Susie Polston had fallen asleep watching “Friends” on television. She woke in the late night to a loud intruder on the porch outside her Mount Pleasant home.
“Somebody’s trying to break into the house,” she told her family. They secluded themselves in the master bedroom and called 911. But then the racket quit. Ben Polston, 16, her son, snuck a look and started yelling, “Oh my God, I found it! I found it!”
He’d found it all right. In the early hours of Easter, a nearly 10-foot alligator had clambered up the back stairwell to the second story porch of their home, crunched through the aluminum screen door and made itself at home between the sofa and a swinging bench. It lay there like a plastic prank, but when they rapped on the window glass, it lifted its head.
Sporting Classics reprints an old-time account by the great Archibald Rutledge of a plantation Christmas deer hunt, South Carolina-style… with hounds.
On the plantations that I know, deer hunting on Christmas Day is as natural as a Christmas tree, or kissing one’s sweetheart under the mistletoe.
After breakfast we gather on the plantation porch, and I smell the yellow jasmine that is tossing her saffron showers up the tall white columns. In the flower garden two red roses are blooming. In the wild orange trees beside the house myriads of robins, cedar waxwings, and a few wood-thrushes are having their Christmas breakfast. A hale, dewy wind breathes from the mighty pine forest.
The whole landscape, though bathed in sunshine, is still fresh with the beauty of the morning. Now the negro hunters come ’round the side of the house, leading our horses, and followed by a pack of hounds. A rather motley crew they are, I think, for few plantations can boast of full-blooded stag-hounds; but they know their business. What they lack in appearance they supply in sagacity.
There is, I suppose, no grander sport in the whole world than riding to hounds after deer; and this is a sport typical of a plantation Christmas. It is almost a religious rite, and it never fails to supply the most thrilling entertainment for visitors. Indeed, I do not know exactly what the rural South would do without deer hunting as a diversion. Even in the cities, when distinguished guests arrive, the primary entertainment always provided is a stag hunt.
A classic from the old-time Field & Stream magazine by South Carolinian English professor Havilah Babcock put up on-line by Sporting Classics:
Does your health show a marked improvement during the hunting season, and do your honest ailments get scant sympathy from a suspicious household the rest of the year? If so, you are ripe for membership in the order of Misunderstood Husbands, Unincorporated, and entitled to all the rights and privileges thereunto appertaining.
I know a man who feels like “The Wreck of the Hesperus” for nine months of the year. He chews expensive vitamins. He sits for hours in the doctor’s office reading magazines. His medicine cabinet is filled with strange nostrums in ill-assorted bottles. He is subject to neuritis and lumbago and is plagued by nondescript aches and pains.
His digestion is so bad that he pays dearly for the slightest dietary indiscretion. And night brings him little respite; for sleep, sweet sleep that so poetically “knits up the raveled sleeve of care,” leaves him fagged and haggard. Nightmares use him to practice up on. His family regards him, and perhaps not without provocation, as moody and irritable. This fellow is really in an unenviable fix, but somehow he manages to drag his creaking chassis along . . . until November comes.
He is not a malingerer. Nor a neurotic. Nor one of those who enjoy bad health and revel in imaginary symptoms. He is honestly ailing. Once he went to a famous diagnostician who examined him for three days, charged him $100, and said: “You will live forever and feel like hell.” The second part of the diagnosis he can verify; the first part he is not so keen about verifying. Forever is too definite.
But when the first frost comes there is a noticeable improvement in his health. And when quail season arrives he is a new man. Tonics and elixirs and tinctures of this and that are consigned to the attic. The medical profession has to eke out its existence without his munificent patronage.
He is no longer susceptible to colds, neuritis, and lumbago, although he tramps the countryside in the unfriendliest of weather and is often in wet clothing the livelong day. He sleeps the sleep of the innocent, unharried by nightmares. His outlook is buoyant, his disposition amiable, and the household hears nothing of his woes—not a solitary complaint—for the next three months. For the master of the household is paying ardent court to Bob White and his bashful bevy.
This man sounds suspicious, but let’s not convict him on circumstantial evidence. A moderately honest and hard-working man he is, and I have a deal of sympathy for him. I know him well. In fact, I might be pardoned for saying that I hold him in peculiar esteem, for with all my faults I love me still. He is the gent who has been living with my wife for 25 years.
The fact that the improvement in my health coincides with the advent of the quail season doesn’t mean that my ills during the rest of the year are imaginary. For outdoor pursuits have a recognized therapeutic value. Especially quail hunting.
[T]he GOP is leaving Florida worse than it arrived.
“I think there has been lasting damage,” he said. “I think that when Newt Gingrich parades around the country saying Mitt Romney is a liar and Mitt Romney parades around country saying Newt Gingrich is a liar, the conclusion most people draw is they’re both liars.”
I’d say though that it started in South Carolina, when the Gingrich campaign took the low road and started attacking Mitt Romney using the left’s anti-capitalist, class warfare arguments.
The massive counter-attack on Gingrich, featuring prominent Republicans, former Congressional colleagues, and conservative pundits, which stooped to utilizing bogus democrat party ethics charges fabricated in the late 1990s for purely partisan advantage was effective and appalling.
We came into this presidential campaign, essentially with an economy-based free “Elect One President” card which ought to have made this race a relative walk-over and a complete sure thing.
Our only problem has been the conspicuous absence, for many years, of a respected, confident and articulate, national figure conservative candidate. For some unaccountable reason, no one has come along to occupy the role once filled by Barry Goldwater and later by Ronald Reagan. Newt Gingrich, for instance, did not really enter the race with that credential. I tend to think that Sarah Palin may yet grow into the role, though she is not there yet. Her declining to run prematurely speaks well for her judgment, and Palin has since 2008 been doing the kind of thing no conservative since Reagan has done: she has functioned as a reliable and effective voice for the conservative movement, and has had regular impact on the national political debate from outside elective office.
We Republicans and conservatives ought to be filled with optimism and resolve at a point in history when it is clear that we are going to have an opportunity to change the country’s direction for the better, but instead we seem to have no leadership, no principles, no really satisfactory candidates, and no class. We clearly have too damn many slime mold professional campaign operators, too many spiteful and grudge-bearing has-beens, and too little genuine leadership.
The Republican Party, the Conservative Movement, and the country want the kind of leader who makes, not only our economy, but our politics better, the kind of man who leads and inspires.
If Gingrich and Romney persist in what they’ve been doing, they may yet re-elect Obama.
Byron York explains that this was a case of a nimbler, more effective campaign organization.
Gingrich’s defeat of Romney in South Carolina Saturday was absolutely dominating. Just a week ago, Romney had a solid lead over Gingrich in the polls. On Saturday night, he lost to Gingrich by 12 points — a huge and disastrous swing. Gingrich won 44 of South Carolina’s 46 counties.
How did it happen? For one thing, all the talk about Romney having a hugely superior ground organization turned out not to be true. “They did not do the retail politics that a Santorum and a Gingrich have done over time,” said Kevin Thomas, chairman of the Fairfield County Republican Party. (Thomas was neutral in the race.) “I think Newt’s people, they had more on-the-ground staff, and they worked.” There were a lot of them, too; after Gingrich’s strong showing in the debates, said Susan Meyers, Gingrich’s media coordinator for the Southeast, “We have so many volunteers, our phones are melting right now.”
Gingrich’s campaign was also faster and more nimble than the Romney battleship. “There is a very strong contrast between the two campaign organizations,” said Gingrich adviser (and former George W. Bush administration official) Kevin Kellems. “In military terms, it’s speed versus mass. Newt Gingrich’s operation, and Newt Gingrich as a man, has a great deal of speed — intellectual speed, decisiveness. The Romney campaign is much more about money and size, having hired half of Washington D.C. And sometimes, speed beats mass.”
Ed Rollins says that Mitt Romney never was a conservative and he can’t persuade people now that he is.
Karl Rove thinks Newt Gingrich can thank CNN’s John King.
After Newt Gingrich was declared the winner of the South Carolina primary Saturday night, Karl Rove suggested that the candidate has CNN’s John King to thank for his victory in the Palmetto State.
“Taking on the media is always good in a Republican primary,” Rove said on Fox News. “John King couldn’t have set up the question in a more positive way for Gingrich to just nail it and haul it right out of the park.”
I caught most of yesterday evening’s debate, missing only the opening portion.
Personally, I found all the candidate’s positions generally agreeable and it was refreshing to hear, openly expressed, so many heresies from the consensus of the elect. All the GOP candidates acquited themselves well. I thought Romney has mastered playing the role of still-young-and-vigorous mature father figure to perfection. His voice and manner are remarkably pleasant and agreeable. One reflects that watching him spout generalities and persiflage at press conferences for four-to-eight years would probably be less painful than other alternatives.
Newt Gingrich, of course, is everyman’s bright, but bratty, younger brother grown old. Rick Santorum astutely identified Newt’s special instability and unpredictability, pointing out his lack of complete domestication as a drawback. Santorum was right, of course, that Newt Gingrich is a bit of a loose cannon, but I think myself that we are facing a crucial watershed moment in which what is vitally needed is a radical and far-reaching change of direction and fundamental revisions and reforms. I think that an unconventional person capable of original thought and willing to flout established opinion is precisely what the times require. Electing an enthusiastic nerd has genuine appeal as a proposition, I think.
Newt Gingrich is my favorite candidate, despite my having literally cursed his name and cast him out of my regard more than once, specifically because I think he has earned the front running position in the race. Newt Gingrich has, again and again, elevated the level of the conversation, clarified the issues, and moved the conversation beyond the media’s range of comfort. We should be supporting the candidate who makes the national conversation more intelligent.
Rick Santorum, despite my personal prejudices against traditionalists, deeply impressed me with his sincerity, intelligence, and combativeness. I did think he was a bit appalling in his position on illegal immigration, a regionally characteristic streak of Pennsylvania (Presbyterian-culture) fascism, came out in him on that one. I recognize exactly where this kind of morally delusive interest in following the rules for the sake of following the rules comes from. I grew up in the same state. People like Santorum are actually generally better than they sound. Beneath the (totally insane) insistence on always following all and every one of the laws and rules, they are generally quite good-hearted. Fill out the form they are insisting on being completed correctly, and they’ll give you the shirt off their back.
Even Ron Paul (who has frequently been the most self-righteous and obnoxious of the candidates) was pleasant to listen to. Ron Paul tends to remind me of a different back-home type, one’s clever, but slightly crazy, uncle, who has lots of theories and knows a whole lot about certain things, and who is very eager to tell you all about them. For a change, I thought Ron Paul added more pleasantness and good lines to the debate than extravagant accusations, and I was even beginning to lean to seeing him as a useful and creditable contributor.
Watching the debate conclude last night left this conservative Republican feeling happy and optimistic. I grew up in the same state as Rick Santorum, but I’ve come to appreciate the South. I’m decidedly comfortable with a key role, perhaps the decisive role, in selecting the Republican nominee being played by South Carolina.
Free North Carolina reports on an interesting (and unseemly) symbolic aspect of the NAACP’s MLK Day festivities in South Carolina.
Monday, January 17, 2011, 2:17 PM
The annual MLK observance at the state house in Columbia SC had an interesting twist this year. The event is held on the north side steps of the statehouse. Prominent at that location is a large bronze statue of George Washington. This year, the NAACP constructed a “box” to conceal the Father of His Country from view so that participants would not be offended by his presence.
The South Carolina NAACP found itself then in an embarassing position when its nasty little gesture attracted media attention, and responded by lying about what it had done and why.
Rock Hill Herald:
The S.C. NAACP said Tuesday it was not trying to hide a Statehouse statue of George Washington at its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally Monday.
The group has draped the founding father’s statue at previous rallies. It did so again this year, and questions quickly arose about whether Washington was being slighted.
Not so, says the NAACP.
A three-sided structure that covered the front and sides of the statue was intended to display a rally graphic and serve as a photo-and-television backdrop for the event’s speakers, said S.C. NAACP executive director Dwight James. However, the graphic was not finished before the rally and could not be put in place. …
King Day organizers have built similar structures around the statue dating back at least to 2007, according to The State newspaper’s archives.
The Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, under the command of Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard, opened fire on Fort Sumter at 4:30 A.M. April 12, 1861.
Before the attack on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln had been in the uncomfortable position of seeking support in order to make war on fellow Americans. Opening fire on Fort Sumter was a disastrously bad idea. Offensive action initiated by the Confederacy placed the federal government in the position of the innocent victim wrongfully attacked and provided a compelling justification for President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops to defend the government.
It would have been far more difficult to obtain support to initiate a war of conquest of fraternal states. The majority of Northerners deplored secession, but initially favored allowing “the erring sisters to go in peace.”
Ironically, the South Carolina firebrands who insisted on asserting that state’s sovereignty over the forts in Charleston harbor inadvertently supplied the moral leverage to their own great adversary that allowed him to begin the process of defeating them.
President Lincoln’s call for troops resulted in the secessions of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, all of which chose to leave the Union rather than supply troops to be used to invade and occupy their fellow states.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford articulates the Republican position on the democrat party Porkulus:
A problem that was created by building up of too much debt will not be solved with yet more debt,” Gov. Mark Sanford said Sunday, making a reference to the federal deficit spending that will likely finance the federal stimulus package.
“We’re moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy,” Sanford also said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
The South Carolina Republican said such an economy is “what you see in Russia or Venezuela or Zimbabwe or places like that where it matters not how good your product is to the consumer but what your political connection is to those in power.”
“That is quite different than a market-based economy where some rise and some fall but there’s a consequence to making a stupid decision,” Sanford said after pointing to the powers granted to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to help deal with the current economic crisis.
“A lot of people who’ve made some very stupid decisions are being bailed out by the population at large,” he added.
Instead of bailing out failing companies, Sanford told CNN’s John King that the government should let the economy work through the current challenges without intervention.
“We’re going to go through a process of deleveraging,” Sanford said. “And it will be painful. The question is: Do we apply a bunch of different band aids that lengthen and prolong this pain or do we take the band aid off? I believe very strongly: let’s get this thing over with, let’s not drag it on.”
William Ranney, Battle of Cowpens, 1845, oil, South Carolina State House
Colonel William Washington’s servant, “a waiter, too small to wield a sword,” saved his master’s life by wounding a British officer about to cut him down.
On this day in history, my neighbor, Brigadier-General Daniel Morgan with 800 men gave Colonel Banstre Tarleton’s Legion, 1100 men, what Morgan described in a post-battle letter as “a devil of a licking” at Cowpens, South Carolina, January 17, 1781.
They have a statue of Morgan over in Winchester, whose base bears the motto: “Fought everywhere, defeated nowhere.”