Category Archives: Republicans

That’s not the first example I think of, Henry

I was just now looking back at the press release from yesterday announcing Henry McMaster’s entry into the contest for lieutenant governor:

McMaster Files for Lt. Gov.
For Immediate Release                                                                           March 27, 2014
Contact:  Adam Fogle @ 803-394-3006
 
COLUMBIA, SC — Former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster officially filed Thursday as a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor.  In an online video announcement McMaster said, “For this job, experience really does matter.”
 
In addition to serving eight years as Attorney General, McMaster gained national attention when President Ronald Reagan chose him as his first U.S. Attorney.  In that job, McMaster led a crackdown on corruption and drug trafficking.  He later became State Republican Party Chairman and led the SCGOP through a period of historic growth.
 
With a strong record in both the public and private sectors, McMaster said he brings to the race “a unique mix of experience and proven results.”  In announcing his decision to offer as a candidate for Lt. Governor, McMaster issued the following statement:
 

Experience Matters

“The next four years will be critical to our state’s political, economic and cultural future.  I love South Carolina and I want to help create a future of progress and prosperity.
 
“As Lt. Governor, I plan to be a strong voice for conservative reform in State government.  I’ll be ready on day one to preside over the work of the State Senate.  It takes experience in State government and knowledge of the law to do a good job.
 
“After four years of Barack Obama, I think we’ve learned that on-the-job-training is not always a good idea.  For the job of Lt. Governor, qualifications really matter.
 
“I’m also ready to address the growing challenges faced by our state’s seniors and adults with disabilities.  At the present rate, South Carolina’s senior population will double by the year 2030.
 
“I’ve discussed this issue in detail with my friend Glenn McConnell, our current Lt. Governor.  He is making wonderful progress in developing plans and strategies to deal with the aging crisis.  And I am prepared to follow in his footsteps.
 
“Finally, I’m ready to work with Governor Haley and the conservative leaders of the State Legislature to protect taxpayers, grow our economy, create new jobs and build a tomorrow we can all be proud of.
 
“That’s why I’m running as a conservative Republican for Lt. Governor and I ask for your support.”
 
The Republican Primary will be held Tuesday, June 10.  Learn more about Henry McMaster atHenryMcMaster.com.  View the entire video announcement on YouTube.
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Did you catch that non sequitur about the president? “After four years of Barack Obama…” (On his website, by the way, he says somewhat more accurately, “After nearly six years of Barack Obama…)

As criticism of POTUS goes, of course, that’s fairly mild stuff. His inexperience was one of the things that kept me in the John McCain camp in our 2008 endorsement. So, fair observation there.

But hey — what does it have to do with running for lieutenant governor? You’d think he’d compare himself to his opponents for the nomination, not to Republicans’ favorite national whipping boy. (Yeah, I know how this plays in the GOP base. But I have to wonder: Doesn’t anyone in that base ever go, “Hey, wait a minute. What does this have to do with Obama?”)

Here we go again, y’all. I thought Henry was easily the best of the GOP field for governor last time around. But one thing kept me from feeling good about his candidacy: His over-the-top — I mean, “over-the-top” by the standards of reasonable folk; not “over-the-top” by, say, Tea Party standards — attempts to nationalize the campaign. Remember the ad in which he promised to protect us from Obama and his Washington “vultures”?

Speaking of Tea Party standards…

If he were really concerned about on-the-job training, don’t you think the first politician who would come to mind would be someone closer to home — say, our governor, who had three terms as a House backbencher and no known managerial experience before becoming our chief executive?

But Henry would never do that. Henry has been remarkably loyal in his support of the governor ever since she beat him for the nomination in 2010. The State today talked about how Henry is one of three candidates for Gov Lite who have “ties” to the governor. But Henry is the one she owes, the one who has swallowed every ounce of pride to be her cheerleader, and give her countenance among business types and party regulars.

Glenn McConnell, president-elect of College of Charleston

MoncksCorner

The trustees of the College of Charleston went for political clout over the weekend, unanimously electing Glenn McConnell to be their new president.

It was the smart move, and the best for the public college’s future, to pick the longtime parliamentary master of the State House.

Yes, he has an affinity for all things Confederate. There’s the flag, which still flies in front of the State House because of the “compromise” he and a few other senators crafted when it became inevitable that it would no longer stay up on the dome. There’s the Hunley, the raising and preservation and study of which has been a pet project of his. There’s the memorabilia shop he owned (I don’t think he owns it anymore, but I could be wrong about that). There’s the 17 or 18 re-enactor uniforms he has in his closet.

Then there’s the fact that, as the most powerful and knowledgeable defender of the Legislative State, he has resisted substantive reform for decades.

That’s the bad stuff, which is all detractors have focused on. And you can see how they would.

But those who have worked with him in the State House mostly just respect the guy — and not just because he understands how the system works better than they do. He’s a hard worker who can be relied upon to do what he says he will do. And that has benefited South Carolina, from the judicial selection reforms (keeping selection in the hands of the Legislature, but making it much more merit-based) of the ’90s to his conscientious efforts on behalf of the elderly as lieutenant governor.

He earned a huge amount of that respect with the way he gave up his Senate power to accept the lowly job of lieutenant governor when that seemed to him the most honorable course, and rather than mope in the corner, got out and took his responsibility as head of the Office on Aging (lawmakers had put a former lieutenant governor in charge of the office just to give him something to do) seriously.

Those are the kinds of factors that led a couple of young Democrats to issue glowing praise of him on Twitter in response to the news over the weekend.

  • Sen. Thomas McElveen Tweeted, “Congrats to Glenn McConnell on being named @CofC ‘s 22nd president. His statesmanship, pragmatism & steady hand will be missed in the Senate.”
  • Former Rep. Boyd Brown wrote, “Very proud of Glenn McConnell and CofC, and wish both great success. Any entity should hope to have such an honorable and fair leader.”

Brown went further, arguing with the critics in two subsequent Tweets:

  • “Some of the folks manufacturing outrage over Glenn McConnell being tapped to lead CofC have clearly never met the man…”
  • “…Sure, McConnell is an easy target if all you know about him is ‘Civil War buff/politician.’ But as a leader, he’s in a class all his own.”

I’ve spent a lot of time on the opposite side — the losing side, of course — from Glenn McConnell on important state issues. I could get pretty indignant about it. But that has generated respect, and I know what these guys are on about.

As I said, the trustees made the right call. The smart call, certainly. But near as I can tell thus far, the right one, as well.

John Monk’s scoop about Harrell, Wilson, and secrecy

Corey Hutchins has written a piece in Columbia Journalism Review about John Monk’s investigative scoop last week, revealing that Speaker Bobby Harrell has sought a secret court hearing on his proposal to remove Attorney General Alan Wilson from Harrell’s ethics case:

The people’s court?

Will a lone South Carolina judge make a secret decision this week in a closed court? The State leads the push for transparency

CHARLESTON, SC — An investigation of one of the most powerful politicians in this state has turned into a key test of how open the courts here are, with media organizations arguing in print and—they hope—in the courtroom that key legal decisions shouldn’t be made behind closed doors. For more than a year, the state’s Republican House Speaker, Bobby Harrell, has been under investigation for possible misuse of campaign funds and abuse of his public office, though Harrell maintains he has done nothing wrong. In January, South Carolina’s Republican Attorney General, Alan Wilson, sent the case to a state grand jury. Wilson’s office would prosecute the case should it end up at trial, and the situation has been prickly for the two Republicans, with Harrell accusing Wilson of trying to damage him politically. The political intrigue blew up into an open-government concern a week ago, when John Monk of The State newspaper in Columbia, citing unnamed sources, reported that Harrell’s attorneys were secretly seeking a closed-door hearing before a state judge to argue that Wilson should be removed as the prosecutor. The substantive argument for disqualifying Wilson was unclear, Monk reported…

Which reminds me that I meant to say last week, when John’s story appeared, that it’s nice to see the paper allow him the time to do what he’s best at. Instead of routine crime stories, and other general assignment-type stuff.

I say that not to be critical of the newspaper. When your staff has shrunk to the size The State‘s has, due to financial pressures beyond editors’ control, you need every hand you’ve got on the routine stuff. And John pulls his weight on the bread-and-butter stories that must get covered each day.

Which makes it particularly great that he was able to find the time to get this story, which reveals an attempt at secret dealing that John said would be “unprecedented.”

Corey quoted press association attorney Jay Bender as saying:

What happens to our democratic society if newspapers go away? Who’s going to be out there asking these crucial questions and trying to push people in public positions to conduct public business in public view?

What happens, indeed?

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Feliciano, in an image from his campaign website.

Dave Feliciano, in an image from his campaign website.

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

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

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

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

What’s in a word? From ‘nullification’ to ‘anti-commandeering’

Somehow, I missed Sen. Tom Davis’ announcement of how he was changing the emphasis of his nullification bill, until about three days later. So I didn’t write about it.

But now it’s been 10 days, and I think we should still at least make note of it, because it’s indicative of a shift of emphasis on the state’s rights front.

You’ll recall that Tom indicated earlier that he was backing away from “nullification,” which I saw as a positive development, since we really don’t need to revisit the discredited ideology of 1832. What Tom did 10 days ago was announce what he’s changing that wording to.

Here’s his release:

BEAUFORT, S.C. – Yesterday afternoon, State Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) filed with the Clerk of the South Carolina State Senate a strike-and-insert amendment for H. 3101, a bill passed by the South Carolina House of Representatives in May 2013 that initially sought to nullify the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Davis was appointed last June by Sen. John Courson, the President Pro Tem of the South Carolina Senate, to chair an ad hoc committee to review H 3101, and the committee subsequently held public hearings in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston.  Davis’ amendment, a copy of which is attached, would slow the spread of the ACA in South Carolina by:

 

  • Invoking the constitutional principle of anti-commandeering
  • Requiring legislative approval for ACA grants and programs
  • Rejecting the optional Medicaid expansion authorized by the ACA
  • Prohibiting the creation of a state health-insurance exchange
  • Registering ACA navigators with the state Department of Insurance

 

“The heart of my amendment is the anti-commandeering section,” said Davis. “The principle is a simple one: The federal government cannot compel a state to use state resources to implement a federal law.  If the ACA is bad law – and I think it is – then South Carolina’s resources should not be used to implement it.”  The principle of anti-commandeering was expressed by the United States Supreme Court in Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997): “The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.”

 

Anti-commandeering differs from nullification, in that the latter is a flat refusal by the state to allow a federal law to be enforced within its borders. “My amendment doesn’t say that,” said Davis. “It says that South Carolina will not use its resources to aid and abet in the ACA’s implementation.  It really boils down to this: Why should we spend state money to implement a bad federal law?”

 

Other sections of Davis’ amendment would do the following: codify last year’s decision by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to neither seek an ACA-authorized expansion of the Medicaid population nor create a state health-insurance exchange; require public entities that want to apply for ACA grants to justify the application in hearings open to the public and to obtain legislative approval prior to seeking them; and protecting South Carolinians from unscrupulous practices by navigators who are paid by the federal government to enroll people in ACA health-insurance exchanges.

 

“Ultimately,” Davis said, “it is up to the United States Congress to repeal the ACA.  In the meantime, though, the states have the power and the duty to push back, and this is a way of doing that.”

 

The South Carolina State Senate is expected to begin debate on H 3101 next Tuesday.

 

 

###

And here’s a link to the amendment.

This strikes me as less a move away from extreme aims than a move toward strategic pragmatism. Which sounds like it would be good — whenever pragmatism even slightly displaces ideology, it tends to sound good to me — but I suppose one could see it as a glass-half-empty thing as well, in terms of getting more practical about achieving extreme aims.

But let’s be glass-half-full as well. At least Tom is acknowledging that states can’t nullify acts of the federal government. “Anti-commandeering,” even though the term suggests something local luminaries might have come up with during the Federal occupation of SC after the Recent Unpleasantness, makes a somewhat more modest assumption — that the feds can’t set states’ agendas or priorities, or tell them how to spend their resources.

The intended effect, however, is the same — “We don’t have to do what you goddamnyankees are telling us to do.”

Although Tom himself wouldn’t put it that way.

This is not a totally improvised fallback position, by the way. If you Google it, you’ll see “anti-commandeering” used on websites like tenthamendmentcenter.com/.

RGA ad reminds us that real-life national politics is WAY stupider than ‘House of Cards’

Vincent Sheheen’s campaign is lashing back at the Republican Governor’s Association ads attacking him for supporting Medicaid expansion.

It is, as the Democrat says and The Washington Post has noted, bizarre for him to be attacked for that when the chairman of the RGA, Chris Christie, supports that part of the Affordable Care Act, too. As have other Republican governors.

Note the Democrats’ spoof of the RGA ad below.

But that’s not what is most remarkable about the original ad. What is most remarkable about it is just how unbelievably stupid it is. Rather than discuss the merits of Medicaid expansion and making whatever arguments it can come up with against the idea, the ad simply says “Obamacare” over and over and over and over.

Yes, we know that that one neologism sums up the entire national Republican strategy for 2014 (even more than it did in, let’s see, 2010 and 2012). Everything else — such as the crusade against spending that was once deemed so important that it was worth destroying the full faith and credit of the national government to fight — has been shoved aside for that.

But come on, people. Make an effort to form a coherent thought here.

Anyone trying to find a logical train of thought in this ad will likely get a headache instead. It opens, for instance, with “Well first, Sheheen supported much of Obamacare. But then, he refused to support the lawsuit to stop it.” The narrator’s voice drips with irony. But in what universe would there be a “but” joining those two thoughts? Why would anyone who supported much of a thing join in a lawsuit to stop it?

After that, anyone trying to think about the ad is sufficiently thrown off balance that he hardly has the attention span left to protest that the bit about “millions of families losing their health plans” has absolutely zero to do with what Sheheen favors, that it is in fact the opposite of what he favors, since he wants to expand coverage. And since when did Medicaid expansion cost jobs? I thought it was refusing to expand Medicaid that cost jobs. Wait a second…

But the ad is over. And all you’re left with is this echo of “Obamacare, Obamacare.”

Let’s give the people who made this ad some credit. Let’s assume they’re smart enough to know that the ad doesn’t make sense, that they’re just being stunningly cynical. But they certainly believe the rest of us are stupid enough to go along.

Now, finally… I said this ad was “remarkable” for its insult to our intelligence. But that was a poor choice of words. Most political ads are more or less this stupid.

Last night, I saw the last episode of the new season of “House of Cards.” This morning, I saw this ad. And I’m struck by how much stupider real-life national politics is than what is depicted on that show. Frank Underwood and his fellow plotters may be amoral, wicked, devious and manipulative. But at least they seem to be clever about it.

It’s hard to see any sign of anything remotely like cleverness or subtlety in the way politics is actually conducted in this country — particularly on the national level. Which is why it’s so offensive to see a state election such as this one nationalized. Again.

Davis, other SC senators push to legalize CBD oil

This comes from Tom Davis:

Statement by SC State Senator Tom Davis

 

Earlier today, SC State Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) filed S1035, a bill whose objective is to allow doctors in South Carolina to prescribe Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a non-psychoactive chemical in cannabis, to South Carolina patients who suffer with intractable epilepsy.  The following state senators have signed onto S1035 as cosponsors: Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown), Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington), Larry Martin (R-Pickens), Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley), Lee Bright (R-Greenville), and Luke Rankin (R-Horry).   A copy of the bill is attached.

 

Davis said he recently became aware of the therapeutic benefits of CBD oil when one of his constituents, Harriett Hilton, told him about her six-year-old granddaughter, Mary Louise Swing, who resides in Mt. Pleasant.  A picture of Mary Louise is attached.  “Harriett told me that Mary Louise sometimes suffers up to 100 epileptic seizures an hour,” Davis said, “and that none of the drugs prescribed by her doctors at the MUSC Epilepsy Center has provided relief.  Harriett also told me that Mary Louise’s caregivers at MUSC believe CBD might help, but that the law prevents them from prescribing it to her.   That is morally wrong, and the purpose of S1035 is to jumpstart a process to remove those legal barriers.”

 

Scientific and clinical studies have confirmed CBD’s potential as an effective treatment for those with intractable epilepsy.  Accordingly, last fall the federal Food and Drug Administration green-lighted clinical studies of CBD as an anti-seizure medication at two research universities in New York and San Francisco.  The drug — manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, called “Epidiolex™,” and in the form of a liquid that is administered orally with a syringe dropper – is currently being prescribed by doctors to patients with intractable epilepsy at the NYU School of Medicine and at University of California at San Francisco.

 

“The doctors and medical research facilities at MUSC are every bit as good as those in New York and San Francisco,” Davis said. “I want to legally empower MUSC and its epileptologists to prescribe CBD oil to those with intractable epilepsy like Mary Louise, and S1035 outlines the critical path to making that happen.”

 

S1035 would revise a South Carolina law passed in 1980 titled “The Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act of 1980,” which authorized DHEC to engage in clinical studies regarding certain medical therapeutic uses of marijuana. That 1980 law has never been funded and has lain dormant, and Davis says it’s time to breathe life into it.  “I realize that federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance,” said Davis. “But as the FDA itself has acknowledged, it makes no sense to ban CBD oil, a non-psychoactive chemical derived from cannabis.  You can’t get high on it and it has no street value, and it makes zero sense to legally prohibit doctors from prescribing something that would relieve their patients’ suffering.”

 

######

Of all the legalization arguments I’ve heard and seen, this one makes the most sense.

Haley looking very Chris Christie today. I just hope she doesn’t put on unhealthy pounds

windbreaker

While typing my last post, I was listening to Nikki Haley’s live presser about the weather. Occasionally, I would glance over, and was struck by how the gov had adopted the standard Chris Christie disaster couture, with the dark blue windbreaker and everything. (Although she added a stylish white turtleneck.)

I’m telling myself this doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean she’s going to stop lanes of I-20 going through Kershaw County just to punish Vincent Sheheen or anything. And so far, it doesn’t look like she’s packing on any unhealthy pounds.

Apparently, this has become the national standard for a governor wanting to show that he or she is in Complete Weather Disaster Command and Control Mode. Like a general getting out of Class A’s and into fatigues — or rather, like what that would have meant decades ago, before generals started going to the office every day in BDUs.

Anyway, it just struck me as an interesting visual. Increasingly, we think in visual symbols rather than words, don’t we?

And are we next going to see Gov. Haley walking alongside President Obama, showing him the devastation wreaked on our state? Probably not… although I see she has sought a federal emergency declaration, which I found ironic…

article-snl-1118

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…

Slate writer sticks up for Tim Scott

William Saletan, over on Slate, defends Tim Scott from the scurrilous things that the head of the NC NAACP said about him in Columbia recently:

Let’s set aside, for the moment, the policy disputes between Democrats and the Tea Party. You may think, as I do, that most of the Tea Party is wrongheaded, and that much of it is unhinged. But that’s not the point here. The point is that William Barber has never met Tim Scott. And none of Barber’s reported comments address Scott’s legislation or his career.Tim Scott

To put it in terms any NAACP leader should understand, Barber has prejudged Scott. He has prejudged him as a puppet based on the senator’s color and his party. This prejudgment fits a long tradition of epithets: Uncle Tomhouse negrooreo. The fact that these epithets tend to be used more by black people than by white people doesn’t change what they add up to: a racial stereotype.

We can argue all day about the Tea Party, Republican policies, and what Martin Luther King would have stood for today. To me, the core of his message was the right to be treated as an individual. His dream was, in his words, a nation in which his children would be judged not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Tim Scott has that right, too…

Saletan is completely right.

But even if he weren’t, I’d sit up and take notice, because of the relative novelty of reading such an opinion on Slate. It would mean even more if he were a typical Slate writer, rather than sort of being their house iconoclast (he calls himself a “liberal Republican”). Because any reasonable person — left, right or (best of all!) UnParty — should be fair-minded enough to stick up for Scott’s right to be considered as an individual.

Haley versus Deal on handling the snowstorm

The S.C. Democratic Party rather joyfully brings attention to this item that describes the back-and-forth between Nikki Haley and the office of her counterpart in Georgia, Nathan Deal.

The piece quotes this from the Charleston Regional Business Journal about Nikki’s complaints in a speech to a civic club about the mess in Atlanta:

Haley, who was in Charleston on Tuesday for a speech to members of the Historic Rotary Club of Charleston, said her brother was stuck on an interstate in Atlanta for 27 hours because of the snow and ice.

“While I was trying to fix South Carolina, I was furious at Georgia for not taking care of that,” she said.

She complimented South Carolina’s Department of TransportationDepartment of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the state’s National Guard, for their work during the storm.

“When you go through a storm, whether it’s a hurricane or winter storm, our team stands ready,” Haley said. “I am very proud of team South Carolina and the way they handled the storm.”…

And then it provides this response from the Georgia governor’s office:

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson offered this when confronted with Haley’s jab:

“To say South Carolina did a better job responding to the storm than Georgia is like saying Tennessee did a better job than Louisiana responding to Hurricane Katrina. We experienced completely different weather events.”

Chris Christie no longer the front-runner. This week.

Taegan Goddard over at Political Wire says it’s “Time to start calling Chris Christie the former GOP frontrunner.”

And he presents good arguments in support of that statement. He says Christie’s main strength was his crossover appeal — the GOP base loved him not — but according to a new poll, he’s lost ground among Democrats, Independents and women and:

Without holding the electability card, Christie has little chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination. It’s just one more example of how quickly fortunes can turn in politics.

Yes, exactly. I seem to recall that in the fall of 2011 and into early 2012, the GOP field had a different front-runner every week. And then the musical chairs game ended, and Mitt Romney, the original front-runner, was the only one with a seat.bak3jqccqaeb15s

So Chris Christie is out of it this week. And next week, too. But who knows what will transpire during the 145 weeks left until Election Day 2016? People are disenchanted with Christie now, but that’s in a vacuum. Whom will they love better? And what will be that person’s “electability?”

The most important question in politics is, “Compared to what?” Or perhaps I should say, “Compared to whom?” And the comparisons have not yet begun.

If Nikki Haley’s playing politics, that’s good news, too

So if Thigpen's right, we're much less likely to see scenes such as this one this year.

So if Thigpen’s right, we’re much less likely to see scenes such as this one this year.

Having trouble finding anything substantive not to like in Nikki Haley’s education and other proposals, some critics are saying she’s just playing election-year politics.

Well, if that’s the case, that’s good news, too. In fact, unless you’re a Democrat trying to unseat her, it’s hard to see where the downside is for you here.

That occurred to me reading the following, written by Schuyler Kropf at The Post and Courier:

Democrats — and even some political talking heads — were quick to point out Haley’s attention to education and mental health could easily be seen as attempts to neutralize her Democratic opposition.

“They must feel it’s a more moderate electorate out there,” retired Francis Marion University political scientist Neal Thigpen said Monday in assessing her administration’s 2014 spending ideas.

Thigpen, who has followed Republican politics in the state for years, said the most obvious political target in her budget is announced Democratic challenger, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden.

Haley’s camp must see a need in “trying to block him out,” Thigpen added, “and being ahead of him in trying to blunt those issues that he may be able to use.”…

Look again at what Neal Thigpen just said…

“They must feel it’s a more moderate electorate out there…”

If Nikki Haley and her people are looking around them and seeing a more reasonable world than the one that elected them in the Year of The Tea Party, then that’s gotta be a good thing, right?

So, if that’s correct, her speeches this year will be less about throwing red meat to people who hate government, and more about good governance. Which Vincent Sheheen will be doing as well, because he always does that. Which means that no matter which of them is elected, that person will be committed to such basic things as better schools, and better care for the mentally ill.

Which as I say, is a good thing for all South Carolinians…

If not Christie, then who? I’m serious here…

TonySoprano

I’ve had this image in my head of a strong, pragmatic New Jersey-style leader. Oops, wrong image…

If Chris Christie is truly knocked out of the running for the GOP nomination in 2016, then who will take his place?

No, that’s not a setup for a list. I was wondering whether y’all had anybody in mind. I can think of only two categories:

  1. Unbending ideological extremists.
  2. People most of us, possibly including me, have never heard of.

Regarding that second category: You may say that there’s somebody great out there that I’m not thinking of. But in my book, someone I haven’t heard of has next to no chance to gain my confidence between now and 2016. When it comes to doling out (more or less) extreme executive power, trust is a cumulative process with me. It takes time for me to be able to see someone as president.

I was feeling pretty good there looking at a Clinton-Christie matchup, as it meant the choice would be two people I felt moderately good about. That is to say, I wouldn’t have seen the election of either as a disaster, which gave me a small measure confidence about the nation’s future. After her four years as SecState, I felt better about Hillary than I did in 2008. And after watching Chris the last couple of years, I thought I saw the kind of pragmatic governor that I like.

In any case, he was the only Republican I could think of that I felt kinda OK about (while Hillary is kinda the only Democrat I can think of, good or bad).

So… if he’s knocked out… what happens?

Nice to see Tom Davis backing away from nullification

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But this is progress…

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.”

 

#####

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?”

 

The Fix cites Graham in describing GOP senators’ woes

This is from The Fix blog at The Washington Post:

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) surprised the political world Monday when he filed at the last minute to challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), complicating the senator’s reelection bid just when it looked to be virtually problem-free….

Stockman is far from an A-list challenger. He has a knack for controversial statements and a dearth of campaign funds. But among a Texas GOP electorate in which Cornyn is no hero, he shouldn’t be counted out.

Nor should underdog tea party-aligned challengers to Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.),Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), or Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) have drawn higher-caliber opponents….

That’s probably about the way to put it with Alexander. It’s not exactly that he’s in trouble, so much as you can’t count his many challengers out — especially if one of the stronger ones gets him into a runoff.

When I hear that Lamar Alexander — whom I covered in his successful gubernatorial election way back in 1978 — is in trouble, it tells me Republicans in Tennessee have gone nuts while I wasn’t watching them.

He’s one of the dwindling number of sensible people in Washington.

Duncan praises Mandela, runs into buzzsaw of criticism

Rep. Jeff Duncan posted the following on his Facebook page last night:

Every so often God places upon the Earth an individual with the power to change humanity’s destiny for the better. One of those very special people was Nelson Mandela. His compassion, grace, and mercy created ripples across every corner of the globe. His fight for equality and justice for all mankind helped to further ingrain on our souls the truth that we are all born with the right to be free. Nelson Mandela set an example that we would be wise to follow for all time, and tonight the world is collectively mourning this loss.

Here are some of the responses he received:

Brent Heaton This may be the politically correct thing to do but I must disagree with this one. He was no example to be followed.

Roxie Todd Kincannon I agree with Margaret Thatcher. Mandela was a communist sympathizer and a terrorist. You can’t pal around with the likes of Fidel Castro and Muammar al-Gaddafi unless share their beliefs. You know the old saying about birds of a feather.

Chris Corley What? He took a first world nation and turned into a third world country. That is quite an accomplishment. Maybe Obama is the second coming of Ol’ Nelson?

Larry R Smith Jeff I am absolutely disappointed in you; What are you trying to do win the Black vote in Pickens County. Nelson was a racist, murder, terrorist, and a devote Marxist. Have you not read any of the books about this man? There is plenty of info out there about him.

David Merck I would not follow Mandela’s example in a million years!

Cheyenne Hoyle McLendon Who are you people ??!!…other than haters….Hitler ?

Danny Cooper Yeah I’m a hater! I hate: Progressives, Socialist, Communists, Marxists, Racists, & Liberals. That’s all I can think of for now, but if I come up with more I’ll add them later.

Larry R Smith Shame on you Jeff!!!!!

Samuel Lawrence The Truth About Nelson Mandela…
The ugly truth about the world’s favourite terrorist-turned-politician, Nelson Mandela, has been buried deep beneath the media-created myth of the man, who for decades has been given such a whitewashing by the liberal/Socialist media that the real Mandela disappeared from the world’s eyes, and in his place appeared a messiah, a saviour, a demigod, whose only resemblance to the real Mandela was the outer shell. The man who emerged from prison and became president of South Africa was at heart the same man who had gone into prison so many years before, a Communist revolutionary, much older but just as committed to the ideology and the revolution as he had been when the prison gates slammed shut on him. Yet by the time he emerged from prison, the worldwide liberal/leftist media had repackaged him, presenting him to the world as a wise, big-hearted, moderate, decent man, who had been unjustly imprisoned for his stand against apartheid, and who would, when he became president of South Africa, govern this complex and diverse country with wisdom and magnanimity, creating a wonderful earthly paradise where all would live happily ever after. 
http://www.biblebasedministries.co.uk/…/lest-we-forget…/

And so forth…

SC GOP has nothing to fear from Obamacare

On a previous post, Burl brought our attention to an item on Daily Kos, under a picture of Nikki Haley:

Even in South Carolina, a state hostile to Obamacare expansion, hundreds of thousands of people are benefiting just from greater awareness of existing government programs for which they do qualify. And while most of those beneficiaries are children, those children have families who would appreciate access to similar services, if only Republicans would get out of the way.

But South Carolina is solidly Red, right? Romney won the state by 11 points, right? So it doesn’t matter! Except that in raw totals, Romney won by around 204,000 votes. And Republicans assume (perhaps rightly) that every Obamacare beneficiary will become much more favorable toward the government. And if you start thinking government can help you, Republicans don’t stand a chance….

That’s why Republicans continue to fight tooth and nail against Obamacare, from seeking its repeal to sabotaging its rollout. It’s an existential crisis. The more people benefit, the harder it will be for them to argue that government is irreparably broken and must be drowned in Grover Norquist’s bathtub.

Yeah, well…

I don’t think that’s right. That sounds like a liberal thinking wishfully.

Nationally, maybe Republicans worry about that. And it’s the kind of thing the Mark Sanfords of the world — the serious, more theoretical, pre-Tea Party libertarians who think in terms of a historical, apocalyptic dialectic in which democracy is doomed once people figure out they can vote themselves benefits — also fret over.

But as long as the following two conditions remain, the SC GOP as a whole has nothing to fear:

  • The GOP continues to attract most white voters in the state.
  • White voters outnumber black voters.

That’s because of a couple of characteristics commonly found among white South Carolinians: For centuries, the surest way to get their blood boiling has been to suggest that someone out there (i.e., the federal government) is messing in their business, trampling on their prerogatives. (How else do you think so many thousands who did not own slaves were persuaded to fight in the Confederate cause?) Add to that a deep resentment — that is certainly not confined to SC whites, but is a characteristic many of them share — at the idea that some undeserving someone is getting something, and they, the deserving salt-of-the-earth people, are paying for it.

Now someone’s going to get bent all out of shape and say I’m calling good, conservative Republican folk racists. But I’m not. Review my words. In fact, I’ll assert that even if more whites than blacks benefit from new health benefits, these attitudes remain the same.

What I’m describing are a couple of widely held political impulses, neither of which is inherently racist (even though those issues have gotten tangled up in race through our history). Both attitudes can be strongly defended, even though, with my communitarian leanings, I tend to portray them negatively.

The urge to self-determination is a natural impulse of the human soul. “State’s rights” may have gotten a bad rap historically because of its association with segregation, but the idea itself — that as many governmental decisions as possible should be made on the most local levels — is a sound one, closely related to subsidiarity, which I extol.

And there’s nothing wrong with not wanting one’s tax money wasted. If benefits are indeed going to “undeserving” recipients, then it’s only human to resent it.

The way race comes into my calculation arises simply from the fact that generally speaking, those two attitudes are more often found to motivate white voters than black voters.

Am I wrong about that? I don’t think so. Near as I can tell, whether these factors are openly acknowledged or not, both parties tend to operate on the assumption that these things are true…

We don’t need outsiders calling our governor a ‘clown’

crew

Back in the first few years that I was back here in SC — I want to say it was about the time of the Lost Trust scandal in 1990; in any case, it was a time when we were struggling with some huge problem in Columbia — The Charlotte Observer ran a short, dismissive, truly snotty editorial asking what was up with South Carolina, and comparing us to the Three Stooges.

That was it. There was no serious analysis of the problem, and no recommendation (that I recall) on how to make it better. Just a setup for comparing South Carolina to the Stooges. Ha-ha.

Something crystallized for me in that moment. I had been a longtime admirer of the Observer before I came to work here. But since my return here in 1987, I had noticed that its coverage of my home state had a certain tone to it — a scornful fascination based in a concept of SC as the other; as a vastly inferior other that existed to make folks in that corner of NC feel good about themselves.

I fully realized what had bothered me as soon as I read that editorial. I felt that the Observer couldn’t care less whether things got better in SC, as long as we provided our betters with entertainment. (If I’m correct on the timing, this was at the time that I was conceiving of the year-long Power Failure project analyzing what was really wrong with SC, and offering a specific path to fixing the problems. So I had a markedly different attitude: I cared.)

Anyway, I was reminded of that Three Stooges moment when Celeste Headlee brought my attention to CREW’s second list of the nation’s worst governors. (CREW, by the way, is the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government.)

For those of you interested in such things, of the 18 governors on the list, only two — Andrew Cuomo and Steven Beshear — are Democrats (Scott Walker makes the list for being anti-union, and accepting contributions from people who are also anti-union — really; those are his “sins”). But I’m less concerned with the fact that CREW doesn’t live up to its self-professed partisan impartiality than the fact that, by publishing a list such as this one, the organization gives the lie to the “responsibility” part of its name.

Of course, our own governor makes the list. And that would be OK, if CREW had some helpful criticism. Here’s what it has to say about Gov. Haley. I won’t bother repeating it since there’s no news in it. She’s been roundly criticized for these things in this space. But I stand today to defend her.

My beef is with the overall way that this list is presented. Someone thought it would be cute to give the list a circus theme. The 18 governors are divided into three groups — the “Ringmasters,” the “Clowns,” and the “Sideshows.”

Nikki Haley is listed among the six “Clowns.”

I’m mystified as to the reasoning behind this equal division into three groups. What, our governor is a “Clown,” but Rick Perry makes “Ringmaster”? Really? If someone forced you to pick one of them as a “Clown,” how could you pick her over him?

Beyond that, there is no evidence provided of her clownishness. I didn’t see anything funny in any of the things said about her. It is simply not a defensible metaphor.

Let me say unequivocally that Nikki Haley is not a clown. She’s a perfectly serious, earnest young woman who governs as well as she can, according to her lights.

She does not deserve to be called a clown.

And if CREW really cared about responsibility in government, it would desist from this kind of immature, dismissive, unhelpful nonsense. This is the kind of destructive thing the political parties do — denigrate and demean and utterly dismiss all with whom they disagree, making it impossible for people wearing different labels to work together toward the common good.

On its About Us page, CREW moans,

Many Americans have given up on our political system, writing off our elected leaders…

Well, you know why? Because (at least in part) of dismissive junk such as this.

If you have something constructive to say, say it. If you have any specific, serious advice to offer the people of South Carolina, we’re all ears — really. Not all of us have “We Don’t CARE How You Did It Up North” bumper stickers on our vehicles (although, admittedly, some of us do). Let’s hear your prescription.

But if you have nothing more helpful to offer than to call our governor a “clown,” then just shut up about it.