Category Archives: Democrats

I think Ainsley may become my favorite ‘West Wing’ character

I never saw “The West Wing” when it was on the air, for a number of reasons, not the least of which the fact that I wasn’t watching all that much television in those days. I basically had a TV for watching movies, and didn’t get into watching actual TV programming regularly until AMC started its string of must-watch shows (“Mad Men,” the first few episodes of “Rubicon,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead”…).

There was one reason, though, that I particularly avoided “The West Wing.” I had heard, I suppose from a Republican, that it was a fantasy show for liberal Democrats, a picture of the way they would want the world to be. I was finding Democrats particularly tiresome — that is to say, more tiresome than usual — when the show went on the air in 1999. Most of the angry readers I was dealing with in that period were Democrats, between admirers of Bill Clinton (we were tied, I think, for being the first newspaper in the country to urge him to resign) and of Jim Hodges (the show premiered at a moment right in between his election, which we opposed, and our all-out fight against his signature issue, the lottery).

I just didn’t need to hear any more about how members of that party thought the world ought to be.

But I started watching it on Netlflix during my nightly workouts on the elliptical trainer (they’re almost the perfect length for a 40-minute workout), and the first thing I have to tell you is that what I had heard was a most unfair description of the show. Sure, there will occasionally be an instance in which the liberal position is treated briefly as the only one that’s right and true. For instance, as I mentioned the other day, I was pretty irritated when all the main characters acted like a potential judicial nominee who said there is no blanket right to privacy in the Constitution (there is none, whatever the Supremes may say) had said the Earth was flat.

But you’re just as likely to hear characters ably represent other points of view — such as the early episode in which several staffers point out why “hate-crime” laws are inconsistent with liberal democracy. For every red-meat moment such as the one in which President Bartlet humiliates a thinly disguised Dr. Laura using a rather trite liberal device (asking whether she was for literally applying everything in Leviticus), there’s one in which a conservative view wins out, or is at least fairly considered.

The best example of that so far was the episode I watched last night, the fourth in the second season, titled “In This White House.”

It started with an obnoxiously overconfident Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) going on a political talk show to push an education bill. He is demolished on the air by a little blonde girl with a deferential Southern manner who looks to be about 16.

This causes a sensation in the White House. A delighted Josh runs to tell Toby, “Sam’s getting his ass kicked by a girl!” Toby — the Eeyore of the executive branch, a guy who is thrilled by nothing — comes running, saying breathlessly, “Ginger, get the popcorn!” (The good part of the above clip starts at about 2:20.)

But things really get interesting when the president — and Jed Bartlet really is everyone’s idea of a perfect president: wise, fatherly, kind, thoughtful, fair, idealistic, practical and always human — decides to hire Ainsley Hayes.

Enjoying Sam discomfiture at being humiliated by Ms. Hayes is one thing. Bringing the conservative Republican on board is another, and the idea causes much consternation on the staff.

But I think she’s going to be a great addition. As she goes through the throes of deciding whether to take the job, she becomes, if not exactly the voice of the UnParty, a lens for focusing on everything that is wrong in modern partisanship. She reprimands both sides for their destructive habit of demonizing their opponents. When Sam (his ego still bruised from his first encounter with her — he keeps thinking women on the staff are mocking him when they’re not) says defenders of the Second Amendment aren’t about freedom and protection; they’re just people who like guns… she settles his hash yet again by saying:

Yes, they do. But you know what’s more insidious than that? Your gun control position doesn’t have anything to do with public safety, and it’s certainly not about personal freedom. It’s about you don’t like people who do like guns. You don’t like the people. Think about that, the next time you make a joke about the South.

(I remembered what she said when I saw this predictable Tweet from Slate today saying “This is what gun ownership looks like in America.” Be sure to check the picture.)

Then, in the episode’s penultimate scene, Ainsley meets two of her GOP friends in a restaurant. They think she has turned the job down, and they can’t wait to hear about the look on Chief of Staff Leo McGarry’s face. As she sits there looking thoughtful, her friends engage in the sort of rant that we hear too often from both sides.

“I hate these people,” says her friend Harriet.

“Did you meet anyone there who isn’t worthless?” adds Bruce.

“Don’t say that,” Ainsley says softly.

Bruce continues, “Did you meet anyone there who has any-?”

Ainsley lights into him:

I said don’t say that. Say they’re smug and superior, say their approach to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high taxes and spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders, but don’t call them worthless. At least don’t do it in front of me.

Her friends look stunned. She chokes up as she continues:

The people that I have met have been extraordinarily qualified, their intent is good.
Their commitment is true, they are righteous, and they are patriots.

And I’m their lawyer.

And she walks out.

Wow. If she didn’t look so extremely young, I’d be in love at this point. I think I’m really going to enjoy this character….

I wonder why Hutto isn’t running against Scott instead of Graham?

This just in:

Brad Hutto announces run for U.S. Senate

“Washington, D.C. is broken – and it is time for new leadership in Washington, our current leaders have become part of the problem,” says Hutto

 Orangeburg lawyer and State Senator Brad Hutto announced that he has filed to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Lindsay Graham.  Hutto, a Democrat, represents parts of Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Orangeburg counties in the state legislature.Brad Hutto

In announcing his candidacy, Hutto set his sights on Congressional gridlock. “Washington is broken, and we need someone from outside of the Beltway to help improve life for South Carolinians.  We send billions of tax dollars to D.C. every year yet we have crumbling roads, failing schools, and struggling rural communities to show for it. And both sides are to blame.”

While serving in the State Senate, Hutto received a 100% rating from the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce for his pro-business record.  In the Senate, Hutto often leads the fight to improve schools, promote renewable energy options, and protect our natural resources.  Hutto is often in the forefront of causes to insure the individual rights and liberties of all.  He is known for his commitment to children and is an active member of the South Carolina Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children.

“We need a leader in the Senate who will spend more time talking to folks in Barnwell, Bishopville, and Beaufort than appearing on Sunday morning talk shows.  I will focus on job creation with special emphasis on rural South Carolina,” said Hutto.  “We need to require our overseas allies to accept a larger role in their own security so that we can start refocusing attention on rebuilding roads and schools in our own country.”

Recent polling highlights Graham’s vulnerability, with polls consistently showing that even Republican primary voters – where he should be strongest – have reservations about his extended tenure in D.C. 

Hutto lives in Orangeburg with his wife of 28 years, Tracy, a pediatrician.  His son Skyler is a student at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.  Hutto graduated from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina and received his law degree from Georgetown University.  Hutto, an Eagle Scout, is a Past President of the Boy Scouts’ Indian Waters Council that serves South Carolina’s midlands region, and he remains active with Scouting on many levels.

www.BradHutto.com

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My first thought in reading the headline was, OK, so maybe Tim Scott will have some opposition in the general.

Then I saw that he’s running for Graham’s seat. Which doesn’t make sense. He cites this as his reasoning:

Recent polling highlights Graham’s vulnerability, with polls consistently showing that even Republican primary voters – where he should be strongest – have reservations about his extended tenure in D.C.

Which is just kind of inside-out partisan thinking. Yes, Hutto is one of the more enthusiastic partisans on the Democratic side in the Legislature. But it really takes a particularly simplistic, dualistic view of the politcal world to say, “even Republicans… have reservations” about Graham. “Even” Republicans? Republicans are the people Graham has trouble with. Not Democrats, particularly. Certainly not independents. Assuming Graham can secure his renomination — and he most likely will, after some discomfort — he’s going to blow past anyone who opposes him in the general as though that hapless individual is standing still.

Is this not obvious to everyone?

Why is everybody and his brother lining up to run against Graham — “even” Democrats? While Scott gets a relative free ride, in terms of not having anyone opposing him likely to make him break a sweat.

It’s weird…

Sheheen is officially running

This release came in a few minutes ago:

Sheheen files for office, pledges leadership and accountability for South Carolina
Columbia, SC – Today Sen. Vincent Sheheen officially filed to run for Governor of South Carolina in 2014, pledging to bring honest leadership and real accountability to the governor’s office and work across the aisle to deliver results for the people of South Carolina.
“We need honest leadership and real accountability to improve public education, grow our economy from within, and rebuild our roads and bridges to create a better future for South Carolina,” said Sen. Sheheen. “More importantly, we need leaders who will work with both parties to get things done, but aren’t afraid to stand up to either party to do what’s right. That’s the experience and vision we’re bringing to the people of South Carolina so that, together, we can change the way this state does business once and for all.”
Sen. Sheheen announced his intention to run in for governor again last April and has since traveled around the state meeting with small business owners, teachers, women and hardworking families to listen to the challenges they face and discuss his vision for a brighter future for South Carolina.
“Under Nikki Haley, there’s been no accountability, no results – just failures of leadership and incompetence,” Sheheen continued. “The people of South Carolina deserve a government that works and works for them. And when government doesn’t, they don’t need excuses, they deserve action and results. It’s time for new leadership.”
In the past three years, South Carolina’s families have been repeatedly hurt and exposed to threats because of the incompetence of Nikki Haley and her administration:
  • hacking at the Dept of Revenue allowed 3.5 million people’s Social Security number to be stolen, Nikki Haley covered it up for 16 days.
  • TB outbreak at a public school that Nikki Haley’s administration covered up for two months, refusing to tell parents that their kids were being exposed to tuberculosis everyday at school.
  • children dying and being repeatedly put at risk because of the Haley administration’s focus on getting their numbers down at the Dept of Social Services left at risk kids in abusive homes and dangerous situations.
  • hardworking families are struggling and the economy continues to lag with falling wages, declining average income, and a staggering drop in the workforce as people give up looking for work.
  • small businesses are stuck at the back of the line as Nikki Haley’s focus on only recruiting big out-of-state businesses stacks the deck against them and forces them to pay the highest commercial property taxes in the country.
  • South Carolina remains first in the nation for women killed by men while Nikki Haley vetoed fining for rape crisis centers. And women have an especially hard time achieving economic success, as South Carolina makes no effort at achieving equal pay for equal work.
“The test of leadership is not how you act when things go right, it’s how you act when things go wrong,” said Sen Sheheen “South Carolina deserves a leader who will be honest with people, take responsibility for failures, and demand accountability from their administration to deliver results from people of South Carolina. It’s time to end the cover-ups and excuses, and instead present a vision for the future and work to bring people together to achieve results. That’s how I have always worked, and it’s a belief and work ethic I will bring to the Governor’s office.”
Senator Sheheen laid out his vision for a more prosperous future for South Carolina based on honest leadership and real accountability:
  • universal, voluntary 4-year-old kindergarten to increase access to public education and get the most bang for the buck
  • improve learning by treating teachers like professionals, and raising teacher pay to the national average to attract and keep quality teachers in the classroom
  • build South Carolina’s economy from within by focusing on small businesses and supporting them just as much as businesses recruited from out of state.
  • restore South Carolina’s roads and bridges to improve safety for families and build infrastructure for businesses to get the state economy moving.
  • appoint competent leaders and demand accountability when things go wrong.
Vincent Sheheen ran against Gov. Haley in 2010, in one of the closest gubernatorial races in the country, narrowly losing by just 4.5 points in a wave year for Republicans. The most recent statewide polling shows Nikki Haley’s approval numbers stuck in the low 40s and the 2014 match-up between Haley and Sheheen as a dead heat.
Read more about his ideas for South Carolina at www.vincentsheheen.com and in his book, The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track.
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SC Democrats keep having to import talent from outside

Or at least, they keep doing it, whether they need to or not.

First, a bit of news you may have already heard about someone we know — Amanda Alpert Loveday, who was the executive director of the state party, but who sent out contact info today for her new gig:

I am writing you today to say hello from the office of Congressman Jim Clyburn.  As most of you know, I have made the transition to the Congressman’s office but wanted to send you all my new contact information. …

I look forward to hitting the ground running for Congressman Clyburn and if you need anything from the office or the Congressman, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

In light of what I posted earlier today, it sounds like Amanda’s making a good move, in terms of job longevity. So we are happy for her.

I’m somewhat bemused that her replacement is from out of state — a Floridian, name of Conor Hurley.

Nothing against Mr. Hurley personally; I’m sure he’ll be a fine addition to South Carolina. But the fact that he is from out of state is another illustration of a phenomenon I’ve been seeing in Democratic Party lately — the pros who get hired to run campaigns, or to run the party, tend not to be home-grown.

I’ve been concerned lately that the current Vincent Sheheen campaign has a generic, national-Democrat sort of feel to it. One of Sen. Sheheen’s greatest strengths is that his political roots in the state are about as deep as you’re likely to find among currently active Democrats, and his understanding of problems that are peculiarly South Carolinians is exemplary. In 2010, that showed, and I think it had something to do with why he did so well against Nikki Haley, in spite of that being the Year of the Tea Party, and Nikki being their chosen darling.

This time, so far, I’m seeing a campaign that feels more generic, and national. And for a Democrat in South Carolina, the modifier “national” is the kiss of death.

I don’t want to lay this entirely at the feet of his out-of-stater campaign manager, Andrew Whalen. After all, the 2010 campaign manager was brought in from out of state as well. But there’s something that has kept this campaign from feeling like it’s about South Carolina. (And you’re not going to get that homegrown feel from the incumbent, whose idea of the way to run against any Democrat is to say, “Obama! Obama! Obama!”)

Once, a job like party executive director was a nice stepping stone for a young South Carolinian coming up in the party. It still is that over in the GOP, which has hordes of young up-and-comers competing to enter politics like the Three Stooges all trying to crowd through a narrow doorway at the same time.

I was reminded of this just the other day. I was in Aiken for an event at which the SC Center for Fathers and Families was introducing itself to the community (it’s opening a new program there), and a guy I hadn’t seen in a long time came up and reintroduced himself: “Chris Verenes.” It took a moment or so for my brain’s software to locate him in the archives, but I came up with the right answer: Chris was E.D. of the Democratic Party back when I started as Governmental Affairs Editor of The State, in 1987.

Now, he’s president of Security Federal Bank in Aiken.

I was recently reminded of another young Democrat from those days — the one who ran Mike Dukakis’ campaign here in SC. His name was Det Bowers. He’s now running for the U.S. Senate — as a Republican.

I don’t know where the next generation of Democrats is coming from in SC, if there’s going to be one. But when it comes to Democrats willing to turn pro and run campaigns… well, they’re already pretty thin on the ground, it seems.

Clyburn prepares to slide easily into 12th term

Since his office decided to make a thing of it, I thought I’d share, and give Doug a chance to tee off on his term-limits thing:

James E. Clyburn Files for His 12th Term in the U.S. House of Representatives 

Columbia, SC - On Monday, March 17th, Congressman James E. Clyburn filed for his 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Clyburn was first elected in 1992 and assumed office in January 1993. He currently serves in leadership as the Assistant Democratic Leader.

“I am honored to seek a 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives in the South Carolina Sixth District. I have always sought to put principles above politics and service above self. I believe working men and women deserve a raise in the minimum wage, and Congress needs to work towards comprehensive immigration reform, and protecting everyone’s right to vote,” Congressman Jim Clyburn said. “I’m honored to serve the people of South Carolina and the Sixth Congressional District and look forward to continuing my service.

The Primary Election is on June 10, while the General Election will be held on November 4.

Website: www.clyburnforcongress.com
Twitter: ClyburnSC06

Actually, the number surprised me for a second, because I so easily remember when he wasn’t in Congress. But yeah, I guess it was the early ’90s…

And of course, since the main purpose of reapportionment in South Carolina is creating safe seats for Republicans, he will hold this seat as long as he likes. Because the way to create several safe Republican seats is to create one super-safe seat for a Democrat, and he has always been the beneficiary of that math.

Anyway, to celebrate the landmark, I thought you might enjoy watching him and Steny Hoyer doing the Electric Slide, at one of his fish fries few years back….

Sheheen didn’t say ‘War on Women,’ for which I’m grateful

For those who weary of Vincent Sheheen criticizing Nikki Haley and not making enough positive statements about what he would do as governor (and I’m kinda one of those), this release should be welcome:

Sheheen Releases Women’s Agenda, Launches Statewide Roundtable Discussions
Gubernatorial candidate lays out plan to ensure equal pay for equal work, stop violence against women, & support women-owned small businesses
Camden, SC. – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen released his plan of leadership for women in South Carolina, after recently launching a statewide series of roundtables to discuss the challenges that women and their families face in the Palmetto State.
Sen. Sheheen’s Women’s Agenda includes immediate steps that he will begin work on in the State Senate as well as action he would take as Governor of South Carolina to support equal pay for equal work, reduce violence against women, grow women-owned small businesses, and restore common sense and accountability to government through honest leadership.
Throughout the month of March, Sen. Sheheen is holding a series of roundtable discussions with women to discuss these policy initiatives and listen to their stories. The statewide roundtable tour kicked off in Spartanburg and Rock Hill on March 8th and will include stops in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Greenville and Aiken over the next three weeks.
View Sen. Sheheen’s Women’s Agenda as well as his other ideas for how to improve leadership and accountability in South Carolina atwww.vincentsheheen.com. His book, “The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track” is free and also available online, here.
Equal Pay for Equal Work. Women are a key part of our state economy and our businesses, and whole families suffer when women do not get paid equally to men. However, wage disparity is alive and well in South Carolina. Nationally, women earn only $0.77 for every $1.00 that a man makes. There is anecdotal evident that it’s in our state it’s even worse. So it’s time for action.
Vincent’s plan of action: 
  • Call for an audit to examine the wages currently being paid to South Carolina’s state employees based on position and gender, to determine if female state employees are being compensated equally with their male counterparts for equal work
  • As governor issue an Executive Order requiring state employees to be paid equally for equal work.
  • Ensure state government sets a good example for the private sector on pay equity.
Stop Violence Against Women.  Violence against women is at an unacceptable level in South Carolina. We rank first in the nation in the number of women killed annually by men, and the rape rate in the state is higher than the national average. Yet, Nikki Haley vetoed funding for rape crisis centers and even referred to abused women as a “special interest group.” It’s time to be proactive in working to stop violence against women, and ensure that our laws are strong enough to hold abusers accountable.
Vincent’s plan of action:
  • Expand Domestic Abuse definition to include teenage relationships and protect women under 18
  • Increase penalties for those convicted of domestic abuse.
  • Protect vital funding for rape crisis centers and women’s shelters to provide safe havens for women and children.
  • Work with faith-based and non-profit organizations to improve partnership with government and amplify efforts to prevent violence against women.
Support Women-Owned Small Businesses. South Carolina is close to last in the nation with the percent of businesses owned by women. But it’s not a lack of talent. So what’s the problem? Under Nikki Haley, women face significant challenges in opening and growing their businesses, and have unique barriers to achieving the American dream here in South Carolina.
Vincent’s plan of action:
  • Support small businesses in-state as much as those we recruit from out-of-state.
  • Remove the barriers women face in starting up a business in S.C. by creating a Division of Entrepreneurship and encouraging small business investment.
  • Fully fund our state’s technical college system and streamline worker-training programs to improve women’s access to education and technical skills.
Demand Common Sense & Accountability in Government.  Women and families have been repeatedly hurt by the incompetence in government over the past four years. Nikki Haley’s administration hid a TB outbreak at a public school for two months before letting mothers know their children were being exposed. She covered up the Dept. of Revenue hacking for 16 days and put parents and their children at risk of identity theft for the rest of their lives. People deserve a government that works and works for them. And when government doesn’t, they don’t need excuses, they deserve action and results.
Vincent’s plan of action:
  • Appoint a diverse group of qualified leaders, and demand accountability from them.
  • Fully fund his Taxpayer Protection Fund to help those who suffer financial loss from the hacking.
  • Increase diversity on college boards and in leadership positions around the state to better represent women.
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And I particularly appreciate it when a Democrat gets all the way through a release like that without saying “War on Women.” It shows admirable restraint.

SC Democrats, you won’t get my digits THAT easily…

After having gotten way harsh on the SC Democrats’ case (or at least, the SC House Democrats’ case) the other day, I was about to respond in a positive way to this come-on:

Brad-

In the coming elections, we have a chance to make a big change to the future of South Carolina. We must change course, because failed leadership and no accountability isn’t working for the people of South Carolina.

Change is never easy, but with all of you on board to help, I know that we can make a difference at the ballot box.

This is all about you, so we want to hear from you. Click here to let us know which issues are important to you, and share your story.

In just the last year, South Carolina has seen major ethics scandals, botched cover-ups, and failed leaders who are more worried about making headlines than getting their jobs done.

We can’t change this without you. Let us know what your biggest priority is in the coming election and share why it is important to you. Click here and let us know today!

Thank you for being part of our campaign to bring a new era of leadership to Columbia.

Sincerely,
Amanda Loveday
Executive Director, South Carolina Democratic Party

I was all like, I gave them a hard time for their agenda, so since they’re asking me now what their agenda should be, the least I can do is tell them what I think. Who knows; it might do some good…

But then I clicked on the link, and realized they were just after my contact info. That’s what they meant by “share your story.”

I should have known.

Anyway, they already have my email address. They can reach me when they want. Apparently, they won’t be satisfied until they have my credit card numbers. Which ain’t gonna happen…

SC House Democrats come up with a solid plan for remaining the minority party

This just in from the SC House Democratic Caucus:

SC House Democrats Release 2014 Legislative Priorities
Columbia, SC – South Carolina House Democrats released their list of 2014 legislative priorities on Tuesday. House Democrats will focus on six main issues this session including more funding for education and teacher pay, establishing a state-mandated minimum wage, Medicaid Expansion, road funding, and early voting. The caucus will also propose legislation addressing immigration, workplace discrimination, and higher education this session.
2014 House Democratic Caucus Legislative Priorities:
1. Raise teacher pay to the national average
2. Restore cuts to base-student-cost.
3. Establish a state-mandated minimum wage.
4. Bring home our tax dollars by expanding Medicaid
5. Provide a funding solution to fix our crumbling roads and bridges
6. No-excuse early voting
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said 2014 was the year to get serious about funding our priorities.House Dems
“House Democrats are serious about tackling the issues that face our citizens each and every day,” said Rep. Rutherford. “Our hard-working teachers deserve a raise and their students deserve a fair shot at success. We will never be able to be competitive with rest of the country if we continue to underfund our schools and underpay our teachers. Democrats understand that a thriving K-12 school system is directly tied to a thriving economy – we can’t have one without the other.”
“When it comes to finding a stable and responsible funding solution for our crumbling roads, all options must be on the table,” said Rutherford. “And Governor Haley’s ‘money tree’ is neither stable nor responsible.”
“South Carolina is one of only four states in the nation without a state minimum wage,” said Rutherford.” In order to compete in the 21st century economy we have to do away with 19th century ideas that are holding us back. We need to modernize all areas of South Carolina’s economy. We cannot compete in a global world or even with our neighbors without an adequate minimum wage structure.”
“We refuse to be silenced when it comes to bringing our federal tax dollars home to reform and expand Medicaid, said Rep. Rutherford. “Many Republican Governors across the country have put aside partisan politics and embraced Medicaid Expansion. We will continue to ask Governor Haley and House Republicans to stop playing national politics with the health of South Carolinians and to stop wasting our tax dollars on silly political games. Refusing this money is fiscally irresponsible and morally indefensible.”
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Let’s zero in on those six priorities:

  1. Raise teacher pay to the national average
  2. Restore cuts to base-student-cost.
  3. Establish a state-mandated minimum wage.
  4. Bring home our tax dollars by expanding Medicaid
  5. Provide a funding solution to fix our crumbling roads and bridges
  6. No-excuse early voting

There’s nothing wrong most of those goals, taken individually. Except maybe the minimum wage. I’ve always thought the conservatives had a pretty good argument when they say raise the minimum wage, reduce the number of jobs at that end of the spectrum.

Oh, and the early-voting thing. I don’t hold with that at all. People should take voting seriously enough to go to a little trouble to do it. And that includes standing in a queue (unless, of course, you do have a good excuse).

A case can be made for each of the other four items — taken by itself. The fact that this state refuses to accept the extremely generous Medicaid deal the feds are offering is nothing short of insanity. Concentrate on that — something you could get a lot of business leaders to support you on, and you might get somewhere. But include it on this list, and you just sound like you’re offering Obama Light.

When you say “This is it; these are our priorities,” you give political independents, much less wavering Republicans, no reason even to cooperate with you on things you agree on, much less come over to your side.

By saying these are THE things that matter most to you, you’re establishing yourself firmly as the Political Other to the majority of SC voters. You’re saying, We don’t even stop to think about issues; we just buy into whatever the national Democratic Party puts out as this year’s talking points.

Which is not going to get you far in South Carolina.

Out of those six priorities, there is one item that you might be able to get the broad center behind: “Provide a funding solution to fix our crumbling roads and bridges.” And the Dems fail to be bold enough on that to say what that funding solution would be.

You could get, once again, considerable business support for an increase in the gas tax for infrastructure, if you had the guts to stand up for that. With support like that, you could actually expand your support base a bit, and have a real chance of accomplishing one of your priorities. Nikki Haley’s “money tree” is a ridiculously unstable basis for something as important to economic development as our road system. But you give it the same weight as raising the minimum wage, and it’s like you’re just taking marching orders from the national party.

As this list of priorities stands, it is a formula for going nowhere, a sermon to read to the choir, a map to staying in a political rut.

So I’m in Hilton Head, and I’m OK. Honest

That's me, blown up beyond recognition, during the panel discussion.

That’s me, blown up beyond recognition, during the panel discussion.

Concern has been expressed that I haven’t posted since Friday.

But I’m OK. I just had a busy weekend, and a busier Monday.

Today, I drove down to Hilton head to moderate a panel at PRT’s annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel. Really; it’s a thing. It has a hashtag and everything.

I moderated a panel of legislators talking tourism topics. Panelists were:

  1. Sen. Yancey McGill, D-Williamsburg
  2. Rep. W. Brian White, R-Anderson (chairman of Ways and Means)
  3. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg
  4. Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort

Mostly they were all very friendly to tourism. Rep Erickson wasn’t the only one favoring beach renourishment, for instance, even though she was the only one from an entirely coastal district.

If there was a split, it came when we talked about funding for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.

And it wasn’t a particularly stark division.

The audience was very much against using tourism-directed funds, such as the hospitality and accommodations taxes, for roads. The entire panel expressed sympathy with that position. But when it came to increasing the gasoline tax, only the Democrats — who don’t have to worry about Tea Party opponents in upcoming primaries — were unapologetically for it.

But Chairman White seemed to be willing to go for the idea theoretically, at some unspecified point in the future.

It’s interesting — in my experience, the gas tax is the one tax that conservatives (regular, old-fashioned, Chamber of Commerce-type conservatives, not the latter-day Tea Party kind) are usually willing to back. But it’s a problem for Republicans in SC, after the governor’s promise to veto any such increase.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this issue develops going forward — IF it develops…

Joe Biden apparently can’t think of Hillary Clinton’s name

… because, you know, that’s the one reason most of us can think of for Joe not to run.

Anyway, watch the video, in which he tells CNN’s Kate Bolduan why “there’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run” for the top job in 2016.

Personally, I’d like to see Joe run, and not just because he’s fun. But, if you’ll excuse a locution even more convoluted than the Veep’s, I’m certainly not at a loss for coming up with a reason why he would decide not to.

Hodges endorses Anthony for superintendent

This just in:

Former SC Governor Jim Hodges endorses Mike Anthony for Superintendent of Education

 

Anthony

Mike Anthony

“Mike Anthony has spent his life dedicated to public schools – as a classroom teacher and state champion football coach. He’s the kind of person our public schools need – a proven leader with a track record of success in our schools. I have every reason to believe he will be that strong advocate for kids, parents and teachers we desperately need.”

 

Governor Jim Hodges is best known for his leadership in bringing the Education Lottery to South Carolina, securing over $1 billion for school construction without raising taxes. He also launched the ‘First Steps to School Readiness’ program. 

 

Representative Mike Anthony said he was very grateful for Governor Hodges’ endorsement.

 

“Governor Hodges was truly an ‘education governor,’ said Rep. Anthony. ”He made public education his highest priority and as a result our schools made great strides during his tenure. His work to establish the education lottery and ‘First Steps’ program have done wonders for South Carolina public schools. I’m truly honored that Governor Hodges has decided to support my candidacy.” 

 

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Not sure what to make of it. But assuming that a Democrat still has a shot at this office in a race without an incumbent, then having the endorsement of the last Democratic governor has to be a help. To the nomination, at least. Anthony currently has one Democratic opponent, Montrio Belton.

Of COURSE she has a ‘commanding lead,’ when no one can think of another Democrat

Thought this headline on an email alert from The Washington Post kinda odd:

Hillary Clinton (has a) commanding lead over Democrats for 2016, poll finds

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropWell, yeah. Duh. I mean, since I can’t think of a single other Democrat being seriously spoken of as a 2016 candidate, one would assume she would have a “commanding lead.”

OK, yeah, Joe Biden. But we already knew she would swamp Joe Biden. I mean, I like Joe, but let’s be serious.

The Post further reports:

The race for the Republican nomination, in contrast, is wide open, with six prospective candidates registering 10 percent to 20 percent support….

What that means is that there is someone who has had a lead (if not a “commanding” one) over on the GOP side, too, but he’s in a lot of trouble.

And so, my little fantasy of having two acceptable people who were shoo-ins for their nominations, possibly avoiding the tears and flapdoodle of the sort of musical chairs game the Republicans played last time around, is to remain a fantasy. As, of course, I knew it would.

Democracy is so… messy

Video: Sheheen explaining his restructuring bill in 2008

I was looking for a picture of Vincent Sheheen to go with the last post, and ran across this video clip that I had forgotten.

It’s from the meeting on January 29, 2008, when he unveiled his restructuring plan to Cindi Scoppe and me, in the editorial board room at The State.

It’s short — the camera I used then would only shoot video for three minutes at a time — and there are several other clips from after this one that I did not upload.

But I share this one because in it, he shows how well he understood the actual power situation in South Carolina.

When talking about South Carolina’s unique situation as the “Legislative State” (even back in 1949, when some other Southern states had some similar such arrangements, political scientist V. O. Key called South Carolina that in his classic. Southern Politics in State and Nation), we tend to use a lazy shorthand. We say that SC lawmakers don’t want to surrender power to the governor.

That glosses over an important truth, one that we elaborated on in the Power Failure series back in 1991, but which I don’t stop often enough to explain any more: It’s that the Legislature, too, lacks the power to exert any effective control over state government. This leads to a government in which no one is in charge, and no one can be held accountable.

There was a time, long ago — pre-WWII, roughly, and maybe for awhile between then and the 1960s, which saw expansions of government programs on a number of levels — when lawmakers actually could run executive agencies, at least in a loose, informal way. On the state level, agencies answered to boards and commissions whose members were appointed by lawmakers. On the local level, they ran things more directly, calling all the shots. This was before county councils were empowered (more or less) in the mid-70s.

But as state agencies grew, they became more autonomous. Oh, they kept their heads down and didn’t anger powerful lawmakers, especially at budget time, but there was generally no effective way for legislators to affect their day-to-day operations. And while lawmakers appointed the members of boards and commissions, they lacked the power to remove them if they did something to attract legislative ire.

And on the local level, the advent of single-member districts broke up county delegations as coherent local powers. Yes, we have vestiges of that now — the Richland County elections mess is an illustration of this old system, as is the Richland recreation district and other special purpose districts, all legislative creations — but largely, they’re out of the business of running counties.

Increasingly in recent decades, the main power wielded by the Legislature has been a negative power — the ability to block things from happening, rather than initiate sweeping changes. And that’s what the General Assembly is best at — blocking change, for good or ill. That’s why the passage of this Department of Administration bill is such a milestone.

Anyway, while he doesn’t say all that stuff I just said, in this clip, Sheheen shows that he understands that no one is actually in charge, and that someone needs to be, so that someone can be held accountable. Or at least, that’s the way I hear it.

You may wonder why I think it remarkable that a state senator would exhibit such understanding of the system. Well… that’s just rarer than you may think.

Mia stirred up again, this time over what she sees as pseudo-religious hypocrisy

The latest release from the often-indignant Rep. Mia McLeod:

Must we be hypocrites about everything in this state?   I mean…since we wanna wear the “Bible Belt” like a badge of honor, shouldn’t some of our actions reflect it? As we head into the 2014 legislative session one week from today, I pray that our elected leaders will one day practice what they preach.While browsing through countless Christmas cards from my colleagues, complete with Biblical scriptures and picturesque family poses, I was reminded that God can’t be pleased when “the majority” claims to be Christians in one breath and deliberately defies His very essence in the next.
Too many legislative decisions are calculated, self-serving and hypocritical.  We wanna separate church and state, but only when it’s politically expedient…pushing God out of our schools, our workplaces, our thoughts/decisions…while hiding behind our self-righteous, self-proclaimed “Christian” labels to push our own destructive political agendas.Think about it…Your lawmakers love to protect fetuses in the womb. Why? Because the gift of life is one of God’s most precious, of course. But there’s nothing Godly about our refusal to assist or help protect that same precious life, once it is manifested outside of the womb. In South Carolina, when the umbilical cord is cut, so is the concern and compassion.  Funny how one goes from being God’s chosen to society’s forgotten by simply passing through the birth canal.

We love to flaunt our state’s sordid “heritage.”  And we’ll fiercely defend that good ole divisive, oppressive and offensive confederate flag at all costs.  Now tell me, where is God in all of that, again?

We relish our attention on the national stage. From being #1 in domestic violence homicides to being hailed as one of the most corrupt states in the nation, we’re last (or first at being last) and lovin’ it.

Add to that our newest designation as “most idiotic state” in the country because of one so-called leader’s flagrant dishonor of Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy, and it’s easy to see why we’re the laughing stock of the nation.

And when I receive legislative emails from “Christian” coalitions that spew hatred for others in His name for their own political purposes, I can’t help but wonder what “God” these people serve.

Surely not mine…

We love talking the talk.  We just hate walking the walk.  And we do our “dirty” work openly, unabashedly,…without flinching, without feeling and without fail.

But my Bible reminds me that “whatever you’ve done unto the least of these… you’ve done unto Me (Him).”  So how do we justify denying 300,000 South Carolinians access to healthcare coverage?  More proof that in our “great” state, partisan politics trumps “Christianity” not just any day, but every day.

And “you lie!” if you even think we’re interested in accepting or supporting “anything Obama.”  It just ain’t happening. No way.  No how.  Not here. Why?  Well…according to Rep. Kris Crawford, it’s not (politically) popular for the Republican Party to even try to work with the black man in the White House.

Yep, that’s good ole pure, unadulterated racism…just one of many “elephants” in the room.

So tell me…where is (your) God in all of that?

Saying we’re Christians is one thing.  Behaving like Christians is another.  Deliberately disenfranchising voters, denying healthcare, equal educational and economic opportunities to certain South Carolinians, refusing to pass tougher gun laws and failing to protect our state’s most vulnerable are just a few examples of ways in which God’s will has been preempted by power-hungry, good ole politicians who carelessly and callously hide behind His to invoke their own.

Don’t be confused.  Our Governor and lawmakers are much more adept at “playing God” than acting Godly.

I believe God is love.  And if you ask most of my colleagues, they’ll say they do too.  So why are our legislative agendas and priorities saturated with hatred, intolerance and indifference? I’m not a theologian.  But even if I weren’t acutely aware of who God is… it wouldn’t take long in the SC Legislature to figure out who He isn’t.

My fervent prayer for the 2014 legislative session and beyond is that the hypocrisy will end and lawmakers will decide to represent all of the people of South Carolina, in word and in deed.  If that happens, you’ll soon begin to see more of His will in our legislative decisions and actions and much less of ours.

I know who my God is.  The question is…do they?

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.”

U.S. House passes bipartisan budget deal without childish theatrics. No really; I’m not making this up…

See, you can read about it in black and white:

The House passed an 2-year bipartisan budget deal Thursday evening, possibly signaling a truce in the spending showdowns that have paralyzed Washington for the past three years.

Approval of the budget was the House’s final action of 2013. Earlier Thursday, lawmakers agreed unanimously to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets military pay and policy, and to extend current agricultural policy after negotiators failed to complete a new Farm Bill….

The budget deal appeared to mark a significant shift by House Republicans away from the uncompromising confrontation of recent years fueled by tea party-aligned politicians and outside conservative advocacy groups. After multiple standoffs and threatened defaults and one actual shutdown, polls show that the Republican brand has been badly damaged among voters, and even some of the most conservative Republicans said they were ready for a breather.

If the Senate approves the budget bill next week, as expected, members of the House and Senate appropriations committees would then work over the holidays to prepare funding bills for individual government agencies, which are likely to be combined into a single omnibus bill. …

Doesn’t that sound almost like the way grownups would legislate? This is not being hailed as the long-sought “grand bargain” or anything, but it’s something remarkable anyway, given the material we’re working with here. Which is to say, the membership of the House.

Here’s a press release from Joe Wilson about it:

Wilson Statement on the Passage of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement  

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) released the following statement after the House passed a bipartisan budget resolution.  This legislation provides two years of budget certainty for the federal government. In years past, the federal government has operated under continuing resolutions.

 

“When I was elected to Congress, I promised to help make a difference. The status quo is not working,” Congressman Joe Wilson said. “Government overspending while racking up trillion-dollar deficits is irresponsible, especially when we know that our children and grandchildren will be faced with the burden.

 

“House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was able to reduce spending from its current levels to help pay down our debt without raising taxes.  For years, House Republicans have spent the better part of December in battles with Washington Democrats in hopes of not raising taxes so that the American people could keep more of their hard-earned paychecks.

 

“Additionally, President Obama’s sequester, which targets the military, has already limited our Armed Forces’ abilities to protect themselves and defend our freedoms.  Military installations across South Carolina and the Savannah River Site have faced challenges, which undermine our national security.  I have warned against the horrible impacts sequestration would impose and have done my best to advocate for those who are suffering within South Carolina’s Second Congressional District.  I am very pleased that Chairman Ryan was successful in finding common-sense reforms to replace sequestration that will not place families at risk.

 

“The road ahead will be difficult as budget debates continue for years to come.  However, we must remain hopeful that we can achieve spending reductions while promoting limited-government solutions that create jobs and spur economic growth.”

Yeah, I know — “President Obama’s sequester.” I didn’t say the partisans up there had stopped with the silly talk. But let’s focus on the action rather than the words here.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham says he will not vote for the deal when it reaches the Senate:

Graham to Oppose Budget Agreement

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he would vote against the budget agreement when it comes to the Senate floor.

 

“After careful review of the agreement, I believe it will do disproportionate harm to our military retirees,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  “Our men and women in uniform have served admirably during some of our nation’s most troubling times.  They deserve more from us in their retirement than this agreement provides.”

 

Graham noted the budget deal contains a one percent reduction in cost of living benefits for some military retirees.  The provision could significantly impact military retiree benefits.  For example:

 

·         A 42-year old who retires as an enlisted E-7 could lose a minimum of $72,000.

·         A 42-year old Lt. Colonel could lose a minimum of $109,000.

Source: Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)

 

“I support comprehensive, not piecemeal, pay and benefit reform to deal with rising military personnel costs,” said Graham.

 

“I truly appreciate Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray for their work trying to write a budget that provides relief to the Department of Defense,” concluded Graham.  “But this agreement doesn’t do enough to protect those who have spent their lives protecting our nation.”

 

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This is actually fairly consistent for Graham, who since the start has found the sequester appalling because of what it did to the military.

But isn’t it intriguing that in this moment when even Tea Party types are disciplining themselves to pass compromise legislation, trying to make up for the damage they’ve done to the GOP, Lindsey Graham is the guy standing up and saying, “No?”

 

Rep. James Smith on why he’s for strong-mayor

Here’s a release I received today from Rep. James Smith:

There are many good people who care about the future of the City of Columbia on both sides of the debate about our city’s form of government.  Please allow me to tell you why I’m VOTING YES for a Strong Mayor tomorrowand I hope you will too.

Columbia is fortunate to be served by a dedicated and conscientious City Council and city staff who do their best to serve us every day.  But I believe our city is hindered by a system that lacks the fundamental elements of accountability that are the bedrock of our Democracy.JES_post_pic

We know this issue has been debated and discussed for the better part of two decades. We know this is the most popular form of government in South Carolina and the same model used by our state and federal governments.  And we know the only reason we have this chance to adopt a more effective and accountable Strong Mayor form of government is because over 12,000 individuals just like you who signed a petition and demanded the right to vote.

Some in opposition want to make this about politics and power.  But the simple truth is that City Council’s authority doesn’t change at all and a Strong Mayor would have no more power than the City Manager has right now.  The only difference is that you hire the Mayor and you can fire the Mayor.  The same can’t be said of the City Manager.

The Mayor answers to you and it doesn’t matter how many petitions you sign or how loudly you protest, the City Manager never will.  That’s the only difference… but it makes all the difference.

  • When the city comes to edge of bankruptcy and no one is held accountable, the system is broken.
  • When no one takes responsibility for years of deferred water/sewer maintenance resulting in EPA intervention and rate increases, the system is broken.
  • When the police chief can’t do his job without getting permission from an Assistant City Manager, City Manager, any number of department heads and a panel of politicians, the system is broken.
  • When the red tape keeps the Mayor you elected from doing what you elected him to, the system is definitely broken.

We need to fix it.

This is our chance to make a real difference, to step forward into a new and more effective government and build the Columbia we’ve always dreamed of.

This is our moment. Tomorrow, December 3, Vote YES for accountability. Vote YES for safety. Vote YES for change and for a greater Columbia.

We’ve been on hold long enough.  Let’s move forward together.

Your friend,

Representative James Smith

Those Lowcountry Democrats know how to party

I enjoyed a release I got last night urging “James Island & Folly Beach Democrats” to “Gather with your Democratic friends” at the Lowcountry Senior Citizen Center on James Island on Nov. 13.

Among the rollickin’ fun that’s on tap:

This program on healthcare will give us an update on accessing the new Affordable Health Care Act…

Woo-hoo! What a fun way to spend the evening. If you’re a Democrat. Not.

When all politics was indeed personal

Tammany Hall, decorated for a national convention in 1868.

Tammany Hall, decorated for a national convention in 1868.

In my last post, I lauded the simple humanity of Sen. John Courson reaching out, in an entirely personal way, to his Democratic friends as well as his Republican friends, and I associated it with the very UnParty (or maybe AllParty) makeup of his district.

I love this anecdote about a similar human touch in a hyperpartisan back in the days of Tammany Hall. It’s from a reminiscence by Elliot Rosenberg about his Uncle Lewis. The piece is headlined “When All Politics Was Personal,” and here’s my favorite part:

For much of that era, spanning Presidents Wilson through Eisenhower and Mayors John F. Hylan through Robert F. Wagner Jr. , Uncle Louis earned the title Banner Captain of the Democratic Party’s Banner District. That meant the party’s old Fourth Assembly District clubhouse swept more votes into the Democratic column than any other, and Uncle Louis wielded the best broom of all, 99% of votes cast, give or take a percentage point.

“The Republican captain in my precinct was a good friend. So I’d tell a few of my people to slip him their votes,” Uncle Louis said. “After all, the fellow was a family man. His wife and kids had to eat, too.”…

What this guy did — make sure everyone pulled the Democratic lever, regardless of the candidate — is anathema to me. And with those kinds of margins, it cost him nothing to throw his GOP friend a bone. And in saying he could do that, he was boasting of his own power. But still — in these days when Democratic operatives may have no Republican friends, and vice versa, it’s sort of hard to imagine the gesture.

“His wife and kids had to eat, too.” I love that.

Democrats’ poll says it’s 44-40, with slight edge for Haley

Emphasis on the “slight,” according to the Democrats. Just about the same as the 3.53 percent margin of error:

COLUMBIA — S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley holds slight edge on Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen in their 2014 gubernatorial rematch, according to a poll done for the Democratic Governors Association.

Haley, a Lexington Republican, leads 44 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll from Clarity Campaign Labs.

Sheheen, a Camden lawyer, is within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.53 percent of tying the race. He lost by 4.5 percentage points to Haley in 2010….

They’re pretty excited about it. I ran into James Smith this morning, who said this is where the 2010 contest was just before the general election, which as you recall, Gov. Haley won with only 51 percent of the vote, and that in the big year for the Tea Party, her natural base.

The thinking, among Democrats, is apparently that if Vincent Sheheen had had just a little more time to keep gaining in 2010, he could have won. And this time, he’s got the time.

Sheheen campaign manager Andrew Whalen lost no time touting the poll in a fundraising email:

This is big! Earlier today, a poll released fantastic news for our campaign. This race is essentially tied.

Now we have proof of what we knew all along: we are poised to win this race!

Vincent is neck-in-neck with Haley, and Nikki Haley’s approval numbers are deep into the incumbent Danger Zone at only 40% statewide…

I think he meant “neck and neck,” but you get the point.

Rep. Smith said he felt like this was as good as it’s going to get for Haley.

Well, we’ll see. She’s quite a campaigner, and in SC, any member of her party has a sort of home-field advantage. But if this poll is at all reliable, it looks like it will be competitive.