Friday, April 23, 2010


The first non-military shot of the Civil War was fired in Charleston at the Democratic Convention, April 23,1860. The Democrats were split between two factions – abolitionists, and pro-slavery - and the choice of Charleston as the location to host the convention was, at best, inept. Robert W. Johannsen, in his book Politics and the Crisis of 1860 wrote:

No American political convention has ever held so much meaning for party and union as that . . . which gathered in Charleston . . . Upon the decision at Charleston rested not only the future of the Democratic Party but also the continued existence of the Union.

The choice of Charleston as the site of the convention was truly inept. The Democratic Party that met in 1860 was deeply divided by one issue - slavery. Stephen Dougl

as was the clear favorite of Northern Democrats, while the Southerners demanded that the Party come out with a platform in clear defense of slavery. The decision to hold the convention in Charleston, the largest slave port in the United States and the most ardent defender of the "peculiar institution," has to rank at one of the worst decisions in American political history. It may have sounded like a good idea to hold the convention in a Southern state. The hope was that this symbolic act of "healing" would help win the region in the election and solidify the Union behind the Democratic Party. They were wrong. The 1968 Chicago Convention was a love fest in comparison.

Democratic Convention, 1860, Hibernian Hall (Harper's Weekly, April 1860)

The convention convened on April 23 and the Southern Democratic delegations began to press their long-rumored plan to walk out unless a plank that called for passage of a federal slave code was included in the party platform. Then, there were the "fire-eaters”, a group of Southern Democrats who actually wanted the Republican candidate to win the election, thus hastening the secession of the slave states.

The weather during that last week of April 1860 was not unusual for the low country - hot and muggy with daytime temperatures hovering in the mid-90s and nighttime temperatures remaining in the 80s. The heat inflamed an already edgy population, and was an irritant to the visitors already in a bad mood.

Charleston was not a large city and had never hosted a national party convention before. The city was not centrally located and physically could not support such a large gathering. Hotel accommodations were limited and hotel owners had colluded to fix higher prices during the convention. Transportation problems were monumental. A passenger had to change trains six times between Washington and Charleston. Franklin Pierce, former U.S. President and delegate to the convention wrote, “I have never been taught to believe in eternal damnation, but if it exists, the journey to Charleston has given me the only sample I shall ever need.”

Fifteen hundred Douglas delegates took over the Mills House Hotel, at five to six people per room. They also rented Hibernian Hall and set up 132 cots in the main room. The Charleston Hotel housed the more radical secessionist delegates.

What followed was the longest and most divisive political convention in Untied States history.The two factions of delegates were so badly divided that fistfights broke out on the Hall. The violence spilled out into the streets and local taverns. Gunshots were fired into the ceiling and knives were pulled by passionate delegates during heated debates on the Convention floor.

The delegates from New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts arrived in Charleston on luxury steamship liners and stayed on board in their staterooms. The New York delegation, knowing the reputation of Charleston, arrived with thirty barrels of whiskey and "forty women of questionable character." The Pennsylvania delegation arrive with 200 cases of ale and "thirty-two amiable females." The Massachusetts delegations - the Puritans! - arrived with no alcohol and no women. Some things never change.

After a riotous week, the convention went through 54 ballots but Douglas failed to achieve the needed 2/3 of the votes. Forty-five delegates from nine southern states walked out. The convention adjourned without a Presidential nominee. They reconvened in June in Baltimore where Douglas was nominated. As in Charleston however, the Baltimore convention was disrupted by a delegate walkout. This time, the walk-out delegates decided to meet separately and nominate their own presidential candidate-Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky. Breckinridge ran as a Southern Democrat and won 18 percent of the vote and carried eleven states. Douglas won 29 percent of the vote but carried only one state. Abraham Lincoln, the Republican, was elected - setting the stage for the formation of the Confederate States of America.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The earth is getting hotter!! The earth is getting colder!! Thousands of plants and animal species become extinct every year!! Cigarette smoke is a prime cause of global warming. Climate change is increasing the rise of super storms and dramatic weather. Massive hurricanes, colder winters, hotter summers, and tornados. Lions, and tigers, and bears - OH MY!

Most of the media agree with those statements. Most political liberals also agree. Most Hollywood celebrities agree, and Al Gore is their guru on the environment.

I read Al Gore's book Earth In the Balance. It's an interesting book because Gore relied on fear and shame to make his point. This may work if you’re Catholic, Baptist or just a typical American voter who gets his news in 5 minute bytes on TV or radio at the top of the hour, but never reads anything more challenging than the back of a cereal box. However, it's not difficult to see the flaws in Gore's logic, or as he calls it “An Inconvenient Truth."

Gore claims that scientists report the hottest years on record all happened in the 1990s, but it doesn't tell you that two British scientists say the planet has been cooling since 1998. Gore also claims that scientists are almost unanimous in their support of the notion that humans are responsible for global warming. Gore would like for you to forget that he was challenged by several of the VERY scientists he cited as agreeing with him when he presented a speech at the Kyoto Summit in the 90s. Seems Gore didn’t quite tell the whole truth because the scientists who came out actually said they were unsure if mankind was causing global warming.

Gore has also proposed a pollution tax. "Penalizing pollution instead of penalizing employment will work to reduce that pollution," Gore said in a speech at New York University School of Law. The pollution tax would replace all payroll taxes, including those for Social Security and unemployment compensation, Gore said. He said the overall level of taxation, would remain the same. And last week at the United Nations, Gore claimed that cigarette smoking was a leading cause of global warming.
"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your
life." - Brooke Shields, an Al Gore supporter.

Many of the things that Gorenventalists claim as fact actually have an inconvenient truth attached to them - they are theories, not facts. But the truth has never been inconvenient for crusaders. It's easier to forgive when those lies benign - like Al Gore invented the internet! and I smoked but didn't inhale! - but it's not so easy when those lies have been responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people. Environmental liberal do-gooders and militant socialists are responsible for one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, on par with the Jewish holocaust and Stalin's mass murder of the Russian people by execution and starvation.

DDT was banned by President Richard Nixon's Environmental Protection Agency in the early 1970s, after Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, claimed to show that DDT threatened human health as well as bird populations. Rachel Carson was listed by Time magazine as one of 100 Most Important People of the Century. Also listed are
  • Mao Zedong (responsible for 49 million deaths)
  • Adolph Hitler (12 million deaths)
  • Ho Chi Minh (10 million deaths)
  • V.I. Lenin (5 million deaths)
According to all the figures, Rachel Carson (pictured left) ranks third on the list of 100 Most Important People of the Century for deaths attributed to the actions and leadership of one person. She helped create a lot of silence in Africa.

Does this woman look like a mass murderer?

Huge amounts of DDT were sprayed in America. People used to run toward the truck spraying clouds of DDT -- as if it was an ice-cream truck -- they were so happy to have mosquitoes repelled. Tons of DDT were sprayed on food and people. Despite this overuse, there was no surge in cancer or any other human injury. Nevertheless, the environmental hysteria led to DDT's suppression in Africa, where its use had been responsible for a dramatic reduction in deaths. American foreign aid could be used to finance ineffective alternative anti-malaria methods, but DDT could not.

Within a short time, the mosquitoes and malaria reappeared, and deaths skyrocketed. Tens of millions of people have died in that time. The rich white sanctimonious environmental militants slept each night in air conditioned homes while millions of poor African children died.

Last month, the World Health Organization announced that it supports indoor spraying of DDT. "The scientific and programmatic evidence clearly supports this reassessment," said Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, WHO assistant director-general for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. "DDT presents no health risk when used properly." Some environmental groups have also changed their anti-DDT tune, including Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club.

Last year, Greenpeace spokesman Rick Hind told the New York Times, "If there's nothing else and it's going to save lives, we're all for it. Nobody's dogmatic about it."

Easy to say now, Rick. But what about the mass murder of Africans who died when groups like Greenpeace (who are almost always rich, liberal whites) refused to budge on the ban? Might an apology be in order? Might a class action law suit be a possibility against Rachel Carson, the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club for actively keeping DDT banned for these decades?And now, these are the same people and the same groups that are pushing the global-warming scare. If so many 'experts' could be so wrong about DDT, why should we trust them now?



"We have about five more years at the outside to do something."

- Kenneth Watt, ecologist

"Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind." - George Wald, Harvard Biologist

"We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation."
- Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist

"Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction." - New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day

"Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years."
- Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

"By...[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s."- Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

"It is already too late to avoid mass starvation." -Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

"Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions....By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine."
-Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

"Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support...the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half...."
- Life Magazine, January 1970

"At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it's only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable."
- Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

"Air certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone." -Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

"We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones."
- Martin Litton, Sierra Club director

"By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate...that there won't be any more crude oil. You'll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill 'er up, buddy,' and he'll say, `I am very sorry, there isn't any.'"
- Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

"Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct."- Sen. Gaylord Nelson

"The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age."- Kenneth Watt, Ecologist


I rest my case.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


An incident from last night's Wicked Charleston Walking Tour.

Around 8:30 pm I was strolling in front 92 Broad Street with my group of seven customers. Behind us we began to hear someone going "Ooooo ... Oooo!" For the uninitiated, that is the highly original sound many Charleston locals make when they see a ghost tour walking the streets.

(There ARE several reasons South Carolina always ranks 47th or below in high school graduation rates. This "Oooooing" is merely a symptom of marrying each other's cousins for most of the 19th century.)

Charleston locals always assume every night time tour is a ghost tour. However, my Wicked Tour is NOT a ghost tour - it's an ADULTS ONLY history tour. The young woman (mid-20s) was trailing along behind us, with her two friends bringing up the rear.

I stopped with my people. By this time we were standing next to a great little restaurant we call Fast and French. I told her, "This is not a ghost tour. This is an adult history tour."

Her response: "Oooooo!" Arms above her head, hands waving.

I said, patiently I might add: "Again, this is not a ghost tour. It's the Wicked Charleston Tour - the history of sex, murder, prostitution and sin."

She said, "Can I tell you my ghost story?" Her friends entered Fast and French.

I looked at my people, who by this time, were laughing at her. To give the young woman as much credit as possible, I realized she had probably been consuming adult beverages, which didn't improve her IQ.

"What part of 'this is not a ghost tour' did you not understand?" I asked her.

"It's not a ghost tour?" she asked, staring at me. Finally, the fog was lifting.

"No. It's a sex and prostitution tour. If you'd like to tell us your prostitution story we'd be happy to listen." I folded my arms and looked at her expectantly.

She stared at me for a few seconds.

"We're waiting," I said. "Come on, every Charleston girl has a good prostitution story. I'll just settle for a good sex story. Do you have any of those?"

She turned and began walking away.

"Have you ever had good sex?" I asked.

She quickly entered Fast and French. And I said ... "Obviously she's only ever had it fast and French. What a shame."

I love my job.

THE HAT LADIES PROTEST (well, at least one of them does)

Two weeks ago the local magazine, Charleston Scene, featured a small profile of me. It's a weekly feature in which they ask locals questions about their life. One of the questions is:

My answer: The Hat Ladies Easter Parade because it is so surreal and because I have worn a hat every day of my life for the past 30 years. It's fun to watch the amateurs who only do it once a year."
To watch the 2010 Charleston Easter Hat Parade click here.

Here is the text from a letter to the Editor to the Charleston Post and Courier, April, 11, 2010.

I have to take exception to the statement made by Mark R. Jones in the recent Preview article 'Scenester.' To call the Hat Ladies 'amateurs' is totally ridiculous! I have been wearing hats for more than 30 years, although not every day.

The Hat Ladies do an extraordinary amount of volunteer work around Charleston while wearing hats. We also do several social events monthly, wearing hats.

The promenade is our signature event of the year, not the only time to wear a hat, as Mr. Jones suggested. We celebrate Easter in the old-fashioned way, promenading down Meeting Street with family and friends, including a few canines, all wearing hats.

Rebecca Geary
Hat Lady
Polony Place

Ms., Miss, or Mrs. Geary:

First of all, there is no Preview in Charleston anymore. In case you hadn't heard, that tradition is over. It is now called Charleston Scene.

In your first paragraph you prove my "amateur" contention by saying "I have been wearing hats for more than 30 years although not every day." I don't really care about all the volunteer work you do, since I didn't mention your volunteer work. Don't change the subject and don't be so touchy. All I mentioned was that some people walking in the Easter parade were hat-wearing amateurs. I did not mention anyone specifically. You made the assumption the comment covered everyone in the promenade. I'm pretty sure I saw several men in the Ladies Hat Parade who don't wear hats on a daily basis. Ditto with a lot of the women who were in the promenade. I'm pretty sure most people in the promenade do not wear their hats each day when grocery shopping, going to the doctor, at work, etc ... but I do.I understand this is not the only event of the year for the Ladies Hat Society. You meet several other times a year and wear hats. In fact, the Hat Ladies attended the kick-off party for the Charleston Scene but you still called it Premier in your letter. No comment about the tradition of over-indulgence in Charleston at social events.

I also understand the history and tradition of the promenade in southern culture. But sometimes tradition can be surreal, like:
  • Running With the Bulls at Pomplona
  • Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA
  • Miss America Contest
If you don't find the sight of hundreds of people dressed in over-the-top millinery wear, with dogs on leashes clothed in Easter outfits strolling through an American city in the 21st century and singing karaoke while riding in a pedicab surreal, then you need to purchase a new dictionary. While you are perusing (also listed in the dictionary) you may also want to look up "satire", "silly" and "stuffy."

Oh, by the way, if you had read my entire profile in Charleston Scene at the end you would have come across these two questions:

IN ONE WORD YOUR FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE YOU AS? Answer: Irreverent. (also in the dictionary)

Irreverently yours,
Mark R. Jones

Mark R. Jones, age 3, already wearing hats!