Is South Carolina America’s next O.K. Corral?
If that sounds like an exaggeration, then take a look at the radical, pro-gun proposal just endorsed by Governor Nikki Haley, the Tea Party favorite who is running for reelection this year, after a tumultuous first term. Crafted by state Senator Lee Bright of Spartanburg, one of Lindsay Graham’s opponents in the GOP Senate primary, the “Constitutional Carry Act” would eliminate the state’s permit and training requirements for citizens who want to carry guns.
That’s right: If you were a resident of South Carolina and wanted to carry a weapon—concealed or otherwise—then under this law you could. No classes, no tests, no background checks, no questions. I have no problem with guns—I grew up in a gun-owning household, and I’ve used firearms myself—but this is insane.
Sen. Bright, explaining the proposal, told The State newspaper that the Second Amendment “gives Americans the right to carry firearms without any government restrictions.” Permits, in other words, are unnecessary. And Governor Haley, offering her take, told reporters that “criminals are dangerous,” and that she thinks “that every resident should be allowed to protect themselves from criminals.”
Because this bill lowers the barrier to owning a firearm in South Carolina, there’s a good chance it would spark a measurable increase in gun ownership, as well as guns owned per person. And while someone, somewhere, might stop a crime with their firearm, it’s far more likely—in the absence of any kind of safety training or background checks—that this law would exacerbate accidents and violence involving guns, to say nothing of boosting the export of firearms to other states, where South Carolina is a national leader—the state has the sixth highest rate of “gun exports,” i.e., guns sold legally in South Carolina that are later used in crimes in other states.
Yes, Vermont has a similar law on the books, but it doesn’t have South Carolina’s terrible reputation for gun violence. Haley’s state is the seventh-deadliest for gun crime, with 5 gun murders for every 100,000 people in 2010, compared to the national average of 3.6 per 100,000. Overall, from 2001 through 2010 there were 5,991 people killed by guns in South Carolina. Law enforcement officers are especially vulnerable—between 2002 and 2011, sixteen law enforcement agents were killed by guns, the fourth worse rate in the nation.
Worse, South Carolina is the fourth worst state in the country on the rate of women murdered by guns—64 percent above the national average—and it ranks second-worst on the rate of women murdered by men in domestic violence incidents. In half of those crimes, guns were used.
When you also consider that South Carolina has a “Stand Your Ground” law that—like Florida’s—is a boon to the trigger happy, then—if this bill becomes law—you have a recipe for even more gun violence in the name of “stopping criminals.”
Now, if you see the Second Amendment as inviolable—a sanctification of our supposedly God-given right to firearms—then I doubt this weighs on you. Senseless death is just the price of freedom. For the rest of us, however, the prospect of a fully armed state—where guns flow freely and the law is biased toward shooters—is terrifying.
By: Jamelle Bouie, The Daily Beast, February 13, 2014
“Purposeful Republican Misrepresentation”: Read This Before You Believe The Obamacare Premium Spike Hysteria
While some states are reporting lower than expected health care premiums in the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, a growing number of Republican-controlled states — like South Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Georgia — are garnering screaming headlines about huge premium spikes under the law.
Calculating premium rates is a complicated and tedious task that will vary greatly among states and is open to interpretation and manipulation by both supporters and opponents of President Obama’s health care law. Generalities are particularly hard to draw, as the law will impact Americans differently: the new regulations will lead some younger people to may pay more than they’re contributing now, but will save older and sicker people hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month.
Still, since Republicans are politically motivated to portray the proposed premium increases in a negative light and the media is far more interested in sensational claims about Obamacare failing, coverage of the new rates often leads readers with the mistaken perception that the law is coming off the tracks. Below is a short guide that will help you identify if someone is misrepresenting how much premiums will increase under Obamacare:
1. Do the premiums account for subsidies?
Most articles about premiums for health insurance in the exchanges relegate information about the Affordable Care Act’s tax credit subsidies to the lower two thirds of the piece, thus presenting the top rates as the actual amount families and individuals will be required to pay.
In reality, the number of applicants who are eligible for sliding-scale tax credits will vary — the credits are available to people making less than four times the poverty line — but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that out of the 7 million Americans expected to enroll in coverage in 2014, 6 million will be eligible for subsidies. Those with incomes up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) will also see reduced the out-of-pocket limits.
Maryland officials, for instance, project that three-fourths of enrollees will receive assistance. In 2014, the average subsidy will be $5,510 and will increase in the years ahead.
2. What is the state comparing the new premiums to and does it break down the increases by the available levels of coverage?
While states like New York or California have already enacted strict regulations that mirror many of the new rules in the Affordable Care Act, others (like Indiana or South Carolina) allow insurers to sell skimpy bare-bones high deductible plans that provide little actual coverage.
Comparing the comprehensive plans that will be available in the exchanges (and the individual market) to the existing coverage is like likening a Lexus to a bicycle — yes, the car is more expensive, but it is in a whole different category of transportation. Under the law, all new insurance plans have to offer essential health benefits like prescription drug and mental health services.
3. Are cheaper coverage options mentioned?
Last month, state officials in Indiana announced that premiums for individual policies would be 72 percent higher than the premiums people currently play. But a closer look at the data revealed that the state wasn’t issuing actual premiums, but calculations for “allowed cost” or “the cost of insurance before calculating how much individuals would pay out-of-pocket, because of co-payments and deductibles.” The actual premiums turned out to be much lower.
What’s more, the numbers were averages of all plans in the exchange — from bronze plans that cover 60 percent of health care costs to platinum plans, which pay for 90 percent — and were not representations of the prices actual families will pay. Past experience in Massachusetts shows that consumers are very price conscious and will gravitate towards the cheaper bronze or silver plans. (In Massachusetts, 84 percent enrolled in bronze or silver policies.)
A catastrophic plan will also be available to those up to age 30 in the individual market. In Nevada, this coverage will be available for less than $100.
4. Has the state done all it could to reduce premiums?
Approximately two dozen states allow the state insurance department or commission “the legal power of prior approval, or disapproval, of certain types of rate changes” and under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government has offered grant funding “to help with rate review activities.” States like Maryland — which has some of the strongest rate-setting laws in the country — claims to have used its authority to deny rate increases to reduce the proposed premiums by “more than 50 percent.” Oregon regulators also slashed carriers’ rate requests by as much as 35 percent.
By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, August 5, 2013
Best I can tell, the furor over Jack Hunter, a long-time South Carolina-based neo-Confederate who co-authored a book with Rand Paul and then joined his Senate staff, is more or less “blowing over.” But Hunter himself may be keeping it alive by protesting his innocence and trying to cover his tracks. Even Will Folks, the famously provocative South Carolina conservative blogger (and Paulite fellow traveler) who regards the original Washington Free Beacon piece about Hunter as a neocon “hit job” on his boss, thinks he’s jumped the shark:
“The role of a radio host is different from that of a political operative,” Hunter said in a statement responding to the story. “In radio, sometimes you’re encouraged to be provocative and inflammatory. I’ve been guilty of both, and am embarrassed by some of the comments I made precisely because they do not represent me today. I was embarrassed by some of them even then.”
That certainly seems to be at odds with what Hunter said eight years ago when The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier filed a report on his controversial commentary. Back then he was totally unapologetic about his racially tinged comments – saying he “stood by every word.”
An even stronger pushback to the Hunter apologia came from his one-time editor at the Charleston City Paper, Chris Haire:
Long before last’s week Washington Free Beacon story kicked up a two-day media storm, Jack Hunter knew that the Republican establishment was working to out him as a neo-Confederate and a racist, a move he believed could hurt the one-time City Paper columnist’s boss, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. He’d even sent me an e-mail asking me to remove dozens of posts, ones that he said no longer reflected his current worldview.
While I told him that I would have removed one or two posts — it’s not uncommon for writers to hastily pen a column they later regret — I found the breadth of the request to be excessive, and to be honest, quite cowardly. Doing so, I told Jack, was a repudiation of the very persona he had created as a writer and radio personality. It was a denial of the very views that had made him a local media celebrity and a rising star in the so-called liberty movement, and as such, a slap in the face to all those who had ever supported him. It was best, I said, that if those points of views no longer applied to him, Jack should pen a column detailing how he had changed his mind, but he declined. And frankly, that told me all I needed to know about Jack’s conversion. It was solely for appearances only.
After reading Jack’s statement about last Wednesday’s controversy du jour — the one that let the rest of the U.S. know that a neo-Confederate secessionist was part of Sen. Paul’s inner circle — I still haven’t changed my mind. In his statement, Jack — much like Rand himself — tends to treat the damaging information as something akin to a youthful indiscretion, a one-time accident, or as something that was nothing more than an over-the-top personality that he had created while he was a member of the 96 Wave crew and had long-since abandoned. Rubbish. The Jack Hunter of the Charleston City Paper years was every bit as radical as the Jack Hunter of [local radio] 96 Wave.
Then Haire kinda gets mad:
Over the course of editing Jack for years, it was clear to me that when he spoke of Southerners, Southern values, and the Southern way of life, it was as if the South to him was solely populated by white people, and everyone else was an intruder or at best a historical inconvenience. Jack Hunter may have never railed against miscegenation, championed segregation, uttered a racial slur, or participated in a lynching, but it was my opinion then and it is my opinion now that Jack is the most common kind of racist, the one that doesn’t realize that he is one. In fact, like many on the right — from Pat Buchanan to Newt Gingrich to Rick Perry to Rush Limbaugh — Jack traffics in race-baiting rhetoric and repeatedly aligns himself with racists but then refuses to own up to the meaning and purpose of his actions….
And the same applies to Rand Paul.
This is why if Jack Hunter really cares about Rand Paul he’ll quit his staff and find himself a new career. The more he talks and the more his very recent history is discussed, the more it raises questions about Paul–not just for associating with the likes of Hunter, but for the parallels between Hunter’s views and his own, if not on race, then on many elements of public policy and history that touches on race.
As for Paul, he should probably spend less time lecturing African-Americans on why they should be conservatives and a lot more time convincing conservatives to listen to his arguments about the invidious racial effects of the War on Drugs. Then we’d have a lot less reason to suspect that Rand Paul is a friend of Southern Avengers everywhere.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, July 19, 2013
In the wake of the party’s election setbacks last year, the Republican National Committee has focused on outreach to a variety of constituencies that have been turning towards Democrats: Latinos, African Americans, younger voters, women, etc.
But it’s against this backdrop that we also see the RNC boosting its outreach efforts to a group of voters that ostensibly represents the party’s existing base.
The Republican National Committee has brought on a director of evangelical outreach to massage the party’s complicated relationship with religious conservatives, GOP sources told CNN on Saturday.
The party organization has hired Chad Connelly, a consultant and motivational speaker who, until this weekend, was the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party.
Connelly resigned from that job Saturday and informed members of the state party’s executive committee that he will be taking a job at the RNC…. Connelly, a Baptist, has told multiple South Carolina Republicans that he will be steering the national party’s outreach to faith-based groups.
There are two broad questions to consider. The first is, who’s Chad Connelly? The Republican is far better known for his work leading the South Carolina GOP than engaging in faith-based activism. Upon taking over the state party two years ago, Connelly vowed to become President Obama’s “worst nightmare,” and then largely faded from the national scene.
That said, Connelly wrote an 80-page book in 2002, called “Freedom Tide,” which made a series of ridiculous claims about the United States being founded as a “Christian nation.” The book was panned for its inaccuracies and wasn’t exactly a best-seller
But the other question is, why in the world would the Republican National Committee have to focus on evangelical outreach right now?
The answer, I suspect, has something to do with the fact that the religious right movement isn’t nearly as pleased with its RNC allies as one might assume. As we discussed in April, many of the movement’s most prominent leaders and activists publicly threatened to abandon the Republican Party altogether unless it continues to push — enthusiastically — a far-right culture war agenda.
The threats coincided with a call from Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council, that social conservatives stop contributing to the RNC until the party starts “defending core principles.”
That might help explain why the RNC hired Connelly, but as we talked about at the time, it’s not at all clear what more the religious right community seriously expects of the party.
After all, Republican policymakers are banning abortion and targeting reproductive rights at a breathtaking clip, pursuing official state religions, eliminating sex-ed, going after Planned Parenthood, and restricting contraception. Heck, we even have a state A.G. and gubernatorial candidate fighting to protect an anti-sodomy law.
And social conservatives are outraged that Republicans haven’t pushed the culture war enough? Why, because the RNC hasn’t officially declared its support for a theocracy yet?
Presumably, it’s now up to Connelly to help make this clearer to the party’s evangelical base.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 10, 2013
South Carolina, the cradle of the Confederacy, is represented by African-American Sen. Tim Scott, and has an Indian-American governor, Nikki Haley – both conservative Republicans. Yet any idea that the state is progressing on the racial conflicts that have defined much of its history took another hit on Sunday. That’s when the Haley for Governor Grassroots Advisory Committee, her grass-roots political organization, asked for and received the resignation of one of its 164 co-chairs after his statements on racial purity came to light.
Civil-rights groups and Democrats had been pressuring the Haley campaign, which initially stood by Roan Garcia-Quintana, a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens. But his defense of his beliefs didn’t work out so smoothly. In an interview last week with The State explaining his position on the board of directors of the council, Garcia-Quintana denied that he and the group are racist. The council “supports Caucasian heritage,” he said. “Is it racist to be proud of your own heritage?” he asked. “Is it racist to want to keep your own heritage pure?”
It wasn’t exactly a secret that Garcia-Quintana had ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a “white nationalist hate group,” a “linear descendant” of the old White Citizens Councils formed in the 1950s and 1960s to fight school desegregation.
In a 2010 Washington Post article on a NAACP-backed report that accused white nationalist groups of trying to align themselves with the tea party movement, Garcia-Quintana talked about his council activism. “There’s a difference between being proud of where you come from and racism. We should be able to celebrate price as Europeans and Caucasians. What troubles me is it seems like if you’re not some kind of minority, you’re supposed to be ashamed of that. . . . As a tea party organizer, all I’m trying to do is to be a community organizer,” he said.
Garcia-Quintana, a naturalized citizen born in Havana, has referred to himself as a “Confederate Cuban.” He is also executive director of the anti-immigration Americans Have Had Enough Coalition, based in Mauldin, S.C., which says it stands against an “illegal alien invasion.”
A Sunday statement from Haley political adviser Tim Pearson said: “While we appreciate the support Roan has provided, we were previously unaware of some of the statements he had made, statements which do not well represent the views of the governor. There is no place for racially divisive rhetoric in the politics or governance of South Carolina, and Governor Haley has no tolerance for it.”
Haley has tried to turn Garcia-Quintana’s departure into a political advantage. She has characterized the forced, if belated, resignation as a sign that Republicans don’t tolerate intolerance, while challenging Democrats, particularly her former and perhaps future opponent, Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, to disavow Democratic political operatives who have attacked her in racial terms. (Phil Bailey, who is political director of the state Senate’s Democratic Caucus, last year called Haley a “Sikh Jesus.” He was reprimanded at a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting and apologized, but not, says the Haley campaign, to her.) The governor has come in for her share of racially insensitive comments, even from members of her own party during her primary race.
This kind of racially divisive back and forth is par for the course. No, you can’t make this stuff up, and in South Carolina, you don’t have to.
By: Mary C. Curtis, The Washington Post, May 28, 2013