Category Archives: Democrats

Hillary Clinton’s first visit to SC since 2008 campaign

Hillary Clinton

The presumptive Democratic nominee came back to South Carolina today wielding a middle-class-populist message (is it populist if it’s middle-class, or merely “popular”?).

She kept telling us besieged members of the bourgeoisie that she was going to “go to bat” for us. She used other metaphors for what she would do, but I’m very happy to report that I didn’t hear her say that she would “fight” for us. She may have and I missed it, but I was listening for it, because I hate it so.

So I guess that’s one way in which she’s distinguishing herself from the populism of Elizabeth Warren, while still trying to go after the same segment of the party — so as to, you know, keep what’s-her-name out of it.

Maggie Haberman of the NYT reported that Hillary’s “southern twang is back,” but I certainly didn’t hear it. Maybe you had to be from New York to pick up on it. Nevertheless, the candidate traced her experience with SC back to when she worked for Bennettsville’s Marian Wright Edelman at the Children’s Defense Fund, and later attended Linda and Phil Lader’s Renaissance Weekends down in the Lowcountry.

The candidate’s best-received line was when she said, after noting how much the White House ages presidents, “I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I have one big advantage… I’ve been coloring my hair for years.” She promised we wouldn’t see her go gray in the job.

Beyond that, here are most of my Tweets from the event:

The Jack Kuenzie thing was out of sync. It was before the event, but got held up for some reason.

By the way, you know that item where I said “Weird situation after speech. Her people won’t let us near her, and won’t let us leave…”? Twitter kinda went ape about it. It went in a modest way. There were 33 direct reTweets and 11 favorites, and lots of reTweets of reTweets. I lost count.

Which made me kind of insecure. I had not tried to leave the hall at that point; I had just heard we couldn’t from another media type. Specifically, on the first of three times I got pushed back by Clinton staff, I told Dianne Gallagher, who was headed toward the candidate, that they weren’t letting us near her. Dianne said something to the effect of that put is in a fix, because they weren’t letting us leave the room, either.

After people made such a big deal about that Tweet, I wrote to Dianne to make sure I had heard her right. She replied, “Oh yeah. They said we had to wait. Wouldn’t open the door for us.”

I was relieved to have heard her right the first time.

It was no big deal, as one Tweeter had the good sense to note. But a lot of people seemed to think it was a metaphor for something…

You’ve Got Mail: ‘Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!’

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Well, some of her emails have been released:

The State Department on Friday released nearly 900 pages of e-mails on Libya and the Benghazi attacks from the private account Hillary Rodham Clinton used while she was secretary of state.

The messages have been turned over to a select House committee investigating the Sept. 11-12, 2012, attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, in which the ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed.

Few of the e-mails deal directly with events leading up to the attacks or their aftermath, according to those who have seen them. Many contain administrative details, press accounts, speech drafts and other information exchanged between Clinton and her senior aides.

But the messages, some of which were published this week by the New York Times, capture the concerns of Clinton and other officials about the political chaos that engulfed Libya during and following the 2011 NATO air attacks that facilitated the overthrow and death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi later that year….

If you want to read them instead of just read about them, click here.

Hillary: ‘I want those emails out!’ I’ll bet she DOES…

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Hillary Clinton has broken a month’s media silence with a brief, but testy, exchange of questions with reporters that saw her demand the swift release of her personal emails and defend money received by her family.

The former secretary of state called on the department to “expedite” the release of the records from her time in office after news that it might take until January to publish the cache recently turned over by her office….

Now, before you scoff, let me say that I take her at her word. When I read that the State Department was planning on dragging its feet until at least January, my very first thought was that this was very bad news for Hillary.

Think about it: If you’re she, would you rather have it all come out now, when there’s time to explain and then let people forget, or right as the primaries are starting?

So I believe her.

Hillary Rodham (not yet ‘Clinton’) in 1979

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Buzzfeed posted these clips (you’ll have to follow the link; the embed code isn’t working) from an interview with Arkansas First Lady Hillary Rodham (she had not yet taken Bill’s name). Buzzfeed notes:

In 1979, a month into her tenure as Arkansas first lady, Rodham sat down for an interview with the Arkansas public affairs program In Focus. The interview, available on BuzzFeed News for the first time in decades, is among the earliest, and most open, glimpses of Clinton’s efforts to balance public and private life, a theme that has followed her long career. Archived in the special collections at the University of Arkansas, the nearly half-hour-long interview offers an insight into the future Hillary Clinton and her early attempts to navigate the tough waters as the wife of a political figure — while keeping her own identity and privacy.

As for the video — yeah, we looked funny back then.

In the interests of fairness — that is, embarrassing a Republican equally — I went out and dug up this image of Marco Rubio at around that same time.

as-a-child-rubio-wore-leg-braces-because-his-knees-turned-inward

NYT: ‘You Don’t Have to Tell a Clinton Twice’

Interesting piece in The New York Times, about the Clintons, and specifically about a certain pattern that has become familiar in their long political career: “what their admirers call grit and critics deem shamelessness can overshadow another essential element of the Clinton school: a willingness to put on the hair shirt of humility to regain power.”

When he tried to regain the governor’s office in Arkansas in 1982, Bill told voters, “My daddy never had to whip me twice for the same thing.” Hillary has never been as folksy, but this story goes into the ways she determinedly puts her mistakes behind her:

When she used a video message to enter the Democratic presidential race in early 2007, she sat alone on a couch, used some variation of “I” no fewer than 11 times and proclaimed an uninspired theme: “I’m in it to win it.” This time, she started with a film featuring miniature portraits of an array of voters, appeared on-screen only after 1 minute 18 seconds, and emphasized “your vote” and “your time.”

In 2008, she was at times criticized for being detached from voters, insulated in a bubble of staff and security and avoiding spontaneity. She began her 2016 campaign by riding 16 hours in a van from New York to Iowa, making unannounced stops at gas stations and fast-food restaurants, before arriving for what were billed as a series of low-key conversations with a handful of voters.

Her first campaign was characterized by a contentious relationship with the news media; she recently spoke at a banquet celebrating political journalism and brought on a new cadre of news-media-friendly aides who held olive-branch get-togethers for reporters days before Mrs. Clinton declared her candidacy….

And so forth.

Still… the recent contretemps about her email illustrates that there are some lessons she does have to get whipped for more than once, such as the need to be transparent.

And while it’s convenient to lump them together as “the Clintons,” I don’t know that she has quite the capacity that is second nature to her husband, the quality that makes him willing to do anything to get folks to love him.

As I said in a comment yesterday, Bill will go into a restaurant and shake hands with everybody in the place because he wants to, because it scratches an itch deep within him. Hillary will go in and shakes hands with everybody because someone has persuaded her that she has to….

I’m not looking for a candidate who ‘cares about people like me’

Hillary on her van tour, posing with regular folks whom she is JUST LIKE. Not...

Hillary on her van tour, posing with regular folks whom she is JUST LIKE. Not…

Well, it’s gratifying to see that plenty of other people hated the Hillary Clinton campaign launch video as much as I did.

Some may even have hated it more.

From a Ruth Marcus column headlined, “Hillary Clinton’s insultingly vapid video:”

The more I watch Hillary Clinton’s announcement video, the less I like it. This may be putting it mildly.

I understand what Clinton & Co. were trying to do: Make the moment less about Hillary, more about the voters. Downplay the sense of Clinton as inevitable juggernaut and entitled successor to the dynastic throne….

What’s wrong with that?

For one, the video was relentlessly, insultingly vapid — a Verizon commercial without the substance. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said in what passed for a meaty message. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

Seriously, this makes Ronald Reagan’s gauzy “It’s Morning Again in America” commercial look like a Brookings Institution seminar on economic policy….

Ouch. And Richard Cohen wrote:

The icky commercial she used to announce her candidacy was hardly a position paper. It looked like one of those Vaseline-lensed dog-food commercials, so lacking substance that I wondered if I had summoned the wrong video from the Internet. I am writing now about 15 hours after seeing the thing, and for the life of me all I can remember is a bunch of happy people and Clinton saying something about being on the side of the middle class. I think it is no mere coincidence that the Clinton campaign now has the services of Wendy Clark, a senior marketing specialist from Coca-Cola. Maybe Clinton will “teach the world to sing.”

And that was in a column that overall was fairly favorable…

So I’m not the only grouch in America.

So why did she do it? Chriz Cillizza writes for The Fix:

One of the major failures of her 2008 presidential campaign was that people didn’t believe that Clinton cared or understood much about them.  Look at the 2008 Iowa caucus entrance poll. Among people who said the most important trait in a candidate was someone who “cares about people like me”, Clinton placed a distant third behind John Edwards, who dominated among that group, and Barack Obama.

If 2008 was about “Me” for Clinton, 2016 is supposed to be about “Us.”…

Yeah. You know, John Edwards was the perfect candidate for voters looking for a candidate who “cares about people like me.” John Edwards was exactly what people who vote that way deserve.

I’m not looking for an empathizer-in-chief. That was the role her husband played too often back in the touchy-feely, post-Cold War 90s (bite the lip; give the thumbs-up), and it drove me nuts. He was a smart guy on policy; why did he have to be so smarmy?

I want somebody who will direct U.S. policy — starting with foreign policy — with intelligence, insight and effectiveness, to the advantage of the United States and all it stands for. Talk to me about that, please. Don’t feel my pain — I expect the president to be too busy for that.

And I’m not even going to get into the most offensive part of that phrase, the “like me” part — as though one is saying that people who are NOT “like me” can all take a flying leap. Identity Politics taken to its ugly extreme.

But the worst thing about this in terms of what it says about the candidate is that it is false. That Cillizza piece was headlined “The tremendously difficult task of selling Hillary Clinton as a regular person,” and after the above-quoted part, it continued:

Here’s the problem: Hillary Clinton hasn’t been “us” for, well, almost her entire adult life. She was featured in Life magazine in 1969 after making history as the first student to give a commencement address at Wellesley College. By 30, she was married to the Arkansas attorney general and by her mid 30s she was firmly ensconced as the first lady of the Natural State.  Then, starting in 1991, Clinton was (and is) an ever-present figure on the national and international stage — first as the most powerful First Lady in modern memory, then as a Senator, then as a presidential candidate and, finally, as the nation’s top diplomat.

There is no one in political life with a resume as deep, unique and varied as Clinton. No one.  But, the fact that she has been “Hillary Clinton” for the better part of, well, forever makes it extremely difficult to re-package her as just like the rest of us. The truth is that Hillary hasn’t been a regular person in a very, very long time. She has been famous for decades on end — instantly recognizable since back in the days when cell phones looked like this….

So admit who you are, the long-time policy wonk. You know, the one who took all those other wonks into a room and came out with Hillarycare. And then convince us that — that incident to the contrary (even Bill couldn’t sell it) — you’re good at it. That’s what I want from a candidate.

Hillary Clinton (yawn) and Marco Rubio (yawn) join the fray

Just in case y’all had anything to say about these nonevents.

Above is her announcement video, below is his (which he released in advance of his announcement). Thoughts?

This morning, I was reading commentary on the Clinton announcement from yesterday, and the word was that she had learned that it wasn’t all about Hillary, that it was about us regular folks out here, which is why her video doesn’t show her until near the end — you know, when she says, Oh, yeah, all you little people? Well I’m getting ready to run for president… Or something to that effect.

My reaction to that is… no, it’s about you, Hillary. So don’t waste my time with touchy-feely stuff that reminds me of the recent gag video that contains Everything You Hate About Advertising in One Fake Video That’s Almost Too Real. You’re the one running. You’re the one who needs to explain yourself. Don’t try to distract me, especially not with faux populism.

As for Marco Rubio…

At least he spends the time explaining himself and his concept of the country. But then, he’s got more ‘splainin’ to do. I’m sorry, explaining. The Ricky Ricardo thing is probably uncool in this case. My point being that he’s less well known.

In any case, I got more meaning, more relevance from his than from hers. What did y’all think?

All hope is lost? You sure? THEN STOP BOTHERING ME.

hope

I think the hyperbole machine at the DCCC has outdone itself this time.

I mean, after “all hope is lost,” what’s left in the way of rhetoric designed to instill panic in the saps who give you money to crank out this pooge?

You can’t top this…

I’ve noticed that these emails have been slightly more hysterical than usual, since I’ve been back. One the other day was just totally freaking out because the Republicans had passed a budget. And I was like, Yeah, that’s what you’re supposed to do when elected to Congress. You’re supposed to pass a budget. I realize this is a new concept to you…

Harry Reid’s leaving. So can we open Yucca Mountain now?

That was my first thought when I heard that at long last, Harry Reid will be leaving the Senate.

By Image by Daniel Mayer taken on 2002-03-25 © 2002 and released under terms of the GNU FDL. [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image by Daniel Mayer taken on 2002-03-25 © 2002 and released under terms of the GNU FDL. [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, the place the nation decided long ago would be our permanent repository for nuclear waste MAY open, with its chief obstacle retiring. It’s long past time that Yucca Mountain provide South Carolina (and other states) some relief on this. That was the plan, and it was always a good one.

So now it can happen.

Hey, I can hope, can’t I?

But beyond that, can you think of anything about Reid’s tenure as majority/minority leader that was good? Neither can I. His name just conjures up a lot of unpleasantness for me. He’s not alone in that; I have similar impressions of names such as Boehner, Pelosi and McConnell. Together they’ve presided over a particularly ugly and unproductive period in congressional history.

Dare I hope he’ll be replaced by someone who will turn that around?

Ummmm… Maybe I should just stick to hoping for the Yucca Mountain thing. That’ll be tough enough…

The whole ‘red state/blue state’ thing is backwards

"Red state, blue state" by Angr - self-made; base map is Image:Blank US Map.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_state,_blue_state.svg#/media/File:Red_state,_blue_state.svg

“Red state, blue state” by Angr – self-made; base map is Image:Blank US Map.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_state,_blue_state.svg#/media/File:Red_state,_blue_state.svg

While I was gone, one of my ADCO colleagues pinned this item on Pinterest, and my attention was drawn to it today when I saw it had gotten some repins.

It was a fun graphic from Digital Information World about all the associations we have with various colors. But what grabbed my attention was the observations about the political meanings of two colors in particular:

red

blue

Indeed, I have found this whole business of calling conservative states “red” and liberal states “blue” confusing ever since it got started.

Red has always been the color of revolution, of overturning the status quo, of charging the ramparts in the cause of radical change. Blue is the natural color of conservativism, as in blueblood, or the blue associated with royalty. Red is hot and dynamic, while blue is cool, sedate, satisfied with the status quo.

So why have we so widely accepted the opposite in recent years? Well, it was pretty random. Here’s Wikipedia’s account:

This terminology came into use in the United States presidential election of 2000 on an episode of the Today show on October 30, 2000. According to AlterNet and The Washington Post, the terms were coined by journalist Tim Russert, during his televised coverage of the 2000 presidential election.[1] That was not the first election during which the news media used colored maps to depict voter preferences in the various states, but it was the first time a standard color scheme took hold; the colors were often reversed or different colors used before the 2000 election.

It was just that random. Whoever made up the graphic just happened to use those colors that day, and it stuck, contrary to all reason.

And in the very next graf, Wikipedia acknowledges the contradiction:

This reverses a long-standing convention ofpolitical colors where red symbols (such as the Red Flag or Red Star) are associated with revolutionary movements, and conservative movements often choose blue as a contrasting color.[2]

That’s right. Anyway, it still bugs me…

Obamacare anniversary: Two blind men describing an elephant

That’s what I thought of when I saw these competing comments as I was cleaning out email from when I was gone.

First, from Lindsey Graham:

Obamacare’s Five-Year Anniversary 

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today issued the following statement on Obamacare five years after it was signed into law.

 

“Obamacare isn’t getting better with age.

 

“Five years after it became law, we’ve seen millions of Americans lose the health care coverage they were promised they could keep, while many other Americans have had their work hours and incomes reduced because of Obamacare.  I’ve opposed Obamacare from Day One and oppose it still today.  I believe we should ‘Repeal and Replace’ or allow Americans to ‘Opt-Out’ of Obamacare as I fear the worst is still to come.”

 

#####

Then, from Jim Clyburn:

CLYBURN STATEMENT ON 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn delivered the following statement today on the Capitol steps about the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act:

“Speaking at an international health care conference in 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” I profoundly agree with that view. Affordable access to quality health care should not depend on the circumstances of one’s birth.

“More than five years ago, during House debate on the Affordable Care Act, I labeled it “the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century,” and I am pleased and very proud that the law is living up to that moniker.

“Under the ACA, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against the 129 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions. 105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on their health coverage. No longer can women be penalized by insurance companies simply for being women. Thanks to the ACA, 16 million Americans who were previously uninsured finally have the security of health insurance for their families.

“Despite repeated Republican claims that the ACA would kill jobs, our economy is creating jobs at the fastest rate since the 1990s. So, as we gather to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, I’ve got a message to our Republican friends: The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Let’s work together to make it better.”’

– 30 –

Kinda hard to believe they’re looking at the same animal, isn’t it?

Here’s Where I am on the Hillary Clinton E-mail Thing

Where is this Clinton e-mail story going to end? I mean, the idea of running a server out of your house for privacy strikes me as paranoid. It’s not like the office of the Secretary of State didn’t have e-mail capability. In fact, having a government e-mail would seem like one of the perks of the job.

Here’s where I am on this: Under no circumstances should the Secretary of State be setting up a remote, private server for conducting official business. I don’t care if it has absolutely unassailable cybersecurity. Can we all agree on this, or am I off-base?

Aside from the technical aspects and the legalities, which we could argue over forever, is that ever since this revelation on March 2, 2015, we haven’t heard from Mrs. Clinton. Is she ever going to talk about this, or is she just going to ignore it? If this is how she handles controversies and crises, I’m not impressed. Everyone keeps talking about how strong a candidate Hillary is (or will be). I’m starting to question that. Seems like a good candidate would get out there and address this.

In related news, Lindsey Graham said he’s “never sent an e-mail“. Between Hillary running her own super-secret e-mail server and Sen. Graham never sending an e-mail, this is ridiculous. Can we just get some normal people up in Washington?

Your Virtual Front Page, Friday March 6, 2015

I’ll ease all y’all into my tenure in a nice comfortable way. We’ll start with a VPF today. (Tomorrow, the re-education camps will be open for business. On the bright side, coffee will be complimentary.)

1. POTUS comes to Columbia, SC: I drove by Benedict early this AM on my way out of town, so I missed all the hoopla. Did anyone do anything special for the Presidential trip?

2. Democrats vow to protect Boehner from Tea Party coup: I know the logic here is that the House Democrats would prefer to stay with Boehner than a more conservative Speaker who would be even less inclined to compromise, but it’s still a weird dynamic. I guess this is what passes for bipartisanship these days.

3. Iraq officials cast doubt on Spring offensive to re-take Mosul from ISIS: I guess if I were an Iraqi general, I’d be pessimistic about my military’s chances at accomplishing anything either. The Iraqi military seems to dissolve like sugar in hot water every time there’s serious fighting to be done.

4. Jenny Sanford applies for DHEC post:  She just sent them her resume. She’s a little on the thin side when it comes to experience, but she did say that while she was first lady of SC, “I spent a lot of time talking about health and wellness and disease prevention. Those are issues DHEC deals with seriously and consistently.” So she’s got that going for her.

5. Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail system might not have been very secure: I’m no tech expert, but I’m just going with the general idea that the federal government’s e-mail system is likely to be far more secure than anything that a private guy can set up for you in your home.

I had forgotten about Rep. Funderburk voting against Haley on ethics charge

Funderburk,Laurie

Rep. Funderburk

There are good reasons for us to change our way of choosing judges in SC. Stronger ones than the fact that the husband of a legislator was elected to the bench the other day.

I briefly wondered why Nikki Haley seized on that incident to push for reform — after all, such a situation didn’t bother her in 2009 (although she hates to be reminded of the fact) — but then I set it aside. Different people are motivated by different things at different times. I suppose a lot of folks agree with the governor on this reason. So I set it aside.

And frankly, I’m still inclined to think the governor actually wants reform. But I did find this interesting:

Rutherford: Haley attack on Funderburk ‘Political Payback’ for Ethics Committee Vote
 
Calls on Haley to apologize to members of the General Assembly and come clean about her previous vote
Columbia, SC – House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford released a statement in response to The State article revealing Governor Haley’s previous support for a Republican legislator’s spouse running for the Supreme Court in 2009 after criticizing the legislature this week for electing a highly-qualified Democratic member’s husband to be an Administration Law judge. Rutherford suggested Haley’s criticism of the legislature’s support for Judge Bill Funderburk was simply payback for his wife’s, Rep. Laurie Funderburk, vote to not dismiss ethics charges against Haley in 2012.
“Representative Laurie Funderburk had the courage and integrity to stand up three years ago and call a crook a crook, and now Governor Haley wants payback,” said House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford of Richland County. “When Governor Haley was in the House, she clearly voted to elect spouses of Republican legislators to judicial posts. Her new-found outrage can only be attributed to Rep. Funderburk’s vote to not dismiss charges against Haley for illegally hiding income she received from a company that did business with the state. We’ve always known Haley was a hypocrite, but she continues to prove it on an astonishingly frequent basis.”
Rutherford also blasted Haley for lying to a reporter on Thursday about her vote to elect Kaye Hearn to the South Carolina Supreme Court while her husband, George Hearn, was a member of the State House of Representatives.
Jamie Self of The State reported in Friday’s newspaper that Haley denied voting for Hearn after the House journal from May 13, 2009 clearly shows Haley casting an ‘aye’ vote in favor of tabling a motion that would reject Hearn from consideration.
“It isn’t often that you see a politician blatantly lie about a previous vote when roll-call votes are public record,” said Rep. Rutherford. “I was flabbergasted when I saw Governor Haley try to rewrite history and then call it ‘offensive’ that the reporter would even bring it up. But people often act erratic when they’ve been caught in a lie. Governor Haley owes the entire General Assembly an apology for this unbelievable display of hypocrisy.”
####

You know I had forgotten about that — Laurie Funderburk being the only one on the ethics committee who voted against the governor that time. But that’s what happened:

The committee voted unanimously to dismiss three charges against Ms. Haley. On the fourth charge, accusing the governor of failing to properly disclose her payment by the engineering firm, one member, Representative Laurie Slade Funderburk, a Democrat, voted against Ms. Haley….

By all means, let’s change the system, as long as it’s to something better. And to me, something better means something like the federal system, through which both political branches get a measure of control over who becomes a judge. There are systems that are worse than what we have in South Carolina, and I wouldn’t want to switch to one of those.

But this incident is an interesting thing to remember at this time…

Both ends of the political spectrum attacking the GOOD part of Haley’s tax-swap plan

This does not bode well for responsible policy-making in South Carolina. (Now, if there’s an “Understatement of the Year” contest somewhere, and there’s a cash prize, I want one of y’all to enter that statement for me, on account of the fact that I’m too modest to do it myself. If there’s more than one such contest, enter it in the one with the biggest cash prize. I mean, duh.)

I had an oh-so-brief, and oh-so-ill-founded, moment of optimism last week when I read this:

Competing state roads-funding plans from the GOP-controlled S.C. House and Republican Gov. Nikki Haley appear to be on a collision course unless a compromise can be reached by next week….

Because I thought, for that brief second, contrary to all past experience, that maybe it means they’re willing to raise the gas tax without a much-bigger cut in the income tax that would more than wipe out any overall advantage to the gas tax.

Silly me. I have these Panglossian moments from time to time, but they pass quickly enough when I run head-on into reality. This particular fit was fully over by the time I was done reading this bit:

Some GOP lawmakers, wary of opposition to Haley’s plan by the limited government Americans for Prosperity group, are hesitant to back a direct gas-tax increase….

Because, you know, that’s what’s important: Slavish devotion to the agendas of out-of-state groups that don’t give a tinker’s dam about South Carolina, rather than whether our state’s needs are attended to.

So basically, the problem with Haley’s “roads” plan isn’t the much-greater tax cut that has nothing to do with paying for roads. The problem, for our solons, is the very modest part that would benefit roads.

But surely, surely, there are some lawmakers who are neither automatons for Washington interest groups nor sensible folks who fear meeting such automatons in a primary.

Which is to say, there still ARE some Democrats in the Legislature, right? I mean, they’re too few to be effective or anything, but at least they can stand up for a needed, sensible tax increase when no one else will, just so somebody is standing up for wise policy. Right?

Wrong. Here’s what the Democrats are saying:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Democratic legislators say Gov. Nikki Haley’s plan to cut income taxes by $9 billion over the next decade is nothing but a tax hike for more than a million South Carolinians….

Haley announced last month she’s willing to support increasing the gas tax by 10 cents over three years to pay for road and bridge work, but only if legislators cut income taxes by 2 percentage points over 10 years….

The office’s economic advisers project that 1.1 million people who file income tax returns – or 46 percent of filers – would see no benefit because they would pay no personal income taxes anyway, due to previous cuts to the bottom brackets.

Democrats note those taxpayers would, however, pay the gas increase.

“One million people will only see a tax increase,” said Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia….

So basically, no one is articulating the case for what actually ought to happen. Which is that we should increase the tax (the ridiculously low tax) that already exists specifically for the purpose of paying for roads, since we don’t have enough money to fix and build roads. We can’t even get folks to stand up for it at a moment when it would cost so little politically, because gasoline prices are so low that no one would notice the increase.

Welcome to the State House.

It’s Big Block of Cheese Day! (But no Leo, I’m sad to say…)

Sure, it’s a political gimmick, signifying little — and let me stress that I am no fan of Jacksonian populism — but this got a smile out of me. If you, too, are nostalgic for the Bartlet administration, you should definitely watch the above video.

Alas, the founder of Big Block of Cheese Daymy favorite Bartletista, Leo — is no longer with us, and his absence makes for a slightly sad note in the reminiscence. But I enjoyed it anyway.

From the release from the real West Wing:

Here at the White House, we’re dedicated to making President Obama’s administration the most open and accessible in history. That’s why, for the second year in a row, we thought it’d be a gouda idea to brie-unite a certain cast of characters to help us bring back a tradition that dates back to the days of President Andrew Jackson.

On February 22, 1837, President Jackson had a 1,400-pound block of cheese hauled into the main foyer of the White House for an open house with thousands of citizens and his staff, where they discussed the issues of the day while carving off slabs of cheddar.

This year, we aim to do even feta. On Wednesday, January 21, in fromage to President Jackson (and to President Bartlet, if you’re a fan of The West Wing), we’re hosting the second-annual virtual Big Block of Cheese Day, where members of the Obama administration will take to social media to answer your questions about the President’s State of the Union address and the issues that are most important to you.

Log on to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr, and ask away using the hashtag#AskTheWH. We’ll do our best to answer as many questions as we can.

So be sure to visit WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU to watch the State of the Union address on January 20, 2015 at 9 p.m. ET and check out the schedule of all the ways you can engage on the following day, January 21. We camembert to think you’d miss it….

And here’s the original… I hope that someone at the White House today is meeting with the Cartographers for Social Equality….

Democrats walk back their awful casino proposal (a bit)

Two days ago, I said I hoped that when the SC House Democrats announced their legislative priorities on Tuesday, they would back away from their awful idea of legalizing casinos in order to pay for roads.

I didn’t have much confidence that they would, and I didn’t attend their presser.

But I’m pleased and surprised by the release they sent out after yesterday’s event. No, they didn’t abandon the idea. But it was no longer the first thing they mentioned on the topic of paying for roads, and the first thing was now the one rational way to do it — by raising the tax that is intended for that purpose, a tax that hasn’t been raised since 1987:

SC House Democrats Announce 2015 Legislative Agenda
Highlights include road funding, education funding reform, equal pay, redistricting reform
Columbia, SC – South Carolina House Democrats announced their legislative agenda for the 2015-16 session at a press conference at the state house on Tuesday. Led by Minority Leader Representative Todd Rutherford, Democrats first stressed the need to tackle road funding this session.
“House Democrats are endorsing an ‘all of the above’ approach to road funding this year,” said Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland). “The time to be picky about how we fund our roads is over. Simply put, we will not stand in the way of a gas tax increase, nor will we stand in the way of new revenue through casinos. The only thing we’ll stand in the way of is kicking the can down the road. We have to plug our $45 billion infrastructure deficit before a bridge collapses and people die.”
Democrats also called on the Governor and Republicans in the general assembly to withdraw their “embarrassing” appeal to the Supreme Court ruling over K-12 funding.
“For twenty years, Republicans have ignored the issue of education funding in South Carolina,” said Representative James Smith (D-Richland.) “Instead of fighting the Supreme Court ruling calling on us to address the inequalities in school funding, let’s actually roll up our sleeves and do it. We owe it to the students, parents, and teachers of South Carolina. “
Democrats also called on Governor Haley to negotiate a South Carolina-centered alternative to Medicaid Expansion with the federal government to allow us to bring our federal tax dollars back to the state.
“It makes zero sense to continue to refuse to accept our own tax dollars just so Governor Haley can thumb her nose at the President,” said Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg). “Fourteen Republican Governors have now come out in support of some sort of Expansion alternative that they negotiated with the federal government. Why shouldn’t we do the same?”
The other issues Democrats will focus on this session include equal pay for female state employees. South Carolina is one of just four states in the nation without a equal pay law. Representative Leon Stavrinakis has proposed a bill that would ban gender pay discrimination among state employees. His bill was modeled after a Louisiana bill that passed an overwhelming Republican General Assembly and signed into law by conservative Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.
House Democrats also endorsed a plan to establish a living wage in South Carolina. Currently, South Carolina is one of just five states in the country without a state-mandated minimum wage law. Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter’s proposal would set the wage at $10.10 per hour.
Democrats also pledged their support for ethics reform this session. Though they said any ethics reform should also include reforming the redistricting process in South Carolina. Their proposal would install an independent panel to draw district lines instead of partisan legislators. In 2014, 100% of all incumbent legislators were re-elected in the general election.
“District lines are purposely drawn by legislators in order to create a safer political environment for themselves and their political party,” said Rep. Laurie Funderburk (D-Kershaw), the author of the bill. “Gerrymandering has created a polarized legislature that seeks to root out moderates and replace them with politicians who only have to worry about winning their primaries. Reforming our redistricting process is critical to a more functional General Assembly and regaining the trust of the voters.”
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Sure, I’d like to see them pick up the gas tax ball and run with it, but this indirect sort of endorsement at least marks progress.

Here’s hoping SC House Democrats’ priorities have improved over the last couple of weeks

I received this this morning:

SC House Democrats to Unveil Agenda and Discuss 2015 State of the State at Tuesday Press Conference
 
Columbia, SC – SC House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning, January 20th, to unveil their 2015 legislative agenda and to discuss expectations for Governor Haley’s 2015 State of the State.
Who: SC House Democrats
What: Press Conference to Unveil 2015 Legislative Agenda and Discuss Governor Haley’s State of the State
When: Tuesday, January 20th – 11:45am
Where: SC State House – First Floor Lobby
For More Information please contact Tyler Jones at 843-732-2550 or tylerjonesmail@gmail.com
####

Here’s hoping that SC Democrats’ priorities have changed somewhat since they released them a couple of weeks ago. Particularly, I hope they’ve scrubbed the first one:

  1. 3127 – Allow gaming referendum to pay for roads (Rutherford)
  2. 3110 – High Quality Education for public schools (W. McLeod)
  3. 3140 – Legalization of Medical Marijuana for Patients (Rutherford)
  4. 3031 – Establish a state minimum wage (Cobb-Hunter)
  5. 3253 – Establish an equal pay law in South Carolina (Stavrinakis)
  6. 3174 – Comprehensive Ethics Reform (Tinkler)

I hope, I hope, I hope…

SC House Dems announce priorities, lose me on the 1st one

This just in from SC House Democrats:

SC House Democrats Announce Priorities for 2015-16 Legislative Session

Columbia, SC – South Carolina House Democrats released their legislative priorities for the 121st South Carolina General Assembly. Caucus priorities are centered on “Modernizing South Carolina for the 21st Century.” Over the next two years, House Democrats will focus on finding adequate and stable sources of revenue to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, reform the state’s K-12 Public Education funding system, providing affordable and accessible health care options, establishing a state minimum wage, increasing teacher pay, strengthening the state’s ethics laws, and a host of other challenges and issues important to all South Carolinians.

“House Republicans have now been in charge for twenty years; and on almost every single issue – employment, education, roads, healthcare – things have gotten demonstrably worse in South Carolina,” said House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford of Columbia. “At some point Republicans have to realize that their agenda of abandoning our public schools, putting government in our bedrooms and doctor’s offices, and completely ignoring our state’s roads, simply isn’t working. House Democrats are prepared to make this session about new, innovative ways to specifically address our state’s problems and modernize South Carolina for the 21st Century.”

House Democrats have already pre-filed several pieces of legislation that address a number of our most critical challenges including:

  1. 3127 – Allow gaming referendum to pay for roads (Rutherford)
  2. 3110 – High Quality Education for public schools (W. McLeod)
  3. 3140 – Legalization of Medical Marijuana for Patients (Rutherford)
  4. 3031 – Establish a state minimum wage (Cobb-Hunter)
  5. 3253 – Establish an equal pay law in South Carolina (Stavrinakis)
  6. 3174 – Comprehensive Ethics Reform (Tinkler)

“House Republicans have spent three decades digging a very deep hole with their negligence and extreme ideology,” said Rutherford. “Now it’s time for them to stop digging. We must try something new, and we must do it quickly.”

House Democrats plan to unveil their legislative agenda the second week of the 2015 Session.

####

Of course, they lose me immediately on the very first proposal listed.

Really, Democrats? This is what you want the party of FDR and JFK to be known for in SC? A plan to introduce ANOTHER scheme to exploit human weakness, as an alternative to simply raising the tax that we already have in place to pay for roads? Really?

Hillary Clinton should very publicly rebuff the Warrenistas

Ya se van los warrenistas…
Porque vienen clintonistas…

— paraphrase of ‘La Cucaracha”

You would think that Democrats, horrified by the way the Tea Party has pulled the GOP to the extreme right, would immediately and utterly reject any efforts to pull their own party toward populist extremism.

And yet, we keep hearing that there are some who seriously want to see Elizabeth Warren mount a challenge to Hillary Clinton.

Today, we have this piece in the WashPost, headlined “Democrats see rising populist sentiment. But can it shake Hillary Clinton?

Well, let’s hope not. In fact, the sooner Hillary Clinton publicly repudiates the Warren movement and all who sail in her, the better. Assuming that she wants to get elected in the fall of 2016.

Because folks, I rather like the Wall Street-friendly, hawkish Hillary (admittedly, I like the hawkish bit better than the Wall Street bit), and don’t want to see her having any truck with the self-appointed guardians of the 99 percent.

And you know, I’m the guy you’ve gotta please. I’m the swing voter. I’m the constituency that decides elections, even though you don’t hear much about us, what with the media being obsessed with the left-right dichotomy.

And with things sort of uncertain on the GOP side (it could be Jeb Bush, but it could also be Rand Paul), I find it reassuring that there is likely to be at least one (reasonably) acceptable candidate on the November 2016 ballot.

With that in mind… Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if there were a fairly robust challenge to ex-Sec. Clinton from the left, as long as she in no way kowtowed to it, and soundly defeated it. That could have a salutary effect….