There are many little sources of satisfaction in writing this weekly column in the Charleston City Paper. One of them is being able to periodically take The Post and Courier to the woodshed for its journalistic crimes and misdemeanors.

Over the years, I have been stunned, angered, and appalled at this grand old city’s daily newspaper. Yes, I like the historic buildings, the cobblestone streets, the ancient graveyards, but when I open my morning paper, I look for something more current and relevant.

The P&C is what was left when Charleston’s two dailies — The Evening Post and The News and Courier — merged in 1991. Those two papers were owned by the Manigault family of Charleston, one of the wealthiest clans in the United States. For generations the Manigault family has used its editorial pages to promote their antediluvian social and political agendas — denouncing the New Deal in the 1930s, defending racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s, opposing one-man-one-vote in the 1970s, denouncing and denying organized labor in all places and circumstances.

Today that tradition continues. The Manigault newspapers have not endorsed a Democrat for president since the 1930s, and I’m sure the family will endorse the next crook or clown the GOP nominates for the White House — even if it’s Sarah Palin!

Over the years, I have excoriated the Manigaults and their editorial board for their selection of columnists and the quality of their editorials. In that time, I must say that I have witnessed some progress toward balance and enlightenment. It began a couple of years ago when Charles Rowe replaced Barbara Williams as editorial page editor. Suddenly we started seeing syndicated columnists such as Maureen Dowd, Nicholas Kristof, Bob Herbert, and, most recently, Tom Teepen on the op-ed page.

But there are still major problems at the P&C, and one of them is R.L. Schreadley.

Schreadley is a retired Navy commander and former executive editor of the paper. He should take his pension and move to Belize or Bimini, some place where he can do no more harm. But he hangs around and insists on regularly sharing his opinions on the op-ed page. They do neither Schreadley nor the P&C any credit.

In a recent column “Narrowing the gap, the Obama way,” Schreadley continues his theme of accusing President Obama of being a socialist or a Marxist (he’s used both references in past columns) and writes that Obama is trying to give every American a house, two cars, and a flat-screen HDTV, among other things. Maybe we should just write that off as hyperbole, but there is something clearly disingenuous when he tries to blame the president for the massive budget deficits and the $787 billion federal stimulus package.

Is it necessary to remind Schreadley the stimulus program was initiated during George W. Bush’s administration and the first half of the stimulus money was doled out by GWB? Is it necessary to remind the columnist that the whole damned U.S. economy crashed and burned on Bush’s watch, in large part because his regulatory agencies were not regulating squat? They were looking the other way while Bush’s corporate sponsors sacked Wall Street and pillaged the housing industry.

Schreadley seems to take his talking points from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, because he denounces “thousand-page, indecipherable spending bills pushed through in the dead of night before anyone has had an opportunity to read them.” This may be an unsavory legislative practice, but it is the way the sausage is made in Washington and always has been. It is simply impossible for every member of Congress to read every bill that comes out of committee. If Schreadley didn’t know this, he is too naïve to be a journalist; if he did know it and wrote this anyway, well, you decide.

There are many reasons why Charleston and South Carolina are so economically and socially underdeveloped. One of them is that for generations the Manigault family has held up people such as Barbara Williams and R.L. Schreadley as the intellectual leaders of this community. With leadership like this, our state will remain stuck in reverse, with two wheels in the ditch.

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