An intolerable failure to communicate

By BRAD WARTHEN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
First, some sobering perspective: Some of you reading this will not have a job next month.
    As bad as things were through November, the bottom really dropped out in December. South Carolina lost another 22,000 jobs that month. Nationally, 2.5 million jobs were lost last year — the most since 1945 — and of those, 524,000 were lost in December alone. To do that math for you, if the rest of the year had been as bad as December, we’d have been down 6.29 million jobs. And to do the same for South Carolina: Our state lost 54,100 jobs in 2008. If the whole year had been as bad as December, we’d have lost 264,000.
    These things have a rippling effect — a business cuts back, more people lose their paychecks, they spend less in their community, so other businesses have to cut back, and so forth. So there is little reason to doubt that January (when we get those figures) will be worse than December, or February worse than January. Just as an early indication of that, the state Employment Security Commission said last week that in January it was paying out $19 million to $20 million a week, up from $13 million to $15 million a week in December.
    One more thing to note, in case you don’t know it: As bad as things are nationally, they are worse here. The national unemployment rate is 7.2 percent; in South Carolina it’s 9.5 percent.
    Got the picture? All right, then; let’s turn from tragedy to low farce — the ongoing spitting match between our governor and the aforementioned Employment Security Commission.
    You know how our Legislature likes to cut taxes? Well, back in the late ’90s, it cut the tax that businesses pay into a trust fund from which unemployment benefits are paid. It made sense at the time, given the fund surplus. But since 2001, the state has been paying out more each year in unemployment benefits than the trust fund has taken in. Only in 2006 was the amount taken in even close to the amount paid.
    So it is that, in light of the unemployment figures cited above, the ESC ran out of money and sought federal help to keep issuing checks. Unfortunately, the agency couldn’t get the money unless the governor signed off on the request. In most states, this would make sense, but in South Carolina — where only a third of the executive branch reports to the elected chief executive, with the ESC not being a part of that third — it can be awkward, especially with this governor.
    Gov. Mark Sanford said he wouldn’t OK the request until the agency provided him with certain information. The ESC didn’t provide the information, and things escalated. The governor claimed the agency was wasteful and incompetent, and demanded an audit. The ESC, absurdly, resisted. Finally, after fighting about this most of the month of December, everyone climbed off their high horses long enough for the governor to OK the request.
    Then, the ESC realized that things were getting worse and it would need even more money. The governor went ballistic. The commission resumed stonewalling him. The governor threatened to fire the commissioners.
    On Thursday, the commissioners — Chairman McKinley Washington, Becky Richardson and Billy McLeod — met with our editorial board, and said they would have 90 percent to 95 percent of what the governor wanted to him by Feb. 9.
    In the course of this interview, I asked: “Have y’all met as a group with the governor?” I got a chorus of simultaneous answers: “No.” “Absolutely not.” “Never.” (You can watch a video clip of this exchange on my blog.) Had they ever sought such a meeting? Oh, certainly, they said.
    “This is the only governor,” said Mr. Washington, “that never met with the Employment Security Commission that I know of; I’ve been there eight years.” Mr. McLeod said the same was true for his 20 years.
    As bizarre as this may sound to anyone not familiar with Mr. Sanford and his ways, it was believable. But Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said the governor had met with them, and he produced a letter, from agency Executive Director Ted Halley, which began, “The Commission and I would thank you and your staff for taking time from your busy schedules recently to meet with us.” It was dated March 25, 2003.
    I asked Mr. Washington on Friday about this. He said that the meeting was actually with Eddie Gunn, then the governor’s deputy chief of staff. He said at one point “The governor stuck his head in the door, said hello… and that was it.” So why the letter? “That was just a courtesy statement, but he did not meet with us.” He added, “You try to be nice.”
    This, ladies and gentlemen, is pathetic. Let’s say the governor’s version of events is true and Mr. Washington’s is wrong: His defense is that he met with the commissioners once, almost six years ago.
    Bottom line: None of this idiocy would be happening if the governor were responsible for this agency, which he should be.
    What! you cry — give this governor what he wants? Never! And indeed, this governor who claims to want greater authority for his office is, by his actions, the worst argument for such change that we have seen in many a year.
    But consider: If he had been responsible for the agency and its mission all along, he never would have been able to play this blame game. As long as the agency is out of his reach, he can snipe at it, and gripe and complain, and blame those people over there, rather than take responsibility. He shouldn’t do that, and most governors wouldn’t. But since this one can, he does, and he gets away with it. (And by being so intransigent and defensive, the agency helps him.)
    Given the growing number of people in this state who rely on this agency to enable them to put food on the table in their hour of greatest need, this absurd failure to communicate is intolerable.

For video and more, please go to thestate.com/bradsblog/.

50 thoughts on “An intolerable failure to communicate

  1. p.m.

    Governor Sanford
    Wringing his hands in the State House where nothing gets done
    He has no gun
    Look at him preening
    Hoping that this pose or that one may yet be the one
    Look at him run
    All the worthless statesmen
    Where do they all come from?
    All the worthless statesmen
    Where do they all belong?
    Sweet Bobby Harrell
    Wielding his sword with the skill of a china shop bull
    Bare flesh on wool
    Look at him sailing
    Leaving a galley of maimed in his bloody wake
    For goodness’ sake
    All the worthless statesmen
    Where do they all come from?
    All the worthless statesmen
    Where do they all belong?
    Ah, look at all the worthless statesmen
    Ah, look at all the worthless statesmen
    Father Obama
    Writing the words of a sermon that won’t do much good
    As if any would
    Look at him working
    Polishing phrases to give the poor raises and hope
    How can he cope?
    All the worthless statesmen
    Where do they all come from?
    All the worthless statesmen
    Where do they all belong?
    Mother Pelosi
    Buying her votes with notes her grandchildren will pay
    What can she say?
    Lining her pockets
    Each vote on her docket a knock on our sprockets and pay
    What does she weigh?
    All the aging statesmen
    Where do they all come from?
    All the raging statesmen
    Where do they all belong?
    Ah, look at all the raging statesmen
    Ah, look at all the raging statesmen

    Reply
  2. David

    Seems to me that the arrogant boneheads posturing as commissioners for this organization are at least as much to blame for the flap as is the Governor. These three snotty bureaucrats just presume, expect and demand that Sanford sign off on their request for federal funds and yet arrogantly refuse and stonewall his requests for information concerning the agency? Who the hell are they?
    I say fire all four of them.
    The agency probably does need an enema – the presence of bureaucrats like these three stooges usually indicates that the agency they run is a glittering jewel of colossal ineffectiveness and waste.
    Which is probably why they are so protective of information about their organization seeing the light of day.
    Just sayin.
    David

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  3. KP

    That’s funny, p.m.
    I suppose reducing Sanford’s ability to posture is a good point. But it’s outweighed in my mind by the scary thought of what would happen if he had the power to actually do half the things he says he wants.

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  4. bud

    Governing is a bit like making sausage. It’s not a pretty process but in the end if you have a good product all is right with the world. Today we have two editorials, one by Brad and one by David Broder, that essentially argue that what’s important about the sausage making process is whether or not it looks pretty. It’s the classic case of style over substance.
    Of course this is nonsense. What’s really important is the result. Let’s examine the two examples by our journalist friends to see what this is about. First Brad’s contention that because the Governor doesn’t have direct control over the ESC the process has “failed” the people; in particular the people who are entitle to receive unemployment benefits. Is this claim true? Not at all. So far everyone has gotten their check in spite of the severe economic situation we’re. Was the process pretty? Far from it. It was a really ugly spectacle. But the system worked. Yet Brad continues to obsess over how the “sausage” is made, not in how tasty it is. I say the process brought to the public’s attention some glaring problems with the ESC. As we saw with DPS problems can easily be obscured by a governor who wants to play politics. The current system works fine to expose problems like this.
    Then we have Broder’s outrageous claim that the Reagan economic policies of 1981 were superior to Clinton’s in 1993 because of bipartisanship. Wow, talk about your revisionist history. But that’s how the bipartisan partisans view the world. If something is accomplished in a bipartisan way then it MUST be better. Yet look at the results. The Reagan tax cut mania of the 80s resulted in a huge debt that continues to plague us today. And of course Bush Sr. paid the price with a nasty recession.
    Clinton’s policies, accomplished without help from the obstructionist GOP, created the most successful economic period in the nation’s history. And we had a nice surplus going until Jr. killed it with his wars and tax cuts for the filthy rich.
    In the end we need to look at results and not the means. Neither the cabinet form of governance at the state level nor obsessive bipartisanship at the national level necessarily result in good policy. History proves it. I’ll take tasty sausage over a pretty sausage making process anytime.

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  5. p.m.

    Actually, bud, Clinton’s prosperity was the result of Reagan’s policies, and still Clinton handed Bush a recession.
    Reagan remade the world, and Bush tried to. Clinton gave us motor voter, the Chinese missile technology and Monica a reputation she could never escape.
    Now you think we can spend our way to prosperity, and that’s so fundamentally wrong any first-grader could see through it, but if you’re so heart-set on your guys getting their way, go get a job with ACORN, because that’s the only way you’ll see any prosperity out of this stimulus boondoggle.

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  6. jobseeker

    On the plus side, South Carolina isn’t the worst in the nation in terms of unemployment. Michigan and Rhode Island share that dubious honor, at least for now.

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  7. Ralph Hightower

    Govenor Mark Sanford has 710 days in office. Let’s hope that South Carolina elects a governor that is willing to put forth the effort in governing.

    Reply
  8. Ralph Hightower

    From a press release by SC Speaker of the House, Bobby Harrell (R):
    Office of the Speaker
    SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    January 9, 2009
    Contact: Greg Foster
    (803) 734-3125
    fosterg@scstatehouse.net
    Governor’s Statements are another Exaggeration
    About State Spending Figures
    Office of State Budget reports 2.8% annual growth rate
    (Columbia, SC) – Today, Governor Mark Sanford released his proposed 2009-2010, $5.8 billion executive budget. Throughout his remarks on the proposed budget he routinely states that lawmakers have grown government faster than proposed growth rates and claims spending grew over 40%. The Governor is once again grossly exaggerating the facts. Speaker Harrell said, “If he wants people to believe he is sincere, I challenge him to present a budget to the General Assembly that cuts spending by 40%. Either do that or explain to the public why he won’t.”
    Just last year, Governor Sanford proposed the highest level of spending of any governor in our state’s history, $7.5 billion which is $61 million higher than the budget passed by the General Assembly, and now he wants to take others to task even though the General Assembly spent less money than he recommended. These numbers can be confirmed by the Office of State Budget (OSB).
    The facts are that since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 1994, the OSB reports that average annual growth in spending has been 2.8%. This number can be confirmed independently though the Office of State Budget. That is a growth rate that is less than population plus inflation growth over the same time – the proposed rate of growth used in the 5 spending limit bills passed by the House in the past decade.
    This year’s proposed executive budget follows Governor Sanford’s $7.5 billion spending proposal from last year – which was the largest spending plan ever proposed by any Governor in South Carolina’s history. In fact, the Legislature passed a budget that was $61 million less than the Governor’s requested executive budget, leaving Governor Sanford’s $7.5 billion spending request the largest budget ever proposed or adopted in our state’s history.
    House Speaker Bobby Harrell said, “To say that spending has grown over 40% is just not true, and Governor Sanford has to know this. The facts simply do not agree with these claims. Clearly stated, spending has grown at an annual rate of 2.8% since Republicans have been in control, well below proposed growth levels of population plus inflation.”
    While holding yearly growth to 2.8%, the General Assembly has also passed significant and permanent tax relief. Just last legislative session, lawmakers passed the largest-ever recurring tax cut by cutting over $221 million from the budget. In fact, the Board of Economic Advisors calculates that since Republicans have been writing the budget, over $15.4 billion have been returned to the taxpayers. These facts can be confirmed by the office of the Board of Economic Advisors.
    Speaker Harrell stated, “This Republican-led General Assembly has a proven record of stopping efforts to raise taxes, has held spending yearly to 2.8%, passed the largest tax cut in our state’s history and has put more than $15.4 billion back under the control of the taxpayers, not the government. All of these facts can be confirmed by the Office of State Budget and Board of Economic Advisors.”
    “During this nationwide economic recession, South Carolina – along with almost every other state in the nation has had to make budget cuts. Even with a 2.8% growth rate, there are other steps we can take to insulate us from such extreme economic shifts. If the spending limit bill the House has passed 5 times in the past decade were to become law, our state would have larger reserves set aside to absorb these reductions in revenue.”
    While claiming over 40% growth, the Governor’s Office does not disclose how they reached their figure. The OSB produces a public document each year calculating growth and reports a 2.8% annual growth rate.
    “First of all – unlike the Governor’s in-house calculations – these are not our figures; they are produced by outside-independent sources. Everything stated in this press release can be confirmed by the Independent Office of State Budget or the Board of Economic Advisors,” Speaker Harrell added. “Their work is like the old TV show Dragnet, it’s ‘just the facts’.”
    ###
    Source: http://schotlinepress.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/governor’s-statements-are-another-exaggeration-about-state-spending-figures/
    Apparently Governot Mark Sanford is still using Enron accounting practices.

    Reply
  9. David

    I actually don’t think it matters much who we elect as Governor. I mean – admittedly – Sanfords’ tenure has been a pretty dismal failure. But when considered in light of the constraints (like our system of the weak executive in this state) and impediments (like the obstinate raft of RINO good ol’ boys, landed gentry and liberal panderers in the state legislature), Sanford has done a yeomans’ job simply not running the state completely into the ditch.
    Unless structural changes are made in state government as Brad has long suggested, AND things somehow improve innthe legislature, we’re pretty much screwed.
    No matter who our next Gov is.
    Dave

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  10. martin

    As flawed as the SC system is, it has done fairly well and made some remarkable progress under a variety of governors over the years: Strom, Hollings, McNair, Riley, Campbell…
    I don’t know if the change to 2 gubernatorial terms caused the recent rapid deterioration or if it’s just coincidental. We appear to have a governor now who cannot bring himself to develop working relationships with people any governor needs to be able to work with. For some bizarre reason, he did not appear to know he would have to do that in order to be effective. But, he doesn’t appear to care as long as he maintains his ideological purity. He knows if you get the right talking points from Rush and Grover, ya got it made in some quarters.
    Since he started his political career as a driver for Phil Lader, I don’t know if he’s pure or opportunistic. Maybe he realized if he was going to have a career in politics in SC, he had to be a Republican. Watching Blago and Sarah Palin, I think we are in an era where some remarkably unremarkable people are being elected to high office. Mark’s just another one.
    I hope we can do a lot better next time, but I’m not very encouraged so far.

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  11. Brad Warthen

    It’s hard to argue that allowing the governor two terms is the problem, if you say (as you did) that Riley and Campbell were OK — which they certainly were, compared to what followed.
    But of the three who followed, only one — this one — has actually won a second term. So in two out of the three cases, the very best kind of term limit — the one at the ballot box — worked quite well.
    So why did it fail this time? A combination of factors. First, Mark Sanford knows exactly how to play to the anti-gummint strain that runs through the blood of so many in this state. He mouths the libertarian mantra, and as a result — even though he accomplishes virtually nothing toward advancing that agenda or any other, and has shown a stunning inability to lead (and lack of interest in leading) — he STILL has startling numbers of voters snowed to this day. Almost no one who has regular dealings with him would vote for him, but still a lot of people who just occasionally see him on TV are sold.
    Then, there’s the fact that Tommy Moore was his opponent in his second run, which is both a separate factor and one caused by the first one.
    Combine those elements and you have what we have now.

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  12. Brad Warthen

    Also, I don’t know where bud gets the idea that for Broder and me, it’s about whether it “looks pretty.” Broder is describing a bill that doesn’t do what it needs to out in the real world and saying the Senate needs to fix it.
    I’m describing a situation in which politicians can’t sit down and figure out how to perform a simple, basic function of government — maintain the semblance of a “safety net” (speaking of Reagan) — because of their ridiculous infighting. When you’re talking style vs. substance, it’s hard to get any more substantial than what Broder and I are talking about.

    Reply
  13. Ralph Hightower

    For the .Net programmers that read this blog, this is an excerpt of the quick and dirty program that I wrote for the Mark Sanford Countdown application using Microsoft’s .Net and VisualStudio 2008:

    /// 
    /// Updates the Status Bar, tsMarkSanfordStatus, with the countdown to January 12, 2011
    /// from date selected from the DateTimePicker, dtpkrCalendar.
    /// 
    private void UpdateCountdown()
    {
    DateTime dtGovernorInauguration = new DateTime(2011, 1, 12);
    DateTime dtCalendar = new DateTime(dtpkrCalendar.Value.Year, dtpkrCalendar.Value.Month, dtpkrCalendar.Value.Day);
    TimeSpan tsDaysLeft = dtGovernorInauguration - dtCalendar;
    if (tsDaysLeft.Days < 0)
    tsMarkSanfordStatus.Text = Properties.Resources.MARK_SANFORD_OUTTA_HERE;
    else
    {
    if (tsDaysLeft.Days == 0)
    tsMarkSanfordStatus.Text = Properties.Resources.MARK_SANFORD_GONE;
    else
    {
    string strDaysLeft = Properties.Resources.MARK_SANFORD_PREFIX;
    if (tsDaysLeft.Days == 1)
    strDaysLeft += tsDaysLeft.Days.ToString() + Properties.Resources.MARK_SANFORD_1_DAY_LEFT;
    else
    strDaysLeft += tsDaysLeft.Days.ToString() + Properties.Resources.MARK_SANFORD_DAYS_LEFT;
    tsMarkSanfordStatus.Text = strDaysLeft;
    }
    }
    }
    

    I got the inspiration to write this program, while watching the inauguration of our 44th President, from the "George W. Bushisms 2008" daily calendar which detailed "The Accidental Wit and Wisdom of Our 43rd President".
    For those that think I am a Democrat or a Socialist, I am an Independent, but not in the George Wallace definition of an Independent.
    Now, I voted for W (POTUS #43) the second time around because Kerry was a no go! I voted for George Herbert (Hoover) Walker Bush (POTUS #41) the first time, but sent a "pink slip" to him before his first term ended. Oh, I voted for Reagan both times.

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  14. Ralph Hightower

    Brad,
    I truly thought that South Carolina would get a new governor in June 2006. Oscar Lovelace demonstrates Servant Leadership. Servant Leadership stresses the important on the leader as being a steward of the resources. South Carolina has suffered under Mark Sanford’s “leadership”. Servant Leadership is all about serving others.
    Okay, so Tommy Moore showed his true colors by going to work in DC for the Payday Loan industry, if you can call it that.
    Didn’t The State publish an interview with first term governot, Mark Sanford? If I recall correctly from that interview, Governot Mark Sanford expressed regrets that he didn’t know that being governor would be so demanding of his time. Sanford said that he would rather be hunting and fishing with his boys instead of governing South Carolina. Flash forward to 2012, one of his boys should be on his own, another in college, the other two, God forbid, would be living in the White House. That is not the environment that Sanford wants for his boys based on his experience as Governot of South Carolina.

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  15. KP

    Here’s the problem with Mark Sanford — his values appeal to the very worst in South Carolinians, and he makes them seem legitimate. So we feel virtuous about being short-sighted and selfish.
    No governor in our history has set our state so far back. Carroll Campbell — our last really good governor — was a principled but also a pragmatic conservative. He recognized that government has a legitimate function in bettering the condition of our people,and his policies reflected that.
    But as long as our leaders (and our candidates for governor) appeal to the worst in our natures, I think we’ll be inclined to give it to them. We may, God willing, never elect anyone again as bad as Mark Sanford. But the temptation is clearly there.

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  16. bud

    Brad, I wasn’t specifically addressing Broder’s main point in his editorial. Rather I was pointing out how absurd it is to compare the Reagan and Clinton economic policies and laud one, Reagan’s, while condemning Clinton’s merely because one had bipartisan support and the other didn’t. Fact is Clinton’s partisan legislation was more effective. Broder botched that point completely. I stand by my style over substance point.

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  17. Lee Muller

    “Values set South Carolina back.”
    Novel concept.
    The author of that nonsense also believes that lack of values moves the state forward, and that getting and spending as much federal money as possible would be better than using a budget to actually control spending.

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  18. p.m.

    I tell you, guys, I’m getting a little bit tired of pragmatism cropping up in political conversations as a positive and ideology being referred to in the negative.
    The Bill of Rights puts ideology way ahead of pragmatism.
    “Give me liberty or give me death,” in a very important way, is both.
    And Gov. Sanford, bless his pea-pickin’ heart, is right ideologically, from my point of view, but he just doesn’t go about governing the right way.
    My school district is coming up $900,000 short this year on a $15 million budget. Sanford called that long before it happened, but the legislature didn’t fix it, and Sanford can’t overrule an override.
    Why don’t we put the blame where it belongs — the State House — and put their jobs on the line if they don’t fix it?

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  19. bud

    I tell you, guys, I’m getting a little bit tired of pragmatism cropping up in political conversations as a positive and ideology being referred to in the negative.
    -p.m.
    p.m. we might go after each other tooth and nail on the issues but you are absolutely right on this. Brad and Broder’s fascination with bipartisanship is pretty disturbing.

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  20. Ralph Hightower

    After six years yelling “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”, Sanford finally is right for one year.

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  21. Ish Beverly

    We have a fine Governor. Gov. Sanford’s obstacles are RINO Republicans and the State newspaper. Also someone should check to see if the Unemployment Commission is letting unqualified people draw unemployment compensation.

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  22. bud

    Since this thread seems to have run out of steam let me change the subject a bit. Why in the hell should Michael Phelps appologize for smoking a bit of pot? Greatest swimmer in history and apparently it hasn’t killed him or his ability to swim. I wonder how Mark Sanford feels about the drug laws. If he would come out against them I’d be his biggest supporter.

    Reply
  23. KIR

    The Governor has had six years to prove himself and I haven’t seen him taking responsibility for much of anything. Besides, to make someone “responsible” so you can then “blame” them for failures… what does that really change? What we need is a a Governor who actually cares about the people of South Carolina.

    Reply
  24. KP

    Yes, it’s run out of steam, and where is Brad today?
    KIR, I guess it’s along the lines of making the governor responsible so you can blame him and then boot him out. I don’t think that changes much either because I don’t trust us to boot him out, no matter how bad he is, as long as he says the things that sound good in our ears.
    Bud, I think Phelps was wrong to smoke pot and right to apologize. I don’t think a role model should break the law (whether or not the law should be changed, I don’t know). In the meantime, though, I hope my child won’t take a hit from a bong because she saw him do it and now thinks everyone does.

    Reply
  25. Bart

    The answer is very simple bud. ITS AGAINST THE LAW!! WHAT PART OF THAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? If you want the law changed, then campaign for the change. Until then, it is still a crime and the severity depends upon where you are at and how seriously it is taken. No bud, not all of us who object to legalization of marijuana have been brainwashed by the movie, “Reefer Madness”.
    As for me, I have no problem with medical marijuana use because it does have good benefits for those with glaucoma and it is effective in reducing nausea for cancer patients on chemotherapy. Not allowing useage for that is irresponsible especially since you can legally obtain narcotics for treatment of pain with a doctor’s prescription.
    Studies have been conducted and the same conclusions seem to be drawn each time. On one hand, the positives indicate it is an effective drug when used for medical purposes. On the other hand, there are inherent problems with useage outside the medical application.
    It may not matter to you but there are still millions of parents out there who do not want their children to use pot or any other illegal drug. Michael Phelps portrayed himself as the clean cut athlete, taking good care of his body. According to the reports, he was out of control and the person who took the photo probably received good compensation. Anytime you inhale a foreign substance into your lungs, damage is done, whether pot or cigarettes.
    Overall, according to the NIDA, marijuana useage is worse than tobacco on one’s health.
    So, if you object to tobacco bud, then you should object even more to pot.

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  26. p.m.

    Not only is it against the law, bud, but it’s not good for some people — me, for example. If I smoke marijuana, I spend the next several hours cringing with guilt from every mistake I’ve ever made cascading through my brain in a numbing wave of self-consciousness.
    If pot doesn’t have that effect on you, fine. I would have no problem with your use of it. But I’d hat to see anybody champion the stuff. It concerns me that marijuana might have an even more serious effect on some disjointed brains than it does on my own short-circuited grey matter.

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  27. Lee Muller

    A December poll of Obama supporters found legalizing drugs to be their Number One Issue!
    No surprise. A lot of the young whites and the ghetto blacks and Latino supporters of Obama use marijuana and cocaine. That’s why Obama’s pot and crack use was no issue for them.
    Democrats have low expectations for themselves.

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  28. bud

    Heck, Phelp’s DUI was far worse ethically in my opinion than the bong. I don’t think we should put sports figures up on some kind of pedestal. Geez, the people are human beings with human frailties. But how absurd to keep pot illegal. It’s really a tragedy to jail people for a damn plant. At least most folks are coming around to recognize that pot can be useful in a medicinal setting. That’s a start.

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  29. p.m.

    Yeah, bud, plants are pretty harmless.
    Except the poisonous ones: apple seeds, unprocessed cassava, the leaves and seeds of the cherry, plum, peach, almond and apricot, the foliage of the potato, rhubarb leaf blades, tomato foliage and vines, crocus bulbs, any part of an azalea, any part of bittersweet nightshade, castor oil plant (ricin), daffodil bulbs, daphne berries, any part of elephant’s ear (dieffenbachia), foxglove, hemlock, horse-chestnut, ivy, holly, hyacinth, oak (leaves and acorns), pokeweed, privet, yellow jessamine (every part of it), and yew.
    And that’s not anywhere nearly every plant that can do you harm, but it’s enough to make my point.
    Don’t let me catch you trafficking peach pits. :)

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  30. slugger

    The only reason that I am against legalization of drugs because you can see what drugs can do to our minds. I only use our elected officials in Washington as a prime example. They have to be on something powerful (greed perhaps) that has twisted their minds into this stimulus package and their plans for turning around the very economy that they put in the tank.
    They confirm members of their special society for appointment to offices in the administration without regard to ethical, moral or legal backgrounds.
    The very people that are voting on this package have caused the very problems they are trying to correct.
    Another day older and deeper in debt.

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  31. KP

    You know, they do have a legally available version of pot for chemotherapy patients these days. My dad takes it, but it’s ridiculously expensive. If he didn’t just not want to live his life high (or break the law), he’d do better to get the 10 dollar bag from the bad part of town.

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  32. Lee Muller

    Most of this state’s unemployment is among the least literate and least skilled adults. Most of them are school dropouts, and it is too late to remedy that.
    But we can create job openings by rounding up and deporting illegal workers, of which this state has at least 60,000.

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  33. Rich

    Our dear governor was on MSNBC this morning explaining how we all needed to feel the pain for the next few years until the recession is over. He clearly sees this economic downturn as an opportunity to downsize government. Lean governments that don’t regulate end up screwing the poor and making the rich even wealthier.
    I have always found it odd that workingclass and middleclass American men in particular continue to vote for a party–the Republicans–that consistently fails to represent their interests and instead enriches and empowers the greedy in our society.
    Gov. Sanford is easily the worst governor we’ve had in a long time. He cannot even get along with his own party in the legislature (and what a fine lot of know-nothing ideologues the Republicans tend to be in that august assemblage).
    The Democrats won this election and need to show the Republicans what it means to lose. It means you don’t get to set the agenda, much less implement it.

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  34. slugger

    Let me see if I get this right.
    Barney Franks had a boyfriend that worked for Fannie/Freddie for many years (who may still be there as far as I know).
    The bad mortgage debts that the banks held were turned over to Fannie/Freddie? Everything went South from there as far as the economy was concerned with all the bad mortgage debt, paper debt, credit card debt etc that was bundled together?
    There is a connection that runs from Barney Frank (that did not know and could not stop what happened with Freddie/Fannie)?
    Barney Frank has been the prime mover and shaker of these bailout and stimulus packages.
    Now the House and Senate want us to trust the stimulus package put forth by Barney Frank. This just does not compute.
    You put the very man in charge of a bailout/stimulus package with trillions of dollars involved and he is the very one that “did not know what was going on when his boyfriend worked for the very federal agencies that started the spiral to an economic depression?
    Somebody please yell that there is a fire in the belly of the people. We want someone to pay for all of loss of our savings, our children’s future trying to pay back all of this blundering.
    I am so tired of watching Barney Frank lisp his way through his knowledge of saving us with his brainpower. When do the people that have been robbed of their savings get a chance at someone to ride out of town on a rail?
    Fasten your seat belts it still is going to be a bumpy ride.

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  35. p.m.

    KP, Brad obviously saw his shadow yesterday when he emerged and dove back into his hole.
    He’s probably upset that his bipartisan hero Obama can’t seem to nominate anyone who doesn’t cheat on his or her income taxes.
    Does winning the election mean you don’t have to pay your taxes either, Rich? Between the tax cheats and the trillion-dollar joke of a stiumulus bill, it’s becoming obvious the Democrats are beneath trust.

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  36. Birch Barlow

    I have always found it odd that workingclass and middleclass American men in particular continue to vote for a party–the Republicans–that consistently fails to represent their interests
    Rich,
    One day the American public will wake up and realize that these two parties don’t give a damn about us and the future of this country. That will be a great day. But I’m not holding my breath.

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  37. Lee Muller

    “Rich” really is into the retribution politics of Obama.
    He has that old Spoils System mentality.
    “We won, and the treasury is ours! Leave nothing but debt for those who follow!”

    Reply
  38. Brad Warthen

    Brad was out having a routine colonoscopy — which had me starving all day Sunday and half of Monday, and then looped out on an anesthetic hangover the rest of Monday. (They said not to sign any important legal documents the rest of the day; I enlarged that do “don’t blog, either.”)
    So now you know that when I demand accountability and transparency of public officials, they certainly can’t say I haven’t submitted myself to extreme scrutiny.
    Sorry, but I forgot to ask the doc for the video to post…

    Reply
  39. Capital A

    Actually, bud, Clinton’s prosperity was the result of Reagan’s policies, and still Clinton handed Bush a recession.
    Reagan remade the world, and Bush tried to. Clinton gave us motor voter, the Chinese missile technology and Monica a reputation she could never escape.
    Posted by: p.m. | Feb 1, 2009 12:13:34 PM
    Ah, p.m.s., we finally see evidence of your greatest dream of fiction, as unoriginal as it is because it consists of a fantasy that is oft repeated and perpetuated by conservatives and other apologists for your ilk.
    If you are referring to the economic boom of 1984, then Reagan had nothing to do with it. The man who deserves the credit is Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, appointed by Jimmy Carter. In effect and with that statement, I have disproven another Republican myth: You can cease saying that Carter never did anything for you.
    Also, you stated that bud’s suggestions were so “fundamentally wrong any first-grader could see through it.” I guess that puts you in kindergarten, pre-school, or more likely diapers, because you are making a lot of noise with little substance or effect. Paul Volcker’s policies amounted to, at least partially, what bud posited: spending money, lowering interest rates and printing money to fight off recession.
    That process is called the monetary transmission mechanism. By your self-stated standard, you are only a wee lass now, but you’ll learn all about that governmental tool when you get to what us big folks call high school.
    Of course, we cannot cut the interest rate much lower than it is, so Volcker’s machinations largely are ineffective at the current time. Yes, the previous administration has left us in a state so sorry, we will have to devise new and effective strategies.
    That will mean spending money to create jobs related to new and unexplored technologies and to repair and bolster our national infrastructure. Though it may seem elementary, the irony is that we must spend currently, to make money eventually. That effect is called irony, and you’ll learn about that when you finally reach middle school.
    p.m.s, pretending to be right is all fun and night games, until the truth slaps you in the face and rouses you from stupid slumber. After all, it’s morning again in America: Won’t you please wake up, our sleepy-headed dunce? Time for school!

    Reply
  40. slugger

    Hi Brad,
    During your colonoscopy did the light shine onto anything stuck in your intestinal track like maybe some of us bloggers?
    I hope that the doctor will not suggest and extraction.

    Reply
  41. p.m.

    Cap, the primary mechanism of the Reagan recovery was tax-rate cuts.
    The primary mechanism of your post was name-calling.
    I lived through Reagan and Carter, and you’re telling me to grow up?
    Here’s hoping you eventually finish college and learn something.

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  42. Ish Beverly

    Rich is always spouting socialist party slogans used to incite the comrades. He rants about the rich making more money. If that corportion down the street had not made the money it made last week, would Rich or the poor have any more money in their pockets this week because of it? No. Probably less. Rich is a school teacher. He should know the definition of “greedy”. These rich people are not greedy. They are smart, work hard, pay taxes, and provide jobs. Has Rich ever been provided a job by the poor and working class? I think not. Just because some people do not want to achieve a certain success, these same people should not begrudge other people who do.

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  43. Lee Muller

    Everyone who lives off a government check needs to stop every day and ask themselves how they would support themselves without the businessmen and their private sector employees providing the taxes?
    7.5% of Americans pay 70% of all the taxes.
    Government employees pay ZERO net taxes.

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  44. Capital A

    lived through Reagan and Carter, and you’re telling me to grow up?
    Here’s hoping you eventually finish college and learn something.
    Posted by: p.m. | Feb 3, 2009 3:41:18 PM
    p.m.s, I lived through Reagan and Carter, too; that’s how I know you’re either “misremembering” as one of your heroes would put it or outright lying.
    As I stated in my post, facts are facts, and you can try to twist the past to fit your agenda, but historical events are not Play-Doh, as most of us know. The name calling began when you suggested bud was on a first grade level.
    Typical Republican: you commit a foul, but when you are bullied in the same manner and lashed with logic, you tuck and run, whimpering all the way.
    See also: Murrow vs. McCarthy, Frost vs. Nixon
    This is not London, but the truth remains, nonetheless.

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  45. p.m.

    I said you can’t spend your way to prosperity, Cap, and I stick by that. “Spending money” we don’t have “to create jobs related to new and unexplored technologies and to repair and bolster our national infrastructure” might postpone the final reckoning, but it won’t fix our problems any more than the New Deal cured the Great Depression. That’s not irony (for that, read O. Henry). It’s just common sense.
    If I stepped over the line with bud, well, you sprang across the line with a chain saw and a machine gun to go after me.
    And I haven’t whimpered, nor lied, nor do I believe I’ve misremembered.
    And I’m a Democrat, not a Republican. :)

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  46. Capital A

    p.m.s, we already have spent our way to recovery. That was one of the points of my previous posts. It happened in 1984, if you care to revisit, not be a part of revisionist, history, but I have already tried to make that point to you once.
    Sometimes in life, as in soccer and chess, you have to work backwards to forge a way forward. I would think such a concept would be elementary for a Trekkie.
    Also, you’re an alien sort of Democrat to defend Ronald Reagan, especially if you lived through his terms where many of his successes fall into the “Right Place, Right Time” category. If only we had a holodeck for you to investigate…

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  47. p.m.

    I’m a Democrat because it’s expedient, Cap — a South Carolina Democrat. If I had my way, I’d have no affiliation with either party.
    We’ll just have to agree to disagree about Reagan. I would tell you tax-rate cuts increased revenue (ironically) by freeing up enough money to jump-start things. You obviously think deficit spending was the driver.
    I remember Carter’s 13% interest rates pretty well, you see. I was selling real estate then. One year I made a grand total of $160.
    I don’t need a holodeck for that, and I don’t appreciate your continued, if softer-toned, insults.
    Just who are you that you think you know everything, anyway?

    Reply

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