Category Archives: Elections

New Sheheen ad: Another attempt to get us stirred up about hacking scandal

Above is the latest Sheheen TV ad.

Here’s a release that elaborates upon it, contrasting the promptness with which credit card companies tell us when there’s been a breach, versus the two weeks it took Gov. Haley to let anyone know about the huge Department of Revenue breach.

The Sheheen campaign keeps plugging away at this, But I doubt it will catch fire with the public until someone, somewhere has actually been harmed by the hacking, and we hear about it…

Is it too late for Hillary Clinton?

I say no. But then, I’m old school. I would have been happy being a liberal in the age of JFK, or conservative during the Eisenhower administration. But today’s “liberals” and “conservatives,” who strain the very meaning of the words, leave me cold.

Note that this isn’t about me being a grandfather. I’ve been disaffected this way for most of my adult life. You’ll note that my examples of what I prefer date from before I was old enough to vote.

What I like about Hillary Clinton is that she gets what the presidency is about. And on the issues that are most important to the job — foreign policy, and America’s role in the world — she is consistent with presidents throughout my lifetime. Despite the overheated rhetoric of left and right, there has been an essential consensus among those who actually make it to the White House, providing a consistency in our nation’s most important policies.

Hillary Clinton is at home in that continuum, probably because she’s been secretary of state and has been at the hub of executive decision-making for more than two decades. Other likely (or at least talked-about) candidates, from Rand Paul to Elizabeth Warren, are strangers in that land.

But some of these very qualities have caused some to deride Mrs. Clinton as an anachronism, as being out of touch, for instance, with millennials over such issues as NSA surveillance. As though being in touch with them on something like that were a good thing. Let’s see… would I want someone who is a grownup on national security, or someone who thinks Edward Snowden is a hero? Hmmm…

Anyway, for the opposite point of view, I point you to this piece, conveniently headlined, “Hillary Clinton is an anachronism.” Or consider recent comments from the kiddie corner, such as Rand Paul calling her “yesterday’s news,” or Marco Rubio calling her “a 20th century candidate.” (Of course, those of us who remember Walter Cronkite hosting “The Twentieth Century” still think the phrase invokes modernism, don’t we?)

Even a supporter, Howard Dean, says this to our old buddy Peter Hamby:

“Hillary, she has been on the scene since, what, 1992?” he said. “To elect Hillary, the country would have to do something we’ve only done once in my lifetime, with Reagan over Carter, which is the country would have to go back a generation. Usually, you don’t go back.”

Still, he said Clinton “might be a great candidate because of that.”

Hey, that’s what I think (that last part). I don’t think either party has produced any candidates worth writing home about during this century so far. OK, except for Barack Obama. But the bloom is kind of off that rose these days.

What do y’all think?

The Dude as a Senate candidate

leb

For this to make sense, you sort of have to know that some folks in Montana have been talking up the idea of Jeff Bridges running for the U.S. Senate.

Armed with that, you are more likely to get this item on The Fix yesterday, headlined “The Jeff Bridges Senate campaign, a play in one act.” An excerpt:

Scene 1: Interior, a large house in Montana. BRIDGES enters and turns on the light. He is grabbed by a pair of INTRUDERS, dragged to the bathroom, and his head is thrust into the toilet.

INTRUDER: You better run for Senate, Bridges.

BRIDGES: (gurgling sounds)

VOICE: Run for Senate, Bridges.

BRIDGES: (gurgling)

They pull his head out of the toilet. BRIDGES doesn’t recognize the pair, nor does he know what the “DSCC” on their name badges means.

BRIDGES: (sighing) Does this place look like I’m a f***ing politician?

The room is decorated in a marijuana leaf motif. One of the intruders looks at the decor, then at Bridges, and then looks at the rug.

In spite of it all, as The Dude says to the Narrator later in the script, “The Dude abides, etc.”

The Narrator lays some homespun wisdom on The Dude.

The Narrator lays some homespun wisdom on The Dude.

Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul step out to appeal to very different groups of voters (guess which one I’m in)

Charles Krauthammer today noted how Hillary Clinton is reaching out to appeal to voters like me (and Krauthammer himself to an extent):

Leave it to Barack Obama’s own former secretary of state to acknowledge the fatal flaw of his foreign policy: a total absence of strategic thinking.

Yes, of course everything Hillary Clinton says is positioning. The last time she sought the nomination (2008), as she admitted before Defense Secretary Bob Gates, she opposed the Iraq surge for political reasons because she was facing antiwar Sen. Barack Obama in Iowa. Now, as she prepares for her next run (2016), she’s positioning herself to the right because, with no prospect of being denied the Democratic nomination, she has the luxury of running toward the center two years before Election Day.

All true, but sincere or not — with the Clintons how can you ever tell? — it doesn’t matter. She’s right…

Yes, she is right. And she deserves the respect she gets for it.

Meanwhile, Rand Paul has been getting a lot of respect over what he has said about Ferguson, Mo. The Fix says his op-ed on the subject in TIME makes him “the most interesting voice in the GOP right now.”

That’s because, when it comes to the behavior of the cops in Ferguson, there’s a consensus across the political spectrum, and that consensus in this case happens to be the libertarian position. That makes Paul look, momentarily, like a centrist.

This brings Rand Paul to the fore among voters who are more focused on domestic issues than on foreign policy. And among those people, Hillary Clinton has been criticized:

Hillary Clinton has had much to say of late about foreign policy, drawing a great deal of coverage for an interview in which she pointed out her differences with President Obama on how he has handled crises around the world.

Analysts suggest that she is signaling to a general election electorate where she disagrees with the currently unpopular Obama on issues important to them, should she decide to run for president in 2016.

Closer to home, however, Clinton has yet to say anything about the events in Ferguson, Mo., which has exploded into protests – both peaceful and violent – since the weekend shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American…

Elizabeth Warren has something to say about Ferguson, but not Hillary Clinton:

Which is one big reason why I prefer the Clinton view — either Bill’s or Hillary’s — to the Warren view, pretty much every time.

I’m one of these folks who believes the president’s chief job is dealing with foreign policy. That is, after all, what we have a federal government for.

I’m not one of those people who gets antsy waiting for the president — or someone who wants to be president — to opine about something that is clearly not part of the job. What’s happening in Missouri is clearly a state and local matter. The local folks weren’t handling it right, so the state stepped in. In a matter such as this, the role of the rest of us — including the president — is essentially that of a spectator (unless things deteriorate to the point that federal troops are sent in, which has yet to happen and seems unlikely to happen). We may have strong opinions about what we’re seeing (assuming that we’re watching it, instead of watching the deteriorating situations in Iraq and Ukraine), but we are not the ones expected or empowered to take action in that sphere.

This has been an important week, within the context of the 2016 presidential campaign. In each party, a leading contender (or in the case of Hillary Clinton, the contender) has stepped out to define a position that cements that contender status.

They did so in ways that don’t invite comparison — except in terms of noting how very separate their spheres of interest and focus are.

Among the apparent GOP hopefuls is, um, Rick Perry. Oops!

I got a release about this Rick Perry ad, a release that also told that:

Governor Rick Perry finished a four-day swing through more than a dozen Iowa cities where he campaigned and helped build support for Republican candidates and county GOP parties…

I can’t believe it. He’s out there running. I really thought we weren’t going to hear much more from him after the “oops” campaign…

The ad was released by RickPAC.

Has ANYONE been harmed yet by the SC DoR hacking?

I’ve asked that before, and I am prompted to ask it again after seeing this release from the Sheheen campaign:

Two Years After First Hacking Breach, Sheheen to Haley: “You Broke the People’s Trust”
Sheheen demands honesty & accountability in letter to Governor Haley, calls for answers following continued reports of South Carolinians’ information being in jeopardy
Camden, SC — Today Sen. Vincent Sheheen sent a letter to Governor Haley, exactly two years after a malicious email opened a hole in the Department of Revenue that allowed 3.4 million people’s Social Security Numbers to be stolen.
The text of Sen. Sheheen’s letter is below.
August 13, 2014
Dear Governor Haley,
I write today to demand honesty and accountability for the people of South Carolina.
Two years ago, weak cybersecurity measures at the Department of Revenue allowed a malicious email to open a hole for a hacker to steal our citizen’s most private financial information. The people of our state demanded answers, and received no response,  just a secret report. Less than one year ago, I wrote to you on the October anniversary about the safety and security of the people’s information to ask for answers regarding ongoing activities by Experian, and received no response.
Now, reports of an alarming nature have made headlines recently detailing an additional hacking at the credit-monitoring agency you handpicked to provide services to the people of South Carolina. CNN and TV stations here in South Carolina reported that not only was Experian hacked, but they also have been selling personal information of their members to third parties. So it’s time to demand answers once again.
After the Department of Revenue was hacked under your watch, the people of South Carolina were essentially forced to sign up for credit monitoring with Experian, the company which received a no-bid contract from you to handle credit monitoring. Now they are seemingly at risk once again because they trusted that the government had done its due diligence in securing the contract and negotiating the terms.
Leadership is about honesty and trust. When your Department of Revenue was hacked and you covered it up for 16 days, you broke the people’s trust. When you pushed through a no-bid contract with Experian, with no conditions to safeguard the people’s most personal information further, you broke the people’s trust. Every day you refuse to make public the secret report on what happened rather than being open with your constituents – you break the people’s trust. And as our citizens’ information is at risk yet from another breach, we have to read about it in the news once again before the people of South Carolina hear it from you.
South Carolinians deserve to know whether the contract you negotiated allows Experian to sell their personal information to third parties. They deserve to know if they are at further risk from the subsequent hacking of the company. Most importantly: the people deserve to hear about these events straight from their Governor and they deserve real answers instead of having to rely on passing reports in the news.
Because honest leadership is also about accountability– about putting our people first, and always being on their side. At every step in this hacking crisis, from the initial delay in informing the people to still refusing to release the final report on what happened, your administration has chosen to operate in secret and you have failed the most basic test of leadership. That is unacceptable. The people of South Carolina deserve much better.
This latest development in the Department of a Revenue hacking scandal is just the latest example in the long pattern of secrecy in your administration and it is beyond disappointing. The people of South Carolina deserve a governor they can trust.
I have written to the CEO of Experian asking for a full accounting of who in South Carolina is at risk due to the additional hacking. I have also requested clarification on the terms under which they are allowed to sell our people’s most personal information to share with the public so they are fully aware of where things stand.
I hope that you will not stand in the way of transparency and honesty any further as we continue to restore the broken trust and damage of the Department of Revenue hacking scandal.
Sincerely,
Vincent Sheheen
###

I’m pretty sure that in these two years, I haven’t seen a single report of anyone who has been harmed by the hacking. Which is weird.

Until I do, or rather, until all of us do, Vincent is unlikely to get much traction with voters on this in Anno Domini 2014. I think there was a good bit of general harrumphing when we first learned about it, but time passed, and we heard no horror stories. And, to my knowledge, none of us personally experienced any harm, or even serious inconvenience, as a result of the breach.

So as an issue at this time, it seems rather a dud.

I’m not saying it’s good that we were hacked, and I’m certainly not saying that those in charge did all that they could to prevent it. Obviously, they did not.

But the other shoe never dropped. Or rather, hasn’t yet.

 

Who’s doing stupid s___ now? Not Hillary Clinton

During the January 2008 meeting in which I shot this photo, then-Sen. Obama persuaded me he had a clear, correct conception of America's proper role in the world. Today, I have my doubts.

During the January 2008 meeting in which I shot this photo, then-Sen. Obama persuaded me he had a clear, correct conception of America’s proper role in the world. Today, I have my doubts.

Hillary Clinton is sounding better and better. I liked reading this:

Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton has not yet said whether she will pursue the presidency. But for a candidate-in-waiting, she is clearly carving out a foreign policy distinct from the man she used to serve.

In the spring, President Obama articulated a philosophy for avoiding dangerous entanglements overseas that was modest in its ambitions and focused on avoiding mistakes. Don’t do stupid things, he said.

Now Clinton is offering a blunt retort to that approach, telling an interviewer, “Great nations need organizing principles — and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”…

She drew special attention to Obama’s determination to sidestep costly foreign interventions. The president and his aides have referred privately to that strategy in recent months as, “Don’t do stupid s—.” That approach has come under fire from some now that Islamist militants have gained ground overseas.

… she argued that the United States has to strike a better balance between overreaching in foreign affairs and being so restrained that conflicts can spiral out of hand.

“You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,” Clinton said…

Amen to that. That “down on yourself” think is particularly to the point. In this context, it refers to the president being down on his country (I haven’t noticed him being down on himself, personally), and seeing it as unworthy of trying to do any good in the world. Which is not an appealing trait in a POTUS.

In the same editions of The Washington Post (OK, maybe not in the actual paper, but on my iPad version, which is what I see), the paper’s house conservative, Jennifer Rubin, gives Mrs. Clinton a backhanded complement in the course of giving Rand Paul a good slap upside the head:

Will Americans want to replace President Obama with a candidate who thinks critics of his failed Middle East policy are “warmongers,” who thinks containment of Iran shouldn’t be ruled out, who opposed imposition of the Menendez-Kirk sanctions, who thinks Guantanamo Bay terrorists should be moved to the United States for trial, who wanted all troops pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and who didn’t want to take any action in Syria? It seems Hillary Clinton doesn’t think so, and I suspect she’ll start running from Obama’s Iran policy just as she has from his treatment of Israel and refusal to take action in Syria. Why then does Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) think the Republican Party will accept positions that even Hillary Clinton can’t stomach?

Oh, and to complete the hat trick on deriding Obama’s foreign policy, Dana Milbank had this to say today, in the same paper:

President Obama must really be teed off.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, his once-loyal secretary of state and his likeliest successor, has gone rogue, criticizing his foreign policy as too timid.

Obama responded with not one but two rounds of golf….

Obama stood on the South Lawn on Saturday updating Americans on the new bombing campaign in Iraq — and then he boarded Marine One for a two-week trip to Martha’s Vineyard. There, half an hour after arriving at his vacation home, he was already on his way to a golf course. He played again Sunday, then had a beach outing Monday followed by a political fundraiser.

Even presidents need down time, and Obama can handle his commander-in-chief duties wherever he is. But his decision to proceed with his getaway just 36 hours after announcing the military action in Iraq risks fueling the impression that he is detached as the world burns….

Aw, give POTUS a break. He needs a vacation from the strain of not doing stupid stuff around the world. Or smart stuff, either.

Can Tom Ervin spend his way to viability?

Tom Ervin Releases First Campaign Ad as Candidate for Governor from The Post and Courier on Vimeo.

First, I’ve got to learn that his name is “Ervin,” not “Erwin.” I keep confusing him with Joe, the former state Democratic Party chair (and there hasn’t been one as good since).

Maybe his new media blitz can help me with that. (Although I’m dependent on press releases or news coverage of the ads to call them to my attention, since I seldom see these things on the boob tube. All that money spent to place them on broadcast outlets is lost on me. Fortunately for me, it’s impossible to stick them into old episodes of “The West Wing” on Netflix.)

Now I’ll get to the substance, and the question of the day: Will Mr. Ervin’s (just typed “Erwin” again, but caught myself) expenditure of $2 million on three TV ads through Labor Day make him a contender?

Or will it just make him more likely to pull votes from Nikki Haley, thereby putting Vincent Sheheen within reach of a win?

The later seems more credible to me, and it’s apparently what is causing the Sheheen campaign to be very careful not to do anything that might mess with this developing dynamic.

That’s his first ad above, the point of which is to say that Tom is a really nice guy. And also a guy who can afford to do something like this, which has got to be nice.

Here, by the way, is Ervin’s second ad, and his third one. He seems to be pretty good at sounding folksy. It’s a gift for a Southern pol to be able to sound genuine when saying “bidness”…

No comment from Sheheen on refugee children

File photo.

File photo.

On Saturday, July 26, while on vacation, I posted “The pettiest thing I’ve ever heard Nikki Haley say,” which referred specifically to this comment about the refugee children from Central America being billeted in South Carolina:

“You want me to educate them, right? And you want me to pay their health care, right? It does cost us something”…

We had a moderately lively discussion of the matter here on the blog, and it got more buzz on social media than weekend items usually get.

Anyway, as I was writing that, I put in a phone call to the Sheheen campaign, seeking his thoughts on the matter.

I tried Phil Bailey, who works for Senate Dems and can usually put me in touch. He suggested I call Kristin Sosanie, the state party spokeswoman, who has been working closely with the campaign. I tried to call her a couple of times. Then I moved on…

I only went to that much trouble, on a Saturday on vacation, because I thought it was really worth knowing whether he took a different position from the governor’s, and no one in the MSM seemed to be asking him about it. But I figured two or three attempted calls from the coffee shop of a Barnes & Noble was above and beyond. I went on to write another, unrelated post and went back to my family and my vacation.

But after being reminded of it late last week, I reached out again to Kristin, reminding her of my previous call. She responded, “Yes, sorry we were on the road that day and I dropped the ball. Will talk to him and let you know, thanks!”

I bugged her about it again this morning, and received this response:

We don’t have any comment for you in this, sorry!

Which is disappointing.

When I mentioned last week my initial unsuccessful attempt to get a response on the subject, Doug Ross — ever the cynic — responded:

It’s another issue he has to avoid (like gay marriage) to try and hang onto Republican votes. If he says anything, it will be through a mouthpiece and be sufficiently obtuse as to not be clear what he thinks.

He’s trying to win an election, not be open and honest. I can picture the campaign meetings where consultants tell him what he can and cannot say in order to appease crossover Republicans.

I responded that I would hate to think that’s why I didn’t hear back, but the possibility did occur to me.

Anyway, I told y’all I would try again to get a response, and so I’m sharing what I got back. I told Kristin I was sorry to hear that they weren’t going to respond. And I am.

Today’s best political news: Alexander wins handily

la-speaking-photogallery

Alexander welcomes U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to Tennessee earlier this year for the unveiling of construction plans for the Joint Curatorial Collections Facility to be built in Townsend, Tenn. Imagine that — allowing himself to be photographed with a Democrat, with the Tea Party breathing down his neck. (from campaign website)

I was very glad to see this news out of Tennessee:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) easily won his primary on Thursday, defeating a conservative challenger and effectively ending the tea party’s hopes of unseating a Republican senator for the third straight election cycle.

Alexander beat state Rep. Joe Carr, a conservative insurgent who ran hard to his right on immigration. Five other candidates also fell short.

It seems that after seeing some longtime colleagues get picked off in two consecutive elections, Republican senators may have finally found the formula to keep primary competitors from defeating them: Take tea party upstarts seriously. And take them on early…

Alexander beat Carr 50 percent to 41 percent, with five other challengers splitting the other 9 percent. That’s not as good as the 56 percent Lindsey Graham received against his six challengers, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve.

Alexander’s win is particularly meaningful to me, and not only because he looms large in my memories of the first statewide election I ever covered (as you know, since I have so often bored you with the stories). Alexander is a direct connection to a better generation of political leadership in Washington, the days of Howard Baker and Sam Nunn and Scoop Jackson. And for that matter, Dick Lugar, who lost to a Tea Party challenger in the last election.

This time around, not one incumbent Republican senator fell in a primary to such a challenge from the extreme fringe of his party. Most of us should be able to celebrate that.

‘A close race?’ Now, that’s what I call optimism…

This came in a few minutes ago from the Hutto campaign:

BH-slider-first-1

Sen. Brad Hutto

Brad-

Brad Hutto is fighting hard in a close race to replace Senator Lindsey Graham, and there is some good news out of Brad’s campaign that we didn’t want you to miss.

A poll of Graham’s approval shows that more South Carolinians disapprove of how he is doing his job than approve. What’s more, Lindsey Graham never polls above 50% – this is a huge opening for Brad!

What Brad needs more than anything is our support in this race. Will you sign now to join the SCDP in telling Brad that you are behind him 100%?

It’s been a long time since South Carolina sent a Democrat to the Senate, but because of the strong campaign that Brad Hutto is running and the abysmal job that Lindsey Graham is doing, we’ve got a chance.

But it won’t happen without you! Sign now and let Brad know that you are ready to help the SCDP send him to replace Lindsey Graham this fall.

Thank you,

Kaye Koonce
1st Vice Chair, SCDP

“A close race?” Really?

Are you talking about this poll? Yeah, it has Graham under 50 percent — 49 percent, to be slightly more precise — but it has Hutto at 30 percent.

Other matchups show Graham at a minimum of 12 percentage points ahead. (The headline on that link is “Sitting S.C. senators looking solid, poll finds.”)

So how is that “close”?

Nikki Haley’s progression from backbench bomb-thrower to Establishment figure

Kristin Sosanie over at the state Democratic Party resurrects this from the archives today:

Well, this could be awkward. Today Nikki Haley is holding campaign events with the SC Chamber of Commerce, but take a look at how she slammed them less than four years ago:

‘The state Chamber is a big fan of bailouts and corporate welfare, so it’s no surprise that they would prefer a liberal like Vincent Sheheen over a conservative like Nikki Haley,’ Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said earlier this week, according to the AP.”

Question of the day: Do Nikki Haley and her staff still think the state Chamber is “a big fan of bailouts and corporate welfare.”?

Well, we know that she doesn’t. Or at least, wouldn’t say so now. And that has implications that extend far beyond her relationship with business leadership, and point to why the incumbent is a more formidable opponent for Vincent Sheheen than when she barely squeaked by him four years ago.

That petulant statement from Rob Godfrey was standard operating procedure for the Haley team back then. She was all about being the darling of the Tea Party, the Southern answer to Sarah Palin, “going rogue” by slapping at the Establishment as much as at perceived “liberals.”

She’s learned better since then. The successes of Bobby Hitt’s Commerce Department (for which she can legitimately claim credit, since she chose Bobby) has more than persuaded her that embracing the economic development community is her best path to continued electoral success.

Along with that shift from the fringes to the establishment has come a significant shift in communication style.

I touched on this in a post a couple of days ago, one which y’all seem to have utterly ignored (whine, mutter, moan). That mature, professional, focused op-ed piece was a real departure from the style of the Nikki Haley who threw red meat to the Tea Partiers. It stands 180 degrees from that Godfrey quote four years ago, which accurately reflected the attitudes of the Haley camp at the time.

I urge you to go look at it again. Yes, I know I’m reading a lot into style and tone, but that’s what I do. And I’m telling you, this new mode of expression reflects a strategic shift for Nikki Haley. And this is significant…

Know your Democratic nominees…

dems

I enjoyed getting the above graphic as part of a release from the state Democratic Party today. I’ve never laid eyes on some of these people, so it’s good to have their mugs in a handy guide.

Also, I can now refer back to this post whenever I’m trying to remember whom the Democrats have nominated for what. (Mental note: Search on “handy guide.”)

Of course, this being South Carolina, and these being statewide candidates, this might be the last you see of some of these folks, so look your fill.

I wish the Republicans would send out something like this, just so I could have it to refer to.

Gitcher programs right here! Ya can’t tell a RINO from a Tea Bagger widout a program!…

Will Ravenel’s bids for attention get more desperate?

This came in this morning from Thomas Ravenel:

THOMAS RAVENEL CHALLENGES JOHN McCAIN TO DEBATE

EDISTO, S.C. – Lowcountry businessman and independent U.S. Senate candidate Thomas Ravenel today challenged U.S. Sen. John McCain to “step up to the plate” and debate him so that South Carolina voters can hear the views of his longtime liberal understudy, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham – who is refusing to participate in a series of citizen-driven debates.

“The puppet is too afraid to debate me so I might as well start challenging his puppet masters – beginning with John McCain,” Ravenel said.  “The people of South Carolina deserve a series of real debates in which their concerns are heard and their questions are asked and answered by the candidates.  If Lindsey Graham is too afraid to defend his views in such a forum – then I’m going to start challenging the powerful interests that are pulling his strings in Washington D.C.”

Last month Ravenel issued a debate challenge to Graham, Democratic nominee Brad Hutto and Libertarian candidate Victor Kocher.  He proposed a series of at least eleven debates in different parts of the state in which citizens would conduct the questioning of the candidates.

Graham is the only candidate who hasn’t responded.

“Lindsey Graham has time to meet with Barack Obama nineteen times, to appear on all the Sunday morning talk shows and to fearmonger through the media – but apparently he doesn’t have the time to hear the concerns and face the criticisms of hard-working South Carolinians,” Ravenel said.  “That’s his prerogative, but by refusing to participate in these debates Lindsey Graham is telling South Carolinians that they aren’t worth his time.   He’s also telling them what many of them already know – that his abysmal record of wasting our tax dollars, attacking our liberties and unnecessarily harming our friends and loved ones in the military is indefensible.“

“If he won’t defend that record, maybe John McCain will,” Ravenel added.

Ravenel said that he would be issuing a series of debate challenges to Graham’s “puppet masters” over the coming weeks.

“The longer he refuses to participate in a series of public debates driven by South Carolinians like you the more I will expose him as being beholden to Washington’s special interests,” Ravenel said. “If Lindsey Graham thinks he can run out the clock on this election, he’s got another thing coming. I’m not just going to shame him, I’m going to shame the interests subsidizing his ongoing betrayal of our state and its people.”

###

Is this what he does when he’s ignored? Will his bids for attention get more desperate as time passes and the members of his former party continue to ignore him?

Plagiarism flap in the Lowcountry

Tyler Jones, spokesman for SC House Democrats, brings this to my attention:

BREAKING NEWS!
GOP Legislator Busted for Plagiarism
On Monday, Berkeley County GOP Rep. Samuel Rivers, a Tea Party activist and pastor, published an op-ed in the Post and Courier that discussed new EPA proposals in Congress.
The only problem?
He didn’t write it. 

According to Hutchins’ story, Rep. Rivers published an op-ed in the Charleston Post & Courier on Monday, July 21st under the byline of Samuel Rivers Jr.
Hutchins quickly found this exact same editorial was recently published out west by a cattleman’s association group.
———————————–
Compare Op-Eds:
 —————————–——
How similar are the op-eds? Have a look for yourself:
Excerpts from the Cattlemen’s Association Op-Ed:
“In 1972, the CWA created a regulatory permitting system to control discharges (discharge includes dirt, manure, fertilizer, litter, pesticides, etc.) into “navigable waters.” The term “navigable waters” is defined in the CWA as “waters of the United States” and nothing more. This absurdly vague definition has provided the implementing federal agencies – namely EPA and the Corps – with the loophole they needed to systematically gain more and more regulatory authority over smaller and less significant “bodies of water” – a term used loosely – over the past 40 years.”
“How did they do it? Through vague terms such as “neighboring,” ill-defined terms like “floodplain,” and expansive definitions such as “tributary.” Not to mention the agencies extremely broad definition of what is considered a “significant nexus” between isolated waters and downstream waters. The agencies also leave most of these important key terms up to the “best professional judgment” of the federal regulator. These legal terms give the regulatory agencies the loopholes they need to find your pond, puddle or ditch to be a “water of the U.S.” and leave landowners with more confusion than ever before.”
Excerpts from Rep. River’s Op-Ed:
“When passed in 1972, the Clean Water Act created a regulatory permitting system to control discharges (including dirt, manure, fertilizer, litter, pesticides, etc.) into “navigable waters.” The term “navigable waters” is defined in the CWA as “waters of the United States,” and nothing more. This vague definition has provided the implementing federal agencies (namely EPA and the Corps) with the loophole they needed to systematically gain more regulatory authority over smaller and less significant “bodies of water” over the past 40 years.”

“This is done through vague terms such as “neighboring,” ill-defined terms like “floodplain,” and expansive definitions such as “tributary,” not to mention the agencies’ extremely broad definition of what is considered a “significant nexus” between isolated waters and downstream waters. The agencies also leave most of these important key terms up to the “best professional judgment” of the federal regulator. These legal terms give the regulatory agencies the loopholes they need to find your pond, puddle or ditch to be a “water of the U.S.,” leaving landowners with more confusion than ever before.”

As you can see, almost all of Rep. Rivers’ op-ed was lifted verbatim from the Cattlemen’s Association op-ed.

Confronted with the facts, Rep. Rivers doubled down telling Hutchins, “Those are my words with the information that was provided to me, let me put it like that.”
It’s bad enough to plagiarize someone else’s work – present it as your own – and publish it in the state’s largest newspaper. But it’s even worse to lie about it after you’ve been caught.
The voters of District 15 deserve a representative who will be open and honest with them about the issues confronting our state. Not someone who will copy and paste someone else’s work and claim it as their own. The voters deserve an apology and an explanation from Rep. Samuel Rivers.
Sincerely,
Tyler Jones
Political Director
SC House Democrats
P.S. Don’t forget Rep. Rivers has a Democratic opponent, Marian Redish, in the November elections. You can make a contribution to her campaign by visiting her website - www.MarianForHouse.com.

Tyler had asked me for my thoughts on this earlier, and so had Corey Hutchins. Both wanted to know what I would have done had such a piece run in The State when I was EPE. Corey just wanted to know what I thought off-the-record, but you know me, I don’t mind sharing what I told him…

The truth is that first, I don’t know exactly what I would have done. That sounds like a cop-out, but it’s the opposite of a cop-out — it’s me taking the question seriously.

And one thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll do in a given situation until you’re in it, and dealing with the very specific facts and dynamics of the situation, and consulting with your colleagues about it. (While I have never been shy about making unilateral decisions, I learned to my greater humility that as smart as I may have thought I was, I was always smarter after a serious discussion with my fellow members of the editorial board. And sometimes I made a different decision as a result.)

If you hold a gun to my head, I’ll speculate that under such circumstances I MIGHT write a column about it, as it’s an interesting situation that sheds light on the piece that we ran, and also into the editorial process, which I always liked to do….

If I didn’t want to spend a column (a decidedly finite resource) on it, I might do a blog post about it. But then I would feel some obligation to let print-only readers know the controversy existed. Maybe a brief blurb leading people to the blog post.

But that’s first-blush. As I say, in the actual situation I might do something different…

So I don’t like to second-guess what another editor did or didn’t do. Speaking of which, it appears that what Charleston did do was take the piece off their website. An update from Corey:

UPDATE, 7/25: Rivers’ op-ed appears to have been pulled by The Post and Courier. The link to the commentary now goes to a page that reads, “Error 404 – This page is either no longer available or has been relocated.” A search for phrases from the op-ed on the paper’s site yielded no results.

Charles Rowe, the editorial page editor, didn’t have much to say when asked earlier today if the paper had any update on the situation. Rowe did not immediately respond to another inquiry this afternoon, after the op-ed disappeared.

Rivers, however, hasn’t been quiet. He has repeatedly posted to his Twitter account a letter that indicates he had permission—from a lobbyist—to use industry-written material in his op-ed. …

Poll: Ervin could play decisive role in gubernatorial race

Over the last couple of days, I’ve gotten a couple of releases from SC Democrats saying Sen. Vincent Sheheeh was in a DEAD HEAT with Gov. Nikki Haley.

So finally, I asked “Which poll?” and was directed to this one by the Post and Courier and three TV stations. The lede:

COLUMBIA – South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has a slim lead over her Democratic opponent and a wide margin over two other challengers in a state that is deeply divided over the incumbent governor’s leadership, a Palmetto Politics Poll shows.

The poll of likely voters commissioned by The Post and Courier and three television stations shows that in a matchup with Democrat Vincent Sheheen, Haley leads Sheheen by four percentage points – within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error. Haley led overall with 46 percent support of those polled among the 650 likely voters surveyed.

In the matchup, Sheheen garnered 42 percent, independent Tom Ervin 3 percent and Libertarian Steve French 2 percent. Six percent of voters polled were undecided about the race, which features a 2010 rematch of Haley and Sheheen….

But the next bit was the most interesting part:

In a separate question posed to 1,000 potential voters, Haley would have a double-digit lead over Sheheen if he were the only other candidate in the race, with the incumbent leading 53 percent to Sheheen’s 40 percent in their head-to-head race.

So, if Erwin starts catching on at all — I’m assuming the Libertarian candidate’s numbers will stay fairly stationary — the governor could be in trouble, whether Sheheen gains any support or not.

Sheheen’s plan for roads (first, no gas tax increase, which is a BAD thing…)

Vincent Sheheen has presented his plan for fixing roads in South Carolina, and right off the bat, he loses me by saying he wouldn’t do the most obvious thing that needs to be done — increase the gas tax in order to pay for it all.

Here’s his release:

Sheheen Releases Plan to Rebuild Roads & Bridges
Gubernatorial candidate lays out plan to responsibly invest in infrastructure and restore safety after years of neglect
Camden, SC. – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen released his plan of action to rebuild roads and bridges in South Carolina. The plan lays out a responsible course of action to improve safety and efficiency of the state’s infrastructure immediately and for the long term.
Sen. Sheheen’s plan centers around four key components that will increase accountability and lead the state to responsibly invest in infrastructure without having to raise the gas tax: adopt a Fix it First approach to focus on repairing roads before building new ones; reorganize the Department of Transportation to save money, improve accountability, and be more efficient in choosing what gets repaired; issue bonds for an immediate one-time infusion of money to get investments started and create jobs; each year, automatically dedicate five percent of the General Fund and surplus revenue to rebuilding our roads.
This plan of action comes after three years of total neglect to South Carolina’s roads and bridges by Nikki Haley that have left only 15 percent of South Carolina’s roads listed as “in good condition,” left thousands of bridges so unsafe that they are classified as “functionally obsolete,” and made the state’s rural roads the most dangerous in the country according to a new study. The Governor has refused to release a plan on roads until after November’s election.
View Sen. Sheheen’s plan to rebuild roads and bridges, as well as his other ideas for how to improve leadership and accountability in South Carolina, at www.vincentsheheen.com. His book, “The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track” includes an entire chapter on improving transportation infrastructure and is free and also available online, here.
Honest Leadership & Real Accountability to Rebuild SC Road & Bridges
Under Nikki Haley’s administration, South Carolina’s roads, bridges, rail lines, and waterways are in desperate need of repair after years of neglect.
South Carolina had the fifth highest rate of traffic fatalities in the country, according to the US Census. Our rural roads are the deadliest rural roads in the nation, according to a new report released this month. In fact, only 15 percent of our roads are classified as “in good condition” with thousands of our bridges so unsafe that they are classified as “functionally obsolete.”
South Carolina’s families, businesses and taxpayers in general deserve so much better from their government. South Carolina needs honest leadership and real accountability to responsibly fix the roads and bridges – we need a Governor who will make infrastructure a priority.
As a small business owner, and an attorney who has helped families and small businesses grow and succeed, Vincent understands that economic activity depends on a good and viable transportation system. Having reliable roads and bridges is vital to growing the economy from within and attracting companies from out of state. Similarly, as the father of three boys and a native South Carolinian, Vincent knows how imperative it is for families to have safe roads and bridges. Taxpaying citizens should not have to fear for their safety while driving down a road in their town or across a bridge in their community.  And we shouldn’t be embarrassed when visitors come to our state by our dreadful highways.
Adopt a “Fix It First” Approach
South Carolina has the nation’s fourth largest state-maintained transportation network. Additions place an increased burden on an already overburdened maintenance program. If we can’t afford to maintain roads we already have, how can we afford to build new ones? It’s time for honest leadership and a common-sense approach where we fix our roads first.
Vincent’s plan of action
  • Issue an executive order to require the Department of Transportation to adopt the Fix it First rule he has promoted in the Senate.
  • Appoint a Transportation Director to be accountable and use the limited resources to secure the safety of the existing roads.
  • Set benchmarks on Fix-It-First projects to tackle our most crumbling roads first. Hold the DOT accountable to those benchmarks and provide monthly updates on projects to improve transparency.
Transform how we pay to maintain our roads & bridges. 
Currently South Carolina is heavily reliant on the gas tax, which generates about $500 million per year and accounts for 71 percent of all state highway funding. But the gas tax is a declining source of revenue as cars become more fuel efficient. Increasing the gas tax is not going to solve our transportation funding crisis. To succeed, the state must diversify funding and weave together sources to responsibly invest over the long-term.  Because of historic underinvestment in our roads we need to create an additional dedicated funding source and issue bonds to jumpstart needed investments.
Vincent’s plan of action:
  • Issue bonds to fund long-term investment.
    • The use of infrastructure is enjoyed by generations of our citizens. Just like a family takes out a responsible mortgage to buy a house for their long-term success, bonding is a responsible way to invest over multiple years in the future that will help families and businesses alike. The use of bonds would allow the state to inject a tremendous one-time infusion of funds needed to bring our roads up to standards while using other sources of revenue to maintain their integrity.
  • Dedicate five percent of General Fund revenue for roads.
    • As a state, we must decide that road funding is such a priority to deserve a portion of general tax revenue — especially surplus revenue. As governor, Vincent would put forth a budget to phase in the automatic dedication of five percent of the General Fund and surplus revenue to Department of Transportation to repair our roads and bridges.
  • Investigate other sources of revenue.
    • Honest leadership means bringing people together and considering many new ideas while building a bipartisan coalition to move forward and deliver results. As Governor, Vincent will explore potential revenue sources to pay for the repair of roads and bridges, including:
      • Lease rest areas to private businesses to establish gas and food sales at rest stops and generate new revenue.
      • Investigate an out-of-state truck tax to gather funds from those out-of-state who use our roads but don’t pay anything to maintain them. This will generate funds and make South Carolina more competitive with other states’ approaches.
 
Make the Department of Transportation more accountable
People expect and deserve a government that works and works well – and when it doesn’t, they deserve real accountability. South Carolina can fund its priorities by cracking down on waste, mismanagement, and incompetence to put politics aside and focus on getting results.
Vincent’s plan of action: 
  • Restructure of the state Department of Transportation to make the director answer directly to the governor
  • Abolish the DOT Commission to allow the legislature and governor to manage and set road funding and policy and to increase accountability.
  • Increase oversight from the legislature so that with new leadership we could have real accountability.
  • Combine the State Infrastructure Bank with the Department of Transportation to provide a consolidated and accountable approach to road improvements and maintenance.
View this release online, here.

Yes, restructuring DOT — as we failed to do in 1993, and again in 2007 (because, in both cases, the General Assembly did not want to reform DOT) — is a great idea. It’s a no-brainer, something that should have been done long, long ago.

And I commend Sen. Sheheen for presenting a plan, instead of playing the game that Nikki Haley is playing — saying she’ll have a plan for us, but only after the election.

But if announcing your plan before the election means you feel compelled to avoid the most obvious way of paying for your proposal, then something important is lost.

Again, we have a way to pay for roadwork. It’s the gasoline tax. It has been held artificially, ridiculously low for far too long. There’s no need to run all over creation trying to find some other way to pay for infrastructure when we have a way to do it already. It’s a particularly bad idea to cut into funding available for all the other functions of government that don’t have a dedicated funding stream (“automatically dedicate five percent of the General Fund”), to pay for a governmental function that does have a dedicated funding stream — a common-sense one tied to use.

Sheheen proposes to fight beach bacteria on Grand Strand

Sheheen made this proposal in Myrtle Beach today:

Democratic candidate for governor Vincent Sheheen called Wednesday for the state to spend millions to remove bacteria-filled stormwater pipes from the beaches that anchor South Carolina’s tourism economy.

In the Myrtle Beach area on a campaign stop, Sheheen said he favors spending $10 million to $20 million in state money to get rid of pipes along the Grand Strand so that vacationers aren’t exposed to contaminated runoff.

If elected governor, Sheheen said he will make removing the drainage pipes and improving water quality in the Myrtle Beach area a priority….

The Conservation Voters of SC have reacted with praise for Sheheen’s proposal. But then, they’ve already endorsed him.

Most effective anti-Haley ad I’ve seen

I missed this yesterday for traveling.

Months after those outrageous anti-Sheheen ads from the Republican Governors Association, its Democratic counterpart has put out the above ad. Here’s the release that goes with it:

NEW TV AD: Nikki Haley Put Her Career Ahead Of Children’s Lives

“Interview” Features Former State Social Services Worker Who Quit So She Didn’t Have To Cook The Books, Put Kids At Risk

 

WASHINGTON, DC—The Democratic Governors Association today launched a new television ad in South Carolina highlighting how Governor Nikki Haley has put her own political career ahead of children’s lives through her mismanagement of the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the subsequent coverups that left children in abusive and, at times, deadly situations. The ad, “Interview,” features Betsy Burton, a former staff attorney at DSS, who resigned rather than cook the books and put more kids at risk.

“Governor Haley has put her own political career ahead of the lives of South Carolina’s most vulnerable children,” said DGA Communications Director Danny Kanner. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time she has tried to cover up her gross incompetence – she withheld the fact that millions of South Carolinians had their personal financial information hacked on her watch and that children had been put at risk from a tuberculosis outbreak in public schools. But with the death of three children, enough is enough. It’s time for Governor Haley to start protecting kids instead of her own political career.”

Watch the ad herehttp://youtu.be/gRXO6f8BxV0

This is the first television ad that the DGA has aired in South Carolina, and is part of a significant six-figure buy. The ad comes far earlier in the cycle than when the DGA ran television ads in 2010. The Sheheen for South Carolina campaign ran a television ad earlier this year highlighting Governor Haley’s tragic handling of the situation at DSS.

Here’s background information on the tragic situation at Governor Haley’s DSS:

 

WLTX: “DSS Dropped The Ball In Hundreds Of Cases”. “When the South Carolina Department of Social Services accepts a case for investigation, state law requires it to begin that investigation within 24 hours. News19 learned about the law, and it’s importance to child safety, after an investigation earlier this year into the death of Robert Guinyard Jr., a Richland County boy who died despite multiple reports of abuse to DSS… Guinyard’s case was not initially referred to a DSS investigator. For cases that are, reports show DSS dropped the ball in hundreds of cases failing to comply with a state law DSS also includes in its policy manual.” [WLTX, 4/24/14]

Post And Courier Editorial: “Covering Up Systemic Problems”. “It is very troubling that Ms. Koller and her staff would obfuscate when circumstances warrant tough scrutiny and deliberate reforms. Children in DSS need the state to protect them, not to use them as twisted statistics. And covering up systemic problems certainly makes reform elusive. How do you repair DSS using misleading numbers?” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]

 

Greenville News Headline, 2012: “Some Children Spending Less Time In Foster Care”. “The state Department of Social Services has stepped up the rate of moving long-term foster children back with their parents or to adoptive families by 50 percent in the past fiscal year, a trend that has drawn both praise and criticism. DSS increased the number of foster children moving into permanent homes from 789 in 2010-11 to 1,184 in the 12-month cycle that ended June 30… Faster movement through the foster care system is part of a national trend, but South Carolina had the second-highest percentage drop in the nation in the number of children in foster care between July 2011 and July 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” [Greenville News, 10/17/12]

  • Haley’s DSS Appointee Had Previously Used “Similar Tactics” – Raising Concerns Over “Stories Of Children Being Sent To Places They Shouldn’t Be Sent In Such A Short Timeframe.” “State DSS Director Lillian Koller, appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2011, used similar tactics when she headed the social services agency in Hawaii and won national acclaim for her efforts. But not everyone is happy with the more rapid flow of neglected and abused kids through the system — particularly those who care for these children in group homes. ‘In theory, what we all want is for children to not be spending their lives in group care, or in foster care for that matter, unless it’s a permanent foster situation,’ said the Rev. John Holler, president of Epworth Children’s Home and member of the board of directors of the South Carolina Association of Children’s Homes and Family Services. ‘But the Department of Social Services is under such pressure to meet numbers because of federal mandates that any provider you talk to you hear the stories of children being sent to places they shouldn’t be sent in such a short timeframe.’” [Greenville News,10/17/12]

 

Koller Emphasized Speed And Statistics From The Beginning Of Her Time With The Agency. “The director of South Carolina’s social services agency wants to speed up the time it takes to find safe, permanent homes for the thousands of abused and neglected children put in the state’s care. It’s a goal the Department of Social Services has struggled to accomplish for years. But six months into office, director Lillian Koller is confident the agency can improve, and she insists it will do so dramatically. She has put her goals into concrete numbers. Koller has charged her agency with placing 50 percent more children now in foster care into a ‘safe, loving home for life,’ either through adoption or reunification with their biological parents. It’s a tall order. Over the last few years, adoptions of foster children have risen by 5 percent. Koller wants to hit the 50 percent goal by next June, and make progress toward it monthly.” [Associated Press, 7/31/11]

January 2014 Senator On DSS Oversight Panel Expressed Concern That Children Were Being Removed And Returned From Homes Too Quickly. “Several South Carolina state senators say they’ll try to make changes at the state Department of Social Services after looking into problems at the agency. ‘It is the whole system. I feel like our system is broken,’ Paige Greene told a special Senate DSS Oversight subcommittee Wednesday. She’s the executive director of Richland County CASA, the guardian ad litum program for abused and neglected children in Richland County… Oversight subcommittee member Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, said in some cases DSS is taking children out of homes too quickly while in other cases putting them back in their homes too quickly. ‘It leads me to question the whole way the management and the implementation and the process is working at all,’ he said.” [CBS – 7 WSPA,1/16/14]

 

Response to Child Death: “Social Services Had Received A Tip About The Child Being In Danger. But The Agency… Waited Seven Weeks To Follow Up.” “Social Services had received a tip about the child being in danger. But the agency said it could not find the child’s parents and waited seven weeks to follow up with the medical professional who issued the warning. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott held a news conference after the child’s death, criticizing Social Services for not telling law enforcement when the agency could not locate Bryson’s parents. In response, Social Services put in place a new policy to call law enforcement within 72 hours if it cannot locate a family.” [The State, 5/13/14]

Post and Courier Editorial: “Troubling” That DSS Oversight Committee Were Told “Misleading Numbers.” The Post and Courier opined, “It is very troubling that Ms. Koller and her staff would obfuscate when circumstances warrant tough scrutiny and deliberate reforms…And covering up systemic problems certainly makes reform elusive. How do you repair DSS using misleading numbers? For example, the Senate’s DSS Oversight Committee was first told that the average worker handled six cases at any time… So pressed at a later hearing on the subject, Ms. Koller conceded that the average was more. Far more.” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]

  • “DSS Leadership Is More Interested In Producing Impressive Numbers Than In Providing Good Services.” “Then there is the issue of secrecy. Several coroners reported to the Oversight Committee that DSS was refusing to cooperate and provide information necessary for them to investigate deaths. DSS clients, including children, are correctly afforded privacy as a rule. But when they die, the rules change. It’s important to diagnose why and how it happened, and to use that information to improve DSS policy and practices… But a number of DSS employees and former employees have complained that the current DSS leadership is more interested in producing impressive numbers than in providing good services.” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]

 

Worker Assigned To Child Who Died Had Caseload Six Times Higher Than DSS “Average” Shortly After Death. “Workers are required to see all of their children in a month. That means that the case worker with 96 children, working five days a week, has to see an average of 5 kids during a 7.5-hour day in order to meet her goal… DSS officials say they obtained the average of six by dividing the number of cases among workers statewide…  Five-month-old Bryson Webb died in his car seat on April 22, after he stopped breathing. DSS has said the agency repeatedly tried tracking down the boy’s family, who were allegedly living in different locations. But the worker assigned to Bryson’s family had 37 cases on March 2, according to a DSS document. ByMarch 9, the worker had 49 cases.” [Post and Courier, 5/27/14]

I would say it’s the most effective Sheheen ad I’ve seen. But since it’s not actually from the Sheheen campaign, I’ll say it’s the most effective anti-Haley ad I’ve seen…