South Carolina

The Lindsey Graham Show (Liftoff)

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, 1 June 2015, in Central, South Carolina.  (Detail of frame from msnbc)

Did you ever rehearse a line and then not use it, but later found yourself wondering why not, because it was a perfectly servicible line, and that is why you were working on it in the first place?

Right.

A few weeks ago I mused to a friend over the idea that when Lindsey Graham gets to make a Civil War joke while playing the adult in the room, Republicans might want to take a moment to figure out just where they are. The map is not the territory, but why are they using that map?

But as I explained to a friend, there is no mystery that I don’t really like Sen. Graham; perhaps the best thing going for the Palmetto Republican is that he is not the worst person in the state of South Carolina. I pointed out that we all know his presidential ambitions aren’t grounded in any political reality. Still, it was enough to appreciate the moment when Lindsey Graham was the sane voice in the room, and wonder if perhaps he might have tacitly ended his presidential aspirations.

And in that I was wrong.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham officially added his name to the growing list of Republicans seeking the White House in 2016 on Monday, focusing his message on the hawkish foreign policy positions that have made him a leading voice among the Senate GOP.

“I’ve got one simple message: I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race. That includes you, Hillary,” Graham said in Central, South Carolina, his childhood home.

The three-term senator is expected to focus his candidacy on combating Islamic militants in the Middle East, stabilizing Iraq and preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He has been highly critical of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has said U.S. intervention abroad led to the rise of ISIS.

(Rafferty)

A three-term one-trick pony who can crack wise about the Civil War at Ted Cruz’s expense.

Honestly, of all the never-been won’t-be candidates in the race, I figured Mr. Graham smart enough to stay out. Am I underestimating exploratory committees, or overestimating?

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Image Note: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, 1 June 2015, in Central, South Carolina. (Detail of frame from msnbc)

Rafferty, Andrew. “Lindsey Graham launches 2016 presidential bid”. msnbc. 1 June 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Leading Republicans differ over armed ‘insurrection'”. msnbc. 17 April 2015.

The Lindsey Graham Show (Pilot: Crash and Burn)

"US Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham speaks during a US Senate Armed Services Committee on global challenges and US national security strategy on Capitol Hill in Washington." (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

“The best deal comes with a new president. Hillary Clinton would do better. I think everybody on our side except maybe Rand Paul could do better.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

It is worth noting that Mr. Graham is apparently considering a run for the GOP presidential nomination, which would in turn bring him to contest Rand Paul’s ambitions. Still, though, the “Ouch!” about Palmetto senior senator’s jab is mutivalent. Then again, it is also predictable.

And if for some reason one is so interested in having a chuckle at Mr. Graham’s expense―no, really, we understand if you’re not interested in anything having to do with this once-respected statesman who has lately and so greatly tumbled into tinfoil and hatred―Darren Goode of Politico poses an interesting question: “Lindsey Graham: Too green for the GOP?”

No, really. That’s the headline.

Graham, who bases his climate views as much on Scripture as on science, balked when asked whether the GOP needs a moderating voice — akin to the pro-science, pro-climate-action role that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman played in the 2012 Republican primaries ....

.... And unlike Huntsman, Graham isn’t about to lecture people who disagree with him or aren’t willing to join the cause publicly.

“I’m OK with the science behind climate change. But if you’re not, that’s OK with me,” Graham said. “But what is our position about the emissions? What’s our position about the Clean Air Act? What would we do as Republicans to ensure that the next generation enjoys a healthy environment, being good stewards of God’s green earth?”

And that’s what counts as “too green for the GOP”.

Chris Warren, a spokesman for the Koch-affiliated American Energy Alliance, put it simply: “I don’t think anyone is taking Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid too seriously.” We need not wonder why.

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Schneider, Howard and Doina Chiacu. “U.S. Republican Graham says Hillary could have reached better deal on Iran”. Reuters. 5 April 2015.

Goode, Darren. “Lindsey Graham: Too green for the GOP?”. Politico. 5 April 2015.

The Value of Woman in South Carolina

Undated photo of South Carolina state Sen. Thomas Corbin (R-05, Greenville/Spartanburg).

The question sometimes arises: What the hell is wrong with Republicans?

And, yes, there is a reason for this. No amount of pathetic equivocation―no mewling about how both parties are the same―can really stand up to scrutiny; they are the words of embittered surrender.

Because, really, while many might stop to wonder about the abysmal situation in South Carolina, most are also quietly and sadly aware that according to Palmetto virtue things can only get worse. After all, this is a state where prosecutors argue that women are not allowed to defend themselves against domestic and intimate violence.

And when we stop to look at who the people of South Carolina are choosing to represent them, we need not wonder how those Palmetto virtues have become such an embarrassment to pretty much everyone. We might also add that in South Carolina, if embarrassment is the worst one suffers for this situation, they ought to consider themselves fortunate. In a state where women cannot defend themselves yet unsettle those Palmetto virtues by going and dying of domestic violence at a rate of one every ten days on average, people like state Sen. Thomas Corbin (R-05, Greenville/Spartanburg) pretty much sum up what’s wrong with South Carolina:

Chauvinist in any context, Corbin’s remarks occurred during a legislative dinner this week to discuss domestic violence legislation. Sources present at the meeting told FITS that Corbin directed his comments at fellow GOP state senator Katrina Shealy, the sole woman in the 46-member chamber.

“I see it only took me two years to get you wearing shoes,” Corbin told Shealy, who won election in 2012. Corbin, the site explains, is said to have previously cracked that women should be “at home baking cookies” or “barefoot and pregnant,” not serving in the state legislature ....

.... Indignant at Corbin’s rank sexism, Shealy asked him where he “got off” making such remarks.

“Well, you know God created man first,” a smirking Corbin replied. “Then he took the rib out of man to make woman. And you know, a rib is a lesser cut of meat.”

(Brinker)

Ah, South Carolina. And this is the part where we should just crack a glib joke about what passes for “family values” in the Palmetto State, but the truth of the matter is that this just isn’t funny.

South Carolina, where domestic abuse victims should not be allowed to defend themselves, according to prosecutors in Charleston.We might wonder just how much gravity such dense ignorance as Sen. Corbin’s might actually have, and even make the point about his bizarre obsessions in general, including the time in 2013 he suggested Sen. Shealy (R-23, Lexington) leave the room while he discussed children performing oral sex on older men.

It probably wouldn’t help to ask him to explain why, if the Adam’s rib story is supposed to be true, God went so far as to make all humans female by default. No, really, even XY starts out female; hormones received in utero trigger the physiological male development. We ought not be surprised that the Bible has it backwards; after all, we’re talking about a bunch of men writing down oral traditions.

Sen. Corbin was elected in 2012; the question remains whether Palmetto virtue in District Five want another four years of this sort of madness. Then again, it’s South Carolina, so … right.

An equally fair question: What the hell is wrong with South Carolina?

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Brinker, Luke. “GOP lawmaker calls women ‘a lesser cut of meat'”. Salon. 13 February 2015.

The Logic of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL05)

Chris Hayes discusses immigration reform with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL05), who cannot explain why he thinks President Obama, out of several presidents who undertook the issue within executive purview, is the only one who ever broke the law in doing so.  On Hayes' msnbc show, "All In" (21 Nov. 2014), the Alabama congressman was incapable of even recognizing that President Ronald Reagan had granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

Any number of questions come to mind. There are the humorous musings about whether we might include political conservatism under the spectrum of disorders and disabilities requiring reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, yes, that sounds cruel for any number of reasons; first, let us clear up that yes, one of the problems with such a joke is that it trivializes much more established and objective disabilities; but then we might also point out that we are already bending over backwards to accommodate delusional behavior from many Republicans, and yes, there are mental health issues that land squarely within the ADA.

Denial can be a powerful emotional response, can’t it? If the right believes President Obama’s economic policies have failed, and they’re confronted with evidence of a falling unemployment rate, then there must be a conspiracy involving the jobless numbers. If the right believes Benghazi conspiracies are real, and they’re confronted with proof to the contrary, then the proof must be rejected.

But on Friday’s “All in with Chris Hayes,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) took this to a whole new level.

Brooks, you’ll recall, believes President Obama’s executive actions on immigration may be criminal acts that could land the president in prison. With this in mind, Chris asked a good question: “When President Reagan granted deferred action from 200,000 people from El Salvador who come here illegally, was he breaking the law in the same way?” It led to this exchange:

BROOKS: I have not examined what Bill Clinton did. This is a very serious manner. The Constitution imposes a heavy burden on us–

HAYES: No, no, no, I’m sorry. President Ronald Reagan. President Ronald Reagan, sir?

BROOKS: I think the individual facts are important, the mental intent of the actor. That case, Bill Clinton, now Barack Obama, those factors are important.

It really is a smooth evasion. He does not even try to deflect the point, just moves past it as if it doesn’t exist. One wonders how much calculation and practice goes into that maneuver, or if it is just pathological.

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Benen, Steve. “Mo Brooks and the power of denial”. msnbc. 24 November 2014.

Hayes, Chris. “Rep. Mo Brooks: Obama encouraging illegal immigration”. All In with Chris Hayes. msnbc. 21 November 2014.

¡Benghazi! (Walk and Chew Tinfoil Mix)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thinks his fellow Republicans are full of crap because they couldn't find a way to support his pet tinfoil conspiracy theory.

Sometimes we need a specific setup to make the punch ilne; this isn’t high comedy theory, or anything, but part of the latest episode in the Benghazi debacle only stands out in relationship unto itself, that this is the House Intelligence Committee report:

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

(Dilanian)

So let that be a lesson; yes, when it comes down to the proverbial brass tacks, Congress can occasionally be expected to do its job. There are, of course, any number of explanations for the GOP’s partisan pandering over the interim, and a lot of it just comes down to fundraising to the one and the difference between acknowledging or exploiting human frailty to the other. The tinfoil scheme was largely a fundraising gig, you know? Intended to fleece willing sheep. Right?

“I think the report is full of crap,” [Sen. Lindsey] Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union” ....

.... CNN host Gloria Borger then told Graham that the House report concludes that the administration received bad information at first and did not lie.

“That’s a bunch of garbage,” Graham shot back. “That’s a complete bunch of garbage.”

(MacNeal)

Oh.

I guess tinfoil is as tinfoil does.

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Dilanian, Ken. “House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories”. The Big Story. 21 November 2014.

MacNeal, Caitlin. “Lindsey Graham Won’t Accept New Benghazi Report: It’s ‘Full Of Crap'”. Talking Points Memo Livewire. 23 November 2014.

¡Godzilla! Oh, Wait … It’s Just Marriage Equality

Justice is blind ... just kidding.  No, really, did you read the Sixth Circuit ruling?  Jaded eyes, jaded eyes ....

And then there is this:

Today, November 19, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Montana, striking down the ban on marriage between same-sex couples in the state.Marriage Moves Forward in Montana!

The ruling is set to take effect “immediately,” the judge ruled, meaning that same-sex couples in Montana should be free to marry now.

The Attorney General said shortly after the decision that he will appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Attorney General could also seek a stay from Judge Morris, but as we’ve seen time and again this month – from the 4th Circuit, from the 9th Circuit, and even from the United States Supreme Court – judges have repeatedly rejected requests for stays, because there’s no good reason to delay the freedom to marry.

(Hiott-Millis)

Dan Savage gloats, of course, but here’s the thing:

Slog’s resident trolls would erupt every time I ended a Slog post about marriage equality with “We’re winning.” They LOL’d at my delusions, they sneered at my efforts to buck up supporters of marriage equality, they trolled a little harder. They called me a cockeyedmouthed optimist. That was then. This is now: 35 states, motherfuckers. And, thanks to a “loss” before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit—the only U.S. Court of Appeals decision that hasn’t backed marriage equality—we’re headed back to the Supreme Court.

Reading through the Sixth Circuit decision against marriage equality is a fascinating exercise in depression. We knew that a decision against same-sex marriage would require some degree of juristic contortion and acrobatics, but what the court gave us was the metaphorical equivalent of ceremonial magick.

(more…)

The Future, Revealed?

Jobs, jobs, jobs ... j'abortion!

We might for a moment pause to recall 2010. Republicans achieved a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the real story was in the state houses, where the GOP made astounding gains by hammering away at the economic instability their Congressional partners worked so hard to create.

And then they tacked away from jobs. As Rachel Maddow memorably put it, “Jobs, jobs jobs … j’abortion”. State-level Republicans passed record numbers of anti-abortion bills, knowing that most of them were unconstitutional. And it is certainly an old conservative scheme, to tilt windmills, lose, and then bawl that the sky is falling because the Constitution is Sauron and Democrats and liberals the armies of Mordor.

With many predicting a Republican blowout in the 2014 midterms, some are looking ahead to figure out just what that will means in terms of policy and governance. And some of those are Republicans.

Yet there is a week left; perhaps this isn’t the best time to be telegraphing the Hell they intend to call down upon the Earth.

Or, as Lauren French and Anna Palmer of Politico explain:

Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.

Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Their vision could create problems for congressional leaders who want to show they aren’t just the party of “hell no.” And while conservatives say they agree with that goal, their early priorities will test how well John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can keep the party united.

Two points: Swing voters can’t say they weren’t warned. And conservative voters complaining about gridlock should admit that’s what they’re after.

(more…)

Dereliction of Duty

Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

Six years is a long, long time. Well, no, not really, but we’re talking about Americans, so yeah, it’s a long, long time. To wit, two phrases from 2008: “flyover country” and “Middle America”.

The phrases were intended to invoke a cultural split whereby the wholesome, Christian states in between the coasts are under constant assault by anti-Christian elites in coastal metropolitan centers.

Which, in turn, makes it really easy to poke fun at “Middle American” and “traditional family” values. And that aspect begs a specific question: What part of these “values” demands abject cruelty?

The writing is on the wall for gay marriage bans in Kansas, Montana and South Carolina after federal appeals courts that oversee those states have made clear that keeping gay and lesbian couples from marrying is unconstitutional.

But officials in the three states are refusing to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses without a court order directing them to do so. It could be another month or more before the matter is settled.

In a political campaign debate Monday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vowed to defend his state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. A federal court hearing is scheduled for Friday.

There seems little doubt that U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ultimately will set aside the state’s gay marriage ban. That’s because the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, encompassing Kansas and five other states, has said a state may not deny a marriage license to two people of the same sex.

(Sherman)

According to John Eastman of the National Organization, while it is true that heterosupremacism has reached the end of its rope, refusing to respect a federal court “remains a viable option”.

Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) swore an oath of office before assuming office:

I do solemnly swear [or affirm, as the case may be] that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Kansas, and faithfully discharge the duties of ______. So help me God.

And what does that mean to Mr. Brownback? Apparently, it means he will not perform his duties except under court order.

But why? How does one justify such dereliction of duty?

(more…)

Terrible

Alright … a grim proposition: Should domestic violence victims be allowed to defend themselves?

Please don’t ask why I ask that. Because if you do, then you need only keep reading. Nicole Flatow of ThinkProgress tries to explain:

South Carolina is one of more than 20 states that has passed an expansive Stand Your Ground law authorizing individuals to use deadly force in self-defense. The law has been used to protect a man who killed an innocent bystander while pointing his gun at several teens he called “women thugs.” But prosecutors in Charleston are drawing the line at domestic violence.

South Carolina, where domestic abuse victims should not be allowed to defend themselves, according to prosecutors in Charleston.In the cases of women who claim they feared for their lives when confronted with violent intimate abusers, prosecutors say the Stand Your Ground law shouldn’t apply.

“(The Legislature’s) intent … was to provide law-abiding citizens greater protections from external threats in the form of intruders and attackers,” prosecutor Culver Kidd told the Post and Courier. “We believe that applying the statute so that its reach into our homes and personal relationships is inconsistent with (its) wording and intent.”

† † †

South Carolina is one of several states that has two self-defense provisions. One known as the Castle Doctrine authorizes occupants to use deadly force against intruders. Recently, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that this provision could not apply to fellow occupants of the home, in a case involving roommates, although that ruling was since withdrawn and the case is being re-heard this week. The Stand Your Ground law contains a separate provision that authorizes deadly force in self-defense against grave bodily harm or death in another place “where he has a right to be.” Prosecutors are arguing that neither of these laws permit one occupant of a home to use deadly force against another. But as Nicholson points out, this interpretation would yield the perverse result that both self-defense provisions explicitly exempt domestic abusers when they perpetrate violence within their own home.

Okay, really. What? What the hell are we supposed to say? Sometimes it feels like being that guy in the “dead bleepin’ alien” episode of the X-Files, wandering naked along the roadside muttering, “This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.”

So let us offer a statistic then, that will do exactly nothing to cheer you up: Twelve days. As in, “women are dying at a rate of one every twelve days from domestic abuse in South Carolina”.

Hello?

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Flatow, Nicole. “South Carolina Prosecutors Say Stand Your Ground Doesn’t Apply To Victims Of Domestic Violence”. ThinkProgress. 14 October 2014.

Palmetto Cruelty, or, Traditional Virtues in South Carolina

Seal of South Carolina (detail)

So, this happened today:

The South Carolina Supreme Court is ordering state probate courts not to issue same-sex marriage licenses until a federal judge decides whether the state constitution’s ban on the unions is legal.

(Jeffrey Collins)

This is actually quite an interesting development. After all, as we learned yesterday:

A South Carolina court has accepted a same-sex couple’s application for a marriage license despite the state’s constitutional ban against the practice and the attorney general’s pledge to defend it.

(Associated Press)

The brief summary: The Supreme Court rejects appeals against marriage equality, with several states having lost their fedral court bids to uphold marriage bans. South Carolina accordingly begins issuing marriage licenses. South Carolina filed a motion in the state Supreme Court five minutes before the close of business, asking the Court to quash the licenses before the twenty-four hour waiting period required of all marriage licenses expired. The state Supreme Court accepted the motion and quashed licenses already issued.

It is true that the decision by the Charleston County Probate Court to begin issuing marriage licenses included the hinge of state Supreme Court approval, but here’s the thing about the court’s rationale: The state Supreme Court wants to wait for a federal ruling in another case, one that was put on hold by the SCOTUS decision to refuse the appeals. That case is an Article IV claim; the marriage ban will be struck.

In the end, this is just a deliberate delaying tactic in South Carolina, a wailing, gnashing effort to fend off the inevitable for the sake of simple human cruelty.

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Collins, Jeffrey. “South Carolina Supreme Court Halts Same-Sex Marriage Licenses”. The Huffington Post. 9 October 2014.

Associated Press. “South Carolina Supreme Court Halts Same-Sex Marriage Licenses”. The Huffington Post. 8 October 2014.

Smith, Bruce. “SC high court asked to halt gay marriage licenses”. The State. 8 October 2014.