Open Thread for Tuesday, March 6, 2018


James Smith speaking at Columbia Rotary Monday. I’m thinking maybe this picture was taken by his Dad, who is a member.

I haven’t given you one of these in awhile, so here goes…

  1. North Korea Is Open to Ending Nuclear Efforts, South Says — Major breakthrough? We’ll see. Trump “reacted with guarded optimism.” For once, we’re in accord.
  2. On the other hand. Putin is threatening us with new nuclear missiles — Yeah, this is several days old, but we never did talk about it. And it was kind of a biggie.
  3. Kimpson: Reparations for slavery should be included in any new SC constitution — Not very likely, no matter how the delegates are chosen. But it does illustrate how a convention could go anywhere, far afield of the reform that convention advocates rightly hope for.
  4. ‘I don’t know what he’s going to tweet about,’ Haley says of Trump — Why on Earth would she? Who does? What interested me was her description of speaking to Trump as one might do to an unbalanced child before he addressed the U.N.: “OK now, Mr. President, you need to understand this is a serious crowd. They’re not going to rally. They’re not going to cheer. That’s just not who these people are. So don’t take it the wrong way. I said, ‘Just think of it as church.'” Because, you know, he needs someone to tell him that stuff. I just can’t believe we live in a world in which this guy is POTUS.
  5. In bid for SC governor, Smith touts better teacher pay, new state energy policy — While Catherine Templeton was talking about making people stand for the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and pushing Nullification — in something her campaign characterized as a major policy speech — Smith was talking to Rotary about actual, you know, state policy. It sounds like he was addressing her directly when he said high-profile hot-button battles over cultural issues “don’t educate a child or pave a road or move our state forward.”
  6. There’s just no end of weirdness in this world — I hope I don’t get in copyright trouble for sharing the picture below (I’ll take it down if told to), which is from a big Moonie religious ceremony last week celebrating marriage and semi-automatic weapons. But I felt you had to SEE it to fully feel the weird…


42 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, March 6, 2018

  1. Doug Ross

    “Kimpson: Reparations for slavery should be included in any new SC constitution”

    Well, I’m not paying a single dime. My Finnish ancestors came over here after 1900… same for those on my father’s side from Canada/England. Now if some descendant of a Finnish guy who claims my great-great grandfather shot his reindeer wants to talk reparations, I’m open to it.

    Now, Brad, on the other hand, has dutifully documented his ancestors being likely slave owners here in SC. I’d say if anyone has to pay, it’s him. 🙂

    The whole concept of reparations is so pointless. It does nothing but make race relations even more difficult. I want to see someone on the pro-reparations side describe exactly what they are looking for. How much? To whom? And from what revenue source?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Now, Brad, on the other hand, has dutifully documented his ancestors being likely slave owners here in SC. I’d say if anyone has to pay, it’s him.”

      So you can see why it’s a crazy idea, right? I said, “right?”…

      1. Richard

        Brad is falsifying adoption papers as we speak. His birth family name is Jorgensen and they didn’t come over from Sweden until 1922.

    2. Juan Caruso

      Still a bit early, Doug, but your conclusion, ” I’d say if anyone has to pay, it’s him”, is destined to be the most humorous remark of the day here at Brad’s blog.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah, that Doug’s a caution.

        The challenge for me, of course, is finding any ancestors who served the Union in the Recent Unpleasantness.

        I’m three-fourths South Carolinian. The other fourth, the Warthens (my father’s father’s family) had been in Maryland since the 1600s. Seems like some of them might have worn the blue uniform, but I haven’t found them yet. Possibly because Maryland, being a slave state, wasn’t as wild about the Union as folks in other states.

        And I can’t take the immigrant’s dodge the way Doug can. I have SOME ancestors who arrived in this country as late as the 1700s, but most of those I’ve managed to trace to the first generation were here in the previous century — with several of them being among the settlers of Jamestown.

        1. Claus2

          “with several of them being among the settlers of Jamestown.”

          How large was the population of Jamestown, most people talk about their ancestors came over on the Mayflower and settled Jamestown. Either all of you are related or Jamestown was the first metropolis in this country. The Mayflower must have been one mighty ship… probably the size of a Carnival cruise ship or it was able to make daily trips to England.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I don’t think any of them were in the first boatload. But they were in the first generation or two of English settlers in Virginia. I’ve mentioned in the past how Richard Pace (direct ancestor through my maternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Pace) saved Jamestown by warning of an Indian attack.

            Over on my father’s side, Col. John Page — a 9th-great grandfather — lived in Jamestown in the 1650s. His uncle, Sir Francis Wyatt, was the first royal governor of Virginia.

            I’ve run across one or two other folks who were in that part of Virginia at that time, but I don’t remember right now who they were. I just remember going, “Oh, there’s another one.”

            I don’t keep things like that all in one place, and unfortunately the Ancestry tree isn’t a fully searchable database. You can search on a name and that’s about it, which I find frustrating…

          2. Norm Ivey

            I don’t think anybody has an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower AND settled Jamestown, did they?

            1. Mark Stewart

              History tells use Jamestown was settled in 1608 and the Pilgrims landed in MA in 1620, no?

              The two groups had nothing in common; other than both leaving from England.

              Later, a triangle trade did develop, but early on it would be hard to imagine any cross pollination between the two.

              How are we going to understand our present – and future – if we aren’t aware of our past?

  2. bud

    6. Really not that much weirder than a typical service at a large Catholic Church. Weird really is a function of one’s world view.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah… I think maybe you should visit an actual Catholic Church sometime. You’ve got a really weird misconception. But of course, it’s a time-honored American prejudice that you’re perpetuating…

      1. bud

        Hey you started this round of mocking a different religion. I’m sure many folks could poke a little fun at the UUs. I happen to find their approach to Sunday services both refreshing and unweird. My point is simply to point out that weird is in the eye of the beholder.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          This is objectively weird. I make no apologies for that.

          I don’t subscribe to the “all religions, or things people CALL religions, are equal” point of view. Some are nutty.

          A lot of people think, in order to stay in sync with the spirit of the First Amendment, they have to have NO opinion about this or that religion. I’m not one of them. Neither are you, based on past comments.

          The First Amendment is about freedom of conscience and expression. So in keeping with the spirit of that, I speak up when I see things that are genuinely weird.

          It’s an “emperor has no clothes” thing. I’m the little kid who speaks up.

          There are a lot of unusual religious practices that I think can be rationalized. Even, for instance, using peyote to induce visions. I don’t see it as a sacrament, but I can sorta kinda almost see how some might. I’ve read Castaneda. Aldous Huxley, too. I can also see how some people might avoid medical treatment as part of their faith, although I think that if they deny such treatment to their children, the state should probably step in in loco parentis.

          Were I a member of the Moonie church, when the idea of having ceremonies celebrating the AR-15 came up, I’d have been the guy in the room who said, “This is nutty.” If that led to my excommunication, so be it…

          Of course, I can be completely wrong and the Almighty DOES want us to make assault-style rifles the objects of veneration and wear cheap cardboard crowns. But until that is revealed to me, I’m going to say it’s weird…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Apparently, I should have said parens patriae instead of in loco parentis.

            But in terms of the meaning of the actual words, it just seems to me it should be in loco parentis. Because it’s about the state stepping in in place of the parents, who have in one way or another forfeited their parental prerogatives.

            Parens patriae” doesn’t convey my meaning at all. Unless you’re a lawyer, I suppose…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Perhaps you aren’t, but I wanted to correct myself before a lawyer did it for me. There are those who would have spotted the mistake….

          2. bud

            Objectively weird. Uh, no. It is subjective. It depends on your point of view. I find the ritual of swinging the Netti pot thing around at the Catholic Church weird, but that is just an opinion. An example of something objectively true is the fact that the Earth is many billions of years old.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Apparently. It is apparently billions of years old… As long as we’re being pedantic. (I think I could have been a Fair Witness in Heinlein’s universe.)

              Yes, weirdness is by definition subjective. I was speaking hyperbolically, saying something that couldn’t be precisely true in order to express how amazingly weird this is.

              And if we’re talking norms and objectivity, I think an unbiased examination of religious practices around the world through history would show you that the used of incense in religious rituals is far from “weird.” It’s pretty normal.

              Whether you’re Buddhist, Taoist, Shinto, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or Christian, incense has played a role in your religion’s practices for a large part of the last couple of millennia.

              Just FYI, as long as we’re talking objective fact…

              1. Mark Stewart

                Religions arose out of spirituality. It makes sense that people would create a sense of the spiritual through sensory stimulation.

                Every religion up to the Calvinist revolt (and even they still kept a good bit of the sensory – more than they thought) incorporated architecture, sounds, visual stimuli, scents, things to touch or hold, etc.

                If it seems weird to you, Bud, take a trip to Bethlehem and experience a service in the Greek Orthodox Church. It’s an epic experience…. and I think would open your mind.

  3. clark surratt

    Ms. Templeton is likely doing as advised, racing for the far right in order to get the GOP nomination. She will be helped in that if notables like Al Sharpton continue to criticize her. If I were working for her, I would try to draw Sharpton out to make more comments, figuring that he would ignite her potential supporters. She could always talk about legitimate state issues after she wins the race to the bottom (meaning the top of GOP) and gets the nomination.

  4. bud

    5. The teachers in WV just their battle. Good for them. SC teachers deserve the same. I like Smith’s thinking on this.

      1. Claus2

        5% salary increase, likely to be paid for by a 5% increase in state income taxes… yeah they “won” alright.

    1. Barry

      Agree. Glad they won and stuck together. Notice how fast legislators moved and got something done.

  5. Doug Ross

    From The State:

    Richland County’s transportation penny sales tax program is coming to a grinding halt after the S.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the program’s “dubious” spending and ordered the county to ensure the money is spent only on transportation capital projects.

    The court said the county “woefully failed” at recognizing how the money could be spent.

    The state Supreme Court ordered a the circuit court to require the county to establish safeguards assuring the money is spent appropriately. The circuit court can also order the repayment of any improper expenditures from the county’s general fund.”

    For instance:

    ▪ More than $554,000 in penny tax funds were used to organize and staff the county’s Small Local Business enterprise program.

    ▪ The county was paying two public relations firms $25,000 each per month to educate the public about the programs

    ▪ The county spent more than $38,000 on a “vague and duplicative mentor-mentee arrangement.”

    Brad – does this fall into the 99% category of government working well? Or is this a 1% outlier?

    All I know is that every extra penny I have paid. my family had paid, my neighborhood has paid, and probably all of Blythewood has paid since implementation has been stolen. But many of us (just very very very slightly under 50% thanks to Lillian McBride) knew this was going to happen.

    1. Barry

      $25;000 per month for public relations? LOLOLOLOLOLOL

      What are those firms doing? Going door to door in Richland County and handing out $25 gift cards with an educational flyer about the penny tax?

      I feel sorry for you suckers in Richland County.

      1. Richard

        “$25;000 per month for public relations? LOLOLOLOLOLO”

        Actually it was $50,000 per month… there was enough work to hire two public relations groups. I wonder who on the county council they’re related to?

        “I feel sorry for you suckers in Richland County.”

        That makes two of us, I got out of there as soon as I could. Lexington County may not be perfect but we can say we’re not as bad as Richland County.

      2. Doug Ross

        I’d just like to see Brad put as much energy into holding the people responsible for this debacle accountable as he did in pushing for the tax in the first place. Grand plans are meaningless when the execution turns into another cesspool of government waste and mismanagement.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Doug, what precisely do you want ME to do? I’ve expressed my dismay at the way Richland County has screwed up management of this program — more than once, I think. I think it’s good for the court to call a time out, providing an opportunity to get things straightened out.

          What else do you want? Yeah, I know you want me to “admit” I was wrong to back the tax, but I’m not going to do that, because I wasn’t wrong. It was a good idea, which county council has managed to tarnish with its stupidity since the vote.

          To you, as your words in your earlier comment indicate, this scandal is proof that the penny tax was a terrible idea, that all such taxes are a terrible idea, and that all governments are awful and crooked and should be damned by all right-thinking people.

          But those things are not the case. This scandal shows that county council screwed up the management of this worthwhile program. It shows what it shows. It does not contain eternal truths about the wrongness of the very idea of representative government…

          1. Mark Stewart

            It does show that Richland County ought to have one elected municipal government. Neither the City nor the County is particularly well run; but I think that’s mostly because the voters are too often distracted by the circular firing squads. Combined, they would be more accountable, responsive and professional than either is now.

            1. Bob Amundson

              Great idea Mark, but not legal; political consolidation of municipal governments is not allowed in South Carolina. The best the Midlands can do is functional consolidation, but even that seems mostly impossible. South Carolina, the land of silos. Petigru famously remarked about politics in the State, “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”

              1. Claus2

                “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”

                Richland County isn’t.

              2. Mark Stewart

                Not legal – as in legislatively prohibited; or prohibited under the 1895 Constitution?

                This would be different then Cacy and West Cola getting together – but that would be good too. Heck, they should merge into Columbia as well – have a Metro Columbia while we’re at this re-imagining!

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I used to be up on the law regarding consolidation, but I’ve forgotten much of what I knew.

                  I don’t think there could, under current law, be a metro Columbia, what with the separate counties and all that — although it would be wonderful if it could be.

                  When I first moved back to South Carolina in 1987, I was coming from Wichita. Geographically, there were great similarities between the two cities. Both had two rivers flowing together into one in the heart of the urban area. But there the resemblance ended.

                  The banks of those rivers have long been developed in ways that enhanced the whole metro area — with parks, museums, a zoo and nice residential. It was a real draw, in a place as desolate as Kansas (leaving the city limits, there was nothing but prairie).

                  It was all one city on both sides of the river (although there was one tiny, separate municipality out east that was completely surrounded by Wichita, like Forest Acres and Arcadia Lakes), and all in one county. There was, I think, one school district.

                  So, while I’d much rather live here, I have to admit that Wichita had itself together far more than we do here. In this urban area, we have about 10 municipalities, two counties, seven school districts, and I forget how many special purpose districts (such as the infamous election and recreation commissions in Richland).

                  This fragmentation not only makes it hard to get things done, but it makes it harder for local citizens to know what their local governments are doing, or who represents them. Which is not good.

                  For instance, I’ve fretted here many times about how hard it was to adequately (in my own view) inform readers about school board elections. There were just too many boards with too many members for us to stay on top of, even in the days when were relatively flush with resources.

                  Even I, as much as I try to stay on top of things, have often found myself standing in line at my polling place on Election Day, realizing I knew nothing about school board candidates, and asking my neighbors in line what THEY knew about them — which isn’t terribly helpful. Consequently, I haven’t voted in a school board election for years. I’ve decried voting in ignorance too much to let myself do it. No one’s going to get my vote based on something as stupid as, say, name recognition…

                2. Bob Amundson

                  Mark, I was recalling, perhaps incorrectly, what I was told when I served on the City of Columbia’s Restructuring Government Commission. Checking SC Code, it seems more correct to say it is very difficult to politically consolidate. Functional consolidation is not nearly so onerous.

          2. Doug Ross

            You don’t give more money to entities that have a track record for wasting it. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who has lived in Richland County for any length of time.

            I don’t care if you admit you were wrong on this or not — I’d like to see you write a few blog posts about the people who are responsible for this. Who do you think is responsible and what should be done about it? Or do you not really care about such trivial things? You got your big picture vision passed — after that it’s just boring stuff about money.

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