Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Worst Idea of 2010

President Obama should stay in D.C. on April 12

By Will Moredock

I was at a meeting of the Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie Historical Trust last spring when chairman Robert Rosen brought up the idea of inviting President Barack Obama to Charleston on April 12, 2011, for the 150th anniversary observance of the firing on Fort Sumter.

The Historical Trust is an impressive group of scholars and civic leaders who are planning  activities to observe the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. I had my doubts about extending the invitation to President Obama at the time, but said nothing. I have since stopped attending Historical Trust meetings on a regular basis. Still, I found it disconcerting last month when I read that Fort Sumter National Monument, run by the National Park Service, had officially extended the invitation to the president. The plan calls for Obama to narrate Aaron Copeland's “Lincoln Portrait” during a commemorative concert in White Point Garden, overlooking the harbor and the distant fort.

I am sure it would be a moving moment. The music is stirring. The narrative poignant. And I think the president would be a natural for the role. But, frankly, I hope the White House staff or the Secret Service or Michelle Obama or somebody looks the president in the eye and says, “Stay away from Charleston on April 12.”

The invitation was extended in utmost respect and, I think, affection for the president. The young Illinois senator came to Charleston early in his presidential campaign to meet local Democratic Party leaders at a private residence on the Battery. He  wowed everyone that day, went on to win the  nomination and carried Charleston County on Election Day, more than a year later. Speaking to the multitude in Grant Park, Chicago, on the night of his triumph, he referred to “the porches of Charleston” as an early milestone of his campaign.

I think there is great mutual affection between the president and the City of Charleston. But I am also aware that my opinion of President Obama is not held universally in this city and even less so in the state at large. For that reason, I think it would be a good idea for the president to find something else to do on April 12.

I will be blunt: I think the president might be in danger if he came to came to this historically loaded city on that emotionally loaded date. I am confident his security team could protect him from almost any eventuality, but I see no point in inviting an “incident” which would embarrass the state and haunt the city for years to come.

Am I being dramatic? Perhaps, but this is a town that loves drama and acts it out in bizarre and inappropriate ways. Exhibit A: the Secession Ball held at Gaillard Auditorium last month, in which several hundred white people donned hoop skirts and Confederate uniforms  to celebrate the dissolution of the Union. Exhibit B: state Senate Pro Tem Glenn McConnell of Charleston, who loves to parade around in his Confederate uniform. Last fall he appeared before a gathering of Republican women in Columbia, along with other period reenactors, including a black couple dressed as slaves. Exhibit C: the angry and irrational letters to area newspapers, denouncing “northern aggression” and calling Abraham Lincoln a tyrant and a murderer.

Such behavior is not violence, but it is a vindication and a celebration of violence. And this city has been committing and celebrating violence as a political tool for a long time, including the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861.

I would argue that anger and the threat of violence have been the primary political motivator in South Carolina for two centuries. Generations of ranters and ravers have sprung from this state's soil. We got a taste of that tradition last year when 2nd District Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress with the shout, “You lie!” Sen. Jim DeMint swore to make healthcare reform Obama's “Waterloo.” The atmosphere in this state was so toxic in 2010 that the Secret Service nixed a planned visit here by the First Lady.

April 12, 2011, will be fraught with meaning – too much meaning for some, I fear. The image of a black president from a northern state gazing out over Fort Sumter and delivering an elegy to Abraham Lincoln might be too much for some susceptible minds to endure.

Charleston is famous for its courtesy and its hospitality./ But history shows that it takes only one misguided person with a gun to ruin the day for the whole country. I suspect there are many misguided people in Charleston and in South Carolina. I know there are many guns.

For that reason I make this sincere plea to President Obama: You will have other opportunities to  visit the Holy City. Please stay away on April 12.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Year in Wall Street Investigations

by Karen Weise,  ProPublica


It's been over three years since credit markets started shaking with the early tremors of the subprime crisis, and two years since that spread into a marketwide collapse. Prosecutors, regulators, Congress and journalists have spent the year uncovering the financial shenanigans that brought the market to its knees. It's been marked by a few blockbuster settlements and more revealing investigations -- as well as by some noticeable inaction in the reckoning.

Let's start at the ground level, with selling risky mortgages to homeowners. Nobody symbolized the subprime market -- from its growth to its downfall -- better than former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. This fall, the Securities and Exchange Commission reached a $67.5 million settlement [1] with Mozilo in its only major case against a financial executive. The SEC charged Mozilo with praising Countrywide to investors while internally doubting its lending standards. As part of the settlement, Mozilo admitted no wrongdoing.

Moving up the finance chain, we come to the banks that sold mortgage deals to investors. Much of the scrutiny focuses on a type of mortgage deal called collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, which are essentially bundles of other mortgage bonds that were sold off to investors.

Though nearly every bank [2] is rumored to be under investigation, the year was marked by one major case looking at the CDO business. In April, the SEC accused Goldman Sachs of creating a mortgage deal [3] that was designed to fail. The SEC's argument was that Goldman's hedge-fund client helped design the deal specifically to bet against it -- without Goldman explaining the relationship to investors. In July, Goldman settled for $550 million (or about two weeks' worth of profit [4]), admitting a "mistake" but no wrongdoing.

The idea of betting against deals lies at the center of a number of other investigations as well. The SEC is looking into [5] whether JPMorgan Chase allowed a hedge fund named Magnetar to choose assets for a mortgage deal without disclosing Magnetar's role in selecting what went into the deal. As ProPublica reported in April with the radio programs This American Life and NPR's Planet Money, Magnetar encouraged banks to put together riskier deals [6] and bought the riskiest bond slices that otherwise may have been unsold. Magnetar then bet against some of those deals [7], standing to make far more by shorting its losses on those risky slices if the housing market went south.

U.S. prosecutors are also looking into whether Morgan Stanley created a series of CDOs that its own trading desks bet against [8], the Wall Street Journal reported in May. A few months later it reported on how Deutsche Bank also bet against the souring housing market at the same time [9] it was marketing new mortgage deals.

The SEC is also looking into whether Citigroup improperly encouraged an independent manager to stuff a deal with leftover pieces [10] of other deals that it couldn't sell in the market. In September, ProPublica and NPR's Planet Money reported on self-dealing [11] among CDOs, showing how banks structured deals to buy portions of each others' [12] often leftover inventory of hard-to-sell pieces. This created a daisy-chain of investments [13] that manufactured demand, thereby prolonging the housing bubble. The SEC has said it is investigating [14] one independent management firm and looking into about 50 others.

The year ended with rumors of mass settlements [15], where banks and the SEC settle broadly over their CDO practices rather than battling over individual deals, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Deal-by-deal fights may flame up in courts, however, with investors pushing banks to buy back sour deals, egged on by new evidence [16] that banks may have known the mortgages underlying the deals were flawed. With such complicated shenanigans going on behind the scenes, investigators also want to know how banks hid their exposure to these risky securities from investors. The investigations are looking into various tactics, from general misstatements, like the Citigroup's $75 million settlement [17] with the SEC for not disclosing $40 billion in subprime risk, to accounting maneuvers that moved certain deals off bank balance sheets.

In the spring, a court-appointed examiner in the bankruptcy of failed investment bank Lehman Brothers shined a light on a practice known as "Repo 105," where Lehman moved $50 billion in assets off its books right before it had to submit investor reports. Last week, the New York attorney general filed civil charges against the accounting firm Ernst & Young [18], saying it had "substantially assisted" Lehman's "house-of-cards business model" that misled investors. Executives from the now-bankrupt Lehman have not been charged.

Despite revelations coming up and down the financial spectrum, there have been no major criminal charges and almost no civil charges against executives. And while the SEC and some government prosecutors have been active, federal bank regulators have so far been quiet [19].

This all comes as Congress passed the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill this summer, seeking to overhaul the oversight of everything from mortgage securities to how banks make bets with their own money. As regulators hammer out the rules of the reforms, the devil may lie in the hotly contested [20] details.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bruce Nellsmith Touched by Cezanne


City Art is proud to present the new works of its long-time painter, Bruce Nellsmith. The new solo exhibition is titled “Homeland” and reflects upon Nellsmith’s favorite places, ones that feel the closest to his heart. This show reveals Nellsmith’s inspiration found while exploring Cezanne in France earlier this year. The collection of oil paintings can be seen through December 30.
Nellsmith received his BFA from the University of Georgia and his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Nellsmith has been teaching art at Newberry College since 1988 and currently serves as the Art Department Chairman. He has been selected for a number of exhibitions around the Southeast and his work is included in many private, state, and public collections all over South Carolina and the South.

“Homeland” is a complex multi-layered exhibition at City Art, sharing the deep impact of the artist’s latest trip to France. The word “Homeland” can be interpreted in many ways, especially in today’s highly politicized post 9/11 world, but City Art’s current exhibition strictly focuses on what it means to Nellsmith. Visiting the gallery, the art lovers will find that “Homeland” is not just comprised of works detailing a single city the artist lived in. Instead, it is a combination of many places, cities and mountains which create the sensation of “Homeland” for Nellsmith. In his world, there are no geographic or political boundaries; “Homeland” is simply what feels like it is to him. “Homeland” is the combination of cities such as Atlanta, New York, Paris, and Columbia together with hills, mountains and cliffs in France as well as in the United States.

“What joins them in my mind is emotional, psychological, and experiential. These motifs represent significant places in my past, my present, and most probably my future.” Says Nellsmith about the multiple locations represented in the show. In describing his method Nellsmith notes that “Simply put, my message depends upon the manipulation of paint and the responses that process invoke in me. I find my way into a painting and, as DeKooning put it, I then have to paint my way back out, even though I feel as if I am never fully released.”

Just like most artists constantly looking for inspiration and the true art and beauty, Nellsmith spent a few weeks traveling in France and Provence following Cezanne’s life and works. Walking on the streets of Paris, which was the homeland of the impressionism and the world capital of 19th Century art, Nellsmith not only found deep connections to the city but also to the sensation of Homeland and to his own roots. The artist’s family can be traced back to France and this last visit woke up this lost connection inside Nellsmith.

He explained the feeling as follows: “I felt at home in Paris, more so than any city that I have experienced-like I was made for it or was made out of it. Drawing in the Bibemus Quarry on the outskirts of Aix en Provence had a mysterious effect on me. Granted, I was there because I was on a sort of pilgrimage to the places that Cezanne had painted, but as I walked among the ochre limestone cliffs that Cezanne had painted more than one hundred years ago, it had a distinct feeling of familiarity to it, as if I already knew it or had experienced it prior. When I returned to my studio on Edisto Beach, I exploded into a series of paintings based on the quarry, like they had been in me all along and it wasn’t an obsessive drive but a compelling love for the quarry. The mystery for me was why should I love it so. I can’t say exactly. Perhaps most of all was its beauty. The stones are the colors of all flesh of all peoples.”

Nellsmith’s new-found connection to France melted with his Southern roots. In his painting titled “La Vierge Marie en Paris” visitors can discover the newly revealed connections between Paris and the United States, the familiar tones he uses in depicting the streets of Paris have the same familiar tone as paintings of cities in the United States. Similar to his previous work, Nellsmith’s style in this exhibit is not strictly impressionist, post-impressionist or abstract but a combination of all. Cityscapes that start as Monet-like quick snapshots of streets often become more abstract canvases, where the selected location is not always recognizable.

White House Drafts Executive Order for Indefinite Detention



by Dafna Linzer
ProPublica

The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials.

The draft order, a version of which was first considered nearly 18 months ago, is expected to be signed by President Obama early in the New Year. The order allows for the possibility that detainees from countries like Yemen might be released if circumstances there change.

But the order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.

Nearly two years after Obama's pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo, more inmates there are formally facing the prospect of lifelong detention and fewer are facing charges than the day Obama was elected.

That is in part because Congress has made it difficult to move detainees to the United States for trial. But it also stems from the president's embrace of indefinite detention and his assertion that the congressional authorization for military force, passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks, allows for such detention.

After taking office, the Obama administration reviewed the detainee population at Guantanamo Bay and chose 48 prisoners for indefinite detention. Officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that number will likely increase in coming months as some detainees are moved from a transfer category to a continued detention category.

If signed by President Obama, the new order will provide added review for detainees designated for long-term detention. The order, which is being drafted jointly by White House staff in the National Security council and the White House counsel, will offer detainees in this category a minimal review every six months and then a more lengthy annual review. Detainees will have access to an attorney, to some evidence against them and the ability to challenge their continued detention.

Prisoners who have been deemed "high-value detainees," including the alleged conspirators of the 2001 attacks, have been designated for prosecution in civilian or military courts.

"It's been clear for a while that the government would need to put in place some sort of periodic review, and that it would want it to improve on the annual review procedures used during the previous administration," said Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School who worked on detainee issues during the Bush administration.

A White House official, who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity, later confirmed that the draft order has not yet been given to the president. The official had few details but said the order “would set up periodic review of the detention status of those detainees who cannot be tried,” in either military commissions or federal courts.

In 2008, Guantanamo detainees won the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention in court. The executive order aims to create an executive branch review which would occur separately from the court review and would weigh the necessity of the detention, rather than its lawfulness, officials said.

"Perhaps the dangerousness of the detainee's country of origin could change, or the group that the detainee is affiliated with could cease to exist," one official explained.

Some detainees from Yemen may be sent home if security conditions there improve. Currently, there is a moratorium on transfers from Guantanamo to Yemen.

The official described the draft order as "an important piece of the government's approach to Guantanamo."

At a speech on Guantanamo in May 2009, Obama said that "a thorough process of periodic review," was needed to ensure that "any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified."

The White House first began work on an Executive Order in the spring of 2009 that was the subject of a joint story by ProPublica and the Washington Post in June 2009. An administration official at the time said the order was under consideration but had not yet been completed. Civil rights groups which oppose indefinite detention came out strongly against the possibility of an executive order.

Weeks later, administration officials said the White House had decided to work with Congress on indefinite detention, rather than through Executive Order. But by the end of 2009, the White House had said it would not support legislation.

Then, in 2010, a government task force on Guantanamo completed a year-long review that placed 48 detainees in long-term detention. In its report, task force members said those detainees would be "subject to periodic Executive Branch review."

Bobby Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas who worked briefly on the administration's detention task force, said an executive order would provide detainees which an additional layer of review. He also said it offered a compromise since an executive order can be withdrawn at anytime.

"The order takes on additional restraints and lasts as long as the president wants. The White House gets just what it wants, no more or less. And, unlike with legislation, the order doesn't have staying power if the next administration doesn’t want it."

Jameel Jaffer, a national security lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, agreed that "more review is better." But he said that an executive order would only "normalize and institutionalize indefinite detention and other policies," that were set in place by the Bush administration.


Correction: This post originally stated that Jameel Jaffer was a national security lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Association. He is actually a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Jim Clyburn's Transition


As I write this, on December 9, the lame duck Democratic caucus in the House rejected the plan proposed by Obama and the Republicans, and framed as a compromise.  A week earlier, it seemed that current Majority Leader Hoyer, and perhaps Speaker Pelosi were going to support the extension of the Bush tax cuts.
At the time, the Majority Whip, South Carolina’s James Clyburn said he would not “budge” on the issue.
I had the opportunity to talk to Clyburn on the phone, the day before the Democrats announced that they would not bring the plan to the floor.
I asked about Obama’s proposed compromise with the Republicans.
“I was born and raised in Sumter and my father’s family comes from Liberia and my mother’s from what is now Gambia and we’ve been in SC since the 1600s. I have much more at stake than many of these people who write letters to the editor. I know what my father and mother sacrificed for this state. The proposal put forward by the President has some good parts. But parts are not good. Unless there is some modification, I will not vote for it. I will not vote for it as it currently is.”
The fact that the House refused the proposal the next day, is a definitive victory for Clyburn. It is perhaps his last great maneuver as Majority Whip. But it also points the way forward and gives us an idea of what we might—or at least hope to—expect from Clyburn in his new Assistant Leader position.
He explained how the new minority number three position came to be.
“For the last four years I’ve been traveling around the country as Majority Whip and I’ve heard people talking about the Democrats taking certain base voters for granted and the Republicans ignoring them, especially the most needy communities. They feel as if they haven’t been listened to. So when we got into this minority position, Pelosi wanted to go back to being Minority Leader, and Hoyer wanted to be Whip and so they said, ‘Let’s let Clyburn go back to Chair,’ which is what I was before. But there is a very defined role for that position running Caucus meetings and it wouldn’t allow me to respond to all of the criticism that I’d heard. So I sat down with the Speaker and said, ‘Look: We ought to pull another chair to the table.’ And I told her what I believed [about speaking for those who feel they have been taken for granted].
“She said that, if I was Caucus Chair—which I was before—especially in the absence of earmarks, we would have a lot to do with appropriations and my special relationship with the President might help me to reach out on some of these issues, to work with him before we ever bring it to the floor for a vote.”
Clyburn explained his response.  “‘Yes, Madame,’ I said. ‘But I am concerned that there is an outside game that we need to be playing to address the concerns of the people.”
Clyburn told me that Pelosi asked him to tell her what kind of position he would like.
“I told her it would have to be Number Three. And it would have to be elected. Assistant Leader is a title already used by the Dems. In the Senate, Dick Durbin’s title is Assistant Leader. It’s not a foreign position to the Dems. So people saying ‘Oh Clyburn made up this position’ is a bunch of poppycock. We already use it in the Senate. I’ll be using it in the House. Somebody needs to look out for the people that have been ignored or forgotten.”
It is extraordinarily rare in the history of the U.S. Congress for new positions to be created. As the first Minority Assistant Leader in the House, Clyburn has the opportunity to create the traditions that could define the role for generations. He gets to set the standard. If Clyburn follows the course he just described—if the Assistant Leader is willing to buck the number 1 and 2 positions and to speak for the ignored and the forgotten— then he may create a lasting legacy. As the Democrats move to the minority position, Clyburn has the opportunity to move from the ranks of good congressmen to one of the greatest.
Isn’t that what anyone who has the bizarre desire to enter congress in the first place should hope for? To be among the greatest; to create venerable traditions; to change the legislative branch for the better?
Clyburn has that opportunity and he seems to be genuinely inspired—on fire even—with the possibility.  He was ready to fight—as he showed when I asked an entirely unrelated question about South Carolina’s greatest Bluesman, Drink Small (If States Rights Gist has the distinction of the worst name in South Carolina history, Drink might have the best). Drink Small wrote a jubilee sort of song about Obama’s election and he dreams of playing it at the White House. There’s an internet campaign trying to bring Drink to the White House. Small is one of Clyburn’s constituents and so I asked the Whip if he knew about Drink or the campaign.
“I know Drink,” Clyburn said. “He’s great. I haven’t heard of this effort but I’d be happy to do it.” He paused.  “But you better tell Drink to get the request in before this tax bill goes to a vote. I have a good relationship with the President now. Who knows what it will be like after I fight him on this?”

Mama Grizzly on the Ĥunt


A Interview with 2012 Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin
by Jaroslav Dampfstain

My exposure of the Haley Administration plot to bury alive all stupid South Carolinian children and secretly replace them with genius Mumbai orphans caused quite the international stir.
Here’s how it all unfolded.  Two days after the interview was released, WikiLeaks published several volumes of logistical material about the Slaughter-of-the-Innocents Palmetto Plot, which Superintendent of Education-Elect Zais had scrawled on a roll of toilet paper while exorcising a predawn colon turtle.   Thus, my visa to Mexico has been denied.  And I can probably expect similar results for my annual March whoring excursion to Hamburg.
So there I was, stuck in this famously broiling hellhole with nowhere to stay, until my old pal Jesus Christ offered me a futon in his Millwood Avenue FRAG.  I shouldn’t complain; I’ve eaten unlimited fish and bread loaves, plus drank copious wine, for nigh on a week.  But sharing an apartment with Christ is no picnic in the park.  The Messiah suffers from sleep apnea and saws serious Lazarus logs in his sleep.  He’s also a potato chip double-dipper—which has forever impacted my interpretation of the Last Supper.
City Paper discovered I was still in town and quickly put me on to the Sarah Palin book-signing event at the Forest Lake Books-a-Million on December 3.  Palin was coming to town to wrap up a 16-city book tour of her latest puerile political publication, America by Heart.
Governor-Elect Haley and Palin are of course political bosom buddies.  Following my interview with the Haley Transition Team, the Palin camp didn’t exactly receive me with open arms.  But I cut a deal which no Teabagger Mama could resist:  15 minutes alone with Jesus Christ in a motel room with a heart-shaped waterbed in return for an interview at the conclusion of her public event.  Jesus of Millwood begrudgingly agreed to do this extra favor for me, but only if I’d do dishes and dump ashtrays for an entire week.  (In case you’re curious, Christ smokes Camels.)
This past Friday night, after Palin had finished signing books, I was escorted to the Books-a-Million children’s section.   A hefty male bookseller sporting a Yankees cap was reading aloud to her from Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm.  I was directed to sit in a little Thomas the Train chair which could barely support my overloaded caboose.

Jaroslav Dampfstain:  Are you a big Amelia Bedelia fan?

Sarah Palin:  Oh, yeah.  Ever since I quit my governor job, I’ve dedicated the end of each day to serious intellectual exercise.  I had no idea there were so many phrases in American that I shouldn’t be taking literally.  That Amelia!

JD:  Indeed.  Is there a particular reason you’ve been grinding it out cerebrally?

SP:  2012, baby.  2012.

JD:  Should we take this to mean that you intend to run for President on the Republican ticket in 2012?

SP:  [giggles]  Oh, this grizzly mama is running, all right.  [She glanced at one of her political handlers, who nodded.]  But our research indicates that too many conservatives don’t like the word “party” anymore.  Ya know, Lucifer likes to throw a good party and all.  So I’m going to run independent, baby!  Like doing the Boston Marathon without a sports bra, baby!  [She popped the top two buttons of her blouse.]  Gotta show Jesus a bit of the goods, you know.

JD:  My guess is the Maker who designed that lovely bosom will be impressed to see the results.  But I think he’s more of a thigh guy, actually.  Candidate Palin, are you by any chance related to Michael Palin?

SP:  I think I have an estranged uncle from Sandpoint named Michael.

JD:  Different Michael.  But speaking of Monty Python, do you have any comment on John Cleese’s comparison of you to a well-trained parrot?

SP:  Not if by that comparison he means I’m a mama parrot.  Have you ever seen a mama parrot defend her chicks?  Grrr.

Books-a-Million bookseller who was until recently reading aloud an Amelia Bedelia book:  Polly wants a President!

SP:  Good one!  You betcha.  Polly wants a President!

JD:  Indeed.  I’m sure you’re delighted to have singlehandedly hand-delivered political neophyte Nikki Haley the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion.  Is it true you’re both Eskimo sisters?  I hear Michael Steele is hung like a horse.

SP:  Actually, my handlers have told me I should call them Innuits.  Cute little buggers.  So, yeah, we’re Innuit sisters, if that’s what you mean.

JD:  Do you—

SP:  Excuse me.  Is “hung like a horse” one of those non-literal phrase thingies?  Because I swear I have never lynched a horse.  [whispers]  I know that term doesn’t go over so well down here.  I mean, I shot one once; thought it was mountain lion; I mean, I didn’t exactly shoot the horse; I shot the park ranger who was riding it; we made sure that clip got cut from our new reality show; not supposed to be shooting park rangers in a national park and all.

JD:  Actually, “hung like a horse” means—um, never mind.  Clearly your mental exercises are paying off.

Bookseller:  Ma’am, I believe he meant that you and Nikki Haley banged the chairman of the Republican Party.

SP:  Yeah, but not at the same time.  Does that mean we can’t be Innuit sisters now?  [The bookseller shook his head.]  Pooh.

JD:  I would like your response to the following:  Were you to become President of the United States, the population of Canada would likely increase by nearly 100 million people overnight.

SP:  Wow, did they just discover offshore oil in Ottawa?

JD:  Seriously, just when we all thought it was impossible to find someone more dunderheaded than George W. Bush, you come along.  You do realize that you are near to driving a spike through Jeffersonian political idealism.

SP:  That’s not a compliment, is it.

[The bookseller shook his head again.]
JD:  Yeah, well, you’ll just have to grin and bear it.  [pun intended]  I still stand between you and 15 minutes of hay with the Son of God.  Next question:  I assume you employed a ghost writer for your book.

SP:  Heavens, no!  Evil spirits bad.  Angels good!

JD:  I can’t take this shit anymore.  If I ever make it back to Hamburg, I’m never leaving.

SP:  Ich bin Hambürger!

JD:  Nice diacritic.  Say, ever heard of a voiceless velar fricative?

SP:  No.  Is that some kind of sex aid?  Say, I liked that fleshlight review, by the way.  Bristol and I are contemplating starting a conservative celebrity fleshlight line.  Ann Coulter.  Michele Bachmann.  Margaret Thatcher.  Why do you ask?

JD:  No reason.  Just something I was toying with for the title of this interview.  Anyway, a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Candidate Palin.  Jesus is ready for you now.

[Palin bears her breasts and strikes a grizzly mama pose.]

SP:  Take me to the Messiah!  Grrr!

[Later that night at the Millwood apartment, Jesus gave me a look that nearly turned me into a pillar of salt.  Turns out someone sabotaged the heart-shaped waterbed at the motel.  I denied having anything to do with it, and don’t think Jesus noticed my fingers were crossed behind my back.  The bed sprang a leak and gave Christ some serious PTS memories of Calvary.  He had to walk on several inches of water for hours, and to make matters worse, the free HBO was down most of the night.
Of course, I was more interested to learn of his encounter with Candidate Palin.  “Oh, her?” Jesus of Millwood shrugged.  “I mentioned something about a camel squeezing through the eye of a needle, and she spent several hours playing with her knitting kit and one of my cigarettes.  Turns out she doesn’t even smoke.  That is one strange pussycat, Jaroslav.  One strange pussycat.”]

Letters To The Reader and Talkback!

Dear Governor-Elect Haley and Stephen “Key a Car” Garcia,
You both live in a state that is the last in everything good and the first in everything bad.  So let’s not let being a local celebrity go to your head.  During her recent election campaign, our future female Luv-Guv allegedly walked out of a locally owned coffee shop, assuming her cup of Joe would be comped.  (That’s a reference to coffee, not Represenative Wilson.)
As to USC’s quarterback, he even more boldly is alleged to have walked out on a booze tab at a locally owned bar.  When confronted by a staff member of the establishment, Garcia is reported to have said, “I don’t pay.”  (Funny, that’s what the Governor-Elect said about her taxes, too.)  Classy!  Anyway, thanks for keeping South Cackalaky the butt of every joke on MSNBC and Comedy Central!
Columbia City Paper

Dear GPS estimated time,
You are like my pot-smoking brother who says he’ll be there in 20 minutes, which I translate to mean at least an hour or however long it takes to find a new pair of semi-stained underwear and stop off at the Paki-mart to buy a large canister of Cheetos.  I do appreciate your programmed ability to say “recalculating destination” at least 30 times per minute--this helps keep me awake on all-night road trips.  But it would be nice if someone had thought to program you to refresh “time to destination” data, too.  At least when my brother reaches his destination, he has some herb and snacks to share and a story about cleaning his briefs with a bottle of purple-flavored Vitamin Water.
Columbia City Paper

Dear Bank Of America Robotic Customer Service Labyrinth,
Admit your defeat.  If I just keep saying “stick a banana up your twat” long enough into the telephone, eventually I get sent to a human named LaTonya.
Columbia City Paper

Dear Holiday Freakout,
“Hi, who is this?”  “Grant.”  “Grant who?”  “You know, Grant.”  “Grant from the seventh grade Grant?”  “Yeah, you remember!”  “Sure I remember.  We dated briefly, until you told Kelly McFadden that you wanted to give me a boner sandwich.”  “Yep, that’s me!”  “Ummm, I’m in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with my husband and four year old.”  “Cool.  Want to have drinks some time?”  Click!
Columbia City Paper


Dear “Don’t Tread On Me” SUV Rear Window Sticker Guy,
Are you really having a tough of a time it in your Escalade?  I bet you even cashed in on the “cash for clunkers” for that 12 MPG blood beast.  By the way, have your taxes gone up in the last decade?  Where were you during eight years of the Bush Administration when Republicans you voted for created wars based on lies?
Now that a Democrat is in office, you scream from the rooftops about documentaries you don’t watch, newspapers that you don’t read, all the while ignoring the fact that those wars you supported have a price tag of over a trillion dollars.
The irony is that during the Clinton Administration, you screamed “wag the dog!” when Bill Clinton bombed Al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan.
Don’t kid yourself:  “Don’t tread on me” should be the new slogan for Alzheimer’s Disease.  I hope you get run over by an asphalt grader.
Columbia City Paper

Dear Mr. Blake:

For several years, I have been engaged in a daily war of words with any of my fellow Columbia citizens who dare stand opposed to the honorable mission of City Paper—until your most recent issue, that is.
Despite all your efforts to expose corruption in our capitol city, from our closeted gay state leaders who rub themselves in the lard of political pork to the wily Five Points Association crooks who pee green from the illicit profits of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, you have lost me permanently as a faithful admirer.
Why, you might ask?  Because you have sullied the good name of my favorite male sex aid!
In your recent review of the Fleshlight, “How I fell in love with my night light,” Mr. Dook and Mr. Cutchins write:
“Fucking comes innately, if you know what I mean.  I popped in the batteries and some classic porn: ‘Peter North slams Nina Hartley.’  Several hours later, when I had advanced to ‘Big Hand, Red Butt Bulgaria, Volume XIX,’ I found myself still sweatily banging the hell out of a black flashlight with a twat for a tip.”
While fucking may indeed come innately to your staff writers, and while in fact “Big Hand, Red Butt Bulgaria, Volume XIX” is a classic audiovisual stimulant for masturbation, I have a feeling neither of these writers are actually amongst the two and a half million proud who actually own and use Fleshlights.  How do I know this?!  Because Fleshlights don’t take batteries!
I should know.  I am the owner of by far the finest Fleshlight collection in the Palmetto Spandex Club.  Just how deep runs my experience and expertise?  I was the first patron to purchase the Eva Angelina Fleshlight model.  (And Interactive Life Forms, the company which produces Fleshlight, responded immediately to my complaint that the signature texture of the Angelina model was a tad too stubbly; as compensation, they invited me to be one of only four testers of the same proto-Lupe Fuentes model.  Other than the sensation of sloppy seconds, it was one of the finest masturbatory moments of my life.)  At any rate, if anyone knows that Fleshlights do NOT require batteries, it is I!  And for what it’s worth, the homosexual equivalent Fleshjack doesn’t take batteries, either—although I do not speak from experience regarding that particular product.  (If you publish this rant, I wouldn’t my mother to question my heterosexuality.)
Further, I am agog that your writers would commit an abomination of journalistic integrity and suggest that the proud makers of the world’s most innovative sex instrument would include a feminine hygiene product in said product’s pleasure orifice.  Instead of a tampon, your writers may have experienced a rod that is inserted at the factory to maintain the product’s form.
That is, if they experienced anything at all!  No, as surely as one can say “phthalate-free polymers,” I’m pretty damned sure your writers made that article up.  Hell, I bet your rag didn’t even really interview the Haley Transition Team, either.
Keep your dirty minds away from my groin!
Sincerely,

Fisher A. Sasstodé

South Carolina flushes its future away



[caption id="attachment_866" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="By Will Moredock"][/caption]

If South Carolina is famous for anything, it is the willingness to draw a line in the sand, to  tell the world “enough is enough,” to push back when we feel outsiders impinging upon our sovereignty. We stood up to the Lord’s Proprietors in 1718. We put the British out in 1776 – and when they captured Charleston in 1780, we put them out again! And I don’t have to remind you what happened in 1860. We have demonstrated that we will face any foe, pay any price to defend our state’s honor. Honor means a lot to South Carolinians.
But for all our pugnacity in dealing with outsiders, we have shown a sad lack of courage in dealing with our own inner demons – and there are many.
Right now this state faces a budget crisis of historic proportions. It is not unreasonable to say that the way we live now and for generations to come is at stake. As we go into the third year of economic decline, the state is facing an $800 million budget shortfall. And that is on top of nearly $2 billion in budget cuts over the last two years.
According to the Associated Press, the bulk of the cutting will come to those programs that aid the poor, the young, the elderly.
Education? Our lawmakers are talking about cutting 10 days out of the school year in a state that already has one of the lowest performing school systems in the nation. So much for years of bold talk about making South Carolina’s schools competitive.
Healthcare? The state’s Medicaid system, which provides for the poor and indigent, faces a $228 million deficit.
Nourishment? The Department of Social Services has cut staff by 14 percent, even as food stamp demand is up 51 percent and demand for temporary financial assistance is up 44 percent.
Environmental quality? The Department of Health and Environmental Control no longer has the manpower to adequately monitor for mercury and PCBs in public waterways.
Make no mistake: the budget crisis – and the way our leaders have chosen to face it – represents a major retreat from the challenges that face our state. A retreat from education standards. A retreat from a clean and safe environment.  A retreat from the dream of adequate food and medical care for the most vulnerable. A retreat from our dreams of becoming a socially and economically developed state,  competitive with other states in something other than football and baseball.
This budget represents a withdrawal, a turning in upon ourselves, a shrinking of our hopes and aspirations. We are burning the bulkheads to roast our marshmallows, because without a healthy, educated population, we do not have the raw material for development.
Will outside investors come here to build their factories and hire our people, as Republicans are so fond of saying? Sure, they will go anywhere with low wages and environmental standards. Just ask  a Mexican or Malaysian. They will build their factories here alright. They import their skilled workers, live in gated communities, send their children to private schools, have their private security force, maybe even their private water, sewer and electric service. And they will hire us to mow their lawns and cook their meals, because we will not be qualified to do anything else. And those who are old enough may remember that things used to be different, there used to be hope, used to be talk of better schools, better jobs, better days to come.  And they may remember that in the Great Recession of the early 21st century, our leaders surrendered to fear and greed.
They may remember that we did not draw a line in the sand. We did not say we will stand up, we will do whatever it takes to save our state, or environment, our way of life. We did not say it was a matter of honor that we protect and educate our young, that we care for our most vulnerable.
It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Our leaders might ask us – especially the most prosperous among us – to reach a little deeper in our pockets to support the services and agencies that keep this state functioning as a modern society. But in this crisis, Gov.-elect Nikki Haley promises to do away with corporate income taxes.
Of course, Republicans will argue that lower taxes stimulate growth. But in a state with some of the lowest taxes in the nation, why is our economy in the toilet? Today, with the lowest federal taxes in 60 years, why is the nation’s economy going down the crapper?
And if you ask a GOPer what that whooshing noise is, he would probably tell you it’s the sound of progress and prosperity sweeping us forward. He would be wrong.
talkback@columbiacitypaper.com

Friday, December 24, 2010

Regional Briefs

AIKEN
Manhunt continues for Wal-Mart batteries thieves

Aiken police continue to search for an Aiken County man and his unidentified accomplice following their alleged theft of 20 packs of batteries from an area Wal-Mart.
Patrick Weber, 33, and his as yet unidentified accomplice are accused of stuffing the batteries into their pockets and leaving the store. After security personnel were unable to detain Weber and his partner, a responding police officer turned on his blue lights and attempted to pull over Weber’s fleeing vehicle as it left the scene. Weber allegedly led the officer on a brief high-speed chase, before the officer backed off.
At press time, City Paper has been unable to verify the street value of a pack of Duracell or Energizer batteries or if a black market for them actually exists. Wal-Mart reportedly gave the 20 stolen packs a retail value of around $100.

CHARLESTON
Kid recovering after being “jumped out” of middle school candy syndicate

Mount Pleasant police were called to an area middle school after a kid reported being beaten for attempting to leave an underground candy syndicate at the school.
According to the Charleston Post and Courier, the boy and three others created a “candy gang” that would acquire candy from the ringleader’s mother, sell it to other students, and then return the profits to the ringleader. When the boy told fellow gang members of his intention to leave, the gang reportedly beat him up in a school rest room
Two of the assailants have been charged with lynching.

Moped driver to police: I’m not drunk, just obese
According to a Mount Pleasant police report, a man who was stopped by police for driving a moped erratically said he couldn’t submit to a field sobriety test because he was a “fat (expletive).”
Police reportedly pulled the moped over at around 2 a.m. after witnessing the 49-year-old driver riding in the median and swerving into oncoming lanes. After pulling the man over and determining his alleged drunkenness, the officers arrested him on charges of driving under the influence, second offense.

CHARLOTTE
On-duty sexual assaults catch up with police officer

A former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer was sentenced to two years in prison for sexually assaulting six women while on duty. Victims and others associated with the case have said the sentence is too light for the crimes. According to a report by the Charlotte Observer, Marcus Jackson, 26, could be out of jail in only a year because he’ll get credit for the 344 days spent in jail during the trial period.
Jackson was fired from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department last year after two women reported being sexually assaulted by him during traffic stops. One of the victims, a 17-year-old girl, said Jackson told her he wouldn’t write her a traffic citation in exchange for oral sex. During the trial, Assistant District Attorney Samantha Pendergrass told the judge that Jackson’s DNA was found on the teen’s jacket hood and sleeves.
One of Jackson’s victims, a 38-year-old Mexican woman, said the officer fondled her on two separate occasions. She wasn’t satisfied with the sentence, either.
“I don’t feel good,” she told the Observer. “It’s not enough time for what he did.”
Charlotte Police Chief, Rodney Monroe, agreed. “Twenty years might have not been enough,” he said.

FORT MILL
Elderly Wal-Mart greeter accused of assaulting customer with walker

TEGA CAY –A Fort Mill man told Tega Cay police that a Wal-Mart greeter assaulted him with a walker during the Black Friday shopping weekend.
According to a police report, the 74-year-old greeter asked to see the customer’s receipt as he left the store. When the 67-year-old customer refused to show his receipt, citing that his purchases had already been bagged, the greeter reportedly became agitated. The greeter then allegedly shoved the man into a nearby door with a walker.
After viewing video surveillance footage of the incident, police determined that the greeter used the walker to shove the shopping cart into the door, involving the customer by proxy. The greeter was not charged in the incident.

GREENVILLE
Area canine recovering after being trapped in burning doghouse

Greenville police have arrested a man they say set fire to a doghouse after trapping a dog inside.
Issac Anderson, 52, was charged with ill treatment of animals and third degree arson. Authorities said someone put a cinder block around the dog’s neck to keep it from escaping after the doghouse was set on fire.
The dog, Pookie, survived the fire and is being treated for burns and other injuries at an area veterinarian’s office.
Anderson remains in custody on a $5,000 bond.

talkback@columbiacitypaper.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

http://www.columbiacitypaper.com/2009/12/23/images-of-christmas/

CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

Peace and blessings.  Hope you have been good out there.  Congrats to Columbia City Paper for being one of the truly funky papers around.  Hope your holiday music shopping is kicking off to a good start.  Time has been breezing by; 2011 is knocking at your doors, but the music keeps rolling on. Last issue we covered a few treats to fill your stockings this holiday season.  Today we’ll delve a little deeper into some of the best Christmas songs ever released.  Let’s get it.

CHRISTMAS CLASSICS (download today in no particular order)!!!

Temptations – Silent Night

Charles Brown – Please Come Home for Christmas

Donny Hathaway – This Christmas

The Emotions – What the lonely do at Christmas

Jackson 5 – Santa Claus is coming to Town

Carla Thomas – Gee Whiz it’s Christmas

Charles Brown – Merry Christmas Baby

Otis Redding – White Christmas

Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song

O’Jays – Have Yourself a Merry Christmas

Al Green – I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Luther Vandross – May Christmas Bring You Joy

Kurtis Blow – Christmas Rap

Boyz II Men – Let It Snow

TLC – Sleigh Ride

Kelly Price & Mary Mary – In Love At Christmas

Isley Brothers – Special Gift

Jose’ Feliciano – Feliz Navidad

Chipmunks – Christmas Don’t be late

Bing Crosby – White Christmas

Frank Sinatra – Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas

Bobby Helms – Jingle Bell Rock

Gene Autry – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick

Manheim Steamroller – Away In A Manger

Ray Charles & Betty Carter – Baby It’s Cold Outside

Andy Williams – It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Johnny Mathis – It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run

Run DMC – Christmas In Hollis

WORDS OF WISDOM

Hope your holidays provide you with all of the joy, love, gifts, and great food you can handle.  Catch you next issue with the 2010 Year End Vocal Booth Wrap-Up.  Enjoy all the time you are given!!!

DJ KINGPIN-Villain of Vinyl (kingpinvillianofvinyl@gmail.com)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hip Hop Holiday Season Treat List

Peace and blessings.  Hope you have been good out there.  Congrats to Kanye West & Nicki Minaj for truly kicking off the holiday music shopping season; hope you are ready to listen because your IPod playlist really needs help.  Time has been breezing by; 2010 is almost coming to a close, but the music keeps rolling on. Here is a list of a few treats to fill your stockings this holiday season.  Let’s get it.

HOLIDAY SEASON TREAT LIST
Redman- Reggie
Remedy -It All Comes Down To This [Digital Release]
Mr. Brady- Labor Of Love [Physical Release]
Madlib- Medicine Show No. 11: Low Budget High Fi Music
Large The Professor & Neek The Exotic- Exotic Species
DJ Premier- Get Used To Us
Bow Wow- Who Is Shad Moss?
Sheek Louch- Donny G: Don Gorilla
T.I. - No Mercy
Lil Keke- Standing Ovation
The Jacka- Flight Risk
Pleasure P- Suppertime
Diddy- Last Train To Paris
Lone Ninja- Fatal Peril
Ghostface Killah- The Apollo Kids
Deacon The Villain & Sheisty Khrist- Niggaz With Latitude (N.W.L.) [Physical Release]
Tank- Now Or Never
Drake- Thank Me Later [Deluxe Edition]
Ciara- Basic Instinct
Dru Down- Chronicles Of A Pimp
Jamie Foxx- Best Night Of My Life
Brand Nubian- Enter The Dubstep Volume 2
David Banner & 9th Wonder- Death of a Popstar
Nas- The Lost Tapes Vol.2
Nipsey Hussle- South Central State of Mind
Messy Marv- All Gas No Breaks OST
9th Wonder- 9th’s Opus: It's A Wonderful World Music Group Volume 1
Sunspot Jonz- Galaxy Of Dreams
Rye Rye- Go! Pop! Bang!
Ryu Black- Perfect Heaven: The Ryu Black Musical
The Jacka- Flight Risk
Turf Talk- Turk Sinatra
Yo Gotti- Live From The Kitchen
N*E*R*D- The Best Of N*E*R*D
Ras Kass & DJ Rhettmatic- A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Spittin) [Physical R
Big Hutch- Only God Can Judge Me
Andre Nickatina & The Jacka- My Middle Name Is Crime
Keak Da Sneak, P.S.D. Tha Drivah & Messy Marv- Da Bidness Pt. 2
Cam'ron & The U.N. - Gunz N' Butta
Slaughterhouse- Slaughterhouse: The EP
Corinne Bailey Rae- The Love EP
Hell Rell & J.R. Writer- Gun Clap
Layzie Bone- Thug Luv
Sam Sneed- Street Scholars
Talib Kweli- Gutter Rainbows [Digital Release]
WORDS OF WISDOM

Enjoy all the time you are given!!!

DJ KINGPIN-Villain of Vinyl (kingpinvillianofvinyl@gmail.com)

Candidates Against Government Spending Had Federal Contracts, Tax Breaks

By Kimberly Leonard, The Huffington Post Investigative Fund, and Aaron Mehta, The Center for Public Integrity
In his quest for West Virginia’s Senate seat, Republican John Raese frequently attacks “professional politicians’ out-of-control spending spree” as he promises voters that he’ll rein in the federal budget.
What the businessman-turned-politician leaves unspoken is that his own company has benefited from taxpayer spending. Greer Industries Inc. sold $2.7 million of products to the federal government and $29 million in raw materials to the state in the last five years.
Raese is among roughly two dozen Republican and Democratic candidates in this fall’s congressional elections who attack federal largess but have benefited from it through companies, employers or relatives who got contracts, grants or tax breaks, the Center for Public Integrity and the Huffington Post Investigative Fund have found.
Discrepancies between statement and deed, of course, are nothing new in politics. Because candidates assume that the public loathes excess federal spending, they rail against it. But the ubiquity of federal largess means there’s so much money out there, even those who hate it seem to benefit from it.
“Despite red-faced anger about government, it plays an increasingly important role in the lives of all Americans,” noted Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor. “A country that is now increasingly dependent on government is now increasingly hostile to government.”
The most common target of criticism has been the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Passed in February 2009, the stimulus promised to revitalize the economy by sending $787 billion around the country to create jobs and spur economic activity. Twenty-one months later, the role of government spending — and especially the stimulus — has become a flashpoint in elections around the country.
Stimulus in Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky
In Appleton, Wis., Republican House candidate Reid Ribble bashed the stimulus even though a construction firm owned by members of his family won a contract for $130,000 in stimulus funds to repair the roof of a local elementary school, the candidate’s nephew and new owner of the company, Troy Ribble, confirmed.
Democrats critical of stimulus program effectiveness also had family members who received benefits. In Missouri, Senate candidate Robin Carnahan has called for a halt to expanded stimulus spending proposed by President Barack Obama. But her opponent points out that a company owned by Carnahan’s brother, Wind Capital Group, received $107 million in stimulus funds last year. Carnahan’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
In some races, the discrepancy has drawn attention. The operator of a restaurant owned by the family of Rob Portman, the GOP Senate candidate in Ohio, had requested tax credits for a historic restaurant and hotel Portman’s family owns. Portman’s campaign said that the request for aid was later withdrawn.
In Washington state, Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi owns a share of a minor-league baseball team; state government tax breaks have supported construction at the stadium where the team plays. A spokeswoman for Rossi said the stadium received the money, not the team itself.
Controversy has also beset Democrat Ben Chandler, who represents the 6th district of Kentucky.
Chandler came under fire last year when it was revealed that the state hired his wife, at a salary paying nearly $80,000 a year, to help administer stimulus funds for Kentucky transportation projects.  Now in a tough re-election race, Ben Chandler’s ads emphasize his independence and seldom identify him as a Democrat. His campaign did not respond to requests for comment, but Chandler has previously said he had nothing to do with his wife’s hiring.
While hostility toward Washington is the hallmark of this election season, government “is still where Americans look in times of a crisis,” whether it’s an oil spill in the gulf, a bank failure or a broader economic crisis, says the University of Minnesota’s Jacobs.
Second Thoughts by Auto Dealers
Other candidates say that at the time their private firms took government money, they thought the initiatives might help the struggling economy and decided only later that the programs had been a mistake.
Republican businessman Tom Ganley, running a well-funded campaign for Ohio’s 13th District, south of Cleveland, is one of several auto dealers seeking congressional seats who now denounce the “cash for clunkers” program but earlier took advantage of part of it.
Before he ran for Congress, Ganley’s auto dealership received almost $3.7 million in “cash for clunkers” funds. He was initially in favor of the program, but later came out against it. Asked about the switch during the campaign he said, “Initially the program looked to be a success. … But the next few months showed we were wrong,” as sales dropped and the industry continued to struggle.
What was learned from cash for clunkers is that “we cannot rely on big government to fix the private sector,” Ganley said.
In southern Virginia, House candidate Scott Rigell, who has decried the stimulus and other government spending, participated in the program with his auto dealerships netting $568,500 for 137 sales, according to data from the Transportation Department.
Rigell said his company and its 240-person staff would have been at risk if he had not participated in the clunkers program. Customers would have sought business elsewhere, cutting company revenue and putting employees at risk, he said. “I resent the government for putting our family business in that position,” Rigell said, adding that he eliminated his own pay in December 2008 to avoid layoffs.
The situation was even more dire for Jim Renacci, a Republican candidate who owned Renacci-Doraty Chevrolet in Wadsworth, Ohio. Though his business received $168,500 for 39 transactions under the clunkers program, according to the Transportation Department, his dealership was eliminated by General Motors earlier this year as part of a government-mandated restructuring. Forty employees lost their jobs.

State Film Tax Credits
In Connecticut, Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon has also faced criticism. She is running a campaign tirade against big government with ads blasting “reckless spending, bloated bureaucracy and … unthinkable debt.”
But in 2009, McMahon’s high-profile company, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., reaped $9.8 million in state film tax credits from the two previous years. This year, the company took $5 million in state infrastructure tax credits. McMahon says that the company has been run solely by her husband since she stepped down as CEO in September 2009 to run for office. In any case, she says that the publicly traded company had a responsibility to shareholders to seek the credits.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Keeping it up in a downturn economy

By Dorie Hook


During the Great Recession, many of us cannot afford to shell out $45 bucks for a Fleshlight at Nancy’s Nook—or $10 for a private massager at CVS.  (Heck, when I went to Walgreen’s to get my $25 flu shot, I couldn’t even get the nurse to throw in a blowjob.) So for those of us who don’t fall into the upper echelons of the Bush-era tax cuts, here are some everyday household items that can help stimulate more than just the economy. [Editor’s warning:  We removed an entry from this article that suggested the reader stick his or her genitalia in the toaster.  Thus, we cannot be assured that all of these suggestions are in fact not hazardous to your health.  Apologies to our intern Matt.]


Let’s begin our titillating tour in “el bano”.  Oddly, the room that is most often used as a masturbatory haven is often overlooked for its autoerotic instrument possibilities. For instance, your spouse’s fragrant bath candles aren’t necessarily the innocent aromatherapy tapirs they appear to be.  They can also be used as sinister, scintillating stimulants.  A few drops of hot wax placed beginning at your navel and progressively headed toward your upper pubes will incite your stroke rate madly, thus proving that, indeed, one’s right and left hand should never know what they other is up to.  (However, avoid the potpourri basket at all costs!  The last thing you want is for your junk to come off smelling like Pacific Northwest conifer.  And there is nothing worse than trying to pick acorn caps out of your glans--especially if you’re uncircumcised.) Have you ever taken a second look at little Billy’s electric Spiderman toothbrush?  Well, don’t!  Before you spin your own sticky Spidey vibratory web, swab the brush and run a germ culture for about a week.  Talk about the Green Goblin!  Unless you want to spend the rest of your days rubbing little Elvis with a bleach-soaked Brillo pad, I advise you turn your sex-aid attention to elsewhere on the sink.


Think twice before throwing away your roommate’s hair bands which she leaves on the mildewed sink counter every morning.  Hair bands make cost-effective cockrings, and, moreover, generally come with a few of your roommate’s hairs already wrapped inside them to incite your fantasy further.  Even better, next time you see her wearing her orange bands at the tip of her French braid, you can think to yourself, “Yeah, I’ve been there.” As to use, secure the hair band at the bottom of your organic bottle rocket.  Tease upwards, like sands through the hourglass, “as these are the veins in our thighs.”  It is at the discretion of the user whether or not to wrap the crown jewels, too.  Feel free to experiment with different tensions, as if your bollocks were on their third tour in Afghanistan and contemplating a stint in Iraq with Blackwater.  Try placing one band on just the gonads, or execute a figure eight, trapping your sack like a bulldog caught in a car door. Okay, on to bigger and better.  Look up, Dick.  Up, up, up.  Like an enigmatic philosopher, I beg you “consider the shower ring.”  A close look may reveal one or two rings missing due to those who underestimated their own girth, thus cracking the oval like a dolphin’s nose in a six-pack.  Carefully strap one of these bull nose rings on, but don’t panic if, when you don this magic plastic ring on your one-eyed yogurt chucker, you suddenly turn invisible and start wandering the crawl space of your home muttering, “My Precious.” Now that your Frankenfuter is trapped in a Chinese plastic penis puzzle, look around and find a bar of Dove soap and grandma’s ivory hairbrush.  Yes, the one with the soft bristles.  [Editor’s note:  Do not use grandpa’s wire brush!  Again, our intern, Matt.]  We shouldn’t have to explain too much here, other than to say soap is a natural lubricant and the backside of an ivory hairbrush just might be the prostate-tickling temptation you’ve been missing ever since your parents withdrew you from the Boy Scouts without your knowing why.


Finally, we’ve all read the occasional headline about the “that guy” who ended up in the emergency room with a Hoover attachment stuck to his purple pork sword.  Here’s a twist on that old onanistic standby that will help you avoid the emergency room:  Take a paper towel roll—not empty, brand new.  (I use Brawny, because the packaging is a wee on the homoerotic side.  However, I would NOT recommend using Charmin, because the baby on the package leaves you feeling self-conscious; moreover, it’s toilet paper, so the roll is shorter.  Both of these factors generally lead to E.D.)  Any-whoo, simply stick your Twinkie in one end and then stick the vacuum attachment to the other end.  Voila!  A cocksure suction session which won’t cost you a dime of health care co-pay! Oh, I almost forgot.  For the female reader seeking cheap sex aid advice that you won’t find in Good Housekeeping, I recommend you fill up the tub, grab the aforementioned Spiderman toothbrush, get your motor running like Danika Patrick at a vibrator party, then crawl forward toward the spigot and form your legs into a peace sign “V” positioned directly under the dripping tap and allow your clit to succumb to Chinese water torture until you ‘Abu-Ghraib’ the side of the tub and your toes curl in on themselves and fall like Building Number Seven.  While you scream in orgasmic ecstasy, add a couple of decibels while realizing that all of this pleasure came with a zero price tag.  It was all just two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. Next issue, I’ll discuss “that guy” who squeezed half a pet store into a Coke bottle and stuck it up his mangina--plus the fine difference between Pepsi, Coke and Virgin Cola products.  I’ll also review which pet stores don’t check the sex offender website upon your purchase of small rodents and reptiles. And, as always, boys and girls, just remember...the expression busting a nut didn’t just come from patrons at Cromer’s Party Store.


talkback@columbiacitypaper.com

Friday, December 10, 2010

Live Music Dec 17-Jan 8

Friday December 17

The House Five Points
Cletus Baltimore w/ Pinna

New Brookland Tavern
Wretched
Your Chance To Die
Diavolo
Diary Of The Dead
Divulgence

Utopia
Dirty Lowdown Acoustic

The White Mule
Playing For the Cure with Charles Riley, Nikki Lee, David Reed, and More

Saturday December 18

Art Bar
The Bare Knuckle Champions, Whiskey Tango Revue, Tom Hall & The Plowboys

The House Five Points
Isabelle’s Gift w Death Valley Driver & Face Down

New Brookland Tavern
Deepfield
Obraskai
Decadence

Utopia
Total Denial

The White Mule
Randell Bramblett (early show)
10th Annual Southeast tour w/ Clay Ross (late show)

Sunday December 19

New Brookland Tavern
In Regret
The Running List
Slam
Hivemind
Do your Worst

Monday December 20

The House Five Points
The Young Maths

New Brookland Tavern Acoustic Open Mic

Tuesday December 21
New Brookland Tavern Sun-Dried Vibes
Deleveled
Tyler Boone
The Awake

Wednesday December 22

The House Five Points
Timshel, Aloud, The Noise

New Brookland Tavern
NBT’s Christmas Party
$20 Cover / Open Bar

Utopia
Big Dixie

Thursday December 23

New Brookland Tavern
Soma
Akronim
No Exit

Utopia
Open Mic Night w Keith Bates

Wednesday December 29

Utopia
Open Mic Night w Brett Mello

Friday December 31

The House Five Points
Villanova

New Brookland Tavern NBT’s New Years Cover Show w/:Tell All Your Friends as Taking Back Sunday

The White Mule
John Wesley Satterfield w/ The Casual Kings

Sunday January 2

Bill’s Music Shop & Pickin’ Parlor
Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys

Saturday January 8

Art Bar
Forces of a Street, Bradley David & The Getaway, Funky Junky Band

The Last Relapse

The Last Relapse
Pan
Immundo
Holy Mountain

The Last Relapse is a band hailing from Atlanta, GA.  They are in the midst of a Southeastern tour and making a stop in Columbia.  They are an indie rock with an etheral, dream pop sound....I dunno maybe if Modest Mouse smoked a bunch of opium it would sound similar?  Pan is a post-rock instrumental band from Columbia...if you are a fan of Pelican (which is more post-metal meets post-rock band) then you should dig Pan.  Should be a good show, you're getting money's worth with 4 bands, and it's a venue you might not have been to before!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fifty Years Later



[caption id="attachment_866" align="alignleft" width="169" caption="By Will Moredock"][/caption]

What has S.C. learned since the Civil War centennial

I remember the Civil War centennial. I was a mere lad at the time, but images remain. There was enthusiasm throughout the country, but nowhere more than in South Carolina, where it all began.
As historian Robert Cook has written in his book, Troubled Commemoration: The American Civil War Centennial, 1961-1965, the commemoration nearly collapsed out of poor leadership and misguided enthusiasm. But the greatest threat, of course, was that it coincided with the infancy of the civil rights movement and it was simply impossible to reconcile the commemoration and the movement.
Cook writes: “The centennial was built on a racially exclusive interpretation of the Civil War era. This interpretation denied agency to blacks and downplayed the significance of those events, notably emancipation and Lincoln’s use of African American troops.”
Throughout the segregated South of 1961-1965, local commemoration groups used the event to galvanize white resistance to desegregation. That was never more true than in this state, where the General Assembly raised the Confederate flag atop the Statehouse dome in 1961. Legislators said at the time that it was part of the Civil War commemoration. But that commemoration ended in 1965, and the flag remained. It did not come down until 2000, and then only after a bitter dispute within the state which drew nationwide ridicule and brought out the worst elements among us. In 2000, the passions and symbols of the Civil War still had the power to divide.
That was even more true in 1961. In April of that year, the Civil War Centennial Commission held its national meeting at the Francis Marion Hotel, in Charleston. A member of the New Jersey delegation was a black woman who had been appointed to the job for the specific purpose of catching the Holy City at its worst behavior. Her presence caught the town and the conference off guard.
As expected, the Francis Marion refused to accommodate the black delegate. The NAACP and the media jumped in and an obscure commission meeting became a national incident.
The issue was kicked all the way up to the White House, where President John F. Kennedy's staff engineered a compromise, moving the meeting from the Francis Marion Hotel to the desegregated Charleston Navy Yard. In another predictable turn, a rump of southern delegates seceded from the commission and held their own meeting a few blocks down King Street at the Fort Sumter Hotel.
Now here we are, 50 years later, and days away from the 150th  anniversary of South Carolina's secession, on Dec. 20, 1860. There seems to be little national interest in the commemoration  of that event or the war which saved the Union, ended slavery and defined the American nation.  But in Charleston the interest is intense and building. The     question is, what form will that interest take?
In the last two weeks we have gotten a glimpse of what the next four years may hold. On Dec. 3-4, the Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie Historical Trust, in conjunction with the Lowcountry Sesquicentennial Commission, presented Secession and Legacy, a series of six lectures by a group of distinguished scholars, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Neely. The six offered a fascinating look at the politics and personalities, the calculations and miscalculations which culminated in secession; and the ways Americans have interpreted that fateful decision over the last 150 years.
It is part of a four-year program of observance and commemoration that will look at the Civil War from the northern, southern and black points of view, according to Robert Rosen, chairman of the Historical Trust. That by itself represents an important breakthrough. Fifty years ago there was no black point of view. Clearly, some would like to keep it that way.
On the day this prestigious colloquium kicked off, the Post and Courier reported that the Sons of Confederate Veterans had their own plans for the sesquicentennial, namely, a Secession Ball to be held on the night of Dec. 20. The evening would include a play highlighting important moments from the signing of the Ordinance of Secession.
A spokesman for the SCV called the secession movement in South Carolina “a demonstration of freedom.” He denied that secession had anything to do with slavery.   Presumably, the evening's dramaturgy will have no mention of the Declaration of Immediate Causes, in which the signers of the Ordinance of Secession state that their reason for leaving the Union was the defense of slavery.
The NAACP declares that it will demonstrate against the Secession Ball at Gaillard Auditorium. For all the progress we have made in the last 50 years – and we have made a lot – there is still a widespread ignorance of history and a willingness to repeat it. And some people still think of the Civil War commemoration as an opportunity to divide and antagonize people.

A Tale of Two Cities

Confederate submarines affect people in strange ways

[caption id="attachment_866" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="By Will Moredock"][/caption]

Mobile, Ala. -- I am hardly the first to point out the similarities between Charleston and Mobile. Both are deep southern coastal towns, old and proud, full of history, live oaks and grand houses. And they have something else in common: the CSS Hunley.
Yes, you probably know the Confederate submarine was built in Mobile, then brought by rail to Charleston. There it had a short, ill-starred career before sinking a Union ship and disappearing mysteriously beneath the waves off Charleston Harbor. And you might have assumed that once it left Mobile, it was out of sight and out of mind. Like me, you would be wrong.
The City on the Gulf thinks of itself as the birthplace of submarine warfare. Not only was the Hunley built here, but also Pioneer II, an earlier model submarine. Pioneer II is still here, somewhere on the bottom of Mobile Bay.
In fact, the Hunley was first launched here, at the foot of Theater Street, in May 1863. But the owners thought she would have better hunting in Charleston Harbor, and so packed her off to the Holy City. Mobile still grieves the loss.
Starting with the discovery of the little sub in the Charleston mud in 1995; through the arduous task of raising her to the surface; excavating her interior; recovering the human remains; and preserving the craft, Mobile followed every step of the story on the pages of the Press-Register. Many of those stories bore the byline of Charleston AP correspondent Bruce Smith. On that day in August 2000, when the Hunley was hoisted out of the ocean, the Press-Register sent its own reporter to Charleston for the story.
The state of Alabama dispatched its chief medical examiner to Charleston to conduct post mortems on the nine crew members, since they were residents of the state. Dr. James Downs told the Press-Register he would “complete post mortem examinations” with an open mind, not assuming that drowning was the cause of death.
In truth, Mobile's fascination with the Hunley – bordering on obsession – rivals that of Charleston. Not only does Mobile claim the Hunley as its own; it claims the crew, as well, something Charleston cannot do.  Many of the men who died on the three occasions the sub sank in Charleston Harbor, had Mobile ties, including it's chief investor and namesake, Horace L. Hunley.
Another was Lt. George Dixon, of the 21st Alabama Infantry, commander on the submarine's last mission, in February 1864. Legend has it that Dixon's sweetheart, Queenie Bennett of Mobile, gave him a $20 gold coin to carry as a good luck charm before his regiment marched out of the city. At the battle of Shiloh, a minie ball struck him in the left thigh, but the coin absorbed much of the impact, saving his leg. He carried the caved-in coin with him for the rest of his short life. Archaeologists found it with his remains inside the Hunley, seeming to confirm this romantic and improbable tale.
I never heard the story of Queenie Bennett and the gold coin until the Hunley was raised and archaeologists started digging through the silt and mud. But Mobilians have been writing and telling this story for generations. After all, it was about them.
Mobile has been memorializing the Hunley and its crew longer than Charleston. There are two stone monuments in Mobile's Magnolia Cemetery to the three crews who died aboard the sub.
There is an historic marker on Water Street in downtown Mobile, observing the former site of the Hunley Building, the machine shop where the craft was built in 1862. A local artist recently completed a dramatic and chilling mural depicting the inside of the Hunley and the faces of its crew as they awaited a slow death on that last fateful mission. It will go in the Maritime Museum, now under construction, along with a reconstruction of the Hunley Building. And how do you like that Hunley replica on grounds of the Charleston Museum, on Meeting Street? Well, there's a Hunley replica, just as nice as ours, on the grounds of the Mobile Museum.
This city rivalry – if you want to call it that – almost got out of hand after the sub was first located in the 1990s. Some Mobilians thought that they had a legal claim to it and wanted to bring it “back home.” As it turns out, possession really is nine-tenths of the law; the issue has long since been resolved in Charleston's favor.
Perhaps the one thing that sets Charleston apart from Mobile in all things Hunley is Sen. Glenn McConnell: politician, Confederate reenacter, Hunley champion, general embarrassment. Glenn, you're a piece of work. Mobile has nothing to compare.

A Tale of Two Cities

Confederate submarines affect people in strange ways

Mobile, Ala. -- I am hardly the first to point out the similarities between Charleston and Mobile. Both are deep southern coastal towns, old and proud, full of history, live oaks and grand houses. And they have something else in common: the CSS Hunley.
Yes, you probably know the Confederate submarine was built in Mobile, then brought by rail to Charleston. There it had a short, ill-starred career before sinking a Union ship and disappearing mysteriously beneath the waves off Charleston Harbor. And you might have assumed that once it left Mobile, it was out of sight and out of mind. Like me, you would be wrong.
The City on the Gulf thinks of itself as the birthplace of submarine warfare. Not only was the Hunley built here, but also Pioneer II, an earlier model submarine. Pioneer II is still here, somewhere on the bottom of Mobile Bay.
In fact, the Hunley was first launched here, at the foot of Theater Street, in May 1863. But the owners thought she would have better hunting in Charleston Harbor, and so packed her off to the Holy City. Mobile still grieves the loss.
Starting with the discovery of the little sub in the Charleston mud in 1995; through the arduous task of raising her to the surface; excavating her interior; recovering the human remains; and preserving the craft, Mobile followed every step of the story on the pages of the Press-Register. Many of those stories bore the byline of Charleston AP correspondent Bruce Smith. On that day in August 2000, when the Hunley was hoisted out of the ocean, the Press-Register sent its own reporter to Charleston for the story.
The state of Alabama dispatched its chief medical examiner to Charleston to conduct post mortems on the nine crew members, since they were residents of the state. Dr. James Downs told the Press-Register he would “complete post mortem examinations” with an open mind, not assuming that drowning was the cause of death.
In truth, Mobile's fascination with the Hunley – bordering on obsession – rivals that of Charleston. Not only does Mobile claim the Hunley as its own; it claims the crew, as well, something Charleston cannot do.  Many of the men who died on the three occasions the sub sank in Charleston Harbor, had Mobile ties, including it's chief investor and namesake, Horace L. Hunley.
Another was Lt. George Dixon, of the 21st Alabama Infantry, commander on the submarine's last mission, in February 1864. Legend has it that Dixon's sweetheart, Queenie Bennett of Mobile, gave him a $20 gold coin to carry as a good luck charm before his regiment marched out of the city. At the battle of Shiloh, a minie ball struck him in the left thigh, but the coin absorbed much of the impact, saving his leg. He carried the caved-in coin with him for the rest of his short life. Archaeologists found it with his remains inside the Hunley, seeming to confirm this romantic and improbable tale.
I never heard the story of Queenie Bennett and the gold coin until the Hunley was raised and archaeologists started digging through the silt and mud. But Mobilians have been writing and telling this story for generations. After all, it was about them.
Mobile has been memorializing the Hunley and its crew longer than Charleston. There are two stone monuments in Mobile's Magnolia Cemetery to the three crews who died aboard the sub.
There is an historic marker on Water Street in downtown Mobile, observing the former site of the Hunley Building, the machine shop where the craft was built in 1862. A local artist recently completed a dramatic and chilling mural depicting the inside of the Hunley and the faces of its crew as they awaited a slow death on that last fateful mission. It will go in the Maritime Museum, now under construction, along with a reconstruction of the Hunley Building. And how do you like that Hunley replica on grounds of the Charleston Museum, on Meeting Street? Well, there's a Hunley replica, just as nice as ours, on the grounds of the Mobile Museum.
This city rivalry – if you want to call it that – almost got out of hand after the sub was first located in the 1990s. Some Mobilians thought that they had a legal claim to it and wanted to bring it “back home.” As it turns out, possession really is nine-tenths of the law; the issue has long since been resolved in Charleston's favor.
Perhaps the one thing that sets Charleston apart from Mobile in all things Hunley is Sen. Glenn McConnell: politician, Confederate reenacter, Hunley champion, general embarrassment. Glenn, you're a piece of work. Mobile has nothing to compare.

A Tale of Two Cities

Confederate submarines affect people in strange ways

Mobile, Ala. -- I am hardly the first to point out the similarities between Charleston and Mobile. Both are deep southern coastal towns, old and proud, full of history, live oaks and grand houses. And they have something else in common: the CSS Hunley.
Yes, you probably know the Confederate submarine was built in Mobile, then brought by rail to Charleston. There it had a short, ill-starred career before sinking a Union ship and disappearing mysteriously beneath the waves off Charleston Harbor. And you might have assumed that once it left Mobile, it was out of sight and out of mind. Like me, you would be wrong.
The City on the Gulf thinks of itself as the birthplace of submarine warfare. Not only was the Hunley built here, but also Pioneer II, an earlier model submarine. Pioneer II is still here, somewhere on the bottom of Mobile Bay.
In fact, the Hunley was first launched here, at the foot of Theater Street, in May 1863. But the owners thought she would have better hunting in Charleston Harbor, and so packed her off to the Holy City. Mobile still grieves the loss.
Starting with the discovery of the little sub in the Charleston mud in 1995; through the arduous task of raising her to the surface; excavating her interior; recovering the human remains; and preserving the craft, Mobile followed every step of the story on the pages of the Press-Register. Many of those stories bore the byline of Charleston AP correspondent Bruce Smith. On that day in August 2000, when the Hunley was hoisted out of the ocean, the Press-Register sent its own reporter to Charleston for the story.
The state of Alabama dispatched its chief medical examiner to Charleston to conduct post mortems on the nine crew members, since they were residents of the state. Dr. James Downs told the Press-Register he would “complete post mortem examinations” with an open mind, not assuming that drowning was the cause of death.
In truth, Mobile's fascination with the Hunley – bordering on obsession – rivals that of Charleston. Not only does Mobile claim the Hunley as its own; it claims the crew, as well, something Charleston cannot do.  Many of the men who died on the three occasions the sub sank in Charleston Harbor, had Mobile ties, including it's chief investor and namesake, Horace L. Hunley.
Another was Lt. George Dixon, of the 21st Alabama Infantry, commander on the submarine's last mission, in February 1864. Legend has it that Dixon's sweetheart, Queenie Bennett of Mobile, gave him a $20 gold coin to carry as a good luck charm before his regiment marched out of the city. At the battle of Shiloh, a minie ball struck him in the left thigh, but the coin absorbed much of the impact, saving his leg. He carried the caved-in coin with him for the rest of his short life. Archaeologists found it with his remains inside the Hunley, seeming to confirm this romantic and improbable tale.
I never heard the story of Queenie Bennett and the gold coin until the Hunley was raised and archaeologists started digging through the silt and mud. But Mobilians have been writing and telling this story for generations. After all, it was about them.
Mobile has been memorializing the Hunley and its crew longer than Charleston. There are two stone monuments in Mobile's Magnolia Cemetery to the three crews who died aboard the sub.
There is an historic marker on Water Street in downtown Mobile, observing the former site of the Hunley Building, the machine shop where the craft was built in 1862. A local artist recently completed a dramatic and chilling mural depicting the inside of the Hunley and the faces of its crew as they awaited a slow death on that last fateful mission. It will go in the Maritime Museum, now under construction, along with a reconstruction of the Hunley Building. And how do you like that Hunley replica on grounds of the Charleston Museum, on Meeting Street? Well, there's a Hunley replica, just as nice as ours, on the grounds of the Mobile Museum.
This city rivalry – if you want to call it that – almost got out of hand after the sub was first located in the 1990s. Some Mobilians thought that they had a legal claim to it and wanted to bring it “back home.” As it turns out, possession really is nine-tenths of the law; the issue has long since been resolved in Charleston's favor.
Perhaps the one thing that sets Charleston apart from Mobile in all things Hunley is Sen. Glenn McConnell: politician, Confederate reenacter, Hunley champion, general embarrassment. Glenn, you're a piece of work. Mobile has nothing to compare.

A Tale of Two Cities

Confederate submarines affect people in strange ways

Mobile, Ala. -- I am hardly the first to point out the similarities between Charleston and Mobile. Both are deep southern coastal towns, old and proud, full of history, live oaks and grand houses. And they have something else in common: the CSS Hunley.
Yes, you probably know the Confederate submarine was built in Mobile, then brought by rail to Charleston. There it had a short, ill-starred career before sinking a Union ship and disappearing mysteriously beneath the waves off Charleston Harbor. And you might have assumed that once it left Mobile, it was out of sight and out of mind. Like me, you would be wrong.
The City on the Gulf thinks of itself as the birthplace of submarine warfare. Not only was the Hunley built here, but also Pioneer II, an earlier model submarine. Pioneer II is still here, somewhere on the bottom of Mobile Bay.
In fact, the Hunley was first launched here, at the foot of Theater Street, in May 1863. But the owners thought she would have better hunting in Charleston Harbor, and so packed her off to the Holy City. Mobile still grieves the loss.
Starting with the discovery of the little sub in the Charleston mud in 1995; through the arduous task of raising her to the surface; excavating her interior; recovering the human remains; and preserving the craft, Mobile followed every step of the story on the pages of the Press-Register. Many of those stories bore the byline of Charleston AP correspondent Bruce Smith. On that day in August 2000, when the Hunley was hoisted out of the ocean, the Press-Register sent its own reporter to Charleston for the story.
The state of Alabama dispatched its chief medical examiner to Charleston to conduct post mortems on the nine crew members, since they were residents of the state. Dr. James Downs told the Press-Register he would “complete post mortem examinations” with an open mind, not assuming that drowning was the cause of death.
In truth, Mobile's fascination with the Hunley – bordering on obsession – rivals that of Charleston. Not only does Mobile claim the Hunley as its own; it claims the crew, as well, something Charleston cannot do.  Many of the men who died on the three occasions the sub sank in Charleston Harbor, had Mobile ties, including it's chief investor and namesake, Horace L. Hunley.
Another was Lt. George Dixon, of the 21st Alabama Infantry, commander on the submarine's last mission, in February 1864. Legend has it that Dixon's sweetheart, Queenie Bennett of Mobile, gave him a $20 gold coin to carry as a good luck charm before his regiment marched out of the city. At the battle of Shiloh, a minie ball struck him in the left thigh, but the coin absorbed much of the impact, saving his leg. He carried the caved-in coin with him for the rest of his short life. Archaeologists found it with his remains inside the Hunley, seeming to confirm this romantic and improbable tale.
I never heard the story of Queenie Bennett and the gold coin until the Hunley was raised and archaeologists started digging through the silt and mud. But Mobilians have been writing and telling this story for generations. After all, it was about them.
Mobile has been memorializing the Hunley and its crew longer than Charleston. There are two stone monuments in Mobile's Magnolia Cemetery to the three crews who died aboard the sub.
There is an historic marker on Water Street in downtown Mobile, observing the former site of the Hunley Building, the machine shop where the craft was built in 1862. A local artist recently completed a dramatic and chilling mural depicting the inside of the Hunley and the faces of its crew as they awaited a slow death on that last fateful mission. It will go in the Maritime Museum, now under construction, along with a reconstruction of the Hunley Building. And how do you like that Hunley replica on grounds of the Charleston Museum, on Meeting Street? Well, there's a Hunley replica, just as nice as ours, on the grounds of the Mobile Museum.
This city rivalry – if you want to call it that – almost got out of hand after the sub was first located in the 1990s. Some Mobilians thought that they had a legal claim to it and wanted to bring it “back home.” As it turns out, possession really is nine-tenths of the law; the issue has long since been resolved in Charleston's favor.
Perhaps the one thing that sets Charleston apart from Mobile in all things Hunley is Sen. Glenn McConnell: politician, Confederate reenacter, Hunley champion, general embarrassment. Glenn, you're a piece of work. Mobile has nothing to compare.