After Pres. Obama provided additional financial assistance to America's Big Three automakers, the Big Three Republicans - Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney - went on national news to call that aid a mistake.
It'll never work, they claimed. They'll never pay it back, they said. We'll be worse off, and pretty quickly, too, they swore.
All three auto manufacturers are still in business, though. With new sales, new profits and even new U.S. employment. And today, Chrysler paid off
the remaining $5.9 billion it owed the U.S. government.
That still leaves one question unanswered: if they were that blatantly wrong, and on a topic so vital to our national economy, how the hell could we trust any of those Big Three Republicans - each of whom is a declared '12 presidential candidate - to run this country? UPDATE: Romney is now claiming the additional aid to the auto industry was his idea first!
The video comes from the Democratic National Committee.
In the Apr. 30 election for new party chairman, the South Carolina Democratic Party picked attorney, former district solicitor and political consultant Dick Harpootlian, who wore the same party chair shoes from 1998 to 2003.
Harpootlian may have his hands full with the very impressive counterpart of the state’s Republican Party, though.
One week later on May 7, the state GOP elected a new party chair of outstanding accolades, too. Meet Chad Connelly, Amway salesman.
Yep – that’s right. Recruiting unemployed folks to peddle cheesy home products is his claim to fame. Connelly made it up the Amway ladder at least to Ruby Level, and even credits his personal success to the fraudulent, pyramid-scheming cult in his book “Freedom Tide
.” (Just click here
to read the rave reviews Connelly’s received from his own sales team!)
But Amway’s not the only one of Connelly’s ventures; he once operated the Sandlapper Group. A political consulting firm for state Republican candidates, Sandlapper became known
for getting lots of out-of-state campaign donations, mostly from Howard Rich, the infamous New York Libertarian. That’s the same Howard Rich
known to sneakily send multiple checks in maximum contribution amounts all from the same address, but under different business names, resulting in as much as half million dollars for GOP candidates in South Carolina every election year.
And even though it seems apparent that Sandlapper went out of business (well, it only got one of its six clients elected
in 2008…), that didn’t bring Connelly down.
He kept his ties with Howard Rich, who paid Connelly $63,500
a year to lead the so-called “South Carolinians for Responsible Government,” which is nothing more than a pro-voucher front group operating a scheme to get public tax dollars to pay for private education.
And he’s on the board of Palmetto Family Council, too, the far-right group affiliated with the national Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Even though PFC claims it promotes “healthy marriage catalyst,” that didn’t stop them from quickly forgiving Mark Sanford
after his Argentina affair, and even trying to cover for him on their website. And, yes, PFC is also in favor of giving public education funds to private schools, too.
So let’s do a recap on this guy and the positive attributes he brings to the SCGOP, and in direct comparison the new chair of the state’s Democratic Party:
- Connelly - campaign law twister
- Harpootlian - solicitor, prosecutor and enforcer of law
- Connelly - failed campaign consultant
- Harpootlian - SCDP chair who helped unseat a Republican governor after only one term, and for the first time in the history of our state
- Connelly - strong foe of public education
- Harpootlian - filer of the lawsuit that forced Gov. Sanford to accept the needed federal funds for our state's public schools
And why is this of such concern to local Democrats? Well, just think of how difficult of a job we'll have in the 2012 elections! With a guy like Connelly in the chair, we're in for some trouble, because his attributes will make Republicans seem so much better in comparison.
- Connelly - successful Amway salesman
- Harpootlian - successful attorney, campaign consultant and party chair
I mean, just think of the positive improvements Connelly could directly offer to our state! When South Carolina kids from middle-class households have no schools to attend, thanks to the SCGOP chucking the money over to private academies, they can work as door-to-door salesmen under Connelly’s sales scheme! And in doing so, the state could chop Medicaid even further by having those uneducated kids sell Amway’s Nutrilite™ products to our senior citizens.
South Carolina Republicans, you have us on the edge of our seats! You strategic plotters, you …
I’m not a movie hound and I sure ain’t no film critic, either, so please don’t think I’m trying to offer any official review of Harry Shearer’s recent documentary.
I am, though, a Yat. And I also lost my New Orleans home and almost everything in it to Hurricane Katrina, which happens to be the general theme of the film.
But please note that term “general theme.” This isn’t a movie that centers on the disaster. It doesn’t show the thousands of people hiding in the Superdome or sobbing outside the city’s convention center, unlike the many other Katrina flicks that have come and gone. It doesn’t use that old Randy Newman song about the ’27 flood as background music. You won’t see footage of bodies floating around in the flood waters, either, which many of those other movies thought nothing about impersonally displaying. It’s not a tabloid-type of documentary.
And if “The Big Uneasy” had been anything like that, I’d have had the same response I gave to those other Katrina films – I would have walked right out in the first 30 minutes, mad as hell, throwing popcorn at anybody who looked at me while I stomped up the aisle, grunting and cursing.
What this film does show, and make sort-of official for the very first time, in my opinion, is the cause of the flooding that followed Katrina. And it does so with historic recollection, too, including the development (and consistent mis- and un-development) of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, those so-called levee renovations, and the development of Army Corps of Engineers’ responses, which started as hush-hush only to expand to push-push (and nearing shove-shove, too).
And I give “The Big Uneasy” a thumbs-up, four-star, six-pack rating for doing so. It told the facts – the information that mass media didn’t acquire for many reasons, and which nobody was going to tell them, anyway. It was explanatory, not exhibitionist. It provided me – one who was directly affected by the hurricane – the information I really needed to know, to confirm, to bring the whole ordeal to a closing point of sorts.
My wife and I lived in Gentilly Ridge, one of the few areas above sea level in the city that has an average elevation of six feet below. The street was maybe an only inch above, that’s true, but the lawn was built up about two feet from the street. The house was raised about four feet from the lawn.
We wound up with two feet of water inside the house, and it stayed there for 12 days.
But my home was not flooded by Hurricane Katrina. The winds took out some awnings and a patio covering, ripping a hole in the rear door frame in the process, okay, but … just like my 70+ year-old neighborhood survived Betsy and Camille back in the ‘60s without any flooding, so too did my street remain fully drained and un-flooded when Katrina came through.
My neighborhood and its homes were flooded a couple of hours later, when the levee wall of the London Avenue canal broke. (One of many such breaches and breaks to occur all about the city after the hurricane was gone, leaving 80 percent of New Orleans flooded.) That first breaking point was just north of Mirabeau Avenue; our house was less than one and a half miles due east on Baccich Street. An entire section of a recently modified and “improved” levee just lifted up and floated back, letting the water from Lake Pontchartrain gush out.
And gush it did, down Mirabeau, onto Baccich and then inside my house, and after Katrina and all her raindrops had already come and gone. It was the faulty levee that took my home, my possessions, my keepsakes and my memories – not the hurricane.
Harry Shearer on New Orleans' moonwalk
So why did I bother to see the movie, especially since the other ones bothered me so much? I guess I felt more at ease with the fact it was directed by Shearer, an adopted son of the city who calls New Orleans his part-time home.
He’s well-known around the globe, mostly for This is Spinal Tap
and as the voice of animated characters in popular series, but New Orleanians still find him regularly featured in small local rags like Gambit
. That’s because he’s really a part of the Crescent City. He lives there like a local, not a tourist on extended vacation, unlike some other folks.
There’s a common series of superstars the city gets from time to time, like Trent Reznor or Nick Cage, who claim uptown mansions as temporary homes which they use as either 1) Mardi Gras frat houses until they’re arrested for juvenile, tourist-like behavior, or 2) reclusive hideaways from which they only step outdoors to complain about New Orleans’ true culture. Then they leave, eventually, and badmouth the city to media while standing behind an entourage of press agents and personal assistants.
But you won’t find Shearer in the NOPD’s central lockup, and you won’t see him chasing tourists away from a Garden District home. You’ll see him chowin’ down a muffuletta, maybe, or at City Park or strolling down Magazine or atcha mama’s jernt ovah by da lakefront, hawt. Harry’s an adopted Yat, meaning this story was personal for him, too. And I knew he would know what us Yats wanted to know.
For that reason did I sit throughout the showing last Friday at James Island’s Terrace Theater. I trusted “The Big Uneasy” to tell me a unique and insightful story, unlike those shock flicks, and directly from the perspective of one who knows and loves the city, who calls it home.
And it didn’t try to shock me with tragic images or pull my heartstrings; it told a factual, insightful story that I wanted – needed – to see and hear and confirm.
Shearer stayed around after the showing to answer questions. There were a bunch I wanted to ask, but thought better of when I admitted to myself I would probably only use that experience as opportunity to release personal tensions, or maybe even just to point out to the crowd that a N’Awlins dude was amongst their Lowcountry selves. I kept my hand down.
I did mention it to Shearer directly, though, in the personal conversations he spent much time having with the audience after the Q&A. “I’m from Gentilly,” I said, which he responded to with a wide-eyed “Heeeeyyyyy!”of recognition, which I’ll egotistically claim to indicate the comfort I bestowed by letting him know a true Yat, my honorable dudeness, had selflessly attended the showing of his film.
I could tell you very many other details about the movie, but I won’t. Again, this is not any official review by any official critic. I will, though, urge you to see “The Big Uneasy” to learn those details yourself.
It will tell you very many details that will answer very many questions. It will tell you of folks who provided those details, and even though they paid both professional and very personal prices in the process. (And it will tell you of many topics you can bring up for conversation next time you buy me an Abita!)
It told the story that no one else is telling, and from a perspective that no one else could tell it from. And for that, I am truly thankful.
Okay, let me apply a few details that some might expect to find in a movie review (which I still swear this is NOT). It’s 98 minutes long. It’s unrated, but at worst would get a PG for a mild adult utterance or two. It’s mid-way through a single-showing schedule, which you can check by clicking here
. And you’ll find it on DVD for rental and sale before too, too long, too.
It still bewilders me that mass media (and yes, big movie studios, too) remain absent from insight on this issue, and why we have to rely solely on the fortitude of brave individuals like Harry and the folks he features in his film to give us the details.
Shearer’s press release asks the same question, although with much better wordage, and which I’ll use in closing: “Of course, why it took the bass player from 'Spinal Tap' and the voice of Flanders, Smithers and Mr. Burns to reveal these tragedies is a story unto itself.”Thank you, Harry.
TOTH to WIS-TV, Columbia's NBC affiliate, for scoring up the information our recently elected GOP officials didn't want us to know.Like this juice on Nikki Haley, for example:
She campaigned for governor on a "small government" platform. She took office swearing the state was at budgetary risk. South Carolina couldn't afford to provide many services, she said, indicating cuts to Medicaid and public education were necessary. She then continued a layoff of state employees that began under the last governor's term, bringing the total to 1,766 jobs cut within the last year
. And then Columbia's Channel 10, after more than one Freedom of Information Act request, got records proving Haley is paying her own top advisers
$247,101 more than previous governor Mark Sanford paid his staff. (Read more about it at the WIS-TV website
.)The highest pay of $125,000 goes to
Tim Pearson, who ran Haley's campaign last year. Just like state Rep. Harry Ott told WIS reporter Jody Barr,
"we give $125,000 job to somebody who works on our campaign and at the same time, we cut services to handicapped children."WIS-TV got the same dirt on treasurer Curtis Loftis, who added who new staff jobs for a payroll increase of $143,553, and with one of those jobs going to the father of Loftis' business partner.
(While some of this information about Haley was suspected and previously reported in general terms, WIS-TV gets the credit for scooping up the exact details, and for finding out the info on Loftis, too.)
The state’s Dept. of Mental Health recently considered privatization
of particular medical services, and with Gov. Nikki Haley as an ally to the notion.
The service would be provision of medical care to approximately 320 inmates with mental impairments. One particular company could still be a leader in the process, and has even hired a former director of the DMH to aid its bid.
The same GEO Group
, however, has been sued very many times for inadequate medical care leading to morbid results.
Of direct pertinence to this role Gov. Haley wants it to fulfill in South Carolina, and clearly indicating its incapability to successfully perform such a job, GEO Group has been cited multiple times for denying needed medical treatment and for failure to provide prescribed medications.
Many of the incidents in question were not just fatal, but concentrated, occurring in short times in single facilities. Between 2008 and 2009, for example, nine inmates had unexplained deaths at a Texas facility
operated by GEO Group.
Those incidents resulted in two protests at the same prison, in which inmates pointed out the deaths resulted from inadequate medical care. GEO’s response to those protests led to riots, which not only resulted in more needed medical care for injured protesting inmates, but also cost the State of Texas over $1 million in damages to that prison.
And GEO Group made its principle goal of profit at the cost of inmates quite evident just two years ago. Operating the only private prison in Pennsylvania
, GEO Group cancelled its contract in 2009 after multiple lawsuits were filed against the company, regarding eight inmate deaths in its one facility over a four-year period. GEO Group stated “frequent litigations” to be the reason it chose to exit.
In other words, GEO Group is known to scale back on provision of necessities for monetary reasons, causing the death of inmates as a result, and to then completely bail out when it looks like the company might have to pay more money in the long run.
The most recent case against GEO Group is for the same charges. In Nov. 2010, lawsuits were filed against the company for denying medical care at a juvenile detention center in Mississippi. The U.S. Dept. of Justice announced
its own investigation of the facility shortly after.
The same company has faced very many other charges
in lawsuits, as well, including prisoner abuse, inhumane treatment, prisoner rape and sexual assault, negligence – even smuggling of illegal drugs into its prison facilities – and in many different states.
GEO Group has already faced complaint
at another South Carolina facility, too. Earlier this year, the state’s Council on Aging investigated incident of an injured patient in the GEO-operated Columbia Regional Care Center. Instead of being aided in bathing at normal hours, the patient was twice forcibly cleaned by hose, and at the odd time of 3:15 a.m.
So why was this privatization in general and GEO Group in particular ever considered? For monetary reasons, apparently, and possibly in more than just one way.
For example of one monetary avenue, state Rep. Kris Crawford (R-Florence), a doctor and proponent of this measure, says a private company “can do the work cheaper,” The State reported
(Incidentally, Crawford was arrested
last year for tax evasion of his incorporated medical facility. The first procedures in this case resulted in mistrial
, and now await re-hearing.)
However, countless studies on the cost-efficiency of such privatization say the opposite.
An in-depth study
done by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, for example, concluded that the cost savings promised by use of any private prisons and private prison services “have not materialized.”
A comprehensive study by the Government Accountability Office found there to be no “substantial evidence that savings [in privatization of any prison services] have occurred.”
done by a private researchers on the general field, examining 33 other studies of 24 private prison companies, realized “private prisons were no more cost-effective than public prisons.”
These studies are of basic comparisons of operating costs, please note, and do not include resultant expenses resulting from lawsuits against private prison and prison service companies, which are very large in number
. In short, such privatization could cost more in the long run.
Additional costs are of greater risk in South Carolina, too. Bidders raised questions about anticipated need for additional facility space, notes The State
. Following those questions, the state DMH is no longer listing a formal request for proposals. A re-release of this RFP undetermined.
Regarding the other potential monetary avenue that brings this possibility to the front, GEO Group donates to political campaigns in the state. In particular, last year it twice donated
directly to Haley’s run for governor, and gave the maximum $3,500 donation to the Republican Governors Association campaign to elect Haley, too.
GEO Group also donated
to Haley’s 2014 re-election campaign on April 1 of this year.
To improve the company’s standing in the potential bid, GEO recently hired George Gintoli
, who was director of the state Dept. of Mental Health from 2001 to 2005. He was appointed by Gov. Mark Sanford. Gintoli is now Vice President of GEO’s secure treatment facilities division.
During his term as DMH director, Gintoli oversaw a project
to cut the number of mental patients serviced at hospital emergency rooms in half.
It's bad enough that Glenn Beck is so much of a wuss that he changed his story mid-way through when challenged by his audience during a broadcast; it's even worse that he didn't think folks would quickly find information to prove his flip-flop. But what's worst of all is that Beck is a complete hypocrite on the subject of organized labor.
In yesterday's episode of FOX's Glenn Beck show, he began his usual anti-union tirade only to get stopped and corrected by union members in his studio audience.
In the video below, you'll hear Beck attempt to change his stance to appease members of a teachers' unions:
(video link from Media Matters
Beck only caught himself in a trap, though. He's always been openly against organized labor, as he clearly stated
on the Feb. 24, 2011 episode of his show. He's made complaints
about union members for years, as found in transcripts
of his radio show. He's also referred to
labor unions as "communist" and "socialist." And just a few weeks ago, he said
a union organizer was "worse than Osama bin Laden."
What makes Beck's two-faced, flip-flop hypocrisy even worse, though, is that he himself is represented by a union. That's right - the lying, anti-union, "I'll change my story mid-way through to keep this audience quiet" Beck is represented by
the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which is under the AFL-CIO.
Powell speaks to SC State grads (Photo by Christopher Huff/T&D)
Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Sec. of State under Pres. George W. Bush, was keynote speaker at last night’s graduation
ceremony at South Carolina State Univ.
In his address, he reminded the 450 graduates of the many historical events happening on a daily basis at the moment.
But Powell’s favorite current event isn’t the recent growth in employment, or even the slaying of bin Laden.
Instead, he told the Orangeburg crowd, Powell was especially pleased
“when Pres. Obama took out his birth certificate and blew away Donald Trump and all the birthers!”
The stadium crowd responded with wild applause and cheers.
Obama’s long-form birth certificate
was released by the State of Hawaii on Apr. 27, and after two years of doubt expressed by some who became known as “birthers” for claiming the president was not a U.S. citizen.
Potential Republican presidential candidate Trump expressed
his own "birther" doubt for some weeks prior to the official release.
Following the address, Powell was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from SCSU President Dr. George Cooper. Earlier that same day, the retired four-star general was inducted into the hall of fame of the university’s ROTC.
Only two weeks before the 2008 election, Powell severed his GOP ties with endorsement of Obama
Posting this take on the GOP's presidential candidates seemed so appropriate after last night's debate
here in South Carolina.
(Posted on YouTube by MsMollybean1
State Sen. Lee Bright
(R-Roebuck) already carries a reputation of extremist and even secessionist, but today he added a new title to his résumé: loser.
After days of delaying vote on the $5.8 billion state budget with misleading arguments, Bright’s proposed amendment to eliminate current and heavily restricted coverage of abortion from state health insurance policies was defeated.
On the evening of May 5, the state senate voted
26-20 against the proposal.
Bright had blocked vote on the state budget for six days, using tactics of delay and filibuster to add weight to his deceptive statements on this secondary subject. Throughout his argument, he claimed his goal was
to end use of “state tax money to pay for abortions.”
Bright wasn’t referring to Medicaid or public health clinics or state-operated medical facilities, though. His amendment was geared against state employee’s health insurance, and which already only covers abortion in extremely limited circumstances.
Jessica Bearden, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, finds Bright’s argument intentionally misleading.
“The only times the state employee’s health plan covers abortion is in cases of rape, incest and if the mother’s life is endangered,” Bearden said.
Health insurance policies for state employees have carried such restrictions for over 30 years.
Bright described the goals of his amendment to be prevention of “tax-payer funded abortions,” though, seemingly to mislead the public. His arguments never stipulated exclusive relevance to state employee health insurance.
His deception was extended by other state senators, too. “The issue is not whether a woman can get an abortion for rape or incest. The issue is whether the government is going to use taxpayer dollars to finance that,” state Sen. Mike Rose (R-Summerville) offered in an email message.
However, “(insurance) premiums are paid directly by the employees,” Bearden said.
Planned Parenthood campaigned
against Bright’s proposal on the same day, asking voters to contact their state senators and voice their opposition to Bright’s amendment.
Bright didn’t take the defeat well, and continued his misleading arguments after the vote. He was “incensed
,” according to media, and “accused senators of killing children with taxpayer money
By Bright’s own admission
, only seven such incidents of abortions covered by state health insurance plans occurred last year.
Bright developed a radical reputation after introducing bills
to replace the U.S. dollar with use of gold and silver in South Carolina and to block the national healthcare act from use in the state.
“If at first you don’t secede, try again,” Bright told media
The record of the Republican Party in South Carolina to date: