Category Archives: Video

Another centrist video message from an SC Democrat

There’s nothing terribly surprising about South Carolina Democrats gravitating toward the center — they’ve done it as long as I’ve been following politics in my home state.

But I’m definitely seeing a pronounced trend toward setting out those positions very definitely, so you make no mistake.

You saw the recent Tombo Hite video, stressing limited government and keeping taxes low (not lowering taxes, but keeping them low — a truthful distinction you won’t often hear from Republicans, who tend to pander to the erroneous belief that taxes are high in SC).

Now here’s one featuring Vida Miller from the Georgetown area, stressing “Community. Integrity. Responsibility.” Communitarian values that sound sort of conservative because they ARE conservative in the traditional sense of the word — as distinguished from all the anti-institutional bomb-throwers who call themselves “conservative” these days.

vida miller

‘We Shall Overcome (But We Shall Be Miserable Doing It)’

I’ve seen this a couple of times today. Chris Cillizza of The Fix claims it’s the “Best. Vine. Ever.”

Well, I dunno. But boy, is it painful to watch.

Somebody apparently thought it would just be inspiring as all get out for Democratic and Republican leaders to link arms and invoke Freedom Summer by singing “We Shall Overcome” together.

At least the Democrats knew the words, but none of them look like they’re on the happy side of miserable.

Frankly, though, the Vine version doesn’t do the incident justice. To see enough of it to understand just how awkward it was, complete with sound, you have to watch this clip from C-SPAN (the awkwardness starts at 21:00, and continues for a little over two minutes):

The ‘little Tony Blairs of Kosovo’




I love this little film that The Guardian has put together, about all the 15-year-old boys named after Tony Blair, who led the Western alliance to rescue Kosovo just before they were born.

I like footnote-of-history things like this. And since Tony Blair is my main man, one of my favorite political leaders of the past generation, that makes this all the better…

Tombo Hite shows how you run as a Democrat in SC

There’s no one thing that’s particularly remarkable about this web video for legislative candidate Tombo Hite of Abbeville.

But it strikes me as a good example of how different it is to be a Democrat in South Carolina.

Strategist Tyler Jones brought this young attorney to my attention, saying:

Just want to forward you the new web ad for Tombo Hite, our House candidate in District 11 (Abbeville, Anderson). This guy is a rock star and has all the potential of any candidate I’ve seen in years. Keep your eye on him.

This district was held by a Democrat (Paul Agnew) until 2012 when a Democrat and a Democratic petition candidate split the votes and elected a republican, Craig Gagnon.

Yet, although according to that we should assume this is fairly safe territory for a Democrat, I’ve listened to this video twice, and if he mentioned being a Democrat, I missed it. (This is possible, because I was doing other stuff as I listened. But I know for sure he didn’t stress it.)

Then, there’s the fact that the first thing he wants you to know about him, policywise, is that he’s a fiscal conservative. Although he expresses that with a slight difference from Republicans. You have to listen carefully for it.

He says he wants to “get government out of the way and to keep our taxes low.” A Republican would want to lower taxes. Tombo is subtly telling you that our taxes are already low — which they are — and that he’s just going to keep them that way. (And indeed, I find his promise to fight a gas tax increase — an essential step to addressing our infrastructure problems — disturbing.)

After that, he sounds like a fairly typical Dem, SC-style. He wants to raise teacher salaries and revamp DSS.

And fight partisanship. So, good for him there. (Of course, if you’re a Democrat, you have extra motivation to want the General Assembly to be less partisan, so that maybe the majority will listen to you occasionally — not something that happens a lot in the House.)

Anyway, nothing dramatic here. I just thought I’d point those things out, for anyone unfamiliar with South Carolina Democrats and how they differ from the national variety.

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Sheheen’s first TV ad of 2014: The Sheriff

First, I have to say something to head off the confusion: That’s not me in this Sheheen campaign ad. That’s my twin, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

Just so we have that straight.

Anyway, I’m sure that I’m breaking this story, because the campaign sent this to me only minutes ago with the message…

Brad,

I wanted to send you a quick note to give you an exciting update! You’ve been one of our biggest supporters so far, and this campaign wouldn’t have achieved such success without you on the team. Because you’ve been such a great supporter, I wanted to make sure you’re the first to see our first television ad.

But here’s the reality – TV ads aren’t cheap and we need to raise $15,000 by midnight tonight to keep this ad on the air. Can you help us out? Click here to send an urgent donation before midnight >>

Click here to watch our first ad…

Your unwavering support of Vincent has helped us get to where we are today.

But now we’re down to the wire. We have to close our budget gap and keep this ad on the air. Nikki Haley and her extremist friends have already flooded our airwaves with misleading ads. It’s time for us to fight back….

… and so forth.

So, I’m special. But the Sheheen campaign must be in big trouble, because it sees me as one of it’s “biggest supporters,” and I’ve never given them a penny…

D’oh! is right. What century do you think this is?

hulu

Seeing as how she and Warren have gotten into blogging lately, and grown more sophisticated in their use of social media and such, I was disappointed when I didn’t find an embedded video with the online version of Cindi’s column today.

After all, it started this way:

IN ONE OF MY favorite Saturday Night Live skits, a just-exonerated Bill Clinton walks to the podium in the Rose Garden for a news conference, gives a thumbs-up to his supporters, declares “I … am … bulletproof,” and walks away. After a moment, he turns, walks back to the podium and adds: “Next time, you best bring Kryptonite.”

Our legislators must feel the same way after Circuit Judge Casey Manning discovered that they have bulletproof armor that protects them from criminal prosecution….

You have to realize what a special thing it is for Cindi Scoppe to make a pop culture reference that way. She doesn’t do pop culture. She is the most all-work-and-no-play person I know, and her readers are the beneficiaries of that affliction. So I particularly appreciated this reference, and immediately went hunting for a video clip…bulletproof

which I could not find. At least, not right away. (I’d be happy for some of y’all to show me what I missed.)

Oh, I found one that may have been the right one. NBC had taken it down. And then added insult to injury by saying, “Don’t worry, though. We have plenty of other stuff to watch.” Like I’m here to be entertained. Like any other “stuff to watch” will compensate for the lack of the one clip I need, the one being quoted.

Join the 21st century, folks. Rather than hiding your content, leverage it by allowing other media — including blogs and even newspapers — to praise your creativity and urge other people (perhaps people who have the time and inclination to watch that “other stuff” you’re offering) to seek it out. You’ll be a winner in the long run.

Sheesh…

Irish priest’s take on Cohen brings the house down

As you may know, the name “Cohen” in Hebrew means “priest,” or “a member of the priestly class, having certain rights and duties in the synagogue.”

Father Ray Kelly, a priest of another tradition, took full advantage of his rights in performing his duties at a recent wedding at his parish in Meath, Ireland. He quickly went viral on YouTube. The bride and groom had no idea it was coming, but they and the rest of the congregation loved it.

Since he used my favorite Leonard Cohen tune, I thought I’d share.

By the way, according to the Irish Times, Fr. Kelly is “planning on releasing a charity album to coincide with his 25th year since being ordained.”

Sheheen’s new campaign video: “Failing”

Here’s the TV ad released by the Sheheen campaign today.

Thoughts? My own first reaction is that it looks like Nikki Haley is the incumbent superintendent of education rather than governor. There’s no explanation for why the governor should be held accountable for the performance of schools.

It also seems kind of weird and backwards. Don’t people of Nikki Haley’s wing of the GOP usually bemoan the state of public schools, while SC Democrats stick up for public educators doing the best they can with what they’ve got? I mean, wouldn’t Nikki’s natural reaction be, “Yes, and this is why we need tuition tax credits?” Or another of those old SCRG talking points.

I’m not sure what sort of train of thought this is meant to invoke, beyond “Nikki Haley — bad.” But maybe you see something else…

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.

Making ‘Citizens United’ hip, glib, funny and nonthreatening

I just got around to this video from yesterday celebrating the Citizens United decision four years and one day ago.

Yes, I said, “celebrating.” As in, “Yippee!,” as opposed to what I usually hear about it, which is more in the Egon Spengler range, as in, “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”

Here’s the release about it:

Group Recognizes Citizens United v. FEC Anniversary with Video
Center for Competitive Politics Releases Video by Noted YouTube Artist GoRemy

For Release: January 21, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, VA - 
Today the Center for Competitive Politics marked the fourth anniversary of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling by releasing a video about the decision by noted YouTube artist GoRemy.

The video examines five common misconceptions about the Citizens United that many critics of the decision tend to gloss over, such as the government’s argument that they should be able to ban books and that the decision did not create the concept of corporate personhood.

What the Citizens United decision did do was overturn blatantly unconstitutional parts of a law designed to prevent freedom of association among individuals with the purpose of speaking out about politics. And, despite repeated assertions that the decision would lead to the corporate takeover of our democracy, we’ve had some of the most competitive elections in our nation’s history.

At its core, Citizens United was about whether the government could ban a nonprofit corporation from distributing a movie about a political candidate. The decision did not “reversed a century of law to open the floodgates – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections,” as President Obama famously chastised the Supreme Court. Rather, the decision allowed organizations to do what wealthy individuals have always been able to do: make independent expenditures advocating for or against a chosen candidate.

Now why am I posting this? Because I agree with it, or because I wish to rip into it? Neither. Basically, it attracted my attention because on the thumbnail for the video, I saw the very same mug shot of Nick Offerman in the role of Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation” that one of y’all — I want to say Silence Dogood — used to use as an avatar. So I thought at least one of y’all would enjoy it on that basis. Yes, I know that’s a thin premise, even though I cannot measure how thin it is.

I decided to go ahead and post it after seeing it, because I was intrigued by — whatever you think of the message — how slick it was.

Starting with the choice of pitchman, who I am told is “noted YouTube artist GoRemy.” OK, whatever. I’m just impressed by how well-chosen he was to make people think more kindly of the idea of corporations being people and such.

If you have an “Occupy Wall Street” picture in your head of the people who celebrate Citizens United, then you expect the spokesman to be somebody like Robert Stack, or Charlton Heston, or Peter Graves, or some other old, dead, establishment-looking white guy. (You may object that a dead guy couldn’t shoot a video, but we’re not talking about reality; we’re talking about the way Occupy Wall Street sees the world.)

This guy is like the opposite of that, only in a cool way, so you’re not beaten over the head with it.

According to Wikipedia, GoRemy is Remy Munasifi, “an Arab-American stand-up comedian,[1] parody musician and video artist who became an Internet celebrity after his production of comedic sketches based on Arabs under the name “GoRemy” on YouTube. His videos had gained over 78 million views as of late 2010.”

He’s hip, he’s young, he’s glib, he’s of nonspecific ethnicity, he’s nonthreatening, he’s not dead, and he most assuredly is not Robert Stack — not even the funny, ironic Robert Stack in “Airplane!

Perhaps a little too glib. I have to say I was a bit offended at having the Plessy vs. Ferguson case dismissed with a funny picture of a baby with a perplexed expression and the caption, “WHO VS. WHATNOW?”

Or at least, I would have been, if it hadn’t all gone by so quickly that I had to back it up and freeze frames in order to see what the baby was supposedly saying.

The point of the video is to make your brain dance lightly along to the tune of the fun wordplay, and then wander away humming to itself and thinking, “That Citizens United isn’t so bad after all…”

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Video: Sheheen explaining his restructuring bill in 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bit of Saudi humor: ‘No Woman, No Drive’

The WashPost brought this to my attention:

Saudi Arabian performer Hisham Fageeh, well known on the Arabic-speaking Web for his funny YouTube videos, which often contain a degree of social commentary, has posted a new video spoofing his country’s practice of forbidding women from attaining driver’s licenses. Fageeh parodies the Bob Marley song “No woman, no cry” with lyrics lampooning Saudi Arabia’s car-related gender restrictions, which Saudi women are challenging this week with a mass protest drive….

You know, if this guy can post stuff like this and live, maybe there’s hope for that part of the world.

Lou Reed as a young man, as seen by Warhol


 

Reacting to this news

Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today on Long Island. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May
.
With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, he was chameleonic, thorny and unpredictable, challenging his fans at every turn. Glam, punk and alternative rock are all unthinkable without his revelatory example. “One chord is fine,” he once said, alluding to his bare-bones guitar style. “Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.”…

… I happened to remember the above video. It’s one of Andy Warhol’s “screen tests” that he did of various people who hung around The Factory back in the mid-’60s.

Basically, Warhol would turn a camera loaded with a short bit of film (about four minutes worth) onto one of his subjects, and just let that person be for that length of time.

Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips put 13 of those clips to music, and I saw their show at Spoleto in Charleston a couple of years back.

Somehow, their lyrics seem appropriate to express just how old we’ve gotten since Reed sat there drinking that Coke.

For some of Reed’s own music, I include the clip below…

Video of Benjamin campaign announcement

The Steve Benjamin campaign sent out this video of his announcement yesterday. I haven’t had time to watch it all myself — quite busy today — but I thought I’d make it available to you.

One thing that struck me in the minute or so that I did listen to — Benjamin wasn’t speaking as smoothly as he usually does. I guess he’s better speaking extemporaneously than he is reading a speech…

That awesome Charles Ramsey interview, Songified

Burl brought this to my attention on a previous thread, and I thought I’d share more widely.

What a story. And what an amazing interview. That local TV guy really happened upon some gold.

Good job, Charles Ramsey! You deserve to be immortalized.

The original video, in case you haven’t seen it multiple times already, is below…

Dueling videos, opening shots in 2014 campaign

James Smith’s comments about Nikki Haley and “corruption” should also be taken within the context of the above ad from the Democratic Governor’s Association.

Meanwhile, with the video below, Haley supporters show that they want to run against Barack Obama again. But at least this ad mentions Sheheen, which is something.

How do the ads strike me? As I indicated earlier, I’m a little leery of the word “corruption.” Yeah, Nikki Haley has a serious transparency problem, she’s not very good at paying her taxes on time, and that $40k she got from Wilbur Smith when she was in the House raises a questions that have not yet been answered. But “corruption” is a word I tend to use for something more overt, more red-handed. Early in my career, back in Tennessee, I saw out-and-out corruption — Gov. Ray Blanton selling pardons. He went to prison for it. Maybe that made me overly fussy. The things the DGA are citing here are real problems, and they provide us with plenty of reason not to vote for Nikki Haley; I’m just quibbling over the word.

The Sheheen/Obamacare ad is just disgraceful. But then, so is the governor’s position of refusing to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, so I see it entirely in that context. For me, her position is indefensible, so the ad is as well. Then there’s that additional ugliness of playing to the fact that “Obama” is the boogeyman to so many white voters in South Carolina. “Obamacare” is used as an incantation, with the operative ingredient being “Obama,” not the “care.” The issue is secondary to the fact that that awful Obama person is associated with it.

Is Mark Sanford entitled to equal time on Comedy Central?

I thought this question, posed on Slatest, was intriguing:

As the faux-conservative Colbert Report host, Stephen Colbert has lampooned campaign finance laws and the U.S. electoral system by starting his own super PAC and announcing bids for the presidency and “the president of the United States of South Carolina.” But another Colbert—this one with a hard t at the end—is also vying for the political spotlight: Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Stephen’s older sister, who’s facing off against avid Appalachian Trail hiker and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford in a May 7 special election for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Colbert has twice devoted show segments to his sister’s campaign, including one endorsing her candidacy, and has mocked Sanford on countless occasions. With the show’s nightly viewership of 1.5 million and the documented “Colbert bump” in a politician’s support after an appearance, is Colbert violating election laws by blending his hosting role with his sister’s campaign?

Probably not. The central law in play is the Federal Communications Commission’s equal-time rule. Beginning with the Radio Act of 1927, which Congress enacted in response to fears of broadcasters’ ability to sway elections by limiting a candidate’s access to the airwaves, radio and television networks have been required to offer equal airtime (or opportunities to purchase advertising at a reduced price) to all candidates if they request it. Exemptions were later added for documentaries, newscasts, news interviews, and on-the-spot news events.

Since it covers news stories and political issues, The Colbert Report would likely fall under the newscast or news interviews exceptions…

Really? I would have thought it was entertainment.

In any case, I’ve always found the equal-time rule sort of hard to follow. And now that we have “news shows” that are entirely satire, how would you go about giving equal time, anyway? And if you gave it, how could you be assured it would be to the advantage of the one demanding it? When everything is dealt with ironically, how do you make sure your equal time is quality time? Make it an infomercial, so you have total control? Maybe. I don’t know. But even that could backfire, as Comedy Central viewers go there for smart-aleck, not for earnest.

What do y’all think?

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