Clark Kent following in my footsteps

Except, get this — the dope doesn’t get laid off. He quits The Daily Planet, a newspaper still perfectly willing to keep giving him a paycheck to do what he does, to become a blogger on purpose.

Of course, I don’t suppose he’ll starve. The whole blog business model probably works a whole lot better when you can squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond whenever your ad revenues run low.

It’s all well and good to argue with your editor over news judgment. Everybody does it. And yeah, I like the touch where you invoke “truth, justice and the American way,” in the pontifical manner of scribes everywhere. But the thing is, you come back into work the next day, when you and the editor and everybody else has forgotten yesterday’s argument, and is ready to start on today’s.

Sorry, but I guess my problem is that I spent most of my newspaper career as an editor, supervising prima donna writers, so I tend to have a bit more sympathy for the multitudinous headaches of Perry White.

Oh, and another thing, Kent: Put on a damn’ tie! Great Caesar’s Ghost..

25 thoughts on “Clark Kent following in my footsteps

  1. Silence

    Brad, I thought of you and your blog when I heard this story on the radio yesterday. Now you have something else in common with Superman besides the obvious weakness to Kryptonite.

  2. Doug Ross


    My guess is that, like Superman’s powers, Lois Lane’s assets are a figment of a comic book artist’s imagination.

  3. Steve Gordy

    My bet is that the backstory will reveal that Jimmy Olson secretly knifed Clark in the back ’cause he wanted Clark’s job.

  4. Doug Ross

    Semi-related to the newspaper business topic…

    Can The State embarrass itself any further with its endorsements? Courson, Setzler, Joan Brady??? Really? Apparently the editorial board feels everything is running likely a well oiled machine at the state house and that we just need to keep all those old folks in place, doing what they do best. Or maybe it’s that The State is trying to appeal to its core demographic: senior citizens.

    I’m half expecting The State to endorse Strom Thurmond in the next Senate race.

  5. Brad

    The State is doing an excellent job with its endorsements.

    As always, Doug bizarrely ignores the salient question: What was the choice before the newspaper? To take but one case, Nikki Setzler is opposed by an ideologically extreme, would-be Nikki Haley.

    Doug, unconcerned about reality, believes only perfect candidates should be endorsed. To please Doug, the newspaper should endorse Jesus Christ in every election, regardless of the fact that he’s not among the candidates running. (Unless, of course, Jesus were the incumbent, in which case Doug would want to turn him out, if he’s served two or more terms.)

    I haven’t spoken with Beth Bernstein yet, but in principle Joan Brady is a good choice. She’s a solid representative; the question remaining is whether Beth would be better.

    In the other races, I’m positive The State is right. What Dick Harpootlian is doing in the Courson race, for instance, must be soundly rejected…

  6. bud

    John Courson seems like a reasonable sort of guy but we really should get some new blood in the general assembly. Given the complete and utter lack of progress in this state it’s pretty hard to defend the status quo. It’s sort of like continuing to support an aging quarterback even though he continues to throw interceptions.

  7. Doug Ross

    My whole issue is that The State will write many editorials about all the flaws of South Carolina’s state government and yet when the time comes to vote for change, they go with the people who have been instrumental in making sure that system stays in place.

    And in the cases of Setzler and Courson, each of them should be rejected on their pension situation. Are they retired or not?

    Also, Setzlers expense reimbursement of over $100 a day for hotel and per diem when he lives a couple miles from the State House is completely unacceptable.

    I’m not looking for Jesus H. Christ, Brad – I just apply the same level of expectations to politicians that I do to normal human beings. If you’re feathering your own next with public funds, you’re closer to Judas than Jesus. Ethics matter. Raise the bar for once instead of ignoring basic flaws in character.

  8. Doug Ross

    Each one of these “retired” Senators should not be allowed to hold office unless they give up their pension payments while in office:

    Senators: Ralph Anderson, D-Greenville; John Courson, R-Richland; Dick Elliott, D-Horry; Mike Fair, R-Greenville; Robert Ford, D-Charleston; Wes Hayes, R-York; John Land, D-Clarendon; Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence; Phil Leventis, D-Sumter; Larry Martin, R-Pickens; John Matthews, D-Orangeburg; Yancey McGill, D-Williamsburg; Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee; Glenn Reese, D-Spartanburg; Mike Rose, R-Dorchester; John Scott, D-Richland; Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, and David Thomas, R-Greenville.

    All are older than 70 with more than 30 years in office. You think that may be part of the problem with South Carolina state government??? I do.

  9. Steven Davis II

    So Brad, what’s your opinion on all of these retired state employees still on the job?

    I wish my retirement package was set up so that I’d make 300% of my annual salary. Are these legislators going to have to abide by the $10,000 salary limit if still drawing a state paycheck? For most this would mean a 50% cut in income… $30k retirement check, $10k salary… if they follow the rules, they’d get $10k retirement and $10k salary.

  10. Brad

    Doug, this points to a problem that we in the media have created. We write about a problem — such as the legislative pensions — and push to have it changed, as Cindi has done for so many years.

    Which is what we SHOULD do, and I’m glad we have done so. But somehow, we fail to communicate a sense of perspective…

    The pension system as it was (and as it still exists for current incumbents) was a bad thing. But that doesn’t mean people who are in the system, and take the pension offered them, are bad people.

    In fact, John Courson, Nikki Setzler and Joan Brady are all very good people. (Something I should have said above. It’s NOT just that their opponents might not be better; it’s that these are actually good people.) They are very dedicated, sincere people of good character. I wish you could get to know them. I look at people like them, and I balk at the idea of running for office, because I see how much time and energy they have to put into being at their constituents’ disposal. Voters have totally unrealistic demands of public officials, but the good ones try their best to meet those demands, while voting and acting consistently with their consciences.

    Being in the Legislature is a demanding, full-time job during the half of the year they’re in session, and a pretty demanding part-time one, with a lot of night work (attending events in the community to stay current on issues), during the rest of the year. This time has never been adequately compensated.

    What SHOULD happen is that lawmakers should get decent salaries for that time, which would open the Legislature to a broader range of citizens who now can’t afford to take that kind of time from their work.

    Until that happens (and I don’t see it happening anytime soon), I’m not going to be shocked at people taking the pension deal that they are legally entitled to, and which enables them to afford to keep being legislators.

    I don’t like it, but it doesn’t make a good person into a bad person.

    It’s not a binary choice, good/bad, on/off. It’s “the pension was a bad idea,” not “pension means bad person.”

  11. Doug Ross

    Are they retired or not? It’s a simple question.

    Are they in a position to change the very laws that created their very special, very generous situation? Yes.

    Is billing the taxpayers of South Carolina $100+ dollars a day for hotel and per diem when you live within a couple miles of your workplace ethical or not? $12,000 a year. Or is it just 1,200,000 pennies so it shouldn’t matter? How many bus riders could be subsidized by that 12K?

    Google “john courson nepotism” and let me know if there’s anything there that might concern you.

    Ethics are binary.

  12. bud

    Sorry Brad but you’re defending a bad situation by defending the very people that make continue to allow that bad situation to continue. John Courson isn’t a bad person. I doubt he goes around kicking puppies or TPing his neighbors houses. But that doesn’t make him an effective senator. After decades in office and a continuation of the ridiculous pension and near-worst in the nation status in virtually every measure of quality of life it is simply an indefensible position to continue endorsing Mr. Courson. Experience may count for something but failure should trump that.

  13. Brad

    “Ethics are binary.” There’s a worldview that dooms you not to be able to deal with reality. Because NO ONE would be clean.

    Anyone who has stepped forward to get involved, to engage the issues of the day, to serve rather than sit back and criticize, will have made decisions that would hit the OFF switch in a binary equation. Which means you could never endorse, or vote for, or support anyone. Which is a hopeless situation.

    Back to the actual choices before the voters of those districts…

    I’m reserving judgment on Beth Bernstein; she and I are having breakfast together tomorrow, after which I’ll write about her and Joan Brady. But I’ll tell you, the question will be, how is she better than Joan? Because Joan looks pretty good on the balance sheet, which I thought Cindi explained pretty well this morning.

    Then there’s the Courson situation. To a lot of political pragmatists, this is a no-brainer because it’s been such a long time since the Midlands has had anyone in such a key position of power in the Senate. Personally, I’m cold to arguments like that. The question for me is, who would be the better senator? I think a case could be made for Rikard. I don’t know him well enough to be sure. But I do know this: The campaign that Dick Harpootlian has conducted in his behalf — sort of shoving aside the candidate himself — has been an expression of the worst sort of mindless party-for-party’s-sake partisanship, an assertion that the D counts above character or issues or any other consideration.

    And good people I very much trust who are closer to this than I am, such as Joel Lourie, have taken on their own party because of their respect and trust of John Courson. That sort of behavior should be commended and affirmed, because it gives us some hope amid the madness.

    Until such time as Robert Rikard — not Dick Harpootlian — steps up and demonstrates why HE would be a better senator for that district, and for South Carolina, than John Courson, I don’t see how I could endorse him.

    And as for Nikki Setzler (my senator, by the way… He is the target of a cookie-cutter candidate (you can’t tell her from Katrina Shealy) put up by the S.C. Policy Council and Club for Growth types with the aim of accomplishing the “bathtub” goal of the Grover Norquists of this world. She is a destructive force that after Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley we should reject out of hand. Her tax plan, for instance, is totally bats. She would put EVERYTHING on the overburdened sales tax. Of the three endorsements we’re talking about, this is the clearest choice, simply on the basis of fundamental policy.

  14. Doug Ross

    ““Ethics are binary.” There’s a worldview that dooms you not to be able to deal with reality. Because NO ONE would be clean.”

    Can you please list a few of the unethical things you have done? How frequently do you have to make decisions that cause you to struggle over making the ethical choice instead of the unethical one? Did you teach your children that there is a difference between right and wrong?

    If someone is willing to take $12K per year to drive across the river, what else will they do? If someone works to create government jobs for family members, what else might they do?

    You’ve been swimming in the cesspool too long. Or maybe I just hang out with a different group of people.

  15. Brad

    Bud, I suspect that no on on this blog has spent more effort than I have pushing hard against this state’s resistance to positive change. I’m quite confident on that point.

    But I know that the answer is not to simply vote in anyone over someone who is currently in office. When you have a decent person in office — someone who is NOT a Nikki Haley or a Mark Sanford or someone else who strives with all his or her might to effect NEGATIVE change and make things WORSE — you have to make the case that the new person is likely to make things better.

    On the scoreboard of positive change, here’s how these incumbents stack up: I would score Setzler and Brady as both advocates of positive change. In Joan Brady’s case, she can actually point to achievements, since she has concerned herself with smaller, more achievable goals.

    But both of them are functioning in a system that is extremely resistant to change, and their failure to transform our state is not a reflection upon them as bad representatives.

    Courson is more of a classic conservative, less of a change agent. But again, he is a fairly solid vote against really BAD change, which raises the question of whether anyone who runs against him would be as reliable on that score.

    And that brings us to another subject, which is this: The megatrend in the State House in recent years has been extremely negative. Before the past 10 or 15 years, I was merely frustrated that we couldn’t get POSITIVE change enacted — restructuring to make the government more accountable, comprehensive tax reform, REAL education reform (consolidation of districts, merit pay, greater hiring and firing powers for principals, adequate funding for poor districts), Home Rule, etc.

    But since the late 1990s, we’ve seen an unending tide of BAD change flooding through our public life and sucking up all the oxygen in the forum — tax changes that make our system WORSE, the lottery, the defunding of higher education, insane plans to pay people to abandon public schools — just one thing after another. Every one of those things seems almost diabolically designed to make our state fall further behind the rest of the nation.

    People who will be reliable votes against that sort of destructiveness are very important and deserve support.

    When a charismatic figure who promises real “hope and change” for South Carolina, with solid proposals for achieving it, you’ll see me in that person’s corner. But in races where it’s a matter of someone who will merely stand against the destructive madness and someone who will not, you’ll see me stand with the good soldiers who are fighting that thankless action.

  16. Doug Ross

    “People who will be reliable votes against that sort of destructiveness are very important and deserve support.”

    So over the past two decades, the voters have elected representatives who are generally destructive. Isn’t the government we have the government the people want?

  17. Doug Ross

    We currently have an ethically challenged governor, replaced an ethically challenged Lt. Governor, and have a Speaker of the House who has recently returned tens of thousands of questionable expense reimbursements and recently expensed a $1000 hotel bill in Charleston – the city he lives in.

    Where do you think the corruption stops? Why don’t these long serving legislators do something about it? Brady punted on holding Haley accountable.. They all have dirt on each other so they rely on the “mutually assured destruction” philosophy to keep doing what they are doing.

    I’ll vote for Vincent Sheheen when he becomes a champion of ridding the State House of corruption – not just focusing on Nikki Haley.

  18. Silence

    @Brad – Like Doug I have an issue with Senator Courson. The alleged hiring of his sister-in-law for a made-up job which reports directly to him at a salary of 70k smacks of impropriety. His son’s position at USC which is alleged also to report to the SC Senate is also suspicious. After 27 years in the senate I’m inclined to say that he’s part of the problem rather than the solution.
    I still voted for him though. Definitely don’t care to vote for Rikard.

  19. bud

    But both of them are functioning in a system that is extremely resistant to change, and their failure to transform our state is not a reflection upon them as bad representatives.

    Think about how completely illogical that statement is. These people ARE the system. Repeat, they ARE the system. By virtue of being there for so long they OF COURSE resist change. It’s just a natural process. Courson has been in the Senate FOR EVER. Why would any logical person expect him to be a catalyst for change. Sure these are just three people but if all SC voters continue to vote in these relics that resistence will always be there.

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