Category Archives: Out There

Petition to have GOP Senators jailed now has over 241,000 signatures

As of now, over 241,000 people have signed a petition on the White House website to have 47 GOP Senators put in jail. Here’s the entire petition.

On March 9th, 2015, forty-seven United States Senators committed a treasonous offense when they decided to violate the Logan Act, a 1799 law which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.

At a time when the United States government is attempting to reach a potential nuclear agreement with the Iranian government, 47 Senators saw fit to instead issue a condescending letter to the Iranian government stating that any agreement brokered by our President would not be upheld once the president leaves office.

This is a clear violation of federal law. In attempting to undermine our own nation, these 47 senators have committed treason.

So, it’s come to this. I’m so old, I remember when it was absolutely shocking and beyond the pale to say that President didn’t love his country. Now, we’re cool with saying that 47 Senators have committed treason?

Gotcha. Interesting times we live in.

Thank you, North Carolina! (is what Jon Stewart should say)

I want to thank the newbie senator from North Carolina for taking some of the heat off South Carolina:

Apparently, making restaurant workers wash their hands before exiting the bathroom is a sign of regulation gone overboard.

At least that’s what Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina suggested on Monday during a discussion at the Bipartisan Policy Center. When discussing onerous regulations on business, Tillis brought up hand-washing rules at eateries to illustrate his point.

“I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy,” Tillis said, “as long as they post a sign that says, ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom.’ The market will take care of that.”

“That’s probably one where every business that did that would go out of business,” he noted. “But I think it’s good to illustrate the point that that’s the sort of mentality that we need to have to reduce the regulatory burden on this country.”…

Which caused the audience to laugh, but the senator wasn’t kidding. (To his credit, he did laugh when the moderator closed by saying, “I’m not sure I want to shake your hand…”)

Yes, I know that some of my good friends here also hold libertarian views, but even they should be able to recognize the illogic in what the senator is saying.

Maybe I’m not fully following this, but the senator doesn’t want the nanny government to infringe upon restaurant owners’ freedom to the point of requiring them to require their employees to wash their hands. But he would require (at least, he implies that he would require it) the businesses that opt out of such a requirement to post a sign that, in his own judgment, would ruin those businesses.

Also note that this extreme example of how to do without onerous regulation was not forced upon him. He brought it up as a case that was “good to illustrate the point” he was trying to make.

I also thought it was interesting that he thinks ours is “one of the most regulated nations in the history of the planet.” I didn’t realize that the E.U. was not located on the planet Earth, although sometimes it might seem like it.

All of this said, the senator seems like an affable sort of guy who wants to be reasonable and sound reasonable, but his ideology gets in the way.

Oh, as for Jon Stewart, here’s what he did say about “Mr. Ayn Rand 2015″…

Do you believe in the concept of the rule of law? If so, what is your personal relationship with it?

Rep. Hill, from his campaign Facebook page.

Rep. Hill, from his campaign Facebook page.

On a couple of occasions during my years chairing The State‘s editorial board, someone who had come to meet with us to advocate for a position on some complex issue would say, in response to our questions, “Wow. Y’all understand this better than a lot of legislators.”

I can’t recall now whether I was ever startled into saying this out loud, but I know what I wanted to say whenever this happened: “Well, I certainly hope so!”

You may think that sounds arrogant and conceited. But it wasn’t really. It was based in extensive experience with legislators like Rep. Jonathon Hill, R-Anderson, who distributed to SC judicial candidates a questionnaire with such questions as:

9. Do you believe in the “Supreme Being” (SC Constitution, Article VI, Section 2)? What is the nature of this being? What is your personal relationship to this being? What relevance does this being have on the position of judge? Please be specific….

14. Please name an example of a Federal violation of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and state how you would respond as a state-level judge.

15. What role do you wish to play in effecting policy change?…

19. Would you ever assign the death penalty in a particular case? Under what circumstances?…

21. Do you believe unborn children have rights? If so, how would those factor in to your decisions as a judge?…

24. Would you perform a homosexual marriage, either voluntarily or involuntarily?

25. Does the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution apply only to the militia and military, or to the people at large?…

To which one naturally wants to reply:

  1. Do you believe in the rule of law and not of men?
  2. If your answer is “yes,” what’s with the questions?

This case illustrates well something else I’ve learned over the years, something which I continue to have trouble convincing Doug of: Experience as a lawmaker has value. Which is why, if all other things are equal, I’ll pick a veteran lawmaker over a novice.

You see, Mr. Hill is a freshman lawmaker, in his first month in office. He is, in fact, a 29-year-old freshman legislator, which means that not only does he not know much about the way the political and legal worlds work, but he’s not overly burdened with life experience in general.

To his credit, he seems to understand this, and is willing to learn. As he said after staffers of the state Judicial Merit Selection Commission diplomatically told him some of the questions were “problematic:”

“You live and learn,” said Hill, a 29-year-old Anderson businessman and freshman legislator. “Maybe next year I’ll be in a better position to — if I put out a questionnaire — to craft it in a way that would work a little bit better.”…

I find that reassuring. I am less comforted that he also said this:

Hill said he tried not to ask leading questions because he wanted honest answers. “If you’re a candidate and you tell me … what you think I want to hear … that doesn’t help me at all.”…

So, apparently, he actually thought that no one could infer where he was coming from from these questions. But again, he’s young.

Fortunately, as of The State‘s reporting of the matter, no judicial candidates had actually answered Rep. Hill’s questions. This should make us all feel better.

Mulvaney: House insurgents can’t be trusted

At first, I thought SC’s Mick Mulvaney had had an awakening, and was spurning the Tea Party fervor that put him in office. I thought maybe his views had matured as a result of four years’ exposure to political reality. I was misled by this headline in the WashPost this morning: “House Republican slams anti-Boehner movement hard. Like, really hard.

That sounded as though maybe he was criticizing the thinking, or the goals, of the ineffectual insurgents. But no. He apparently still shares the goals. But he doesn’t trust the insurgents because they’re ineffectual.

Here’s his statement:

“There was an attempt to oust John Boehner as Speaker of the House today.  I didn’t participate in it.  That may make some people back home angry.  I understand that, but I’ve got some experience with coup attempts against the Speaker, and what I learned two years ago factored heavily in my decision today not to join the mutiny.

First, I learned two years ago that people lie about how they are going to vote.  And you cannot go into this kind of fight with people you do not trust. We walked onto the floor two years ago with signed pledges – handwritten promises – from more than enough people to deny Boehner his job.  But when it came time to vote, almost half of those people changed their minds – including some of those who voted against Boehner today.  Fool me once, shame on you… Today was even worse: there were never enough votes to oust Boehner to begin with.   On top of that, some people who had publicly said in the past that they wouldn’t vote for Boehner did just that. This was an effort driven as much by talk radio as by a thoughtful and principled effort to make a change. It was poorly considered and poorly executed, and I learned first-hand that is no way to fight a battle.   This coup today was bound to fail.  And in fact, it failed worse than I expected, falling 11 votes short of deposing the Speaker.  At least two years ago we only failed by six.

I also learned that the Floor of the House is the wrong place to have this battle.  The hard truth is that we had an election for Speaker in November – just among Republicans.  THAT was the time to fight.  But not a single person ran against Boehner.  Not one.  If they had, we could’ve had a secret ballot to find out what the true level of opposition to John Boehner was.  In fact, we could’ve done that as late as Monday night, on a vote of “no confidence” in the Speaker.  But that didn’t happen…and at least one of the supposed challengers to Boehner today didn’t even go to the meeting last night.  That told me a lot.

Some people wrote me encouraging me to vote for Louie Gohmert.  I like Louie, but let’s be clear: Louie Gohmert was – is – never ever going to be Speaker of the House.  I respect his passion, but he isn’t a credible candidate.  That was proved today by the fact that he got three votes, despite all the national media attention he managed to grab.  My colleague who got the most anti-Boehner votes was Daniel Webster of Florida who got 12 votes. I like Daniel.  He is a nice guy, and a good thinker…but his lifetime Heritage Action score is 60% (by comparison, mine is 91%).  And this was supposed to be the savior of the conservative movement?  Would the House really have been more conservative if he had won?

The truth is, there was no conservative who could beat John Boehner. Period.  People can ignore that, or they can wish it away, but that is reality.  

Some people tried to argue that voting against Boehner would give conservatives leverage, or somehow force him to lead in a more conservative fashion, even if the coup attempt failed.  All I can say to that is that the exact opposite happened two years ago:  conservatives were marginalized, and Boehner was even freer to work with moderates and Democrats.  My guess is that the exact same thing will happen again now.  And I fail to see how that helps anything that conservatives know needs to be done in Washington.

I understand people’s frustration and anger over what is happening in Washington.  And I also acknowledge that John Boehner may be partly to blame. But this was a fool’s errand.  I am all for fighting, but I am more interested in fighting and winning than I am fighting an unwinnable battle. 

Finally, the most troubling accusation I have heard regarding the Boehner vote is that I have “sold out” my conservative principles.  All I can say is this: take a look at my voting record.  It is one of the most conservative in Congress.  And I was joined today by the likes of Jim Jordan, Raul Labrador, Trey Gowdy, Mark Sanford, Trent Franks, Tom McClintock, Matt Salmon, Tom Price, Sam Johnson, and Jeb Hensarling.  If I “sold out” then I did so joined by some of the most tried and tested conservative voices in Washington.

I can say with 100% confidence that I have done exactly what I said I would do when I came to Washington: fight to cut spending, stop bad legislation, work to repeal Obamacare, and hold the President accountable for his actions.  That will never change, and neither will I.”

The Post may be right that this statement “is remarkably blunt and the kind of thing that is rarely seen from a member of Congress.” But it in no way reflects a change of heart. Unfortunately, this is still a guy who thinks mainstream Republicans aren’t radical enough.

Fearing U.N.’s ‘Agenda 21′ down in Charleston

Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland. And also on the coast. I rode on an elevator with Matt Kennell of City Center Partnership this morning, and he was marveling at the credulity of those in Charleston who believe that “smart growth” is some sort of U.N. plot to undermine the American Way.

Here’s what he was referring to:

Where builders and planners see combining high-density housing, retail and offices as the wave of the future, residents from Mount Pleasant to James Island see problems – crowded schools, lack of parking and an end to small-town lifestyles.

Now, they also have complaints that high-density residential developments, bicycle lanes, mass transit and “sustainable” or “smart” growth are part of a 22-year-old United Nations plot to undermine the American way of life.

“It’s all a part of this Agenda 21,” said Mount Pleasant native Cindy Anderson, referring to the Coleman Boulevard Plan. “They will push us all into these urban centers – that’s the plan.”

Bill Eubanks, the creative director of Urban Edge Studio at Seamon, Whiteside & Associates, who authored Mount Pleasant’s Coleman Boulevard master plan, said he’s heard concerns about Agenda 21, a 351-page document outlining ideas to address poverty, housing and environmental problems, including climate change.

“I have looked into the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory claims and not only do I think they are unfounded, I think they are absolutely ludicrous,” he said. “Worse than that, buying into this ridiculous fear-mongering can stand in the way of both sustainability and smart growth – something our communities really need.”…

Apparently, “Agenda 21″ is to development what “Common Core” is to education standards — some sort of dog-whistle thing that only the conspiracy-sensitive can hear.

Those who fear this supposed agenda say it could lead to people getting out of their cars and riding mass transit. Which, of course, sounds awesome. I don’t know whether the U.N. has a plan for that, but I do. Alas, I don’t think any of us will live to see it where we live…

Odd interpretation of a poll result

This release left me scratching my head a bit:

Poll: Parents Say Too Much Focus on Standardized Tests

Opposition to Common Core Most Intense Among Parents

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2014) — Parents of school-age children are unhappy with the amount of time spent on standardized tests and have strong opinions on other controversial education policies, including Common Core and school vouchers, according to a new national poll released today.

The Schooling in America Survey, released annually by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Braun Research, includes a statistically representative sample of school parents. It found 44 percent of those parents said children spend too much time preparing for and taking assessments; 22 percent said too low, 30 percent said the focus is about right, and 5 percent had no opinion.

So… 52 percent say kids spend about the right amount of time on standardized tests, or even not enough time, while 44 percent say they spend too much time on them.

What sort of group would look at those figures and come away with the headline, “Poll: Parents Say Too Much Focus on Standardized Tests,” which is only accurate in the sense that some parents (a minority) say that?

Oh. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. OK. Yeah…

Mind you, I’m not sticking up for standardized tests here. I probably would have been in the 44 percent saying too much time is spent on them, although I’m far from passionate on the subject.

But what a screwy interpretation…

So are you truly, unambiguously going to support this guy?

This is a good day to be Nancy Mace or Det Bowers. Because they are the only two of the crowd of people running against Lindsey Graham in the GOP primary who did not just sign a pledge to support the guy who called the senator “ambiguously gay.”

Here’s the money quote, which caused enough of a splash that Chris Cillizza of The Fix retweeted me when I mentioned it yesterday, leading to 17 other retweets and 8 favorites:

Feliciano said, “It’s about time that South Carolina (says) hey, We’re tired of the ambiguously gay senator from South Carolina. We’re ready for a new leader to merge the Republican Party. We’re done with this. This is what it’s about, all of us coming together and saying, one way or the other, one of us is going to be on that ballot in November.”

It was said by the (formerly) most obscure of the candidates, the suddenly-famous Dave Feliciano of Spartanburg, at a presser in which he and three others — Bill Connor, Lee Bright and Richard Cash — signed a pledge promising to support any one of their number who gets into a runoff with Graham.

Dave Feliciano, in an image from his campaign website.

Dave Feliciano, in an image from his campaign website.

Put another way, Bill Connor, Lee Bright and Richard Cash just pledged to support Dave Feliciano over Lindsey Graham.

Just when you thought they couldn’t take ideology far enough…

After the presser, Connor and Cash both denounced Feliciano’s characterization of the senator, but both confirmed they would still stick to the pledge, according to The State. Bright reportedly left the event before Feliciano spoke, which shows he’s not named “Bright” for nothing.

I wrote to Bill Connor via Facebook a few minutes ago to ask him again, “would you really support this Feliciano guy over Sen. Graham?” Because I still find that hard to believe. But then, I find the attitude of the kinds of Republicans who would oppose Graham sort of hard to believe, so this is not surprising.

Nice to see Tom Davis backing away from nullification

I’ve always seen Tom Davis as a (mostly) reasonable man, and have been distressed to see his drift into extremism over the last couple of years.

So I’m pleased to see him take a deliberate step away from the antebellum notion of Nullification:

Davis,TomCOLUMBIA, SC — A Republican lawmaker says he plans to take the “nullification” out of the Obamacare nullification bill before the state Senate….

“The conversation really has gotten off the rails a little bit,” Davis said Wednesday, after holding three public hearings across the state that drew hundreds. “Everybody talks about nullification. This isn’t nullification. We can’t nullify.”…

Amen to that, senator. No, we can’t. That’s been pretty clear ever since 1865, if not sooner.

But it’s a bit disingenuous for Tom to act like other people have somehow gone “off the rails” with all this nullification talk:

  • I remember his presence at this Ron Paul press conference at which nullification was spoken of approvingly.
  • Then there was his speech at a… Nullification Rally… at which he praised John C. Calhoun as “a great man who has been maligned far too long.” And by the way, Tom himself called it a “nullification rally” when he thanked someone for putting up video of his speech.

So… Tom no longer wants to nullify Obamacare. However, he does want to sabotage it, to do all he can to make it fail. Which is not the most positive attitude I’ve ever heard of with regard to respecting laws legitimately passed by the Congress.

But this is progress…

North Korea is so incredibly backward, it issues threats by fax

Now that Kim Jong Un’s uncle has been executed and he no longer has adult supervision, he’s issuing threats. And how is he doing so, on the verge of the year 2014?

By fax:

North Korea on Friday threatened to attack South Korea without any notice via a fax sent to South Korea’s National Security Council, the Ministry of Defence said in Seoul.

The fax made reference to recent demonstrations in which effigies of Kim Jong Un were burnt in Seoul on the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, an issue that often aggravates the North.

South Korea reacted firmly to Pyongyang’s warning that it would “mercilessly” attack “without notice” by sending a fax back that promised “resolute punishment” to any attack initiated by the North….

I like that touch — fighting fax with fax. Like, if you shoot a medieval catapult at us, we’re gonna shoot a medieval catapult back at you.

It’s got to be unsettling in Seoul, being so close to an adversary so deeply irrational that he puts you on notice that he’s going to attack without notice, completely without irony. And does it by fax. And isn’t embarrassed about it…

How delusional can some liberals be? There’s no limit…

Did you shake your head when you read this, which appeared under the Bizarro-World headline, “Clyburn too conservative?

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn is used to political foes calling him liberal. They’ve been doing it for years. Now, though, prominent liberals are coming after him for being too conservative.

The patron saint of delusional Democrats.

The patron saint of delusional Democrats.

Several left-wing groups are criticizing South Carolina’s Clyburn, the No. 3 Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, for his relationship with one of the party’s influential centrist policy organizations.

The founders of that think tank, Third Way, attacked U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., last week for pushing tax hikes for the rich and increases in Social Security benefits, and for taking other stances that they said represented risky fiscal approaches and bad political strategies.

Allies of Warren, a freshman lawmaker who is a rising star in Washington, struck back quickly.

Four liberal groups asked Clyburn of Columbia and 11 other Democratic members of Congress who are “honorary co-chairs” of Third Way to repudiate the condemnation of Warren and sever their ties with the organization…

Do you recall, back during the Democratic Convention last year, when I highly praised a speech by Bill “Third Way” Clinton? Aside from the fact that it may have been, as I said, the most skilled and powerful political speech yet in this century (and as I noted at the time, that was coming from “the editor who presided over an editorial board that was tied as first in the country to call on him to resign after he admitted lying to us”) — certainly the best I ever heard from Clinton — my positive impression of it was heightened by the fact that it followed an atrocious rant from Elizabeth Warren, which I characterized as follows: “She gave one of those speeches full of resentments and blame, the kind that makes me dislike political parties so much.”

Which is, you know, pretty much par for the course for her. These allies of hers, if anything, tend toward even sillier rhetoric:

“We’re calling on James Clyburn to do the right thing and immediately drop his affiliation with the Wall Street-backed Third Way…”

“Wall Street-backed” being a very powerful epithet among these people. Because, apparently, business is evil by its very nature in their belief system.

Embracing the Third Way.

Embracing the Third Way.

It’s interesting to me that, just as John Boehner is finally reining in the loonies in his party — and they’ve been on quite a rampage for several years now — the left wing of the Democratic Party is going on a delusional tear of its own.

The only way this embrace of Sen. Warren as presidential timber for 2016 makes sense for Democrats is that it would provide Hillary Clinton with a way of looking sensible and mainstream by contrast (which she is, by contrast), putting her in a strong position for the general election.

But I don’t think these folks are thinking that way. I think they actually believe Sen. Warren represents a direction in which they can pull the country. Hence my use of the word, “delusional.”

Apparently, there was NOT a mass exodus from SC schools today

Fun fact: If you do a Google Images search on "Sheri Few," this picture that I took during an editorial board meeting years ago is still the second one that comes up.

Fun fact: If you do a Google Images search on “Sheri Few,” this picture that I took during an editorial board meeting years ago is still the second one that comes up.

There was a lot of talk last week — from people who supported the event to those who were horrified at the idea of encouraging kids to skip school — about this thing Sheri Few was putting together:

Hundreds of South Carolina parents are expected to rally and possibly pull their children from schools on Monday to show their opposition to the Common Core State Standards.

The Columbia event is part of National Don’t Send Your Child to School Day, which was organized to raise awareness about Common Core. Those standards are the new requirements for what K-12 students must learn in English language arts and math.

“It is our hope that it sends a loud message to the education establishment and the decision makers in our state that we’re going to protect our children from these flawed standards,” said Sheri Few, president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, a group that is opposed to the standards…

Well, apparently the message wasn’t all that loud.

Jamie Self of The State Tweeted this morning, “About 50ppl have lined up for march against Common Core at SC Dept of Ed on Senate St.” She posted this picture to go with it. She later reported that about 100 showed, so maybe there were some who were tardy.

Anyway, apparently there was no mass exodus from the schools today.

The threat from North Korea

This morning around 4:30, as I often do at about that time, I woke up. My allergies were bothering me. I took one of those little white, generic antihistamine/decongestant pills I get from Walmart, and went over to push the button on my iPhone so I could note the time.

As the lock screen lit up, I saw this alert from the AP:

March 07, 4:19AM: Ahead of U.N. sanctions vote, North Korea vows pre-emptive nuclear strikes against U.S.

Yeah, right, OK. I went back to bed sort of muttering the way Rob in “High Fidelity” did after, in a fantasy sequence, throwing the insufferable Ian out of his shop: That dumb mother…

Thinking, of course of Kim Jong-un.

I mean, who does that? Who actually threatens a nuclear attack against the United States? Real countries don’t do that. The Soviet Union never did that, in so many words. We knew they had the capability to do so, the real, existential threat was always there. But they were never so uncool, so nekulturny, as to say it.

Only the sort of ridiculous loser who keeps his people literally in the dark, the country is so far behind — who develops nukes instead of anything useful? — blusters like that. (OK, technically his father did that, but I sort of look at them as one administration.)

I went back to sleep, and didn’t think about it again until mid-morning. When I tried to look it up, I found it on my Washington Post app, as the seventh headline on the screen: “N. Korea threatens nuclear strike,” two items below “Obama invites Paul Ryan to lunch.”

Of course, maybe The Washington Post and I are wrong to be dismissive. Maybe it’s the crazy blusterer, rather than a superpower with full MAD capability, that we need to worry about. But it just doesn’t feel like, say, a Cuban Missile Crisis.

Oh, and guess what? The U.N. went ahead with the sanctions. No mushroom clouds yet…

First, key SC lawmakers were dead serious about nullification; now, they’re taking testimony from a secessionist. And yes, it’s 2013

We are really on a roll in South Carolina this week. On a rapid downhill roll, as on the proverbial handcart to hell.

SC Democrats put out this release today:

Well-known Secessionist invited by GOP lawmaker to give testimony in support of Nullification

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Laws held a hearing on H3101, otherwise known as the “Nullification” bill that seeks to nullify the Affordable Care Act, heard testimony from dozens of Tea Party activists on Wednesday. One of the speakers, Dr. Donald Livingston of Georgia, separated himself from the other speakers when he publicly advocated for secession during his testimony.

Dr. Livingston, a retired philosophy professor testifying in support of nullification, was invited to give the lead testimony by the bill’s chief sponsor, Representative Bill Chumley. Dr. Livingston later admitted in his testimony that he had not actually read Rep. Chumley’s bill.

Dr. Donald Livingston is the former director of the League of the South, a neo-confederate group that actively supports southern nationalism as well as secession from the United States. (Source) The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the League of the South as a “racist hate group.” (Source) Dr. Livingston has been dubbed the “Intellectual Godfather of the secession movement” by New York Times journalist Chris Hedges. Dr. Livingston has written extensively in support of secession and southern heritage. (Source)

In 2001, he told the Intelligence Report that “the North created segregation” and that Southerners fought during the Civil War only “because they were invaded.” The next year, he established the Abbeville Institute, based in Atlanta, along the lines of the League of the South. (Source)

At a 2003 “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference he said that “evil is habit-forming” and no habit is as evil as believing that Lincoln acted out of good motives. (Source)

Representative James Smith, a member of the subcommittee, released the following statement in response:

“I was surprised and extremely disappointed Rep. Bill Chumley would invite Dr. Livingston to serve as his chief advocate in front of the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee. His extreme views on secession and his association with a known racist hate group insults the institution we serve and reveals the motives behind many who support this legislation. I fundamentally reject his vision for our country and I call on my colleagues to do the same.”

####

It’s really been weird lately. At home in the evenings, I read Team of Rivals, and just started rewatching Ken Burns’ classic “The Civil War” on Netflix. Reading and watching at night, I think that what I’m doing is studying history.

But then I get up in the morning, and day after day, this insane nonsense turns out to be current events over at our State House.

View of Jim DeMint changed radically after the 2004 campaign

I was rather startled to run across something I’d written about Jim DeMint in 2004.

For so many years now, I’ve seen him as a hyperpartisan ideologue, as responsible as anyone in the country for pulling his party into Tea Party extremism right up until his recent resignation from the Senate, that I’d forgotten I used to see him differently.

Here’s what I wrote right after the 2004 election, when he had defeated Inez Tenenbaum in the contest to replace Fritz Hollings:

While I criticized Rep. DeMint heavily for choosing to run as a hyperpartisan (despite his record as an independent thinker), there’s little doubt that that strategy was his key to victory. The president won South Carolina 58-41, and Mr. DeMint beat Mrs. Tenenbaum 54-44, demonstrating the power of the coattail effect. I congratulate him, and sincerely hope he now returns to being the thoughtful policy wonk he was before he wrapped himself in party garb in recent weeks.

Wow. What a difference a few years make. “Thoughtful policy wonk?” I only vaguely remember that Jim DeMint.

So that’s when it began. Before the 2004 campaign, I saw him as a fairly thoughtful guy. But I guess that campaign showed him what red meat could do for him…

Tom Davis at the ‘nullification rally’

This morning, I saw this on Twitter from Tom Davis:

Thanks, Ed Eichelberger, for this video of my speech at Tuesday’s nullification rally at the S. C. State House. http://fb.me/1eyP5zmGG

“Nullification rally?” Is that what was going on when I passed by on Tuesday.? Wait, let me go check. No, I was right: This is 2013, and not 1832…

I didn’t have time to look at the video until tonight. Before I wrap up for today, I want to take note of it here. We must all remember this when Tom runs against Lindsey Graham next year. If he does. Or when he runs for anything in the future.

I have always liked Tom Davis personally, and I have been very disturbed to see his steady descent into fringe extremism.

In case you don’t have time to watch it all, some lowlights:

  • Lee Bright’s absolutely right.
  • Launching on a history lesson — neoConfederates are big on condescendingly explaining their version of history to the rest of us, and Tom is picking up their habits — he says that George Washington was president in 1800. No, Tom, he wasn’t. Kind of makes you want to double-check all the other stuff he says. In case you didn’t already know to do that.
  • He says, with fierce, defensive passion, that as a South Carolinian he is “proud of John C. Calhoun,” whom he characterizes as “a great man who has been maligned far too long.”
  • “You have the intellectual high ground here.” This to the assembled nullificationists.
  • “I can’t do anything right now up in Congress…” As opposed to later, I guess.
  • “This state has a proud tradition of leaders stepping up and holding aloft the candle of liberty at a time when things were darkest.” Really? I would like to have heard an elaboration on that, with names and dates, so I can understand how Tom is defining “liberty” these days.

Mulvaney among those Republicans flipping off Boehner

As much as all of the Four Tea Party Freshman in the SC congressional delegation (I guess after yesterday, they are technically sophomores) like to dis the GOP leadership in the House, with Joe Wilson tagging along behind them, only one of them refused to vote for John Boehner for another term as speaker.

That was Mick Mulvaney. Why? Well, he’s not talking about it:

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney declined Thursday to support giving U.S. Rep. John Boehner a second term as House speaker, joining 11 other Republican lawmakers who protested the Ohioan’s leadership…

398px-Mick_Mulvaney,_Official_Portrait,_112th_CongressNine Republican lawmakers voted for someone other than Boehner, three of them backing his deputy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Mulvaney, by contrast, declined to vote for anyone despite being present in the House chamber. Raul Labrador of Idaho, like Mulvaney a tea party favorite who first gained election in 2010, chose the same tactic…

Mulvaney, who represents South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, later declined to respond to subsequent requests for comment from reporters.

“Mick won’t be available to speak,” his press secretary, Stephanie Faile, told McClatchy. “He is spending the rest of the day with his family.”…

I wonder whether he sat up the night before this, thinking, What would be even more petulant and pouty than declining to vote for speaker? I know! Declining to vote, then refusing to say why!

I guess it beats pulling Boehner’s pants down and shoving him into the ladies’ room

Surprise! The NRA concedes nothing

Stag2wi_

Earlier in the week, we saw this release from the NRA:

National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters—and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.

… which kind of made it sound like the gun lobby, sensing a change in mood in the country, even among some traditional allies, was willing to concede something, give some ground, agree to something it would never have agreed to before. I mean, that’s what “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions” sounds like to most people.

Fat chance.

Here’s what they came up with today:

WASHINGTON—The nation’s most powerful gun-rights lobby called Friday for armed security guards in schools, saying that children had been left vulnerable in their classrooms.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said that “the monsters and the predators of the world” have exploited the fact that schools are gun-free zones. Other important institutions—from banks to airports to sports stadiums—are protected with armed security, he said, but this country has left students defenseless.

So basically, their response to the nation’s concern over all those guns out there is… more guns. That, and gun-lover buzz phrases: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” It would never occur to the NRA that maybe, just maybe, an even better solution would be to keep the bad guy from getting a gun to begin with. There’s a whole lot less crossfire that way, for one thing.

Mind you, I’m not entirely against the idea of armed officers in schools. Mainly because, as I’ve said before, I think the likelihood of gun control measures that would really, truly keep guns out of the hands of bad guys is next to nil. It’s an economic problem. There are just too many guns out there chasing too many tragedies. Think chaos theory gone mad.

But I also think that’s not going to happen. For every extreme gun nut out there — the kind who sits up late oiling and stroking his weapons and whispering pet names to them, and thinks government exists to threaten his “freedoms” — there’s a corresponding gunophobe who goes weak in the knees at the very sight of anything that looks like a firearm, who gets chills down the spine at the idea of being within range of one, even in the hands of cops. And a lot of those folks in the latter groups have little kids in school, and would have an absolute stroke at the idea of any sort of firearms in the vicinity of their children. (And this week, it’s a little hard to argue with their emotional response.)

Beyond that, though, my real objection is this: The NRA’s utter unwillingness to say, “Here’s something we’re willing to give up.” This was a moment for doing that. Something, anything, however marginal or minimal in impact, that said “fewer guns” rather than “more guns.”

But the folks at the gun lobby seem to be genetically incapable of that. Or something.

These voices of reassurance don’t soothe me

This morning, there was an op-ed piece by Rand Paul (not Paul Ryan; the other one with very similar name and identical ideas) suggesting that we need not necessarily “wring our hands in despair at the possible fiscal cliff.”

Then later today, I get this from Gary Johnson, the guy who ran for president this year as a Libertarian:

Since the election, I’ve been able to spend some time at home in New Mexico, recharge my batteries a bit, and most important, watch what’s going on in Washington, DC – which is really nothing good.

Gary Johnson

The news is filled with stories about the “looming fiscal cliff”.  Of course, in Washington, their definition of a “cliff” is that government spending will be cut next year by slightly more than $100 billion – IF Congress and the President don’t come to an agreement to cut spending by LESS than that. With a $16 trillion debt and trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, only in Washington would cutting $100 billion be viewed as an impending disaster.

The real disaster – the real “fiscal cliff” – is the one we face if spending ISN’T cut by far more than $100 billion…  There are talking heads on TV saying, with a straight face, that cutting spending by a few small percentage points will devastate the economy. Where were those talking heads when the Democrats and Republicans were conspiring to run up an unsustainable $16 TRILLION national debt.  Who is pointing out the obvious:  That ridiculous levels of spending have already devastated the economy – and that the so-called fiscal cliff is a pothole compared to the real cliff that our Thelma and Louise government is driving us over.

And so forth. Somehow, I am not consoled by these assertions. Nor am I pacified when some of our friends on the left (and more libertarian elements of the right) say it’s just fine if military spending is eviscerated.

Call me wacky, but count me among those hoping that the Dems and Repubs will work out a way to avert this booby-trap they set during their last major failure to be reasonable on fiscal matters — you know, the one that let to the downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.

The Onion turns to straight reporting

Don’t know if you saw this at The Onion. What grabbed me about it is that it is in no way an exaggeration. There are hundreds of Republicans across the nation who are actually, sincerely torn by the horns of this very “dilemma,” even though they wouldn’t describe it in the same words:

Congressman Torn Between Meaningless Pledge To Anti-Tax Zealot, Well-Being Of Nation

WASHINGTON—Amid ongoing negotiations in Congress over the looming “fiscal cliff,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) told reporters Wednesday he is “completely torn” between his commitment to conservative activist Grover Norquist’s meaningless anti-tax pledge and the general welfare of the entire country. “On the one hand, you have a nonsensical promise to blindly oppose tax increases regardless of circumstances, but on the other, you have the well-being of more than 300 million people and the long-term stability of the entire U.S. economy,” said Reed, adding that he is “really stuck between a rock and a hard place” now that he must decide between his loyalty to a dogmatic political lobbyist and his responsibility to serve the best interests of his constituents. “At the end of the day, it’s a question of whether a nonbinding signature on an outdated and worthless pledge written 26 years ago is more important than preventing the nation from completely going to hell. I just don’t know what to do here.” When reached for comment, Norquist urged the pledge’s signatories in Congress to “remember what’s really important” before sacrificing utterly irrational principles for the sake of the country’s future.