to do so. His opinions get published in the newspaper, so by and large we know what he thinks about things. To discuss them further here opens him up to lots of unnecessary abuse, yet he does it. It’s actually pretty large of him. Kudos to Brad on that point, even though I often don’t see things his way. Ed

  17. Wallace

    With tears dripping down my check, I realize Brad has insulted me.
    But I stand by my comments. The State fails at the people of SC by not reporting the TRUE scandals of SC government…and not naming names. A true nespaper in this town would report what really happens here. People would go to jail. The status quo would change. The average citizen would prosper…
    So he disagree…he insults me as a retort. How sad.

  18. ed

    I don’t know about the insult Wallace…Brad seems pretty gracious to me. In any event, I sort of disagree with you about whether or not The State has been “naming names.” They really do that quite frequently I think. Government crooks in South Carolina don’t go to jail when they are caught for many reasons (like a corrupt judiciary headed up by a petty criminal and drunk -{Jean Toal}- or a corrupt legislature that sets up failure after failure and secures its’ power through good ol’ boyism and crony protection yet is never called to answer by the electorate, or entrenched bureaucrats who just make obscene power grabs with no thought for consequences, a la Lexington County Clerk of Court). The State exposed many of these shenanigans and named names, but there’s only so much they can do. Real reform is simply up to voters in this state. Ed

  19. ed

    Brad, you are right. Biden IS from Delaware…but Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont (Eric HEEHAAW Dean)….what’s the difference? Surely you are making a merely technical point and understand that my point is still valid: What is it about ridiculously pompous and windbag senators from states that have 36 people that makes them think that they actually have a chance to become president? Ed

  20. LexWolf

    “The State fails at the people of SC by not reporting the TRUE scandals of SC government…and not naming names.”
    Wallace, isn’t it amazing that even while Brad rails against anonymous posters on his blog, he is perfectly willing to give anonymity to our legislator piggies?
    Ed, sorry. IMO The State only names names when they can’t avoid it or when it’s someone who opposes their agenda. Wallace absolutely has them pegged on that. Using your Jean Toal example, obviously they couldn’t avoid the story entirely and just as obviously they couldn’t just blame “some” supreme court justice. However, even when they did name her, there were a dozen excuses for her misconduct along with it.
    One of the things The State could easily do to hold our piggies accountable is to publish who voted for/against whatever bill. But no, all we get is “the legislature” voted so and so. Sure, you can go to the legislature website to find out who voted how but then of course who needs The State if we have to dig for that info ourselves?

  21. bud

    Brad, as for naming names why don’t you do some research and find out a bit more about the DOT scandals that supposedly have wasted so much taxpayer money? You could provide specific information such as the exact names of the contractors who are cozy with DOT officials. A little digging might expose names and dates of the perpetrators, not just vague generalities. Unless I missed it this specific information has not appeared in the State.

  22. Brad Warthen

    bud, that would be an interesting story for our newsroom to do, and I’ll be glad to pass it on.
    But it would just be more details added to a mountain that is more than sufficient to tell us we need to blow up this system and go to something more accountable.
    In fact, there’s a serious red herring factor in focusing on individuals when it’s the system that’s rotten.
    I give you the example of the disgraced director, Betty Mabry. Lawmakers defended her until the bitter end, until their own audit exposed how fouled up things are.
    So then they seized upon the idea that the problem was Betty Mabry, and as soon as she was gone, everything would be fine. This ignores the fact that the system encourages directors to act like Betty Mabry.
    Or you could focus on Bobby Harrell’s father being a DOT commissioner, and say THERE’S the problem.
    But it’s not this person or that person. It’s a governing structure that is fragmented and unaccountable so that lawmakers have a bewildering array of back channels in order to influence road-building priorities and everything else about the agency. It’s about and agency that does its own budget without any legislative oversight — because while lawmakers want the control of priorities, they don’t want the responsibility for the spending.
    There’s been nothing “vague” about the problems we’ve reported. But there IS something vague about the trails of responsibility for what happens, and that’s because the great majority of lawmakers WANT it to be vague. That way a nod or a wink gets what they want from the agency, and NO ONE is accountable for the whole mess.
    One more example of the problem of focusing on the personal: For years, the chairman that the governor appointed — the only input he had under the lame “reform” of 1993 — kept telling the commission and the world about how fouled up things were. Lawmakers (and their puppets on the commission) focused on the fact that this was the governor’s man (Tee Hooper, if you want a name) in order to dismiss the FACTS that he was disclosing. But everything he was saying was confirmed by the audit.
    And so forth. Name any one person involved with this, and it points you eventually at the fact that the system is unaccountable, which suits lawmakers just fine, which is why they are determined to keep it that way.
    One more name: John Courson. He and a handful of other senators made a quixotic effort recently to do what we suggest — eliminate the current commission system and make DOT a cabinet agency. The majority said no.

  23. LexWolf

    “In fact, there’s a serious red herring factor in focusing on individuals when it’s the system that’s rotten.”
    Absolutely correct, Brad. Yet you insist on throwing lots more money into that rotten system. Don’t you see that this blind faith in government exhibited by you and other big-government ideologues is the real problem? If you are so unhappy with the system (and rightfully so) why give it even more money and responsibilities? Your attitude gives our piggies absolutely no incentive to ever change. After all, thanks to people like you they’ll get more and more money no matter what they do so why shouldn’t they just do whatever they feel like? Sure you may rant and rave here and there but when the chips are down you will always be in favor of giving more money and power to government.
    “But it’s not this person or that person. It’s a governing structure that is fragmented and unaccountable…”
    And this is true not just for the DOT but throughout the state government. Yet you persist in denying that school choice and other people-empowering customer-driven options would make government far more accountable than the bogus accountability provided within the system.
    It’s really funny with you. You seem to be aware of the problem(s) with big government but you totally don’t or won’t see the solutions! Reality is beating you over the head daily but it never seems to penetrate through your ideological Kevlar helmet. Instead you delude yourself into thinking that you’re living in real life. Bah humbug!

  24. ed

    Yes Lex. “New Idea Proof” would be a good descriptor for the editorial page. They say they want to “blow the status quo up” but in reality they LOVE government and just want it to get bigger and better. Mostly better, but bigger too. Ed

  25. Moderate Guy

    Do you guys actually expect the newspaper to print a Lard List of all the money the politicians plan to waste, before the votes, so people could actually voice their objections, and maybe even participate in some hearings to make them something other than sham sessions?
    Get serious! That would require real journalistic legwork, and rob valuable print space from sympathy articles for some poor welfare mother or cop killer who was set up by mean ole society.
    Worse yet, it would anger the politicians, who would cut off access to inside scoops and dirt on each other. Once a newpaper crosses the line into responsibility and integrity, they have to live or die by it. They can’t turn the love off and on for the politicians.

  26. Brad Warthen

    Wow. I just looked back at this post.

    For those who think we don’t name the "piggies," here’s a link.

    On a related subject, for those who don’t like new taxes, here’s another. You won’t find me condemning that particular tax increase, except for being lamentably small, but if you are so inclined, there’s your info.

    Here’s one more, about those who voted for and against an attempt to create yet another bogus "caucus" to get around the Ethics Act and let lobbyists buy lawmakers dinner and the like.

    Those are some recent ones that come to mind. As you see, we have a little something for all tastes here at Brad Warthen’s Blog.

  27. Alton Corbett

    Tommy Moore has shown us why we didn’t need him for governor. The man has no principles, or judgement or something. Disgusting! I hope he never comes back. Now, if someone would just make such an offer to Jake Knotts————-

Comments are closed.