Category Archives: Parties

I refuse to be an ‘idiot.’ I’m joining the ranks of the involved

signs

This is my front yard. As of Monday night, for the first time in my life, my yard features a campaign sign for a political candidate. In fact, it boasts two.

I’ve decided not to be an idiot any more — in the ancient Greek sense, which meant someone who was not involved in public life. As I noted the other day, Bobby Kennedy once summarized the ancient meaning as “One who is not involved in politics.”

Well, with these two signs, I’m stepping out of the ranks of idiots (which my career as a journalist forced me to be, at least in a sense), and joining the polites — the involved public citizens.

James Smith is the best candidate for governor by far, and Micah Caskey is easily the best candidate for his House seat, if not the best running for any House seat this year. They are the two people I most hope to see elected this year, for reasons I’ve gone into in the past and will elaborate upon again, I assure you.

By erecting these two signs, I also take a stab at resolving a dilemma.

A couple of weeks ago, Micah Caskey, standing on the State House steps, asked me to vote for him on June 12. Specifically, he nodded toward James Smith — whom he knows I like for governor — a few feet away and said he hoped I wouldn’t be voting in the Democratic primary, because he needs my vote in the Republican.

The fact that I have to choose, and can only vote for one of the two people I want most to elect on primary day, is a gross injustice. But it’s one I have to confront.

Normally, I take a Republican ballot. Not because I’m a Republican, any more than a Democrat, but simply because of where I live. If I don’t vote in the Republican primary, I get no say in who represents me in most offices. If I lived in Richland County, I’d probably vote mostly in Democratic primaries — especially this year, with that solicitor’s race. We have to choose carefully: Our primary vote is critical because far too often, it’s the only time we get a real choice.

That we have to choose one ballot and miss having a say in the other races that are contested in the primary (but not in the fall) is wrong, a denial of our rights as citizens. It thoroughly disenfranchises us. But those who make the rules refuse to see that.

At least this way, whichever primary I vote in, I’ll have done something for both of these fine candidates. I just wish I could vote for both of them…

Finally, some substance: James Smith’s campaign playlist

James Smith playlist

Before I get into the important stuff, I’ll share this: On my downtown walk yesterday, I ran into James Smith and Mandy Powers Norrell leaving the State House, and I asked James why he hadn’t released his tax returns — since some of y’all keep bringing that up.

He told me he was going to make them available to the media on Thursday and Friday. He said he wasn’t passing out copies, but folks would be free to peruse the documents on those days. I didn’t dig into why he doesn’t want copies going out: We were talking while crossing the street, he was going to meet with his campaign manager at one of those sidewalk tables in front of restaurants on the first block of Main north of Gervais, and I was in a hurry to get back to the office and drive to the twins’ school to hear them sing. So I just made a mental note: financial disclosure, Thursday and Friday, and hustled away.

At least, I think he said Thursday and Friday. So if I’m right, you read it here first. If not, I’ll correct it.

Anyway, in keeping with my campaign to drive Bud crazy (Look, Bud, more style over substance!), I’m more interested in something the candidate sent out today: his campaign music playlist, which he describes as “what’s been keeping me rocking as I travel the state.”

In my defense, this is more relevant in his case than in other candidates’, because he’s a musician himself — he used to play bass with the Root Doctors, many years ago. As he put it in the release:

Music has always been important to me — it can lift you up when you’re feeling low, make you run when you are tired, and inspire hope just when you need it.

Here’s his list, which you can find at Spotify:

  1. Sunday Bloody Sunday,” U2
  2. One,” U2
  3. Perfect Duet,” Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé
  4. Message in a Bottle,” The Police
  5. Happier,” Ed Sheeran
  6. Beautiful Day,” U2
  7. Pride (In the Name of Love),” U2
  8. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” The Police
  9. Find Me,” Kings of Leon
  10. Castle on the Hill,” Ed Sheeran
  11. Sign, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” Stevie Wonder
  12. We Take Care of Our Own,” Bruce Springsteen
  13. Come Together,” The Beatles
  14. Feeling Good,” Nina Simone
  15. Vertigo,” U2

Some general observations:

  • OK, we got it: You like U2. And “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is a perfectly fine song for kicking off a playlist, particularly in this case because it’s politically serious. It’s sort of the pop music equivalent of quoting W.B. Yeats. (For this purpose, we would also have accepted “Zombie,” by the Cranberries.) But five out of the 14 songs? Come on! You don’t want to come across as that… I don’t know… monochromatic. And let’s face it: U2 isn’t that great. Two or even three songs from Elvis Costello maybe, but five from U2? Nah…
  • Who is Ed Sheeran? I think I know what you’re trying to do here: Jack Black, as Barry in “High Fidelity,” would describe it this way: “Ohhh, kind of a new record… Very nice… A sly declaration of new-classic status slipped into a list of old safe ones….” I would not say that, of course, because I’m nicer than Barry. I appreciate that there’s something this old guy doesn’t know (the singer was born in 1991, saints preserve us!). And he sounds good. But again — should he appear on the list twice?
  • “Come Together” — the messaging may be a bit heavy there, but a communitarian like me never tires of that message. Thanks for including something for us Boomers. Which is smart, since we vote.
  • Good Springsteen choice, and I know it’s meaningful to you as a guy who served in the war. And no harm in reminding people of that. And while I’m not a huge fan of the Boss, another song from him couldn’t have hurt. Something fun, like “Pink Cadillac.” Or, especially since you’re doing some of that campaigning in the Pee Dee, “Darlington County.” Bruce is good politics for a Democrat, and he’s better than U2.
  • Who are the Kings of Leon? Never mind; we’ve already covered that ground with Ed Sheeran. And in the end, a guy who’s serious about music should have some performers not everyone has heard of. Broaden people’s horizons a bit. Be a leader, not a follower…

Anyway, that should get a discussion started. What are y’all’s thoughts? And speaking of High Fidelity, remember Rob’s rules as you consider the list:

To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention ***, and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs and… oh, there are loads of rules…

Yeah, he says “tape” instead of “playlist,” but give him a break: It was the 90’s and anyway, he’s a fictional character. But the rules are the rules…

Yeah, U2's good, and they sort of have political seriousness going for them, but they're not THAT great...

Yeah, U2’s good, and they sort of have political seriousness going for them, but they’re not THAT great…

Me, too, Mandy. We need more such pictures…

Mandy and Nathan

In the spirit of the UnParty

Mandy Powers Norrell, a Democrat I see as a positive force in the S.C. House, tweeted this a few minutes ago:

Yep, me, too, Mandy. We need more such pictures…

Graham’s extremely careful praise of Macron’s speech

Macron speech

To everyone else, Emmanuel Macron’s speech to Congress yesterday was a forceful refutation of everything Donald Trump stands for, made all the more dramatic by the hugs and kisses earlier:

The fact that the important thing about Macron’s speech was the way it refuted Trump and all he stands for presented our senior senator with a conundrum:

Practically everything the French president said had to be music to foreign policy wonk Graham’s ears. Yet… he’s trying so hard these days to play nice with Trump, even though he knows (and he knows we know he knows) the current U.S. president is wrong about very nearly everything.

So he applauded Macron without a word about how Trump’s policies had been slammed:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on President of France Emmanuel Macron’s address before a joint meeting of Congress.

“President Macron delivered an eloquent and inspiring address to Congress.  He described the unique relationship between France and the United States which is based on common values that have stood the test of time.

“President Macron has been a great partner to President Trump in confronting the challenges of terrorism and globalization.

“In President Macron’s speech about preserving the post-World War II world order and rejecting the false promises of isolationism, I heard the voice of John McCain – an ally and kindred spirit for the thoughts expressed by President Macron. 

“As to the Iran Nuclear Deal, it must be made better or we must withdraw. The Iran Nuclear Deal in its current form ensures a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. President Trump is right to withdraw if the deal is not made substantially better. I hope President Macron can convince the world community to bring about the much-needed changes.”

#####

Awkward…

Macron 2

I’d have been a Democrat in FDR’s day. And I liked Ike, too

FDR signing the Social Security Act.

FDR signing the Social Security Act.

I saved this comment from Richard to enlarge upon in a separate post:

Why are you so concerned about Democrats winning? You’ve stated you aren’t a Democrat.

That’s right, I’m not. And I appreciate having another chance to get the point of that last post across, since apparently I failed the first time, at least in your case.

That post was about a piece in the NYT in which David Leonhardt pointed out that if Democrats could get away from abortion and guns and other things that serve to divide us, and concentrated on economic policy — where they represent more of a consensus — Democrats can help themselves out a lot.

I liked the piece because what he was describing was the kind of thing Democrats would need to do to get my vote.

And I’d very much like to see one of the major parties doing something to appeal to voters like me.

I noted in passing that what Leonhardt was talking about would to some extent represent a return to the New Deal Coalition. No more trying to separate the world into two camps — Acceptable People and Deplorables. Instead, lift up a vision that can unify the country.

And would I be a Democrat if it was once again the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt? You bet.

And if the GOP was once again the party of Eisenhower, you can bet I’d be a Republican.

And if both of those things happened — if both parties were reaching out and trying to appeal to all of us, instead of separating us into sheep and goats, trying to get us enraged at each other so we’ll give money to the cause — the country would truly be blessed…

President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles.

President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles.

Yes, this COULD be the winning formula for Democrats

Can the New Deal Coalition rise again?

Can the New Deal Coalition rise again?

David Leonhardt had a good piece in the NYT last night. He promoted it this way:

There’s a roiling debate about whether Democrats should move to the political center to win back Trump voters or focus on energizing the party’s progressive base. On some issues — like abortion, guns and immigration — Democrats really do face this difficult choice. The policies that excite progressives alienate many of the white working-class voters who swung the 2016 election to Donald Trump, and vice versa.

But there is also one huge area where no such tradeoff exists: economic policy….

In the column itself, he asserted  that economic stagnation and inequality added up to “the defining problem of our age, the one that aggravates every other problem. It has made people anxious and angry. It has served as kindling for bigotry. It is undermining America’s vaunted optimism.”

And people across the political spectrum have lost patient with timid, incremental approaches to the problem. Which helps to explain both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Leonhardt writes:

Some observers remain confused about all of this. They imagine American politics as a simple two-dimensional spectrum on which Democrats must move to the center. But every issue isn’t the same. Yes, there are cultural issues, like abortion and guns, on which the country is classically divided. On these, moving to the center, or at least respectfully acknowledging our differences, can help Democrats. Representative Conor Lamb recently showed how to do it in Pennsylvania.

Economic policy is different. Most voters don’t share the centrist preferences of Washington’s comfortable pundit class. Most voters want to raise taxes on the rich and corporations. They favor generous Medicare and Social Security, expanded Medicaid, more financial aid for college, a higher minimum wage and a bigger government role in job creation. Remember, Trump won the Republican nomination as a populist. A clear majority of Americans wants the government to respond aggressively to our economic problems….

So, the smart thing would be to drop the topics that divide us — the culture war stuff, the Identity Politics, the “pussy hats” and such — and set out a vision for a rising tide for all.

But are national Democrats willing to do that? The occasional Conor Lamb aside, it remains to be seen.

In South Carolina, it’s not such a leap. SC Democrats — those who have actually served in office and understand political realities — have long understood that they have to reach across superficial barriers and appeal to as many voters as possible. You wonder why I like James Smith for governor? One reason is that he manifests that smart, inclusive approach. He’s identified with issues that could benefit all of us, such as trying to liberate renewable energy from artificial caps.

This is underlined when you look at his opposition: Phil Noble hits Smith for not being orthodox enough, for instance for being (allegedly) insufficiently hostile to gun-rights advocates. Noble is one of those Democrats who wants to divide the electorate into sheep and goats. Marguerite Willis seems to be pinning her hopes on getting women to vote for her simply because she’s a woman — despite Smith’s strong support within that largest of demographics.

So, the question is whether Democrats — on the state as well as the national level — are willing to take Leonhardt’s sensible advice, and identify themselves with issues that unite rather than divide. Mind you, he’s not talking about moving to a hypothetical center, but embracing issues with broad support among everyone but the most libertarian folks on the right.

I think they will in South Carolina, but polls tell us that’s far from certain. And nationally? I just don’t know…

Caskey strips out stupidest part of sanctuary cities bill

Micah Caskey selling his amendment in the House./@TigerMuniSC

Rep. Micah Caskey selling his amendment in the House./@TigerMuniSC

Yesterday afternoon I ran into my representative, Micah Caskey, on my afternoon walk, and asked what he’d been up to on such a fine Wednesday.

He was glad to tell me, as he’d had a good day doing worthwhile work for us all. He told me briefly about it, and followed up with more info today.

You know about Henry McMaster’s stupid Sanctuary Cities bill, the pointless solution to a non-existent problem. We have no Sanctuary Cities in South Carolina, a fact that no one disputes — but in order to pander to the Trump crowd, the governor would force South Carolina municipalities to file a bunch of red tape proving they’re not sanctuary cities, or lose state funding upon which they rely.

So Micah got the House to amend the bill to strip out the reporting requirements. You see, Sanctuary Cities are already against the law in South Carolina. Micah’s amendment would allow the state attorney general to take legal action against any municipalities suspected of the heinous crime of being nice to illegal aliens. (Currently, only a resident of the relevant municipality can can file a lawsuit to enjoin the city from adopting such policies.)

Micah did a nice job selling his amendment, bringing along this Powerpoint presentation to explain the actual facts of the situation, and what he proposed to do.

So basically, he managed to strip out the stupidest part of a stupid bill, minimizing the damage of what he termed the Incremental Growth of South Carolina Government Act.

Here’s how he summed up the change:

Original Bill

  • Paperwork shuffle (ICR)
  • Grows government
  • Adds to SLED workload
  • No due process
  • Violators lose LGF

Caskey Amendment

  • Empowers AG to enforce
  • Due process ensured
  • Protects rule of law
  • Violators lose LGF

“LGF” means “Local Government Fund.” “ICR” means “Immigration Compliance Report.”

Nice job, Micah. This is a good case of, as you put it in your presentation, “Common Sense Trumping Politics.”

Again, who in South Carolina backs Phil Noble?

noble-kennedy

It’s kinda fun that there’s an Obama-Biden sign in the background, since Biden has endorsed James Smith…

Phil Noble has pulled off another coup, by the standards of his campaign — touting the endorsement of yet another person who can’t vote in South Carolina:

One candidate to be South Carolina’s next governor is touting a 50-year-long Kennedy connection with his latest endorsement.

Charleston Democrat Phil Noble received the endorsement Monday of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland and daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Bobby Kennedy.

“For years, I’ve watched Phil fight tirelessly for the causes and concerns that have long inspired my family’s commitment to public service,” Townsend said….

 

First Doug Jones in Alabama, now a member of the extended Kennedy clan. And again, the support arises from old family connections, rather than anything Phil Noble has done.

But wait… there are those two guys in South Carolina who have endorsed him. Which means exactly half of the people endorsing him can actually vote in this state, unless I’ve miscounted.

There have to be other people, right? But I haven’t run across them. Of course, one might ask the same thing about Marguerite Willis, although we know who her chief backer is — Marguerite Willis. She’s has kicked in $460,000 of her own money.

This is one of the most eccentric campaigns for governor I think I’ve ever seen…

Senator, how about giving the #FakeNews thing a rest?

Certainly Lindsey Graham didn’t start this, but this Tweet of his was a sort of straw, with my patience being the camel:

I had to respond to him thusly:

Senator, it would be great if you wouldn’t add to overuse of that term, which seems to mean whatever Trumpistas want it to mean. It is not “fake news” that the Russian military made that absurd claim. They did. And the AP is truthfully and accurately reporting that they did….

Yeah, I know what he meant: That the Russians were saying something untrue. Which of course should be obvious even to a child.

A responsible news source...

A responsible news source…

But things that should be obvious to children are not always obvious to Trump supporters, and when you attach that #FakeNews label to a link to an actual story from a responsible news outlet, you are adding to their delusion that actual news, from trustworthy sources, is what is “fake.”

And I think the senator was willing for them to take it that way, because he was in his “try to look like a friend of Trump” mode when he sent that out.

And that is unhelpful.

More than ever, responsible people should be helping their neighbors, and themselves, distinguish fact from fiction. And Lindsey Graham knows better…

In stunning reversal for people of SC, utilities manage to kill solar bill AFTER it passed overwhelmingly

It's like if, after the Death Star was destroyed, Darth Vader used the Force to snuff out the Rebellion anyway...

It’s like if, after the Death Star was destroyed, Darth Vader used the Force to snuff out the Rebellion anyway…

If you had any lingering sympathy for the big utilities in South Carolina, this should wipe it out:

Under pressure from the state’s major utilities, the S.C. House killed a solar bill Tuesday that was intended to protect thousands of jobs and save customers money on their monthly power bills.

The bill’s defeat, a stunning reversal from a House vote last week, brought withering criticism from many lawmakers, who said the House caved in to opposition by Duke Energy and SCE&G, derailing the legislation. Utilities have expressed concern about how competition from solar could affect them.

State Rep. James Smith, the bill’s chief sponsor, also blamed Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. Smith, a Democratic candidate for governor and potential opponent to McMaster in November’s general election, said the Republican urged some lawmakers not to vote for the bill — a point McMaster’s office hotly disputed.

“He called House Republican leadership and raked them over the coals,” Smith said he was told by fellow legislators. “It was giving me a victory. But it ain’t about me. It ain’t about Henry.”…

The solar bill died Tuesday in the House after utility boosters raised a technical point, saying passing the bill would require a two-thirds majority vote. The House voted for the legislation, 61-44, but that was short of the two-thirds required for approval….

Wow. This is bad on so many levels — particularly if our governor got involved in order to screw over his likely Democratic challenger. But even if he didn’t, this is a stunning example of bad faith, and the kind of oligarchic, anti-democratic maneuver that almost makes the anti-elite paranoia of a Bernie Sanders sound sane.

Matt Moore, the former GOP chair who has been heading up Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, reacted this way:

Ten-plus years? I think that’s an understatement. In my more than 30 years of covering SC politics, I haven’t seen the likes of this. You have to go back to before my time. There probably hasn’t been a case of the powers-that-be frustrating the public will to this extent since the Old Guard found a way to disqualify charismatic gubernatorial candidate Pug Ravenel on a technicality in 1974.

The will of the people, acting through their elected representatives (which is how you do it in a republic), had been clearly expressed. The best people in the General Assembly were all for it — Democrats, and both flavors of Republican (Regular and Tom Davis).

And now, the people who gave us the shaft on the nuclear fiasco have shown us what they think of that. And of us.

So… what are we going to do about it?

Bottom line, Ralph Norman’s just not cool

Norman during the meeting with constituents...

Norman during the meeting with constituents…

If you’ve seen “In the Line of Fire” as many times as I have, you’ll remember this part. Clint Eastwood and his partner are trying to track down would-be assassin John Malkovich, and are following a lead that takes them into the subculture of plastic modelers.

They’re talking to a friend of Mitch, the Malkovich character, who says see my expensive wheelchair? Mitch bought it for me. Then suddenly, he pulls out a semi-automatic handgun and says this is in case Mitch ever comes back — because he had credibly threatened his “friend’s” life.

The Secret Service agents sort of go “Whoa!” at the appearance of the gun. They do this not because they’re sissies who are afraid of firearms and other mean things. (Remember, one of them is Clint Eastwood.) They do it because there are times when it is uncool to whip out a loaded firearm, and one of those times is when you’re being interviewed by a couple of worried Secret Service agents.

Another such time is when you’re a member of Congress chatting with your constituents.

What I’m saying is that basically, Ralph Norman did a really, really uncool thing when he took out his piece and put it on the table during a meeting with voters.

He didn’t do a criminal thing — at least, not to my knowledge. And I don’t think anyone needs to have a cow over it the way Democratic Party Chair Trav Robertson is doing.

But it seems to me quite obvious that it fell way short on the cool-o-meter.

Your thoughts?

SCNormanGunREVISEDAriailx

Belated congrats on a bipartisan solar victory

A shot of the voting board posted by Boyd Brown...

A shot of the voting board posted by Boyd Brown…

I was deliberately avoiding actual news the end of last week while at the beach, but now I want to congratulate James Smith and his allies of both parties on their big victory in the House last week.

Their bill to lift the cap on solar power passed the House 64-33 Thursday, after representatives rejected a competing bill pushed by the big utilities — which obviously don’t have the clout they had when they passed the Base Load Review Act.

Out of those 64, Matt Moore of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition particularly thanked   and my own rep, .

See how everybody voted on the board above.

Now, on to the Senate!

Ms. Willis takes a, um, DIFFERENT approach from Henry…

Willis video

Do not labor under any delusion that Marguerite Willis’ campaign for governor will be anything like that of Henry McMaster! Here’s proof that it won’t be…

In this new ad — which she either did on the cheap or paid extra to make it look that way — she leaps right to her point:

There’s no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is a racist. He’s a horrible racist. He’s the worst kind of racist, which is a racist who pretends he isn’t a racist….

The ad… lacks context. I feel like I walked in in the middle of a conversation. I want to ask her for an example or two to support her assertion, but I don’t get the chance to interrupt. And anyway, without any sort of transition or pause, she’s immediately off in a whole other direction: “How could we elect a man who says such horrible things about women?…”

Interesting. Not that I disagree with any of the particulars, but gee… where’d all that come from? I mean, gimme a little prelude, or something. Take a moment to tee it up first. Explain why you’re addressing the subject. Is electing Trump the issue before us? Does she think one of her rivals for the Democratic nomination is partial to Trump, or what?…

If these guys are all for solar, who can be against?

Matt Moore, Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. James Smith in front of the rally crowd.

Matt Moore of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. James Smith in front of the rally crowd.

I dropped by the pro-solar rally at the State House awhile ago, and I had to ask: “When AND AND are all for liberating solar power in SC, who can be against? (Aside from the big utilities, that is…)”

And there’s the rub. The big utilities, and their dozens of lobbyists and those who do their bidding. Who are those who do their bidding? We’ll be able to see that clearly, since right now there are two competing bills — H. 4421, which would lift the cap that the big utilities placed on net metering, and H. 5541, the bill that aims to essentially kill solar power in South Carolina.

There is seldom a choice that’s as black-and-white as this one.

Joining Smith, Ballentine and Davis — representing the three main “parties” in the Legislature (Democratic, Republican, and those other Republicans) — were Reps. Mandy Powers Norrell and Gary Clary, and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant. My own representative, Micah Caskey, showed up as the rally ended, apologizing for being late.

The crowd standing on the steps behind the pols were mainly folks employed in the solar installation industry. Which makes sense, since their phony-baloney jobs are on the line, gentlemen!

This was one of those reverse rallies where the demonstrators were all up on the steps behind the speakers, and the audience consisted of media and a few lobbyists.

This was one of those reverse rallies where the demonstrators were all up on the steps behind the speakers, and the audience consisted of media and a few lobbyists.

If Templeton would stop ranting and posturing for just a moment…

jasper-site-plan

… she might be able to contribute to a serious discussion about important issues. Maybe.

For instance, she might have been able to say something enlightening about the Jasper port, somewhere in the 1,190 words of this release, if she’d made the slightest effort. I would have found that helpful, because I feel like I’ve been out of the loop on the topic for the last few years. In fact, I’m not sure if the drawing above, which I found on this blog, is current and accurate.

Instead, we got another full broadside of unfocused fulmination, painting a picture of a world that consists of two kinds of people: Catherine Templeton, and the rest of the human race, which is all worthless and corrupt:

CATHERINE TEMPLETON RIPS POLITICS AND CORRUPTION AT PORTS
Outlines Plan for Stopping Public Corruption in South Carolina

(COLUMBIA, S.C.)  Proven conservative outsider and Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton brought back her buzz saw on Tuesday, this time to rip the corruption and politics surrounding the building of the Jasper Ocean Terminal in the Lowcountry. In addition, Templeton outlined her plan for more broadly ending corruption in state government.

In part of her ongoing series of events addressing different issues in the 2018 campaign, Templeton outlined her plan at a news conference in Hardeeville with Mayor Harry Williams and Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka.

“When I worked for Governor Haley, I earned the reputation as a buzz saw because I cut spending, cut the size of government, and cut regulations… When I went back to the private sector, the Port of Charleston asked me to do there what I had done in government, but there was a big difference. The Port of Charleston didn’t want any change at all.” said Templeton.

Templeton said she exposed corrupt contracts between the Port of Charleston and the Columbia-based consulting firm of Richard Quinn and was fired as a result.

“I released corrupt state contracts to the public showing money flowing from the Port of Charleston to pay the Quinns –  the political consultants who have been on Henry McMaster’s payroll for decades,” said Templeton. “As long as the Port of Charleston is a political arm of the corruption in Columbia, the Jasper Port will never get built.” 

Though not in attendance, Senator Tom Davis of Beaufort also weighed-in. “The SC Ports Authority took a position against an appropriation for Jasper port permitting when the budget was considered by the House, and as a result no funding for it was included in the budget passed by that chamber,” said David. “However, based on my discussions with Sen. Hugh Leatherman, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, it is my expectation that a $2 million appropriation for Jasper port permitting will be included in the Senate’s version of the budget, and I will submit a budget proviso to that effect for consideration by the Finance Committee when it meets later today. Simply put, money in this year’s budget is oxygen the Jasper port needs to survive.

During Templeton’s time as the head of two state agencies, Templeton fought big labor and won, stopped the Obama Administration from killing South Carolina jobs, called out corruption at the Port of Charleston, and fired entrenched state bureaucrats on the taxpayers’ payroll. She is equally committed to stamping out Columbia’s culture of corruption.

“Corruption is actually costing you money – daily. The power to run your light switch costs more because of lobbyists, your safety and time are sacrificed on the roads because of self-dealing, and now the very future and economic prosperity of this entire region is being postponed. Why? Because the Port of Charleston paid Henry McMaster’s political consultants almost $3M to make commercials and give him board advice. Now the Port of Charleston want $5M from the Jasper Port’s permitting budget because they are out of money.  Which do you think is more important – using the money to pay Henry’s political consultants or permitting a port for the people of this state that will be a national economic driver?” Templeton asked.

As governor, Catherine will:

Pass a Term Limits Law

  • Enact term limits for all legislators to end Columbia’s culture of corruption and force those who make the laws to return home and live under the laws they created.

“It’s time state legislators live under the same laws they create for the rest of us,” Templeton said. “What’s good enough for us should be good enough for lawmakers, too. The first step in creating legislative accountability is establishing term limits. When someone seeks public office, they must realize it is about service, not self dealing.”    

Accept No Salary

  • Return the governor’s paycheck to the people.

“I’m running for governor to serve the people’s interests,” Templeton explained.  “That’s why I will not take a salary while I’m serving as governor. I’ll return that money where it rightfully belongs – to the taxpayers who pay it.”

Close the Revolving Door of Corruption

  • Crack down on politics as usual by imposing stiffer criminal penalties and significant jail time for those who secretly lobby government.
  • Enact a lifetime ban on gubernatorial staff becoming lobbyists.
  • Enact a lifetime ban on legislators becoming lobbyists.
  • Enact a lifetime ban on all executive branch employees becoming lobbyists.
  • Ban lobbying by any taxpayer-funded organizations.
  • Ban lawyer-legislators from voting on the judges they argue before.

“We must stop politics as usual in Columbia by shutting the revolving door where people go from public service to lucrative lobbying,” Templeton vowed. “I’ll do that by imposing stiffer criminal penalties for those who secretly lobby government. I’ll follow that up by enacting lifetime bans on gubernatorial staff, legislators and executive branch employees becoming lobbyists. I’ll also ban lobbying by any taxpayer-funded organization and stop lawyer-legislators from voting on the judges they argue before. These steps will make sure public employees become public servants once more.”

End Pay-to-Play Politics

  • Prohibit legislators from taking state contracts for themselves or their families.
  • Prohibit all state officials from appointing relatives to public boards, commissions, and posts.
  • Ban family members of elected officials from doing business with state government to end corrupt conflicts of interest.
  • Ban publicly subsidized utility companies from making political contributions to politicians who authorize their funding.

“If we elect you to protect our money – you can’t have any of it for yourself or your family.  I will act swiftly to end the shameful practice of pay-to-play once and for all,” Templeton said.  “We’ll do it by prohibiting legislators and their families from taking state contracts; prohibiting all state officials from appointing relatives to public boards, commissions and posts; and banning publicly subsidized utility companies from making political contributions to politicians who authorize their funding.”

Empower the Ethics Commission to Enforce Ethics Laws:

  • Require all candidates for public office to give the Ethics Commission real-time access to their campaign accounts.
  • Direct accrued interest from campaign accounts to the Ethics Commission to fund the hiring of more staff for increased enforcement of ethics laws.

“The Ethics Commission should be more than the paper tiger it currently is,” Templeton explained. “I’ll make sure it’s empowered to adequately enforce ethics laws.  I’ll do that by   requiring all candidates for public office to give the Ethics Commission real-time access to their campaign accounts to ensure full compliance with ethics laws; and directing accrued interest from campaign accounts to the Ethics Commission to fund the hiring of more staff for increased enforcement of ethics laws.”

Ensure Greater Transparency

  • Require the legislature to comply with Freedom of Information request and remove the legislative exemption.  The people’s work should be conducted in the sunlight.

“The people’s work should be conducted in the sunlight. I will establish greater transparency by requiring the legislature to comply with Freedom of Information requests” Templeton said.” 

Templeton will continue to discuss her positions on a variety of issues that are important to South Carolinians in the coming weeks.

###

The only passage in all of that that communicated anything about what’s going on with the Jasper Port was the digression about something Tom Davis had said. From that, I gathered that the Jasper Port is a much-needed project that has suffered from the grabbiness of the Ports Authority, and that a $2 million appropriation promised by Sen. Leatherman is a good thing. Which is rather remarkable — that Tom Davis would be pleased that Hugh Leatherman wants to spend millions on something is a pretty good-sized miracle.

But I remain confused what that paragraph has to do with the rest of the release, and whether it is meant to suggest that Davis supports her candidacy. So while I appreciate the perspective from Tom, I’m left even more confused.

Ms. Templeton could have explained what is happening on this issue, right now, and set out what she thinks should happen in the future. That would have been helpful. Instead, we just get the usual overheated rhetoric as she slashes up, down, left and right in her bid to represent herself as the only possible cure to unmitigated, universal, but often ill-defined corruption that is eating the vitals of South Carolina.

We just get these quick hot bursts of rhetorical fire here, there and in every direction:

  • I almost didn’t read the release because it started out exactly the same as her other releases: “Proven conservative outsider and Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton…” And by the time I get to her name, I’m always tired and ready to move on.
  • “When I worked for Governor Haley, I earned the reputation as a buzz saw…” Oh, cut me a freaking break, would you? Yeah, you’re a real terror, and a joy to have around…
  • “When I went back to the private sector, the Port of Charleston asked me to do there what I had done in government, but there was a big difference. The Port of Charleston didn’t want any change at all.” Which was it? They wanted you to do what you claimed you had done in government, or they didn’t want you to do that? Also, this is interesting: Are you saying the private sector is less friendly to your hard-eyed efficiency than government?
  • “Templeton said she exposed corrupt contracts between the Port of Charleston and the Columbia-based consulting firm of Richard Quinn and was fired as a result…” the Quinns being “the political consultants who have been on Henry McMaster’s payroll for decades…” OK, now we see where you’re going with this, but still waiting to understand the relationship to the Jasper facility.
  • “During Templeton’s time as the head of two state agencies, Templeton fought big labor and won, stopped the Obama Administration from killing South Carolina jobs, called out corruption at the Port of Charleston, and fired entrenched state bureaucrats on the taxpayers’ payroll. She is equally committed to stamping out Columbia’s culture of corruption. Corruption is actually costing you money – daily. The power to run your light switch costs more because of lobbyists, your safety and time are sacrificed on the roads because of self-dealing, and now the very future and economic prosperity of this entire region is being postponed.” Boy, that’s a lot of different topics you just threw at us, none of them really explained, and I’m still waiting to see the relationship between them and the topic at hand.
  • “Why? Because the Port of Charleston paid Henry McMaster’s political consultants almost $3M to make commercials and give him board advice.” OK, so I think we’re on board with the idea that the Authority wasted money on the Quinns, even though the relationship to all that other stuff — like, say, that awful, wicked Obama fellow — is still a little fuzzy.
  • “Now the Port of Charleston want $5M from the Jasper Port’s permitting budget because they are out of money.  Which do you think is more important – using the money to pay Henry’s political consultants or permitting a port for the people of this state that will be a national economic driver?” Now you’ve lost me again. I haven’t seen any indication that this is a choice in front of us at the moment. There’s a fallacy there that probably has a fancy name, but I don’t know what it is.

I think she’s trying to communicate that the Port of Charleston wouldn’t be trying to hurt the more worthy Jasper Port if it hadn’t wasted money in the past. But that could be expressed more clearly if she didn’t have so many other agendas cluttering up her explanation.

What follows that is a bunch of populist buzz phrases about how she’s gonna clean up this town:

  • “Pass a Term Limits Law…” No, thanks. Anyway, can a governor do that? Won’t you need help? Who do think is going to want to help you, since you’ve lashed out at everyone you’ve mentioned… except Tom Davis?
  • “It’s time state legislators live under the same laws they create for the rest of us.” Which, you know, they do already. The idea that they don’t is some sort of populist fantasy.
  • “Accept No Salary.” Yeah, you know what? Don’t do me any favors. I’ll settle for a governor who accepts the modest salary provided — and earns it.
  • “We must stop politics as usual in Columbia by shutting the revolving door…” I was thinking she might cram one or two more cliches into that sentence, but I think she was getting tired by this point.

Anyway, toward the end she settled down long enough to say two things that made sense:

  • “Empower the Ethics Commission to Enforce Ethics Laws”
  • “Ensure Greater Transparency”

Yeah, I’m with you on those. But man, we sure did have to get through a lot of ranting to get to them. And, well… these are good ideas in general, and don’t really have a direct connection to the Jasper Port issue…

SC Sierra Club endorses James Smith for governor

Sierra Club - Rep. James Smith

Aside from more of Trump’s stupid protectionism, there’s not a lot of news out there today. But this item did come in a little while ago:

South Carolina Sierra Club Formally Endorses James Smith for SC Governor

COLUMBIA, SC – Today, on the beautiful banks of the Congaree River in downtown Columbia, the South Carolina (SC) Chapter of the Sierra Club formally endorsed Representative James E. Smith, Jr. for Governor of the state. This endorsement was unanimously voted upon by the Steering Committee of the state Club following the Midlands’ area John Bachman Group of the Club also unanimously voting to endorse Representative Smith in his gubernatorial bid.

 This is the first time in its history that the SC Sierra Club has endorsed a gubernatorial candidate prior to a primary election.

Current Chapter Vice Chair and former longtime Chairwoman during the majority of Rep. Smith’s House tenure Susan Corbett said, “James Smith has done more for environmental protection and citizens’ rights to protect South Carolina’s natural wonders than any other lawmaker in the history of this Chapter’s work in this state. It’s not just his work to advance renewable energy, protect ratepayers, promote enforceable water standards and oppose offshore drilling; it’s his work on the ground which he has done day-in and day-out to stop tremendously bad legislation from being enacted throughout the years that also matters.”

Chapter Chair Ben Mack added, “Ever since I was present to hear James call for a citizens’ Environmental Bill of Rights as an amendment to our state’s Constitution while introducing the state Club before the House of Representatives, I knew we had a real leader and champion for natural resources before us.”

James Smith has been a longtime advocate of the work of the SC Sierra Club. He has been a regular supporter and speaker before the Midlands’ John Bachman Group of the state Chapter.

Conservation Chair Bob Guild noted, “Most recently, James drafted well over 200 amendments to do everything he could to stop a ham-fisted bill seeking to significantly roll back citizens’ rights to challenge bad government environmental permitting decisions. The bill, known as the rollback of the automatic stay, gives waste giants, toxic incinerators and tree-cutters, among others, the tools they need to remove the public from the process of moving forward on doing environmental harm. The current Governor signed the bill into law last week, showing his disregard for the people who James had so courageously fought to protect.”

“This is a no-brainer; no other candidate even compares,” concluded Ms. Corbett. “We’re talking about the Representative that pretty much single-handedly stopped polluters from passing a bill to take away citizens’ rights to stop illegal pollution in our state.”

The South Carolina Sierra Club has over 20,000 members and supporters across South Carolina and is dedicated to its mission to explore, enjoy and protect our state. The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization with over 3 million members and supporters.

 

The legislative showdown between SC utilities and reformers

solar panels

As long as I’m throwing tweets at you, let’s contrast Henry McMaster’s fatuous nonsense with what’s going on among people at the State House who actually care about issues that matter to South Carolina.

We’ll start with this:

Oh, there goes that Brad Warthen promoting James Smith again! Well, not just him. We’re talking about a bipartisan coalition of actual leaders who are standing up to the pro-utility interests that brought you the Base Load Review Act.

This is what’s going on in the State House in this universe, as opposed to the one Henry lives in. In this universe, there’s a battle going on between people who continue to push the narrow interests of the utility industry and those who’d like us to be able to declare independence from them.

As a blog post over at the CVSC site says:

Let me set the scene for a big showdown that’s about to take place at the Statehouse…

There are two bills…

One bill was practically written by the utility monopolies. Not surprisingly, this bill would reward them for their role in the disastrous V.C. Summer debacle. Also, not surprisingly, this bill was introduced and rushed through subcommittee almost overnight by House members who’ve received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from utility monopolies.

The other bill would promote the growth of solar energy in South Carolina. This bill rewards consumers by treating them fairly and ensuring that our state’s solar energy market will continue to produce good-paying jobs and affordable energy for our families. Not surprisingly, this bill has been challenged at every step….

Here’s a comparison of the two bills:

DY0N0L3UMAASRd8

McMaster touts victory over his imaginary foe

Speaking of "intellectually-bankrupt campaign materials," this is the first thing you see at the McMaster for Governor site.

Speaking of “intellectually-bankrupt campaign materials,” this is the first thing you see at the McMaster for Governor site.

This bit of nonsense just sort of floored me last night:

I responded thusly:

I mean, come on, people — who can possibly take seriously, for even a second, the governor of South Carolina celebrating his great “victory” (or initial step toward victory) over a completely imaginary foe?

“What’s next?” my own representative, Republican Micah Caskey, asked. “Are we going to require cities to certify that they didn’t rob a bank?”

He added: “There is no one, other than politicians, who have suggested this is something we actually need and should waste our time on.”

And I would add, only a certain kind of condescending, pandering politician, completely lacking in shame.

This morning, Micah added this via Twitter: “Sanctuary cities are already illegal in South Carolina. (See SC Code Ann. 17-13-170 and 23-3-1100.) The governor should read more of our laws already on the books and less of his intellectually-bankrupt campaign materials.”

Amen to that. And I suppose he meant this sort of campaign material

I did, however, run across a Willis supporter…

Willis bumper sticker

As unsuccessful as I was trying to find out who (other than the three people he’s named) is backing Phil Noble, I ran across a Marguerite Willis supporter the other evening without even trying.

willis closeup

Sorry about the bad resolution. It was dark…

I carefully smudged out the license number, so the individual supporter is anonymous — although you get a feel for the issues that motivate this voter from the rest of the information freely shared with the world. This is a maker of statements.

I have no idea whether this means the typical Willis voter is a Bernie supporter (frankly, I would have thought those votes would go to Noble) or believes war is not the answer. As y’all know, I’m way intuitive, but a sample of one falls a little short of what even I need to extrapolate from.

In the end, though, beyond this one sticker, I’m even more in the dark about where her support comes from than I am with Noble. But perhaps we’ll see some endorsements coming at some point…