Ordinarily, I’d thank you for writing.
But truth is, I am not grateful you wrote; your note last week was one of the more troubling things I have read. I do not blame you for leaving it unsigned.
“We stand together,” I had written. “We stand defiant. And we stand with Boston.”
“Your wrong pal we do not STAND TOGETHER.OH MY GOD we need a CIVIL WAR.The American people against the LIBERAL DEMACRAT SCUM that we have let allow SCUMBAGS like those that would BLOW UP people in BROAD DAYLIGHT to be here … WE NEED A CIVIL WAR.Those demacrats that happen to still be breathing after that CIVIL WAR will have a choice. BECOME NORMAL or you are LEAVING with the 11 million illegals that ARE GOING HOME … THIS IS SO CLOSE TO HAPPENING THAT EVERY LIBERAL IN THIS COUNTRY SHOULD START LOSING SLEEP … THERE IS A CLEAR REASON WHY WE ARE ARMED TO THE TEETH …”
And you know, there was a time, not so long ago, I’d have laughed off your semi-coherent, misspelling-riddled rant. But I don’t laugh so much anymore, because you concretize a question I have been struggling with: Is America sustainable? Can a nation pulling so energetically in opposite directions survive?
We call it hyper-partisanship, polarization, balkanization. But those are SAT words, polysyllabic expressions that make abstract what they describe. So let us face what you embody and call it by name. It is hatred. And it is contempt.
It’s not just you. It’s Arkansas state legislator Nate Bell tweeting, “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” as the hunt for bombers closed that city down.
Before that, it was that man in Florida who committed suicide because Barack Obama was re-elected. And so-called “patriots” in the woods plotting against the government. And a sign promising death to the First Lady and her “two stupid kids.” It’s the true state of the union, the America we have come to be.
Yes, I know. Bill Maher once called Sarah Palin a crude and sexist name. Shame on that smarmy little man. But no, that does not suggest an equivalence of hatred and contempt. In volume, vociferousness and pure venom, Maher and the handful of other left-wing pundits who mistake name-calling for argument and coarseness for wit have nothing on the army of Hannitys, Coulters, Savages, Santorums, Limbaughs, Palins, Bachmanns, Malkins, Nugents, Trumps and Becks trolling the sewers of American disunion.
Now, to them, we add you, my nameless countryman, advocating for war. War.
And I am struck by the fact that I am not struck by the fact. Even this is just business as usual now.
A nation is more than common geography. It is also common values, a common way of looking at the world — not that everyone agrees on everything always, but that we are at least tethered by similar understanding of who we are and what that means.
It is that test this country fails now with regularity. We can’t even agree on who we are anymore, so swamped are we by the rage red holds for blue.
The road to Civil War began 153 years ago as Southern states, led by South Carolina, passed ordinances of secession from the Union. But, as a nation is more than just geography, so, too, is secession therefrom. The act represents a tearing away that is as much spiritual and emotional as it is geographic. Maybe even more.
So if the likes of you and Mr. Bell are right, if it is really beyond us now even to stand shoulder to shoulder with stricken fellow citizens, then we have lost more than bombs could ever destroy. And secession has already occurred.
By: Leonard Pitts Jr., The National Memo, April 24, 2013
I think I’ve figured it out. Republicans must be staging some kind of fiendishly clever plot to lure Democrats into a false sense of security.
That’s the only possible explanation for some of the weirdness we’re seeing and hearing from the GOP. The party must be waiting to come out with its real candidates and policy positions at a moment when unsuspecting Democrats are in the vulnerable position of being doubled over with laughter.
Why else, except for the entertainment value, would the party nominate former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford — he of Appalachian Trail fame, or infamy — in next month’s special election to fill a vacant seat in Congress?
Sanford, you will recall, made news in 2009 when he went missing for a week, which is rarely a good idea for a sitting governor. Upon reappearing, he acknowledged he hadn’t been hiking in the mountains but rather was visiting his mistress in Argentina, which is never a good idea for a sitting governor, especially one who is married and preaches sanctimoniously about family values.
Sanford’s wife, Jenny, refused to play the role of dutiful spouse, basically telling interviewers that her husband was, in fact, a heel; they divorced the following year. After his term ended in 2011, he went slinking into the wilderness. But a toppling of political dominoes — former senator Jim DeMint resigned; then-Rep. Tim Scott was appointed to replace him; Scott’s seat in the House thus had to be filled in a special election — gave Sanford the opening for a comeback.
Last month, Sanford finished first in the GOP primary against a weak field. This week, he won a runoff. Since South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District is solidly Republican, Sanford’s victory on May 7 should be a foregone conclusion. Even the fact that Democrats are running an unusually viable candidate — Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of late-night satirist Stephen Colbert — ought to make little difference. But the GOP establishment is worried.
So far, it appears that Sanford is less interested in victory than personal redemption. He had the nerve to ask Jenny Sanford to manage his campaign; she, of course, declined. As he gave his victory speech after Tuesday’s runoff, his fiancee — Maria Belen Chapur, the former mistress who lives in Buenos Aires — stood behind him. If Sanford ends up making this contest a referendum on his personal life, some loyal Republicans may hold their noses as they vote for him. Others will just stay home.
Republicans are also trying their best to lose a governorship, in Virginia, that could be theirs for the taking.
The Democratic candidate, longtime party fundraiser and operative Terry McAuliffe, has always shown more talent as a kingmaker than as a candidate. But he’s fortunate to have as his opponent Ken Cuccinelli, the commonwealth’s loony-bin attorney general. Describing Cuccinelli’s views as “far right” is like calling Usain Bolt “reasonably fast.”
At the moment, Cuccinelli is challenging an appeals-court decision that struck down Virginia’s sodomy law, which sought to restrict sex acts between any two people, including married couples. The Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional 10 years ago, so the appeals court really had no choice. But Cuccinelli is appealing anyway.
When he was campaigning for attorney general, Cuccinelli refused to endorse his Republican predecessor’s policy of nondiscrimination against gays and lesbians. “My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong,” he said at the time. “They’re intrinsically wrong. . . . They don’t comport with natural law.”
Cuccinelli has also tried his best to halt all abortions, launched what looked like a witch hunt against climate-change scientists and generally pursued an ultra-conservative agenda with chilling gusto. Virginia has voted twice for President Obama; I’ll admit I was surprised when Cuccinelli won statewide office in 2009, even though the attorney general’s authority is limited. I’ll be really surprised if Virginians put him in the governor’s mansion, giving him the whole state as a sandbox.
You’d think the national GOP would try to avoid potential giveaways like these. But leading Republicans are too busy tying themselves in knots over issues that much of the country considers settled and done with — gay marriage, immigration reform, background checks for gun purchases, a balanced approach to debt reduction.
A party can be out of step on any of these issues and still win elections. But on all of them? I’m telling you, this has got to be some kind of trick.
By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 4, 2013
“Remembering The Affair To Remember”: In New Bipartisan Spirit, Have Members Of Congress Tell Each Other About Their Affairs
It’s kind of nice to have Mark Sanford back.
Perhaps not if you’re from South Carolina. It is my strong impression that many South Carolinians are tired of their former governor, who so famously snuck off to Argentina for some extramarital recreation while his aides claimed he was camping on a national hiking path. A resident of Columbia, the state capital, told me that he had been in Peru, on a train to the legendary ruins of Machu Picchu, when a local resident asked him where he hailed from.
At the mention of the words “South Carolina,” the Peruvian nodded happily. “Appalachian Trail!” he cried.
After skulking around in political exile for several years, Sanford staged a sort of a comeback on Tuesday, winning the Republican nomination for his old House seat. It was a triumph of sorts, although one that only required defeating a former county legislator who did not live in the district, in a race that attracted the excited participation of about 10 percent of eligible citizens.
At his victory party, Sanford said the campaign had been “an amazing journey.” Since the great disaster of 2009, Sanford has taken to mentioning “this journey called life” rather frequently. Perhaps, in a perfect world, a guy who got in trouble for jetting off to assignations on the taxpayers’ dime would not focus quite so much on travel metaphors.
Sanford will now run against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a local businesswoman and sister of the comedian Stephen Colbert. She seems to be planning a deeply noncomedic campaign. But, still, hosting this race would be way more fun than being in Texas, wondering whether Rick Perry is going to run for a fourth — or is it fifth? — term.
Or in Tennessee, where lawmakers have just introduced bills to eliminate U.S. Senate primaries and let the state legislators pick the nominees. These new decision-makers would presumably include the members who recently expressed concern that the mop sink in a newly renovated Capitol men’s lavatory might actually be a special foot-washing facility for Muslims.
Or New York City, where a Democratic state senator has just been indicted on a charge of trying to bribe his way into the Republican nomination for mayor. Through the alleged services of a Republican city councilman, who has represented himself as a member of both the Tea Party and a tribe of Theodish pagans, making him what The Village Voice called “the first openly elected heathen in the nation.”
O.K., the heathen part was pretty good. However, dwelling on this story will only cause New Yorkers to revisit the fact that three of the last four full-time majority leaders of the New York State Senate have wound up under felony indictment.
I’d rather keep track of Mark Sanford’s evolution. So far, his spin strategy has been all about empathy and forgiveness. (“It’s only really in our brokenness that we really begin to understand each other.”) By the end of the primary, you had the impression that the key to a new bipartisan spirit in Washington would be having all the members of Congress tell each other about their affairs.
“There are too many people in politics who think that they know it all. And I think that they project this whole image of perfection,” he told Jake Tapper on CNN.
Not a problem here.
Since we last had Sanford to kick around, he’s been divorced and gotten engaged to the Argentinian squeeze. He virtually never mentions her and she barely got a shout-out on primary victory night. (“She completely surprised me,” claimed Sanford, who told Tapper that he just turned the corner on his way into the ballroom and there she was.)
His ex-wife, Jenny, has written a book about her marriage, and now South Carolinians know that Sanford is not just fiscally conservative; he’s also so personally cheap that he once gave his spouse a $25 used bicycle as a combined birthday-Christmas present. Also, there’s the revelation that he excused some of his mysterious absences from home by saying he needed to go off and relieve the stress he felt due to thinning hair.
Sanford has always had a terrible case of chronic self-absorption. Now that he’s talking about his feelings so much, it’s turned into a creepy New Age egomania. It began with his post-Appalachian-Trail press conference, when he rambled on and on about his love life as if the assembled reporters were best pals who’d invited him out for a drink. (“It was interesting how this thing has gone down. …”) More recently, according to New York magazine, he went to visit Jenny, who used to run his campaigns, and asked his still deeply estranged ex-spouse if she’d do another. “I could pay you this time,” he added empathetically.
Her refusal was probably a surprise. Like the victory night fiancée.
By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 3, 2013
There’s a growing number of Republican-run states accepting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, at least at the gubernatorial level, but South Carolina isn’t one of them. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) ruled out the possibility months ago, despite the pleas of South Carolina hospital administrators and public-health officials.
In fact, physicians in South Carolina are still hoping to change the state’s policy against Medicaid expansion, lobbying legislators this week on a White Coat Day organized by the South Carolina Hospital Association. Will it succeed? Consider the take of one insider.
Rep. Kris Crawford, a Republican from Florence and also an emergency room doctor, supports the expansion but expects the Republican caucus to vote as a block against the Medicaid expansion.
“The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party,” Crawford said.
As it turns out, “the politics” were so successful in “overwhelming the policy” that Crawford himself voted against the policy he said he supports.
Kris Crawford, a Florence emergency room doctor, says he thinks South Carolina should accept billions of federal dollars to help pay the health care costs for poor people — also known as Obamacare.
There are only two problems: Crawford is a Republican, and he is a member of the state House of Representatives. So on Tuesday, when it was time to vote on whether to accept the money, Crawford voted not to accept it.
For what it’s worth, Crawford still supports Medicaid expansion as part of “Obamacare,” and regrets the way his party is concerned more about the “political argument” than the “policy discussion.”
So why did he vote with his party? Crawford cited procedural concerns, and wants the issue to be considered outside the state budget process. He intends to propose separate legislation later this year.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 14, 2013
“Polarization And Voting Rights”: A Temptation To Voter Suppression That Republicans Just Can’t Resist
The 48th anniversary of the bloody beginning of the Selma March at the Edmund Pettis Bridge is as good a time as any to talk about the possibly imminent evisceration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by the U.S. Supreme Court (or at least five members of that Court).
At Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz answers Justice Roberts’ recent question during oral arguments about the need for the “discriminatory” application of Section 5 by looking at recent evidence of racial polarization in voting in the states covered by that law. The abysmal performance of Republicans among nonwhite voters everywhere is so notable that it’s sometimes difficult to see the South as more polarized racially and politically than the rest of the country. But still, in as of 2008 (the last time we had national exit polls in a presidential election), nonwhite voters made up 62% of the Democratic coalition in the Section 5 states and only 35% in the rest of the country. And historically, there’s no question racial polarization has played a huge part in the Republican takeover of the Deep South, beginning with the hyper-racialized states of Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina and then spreading to the rest of the region.
Speaking of the Republican takeover, however, Abramowitz makes a key point about the particularly poor timing of any judicially imposed abandonment of Section 5:
All nine covered states currently have Republican governors and Republican majorities in both chambers of their legislatures. This means that political leaders in these states have a powerful incentive to suppress or dilute the votes of African Americans and other minorities because these groups make up the large majority of the Democratic electoral base in their states. Moreover, as the majority party, they also have the ability to enact laws and regulations to accomplish these goals.
And they can do so, of course, without significant negative impact on their own voters. Even if you think the evidence of especially persistent racism in the Deep South is mixed, this is a temptation to voter suppression that no honest person can expect Southern Republicans to resist.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, March 7, 2013