Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Here on "a Darkling Plain": CPT (Cheap Political Tricks)

Perhaps you remember from high school or college English Matthew Arnold's poem, "Dover Beach," written in 1851. Arnold was very concerned that during his lifetime civilization as he knew it was disintegrating; thus the following lines:

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

When the vote was extended in England, Arnold, the son of a famous educator, dedicated himself to educational progress, hoping that would enable those now enfranchised to vote guided by informed thinking. Alas, forlorn hope! Here we are, more than 150 years later, and not even the Newsless Courier operates on informed thinking! [See "Engelman stirs up a storm below.]

Now, I lived in the South practically my entire life, most of it in Charleston, until I married someone from New Jersey, and then I experienced other parts of the United States--northeast, midwest, left coast, even Texas (which in reality is the South also); I returned, lived here for another six years, and I never ONCE heard of anything called CPT. I did not grow up in a bubble or exist in one for the last 35 years either, so when Sandi Engelman says "Colored Person Time" is not what she meant, I believe her!

It reminds me of an older political buddy of my husband's who used to call liberals "NDG." As in, "Nelson Rockefeller is NDG." Now, I suppose someone could invent a racist interpretation of that acronym also, if he or she were so inclined, but to get that treatment, I would have to be running for office. [By the way, it meant, "No Damn Good," and he was too much of a gentleman to use profanity before a woman.]

Apart from my own experience, I have other evidence that this interpretation is deliberately BOGUS, even though the Newsless Courier claims that "most people familiar with the acronym say that means 'Colored People Time.'"

1. First, since the P & C made that statement, I would like to know who those referred to as "most people" are. And the ones familiar with the acronym who did not think it meant that (as use of the word "most" implies), what DID they think it meant?

2. I took an informal survey of native Charlestonians at my workplace, and, guess what! THEY had never heard of CPT either.

3. Even Arthur Ravenel, Jr., reported as "[catching] flack" a few years ago when he used the phrase "'black time,'" obviously had never heard of CPT, or he would have used it then! [But it was brilliant, wasn't it, to link him to the controversy, since he's running with Engelman.]

4. As for Marvin Dulaney's claim that the phrase came from the 1920s (I'm sure he meant the Harlem Renaissance, although the reporter apparently didn't know what he was referring to) and Langston Hughes--I don't buy it. I want to see the actual reference in print. I am familiar with Hughes's voluminous writings, but not the more obscure ones, I will admit. Now, I can believe that Hughes referred to "Colored Time" because I have heard of that. Of course, the phrase has nothing to do with being late, so the truth wouldn't have fit in this case. It's about serving time in the slammer--that, since treatment in jail was so much worse for blacks than whites, "colored time" was much longer in a metaphorical sense than "white time."

5. BREC, as I stated in a previous post, is supported by the Democratic Party of Charleston, and it has tried to "play the race card" already once before--suggesting that its endorsed slate should be elected because the school board needs more black members and its slate has them.

6. It's the Democratic strategy for this election, in case you have been on another planet for the last month, to make every race about ANYTHING but the issues. Thus we have Sanford being attacked for using "tar baby," the Republican Congress for not being aware of text messages sent to pages, and George Allen of Virginia being labeled a racist for using a word that I can't even spell and no one reading this had probably heard before it was picked up and splashed all over the national news ad nauseum.

And the Newsless Courier, instead of focusing on and educating the voters about the issues, chooses to participate in this name-calling and personal-attack campaign.

We're on the "darkling plain," I'm afraid, when votes are swayed by making the issue one of black versus white instead of performance versus incompetence.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Policy, What Policy?

BREC--That's the Blue Ribbon Education Committee to all members of the Democratic party here in Charleston County, the one that's supporting the liberal hopefuls for county school-board seats in the upcoming election. Three weeks before the election, BREC thinks it's pulling out the big guns by criticizing Sandi Engelman for travel expenses paid by CCSD for training sessions. Candidate Sandi Engelman has "considered the source" and called it "'a witch hunt.'"

No doubt she's correct; however, it turns out that our intrepid reporter has uncovered a policy "adopted by CCSD 23 years ago" [that would be in 1983] that is being ignored by the Board. Now, there's the NEWS.

It seems that in 1983, probably in response to a particular problem, the board voted that "all out-of-county travel must have prior approval by a majority of the board, but the board doesn't follow that policy." Doesn't it make you wonder how many OTHER policies the board is ignoring?

Candidate Gregg Meyers, who has been endorsed by BREC, somewhat gratuitously offers that he pays his own expenses because he can afford them more than the district can. Isn't that nice for him? Let's give him a blue ribbon. Taking his idea to its logical conclusion, we see that we need to fill the board with those who can afford to pay their own expenses, you know, like rich people.

Chairwoman (and non-candidate) Nancy Cook said she'd like to see the board come up with guidelines for such spending!

Nancy, why bother? Won't it merely be another ignored policy once the election is over?

Financial oversight is the issue here, not how much certain members have spent. There does not appear to be an explanation for why the board does not follow its own policy now, except that it's just money.

Believe it or not, there are many school boards in, yes, the State of South Carolina, that must report to another official body responsible for their financial oversight. How come ours is autonomous? Oh, must be its great track record.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hit a Nerve, Did I?

It seems that Lowcountryblogs took exception to my posting on the whitewater park story (see below). Maybe they need to step back and look at the big picture at the P & C.

Frequently what lands on the front page, I assume at the decision of the editors, is inexplicable, other than by tortuous logic and/or cynical ruminations. If the cynical explanation isn't correct, then I'd like another one that makes sense. [I wasn't the only one to question the logic of "starring" a park in Charlotte--Elsa McDowell fended off another critic in her response column earlier this week, and the editor's explanation quoted there was lame.]

Here's another case. Today's front page has a screaming headline about the cost of expanding the jail ["Jail Price Tag: $101 Million]. Surely the editors knew that the story about the filings load of state judges being the highest in the country was RELATED to the crowding that's going on ["Chief Justice Tells Panel Judges Smothered by Work"]. Yes?

So, who made the decision to separate the two stories, one for the front page and one for the State and Local section, bottom corner? Couldn't The P & C at least have indicated on the front page that there was a related story inside?

Or are they so dense that they can't figure out that--what was it--something like 80 percent of the prisoners in the jail are waiting to see a judge?

Do you think if we had more state judges we would need less space in the jail?


Saturday, October 07, 2006

First Myrtle Beach, Now Charlotte

There is not enough news in Charleston to fill up the front page of the P & C. Today's paper spotlights a puff piece on a whitewater rafting business outside of Charlotte.

HELLO! That's in NORTH Carolina. Even the article acknowledges it's a three-hour drive from here.

So, what's going on? On the inside pages there were TWO MORE articles about this business venture!

Now, there are logical explanations for the Low Country's touting business enterprises in other states, none of which are pretty.

The least objectionable is that the reporters justified their vacation trip by writing about the place, and the editors went along with it. Not pretty, but it falls into the arena of expense-account fudging.

The second most objectionable is that the reporters' local connection, mentioned in one of the inside -page articles, paid for their trip to Charlotte so that he could get free publicity for his business investment, and the editors went along with it unknowingly. This explanation supposes the reporters can be bought off and the editors are naive.

The third, and most unconscionable explanation, is that the editors have invested in the business (or have friends or relatives who have invested in the business or developments planned for the area) and they sent the reporters to Charlotte so that their friends' investments could get some free publicity. This explanation suggests the P & C's front page (and further reporting) is being manipulated by the editors for the financial gain of themselves or others.

Well, which one seems most likely to you?