Above is a video of Lindsey Graham speaking on the House floor about the plan for combating ISIL that President Obama spoke about last night.
Here are some excerpts from Graham’s speech:
- “About the speech last night, what bothered me the most was the way it started. The President tried to tell us that as a nation we’re safer today than we have ever been. Do you believe that? I don’t. There are more terrorists, more organizations with more money, more capability, and more weapons to attack our homeland than existed before 9/11. We’re not safer than we were before 9/11 and that’s just an unfortunate fact.”
- “Every president, every senator makes mistakes. History judges you not by the mistakes you make but by what you learn from them.”
- “Here’s what I ask of the President – stop caveating everything. Look the enemy in the eye and say ‘We will destroy you’ and stop. Look the American people in the eye and say ‘We have to win, we will win and I will do what is necessary to win.’”
- “The American military…..they’re tired, but they’re not too tired to defend this country.”
- “The President also said this operation against ISIL will be like other CT (Counter-terrorism) operations over the last five or six year. No, it will not! This is not some small group of people running around with AK-47s. This is a full blown army. They were going to defeat the Kurdish Peshmerga, a pretty tough fighting group, if we hadn’t intervened. To underestimate how hard this will be will bite us.”
- “Mr. President, please be honest with the American people about what we face. Somebody’s got to beat this army. This is not a small group of terrorists. They have howitzers. They have tanks. They are flush with money. They are getting fighters from all over the world. But they can and will be defeated. They must be defeated.”
- “There is not a force in the Mideast that can take these guys on and win without substantial American help.”
- “Mr. President, if you need my blessing to destroy ISIL, you have it. If you need to follow them to the gates of hell, I will send you a note – ‘go for it.’ If you need Congress to authorize your actions, let me know. You say you don’t and I agree with you, but if it makes us stronger for this body to vote in support of your plan to destroy ISIL, I will give you my vote. But here’s what I expect in return — your full commitment to win.”
- “One thing I can promise the American people – if we take on ISIL and lose – we will unlock the gates of hell. And hell will come our way.”
When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said. “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”
That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety — our own security — depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for — timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth….
Yes, that is what sets this nation apart. We are the nation that will go halfway ’round the world to save endangered and oppressed people. And we are the one nation that can do that, time and again. We have the power; we have the resources. And therefore we have the moral obligation.
That’s not the only reason we must “degrade and destroy” ISIL. It also involves doing “what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for.”
The monsters of ISIL must be stopped. And we’re the ones to do it. It’s great that the president is enlisting others to help. But it’s going to depend on us, and our resolve to end this evil.
First, a disclaimer: The community meeting to talk about issues related to events in Ferguson, MO, held last night at Eau Claire High School, was organized by the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council, with heavy involvement by the office of Mayor Steve Benjamin. I am a member of the Council, and co-chair of the Community Affairs Committee. Despite that, I was not involved in organizing this event. I will, however, likely be involved in any followup activities undertaken by the Council.
Whew, I’m out of breath after typing all of that.
Anyway, you probably saw coverage of the event in The State today. I have little to add to that coverage, beyond a few subjective impressions.
In general, the event was what you might expect it to be — a venue for people in positions authority to carefully state their concern and show their willingness to listen, and for folks whose passions are stirred by events in Ferguson to vent. On those bases, I judge it a success. I particularly commend CRC Executive Director Henri Baskins, who acted as MC with poise, fairness and calm confidence.
On the first part of that equation, I was impressed by the panelists, but most of all by new police Chief Skip Holbrook. It was the first chance I’ve had to observe him in such an environment, and he did well. Better than that — I think he may well be the steady hand that the city has needed in that job.
As the one white man on the stage, and the only panelist in a police uniform, he was a natural object of scrutiny, given the topic. He did an excellent job of explaining the ways that his department works to prevent situations such as those in Ferguson, and I think it went over well. His demeanor was perfect — he stood up for his department, but did so in a disarming manner. His high point: When he told the assembly, near the end, that he was a better police chief for having been there. That sort of thing could come across as corny or manipulative, but it didn’t from him.
There was some tension in the room, which I’ll encapsulate with this anecdote: At one point former U.S. Attorney and SLED director Reggie Lloyd made the observation that after the fatal shooting in Ferguson, the local officials did exactly “the right thing.” Immediately, a woman’s voice pierced the calm with a high-piping “What?!?!” He went on to explain that the right thing Ferguson officials did was turn the investigation over to outside authorities. He noted that there is an FBI investigation under way, and said approvingly that no one should expect to hear a word about that investigation until it is completed. His implication was that ours is a society with processes for dealing with such situations, even though they may not be satisfying to everyone’s emotions. In fact, he expressly urged people to separate their emotions from their own processing of the event.
Similarly, Municipal Judge Carl Solomon spoke of the importance of young people knowing their rights… but used that as a segue to say they needed to understand their responsibilities as well (I was hearing a lot of good communitarian stuff like that). Among one’s responsibilities, in interactions with police, is to remain “calm and be polite.” He suggested that a respectful demeanor gets you a lot farther than an aggressive assertion of “I know my rights!” in an interaction with the law.
Against those evocations of reason, the event included some venting of emotions. One could expect nothing else from the woman whose son was shot multiple times by police last year. And there were the usual would-be revolutionaries, such as the red-shirted young man who kept going on about how slavery still existed in these United States (because the 13th Amendment, as we all know, allows for involuntary servitude “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”), and asserted how proud he was of the protesters in Ferguson, because he believed otherwise this discussion would not have taken place.
Then there was the young lady who protested that there were only two “young people” on the panel, suggesting that it was somehow illegitimate for the panel to consist mostly of accomplished people with positions of responsibility in the community. This drew a few cheers from like-minded folks in the crowd.
But everyone involved deserves credit for exhibiting their emotions, as well as their reasoning, in a calm, civilized and constructive manner.
And on that basis, as I said before, I regard the event as a success. Because the ultimate goal is to learn to deal with each other and resolve our differences with civility rather than violence — is it not?
Last week, the WSJ’s Daniel Henninger wrote a column that, from my perspective, was expressive of wishful thinking.
At one point, he wrote, “The world has reframed the politics of the 2016 election.”
A bit later, he said, “In a foreign-policy election, as it looks like we are going to have in 2016…”
Oh, if only it were so, Daniel.
Reason would dictate that we would have such an election. To begin with, all presidential elections should be foreign-policy elections, since that’s the most critical part of the job of POTUS.
But with what’s happening now in Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan and so on, there should be no question at all — a rational electorate would want first and foremost to know how a prospective president would lead us in dealing with the rest of the world.
But it doesn’t work that way, does it?
Still, my heart beat a bit faster when I saw this headline on my NPR app this morning: “It Might Sound Stupid, But Maybe It Isn’t The Economy This Time.”
But then I read on. Turns out that the world out there still doesn’t make the cut:
The economy is not the No. 1 issue?
That’s right. Gallup pollsters asked voters what was important, and the No. 1 topic turned out to be dissatisfaction with politicians. No. 2 was immigration. The economy had slipped to No. 3….
“Foreign policy/Foreign aid/Focus overseas” came in sixth.
And even the economy’s third-place status was rather artificial. Yes, “Economy in general” came in third, but “Jobs/unemployment” came in fourth. And if you combine the two, which would make more sense, they’re easily in first place.
And don’t get all overexcited and think that because “immigration” came in second, the public is all worried about the horrific conditions in Central America. No such luck.
If I had responded to that poll, and the question had been open-ended, I might have said, “dissatisfaction with voters…”
Yes, that headline is my way of admitting that I don’t have a strategy for dealing with ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State/QSIS. I don’t even know how to solve the confusion over what to call them.
But then, I’m not POTUS. And the man who is is taking a lot of flak for his honest admission yesterday that “We don’t have a strategy yet.” (Possibly the worst such gaffe since Toby Ziegler said C.J. Cregg could go to Ramallah to “swat at suicide bombers with her purse.”) Which he perhaps deserves, for having made some of the decisions that led to the metastatic growth of the former al Qaeda in Iraq that has turned into that new thing, a self-financing, blitzkrieging army of bloodthirsty terrorists.
But having left Iraq without any sort of residual force to act as a counterbalance to instability, and having ignored the advice of his entire national security team three years back when there was still a chance to prop up some moderate alternatives in Syria, I’m not entirely sure what the president should do, what we should do, now.
Which is why you might see me indulging myself in irrelevancies, with the rest of the ADD brigade, over such trivia as the president’s tan suit. Sorry about that. But truly, I’m at a loss for more helpful observations to offer.
And, oh, yeah — Russia is invading Ukraine with impunity. (At least the president is visiting Talinn to express support for a nervous NATO ally, for what that’s worth. I’m not sure how reassuring that will be. They’ll probably be on pins and needles hoping he doesn’t say the words, “red line.”)
Any ideas, folks? I’ll be glad to pass them up to the White House.
Seriously, I’m glad the president wants to get his ducks in a row and have a strategy, instead of the fits and starts of our actions thus far, which have had a “what are we actually trying to do?” feel about them. Although driving them from Mosul Dam was encouraging, as was rescuing the Yazidi. But we need something a little more thought-out, and effective, than a #bringbackourgirls type of reaction to outrages.
And I hope this administration is up to it. A lot of people — including, I saw this morning, Maureen Dowd and Eugene Robinson, not your usual Obama-hating suspects — seem to have their doubts these days.
This seems like a bit of a stretch — Nikki Haley has a history of ethical challenges, but no indictments — but I guess this is what parties do:
To: Interested Parties
From: DNC and DGA Communications
Date: August 27, 2014
Re: Haley, Perry & the Ethically-Challenged Governors of 2014
Rick Perry and Nikki Haley have a lot in common – they’re both GOP governors from the South whose administrations have been plagued by ethics scandals. And they both eye higher office while struggling to execute their current jobs.
But while they campaign across the Palmetto State, they won’t be able to dodge questions about their ethical lapses.
Sure, Perry was recently indicted by a grand jury on two felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official but Haley has had enough scandals during her first term to make even the most ethically-challenged Republican Governor blush.
Haley has time and again put politics ahead of being Governor.
Her administration has been rocked by a scandal at the Department of Social Services that allowed children to suffer in in unsafe and even deadly situations. Rather than take decisive action to address her administration’s inexcusable failures, Haley and her administration appear to be more focused on obstructing the investigation and covering up their failures.
And of course, that wasn’t the first time the Haley administration has tried to cover up her incompetence – millions of South Carolinians had their personal financial information hacked and children have been put at risk from a tuberculosis outbreak in public schools.
Haley has also misused taxpayer-funded resources for political and campaign travel.
As Haley and Perry campaign around the state, Governor Perry’s indictment, serves as a reminder to voters of Haley’s scandals, coverups and incompetence. Governors Perry and Haley are just two of the many Republican Governors who find themselves under investigation or otherwise mired in scandal.
Below please find a rundown of the other GOP Governors scandals that have surfaced this cycle:
Branstad, Terry (Iowa): The Branstad administration is under investigation about whether administration officials were fired for political purposes.
Brownback, Sam (Kansas): The FBI is currently investigating potentially illegal lobbying of the Brownback Administration by former members of his inner circle.
Christie, Chris (New Jersey): Christie and his Administration are currently being investigated by no less than four separate local, state and federal agencies: the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation’s inquiry into Bridgegate and surrounding events.
Corbett, Tom (Pennsylvania): Gov. Corbett continues to receive serious scrutiny for taking thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from corporations, lobbyists and other special interests who have received big state benefits, and a political action committee set up to help Corbett win re-election received a donation of nearly a million dollars that potentially violated state law.
Deal, Nathan (Georgia): The state of Georgia was forced to pay nearly $3 million to settle lawsuits with whistleblowers at the state ethics commission who were allegedly fired for investigating Deal’s 2010 campaign. It has now come to light that the state’s ethics commissioner director claims she was threatened and pressured by the Deal administration in the summer of 2012.
LePage, Paul (Maine): According to reports, Governor LePage met with individuals affiliated with an organization categorized by the FBI as a domestic terrorist movement, and in those meetings, it appears LePage joked with the group about “hanging” Democratic legislators. This extreme, dangerous rhetoric has no place in politics.
Snyder, Rick (Michigan): The Snyder administration allegedly favored corporate benefactors and his family over Michigan citizens by not only shielding a state contract that benefited his cousin from budget cuts but even doubling it to $41 million.
After Rick Snyder’s administration eliminated a criminal background check program for home care workers, the state hired nearly 3,800 individuals with criminal histories to take care of disabled adults on Medicaid, including over 500 violent felons and 285 convicted of sex crimes.
Walker, Scott (Wisconsin): Walker has been engulfed in not one, but two massive investigations:
- The first John Doe investigation resulted in six of Walker’s associates have been convicted of wrongdoing, four of whom have been sentenced to prison ranging from felony theft from charities intended to benefit wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, to misconduct in public office, to doing official campaign work on county time.
- The second John Doe investigation is ongoing and is currently on appeal. In this case, prosecutors allege that Walker himself was at the center of a nationwide “criminal scheme” to illegally coordinate with outside conservative groups. Documents released last week show Walker personally solicited millions of dollarsfor a group that supported him during his recall election.
BONUS Massachusetts Republican Gubernatorial candidate – Baker, Charlie: Baker has been at the center of controversy over whether he violated federal and state pay-to-play laws when a venture capital firm where he is a partner received a multi-million dollar New Jersey pension contract only months after Baker contributed to Chris Christie’s party committee.
DOUBLE BONUS Former Virginia Governor – McDonnell, Bob: Sure, he’s a former governor now, but he was in the same class of governors hailed as reformers. He is now on trial over accusations that he accepted over $170,000 in gifts and loans from a donor in exchange for using his office to promote the donor’s business. McDonnell and his wife have been indicted on 14 counts of corruption, obstructing an investigation and accepting bribes.
I got a release about this Rick Perry ad, a release that also told that:
Governor Rick Perry finished a four-day swing through more than a dozen Iowa cities where he campaigned and helped build support for Republican candidates and county GOP parties…
I can’t believe it. He’s out there running. I really thought we weren’t going to hear much more from him after the “oops” campaign…
The ad was released by RickPAC.
Hillary Clinton is sounding better and better. I liked reading this:
Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton has not yet said whether she will pursue the presidency. But for a candidate-in-waiting, she is clearly carving out a foreign policy distinct from the man she used to serve.
In the spring, President Obama articulated a philosophy for avoiding dangerous entanglements overseas that was modest in its ambitions and focused on avoiding mistakes. Don’t do stupid things, he said.
Now Clinton is offering a blunt retort to that approach, telling an interviewer, “Great nations need organizing principles — and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”…
She drew special attention to Obama’s determination to sidestep costly foreign interventions. The president and his aides have referred privately to that strategy in recent months as, “Don’t do stupid s—.” That approach has come under fire from some now that Islamist militants have gained ground overseas.
… she argued that the United States has to strike a better balance between overreaching in foreign affairs and being so restrained that conflicts can spiral out of hand.
“You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,” Clinton said…
Amen to that. That “down on yourself” think is particularly to the point. In this context, it refers to the president being down on his country (I haven’t noticed him being down on himself, personally), and seeing it as unworthy of trying to do any good in the world. Which is not an appealing trait in a POTUS.
In the same editions of The Washington Post (OK, maybe not in the actual paper, but on my iPad version, which is what I see), the paper’s house conservative, Jennifer Rubin, gives Mrs. Clinton a backhanded complement in the course of giving Rand Paul a good slap upside the head:
Will Americans want to replace President Obama with a candidate who thinks critics of his failed Middle East policy are “warmongers,” who thinks containment of Iran shouldn’t be ruled out, who opposed imposition of the Menendez-Kirk sanctions, who thinks Guantanamo Bay terrorists should be moved to the United States for trial, who wanted all troops pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and who didn’t want to take any action in Syria? It seems Hillary Clinton doesn’t think so, and I suspect she’ll start running from Obama’s Iran policy just as she has from his treatment of Israel and refusal to take action in Syria. Why then does Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) think the Republican Party will accept positions that even Hillary Clinton can’t stomach?
Oh, and to complete the hat trick on deriding Obama’s foreign policy, Dana Milbank had this to say today, in the same paper:
President Obama must really be teed off.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, his once-loyal secretary of state and his likeliest successor, has gone rogue, criticizing his foreign policy as too timid.
Obama responded with not one but two rounds of golf….
Obama stood on the South Lawn on Saturday updating Americans on the new bombing campaign in Iraq — and then he boarded Marine One for a two-week trip to Martha’s Vineyard. There, half an hour after arriving at his vacation home, he was already on his way to a golf course. He played again Sunday, then had a beach outing Monday followed by a political fundraiser.
Even presidents need down time, and Obama can handle his commander-in-chief duties wherever he is. But his decision to proceed with his getaway just 36 hours after announcing the military action in Iraq risks fueling the impression that he is detached as the world burns….
Aw, give POTUS a break. He needs a vacation from the strain of not doing stupid stuff around the world. Or smart stuff, either.
I’ve always chafed at the fact that I could not serve in the military, because of something as simple and stupid as chronic asthma.
As long as I use Asmanex and Singulair daily, it’s totally under control, as my nightly strenuous workouts on the elliptical trainer prove. (Although, I confess, the drugs available when I was military age were considerably less effective.) But as an Army general confirmed for me recently, they don’t want you if you need to take anything on a regular basis.
But according to this video shared by Stan Dubinsky, Israel makes it possible for anyone and everyone to serve in the IDF.
That’s the way it should be. I think everyone should serve. It’s good for the individual, and good for the society overall. But at the very least, you should be allowed to serve if you want to.
Here’s a piece about the Israeli program:
Children with special needs in Israel face an often harsh disappointment at the age of 18, when they are left behind as others join the IDF. A unique project seeks to change that, allowing disabled children to overcome their limitations and enlist.
Maj. Col. (res.) Ariel Almog founded the project ten years ago, to integrate disabled youth into the IDF in a three-year program, helping prepare them for independent life in Israeli society.
A few months ago the association “Lend a Hand to a Special Child,” founded in 2005 by parents of special needs children, joined the project to help increase its scale and allow thousands of disabled youth to join.
Rabbi Mendi Belinitzki, CEO of Lend a Hand to a Special Child, explained that the project “starts in the army but doesn’t end there. We can clearly see how afterwards it leads to a better integration into the society, the community and the workforce.”…
Yeah, I know, wise guys out there. This indeed invites comparison to the classic Onion piece about “very special forces,” which was funny but cruel.
But this is a serious matter. Everyone should have at least the opportunity to serve.
I was very glad to see this news out of Tennessee:
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) easily won his primary on Thursday, defeating a conservative challenger and effectively ending the tea party’s hopes of unseating a Republican senator for the third straight election cycle.
Alexander beat state Rep. Joe Carr, a conservative insurgent who ran hard to his right on immigration. Five other candidates also fell short.
It seems that after seeing some longtime colleagues get picked off in two consecutive elections, Republican senators may have finally found the formula to keep primary competitors from defeating them: Take tea party upstarts seriously. And take them on early…
Alexander beat Carr 50 percent to 41 percent, with five other challengers splitting the other 9 percent. That’s not as good as the 56 percent Lindsey Graham received against his six challengers, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve.
Alexander’s win is particularly meaningful to me, and not only because he looms large in my memories of the first statewide election I ever covered (as you know, since I have so often bored you with the stories). Alexander is a direct connection to a better generation of political leadership in Washington, the days of Howard Baker and Sam Nunn and Scoop Jackson. And for that matter, Dick Lugar, who lost to a Tea Party challenger in the last election.
This time around, not one incumbent Republican senator fell in a primary to such a challenge from the extreme fringe of his party. Most of us should be able to celebrate that.
I got this email yesterday…
I am a staff writer for Governing Magazine and came across your blog while doing some Googling about Lamar Alexander’s walk across Tennessee. (Governing covers state and local governments across the country and our audience is largely elected officials/public employees.) I’m working on a fun piece for one of our upcoming issues about the political stunt of walking and was wondering if you were available this week to chat about the topic as you covered Alexander’s campaign in ‘78. The piece will take an overall look at some of the more famous “walks” by pols – from Missouri’s Walkin’ Joe Teasdale to Illinois’ (aptly named) Dan Walker, the public stroll has been a popular political tool. More recently, Adam O’Neal, mayor of the small town of Belhaven, N.C., took a 273-mile trek to Washington, D.C. to protest the closing of his local hospital. President Obama this spring took an impromptu stroll to the Dept. of the Interior for a meeting.
I’d love to hear your take on the effectiveness of Alexander’s 1,000-mile walk and how it resonated with people. And I’m also curious about your broader thoughts on the gimmick as a whole. How effective has this type of stunt been? Who’s done it right and are there pitfalls?
Are you available Wednesday or Thursday for a phone call? Or you can always reach me directly at the number below.
# # # # # # # # # # # # #
Liz Farmer | Staff Writer
… and I talked with Liz for about 20 minutes this morning.
I didn’t have anything really profound to say. Here are some of the points I hit on:
- First, I wasn’t on the actual, full walk across Tennessee (which, if you follow I-40, is about 450 miles). I was covering him during the last weeks of the general election campaign, and he had completed the walk (if I remember correctly) well before the primary. His walk was a campaign trope in the past tense: “On my walk across the state, I found yadda-yadda…” BUT I got the general flavor of it, because everywhere he went, he’d get out and walk a mile or so along the side of the road in his trademark red-and-black checked flannel shirt, khakis and hiking boots, waving at the cars. I got some photos of him doing that along a busy thoroughfare in Nashville. The brand was working for him, so he kept it going through to the end.
- Lamar was trying to set himself apart at a time when politicians-as-usual had a particularly seedy reputation. The state had endured four years of astoundingly bold corruption under Democrat Ray Blanton. And Lamar himself had worked in the Nixon White House, a fact that might have figured in his failure to get elected four years earlier. Nixon was the master of limited access and staged availabilities, since he was so socially awkward. This walk was the opposite, and allowed him to project as an outdoorsy, clean-cut kind of guy — he looked and sounded like Pat Boone (Boone did some PSAs that were airing on the radio at about that time, and whenever he came on, I thought it was Alexander).
- Since she was looking for examples of politicians talking long walks for political purposes, I urged her to look into Joe Riley’s march from Charleston to Columbia in 2000 to demand that the Confederate flag come off the dome. That had an impact at the time — and was mentioned recently in a nationally syndicated column, so it should be easy to look up.
- Even though we’re far more cynical and suspicious these days, I think Tennesseans who remember Alexander’s walk still have positive connotations connected to it, largely because he wasn’t a disappointment to them. He was open and aboveboard in his dealings as governor. He worked VERY well across the aisle, persuading Speaker Ned Ray McWherter and the other Democratic leaders to go for the kinds of education reform that were usually anathema to Dems. He harks back to a better time, when Republicans like him and his mentor Howard Baker disagreed with Democrats, but didn’t see them as the enemy, but as people to work with for the betterment of the state and country.
- That, of course, is why Alexander has Tea-Party opposition in this Thursday’s primary (Tennessee has primaries at a much more rational and voter-friendly time than we do; our June primaries mean there’s plenty of time for mischief in the Legislature after filing deadlines). Here’s hoping his opponent does no better than his counterpart in Kansas, the president’s distant cousin. Lamar Alexander is exactly the kind of senator this country needs in Washington, and there too few like him left. (See “In Tennessee, consensus politics makes a last stand” by Dan Balz in the WashPost.)
I wished I could have put my hands on one story I wrote, right after Alexander won the 1978 election, which ran on the front page of The Jackson Sun. It was an exclusive, and one of the best stories I wrote during my brief time as a reporter. It was Alexander’s own account of how he had come back after defeat four years earlier. A week or two before Election Day, at the end of a long day of campaigning, Alexander and a reporter from the Tennessean were relaxing over a drink on the campaign plane on the way back from an event at one of the far ends of the state. (We had access to candidates in those days that reporters only dream of now, and our papers thought nothing about paying a pro-rata share of the plane rides.) Alexander just started talking about how he come to that point, and the Tennessean guy just listened and enjoyed his drink, and I took notes like mad. Even John Parish, the gruff dean of Tennessee political writers, praised the piece I got from that eavesdropping.
That probably would have provided Liz with some insights, but this was years before electronic archiving. That clip is probably moldering in a box in my attic somewhere…
This came in earlier today from Vincent Sheheen. Make of it what you will:
Sheheen to DOE Secretary: SC Is Not A Nuclear Waste Dumping GroundCamden, SC – Today Vincent Sheheen urged Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to join him in preventing South Carolina from becoming a dumping ground for international nuclear waste, as the Secretary toured the Savannah River Site and visited the Aiken area.The text of Sen. Sheheen’s letter to Secretary Moniz is pasted below. View a PDF of the signed letter at: http://vincentsheheen.com/?p=
594July 28, 2014The Honorable Ernest Moniz, Secretary of EnergyUS Department of Energy1000 Independence Ave. SWWashington DC 20585Dear Secretary Moniz,As you will no doubt see on your visit today, South Carolina is a beautiful state, blessed with tremendous natural resources and hardworking people. We are also proud to have the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, which provides jobs in the community and does important work for our country. But South Carolina is not a nuclear waste dumping ground.I write today to ask you to join us in preventing German radioactive waste from being dumped in our state. We’ve been down this road before, and South Carolina won’t be fooled by promises again.The federal government’s proposal to ship nearly 1 million highly radioactive graphite spheres from Germany to Charleston and then transport it to the Savannah River Site is deeply troubling. The proposal is unprecedented in its scope and size – and for the sake of the local families and businesses, for the sake of our state, the proposal should not move forward.This German commercial nuclear waste was created by experimental reactors in Germany. The clean-up or storage of the radioactive by-product should be the responsibility of the German government. It’s not right for Germany or for the US federal government to throw this responsibility off to the people of South Carolina.We know that once these highly radioactive graphite spheres are at the SRS they are going to stay here, likely forever. There is currently no disposal system at SRS – or anywhere in the United State for that matter – to handle the reprocessing of this waste. So, once it’s here, it will sit here. And sit here. And sit here.Until we have made headway in dealing with the 37 million gallons of waste that we currently have at the SRS, we should not take on this burden from other countries. Our focus must remain on cleaning up the tanks at SRS remaining from its time producing plutonium.These are tough issues that affect the people from Aiken to Charleston and around our state. Governor Haley refuses to speak out on this issue, but that does not mean South Carolinians support this proposal.South Carolina is not a nuclear waste dump. Please help us keep it that way.Sincerely,Sen. Vincent Sheheen###
I received a text this morning at 9:52 from Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, responding to my earlier post about the children from Central America:
Brad, Thank you for speaking up for the unaccompanied minors/children. I plan to take a formal position and to ask council to join me too. Steve
I responded that that sounded to me like a fine idea.
I was reminded of what happened 10 years ago, when a tide of resistance in Cayce rose up against the Somali Bantu moving here, and then-Columbia Mayor Bob Coble made it clear that they would be welcome in Columbia.
I have this vivid image in my mind — which unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find on the web — of Mayor Bob embracing the father of a Bantu family arriving at the airport, with the rest of the family standing by.
What a great message that was, and it washed away the earlier, uglier impression that our community had given.
It would be great to see the city of Columbia similarly distance itself from our governor’s ungracious reaction.
I hope the council can see its way clear to do just that.
Washington, DC (WLTX) – U.S. Capitol Police have arrested a Camden buisnessman after they say he tried to take a gun into an office building on the Capitol grounds.
Ronald William Prestage, 59, is charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Officers say they recovered the 9 mm handgun from him as he tried to enter the Cannon House Building, which is one of the structures containing the offices of members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Police haven’t said yet if he gave an explanation for why he had the weapon…
Actually, my headline is kind of misleading. I doubt many of my regulars, even the most ardent gun-lovers among us, will want to assert the right to enter the U.S. Capitol offices while packing heat.
Am I right? If not, have at it…
By the way, if you read the rest of the piece (I quoted as much as I thought I could get away with under Fair Use), you’ll find that this Mr. Prestage is an upstanding member of the community, the manager of the Kershaw County Airport (which you would think would make him a little more sensitive about where it’s a good idea to carry a gun, and where it isn’t). No rootless drifter/gunslinger is he.
He’s also president of the National Pork Producers Council. Yeah, I thought that was an unusual combination, too, but that’s what the story said…
There’s some big news out of a federal appeals court in D.C., and I am just stunned by the lack of perspective in the way The Washington Post is reporting it:
A federal appeals court panel in the District struck down a major part of the 2010 health-care law Tuesday, ruling that the tax subsidies that are central to the program may not be provided in at least half of the states.
The ruling, if upheld, could potentially be more damaging to the law than last month’s Supreme Court decision on contraceptives. [emphasis mine]
The three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with plaintiffs who argued that the language of the law barred the government from giving subsidies to people in states that chose not to set up their own insurance marketplaces. Twenty-seven states, most with Republican leaders who oppose the law, decided against setting up marketplaces, and another nine states partially opted out…..
Wow. Do ya think?
This ruling, “if upheld,” would mean Obamacare would cease to exist for those of us in South Carolina and in 26 other states. There would be nothing left of it. We don’t have the Medicaid expansion, and we don’t have a state exchange, so this would be it — no one — South Carolina would be getting health insurance through the ACA.
Which, of course, is precisely what Nikki Haley and all those other SC Republicans who hate Barack Obama and all he stands for far, FAR more than they care about the people of SC want. Their dream, our nightmare, would be achieved — South Carolina would have “opted out” of health care reform.
Compare that to a ruling that closely-held corporations with religious objections would not have to cover some contraceptives — while covering EVERYTHING ELSE that a person would go to a doctor for.
So, uh, yeah, it could “potentially” (that hedge word is just the cherry on top of this monument to lack of perspective) be more damaging to the law.
I’ll get mad at Nikki Haley and her fellow ideologues who put South Carolina in a position to be denied any benefit (any benefit at all, people, not just your preferred contraceptives, or your favorite antihistamines, or your chosen brand of bandages) from the ACA later. Right now, my mind is too boggled by that observation from the WashPost…
I don’t know anything about this Sandhya Somashekhar person who wrote the piece, but does she not have an editor?!?!?
A piece in The Washington Post this morning on the new book about living next door to Harper Lee mentions the status of To Kill A Mockingbird as a, if not the, Great American Novel — and casually links to a list.
The list isn’t explained. I don’t know who compiled it, or what the criteria may have been.
But of course I’m drawn in. The list extends to 358 books (which requires straining the definition of “great”), but let’s just examine the top ten:
- The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
- The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
- East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
- Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
- Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
OK, first, it’s just not right for Steinbeck to get three out of the 10. Especially since — confession time — I’ve never read the first two. The Grapes of Wrath is one of those novels I’ve meant to read for most of my life, and I will (my wife finds it utterly incredible I still haven’t). East of Eden, not so much.
And, to confess further, despite having started it again to great fanfare, I’ve still never finished Moby Dick. It just seems to start to drag after they go to sea. (Yeah, I know that’s pretty early in the book.) Which is weird, because that’s when seafaring tales generally get good.
I think all the other works are deserving of the top ten, although I might move up some of my faves from the second ten (On the Road, The Sun Also Rises, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Fahrenheit 451).
But my main beef is this: How could any list of the Greatest American Novels not start with Huckleberry Finn? Hemingway famously said, ““All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” And I agree, except that I would delete the word, “modern.” It’s superfluous. All American literature, period.
It’s THE American novel. It’s episodic, picaresque structure is quintessentially American. Huck Finn, the freest character in literature, untainted by the history or culture of the Old World, couldn’t be more American. Huck can be anyone he wants to be, and slides in and out of identities throughout. And the central conflict in the novel is about the deepest, most profound issue of our history — in the sense that it has a central theme. Remember the author’s warning:
PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
Which is a very American sort of warning — notice in no uncertain terms that pretension will not be tolerated.
Even the novel’s weaknesses are very American. Such as the uneven tone — starting out with farcical comedy that is an extension of Tom Sawyer, moving to tragedy with the Graingerfords and other incidents, the slapstick and menace of the Duke and the Dauphin, and ending with the broad comedy of Tom’s insistence on throwing flourishes from literature into Jim’s escape from the Phelps farm — itself a deadly serious matter, which nearly leads to Tom’s death, and does result in Jim’s recapture (as a result of his own selflessness).
Sorry, that was a confusing sentence. But you see what I mean. The novel was no more constrained by a particular tone than life itself. Very free, very American. And certainly great.
OK, off the top of my head, my own list:
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
- To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
- The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
- Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
- All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
- The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
- Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
- The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
- Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
- City Boy, by Herman Wouk
- The Natural, by Bernard Malamud
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain
- Goodbye, Columbus, by Philip Roth
- The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
- The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
- God’s Little Acre, by Erskine Caldwell
- Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
Better stop there, as my quality was slipping a bit at the end there (Heinlein is fun, but is it literature?).
I’ll come back and explain those choices a bit another day. Gotta run now…
Gov. Nikki Haley is walking a very fine line.
On the one hand, she decries the “humanitarian crisis” of those thousands of children, driven by desperation we can’t even imagine, who find themselves alone on this side of the border. We are told that “As a mother (emphasis mine), Republican Haley said finds it ‘disturbing’ that the migrant children would be left ‘to fend for themselves’ as they attempt to cross the border.”
Which, you know, suggests a modicum of compassion.
On the other hand, she wants to make sure that, as the government figures out what to do about this crisis, none of those children are sheltered here in South Carolina — not even on federal reservations such as military bases, which to my mind would be none of her business.
This sort of dims the halo of her compassion, to say the least.
I missed this yesterday for traveling.
Months after those outrageous anti-Sheheen ads from the Republican Governors Association, its Democratic counterpart has put out the above ad. Here’s the release that goes with it:
NEW TV AD: Nikki Haley Put Her Career Ahead Of Children’s Lives
“Interview” Features Former State Social Services Worker Who Quit So She Didn’t Have To Cook The Books, Put Kids At Risk
WASHINGTON, DC—The Democratic Governors Association today launched a new television ad in South Carolina highlighting how Governor Nikki Haley has put her own political career ahead of children’s lives through her mismanagement of the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the subsequent coverups that left children in abusive and, at times, deadly situations. The ad, “Interview,” features Betsy Burton, a former staff attorney at DSS, who resigned rather than cook the books and put more kids at risk.
“Governor Haley has put her own political career ahead of the lives of South Carolina’s most vulnerable children,” said DGA Communications Director Danny Kanner. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time she has tried to cover up her gross incompetence – she withheld the fact that millions of South Carolinians had their personal financial information hacked on her watch and that children had been put at risk from a tuberculosis outbreak in public schools. But with the death of three children, enough is enough. It’s time for Governor Haley to start protecting kids instead of her own political career.”
Watch the ad here: http://youtu.be/gRXO6f8BxV0
This is the first television ad that the DGA has aired in South Carolina, and is part of a significant six-figure buy. The ad comes far earlier in the cycle than when the DGA ran television ads in 2010. The Sheheen for South Carolina campaign ran a television ad earlier this year highlighting Governor Haley’s tragic handling of the situation at DSS.
Here’s background information on the tragic situation at Governor Haley’s DSS:
WLTX: “DSS Dropped The Ball In Hundreds Of Cases”. “When the South Carolina Department of Social Services accepts a case for investigation, state law requires it to begin that investigation within 24 hours. News19 learned about the law, and it’s importance to child safety, after an investigation earlier this year into the death of Robert Guinyard Jr., a Richland County boy who died despite multiple reports of abuse to DSS… Guinyard’s case was not initially referred to a DSS investigator. For cases that are, reports show DSS dropped the ball in hundreds of cases failing to comply with a state law DSS also includes in its policy manual.” [WLTX, 4/24/14]
Post And Courier Editorial: “Covering Up Systemic Problems”. “It is very troubling that Ms. Koller and her staff would obfuscate when circumstances warrant tough scrutiny and deliberate reforms. Children in DSS need the state to protect them, not to use them as twisted statistics. And covering up systemic problems certainly makes reform elusive. How do you repair DSS using misleading numbers?” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]
Greenville News Headline, 2012: “Some Children Spending Less Time In Foster Care”. “The state Department of Social Services has stepped up the rate of moving long-term foster children back with their parents or to adoptive families by 50 percent in the past fiscal year, a trend that has drawn both praise and criticism. DSS increased the number of foster children moving into permanent homes from 789 in 2010-11 to 1,184 in the 12-month cycle that ended June 30… Faster movement through the foster care system is part of a national trend, but South Carolina had the second-highest percentage drop in the nation in the number of children in foster care between July 2011 and July 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” [Greenville News, 10/17/12]
- Haley’s DSS Appointee Had Previously Used “Similar Tactics” – Raising Concerns Over “Stories Of Children Being Sent To Places They Shouldn’t Be Sent In Such A Short Timeframe.” “State DSS Director Lillian Koller, appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2011, used similar tactics when she headed the social services agency in Hawaii and won national acclaim for her efforts. But not everyone is happy with the more rapid flow of neglected and abused kids through the system — particularly those who care for these children in group homes. ‘In theory, what we all want is for children to not be spending their lives in group care, or in foster care for that matter, unless it’s a permanent foster situation,’ said the Rev. John Holler, president of Epworth Children’s Home and member of the board of directors of the South Carolina Association of Children’s Homes and Family Services. ‘But the Department of Social Services is under such pressure to meet numbers because of federal mandates that any provider you talk to you hear the stories of children being sent to places they shouldn’t be sent in such a short timeframe.’” [Greenville News,10/17/12]
Koller Emphasized Speed And Statistics From The Beginning Of Her Time With The Agency. “The director of South Carolina’s social services agency wants to speed up the time it takes to find safe, permanent homes for the thousands of abused and neglected children put in the state’s care. It’s a goal the Department of Social Services has struggled to accomplish for years. But six months into office, director Lillian Koller is confident the agency can improve, and she insists it will do so dramatically. She has put her goals into concrete numbers. Koller has charged her agency with placing 50 percent more children now in foster care into a ‘safe, loving home for life,’ either through adoption or reunification with their biological parents. It’s a tall order. Over the last few years, adoptions of foster children have risen by 5 percent. Koller wants to hit the 50 percent goal by next June, and make progress toward it monthly.” [Associated Press, 7/31/11]
January 2014 Senator On DSS Oversight Panel Expressed Concern That Children Were Being Removed And Returned From Homes Too Quickly. “Several South Carolina state senators say they’ll try to make changes at the state Department of Social Services after looking into problems at the agency. ‘It is the whole system. I feel like our system is broken,’ Paige Greene told a special Senate DSS Oversight subcommittee Wednesday. She’s the executive director of Richland County CASA, the guardian ad litum program for abused and neglected children in Richland County… Oversight subcommittee member Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, said in some cases DSS is taking children out of homes too quickly while in other cases putting them back in their homes too quickly. ‘It leads me to question the whole way the management and the implementation and the process is working at all,’ he said.” [CBS – 7 WSPA,1/16/14]
Response to Child Death: “Social Services Had Received A Tip About The Child Being In Danger. But The Agency… Waited Seven Weeks To Follow Up.” “Social Services had received a tip about the child being in danger. But the agency said it could not find the child’s parents and waited seven weeks to follow up with the medical professional who issued the warning. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott held a news conference after the child’s death, criticizing Social Services for not telling law enforcement when the agency could not locate Bryson’s parents. In response, Social Services put in place a new policy to call law enforcement within 72 hours if it cannot locate a family.” [The State, 5/13/14]
Post and Courier Editorial: “Troubling” That DSS Oversight Committee Were Told “Misleading Numbers.” The Post and Courier opined, “It is very troubling that Ms. Koller and her staff would obfuscate when circumstances warrant tough scrutiny and deliberate reforms…And covering up systemic problems certainly makes reform elusive. How do you repair DSS using misleading numbers? For example, the Senate’s DSS Oversight Committee was first told that the average worker handled six cases at any time… So pressed at a later hearing on the subject, Ms. Koller conceded that the average was more. Far more.” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]
- “DSS Leadership Is More Interested In Producing Impressive Numbers Than In Providing Good Services.” “Then there is the issue of secrecy. Several coroners reported to the Oversight Committee that DSS was refusing to cooperate and provide information necessary for them to investigate deaths. DSS clients, including children, are correctly afforded privacy as a rule. But when they die, the rules change. It’s important to diagnose why and how it happened, and to use that information to improve DSS policy and practices… But a number of DSS employees and former employees have complained that the current DSS leadership is more interested in producing impressive numbers than in providing good services.” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]
Worker Assigned To Child Who Died Had Caseload Six Times Higher Than DSS “Average” Shortly After Death. “Workers are required to see all of their children in a month. That means that the case worker with 96 children, working five days a week, has to see an average of 5 kids during a 7.5-hour day in order to meet her goal… DSS officials say they obtained the average of six by dividing the number of cases among workers statewide… Five-month-old Bryson Webb died in his car seat on April 22, after he stopped breathing. DSS has said the agency repeatedly tried tracking down the boy’s family, who were allegedly living in different locations. But the worker assigned to Bryson’s family had 37 cases on March 2, according to a DSS document. ByMarch 9, the worker had 49 cases.” [Post and Courier, 5/27/14]
I would say it’s the most effective Sheheen ad I’ve seen. But since it’s not actually from the Sheheen campaign, I’ll say it’s the most effective anti-Haley ad I’ve seen…
Here’s my latest new follower on Twitter:
It appears to be nothing more than a feed for reTweeting another called “Draft Joe Manchin.”
I had to follow a couple of the links provided even to find out who Joe Manchin was. From Politico:
IF HILLARY PASSES, MANCHIN FOR PRESIDENT? – Sen. Joe Manchin says a 2016 presidential run is “low on the totem pole,” but he’s not exactly ruling it out.
The West Virginia Democrat, a frequent critic of President Obama and perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the upper chamber, has already endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. But if the former secretary of State takes a pass, expect to hear more about the former Mountain State governor – especially with former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, another possible ‘16 hopeful from a red state, making some off-color remarks about gays and prostitutes.
Some Twitter accounts have popped up in the past week with the handles @NH4JoeManchin and @Iowa4JoeManchin – though he hasn’t made trips to those early primary states. @DraftJoeManchin recently tweeted: “We think that Joe Manchin is the most gifted leader and the most unifying leader we could elect as our next President.”…
Told that Manchin’s politics would probably be too conservative to win his party’s nomination, he replied: “My politics are about as middle of the road and American as you can get. I keep saying I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate, and I think most Americans are.”…
So, in case you, too, run across some of these Tweets, now you know what it’s about…