March 12, 2005

Democrats Getting Organized in SC

From Campaign University in Columbia: A Landmark Day

On election day in November of 2006, South Carolina Democrats will look back on today, Saturday, March 12th with pride. Today is the day we turned the corner as a party.

In South Carolina, being a Democratic candidate can best be described as a Good News / Bad News situation.

The Good News is, the majority of voters actually support the policy positions of Democrats. On fiscal responsibility, on healthcare, on education, on taxes, on security... our ideas are the right ideas.

The Bad News is, we've been getting out-hustled and outsmarted in campaigns.

Fellow Democrats, today is the day everything changes for our Party. As I look around this room today, I see the faces of people who are EXCITED about going back to their counties and running for office.

A small army of Democrats has been outfitted with the knowledge to run smart, aggressive, effective campaigns in their own communities.

Before I ran for office in 2004, I spent six months hunting down books, reading articles, and trying to figure out HOW I would manage a campaign. It was a long and frustrating process.

The people in this room have been given a head start that I can honestly describe as momentous. All of these people now have the tools to go back to their home counties and win.

If you are considering public service, you need to contact Party headquarters in Columbia. The training I've seen here today will soon be made available to you.

The Democratic Party is truly following through on its promise to reach down into the "GRASSROOTS" of our state for leaders. I've met them here today. So how 'bout you?

March 09, 2005

A Fairly Tale: Compassionate Conservatism

[By Ken Campbell, Self-professed political nobody]

Once upon a time, there was a cowboy from Texas who lived on a big ranch with no cattle. Oh, never mind, I was never good at anecdotes...

I was listening to my President at a Social Security rally last week. A lady stood up, with stress and frustration in her voice and told our president that she was working THREE JOBS to keep afloat.

OUR PRESIDENT, chuckled in disbelief and asked her to repeat herself. Perhaps he thought he heard her wrong. Perhaps he couldn't believe the screeners let her into the event. THREE JOBS she repeated. Our President chuckled again and said to the crowd... Are you ready for this...

"Three jobs... UNIQUELY AMERICAN."

UNIQUELY AMERICAN?#$%? What is the matter with this guy? How can he not acknowledge that there is something wrong when a woman has to work three jobs to survive? When did the American dream become a throwback to the slave labor and endless hours of the industrial revolution?

Our nation is being run by morality manipulators who care nothing about regular people. They sweep into office with citizens fears about a changing world and confusion about the abortion issue strapped into the passenger seat. Oooh, angry liberal rhetoric, you say? Forget the past five miserable years... let's just look at THIS WEEK:

The "minimum" wage is $5.15 cents. It has only increased by about a dollar in the past 14 years. A family of four with two adults working full time at that wage live below the poverty level. I guess it's called the "minimum" wage because if you are earning it, you'll be getting just that, the minimum: Minimum food. Minimum housing. Minimum clothing for your children. Minimum time with your family.

This week, YOUR COMPASSIONATE, MORAL, GOD-FEARING, PEOPLE-LOVING, LIFE-PROTECTING, ORDAINED REPUBLICAN Senate voted to reject two a bill to raise the minimum wage $2.10 to $7.25. Republicans voted overwhelmingly against it.

But wait, what about the bill offered by Republican Rick Santorum, which proposed raise the minimum wage $1.10? There you are, compassionate conservatism! I knew you weren't a fairly tale. Oh, wait, the bill also includes some MORE tax breaks for business? It included provisions that would have allowed companies to avoid paying overtime to workers?

Nice work Santorum! Now Rush Limbaugh can rant for weeks about how the Democrats voted against a Republican attempt to increase in the minimum wage. Millions of Limbaugh lemmings will hear that Republicans are looking out for you and Democrats are the spawn of Satan. Genius. Pure, evil genius. You have to admit, these guys can do politics.

Their follow-up act was to pass a new Bankruptcy "Reform" Bill. Be careful when this crew uses the term "reform". That usually means regular people are about to get nailed. The bill, which credit card lobbyists have admitted they authored and put in the hands of friendly Republican politicians , tightens the screws on working class Americans who declare Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy.

Sounds reasonable, right? We should keep people from abusing the system, shouldn't we? Read the fine print.

These crusaders hope you won't notice that current bankruptcy law already allows judges the option to reject a declaration of bankruptcy. They hope you won't notice that fully half of all bankruptcy cases are as a result of debts incurred by medical bills. They hope you won't notice that they voted against numerous amendments that attempted to close loopholes in the law that allow millionaires to shield their assets in offshore accounts and high dollar property. They hope you won't notice that the credit card industry pocketed 30 BILLION in profits last year, a figure TRIPLE their profits just eight years ago.

Oh yes, my friends, these people are looking out for YOU, aren't they?

March 08, 2005

Made-in-America: The Religious WRONG

The Christian right is our own brand of extremism.

[Commentary, LA Times]

There is a certain irony in the debate over installing the Ten Commandments in public buildings. The Second Commandment in the King James edition of the Bible states quite clearly: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the Earth below, or that is in the water under the Earth." Few people take this as a prohibition against images of stars and fishes. Rather it cautions against endowing a physical object, be it a golden calf or a two-ton slab of granite, with spiritual power.

In trying to promote the commandments, the Christian right seems to have forgotten what they are really about. It has also overlooked the fact that there are several versions: Exodus 20:2-17, Exodus 34:12-26, and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Different language in Catholic Bibles and the Jewish Torah offer more variants.

Which should be enshrined? That is just the kind of debate that has been responsible for religious massacres through the ages. It was, in fact, the mindless slaughter resulting from King Charles' efforts to impose the Church of England's prayer book on Calvinist Scots in the 17th century that played an important role in convincing the founding fathers to separate church and state.

The current debate, of course, has little to do with genuine religion. What it is really about is an effort to assert a cultural point of view. It is part of a reaction against social change, an American counter-reformation of sorts against the way our society has been evolving. Those pushing to blur the boundaries between church and state feel that they are losing out — much as, in the Middle East, Islamic fundamentalists fear they are losing out to "Western values."

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March 07, 2005

STOP The Bankruptcy Bill

Why are senators allowing multi-millionaires to shield their assets but not average families?

A bi-partisan coalition of senators is on the verge of passing sweeping bankruptcy legislation that will hurt regular Americans. Last week senators blocked amendments that would have closed loopholes for the wealthy, cracked down on predatory lending practices and protected the homes of those who were facing bankruptcy from medical bills. A final vote on this bill is scheduled for tomorrow. Write your senators now and demand they oppose the bankruptcy bill.

Why are senators allowing multi-millionaires to shield their assets but not average families?

Under the bill, the very wealthy would be able to shield millions in assets after declaring bankruptcy by setting up "asset protection trusts." Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced an amendment that would have limited the use of these trusts. The amendment failed 39 to 56. Schumer lamented "now we have a bill that says a family won't be protected if it has $50,000, but it will if it has $5 million.

Why are senators going after seniors with huge medical bills?

The bill will be especially hard on elderly Americans, who are bankrupted by medical bills with increasing frequency. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced an amendment that would have shielded their homes (up to a modest $75,000) from seizure after declaring bankruptcy. The amendment failed 40-59.

Democratic and Republican senators should put the interests of Americans above those of the credit card industry.

The credit card industry raked in $30 billion in profits last year, some of which is clearly being spent to grease the palms of Washington politicians. Bankruptcy hasn't hurt the credit card companies one iota. The LA Times reports, "by charging customers different interest rates depending on how likely they are to repay their debts and by adding substantial fees for an array of items such as late payments...the major card companies have managed to keep their profits rising steadily even as personal bankruptcies have soared." In other words, "companies have found ways to make money even on cardholders who eventually go broke."

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